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Posts Tagged ‘First Epistle of Peter’


(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Though he (Jesus) were a Son, he learned obedience by the things he suffered.  And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them who obey him. – Hebrews 5:8-9

– “Obedience is the virtue that determines whether a person is a servant or a rebel.  Life of integrity is built on obedience of God’s statutes – and nothing else.” – Israelmore Ayivor

Obedience to God is mandatory for the salvation of all people.  We either mind God, or we don’t.  If we say we love the Lord, we obey His voice always, no matter what may be going on in life (Jeremiah 42:6). Obedience to the Word is the way of our life; it is the length of our days (Deuteronomy 30:20).  Obedience to the world is the way of rebellion; the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23).

Never again will God offer us another sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:12).  If we should willfully sin as Christians, we are being rebellious and disobedient (Hebrews 10:26).  We are offending God.  We have gone backwards towards behaving like our former self (Jeremiah 7:24).  We have said to God we can do what we want, because we’re believers (Romans 6:1, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16, Jude 1:4).

Yes, we are still going to slip up and sin because of our flawed flesh (Romans 7:18).  Just because the Spirit is dwelling in us by faith – doesn’t mean we won’t do things contrary to it (Romans 7:19-20, Galatians 5:17, 1 John 1:8,10).  We have to be extremely mindful when we do sin – and confess it to God.  So we can receive His forgiveness.  So He can cleanse us – and correct us (1 John 1:9).

So we learn to obey God, and not offend Him by repeating the same old sins over and over (Job 34:31).  Obedience means we repent from, and remit our sins.  Without zealously doing this daily, we’re disobeying God (Acts 17:30, Revelation 3:19).  Every disobedient act is a fall from repentance.  It is like hanging Christ back up on the Cross – and putting God to open shame (Hebrews 6:4-6).

It’s hard to learn Jesus if we decide we can be disobedient whenever we want to (Ephesians 4:20-32).  How can we ever expect to follow the example of Christ’s steps (1 Peter 2:21), if we keep falling down – or stumbling on – the steps of the spiritual staircase to heaven through continued acts of rebellion?  Disobedience is rebellion.  It is not climbing the right way (John 10:1, 2 Peter 1:5-10).

God doesn’t need our help (Job 4:18, Isaiah 43:13). It is better to obey than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). No matter what works we are doing in His name – they mean nothing without obedience.  The reason for all our faith is the death and resurrection of Christ.  It is all vanity without this (1 Corinthians 15:13-17).  We are to make obedience of faith known to all nations first (Romans 16:25-26).

Edwin Cole once wrote, “Obedience is an act of faith; disobedience is the result of unbelief.”  If we say we believe in Jesus – then our obedience is not an option.  It is a demonstration of faith.  If we balk at having to behave the way we are commanded – then we do not have very much belief.  Any disobedience still signals ignorance and unbelief in us about the eternal wages of sin (Romans 6:23).

One obedient act shows belief.  One disobedient act doesn’t; it is a lack of discipline.  Abiding belief is required for God to do mighty works for us.  Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, and would not do mighty works there because of people’s unbelief (Matthew 13:53-58).  Also, if we ourselves want to work for God, we have to show belief in Christ first by obeying the truth (John 6:28-29, Galatians 3:1).

God warns us to take heed, lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief as Christians (Hebrews 3:12).  We all came to the Cross with desperately wicked and deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) – and they stay that way if we keep disobeying.  God once winked at us in our times of ignorance about the disobedience of sin – but now commands all men to repent through obedience (Acts 17:30).

Obedience is the difference between our eternal deliverance and eternal damnation (lead verse). Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  The salvation of our souls is the end result of it – not the start, or the mid-way point (1 Peter 1:9). We have to remain steadfast in our confidence (which means “with faith”) unto the end, to be made partakers of Christ (Hebrews 3:14).

Hoping to that day for our Father’s grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Christ (1 Peter 1:13).  Just like Jesus did, we have to remain as humble and obedient children unto death; no longer fashioning ourselves to former lusts in ignorance (Philippians 2:8, 1 Peter 1:14).  We all once walked this way sometimes – but we can’t anymore without consequences (Colossians 3:7).

Obedience means we put off all anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy; and all filthy talk.  We are not to lie, one to another anymore (Colossians 3;8-9).  We are not to let ourselves be deceived by man’s vain words.  All for which things’ sake God’s wrath comes on the children of unbelief and disobedience – prayerfully not forever (Ephesians 5:6, Colossians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Jude 1:3-7, Revelation 21:8).

