11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile. 12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. (Psalm 94:11–13, NKJV)
To be taught by the Lord is far better than any human-conceived source of instruction. Human thoughts and teaching cannot save our souls nor equip us for the inevitable challenges to a life of faith. The “traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world” are “not according to Christ,” and therefore, futile to save us and sustain our souls (Col. 2:8). The psalmist understood this, and praised the virtue of being taught out of God’s law instead of man’s mind. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all the day” (Psa. 25:4-5). The teaching God gives from His truth shields us in the day of trouble. It assures us of His righteous relief against the immoral. Spend time with God’s word. Let Him teach you. God’s blessing is waiting for you there (see Jno. 6:44-45) .
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:1–2, NKJV)
Christ expects Christians to obey the truth. Our obedience is not meritorious; we do not earn the right to be saved in heaven through our obedience. Obedience is the natural and completing action of belief; without obedience, faith is incomplete and powerless to save (Jas. 2:17-26). Obedience to Christ is the reasonable response of observing the crucified Christ, who has been put on full display by the gospel. Like a billboard on the roadside, the gospel announces the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the world as the means of our salvation (something the works of the law of Moses could not do). The “hearing of faith” describes the gospel, “the faith” preached by the apostles (Gal. 1:11, 23). The faith (gospel) produces personal faith, and personal faith is made complete by obeying the truth (Rom. 1:17; Heb. 5:8-9). Are you obeying the truth in faith, or are you relying on something less than the gospel and complete faith to save your soul? Live each day by faith in obedience to the truth of Jesus.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You. 2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. (Psalm 102:1–2, NKJV)
Burdensome trials are common to us all as we travel through life; none of us are immune from the pains and sorrows of the flesh. Those who live by faith face the additional stresses and strains brought on by seeing and hearing the lawless deeds of the wicked (2 Peter. 2:8). Yet, just as God “delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked”, the Lord knows how to “deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Pet. 2:7, 9). One way He does so is by hearing and answering the fervent prayers of the righteous. The Lord hears the cries of His people. He sends forth His goodwill from His throne of grace to help us in time of need (Heb. 4:16). God is our “very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). Do not forget to pray, and do not fail to trust that God will hear and answer your prayers (1 Jno. 5:14-15).
4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Psalm 1:4–6, NKJV)
We live in a time when we are told we should not, cannot, must not judge anyone. We agree with Jesus that we must not “judge according to appearance.” We also accept His teaching to “judge with righteous judgment” (Jno. 7:24). The “judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). Therefore, when we use God’s word to speak His judgments, we judge righteously and do not judge from our own heart. Today’s verse shows God’s judgment against the ungodly – those who live without God in their lives, lacking piety toward Him and obedience to Him. Here, the word of God says the ungodly shall not be vindicated in the judgment or have a place among the gathering of the righteous. God knows the way of the righteous, and He announces His judgment that “the ungodly shall perish.” Still, God offers us escape from sin’s death in His Son, Jesus (Rom. 6:23). Let us turn our hearts heavenward and live unto God, not unto self, sin, and eternal death.
9 I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know. 10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:9–10, NKJV)
Over the past two days we have briefly considered the Ad Council’s campaign, “Love Has No Labels.” Today, let us commit ourselves to a different sort of campaign, one needed by our nation and the whole world; a campaign of righteousness. It is led by Jesus Christ, who was prophetically described as “David a Brand of righteousness,” and as King, who executes “judgment and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 23:5-6). As David proclaimed good news to the great assembly, even so His physical descendant Jesus Christ proclaims “the good news of righteousness” to the world. Let us join His campaign and proclaim God’s salvation in Jesus (Rom. 1:16-17). Be a foot soldier in His campaign of righteousness and be the “salt of the earth” who flavors this world with righteous living. Join His campaign of righteousness and be the “light of the world” who exposes this dark world to the light of truth (Matt. 5:13-16). God’s grace calls on us to live righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). Such living demands that we “do not restrain our lips,” but declare God’s faithfulness, mercy and truth.
