“They think it strange” #1104

In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:4–5, NKJV)

When you choose to no longer practice the excesses of immorality, those who live in lustful indulgence often respond negatively. They may mock you as an entertaining oddity – the odd ball who doesn’t want to “have fun.” They may speak evil of you – disgusted that you will not join them in their outpouring of selfish, sensual sins. We do not expect the faithless to encourage us to be faithful to the Lord; it is foolish to think they would (1 Cor. 15:33-34). Sinners hated Jesus because He exposed their sins (Jno. 3:19-20; 7:7). In the same way, when you choose to do the will of God, you will be laughed at and scorned – or worse. Those who treat you this way will answer to God for reviling what is good. And, answering to God for one’s evil conduct is nowhere you want to be. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). So, take heart, keep faith, and do not be discouraged. God will right every wrong you endure for His name’s sake.

Self-control, not sinful abandon #1103

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. (1 Peter 4:3, NKJV)

Look carefully at this Scripture’s description of the “past lifetime” spent in “doing the will of the Gentiles,” instead of doing “the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:2). One thing all these sins have in common is the absence of self-control. From the sinful indulgence of lewd words and actions, to all manner of evil cravings, to drunkenness, carousing and the drinking parties that lead to excess, to the abominations of idolatry formed by unbelief – self-control is forfeited when these sins are practiced. Purity of heart protects us against lascivious, lustful conduct. Sober-mindedness refuses even the first drink of mind-numbing alcohol which, left unrestrained, invariably progresses to debauchery and drunkenness. Those who have armed themselves with the mind of Christ do not adopt the ways of unbelievers, much less defend those ways (1 Pet. 4:1-2). It grieves us when Christians defend the occasional consumption of alcohol, for it indicates a mind that is still “doing the will of the Gentiles,” instead of the will of God. Today’s tip: Put away all the sins of the past, exercise self-control, and live for the will of God today and every day.

Suffer for the will of God #1102

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2, NKJV)

Christ suffered for us; “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). His suffering in the flesh compels Christians to equip ourselves with His mind or attitude; the decision to do good and, if need be, “to suffer for doing good” (1 Pet. 3:17; 4:1). Contrary to the “health and wealth gospel” taught by false teachers, being a Christian does not free one from suffering. The devoted Christian accepts a life of suffering for doing the will of God. In verse two, Peter says such suffering includes no longer living to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our devotion is to the will of God. Even when your former companions in sin think you are odd, and speak evil of you for no longer joining them in sin, remember that you have “ceased from sin” and cannot continue to practice it (1 Pet. 4:3-4, 1). Peer pressure is powerful, but we must see it for what it is; the attempt of sinful people to draw us into sinning along with them. Resist. Suffer (when it comes to that). Live for the will of God. Do not live for the lusts of men.

Faith in Jesus is not Islamophobic #1101

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18, NKJV)

During the confirmation hearing of Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Bernie Sanders charged Vought with being “hateful,” “Islamophobic,” and “insulting” a billion Muslims because his Christian faith informs his belief that those who do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, are condemned (see today’s verse). Article VI of the U.S. Constitution plainly says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Senator Sanders should know this.) Mr. Vought should not be expected to abandon his faith in order to hold a job in the government. Nor should he be so falsely accused because of his faith. Yet, this outrageous example reminds us that believers will continue to be falsely accused. Jesus said His disciples are blessed when we remain faithful in the face of faithless persecutors (Matt. 5:10-12). “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Guided by Integrity #1100

The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)

The contrast in this verse is between being blameless and being devious in attitude and action toward others. It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Every day, we face split-second decisions that reveal whether or not we are guided by integrity. For example, do you give back the extra ten dollars of change the cashier mistakenly gave you? (If not, why not? It is not yours.) Do you protest and pay the full amount that is due when that same cashier undercharges you? (If not, why not? Honesty demands you pay what you owe.) Do you lie to close a business transaction? (Are you okay with someone lying to you in a business deal?) Do you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? (Or, do you slack off when the boss is not around?) You see, straightforwardness and honesty must guide our values and our treatment of others. Integrity produces reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. These qualities bring success to one’s life. But, the deceitful will be caught in their own net and destroyed (Psa. 35:7-8). When a person loses his sense of truth, fairness and justice, his integrity is ruined. Left unchanged, eternal ruin awaits (Rev. 21:8).

