13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them (2 Timothy 3:13–14, NKJV)
In yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1599) we learned the gospel teaches God’s people are no longer identified by their flesh, but by their faith (Romans 2:28-29). Now, let us apply what we learned. God’s word of truth informs us that the physical nation of Israel is no longer the chosen people of God. Therefore, any religious doctrine that elevates the nation of Israel to “chosen” or “promised” status is necessarily mistaken. For example, a widely held view is that Christ will return to earth and return the nation of Israel to its promised land (even though God fulfilled that promise long ago, Joshua 21:43). Scripture says we will meet the Lord in the air, not on the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Another doctrine some teach says every nation will be judged by God based on how it treats the nation of Israel. The judgment of the last great day will be individual, not national (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15). False doctrines concerning Israel deceive many souls. Today, it is one of the nations of the world, but the word of God gives it no superior standing among the nations. Every nation is under the rule of Jesus Christ, and every person who rejects Him as Messiah is lost in sin (1 Timothy 6:15; John 8:23-24). “In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35).
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” 7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” (Revelation 16:5–7, NKJV)
The righteous judgment of God proceed from the righteous character of God. When the angel pours out God’s God bowl of wrath in this vision, he says God is righteous because He judges evil with His wrath (v. 5). God does not leave evil unpunished. Just as God poured out His wrath against nations in the Old Testament, He did so against Rome for persecuting and killing His saints and prophets. (See 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7, where the principle of God’s righteous judgment is applied to those who trouble Christians.) Punishment is due the wicked, and God executes justice against it (Romans 12:19). His judgments are “true and righteous,” unbiased by error and untainted by the stain of prejudice. The angel’s words are reminiscent of Psalm 19:9, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Thanks be to God that He has revealed His judgments in His holy word! We can learn God’s judgments and live to receive glory instead of wrath on His day of judgment. “I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:7). Are you ready for the Judgment Day?
4 But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4–6, NKJV)
Please do not be deceived into thinking the dead influence events on the earth. Inspiration informs us that as far as life on earth is concerned, the living have hope in participating in its events, but death removes us from active involvement in this realm. Those who claim to communicate with the dead on behalf of the living are deceived as they deceive others. Scripture identifies such practices as sinful and futile (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). We obtain our information about things beyond the grave from the living word of God, which gives ample insight into death and what comes after it (Luke 16:19-31; 1 Corinthians 15, et al.). Each of us must prepare for death. None of us knows when it will come, but when it does, our involvement in this world ends. Now is the time to prepare for death and the judgment of our lives while on earth (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15). Nothing will change that judgment once we die. Put your faith in the living Son of God, who redeems us and intercedes for the living, not in dead saints and relatives whose time on earth has past (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
7 Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said: “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.” (Amos 7:7–8, NKJV)
Amos’ message was far from positive. God’s prophet had a dreadful message of punishment for the northern kingdom of Israel. Instead of standing upright against idolatry, immorality and injustice, they had participated in them. God’s plumb line, His truth, was in the midst of Israel, and they were not straight. God had repeatedly called them to repentance, but they would not return to Him. It was time to meet God (Amos 4:12). God’s word remains the standard of morality, teaching and faith. Everyone is judged by it (John 12:48-50; Romans 2:16; Revelation 20:12). God is longsuffering toward sinners, calling them through the gospel to repent (2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4). But, God is also just. His day of wrath will come, and we dare not have an impenitent heart toward His judgment (Romans 2:2-5). Like Israel, the church today is under threat of compromise with sin. Many have already accepted the world’s values and practices. The house of God will not escape judgment when we fail to stand upright and be faithful to the word of God (1 Peter 4:17-18). God’s plumb line is in the midst of His people (Galatians 1:6-10; 2 John 9).
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17–18, NKJV)
Judgment from God comes to the Christian as well as to the unbeliever. This passage affirms the house of God (the church) obeys the gospel of God and is composed of “the righteous” who are saved. By contrast, the result of the ungodly and sinner, who does not obey the gospel of God, is being lost. Each of us choose whether our judgment will bring us salvation in Christ or condemnation due to our sin. To be “scarcely saved” requires the strenuous activity of obeying the gospel. Jesus said the way that leads to life is difficult (confined or straight, Matthew 7:14). The way that leads to death is broad and has many travelers (Matthew 7:13). It is time to see clearly which road you are on. One leads to eternal life and the other leads to eternal death. Choose wisely by obeying the gospel of God.
25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you. (1 Corinthians 7:25–28, NKJV)
The final section of 1 Corinthians 7 (verses 25-40) addresses those who are free to marry in the context and consideration of the “present distress” that was pressing upon the saints at Corinth. Paul reiterates what he spoke to earlier in the chapter, that marriage is good in God’s sight, but it is not commanded (1 Cor. 7:1-2, 6-7). In light of the turbulent trials of faith they faced, Paul’s prevailing, inspired judgment was that they to remain free of marriage (v. 25, 40). Their very lives would be threatened, and every part of their faith would be put to the test (1 Cor. 7:29-30; Luke 14:26). At a time when they could ill afford distractions, declining marriage would prevent additional troubles (1 Cor. 7:28-34). His counsel would spare them trouble so they “may serve the Lord without distraction” (1 Cor. 7:28, 35). Are you willing to forego your rights and liberties in order to protect your faith (and the faith of others) against distractions (1 Cor. 8:9; Heb. 12:1)?
6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; (Romans 2:6–7, NKJV)
God’s judgments are just. The Old Testament law and prophets relied on this basic truth when they said, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20; see Deuteronomy 24:16). Despite this, many still believe men and women are born sinners (born with a sin nature), inheriting the guilt and depravity of Adam’s sin. Yet, today’s passage assures eternal life to those who continue doing what is good because they are seeking “glory, honor, and immortality.” What is the good we must patiently continue to do to receive eternal life? The apostle John said it is practicing righteousness: “My little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). The “doing good” that will be rewarded with eternal life is faithful obedience to God (Ephesians 2:10). Today’s question is this: Are you seeking heaven? If so, do you have faith that God will render to you according to your deeds? If so, then do the will of God and be blessed with eternal life. God will keep His word and deliver you a just judgment according to your deeds.