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(Scripture from the KJV and NKJV)

– I listened and heard, but they spake not aright; no man repented of his wickedness, saying “What have I done?”  Every one turned to his course, as a horse rushes into the battle, – Jeremiah 8:6

– The more you defend a lie … the angrier you become. – Mitch Albom

Over the recent holidays, I watched one of those crime shows on TV with my parents.  This particular program had the usual suspects – five people with potential motives for two related murders.  Among them was a mother whose son had been previously killed by one of the later victims.  When she was brought in for questioning by the police, her demeanor was calm and innocent – at first.

The woman became increasingly louder and defensive as detectives started putting holes in her alibi.  Protests such as “I haven’t done anything!” started pouring forth from her mouth.  My dad pegged her as the killer half-way through the episode.  I asked him later how he was so sure.  He said, “It’s the people who holler and protest the most you have to watch.  They’re the ones usually lying.”

Kids can often get like this when they know they are guilty of doing something they’ve been told not by their parents.  Professing their innocence with loud protests such as “What have I done!?”  The parent will then counter with calm, firm words like, “You know exactly what you did wrong.”  In situations like this, loudness is a good indicator of lying – calmness is a good indicator correction is coming.

The child then stomps angrily down the hall, or up the stairs to their bedroom.  However, don’t they often stop after opening the door, and make sure everyone in the whole house hears their cries of  “This is so unfair!”?  This is frequently followed by a door slam – with an equally far-reaching noise. Christians who do not understand the purpose of God’s correction – may do similar things.

Protests of “What have I done?” are unwise when God corrects us as Christians.  As a sign of His great love – we will all undergo things like chastening (Hebrews 12:6-7 ).  It won’t seem joyous during it – but all discipline in life can hurt at times (Hebrews 12:11).  Try to remember, His commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).  God never afflicts or grieves us willingly (Lamentations 3:33).

The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies (Ezekiel 18:32).  God is long-suffering with all of us – not wanting anyone to perish into the pit – but to come unto repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  This is a commandment for Christians (Acts 17:30).  We can no longer be ignorant about sin’s eternal wages (Romans 6:23).  It means we obey God unto death, just like Jesus did (Philippians 2:8)

Any claims we have of being faithful Christians means we are obedient to our faith.  Why?  Jesus – our only power to obey God – dwells in us by faith through the power of the Spirit (Romans 16:26, Ephesians 3:16-17).  We can’t claim innocence about sin anymore when corrected by God (Jeremiah 2:35). Obedience requires such.  Jesus is the author of salvation to all who obey God (Hebrews 5:8-9).

Christ shed precious blood for us at Calvary.  It is the very same blood sprinkled on our hearts daily as a salve for our sins (Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 1:2).  We have to learn not to offend Him anymore with them (Job 34:31).  If we are still walking around raising our voices at God, saying things like “What have I done!?” every time He corrects us; we don’t have the faith we may be loudly proclaiming.

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r(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– And he said unto them, “Full well you reject the commandments of God, that you may keep your own tradition.  Making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition, which you have delivered; and many such like things as you do.” – Mark 7:9,13

– “They won’t listen.  Do you know why?  Because they have certain fixed notions about the past.  Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes – even if it were the truth.  They don’t want the truth – they want their traditions.” – Isaac Asimov, “Pebble in the Sky

A custom is a practice followed by people of a particular group, region – or religion.  It is a certain way of doing things which people can quickly get “accustomed” to.  Preferred customs eventually evolve into traditions – so-called “tried and tested” ways.  Creating human chains which can keep anyone – even great and aged Christians (Job 32:9) – from understanding God’s wisdom and judgment.

There are ways which may still seem right in our own eyes today as Christians – such as traditions – but the ends thereof are still the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12).  Traditions often birth words like, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, or “We’ve always done it that way.”  As believers, we came to the Cross broken and undone – we all need fixing.  Tradition craves old ways; truth creates new ones (Isaiah 43:19).  

Jesus could not stand tradition.  The Pharisees questioned and criticized Christ about this.  Why would someone claiming to be a Jew – not keep Jewish traditions?  After all, the disciples of Jesus still did so (Mark 7:1-13).  However, it was in keeping with a Passover custom which set the guilty prisoner Barabbas free – and sent the guiltless Christ to the Cross (John 18:39-40, 1 Peter 2:22).

