14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain (Philippians 2:14–16, NKJV).
Just as the influence of light removes darkness, Christians diffuse sin’s darkness when we “do all things without complaining and disputing” (v. 14). We are to live in peaceful unity, maintaining the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:1-8). By doing so, we avoid “complaining” (grumbling, murmuring against others, James 5:9) and “disputing” (arguing over words that ruin the hearers instead of strengthening them, 2 Tim. 2:14; 1 Tim. 1:3-4). Like the first century saints, we live in the middle of a generation that is immoral, “crooked” (warped), and “perverse” (distorted, corrupt). By contrast, children of God are “lights in the world,” refusing to participate in sin with the world (v. 15). We are to be (1) Blameless (free of censure, 1 Thess. 3:13), (2) Harmless (“unmixed,” guiltless, Rom. 16:19), and (3) Without fault (unblemished, blameless, not needing a reprimand, 2 Pet. 3:14). Christians are lights in this dark, sinful world. Do not extinguish your light (influence) by becoming part of the problem, sinning with the world. Like the Philippians, we will be victors when Christ returns if we hold “fast the word of life” delivered by the apostles of Christ (v. 16; 1 John 5:3-4).
32 The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. 33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. (Psalm 37:32–33, NKJV)
Someone is watching you – someone who does not have your best interests at heart. So it is that the wicked scrutinize the righteous, looking for any chink in the armor, anything they can twist to slay (actually or figuratively) the upright in heart. It was so with Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees relentlessly assailed Him, cross-examining Him, “lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him” (Lk. 11:54). When the wicked condemn the righteous, the Lord assures His abiding presence and approval despite the judgment of the wicked. What are the righteous to do when judged and condemned by the wicked? Do not give reviling for reviling, but speak wisdom and justice (Psa. 37:30). Keep God’s law in your heart, so you do not slip from following God’s path (Psa. 37:31). Patiently endure the evil and keep trusting the Lord. He will bless you and bring His judgment against the wicked (Psa. 37:34). Although transgressors may prosper temporarily, they will come to ruin, so, do not envy them (Psa. 37:1-2). It is the blameless who receive peace from the Lord (Psa. 37:35-40).
3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. (Acts 28:3–6, NKJV)
The islanders showed them unusual kindness when Paul and the other 275 souls were shipwrecked on Malta (Acts 27:37; 28:1-2). How they reacted to Paul’s snake bite reminds us how important it is not to jump to conclusions before being adequately informed. Things are not always as they seem. They drew the false conclusion that Paul was evil and divine justice had overtaken him. In truth, bad things happen to good people, and to judge a person blameworthy because of a present trouble is very wrong (cf. Job; Jno. 9:1-3). When Paul did not die they concluded he was a deity. They swung the pendulum too far the other way. Jesus had promised such signs to confirm the gospel when it was preached, and it happened on this occasion (Mk. 16:15-20). When we yield to the temptation to make rash judgments we expose our own folly and shame (Prov. 18:13). Rendering righteous judgments that are guided by truth must be our constant endeavor (Jno. 7:24).
5 The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.” (Proverbs 11:5–6, NKJV)
To be blameless does not mean one has never sinned or has never failed in some spiritual responsibility. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). However, the blameless person takes responsibility for his sin and corrects it according to God’s will. Therefore, no charge of ongoing sin can be properly laid against him; He is “upright” (v. 6). He is directed by righteousness and walks uprightly in the light of God’s truth (1 John 1:7-9). By contrast, the wicked person falls in his wickedness because he does not seek the righteousness of God (Matthew 6:33; Romans 1:16-17). This person is captured by his own lust and lost in sin (James 4:1-4). Which person are you? Are you directed by truth and delivered by righteousness from the pains and trials of evil? Or, are you unfaithful to the Lord, driven by lusts that bring sin’s suffering to your life? Salvation and blamelessness are possible through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:12-17). The choice is yours, and its result will be everlasting.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart… (Psalm 15:1-2, NKJV)
When you were a child, did your parents ever tell you to stand up straight? Walking uprightly describes the spiritual posture of the one who may abide in the presence of God. It means to be sound, wholesome, innocent, having integrity. The Holy One has ever called upon people of faith to walk before Him in blamelessness (Gen. 17:1). To walk uprightly is equivalent to walking in God’s truth (Psa. 26:1, 3). Those who “walk righteously and speak uprightly” dwell on high and escape the “everlasting burnings” of God’s wrath (Isa. 33:14-16). The standard by which we straighten our moral and spiritual posture to walk uprightly is God’s truth. So, stand up straight and walk in the integrity of your heart, with God’s word inscribed upon it (Heb. 8:10). Walk uprightly into God’s tent and find rest.