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, NKJV)
There is no virtue in defying God and His word; such is the height of arrogance. The Ad Council campaign, “Love Has No Labels,” while addressing bias as they see it (and indeed, there are sinful biases that call for rebuke, repudiation and repentance), also fights against the word of God in some instances by promoting inclusion of life activities which He excludes from His approval. (See Sword Tips, November 24, 2016, for more.) God does not accept the practice of immorality and religious error under the banner of “love.” Of course, we must treat everyone with kindness, but we do not respect sin. The Bible says, “You who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psa. 97:10). Sin God hates sin, He does not include those who practice sin into the spiritual blessings that are “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Jesus died for sinners because of our sin. God does not overlook, accommodate or otherwise diversity His fellowship for the sake of “inclusion.” God resists the proud, who demand their will over His revealed will, the inspired Scriptures. Humble yourself before God, accept and abide in His word, and He will give you grace. That is His promise, but it is conditional upon your faith in Him and His word, not yourself (Eph. 2:8-9).
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a, NKJV)
We oppose bias and prejudice, just as God does (Acts 10:34-35; Jas. 2:1-13). But, a recent Ad Council campaign against bias entitled “Love Has No Labels” promotes inclusion and diversity without reservation or Scriptural consideration of sin. Some of the campaign’s applications are morally benign (such as race, age and disability). Others are not. Their video includes LGBT conduct and world religions along with sinless items as requiring love without labels. In truth, this campaign should have been named, “Love Has No Boundaries,” for it does not respect the restrictions love demands. In today’s classic passage on love, please see how often Christ’s apostle uses “not” and “no” to explain love. God’s word labels the traits of love, all of which demand distinction and separation from that which is “not” love. Dear reader, not everything people call love is love according to God’s definition. For instance, love does not “rejoice in iniquity” but “in the truth” (v. 6). Yet, the “Love Has No Labels” campaign violates this as it praises immorality and religious error. Be discerning before labeling everything love, or you may falsely identify sin as love, while failing to see (or even condemning) the genuine article.
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32)
The words of Jesus could not be more plain. Believers who abide in His word are truly His disciples. (We correctly deduce that believers who do not abide in His word are not truly disciples.) Furthermore, disciples who abide in His word shall “know the truth” and by the truth, be made free from sin. How very different this is from many who think any kind of belief is enough to please Jesus, make them a Christian and free them from sin. How very different this is from those who say truth is not absolute, definite or knowable with certainty. Jesus calls on us to believe Him and to continue in His word by knowing and following the truth. The word of Christ is the Christian’s place of residency. We live by His word, and although we are in this world, we are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. Discipleship is our calling; We learn and we live the word of Jesus, the New Testament of Christ. Knowledge of the truth is our expectation, for we cannot continue in what we do not know. And, freedom from sin is our blessing from the Son, who makes us free indeed (Jno. 8:36). Saving faith learns, obeys and continues in the truth of Jesus.
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1–2, NKJV)
It is fascinating to listen to people tell how they believe God has spoken to them. Some say they have had a vision of God. Others, that God spoke to them in a dream, or in the wind, or by some other experience. Some believe God speaks to them when they pray (failing to grasp that prayer is how Christians speak to God, not how God speaks to Christians). Today’s passage answers and rejects all these claims of divine communication. Notwithstanding the sincerity of the claim, they are mistaken. God speaks to us all in the very same way, and just as He has since the first century – “by His Son”. God speaks to you and me today by the message Christ’s apostles preached to the world. They spoke the word of God, and they wrote the word of God for us to hear. God has spoken the same message to us all. The New Testament of the Son is how God has spoken to us “in these last days.” The vital question is whether or not we are listening to God by listening to His word. We bring judgment upon ourselves “in the last day” if we will not listen to and receive the words of Christ (Jno. 12:48). God is speaking to you by His Son; are you listening?
19 Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the wicked; 20 For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out.” (Proverbs 24:19–20, NKJV)
We are tempted to fret (to become agitated, lit., “to burn”) and be envious of the wicked. Why does it seem the wicked prosper while the righteous do not? We need to step back for a moment when we begin to grieve or are moved to provocation by sinners. A compelling reason is given to prevent fretting over and being envious of the wicked person: His future is bleak. There is nothing ahead for him except corruption (Gal. 6:8). He is laying up for himself treasures on earth. But, he will soon die, and he will take nothing with him beyond the grave. His life and its evil will be extinguished. The outcome of his sinful conduct will surely be divine wrath and eternal death (Rom. 2:5; 6:23). Fretting over the evil actions and apparent advantages of the wicked distracts us from our call to live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). So, instead of fretting when we see the temporary advantages of the wicked, let us strengthen our faith in Christ and renew our resolve to help save the lost from the utter despair awaiting them. They possess nothing to merit your envy. Do not burn in your spirit because of them. The time for honoring themselves will soon end. Then, their eternal regret begins.