Is it any wonder why keeping tradition displeases God?  Tradition keeps us outwardly observing particular religious customs and ceremonies – even in Christianity.  Simple things such as having to conduct a Sunday service a certain way can become tradition over time.  God’s kingdom does not come by observing such traditions; it already dwells inside us (Luke 17:20-21).

Keeping any tradition is obeying man’s voice, often under the guise of obeying God’s.  Saul found out the dangers of listening to people first – not God (1 Samuel 15:23-24).  If we are conforming and performing dutifully per man’s traditions – we can keep our inner man and minds from being renewed daily through the regeneration of the Holy Ghost (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Titus 3:5).

Still, people keep traditions.  They can create a sense of order in a chaotic world.  New Year’s resolutions have become tradition for many.  People who make them somehow believe numbers on a calendar can create the perfect and permanent conditions for all the positive personality changes they desire.  The changes only God can create from within us.  Truth always trumps tradition.

God warns us to beware, lest any man spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world – and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8).  Perhaps no other person understood the dangers of tradition more than Paul.  The one who once tried to destroy the Christian faith he ended up preaching – in large part because of tradition (Galatians 1:23).

Before his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-15), Paul went by the name Saul (of Tarsus).  He was brought up in that city at the feet of Gamaliel – a Pharisee doctor of Jewish law.  Saul was raised and taught this way – and he was zealous towards God in this manner (Acts 22:3).  Part of Saul’s zeal became persecuting people who belonged to this new sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 22:4, Acts 24:5).

Later in his epistle to the Galatians, Saul – now the apostle Paul, wrote this: “For you have heard of my conversion in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God; and tried to destroy it.  And profited in the Jews’ religion above many of my equals – in my own nation – being more exceedingly zealous of the “traditions” of my fathers (Galatians 1:13-14).”

As Saul, his zeal towards God focused on repeating and loving Jewish tradition.  Consequently, he began persecuting God’s church and its new Christians. Most Jew’s considered themselves God’s chosen few for salvation.  The new gospel he later preached as Paul, meant non-Jews – the Gentiles – could be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).   Jewish tradition now countered God’s truth.

We will be redeemed by truth – not tradition.  We will be saved through repentance according to the Word – not repeating the same old traditions of the world – even in church.  For we know we are not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver or gold, or from our vain conversations received by tradition from our fathers.  Christ’s precious blood will be enough (1 Peter 1:18-19).

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– But though He causes grief – yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.  For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. – Lamentations 3:32-33

If you have been a parent at any time in the past, did you ever have to discipline your children for disobeying you?  If you did, didn’t it pain and grieve you to punish a son or daughter when a certain situation required it?  You didn’t do it willingly – but you knew something had to be done to teach your child right from wrong.

Of course – if you were a child on the other side of the coin, how often did you hear Dad or Mom say something like “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you?”  And, you could not possibly see any sense to a statement like that.  You were the one receiving punishment.  How could a parent be pained by that?

Perhaps it was looking back on such times years later – when you finally understood your parents were really trying to help you through discipline when you were younger.  To keep you from trouble then, and still getting hurt by it today.  Something had to be done when they saw you heading down any potentially dangerous or deceitful path in life.

Hopefully, you finally realized any grief your parents caused you as a kid, was meant for your own good now.  Why would our loving Father in heaven be any different?  Who would want a God to go around arbitrarily afflicting and grieving people with punishment – without purpose – to determine eternal destinies (lead passage, Romans 3:5-6)?

Two of Charlie Brown’s most popular phrases were “Good grief!”, and “I can’t stand it!”  God cannot stand sin – the sin Scripture has concluded we’re all under (Galatians 3:22).  If we are Christians – we all know better now about the eternal wages of it (Romans 6:23).  Repenting from sin is not an option – but a commandment (Acts 17:30).

Meaning God is going to grieve us at various times – but never willingly (lead passage); so we learn Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:20-32).  According to His way – not ours.  But – we can’t learn Jesus the way God desires – unless Jesus dwells in us by faith through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17). This is the only power we have to repent.

Old things have to pass away, so we can become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We are no longer just God’s creation as Christians – but His children again.  Our loving Father in heaven is now teaching us His way.  Not the way we may desire much of the time; but the way He’s designed it to be – by correcting and chastising us.

