26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Corinthians 1:26–29, NKJV)
Arrogance before Almighty God is indefensible. Yet, since the days of Noah to the tower of Babel, from the defiance of the Pharaoh to the presumption of King Nebuchadnezzar, from the unbelief of Pilate to the contempt of the Jewish Sanhedrin and the disdain of the Greek philosophers, men and women have raised themselves up against God. Without fail, sinners have succumbed to the righteous judgments of God. Still, through His Son Jesus Christ, God calls every sinner to come to Him. Yet, only those who completely humble themselves to Him will be counted as the “called, chosen and faithful” (Rev. 17:14). God’s redemptive plan in Christ assures that nobody can boast before God. We are thoroughly dependent upon His mercy and grace. That is why we put our faith in Jesus and do His will, not our own.
Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”” (Acts 24:25, NKJV)
Mastery over self is a mark spiritual and emotional maturity. Self-control is generated by living according to the Spirit-revealed word (Gal. 5:22-23). Self-control is the ability to both restrain oneself from sin and to exercise discipline over one’s spirit so as to be faithful to the Lord. Our eternal destiny depends, in part, on whether or not we exercise self-control in all things (1 Cor. 9:25-27). Those “without self-control” love themselves and sinful pleasures instead of loving God. Like Felix in today’s verse, they are lost in their sins (2 Tim. 3:1-4). On the other hand, Christians are exhorted to “be self-controlled”, remembering that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7, ESV). Bring yourself under the control of Christ. Live by faith and do His will (Gal. 2:20). Your moral and spiritual life is shaped by whether you use or refuse self-control.
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:8–10, NKJV)
Faithful men of moral purity and holiness are to lead public prayer. Likewise, women are to clothe themselves modestly. The godly woman’s attire is dictated by her sense of shame that is rooted fast in her character. With decency she exercises sound judgment and self-control. She adorns herself consistently with her profession of faith. She retains her ability to blush, ashamed to uncover her nakedness. Her clothing is consistent with her profession of good works. She wears a full complement of clothing that avoids extravagant displays that emphasize the appeal of the flesh (1 Pet. 3:3-4). In an age when popular culture sexualizes the appearance of men and women, godly women (and godly men, for that matter) will continue to clothe themselves modestly, for honoring God is their first priority. To do less shamefully exposes not only a person’s body, but also a heart that is not ashamed of that which is shameful (Jer. 8:12).
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12–14, ESV)
The warning is clear and undeniable. A Christian can develop “an evil, unbelieving heart” that leads him or her to “fall away from the living God”. In spite of this clear language, theologians have convinced multitudes that this is false, saying instead that “once saved, always saved” is what the Bible teaches. The fact that a Christian can “fall away from the living God” does not indict God’s power to save (“the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save”, Isa. 59:1). Instead, it shows that Christians must be vigilant against sin (“your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God”, Isa. 59:2). Truly, God’s grace is greater than sin, but God’s grace does not remove one’s freewill to “abhor what is evil” and “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9). Do not be deceived by sin; it hardens your heart against God and His truth (Heb. 3:13). Be steadfast in your faith to the end, reject sin and obey righteousness.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
These are the promises made to those in Christ who have learned not to go beyond the providential Hand of the Lord. Jesus never said that we should not be concerned for the things of this world, but rather that we should not let them distract us from the promises and blessings found in the security we feel in our prayers. Those Christians who let the devil distract them to the point of forgetting to pray, have left their own hearts unguarded and opened their minds to greater problems than they could ever handle on their own. Let us be secure in our own minds, and our hearts will be guarded by the trust we have in the power of our prayers to God. “In God We Trust” should be more than a slogan on a monetary piece of paper or metal coin. (Dennis Scroggins, Bible Thoughts for Today)
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28–29, ESV)
Jesus was not merely a good man with good philosophies. He was “from above” and is the Son of God (Jno. 8:23; 10:30, 36). We will die in our sins unless we believe this (Jno. 8:24). He spoke with the authority of heaven, not by citing other men to approve His words. This is why believing and obeying His word is so important. And, this is why it is so disrespectful to discount and disobey Him. His word will judge us in the last day (Jno. 12:48). Living by His word will bring eternal blessings, but rejecting it will bring the just punishment of our sins (read Rom. 2:6-11). The teachings of Jesus carry greater authority that Moses and the Old Testament prophets. His words are greater than any human philosopher who has ever or will ever live. He speaks with heaven’s authority. The question before us will always be, will we honor Him with our full obedience, or will we argue against Him and His word to our eternal demise? The choice is clear; the time is now. Honor Christ by following His teaching.
24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24–27, ESV)
It matters what we do with the words of Christ and the words of His apostles and prophets (1 Cor. 14:37). Wise men and women listen to the words of Christ and actually do them. Like the well-grounded house, they withstand the withering storms of life. Their faith is secure, animated by obedience, not dead and barren (Jas. 2:17, 20). On the other hand, to hear Christ’s words and fail to do them is truly foolish. The world cannot offer anything that will withstand the tempest of temptation, sin and eternal death. Jesus does. Jesus saves. But, you must listen to Him and obey Him for Him to save you (see Matt. 7:21). Listen to the Scriptures and obey Jesus. Be wise.