33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. (Psalm 119:33–34, NKJV)
God will teach you His way, when you are willing to learn. Notice that the psalmist wanted to learn the way of God’s statutes because he was committed to keeping them with his whole heart. He was not interested in learning merely for the sake of gaining knowledge. He wanted to gain understanding so that he could obey God properly. Do you want to learn God’s way? If so, why do you want to learn? Is it to justify yourself in what you already believe and do? Is it to prove somebody else wrong? Or, is it to actually do the will of God in your own life? God will teach you His way when you listen to Him. The way you listen to God is by hearing His word that is contained in the inspired Scriptures (John 6:44-45; 2 Tim. 3:16). God speaks to all of us by His Son, Jesus Christ, who sent His apostles into the world with His message of truth (Heb. 1:2; Matt. 28:19-20). When we listen to the apostles, we are listening to Jesus (Matt. 10:40; John 13:20). This is how God teaches us His way (Matt. 11:29; 13:9). Commit yourself to doing God’s will, then let His word teach you what to do. Then, do it with your whole heart.
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12–13, NKJV)
The Gentiles were not in a covenant relationship with God through the Law of Moses. Only Israel was under that law, and were the people of the covenant (Deut. 5:2-3). That is why Paul speaks of the Gentiles as “having no hope and without God in the world” (v. 12). This is an apt description of the spiritual status of all who are lost in sin: Aliens, without God, without hope, and without an inheritance (see Eph. 2:1-3). But, “in Christ Jesus” all that changes. In Christ, one has a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3). In Christ, the sinner is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Through faith in Christ Jesus, lost sinners are saved, and become children of God (Gal. 3:26; 4:5-7). The alien sinner comes into a saved relationship with God by putting on Christ, which occurs when the sinner is “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). The blood of Christ – His death for our sins – makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God (Eph. 2:16). It washes away our sins when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 22:16). No longer live without God and without hope. By faith, be baptized into Christ and be saved. “Why are you waiting?” (Acts 22:16)
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39–40, NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews had just recited a list of Old Testament people whose faith testified of their righteousness: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and many more unnamed men and women (Heb. 11:3-38). Although they “obtained a good testimony through faith,” they “did not receive the promise” –namely, the promise made to Abraham that in his seed “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 39; Gen. 22:18). They died in faith, before Christ came (the One to whom the promise was made, and through whom the promise was kept, Gal. 3:16, 19). Now, Christ has come, perfecting or completing their faith (Heb. 11:40). This great cloud of witnesses gathers to compel us to have enduring faith, because we have, in fact, received the promise (Heb. 12:1; Gal. 3:14).These Old Testament examples of faith forcefully influence Christians to remain faithful. They believed God’s promise, endured in their faith, and now are blessed by its fulfillment. Christians, who have the promise in Christ, must not “draw back to perdition,” but have faith “to the saving of the soul.” We must “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 10:39; 12:1).
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV)
There is much disagreement and misunderstanding about the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation. This verse will remove some of that misunderstanding – if we will allow it. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into “all truth” (the gospel), which they preached to the world (Jno. 16:13; Mk. 16:15). This Spirit-given truth calls upon every sinner to believe, repent and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 41). Thus, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, all Christians have been baptized into “one body” (the church, Acts 2:41, 47). Based upon this truth, Paul makes a plea for all the members of the church to work together in unity. He notes that one Spirit has directed our baptism in water (by the gospel He revealed), and by doing so, every Christian is a member of the body (church) of Christ. We have all drunk of the spiritual blessings given us by “one Spirit.” The Holy Spirit gives a wonderful gift to all who have been saved – spiritual refreshing and “an inheritance among all those who are sanctified by faith” (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:18). Because there is “one body” (the church) and “one baptism” (water), Christians must keep the unity of the Spirit, and not be divided (Eph. 4:3-5).
Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2, NKJV)
Nobody likes a braggart. Praising oneself is a prideful display of self-importance. Christians do not go around “tooting their own horn.” Their meek and quiet life will speak for itself (see Jas. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). Praising oneself is a mark of self-righteousness, not humble self-denial. The self-righteous Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’” (Lk. 18:11-12). Praising oneself indicates one is absorbed with selfishly demanding the spotlight. Christians do not seek the praise of men, but the praise of God. Therefore, we must not draw attention to ourselves through the vanity of self-adulation. Instead, let us be busy directing our attention toward serving others, and toward humbly obeying God. Then, we will have neither the time nor the inclination to draw attention to ourselves.