Happy is the man whom God corrects.  We are not to despise it when it happens (Job 5:17).  We are not to grow weary while we’re enduring His chastening (Proverbs 3:11).  It’s going to hurt God more than it hurts us.  We probably won’t see it that way as His children at first.  It won’t seem joyous – what punishment ever does (Hebrews 12:11)?

God’s commandments are not meant to be grievous (1 John 5:3) – but designed for our own good.  Our Father assures us we will be chastened as Christians (Hebrews 12:6).  It may often seem very grievous. However, it’s a sign of His love.  We have to learn not to offend God (Job 34:31).  Therefore, we are to be zealous about repenting (Revelation 3:19).

So He can continually guide us away from the troubles and sins of this world – and towards the sincerity and truth of His Word.  To keep us from getting hurt over and over by our old sins and their sorrows.  So we are not punished eternally by sin’s motions and wages (Romans 6:23, Romans 7:5, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Luke 13:27-28).

Even if we think we are suffering wrongfully at the hands of others – we are to endure their grief.  This is thank-worthy with God – if our conscience is towards Him.  Even if we do well, and suffer grief for it – and we take it patiently – this is acceptable with God (1 Peter 2:19-20).  Remember, Jesus was fully acquainted with all we may face (Isaiah 53:3-10).

If we are Christians – and we do not fully understand this – guess what’s probably going to happen often? We’ll see God as creating grief – without having any cause to do so.  However, we cause our own grief when we walk around with any innocent  “What have I done?” mindset regarding sin (Jeremiah 8:6); or still proclaim our goodness (Proverbs 20:6).

If we are like this, we’re probably going to grumble a lot, about how could a loving God be causing us grief. This can go a long way towards grieving the Holy Spirit within us.  We’re warned not to do that (Ephesians 4:30).  Doing so can be the catalyst for blasphemy against the Holy Ghost – putting us in danger of eternal damnation (Mark 3:29).

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ. – Philippians 1:27

The word “become” means “beginning to be”.  It’s the start of steadily growing into something different from what anyone is at a particular point in time.  In earthly marriages, a man and a woman “become” one flesh (Mark 10:8).  “Become” also means looking good or fitting well on someone – such as saying to a person, “That suit becomes you.”

If we are true believers, we’ve been born again of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-5).  Our conversation from that point on should slowly and steadily become more and more like Christ – because Christ has come to dwell in our hearts by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-17).  It’s not an instant conversion – but a continual process.

This is done through the daily regeneration of our hearts, minds, and inner man by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Titus 3:5).  It doesn’t stop until we die.  So we eventually get to a point where people who falsely accuse our good conversation in Jesus – are ashamed of themselves for doing so (1 Peter 3:16).

Our conversation is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  We are not to hinder the path of those still being led to the Cross by God (John 6:44) – but to help them. We do that when Christ’s kindness, calmness, and compassion is reflected in all our talk and actions. When our love is fervent and unfeigned – from obeying the Spirit of truth in us (1 Peter 1:21).

If Jesus is not our constant conversation – someone or something else will be.  We were given Christ’s mind from God (1 Corinthians 2:16) when we received the Holy Ghost.  Won’t it appear we may still be minding the world, or minding any other wise and great person’s words first (Job 32:9, Ephesians 5:6); before Christ’s – by our conversation and actions?

Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, and not do the things I say (Luke 6:46)?”  Our daily conversation and actions reflect the true Master of our life (Luke 16:13).  How can we enter God’s eternal kingdom, if we don’t learn how to walk, talk, and act like Jesus – and follow peace and holiness with all men (1 Peter 2:21, Ephesians 4:29, Hebrews 12:14)?

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels – for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor – that he by the grace of God should taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9

– But by the grace of God, I am what I am. – 1 Corinthians 15:10

Grace is unmerited favor.  It is giving a person something they don’t deserve.  It can’t be earned by being good – or by doing good works (Ephesians 2:9).  It’s simply given.  A worldly example would be the government giving a grace period to file taxes without paying late penalties for monies owed – although an established deadline had already passed.

We can love grace when it’s extended to us – but perhaps grumble when someone we don’t think really deserves any merit; receives grace.  Regardless, grace is not usually looked at as something being really bad – such as someone being sentenced to die. How could that be grace?  How could that be giving a person something they didn’t deserve?