“Preach the word” #1099

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2, NKJV)

There is a word that must be announced to the world. The word that must be preached is the very word of God. It is not a message wrapped in the creeds and confessions of men (Jude 3). Neither is it a word shrouded in personal testimonies and experiences (2 Cor. 4:5). It is not a word designed to please men, nor is it meant to align with the prevailing customs and traditions of the day (1 Thess. 2:4; Col. 2:8). This word is not shaped and molded by the philosophies which men have developed through the ages, for it is supremely superior to every thought of mankind (1 Cor. 1:18, 21-25; Isa. 55:8-9, 11). We speak of the word of God, the “Holy Scriptures,” which are inspired of God (divinely-breathed), not men. The Holy Scriptures completely equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13). When you read the Bible, you are reading God’s words. The Bible must be preached, received, obeyed and respected because it is the word of God; not the word of men (1 Thess. 2:13-14). (Please take time to read the Scripture references in today’s tip – they are the words of God.)

Charge of Widows #1098

If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. (1 Timothy 5:16, NKJV)

Family is the first line of provision and protection for the elderly. Just as God gave the family structure to take care of children, family also has the responsibility to care for their older members. Jesus severely rebuked the Pharisees for not taking care of their parents by falsely claiming their duty was complete when they had devoted their goods to God (Mk. 9:7-13). Today’s verse makes a difference between who the local church is charged to relieve, and those for whom the family has primary charge. The church is not to be charged with the ongoing care of widows (and widowers) who have Christian children. They bear the first responsibility. The church has its own charge; those widows who do not have children to care for them. God’s plan works, when we honor God, and our parents who need our care.

Marriage and Motherhood #1097

14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan. (1 Timothy 5:14–15, NKJV)

The apostle of Christ glorifies marriage and motherhood; our humanistic society does not. In today’s passage, the marriage of younger widows guards them against sins associated with idleness (gossiping busybodies, 1 Tim. 5:13), and protect them against the slanderous ruin of their godly reputations. Marriage was not developed through the ages by mankind; our Creator gave us marriage in order to populate the planet, and to maintain moral purity (1 Cor. 7:2; Gen. 1:27-28; 2:24-25; 1 Cor. 7:2). Marriage is designed to provide the emotional, material, and spiritual security of a family. The wife who manages her home and raises her children in the ways of the Lord makes immeasurable contributions to this world. God continues to call us back to His ideal for the home. “Let marriage be held in honor among all” continues to be desperately needed (Heb. 13:4, ESV). Some have already turned aside to Satan by disrespecting marriage and motherhood. Let us determine not to be among that number.

“They learn to be idle” #1096

11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. (1 Timothy 5:11–13, NKJV)

In refusing to register young widows for ongoing benevolent care from the local church, the apostle explained that to do so would provide a means for them to “learn to be idle.” When someone is given everything, there is little incentive to work to provide for oneself and for others under your charge (1 Tim. 5:8). Parents do their children no favors by not placing work expectations upon them as they are growing up. When a person learns to be idle, he or she is exposed to the sins of idleness, like gossip and meddling in the affairs of others. “Wandering about from house to house” has become easier these days, with telephones, email, texting, Facebook, etc. – but, the sins of idleness are the same. Let us be busy doing the work of the Lord, taking care of our own business and families. “Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands,” instead of learning to be idle (1 Thess. 4:11).

“Do not be partakers with them” #1095

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:6–7, NKJV)

Fellowship with sinners in their sin is repeatedly warned against in the Scriptures (Eph. 5:11; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Jno. 9-11). And yet, many Christians refuse to teach on the subject of fellowship, much less follow the New Testament teaching on the subject. This invariably leads to confusion, accommodation with error and compromise with sin. Ultimately, being a “partaker” (co-participant, an associate, a sharer) causes one to be eternally lost. We cannot share in the sins of the disobedient and expect heaven to be our eternal home. Furthermore, we cannot condone or encourage them in their sin – even if we do not overtly commit the sin with them (2 Jno. 10-11). The subtle deception of fellowship with sin convinces many that if they do not commit the sin themselves, then they are innocent. (We ought to remember Pilate, who could not wash the blood of Jesus from his hands when he delivered Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified, Matt. 27:24-26; Jno. 19:16). We cannot share in sin with sinners, and be blessed by God. Neither can we tolerate, condone or accommodate sin, without guilt. Do not be deceived.