Saturday, June 29, 2013

a study in Philippians 4: whatever is right (part 6)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Whatever is right...

Thinking about whatever is right is a complex issue for sinful mankind, especially unsaved men who refuse to acknowledge whatever is true and whatever is noble. For if men do not acknowledge God's truth and nobility, they will not be able to accept what is right verses what is wrong, as outlined in scripture. You see, only God is able to define the standard for human righteousness. Why? Because God is perfect. And His perfection is demonstrated in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every Word that He reveals to us. Only His example is truly good for mankind to follow. Thus, God’s laws, as given in the Bible, both describe His perfect character, and constitute the plumb line by which He will measure all human righteousness.

To the believer, this is both terribly complex as well as eternally simple. For on one hand, our sinful nature does not honestly wish to receive God's absolute truth as, well... absolute. We still wish for a little bit of moral flexibility so that we can question and debate what our Creator has said is so. As sinful, corrupt, selfish beings, all mankind looks for loopholes and attempts to rationalize unrighteous behavior in order to justify and/or barter varying "levels" of sin against the true, noble and absolute Word of the King of kings. But Jesus is not in the bartering business, is He? Jesus needs not to justify any of His truths. He is perfect. As such, all His Words are unchanging and correct for us to follow without our amendment and/or debate. Yes, His way is narrow. His way is specific and deliberate. His way is uncomfortable and at war with our sinful nature. So, His way is terribly complex and difficult as it does not uphold the old way of which we are accustom.

On the other hand, Christ's way is eternally simple and restorative for our hungry spirit. We need God to live. We need God to survive, and flourish. So, we must listen when our noble, loving God calls us into thinking newly... righteously. We must live obedient to what He says and know that His narrow path is truthful, right and absolutely better!

So, why don't we trust Him? He has proven His goodness to us by overcoming sin and death. He has lovingly offered Himself as Savior when He could have easily allowed us to perish. So, why not think about whatever He says is right and pursue it always? Why continue to live debating over "gray" areas when it is so much easier to just live in accordance with His Word?

Now, some would foolishly argue that God's Word does not completely cover every area of right and wrong for modern mankind. They would debate that several unknown areas exist outside of what is written in scripture and thus assess righteousness by their own corrupt mentality of what feels good and/or how strongly they think something may or may not be acceptable. To this I must ask: If there is ever a question about a possible stumbling block before you, then why walk foolishly in it's direction lest you should trip and fall? Is your desire to pursue said argument more important than receiving the approval of the Almighty Father? Wouldn't you rather avoid every possible stumbling block and choose to walk Jesus' narrow path that is already well lit and clearly seen according to God's perfect law? Even if His known Way seems undesirable, He has assured you that His Way is always true and best. So, why spend time questioning and debating His plan? Instead, why not selflessly spend your time focusing on what is clearly right and offer yourself as a living sacrifice?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Yes, sacrifice and obedience to God will always lead us into righteousness. This means surrendering over the "gray" areas. Sure, our sinful desires will cause us to crave differently, but we must deny our human lusts in order to remain holy in the Spirit.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:12-13)

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation - but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:5-13)

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (1 John 3:7-10)

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9)

Ladies, it is good for us to think about whatever is right. It is good for us to focus on what we know to be biblically true and lay aside all other questions and arguments at the Master's feet. He has promised to make our paths straight when we remove such distractions and simply abide in Him. So, let's abide! Let's seek His righteousness first and nothing second. Let's memorize His Word and know His law intimately. For without Jesus, truth and perfect righteousness is not possible for us to attain on our own... the standard is simply too high. Righteousness is only possible through His cleansing and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in our lives. So, let us safely follow the Savior. Let's trust and obey His evident and lighted path rather than favor the pursuit of any questionable activity or possible "gray" stumbling blocks that we alone may be tempted to defend. Nothing deserves our favor more than Christ's clear direction. So, let us keep in mind His concerns and not our own. (He will cover all our needs.)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns. (Matthew 16:23)
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:3-4)

I encourage you to wisely learn every Word spoken by Jesus. Learn what behaviors our Messiah counted as blessed and righteous in God's eyes. As His followers, let us live thinking on these things! Let us make His teaching our only focus!

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:1-19)

Thank you, Father, for showing us, in Christ, whatever is right! Let us always think about these things! Let us always focus our efforts on knowing and practicing Your perfect, holy Word!

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matthew 7:24-25)



1 comment:

  1. Dear Victoria,

    I am deeply impressed with what you write and amazed by the almost daily publications of articles with are representing Gods word so well. Great Soul Food.

    Be blessed.