But, God gave us all unmerited favor – by giving Jesus something undeserved; death.  Our Father’s grace led Christ to the Cross to take our place.  Some aptly call this a substitute death.  A man who did no sin (1 Peter 1:19) – with no guile found in his mouth, was led as a perfect lamb without blemish (1 Peter 2:22) to lay down his life for us (John 10:15).

By the grace of God we will be saved through faith; and not of ourselves.  This is only if we remain steadfast in our faith until the very end (Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 3:14, 1 Peter 1:9).  For His grace will not be brought to us until He sends Jesus back with salvation – when the devil is cast down (1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 12:10).

Until that great day, we all wake up each morning because of God’s abundant mercies – which He delights in (Lamentations 3:22-23, Micah 7:18). Mercy is unmerited favor, too – but on the opposite end of the spectrum from grace.  It keeps us from something we do deserve for the wages of our sinful nature from birth (Ezra 9:13, Romans 6:23).

By the grace of God doesn’t mean we can buy His gift of the Holy Ghost with money – it’s unmerited (Acts 8:20).  We’re given it when God knows we feel guilty enough about our sins to repent unto salvation – not just because we’re afraid of going to hell.  Otherwise, we will only be sorry about our sin for a season (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

The ultimate price has already been paid for us – the ultimate sacrifice was already made at Calvary (1 Corinthians 6:20, Ephesians 5:2).  By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for everyone (lead verse). Delivering us from our fear of death, which we are subject to the bondage of all our lives (Hebrews 2:15).

This is why Christ is the answer.  Not to get worldly things; but in response to the question of how do we get out of this world when we die?  How do we escape the great sentence of death in us from birth, because of the sin which Scripture has concluded we’re all under (2 Corinthians 1:9, Galatians 3:22)?

There is only one way to eternal life and immortality brought to light through the gospel – through God’s Son (John 14:6, 2 Timothy 1:10).  Our corruption must put on incorruption.  Our mortality must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).  Doing these things can only be done through the Cross and Christ – and by the grace of God.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass; seeing God has punished us less than we deserve – and has given us such great deliverance as this. – Ezra 9:13

– “Does he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded?  I think not.  So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say ‘We are unprofitable servants – we have done that which is our duty to do’.” – Luke 17:9-10

The word “deserve” is  found just twice in the KJV; once above in Ezra – and once in Job 11:6, where we find God exacts less of us than our iniquities deserve. Neither verse has anything to do with anyone getting good things from God.  Instead, they involve Him withholding forms of discipline or correction we do deserve; and should receive for sinning – even as believers (1 John 1:8-10).

However, if God did punish us each time we transgressed against Him – imagine how painful our lives could really be.  If our every act of disobedience received a just recompense of reward, we might not love Him as much as we may proclaim.  Who among us would be able to stand before Him until salvation – if He caused grief every time we sin (Ezra 9:15, Hebrews 2:2-3)?

Doing something worthy of reward or punishment – or showing such qualities – is said to be deserving. We may deserve a raise in our careers for the work we do – or we might receive a sentence to die if we ever intentionally killed someone.  It would be deserved based on the evidence.  Regardless, we can spend our lives deciding what we deserve and don’t (usually good, not bad) – while someone else decides otherwise; including God.

Receiving worldly things in our favor can be called merit.  We labored hard and did good deeds – and we deserved them, right?  However, if we receive bothersome or burdensome trials we think are undeserved, we can call them mistakes.  But – God would never cause such troubles to us as His chosen, would He (Jeremiah 2:35, Jeremiah 5:12, Jeremiah 8:6, Colossians 3:5-6)?

Well, God does not operate on a worldly merit and mistake system – but on His Word’s basis of grace and mercy.  These are two forms of unmerited and undeserved favor with opposite meanings.  God’s grace kept Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah‘s total destruction – so His mercy would be magnified in saving Lot’s life … yet Lot hadn’t done a thing to merit either (Genesis 19:19,24).

Grace is free and unmerited favor.  It’s unearned – and gives us something we do not deserve.  It’s how God will save us – but His grace won’t be brought to us until Christ returns (Ephesians 2:8, 1 Peter 1:13). Until then, we get up every day because of God’s long-suffering towards us (2 Peter 3:9).  It’s because of His abundant mercies we are not fully consumed each morning (Lamentations 3:22, 1 Peter 1:3).

