22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11:22–23, NKJV)
In considering the purposes of God that brought Gentiles into His kingdom while at the same rejecting unfaithful Jews, it is imperative that we recall God’s goodness and His severity. His goodness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). So does His severity (Heb. 10:26-31). It is altogether proper to use God’s punishment of sin as an incentive to be faithful to Him, because our God is a “consuming fire” against transgressors (Heb. 12:29). This verse tolls the death knell for the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. Those who do not “continue in His goodness” do not remain in His favor (“the soul who sins shall die,” Ezek. 18:20). God’s severity is impartially meted out against those who do evil (Rom. 2:9-11). God goodness is extended to and received by all who will “fear God and keep His commandments,” including Jews who “do not continue in unbelief” (Rom. 11:23). If Paul can use the goodness and the severity of God to urge people to follow Jesus, then we are confident we can, and should, do the same.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:25–26, NKJV)
Christians live in the Spirit, having escaped the condemnation of sin in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1-2). We walk in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:18). This divine guidance is not random or miraculous. Neither is it subjective or unique to each person. The Spirit leads us all by the word of the gospel He has revealed, confirmed and inspired (Eph. 5:17-18; Col. 3:16). Living by His truth, we bear the fruit of the Spirit and spurn the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-23). Today’s passage specifically charges us not to have false pride that looks down on others (conceit). It commands us not to be provocative, challenging and inciting strife. Neither are we to be envious of each other, resentful of another person’s advantages. Envy retards prevents thankfulness of heart. Conceit overvalues self and eliminates empathy for others. Stirring up strife causes turmoil and division. Make it a point to walk in the Spirit, following His teaching and bearing His fruit. By doing so we will refuse to bear sin’s rotten fruit.
15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not plunder his resting place; 16 For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” (Proverbs 24:15–16, NKJV)
When a righteous person falls into sin or calamity, the wicked person is tempted to take advantage of the situation; to enrich himself at the expense of the fallen. Yet, the righteous will not remain overwhelmed by the moment of transgression or trial; the righteous rise in confessional repentance to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Jno. 1:9-2:1; Phil. 3:14). Therefore, do not seize upon the trials of another as if it is your advantage. It is certain that such wickedness will not stand (v. 16). But, the Lord renews the righteous because they trust Him. If you should find yourself overwhelmed by sin or by a burdensome trial, do not lose heart. The Lord forgives sin and strengthens His people to endure present sufferings. Thank God today for His compassion and for the guidance of His word, which renews our faith and strengthens us to move onward to the dawn of eternity.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34–35, NKJV)
God’s love for sinners is unconditional: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jno. 3:16). God’s salvation of sinners is conditional: “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jno. 3:16). Today’s verse helps explain the condition of faith (“whoever believes in Him”) that saves sinners “by grace” (Eph. 2:8). First, God’s conditions for salvation are impartial. God’s very nature demands it to be so. Next, salvation conditions are universal (“in every nation”). Next, we learn that “whoever believes in Him” is one who fears God. Reverence for God implies one fully submits to God’s will, not his own. Such a submission, reverent faith “works righteousness.” That is, this person is obeys the commands of Jesus in order to be saved. Jesus and His apostles commanded belief, repentance, confession of faith and water baptism to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-10). Do you fear God? Will you work righteousness? If so, He will accept you. Yes, salvation is conditional, and Jesus Christ sets the conditions (Matt. 28:18-20).