7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
It is not as if we do not know this simple principle – we reap according to what we have sown. Nonetheless, sin can deceive us into thinking this timeless truth does not apply to us in spiritual matters. Untold millions upon millions are unwilling to admit “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). They convince themselves they can plant the seeds of sinful living yet reap the harvest of eternal life. But, God will not be mocked. We cannot live like the devil on His earth and expect Him to usher us into His heaven (a place of holiness, undefiled by sin). What you will reap on that last great day depends on what you plant today. Where will you spend your eternity?
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41-42)
The mercies of God are not ours to dispense as we see fit. The salvation of God is available to all, but only “according to Your word”. God’s word reveals salvation – not our feelings, opinions and desires. It is the height of presumption to expect God to save sinners in some way other than how His word teaches (Matt. 7:21-23). Trust God’s word to answer every reproach. Be faithful according to His word and the mercies of God will come to you (see Rom. 12:1).
1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO CURSES FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. (Matthew 15:1-6)
A tradition is that which is handed down from one party to another. Many traditions are harmless. But in this instance, the “tradition of the elders” concerning washing and eating was being bound upon Christ’s disciples as if it were from God; It was not. Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for replacing God’s commandments with their traditions. Be careful not to bind your traditions on others as if they are from God. And, be careful to honor God’s commandments above any tradition man attempts to impose at the expense of obeying God.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
The humility of Christ Jesus prompted his full submission to the Father’s will in order to accomplish human redemption. Although Jesus did not divest himself of his deity to become human, he did leave the glorious splendor of deity when he became flesh (see Jno. 17:5; Matt. 17:2). He humbled himself still more by dying on the cross. Jesus sacrificed heaven’s glory, submitted himself fully to the Father’s will and steadfastly obeyed even unto death. We are called upon to have the same mind of humility Jesus had. Live for God and not yourself. Sacrifice your self-interests to serve others. Steadfastly maintain humility and the Lord will lift you up (Jas. 4:10).
6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you… (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7)
Christians are commanded by nothing less than the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ to withdraw from “every brother” who “walks disorderly” . We learn several important truths here. First, God commands faithful Christians to discipline disobedient Christians by withdrawing their social contact from the unrepentant Christian (“do not keep company with him”, 2 Thess. 3:14). Those who refuse to obey this command become disorderly themselves. Second, a Christian who refuses to repent of sin is lost (“disorderly”) and must become “ashamed” of his sin in order to repent (2 Thess. 3:14). The stated purpose for withdrawing from the disorderly Christian is “to admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:15). Third, a command from the apostles carries the weight of heaven’s authority. If one refuses to obey the apostles he is refusing the commandment of the Lord. Four, when we follow the apostles we walk orderly and have God’s approval. Let us walk orderly by following the apostles’ teaching.
In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. (Proverbs 16:6)
God combines His mercy and truth to provide us atonement for sin. He is a merciful God whose truth reveals and offers reconciliation to every sinner (see Eph. 2:1-7). We must also appreciate the second part of this verse: It is “by the fear of the Lord” that the sinner departs evil so as to be reconciled to God. The gospel of Christ calls upon every sinner to fear God and keep His commandments in order to be saved by His mercy and truth (Eccl. 12:13; Mk. 16:15-16; Heb. 5:8-9). Mercy does not contradict God’s truth. Neither can we claim to fear God while refusing to leave what is evil in His sight.
Sword Tips will be suspended for the next month while I am away on a preaching trip to India, and will resume in late February. Thanks to everyone for reading “Sword Tips” – see you with more soon!