Mercy is also free and unmerited favor – but it keeps us from something we do deserve, such as sin’s wages (Romans 6:23).  However, our modern world of merchandise may have many thinking otherwise.   If we keep buying products, flying in planes, or even just try something out – we deserve to get back something extra often touted as free – but which usually comes with a prior price tag.

This type of “rewards for everything” culture seems to exist almost everywhere today in modern society. It was fueled largely at first by the advertising world. It started by telling people – and selling them on the point they deserved something back by spending dollars.  Purchases would earn reward points to redeem later – or what was the point of buying anything?

Christians are not immune from this message of deserving for doing almost anything.  If we invest/spend time, money, or love in the world – a mindset can be that someone should give us back what’s been earned according to prior expectations. Unskilled and unlearned Christians in the Word are susceptible to this.  They can unconditionally equate belief to deserved blessings – often to destruction (Hebrews 5:13-14, 2 Peter 3:16).

Even the learned don’t always learn.  In Micah’s days, priests judged for reward, taught for hire, and prophesied for money (Micah 3:11).  People who professed to love Him with their lips (Psalm 78:36, Matthew 15:8, Titus 1:16) – but only followed Him in their hearts for a love of personal presents.  It was seen as vain to keep His ordinances otherwise (Isaiah 1:23, Malachi 3:14).

God sees it all – nothing is ever new to Him (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  Others in Old Testament times saw no profit to themselves by serving Him, praying, even being cleansed from sin (Job 21;15, Job 34:9, Job 35:3).  God also knows those of us today who are faking our faith.  Pretending to love – not fervently and unfeigned – but to receive some sort of benefit from above (1 Peter 1:22).

Our Father warns us several times in the New Testament there will be people today – and in the days to come – just like this.  With covetousness and feigned words, some will make merchandise of us (2 Peter 2:3-4).  Whole houses will be subverted for filthy lucre (Titus 1:10-16).  By those with a ready mind for money (1 Peter 5:2) – charging for God’s free message (2 Corinthians 11:9).

If we file into such churches and buy into their misguided messages, and allow ourselves to be deceived by the vain words of any man or woman; no matter how great and wise a Christian they may seem (Job 32:9) – to their worldly profit, we are lightly esteeming our Savior (Deuteronomy 32:15). We are being very disobedient children (Ephesians 5:6).  Both Jesus and God do not deserve this kind of treatment.

In the most selfless display of love ever, God decided His only Son deserved to die for our sins – a worthy lamb without spot or blemish (John 3:16, 1 Peter 1:19).  Jesus – the one without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), the one with no guile ever found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22), the one who did not deserve to die for anything he ever did – did.  So by God’s grace, Christ would taste death for all (Hebrews 2:9).

Believers or unbelievers, God does not “owe” anyone anything, at anytime – ever.  The Lord has already given us everything He could ever give.  As Christians, we can’t go around counting up all our righteousness acts and wonderful works, then redeem them for worldly blessings from above. We’ve overcome the world – having been redeemed from the grave by God through His Son’s redemptive blood (1 Peter 1:9, 1 John 5:4).

Therefore, any work we do for God is always as unprofitable servants (second lead verse).  Any type of deserving attitude simply reverses servitude and merit back on ourselves.  Christ died in vain if that is ever our mindset.  It’s our duty to do all He commands – especially repentance unto salvation (Acts 17:30, 2 Corinthians 7:10).  Remission of sins is not a recommendation.

A debt is something owed – such as money, goods, or services.  It is an obligation to repay or render the same in return.  Our Father is never in debt to us. We owe Him everything – including giving our lives if need be (John 15:13) – for what He did for us at Calvary.  This is not reckoned of grace – but out of our debt to Him (Romans 4:4).  We have already received God’s very best.  Our Father deserves our very best to serve Him in return – always.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro – and carried about with every wind of doctrine – by sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to destroy. – Ephesians 4:14

– “I find myself adrift these days, an endless maze of ends and ways – the world seems so crazy to be here.” – “Peaceable Kingdom“, words and music by Rob Carlson, copyright 1974

Every boat on the water has to be following some sort of pre-set course.  Even if it is just going out from shore and back each day – much like a lobsterman might set out to set traps, or see what’s in them – then head back home at dusk.  Whatever the vessel – it requires a steering mechanism to get where it’s going.  A navigational system is also needed to show the captain how to get there.

