3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. 4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. 5 Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip. (Psalm 17:3–5, NKJV)
David resisted sin when he had the purpose of heart not to sin by his words, and by carefully avoiding the sinful works of men. Our faith ought to compel us to also purpose in our hearts not to speak evil, and, to keep away from the path of sin. David’s purpose of heart not to speak sin also led him to obey God’s word (“the word of Your lips”) in order to keep away from those who would bring destruction into his life. And so, with purpose of heart, being guided by God’s word, David was sure that God would uphold his steps and keep him from slipping into sin. When David sinned, it was precisely because his purpose faltered and his trust in God’s word failed. That is what happens when we sin, too. When God examines your heart, may he see your resolve to speak what is right, and to do His words. If so, you will be walking upon the solid ground of faith.
12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her… 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:12, 15, NKJV)
Some Christians question whether they must end their marriage to an unbeliever, in order to be faithful to Jesus. The apostle applies Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 19:6 – “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder” – and answers, “No.” Is the unbeliever is willing to allow the Christian to live his or her faith, do so and bring a godly influence into the home (1 Cor. 7:12-14; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). If that willingness is not present, and the unbeliever sunders the marriage (being unwilling to have his or her spouse to live for Christ, v. 16), the Christian is “not under bondage in such cases.” That is, the Christian is not now, and never has been a slave to the unbeliever (see 1 Cor. 7:23). This verse does not teach another cause for divorce and remarriage, that is, desertion. (Marriage is for life, with one cause for one party to be free to remarry, the cause of fornication, Matt. 19:3-6, 9.) Instead, it teaches the believer that his or her faith is not negotiable – even in a marriage. Do not surrender your faith for the sake of pleasing any person; “you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). God has called you to be at peace with Him (v. 15). So, do the will of God, not the will of men.
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 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; (1 Peter 3:13–15, NKJV)
Peter does not say Christians will be free from harm when we follow what is good. On the contrary, suffering for the sake of righteousness will happen. God blesses the Christian who endures such troubles and threats (cf. Matt. 5:10-12). Just as God assured Isaiah that He was his “sanctuary” (holy abode and sure protection) in the face of opposition, so the Lord is for us (v. 14; Isa. 8:12-14). As you “sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart” (NASB), you will be equipped with the necessary faith to be prepared to give an answer for your hope in Christ. So that, even when you suffer for what is good, you will not grow weary. If Christ is not Lord of your life, then you will not long endure suffering for the sake of what is right. Instead of faltering when defamed for being a Christian, let us say with Paul, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,” (Acts 20:18–20, NKJV)
These words were spoken by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He had lived among them for three years (verse 31). His service to the Lord was marked by humility and zealous endurance, even while the Jews of that city plotted against him (Acts 19:8-9). In spite of this, Paul continued to courageously proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He understood what we must also perceive, namely, that the gospel saves sinners and protects Christians from the enemies of the faith. This is why we seek to declare the gospel publicly and privately. The gospel is God’s power to save the lost and equip the saved to do God’s work (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Nothing should be held back; It must all be preached. Avail yourself of every opportunity to teach and to be taught God’s word. It helps you serve God “with all humility” and with the zealous courage of faith.
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:35–36, NKJV)
This passage is particularly instructive about what it means to preach Jesus. Preaching Jesus identifies Him as the suffering Servant of God who sacrificed His life (Acts 8:32-34; Isa. 53:7-8). It includes teaching about sin and salvation from it. The Ethiopian was lost, and wanted to be saved. The water would facilitate his salvation. When he asked Philip about baptism, he had not yet announced his personal faith in Jesus, since Philip stated that as the condition upon which he could be baptized (v. 37). To preach Jesus means preaching baptism, since the Ethiopian immediately asked about it when he saw water. How else did he know about baptism, expect that Philip spoke of it when he “preached Jesus” to him? Surely, he told the man what Jesus preached about baptism: “He that believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). The Ethiopian confessed his personal faith, stopped the chariot, and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:37-38). The man joyfully went on his way, because he was saved when he believed and was baptized. Christ continues to save sinners the same way, today. What hinders you from being baptized to be saved?
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. 13 Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief. (Proverbs 14:12–13, NKJV)
The futility of trusting one’s feelings as a reliable guide for knowing right from wrong and truth from error is witnessed by the facade that emotions often display. Laughter may in fact hide sorrow, so that while one expresses mirth outwardly, grief exists within. This teaches us not to rely on what feels right, for they can mislead us even as they can mislead others. In contrast to “letting your conscience be your guide,” Scripture says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105). Divine truth, not human emotions, determine the way that pleases God. We must “buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” by going to the word of God to know and practice the will of God (Prov. 23:23; Jas. 1:25).
1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, 2 Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. 3 They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Selah (Psalm 140:1–3, NKJV)
David saw Jehovah as the One who would equip him against his enemies, preserving him in battle against evil, violent people. Those who attacked David in war also waged a propaganda war against him. Their lips were full of poison, directed toward his character and his God (remember the words of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17:26, 42-44). Christians are in a battle against spiritual forces that requires unyielding faith in the strength of the Lord to deliver us unto triumph against the adversaries of righteousness (Eph. 6:10-13). God’s deliverance from our enemies begins by us having the faith to put on His armor and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Our life in Christ is not a bed of ease; it is the battlefield of faith. Take up the banner of the cross and live in its shadow. Trust and obey the word of the cross. Therein is full assurance that the Lord will deliver you from evil people, and preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2 Tim. 4:17-18). “Selah” – Pause, ponder and profess with gratitude the greatness of our God, who delivers us from every adversary!