Keys to Understanding God's Divine Directives!
Keys to Understanding God's Divine Directives! - Study Two!
When we concluded our previous Bible discussion, we were examining the second part of the commission Christ gave His disciples before He left this earth. It was in the form of a divine directive. He said, " Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:" Christ wants people not only to believe what He says, but also to observe, or do, the things He directs them to do.
In our Bible Studies, we have been emphasizing this important aspect of spiritual life. It is something every professing Christian needs to recognize. It isn't enough to be a willing hearer of God's Word. We must be doers as well as hearers and professed believers of the Word. In fact, our obedience to what the Word of God tells us to do is the real proof of whether or not our professed belief is genuine.
Christ once said to the people of His day, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" That's a pertinent question that could well be addressed to many professing Christians today. A lifestyle or conduct or conversation or an attitude that is inconsistent with our Christian profession brings Christianity into disrepute in the eyes of the non-Christian unbelieving world. People pay far more attention to what you do, and how you live, than to what you profess. No wonder Christ said, I want you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And I want you to teach them not only to believe but to observe - that is, to do - what I have directed my people to do.
It is significant that this particular divine directive is an integral part of the glorious gospel of the grace of God for our day and generation, which He gave by divine revelation to the Apostle Paul, His chosen apostle to the Gentiles. Writing under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul expressed that directive in his letter to his co-worker, Titus, in these words (Titus 2:11-15): "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority." There's a great wealth of spiritual truth in that inspired statement.
Paul begins by stressing the limitless scope of the grace of God. It carries the promise of eternal salvation to all mankind. Salvation offered to every member of the human race by the grace of God does more than make possible the forgiveness of all our sins through faith in Christ who died for our sins according to the Scriptures. It does more than offer us the priceless gift of eternal life. It teaches us the important truth that Christ included in the missionary commission He gave His disciples before He left this earth. Paul reminded Titus that the grace of God teaches us that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts," we who are partakers of that grace "should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
You see at once that Paul is talking about our lifestyle as Christians. First of all, he says we should deny or refuse to give any room or place to ungodliness or worldly lusts. Both of these are products of our old fleshly, sinful nature with which we were born and which governed our conduct before we became Christians. The Bible says our old nature and carnal mind are at enmity against God and not subject to the laws of God. Our old fleshly nature delights in ungodliness and worldly lusts. When we believed the Gospel and turned to Christ for forgiveness and deliverance from sin's penalty and power, the Holy Spirit imparted to us a new nature born of God that delights in God and His righteousness. When we receive Christ as our personal Saviour, God identifies us with Him in His death and resurrection. Our old sin-prone nature was crucified with Christ and its death in Him breaks sin's power over our lives and frees us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and any further domination over our thoughts and lives.
Not only are we crucified with Christ, but we are likewise identified with Him in His resurrection which enables us to walk with Him in the newness of resurrection life. As a result of our identification with Him, we are enabled through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to carry out His directive to live "soberly, righteously and godly in this present world."
Now, let's look more closely at these three directives.
1. We are to live soberly. That isn't referring to sobriety, and It doesn't mean we should always go around with long faces. He's talking about our attitude toward the circumstances in which we find ourselves as Christians. The facts are these: There is one sovereign, eternal God who created everything that exists, including mankind. Man has alienated himself from God by committing sin, which is anything contrary to God's holy and perfect will. Sin has brought the entire human race under sentence of eternal death and damnation from which man is helpless to save himself. God, in His love for mankind, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to bear the penalty for man's sin and open a way whereby all who will believe and accept the salvation God has provided in Christ can be forgiven and restored to eternal fellowship with Him. But the time when man can respond is limited. It must be before he dies or before this age of God's grace is ended by Christ's appearing to remove His church from this earth. There will be no second chance to "Escape all Things" after death or after the church is removed.
These are the circumstances, and their implications for the Christian are awesome. As recipients of the salvation of God through Jesus Christ we are commissioned to convey The Good News of the Gospel to those who do not know of the salvation available to them in Christ. The Scriptures say we are to serve as His ambassadors to beseech men and women in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God.