No matter the size, all ships also have to have ballast.  Even the biggest boats require something for balance – to keep then from getting tossed to and fro during storms.  Without something to stabilize any ship – it will start to list – leaning slightly or significantly to one side or another.  Any wild weather will most likely tip it over – or cause a shipwreck where the boat breaks apart and debris starts floating away.

Pieces of the ship are no longer moored – and they are only steered whichever way the winds and water send them.  This is known as being adrift.  Once this happens – drifting follows, a continuous movement from one place to another – without any definitive direction.  It becomes a steady motion, moving forwards or backwards – side to side – more so when the seas are stormy; less when they subside.

This is known as “to and fro”.  A good example on land would be watching bustling shoppers going “to and fro” from store to store to buy gifts at Christmas. Some go one way – some go another – blending into one big blur of busy-ness.  God warns us to guard against this type of life as believers – as it can sometimes seem – for someone is always lying in wait to trap and destroy us (lead verse).

I seem to see and talk to a lot of dazed Christians – who appear to be adrift these days.  They can be pew passengers sitting inside the seeming comfort of a giant ship – a mega-church sanctuary – but there is no true ballast of belief.  Even in smaller churches – they appear to be listing.  Leaning towards love and worship of the Word – then listing towards lusts and wants of this world … to and fro it goes.

We can’t have a moral and immoral compass on the seas of life at the same time (1 Corinthians 10:21). Our moral compass as Christians is the conviction we have about following Jesus – with steadfast confidence (with faith) we’re being guided towards salvation (Hebrews 3:14).  Remember what happened to Peter when he was walking across the windy water – and took his eyes off Christ (Matthew 14:24-30)?

If we have any type of immoral compass, we’ll remain at least partially trapped in the confusion and corruption of this planet (1 Peter 2:6, 2 Peter 2:20-21).  Our worldly wants (Psalm 23:1) will win out from time to time over the Word.  We’ll go to and fro – back and forth between sound and unsound doctrine.  Sound doctrine is not hearing words which just sound good – as if they will personally benefit and bless us (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

We may not detect distant storms brewing this way. It can be a full-steam ahead attitude because everything seems presently calm in our Christian lives.  So far – it may have seemed to be smooth sailing for the most part.  However, somebody is always lying in wait just below the water’s surface on either side trying to sink us.  His name is Satan – subtly setting traps of lies to trick us into believing something is truth (John 8:44, 2 Corinthians 11:3).

A lot of hurt was waiting on Job’s horizon – and he never saw the storm coming (Job 1:13-19).  Satan did – and God allowed it to hit very hard.  Why?  One reason was Job had become the chief captain of his own ship.  Whether he steered it right or left – it was the right way to go in his own eyes.  God wasn’t Job’s guide anymore – just a guest on his boat.  He was no longer acknowledging and trusting God as his captain and compass.

It might be said Job was sailing smugly in the “I” of his own storm (John 7:18).  Not only was he his own pilot – he was choosing out the course of others as well (Job 29:14-25).  Whether Job was putting them on the path of future peril – did not seem to faze him.  Satan saw this all.  He had been going to and fro in the earth – and walking up and down in it – seeking whom he could devour (Job 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8).

Job was drifting towards destruction (Proverbs 16:2,25).  When devastation hit – nobody could believe it.  His three friends sat silent with him for a week trying to figure it all out (Job 2:11-13).  When all started speaking – everyone drifted to and fro between their respective opinions.  None of them were right per the Lord, to His wrath – and none righted Job’s ship.  God did by humbling him (Job 3:1-42:8).

If anyone feels adrift these days as a believer – it has to be largely in part because of a conscious and daily decision about who is being allowed at all times to be their guide out on the waters of worship and life (Joshua 24:15).  Why would He steer us the wrong way if we look to Him and obey?  God is our only guide all the way to death (Psalm 48:14).  We can’t declare our own paths – and then put God on board our ships of salvation as a mere passenger.

As the lyrics to the lead song allude to, this world is a labyrinth of many lies.  If we keep listening to them while still trying to sail true to the truth of the Word – we can’t help but start listing.  Satan is always lying in wait – on either side of our ships of faith.  Waiting for us to trip and fall overboard – catching us at will in his snares of sin again (1 Timothy 3:7, 2 Timothy 2:26).  Yes, drifting is a very dangerous state to be in as a believer.