19 Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:19–20, NKJV)
We dare not overlook the necessity of repentance in God’s plan to save sinners. Paul was true to his commission from Christ to be His witness to the Gentiles (Acts 26:16-17). As he preached the gospel, he explained that “they should repent” in order to “turn to God” (conversion, Acts 3:19). Without a fundamental change of heart (repentance) toward God and the sin we have committed against Him, we cannot be saved (Acts 20:21; 2:37-38; 17:30). When repentance occurs, changes in one’s life necessarily follow. That is what conversion means. The Christians chooses to stop practicing sin. The Christian chooses to begin and continue living for Christ (Gal. 2:20). Obeying the command to be baptized, without first having real faith and genuine repentance, is powerless to “wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Neither will it wash away unholy relationships; they, too, must cease (“works befitting repentance”). Minds must change toward God and sin to be saved. Repentance is not being sorry for sin. It is the complete change of heart that occurs because of godly sorrow for sin (2 Cor. 7:10). Without it, you cannot be saved.
What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar. (Proverbs 19:22, NKJV)
God looks behind our actions, and sees our motives and intentions. God expects us to have both clean hands and pure hearts prompting what our hands find to do (Jas. 4:8). What desire of the heart are you accomplishing by your actions? Here, Solomon notes that kindness is measured and meted out by what is in the heart. A poor man who shows kindness from an empathetic heart (though he possesses little), is of greater value than the rich man who says kind things, but does little (1 Jno. 3:17-18; Jas. 2:15-16). When we say, yet fail to do, we show ourselves to be liars. Solomon acknowledges this, in order to urge us to be sure that our kind acts toward others are a genuine reflection of our heart, and not an exercise in vanity and self-promotion. If they are, then we have our reward (Matt. 6:1-4).
20 Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their ways are His delight. 21 Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered. (Proverbs 11:20–21, NKJV)
We cannot make God into who we say He is. He is God, therefore, we must yield ourselves into who He wants us to be. God is very clear that perversity of heart and sinful conduct does not have His approval or blessing. Let me illustrate. While it is true that God loves the world, the fact is that God’s love prompted Him to send His Son into the world to save the world from sin. That means God does not tolerate, redefine, or minimize sin. Yet, many who claim faith in God do exactly that. They refuse to define homosexuality as sin – even though God does (1 Cor. 6:9-10). They refuse to define the doctrines of men as sin – even though God does (Matt. 15:7-9). They say that God accepts everyone as they are – but our passage today makes it clear that He does not. God delivers the righteous, but the wicked will not go unpunished. God is ready to save sinners, but He will not tolerate or excuse sin. We must think of sin the way God does (Eph. 5:6-7, 11). And why not? We must yield to His will; He will not yield to ours. He is God, not us.
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18, NKJV)
Every sin we commit begins in the mind (“outside the body”), as Jesus taught in Mark 7:20-23 (see Matt. 5:27-28). Therefore, control the mind; control the body. Sexual immorality (porneia, fornication) is antagonistic to the purpose God gave our bodies –which is to give glory to God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). When sexual activity occurs outside of God-endorsed marriage, it is not love; it is dishonorable in His sight. This is God’s judgment, since He said, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Christians are “joined to the Lord,” therefore, we must not join ourselves to a harlot (1 Cor. 6:16-18). Christ calls us to keep our minds and our bodies pure, so that we may serve the Lord in holiness, not moral defilement. “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8–10, NKJV)
Christians know that what pleases the Lord also brings joy and fulfillment in life. They “walk as children of light,” choosing the joy and confidence faithful living brings. You see, you do not have to sin in order to enjoy life. That is the devil’s lie. The path of sin may bring you momentary pleasure, but it always leads to spiritual darkness and eternal death. On the other hand, a life lived in goodness, righteousness and truth has God’s approval, and shows God’s light to the world. You get to choose whether to enjoy life in the joyful fulfillment of God’s approval, or to live in the darkness of sin and death. You must change your way of thinking in order to change from living in darkness to light. Faithful living results from transforming the way you think. Instead of thinking that sin is the way to happiness, think the way God thinks. Live in the light of truth, and show “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Nothing is more fulfilling and joyful than knowing God accepts you. That assurance is real to all who “walk as children of light.”