Having regard to all that is at stake, that is an awesome and sobering responsibility, and our attitude and manner of life should reflect our appreciation of its seriousness. That's why God counsels us to live soberly.
2. But we also are to live righteously. In other words, we are to do what is right in the sight of God. This raises the whole issue of morality and how we are to determine what is right and what is wrong. The popular philosophy today says each person should be free to decide for himself or herself what is morally right and what is wrong. Now this heresy is not new. In the Old Testament book of Judges we read of a time in ancient Israel when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" and of the disastrous consequences which overtook the nation as a result.
Society today is repeating that same folly. The influence of secular humanism has become so dominant in our public education systems that there remains no recognition of God's eternal moral absolutes when discussing moral values and how they should be determined. Human rights extremists and the secular news media vie in championing the demands of individuals for freedom to do whatever they wish to do, whether it be killing their own unborn children or deciding their own moral values or whether they will accept moral standards at all.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time we recognized that morality is not something to be determined by public opinion polls or the self-serving demands of individuals or special interest groups. Morality must be based on the eternal, immutable moral absolutes which God has established and affirmed in the infallible Scriptures for the good and preservation and well being of mankind. That is why debate on individual and public moral issues cannot be divorced from the equally fundamental issue which is the matter of society's acceptance or rejection of the supreme authority of the inspired Scriptures in determining what is right and what is wrong. An individual Christian or church congregation that accepts the divine authority of the Bible has no difficulty in deciding what their position should be on such matters as abortion, premarital sex, the sanctity of marriage, personal and public honesty and integrity, and so on. For a Christian to live righteously in this present world requires that his decisions and positions and actions be governed not by human desires or opinions - his own or others' - but by what the Word of God says is right and true.
3. Finally, our text tells us that we are to live "godly". To live godly means to emulate and reflect the characteristics and attitude of God. Obviously this is something we cannot do in our natural, human state. Our natural natures are ungodly and sin-infected and prone to evil and ungodliness. Our natural minds, as we've said, are at enmity against God and not subject to the laws of God, neither indeed can be. How, then, can we hope to live godly lives in this present world?
The answer is in the new nature we receive when we are spiritually reborn through receiving Jesus Christ into our lives as our personal Saviour. The Scriptures say, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God ... which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.""Born of God" - that's the work the Holy Spirit performs in us when we receive Christ as Saviour. That spiritual new birth creates in us a new nature we did not possess before. Ephesians 4:24 refers to that new nature as a "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." We as Christians can live godly lives only as we suppress the old fleshly nature and give our new spiritual natures control over what we think and say and do.
This is what God intends. Titus 2:14 says the reason God redeemed us was "that he might ... purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works". That is, how we live as Christians, and what we say and do, should be good, righteous, and acceptable to Him that redeemed us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.
We should give our new natures control over what we say. Our tongues need to be controlled. James 3:6 says, "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity". He goes on to say, "The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God . . . and therewith curse we men ... Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be". Sometimes you hear professing Christians using profanity, taking the Lord's name in vain - something God has expressly forbidden. "Out of the same mouth (both) blessing and cursing". Such conduct indicates either that the person has never really been spiritually reborn or that they are not giving their new nature any meaningful role over what they think or say. They are rejecting or ignoring God's threefold directive that Christians should live "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world".
May God help all of us who profess to be Christians to realize that these divine directives are important and should be obeyed. Such obedience is one of the greatest and most urgent spiritual needs of this day and generation. I urge you to make certain that your professed relationship with Jesus Christ is genuine. Do your thoughts and conversation and manner of life bear a clear witness to His indwelling presence?
If you have any doubts, get rid of them now. Bow your head and ask Christ to come in to take full possession of your life from this day on. Enthrone Him not only as your Saviour, but also as the sovereign Lord of your life and be able to say with the Apostle Paul, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.".
May God bless you.
Go To Lesson Three: Keys to Understanding God's Divine Directives! - Study Three!