It puts us in a constant state of flux – floating between things of the world and Word – whichever has our focus at any given time (Colossians 3:2). Our faith can get tossed to and fro – from being fervent to feigned, and back again – perhaps depending on how our life with the Lord seems to be personally favoring us at the present time.  We have no definitive direction each day.

We can still feel lost as Christians – if a lot of our godly devotion is still being determined by the want of worldly gifts and rewards (Isaiah 1:23).  We’re leaning one day on our own worldly understanding – then leaning back to the Lord when we don’t understand what’s going on (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Back and forth we go until the storm hits.  Then we’re tossed to and fro – and not sure where to go anymore.

If our constant compass as Christians is not Jesus, if we have not turned complete control over to the shepherd and bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:7) – and we don’t have a good conscience about our current course, it probably won’t be long before our faith is finally shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19).  Our boats of belief break apart because we had no true ballast to keep them grounded.  We’re set adrift.  Some may already be there.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– If I justify myself, my own mouth will condemn me. If I say “I am perfect” – it shall also prove me perverse. – Job 9:20

– Then the wrath of Elihu was kindled against Job – because he justified himself rather than God. – Job 32:2

Christ did not hang on the Cross for us to justify our own actions, words, and behavior as believers.  As if we’ve done “just enough” to repent of our own liking – but not God’s.  It is the Lord who proves us all – whether we love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul – not ourselves (Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 13:3).  We can claim such as Christians – but only be loving Him with our lips – while our hearts are still going after things like covetousness, still far away from where He wants us to be (Isaiah 29:13, Ezekiel 33:31, Matthew 15:8, Galatians 5:22-23).

Who among us will ever be able to say “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin (Proverbs 20:9)?”.  We can’t stop sinning just because we’re Christians.  The best we can hope for is to put our sins into remission through repentance.  Just like cancer, they can always come back – sometimes more destructive than the first time.  Although most men will proclaim every one their own goodness (Proverbs 20:6), there is not a man on earth who does not sin (1 Kings 8:46, Ecclesiastes 7:20).  As it is written, there is none righteous – no, not no one (Romans 3:10).

Scripture has concluded all are under sin (Galatians 3:22).  We are under the sentence of death from day one because of it (2 Corinthians 1:9).  We can’t justify ourselves as being just in His eyes – just because we don’t seem to sin as much as others appear to.  We can’t justify ourselves worthy of God’s grace – because grace is unmerited favor; it gives us something we shouldn’t deserve.  The only perfect and worthy offering for all sin was the Lamb without blemish, who was slain at Calvary (Revelation 5:12, 1 Peter 1:19).

Job didn’t covet, didn’t envy, or serve graven idols.  Yet, he lost nearly everything he had short of his life – in one day (Job 1:13-19),  His worst fears were realized (Job 3:25).  Why?  He had developed a huge “I” problem (Job 29:14-25, John 7:18).  He justified everything he did as being right in his own eyes; whether they were in God’s or not (Deuteronomy 13:18).  He idolized himself.  He had perverted the Word of God by essentially declaring himself perfect. This was his sin – and he didn’t see it until God answered and humbled him out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1-42:6).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it – and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10

Back in the olden days of yore, much of the known world’s inhabited landscape was dotted with castles and walled cities. Towards the back of each – furthest from where enemy forces were most likely to approach and attack first – were large, tall, and strong towers in many locations.  They were the most heavily fortified and protected.

They were places where people could run to – to seek refuge and safety from invading armies.  Soldiers could come to regroup and rearm themselves with more munitions which were stored there.  These towers were called “keeps” – hence our modern phrase of “playing for keeps”.

God and Satan are “playing for keeps” daily.  Satan is trying to devour all of us and take us captive at will (1 Peter 5:8-9, 2 Timothy 2:26).  The Lord is trying to deliver us  – by us doing His will (Luke 11:2).  The wicked one launches his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16) at our bulwarks of belief – trying to set them ablaze and burn them down to the ground.

When we feel like we’re being attacked on all sides by this world’s warfare and worries – the right thing to always do – is run back to the strong tower of the Lord’s name (lead verse). There we can be safe and regroup.  Then we can go back out into the world as Christian soldiers with a new coat of God’s armor on (Ephesians 6:11-17).

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