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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Life, or a Way to Live?

Godliness, or the presence of the attributes of Godliness?  Just what is it that makes man feel that a choice has to be made to either pursue Godliness as life itself, or to acquire the attributes of God as a lifestyle? Sometimes the facts of Godliness are confused with the desire to possess the characteristics or traits of Godliness.  Just because a person acts in a certain way doesn't necessarily mean that the person is of a certain type.  Let's look first at the inspired words of David, who laid it out straight and simple as to just what it was, and is, the Lord desires from man in order to be [found] righteous.

'15 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;  3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;  4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LordHe who swears to his own hurt and does not change;  5 He who does not put out his money at usury,  nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.'  ( Psalms 15:1-5    NKJV)  (See Psalms 24:1-5)

While it's acknowledged that this particular Psalms was written during the time of moving the ark of the covenant to Mount Zion (See II Samuel 6:12-19), it's obvious that this Scripture is just as relevant for us today as it was to the peoples of the time of the Psalmist.  David didn't waste any words here, he kept it simple, for people like me who have trouble with two-dollar words and one-page sentences.  First, in verse one we have the all important question.  I think its safe to say that David's references to God's tabernacle and holy hill  was referring to God's Kingdom, both within men now and the new heavens and earths of our future.  The question is an honest query more to the point of what type, or kind, of person God would accept into His Home than what makes a person eligible to receive His gift of Grace.  These are words spoken from the heart, not just some whimsical and random jottings of an idle mind, and so they should be read with a sincere desire from an earnest heart for understandings.  This is so for this entire passage we're looking at, so let's take a look at the next three verses, which answers the question in verse one.  Again, just as in the first verse, David uses plain, straightforward language with no hidden mysteries.  We need to walk uprightly, and by these words we can understand that this is a figurative description of how our Spiritual posture should be maintained at all times.  Look at it like this, what is the opposite of walking uprightly from a literal point of view?  To slouch, to not keep your back straight, to not hold your shoulders up, maybe a combination of all of these.  What is your first impression when you see two people walking past, one with good posture while the other is slouching?  Which one of the two would you feel would be more dependable and trustworthy?  Now, let's apply this scenario to a strictly Spiritual setting.  What do you think of when you hear the words, 'good Spiritual posture?'  How about the opposite of that, 'Spiritual slouching?'  Do I need say more about walk[ing] uprightly?  The next part of verse two tells us that those chosen to abide with God works righteousness and speaks the truth in his heart.  What we're not going to do here is go down that old, much worn road of faith by works or works by faith while we're looking at the works righteousness part of this verse.  It's well established that our faith produces good works, and by a direct connection, those works are not only done in a righteous manner, but also for a righteous purpose.  Another very important thing about works [of] righteousness is the motivation behind the works.  It's very easy in this world to get caught up in a 'keeping up with the Jones' cycle.  If we do something that on its surface appears good, but our motivation, which only we and God may know, is flawed, then we are giving no glory to God.  The last part of verse two identifies those who've answered God's call as those who speaks the truth in his heart.  Right about now I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some readers questioned how someone would go about speaking anything, truth or otherwise, in his heart.  It a person doesn't understand this very simple ideal, then I have to question whether or not there is the accurate grasp of believing in your heart (See Romans 10:9) necessary to salvation.  Our relationship with God is not based in the intellectual center of our selves, the brain.  Our relationship with God has to be based in spirit and in truth (See John 4:23-24), and these are concepts that the human intellect can only have a basic academic knowledge of.  When Jesus answered the Pharisees question as to where the Kingdom of God was, He certainly was not talking about a part of the human body that only was able to grasp academic truths.

'20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."'  (Luke 17:20-21    NKJV)

The physician apostle could not have made it much clearer when he recorded this actual event and exchange of question and answer.  When we tie this Scripture from the book of Luke with Scripture from one of the apostle Pauls letters to the church at Corinth, it's even more obvious that knowing with our brains has nothing to do with what we believe, and speak, from our hearts.

'Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?'  (I Corinthians 1:20    NKJV)

The next verse, verse three from our Scripture up above, covers a lot of ground in a hurry.  Basically giving us three things that a child of God will not do, nor should we have any desire or urge to backbite, or slander, anyone, or do anything evil, or bad to anyone, including our neighbor(s), or to take up a reproach towards our friends, or anyone else.  There isn't much opporatunity for the fools of this world to distort this particular verse, it's pretty plainly written in plain speech.  Always remember that we do not have a God of coincidence.  Verse four gives us an idea of how we should percieve those who've elected to not answer God's call along with our recognition of those who choose to come to the Throne of Grace.  While we're told that we should despise a vile person, this is in no way telling us to completely separate ourselves from those not walking with the Lord.  If we did this, how could the testimony of our lives have any impact on them, and besides, Jesus taught us by the examples He set, and He specifically identified those who were without God as the ones He came to minister to  (See Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:32).  Next we're told to honor those who fear the Lord.  Remember that the translated word 'fear' has several contextual meanings, including 'to hold in awe' which is without doubt the meaning when this word is used in regards to the Christians perception of God.  David now addresses the issue of vows by identifying those who swear to his own hurt and does not change.  The main thing about vows to God is this; it's very rare that God calls on man to make a vow.  But, man has repeatedly chosen to make a vow to God over different issues, and so God requires a vow made to be kept.  David stressed this with the last few words of this verse, and does not change.  This requirement of God, to not change, is relevant in the Christians life in more than just this application.

'11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.'  (Ephesians 4:11-16    NKJV)

Now let's finish up our mini-study of Psalms 15 with a look at the last verse, verse five.  Under the earliest Jewish traditions and ordinances, Jews were prohibited from taking advantage of their fellows who were in bad positions by charging them high interest rates on loans (See Leviticus 25:35-37).  When we expand this Scripture to include Christians today in their dealings with the less fortunate, it's simple enough to gain from this verse that we are not to take advantage of anyone.  Then we're also told that should we ever be in a position to be swayed, by any means, from giving  truthful testimony against someone in exchange for a bribe, in any form, to do so would certainly not gain us any points with God.  Finally, we're given a promise, that, he who does these things shall never be moved.  So long as we keep what I think of as our Spiritual focus locked firmly in on God and His Will, His, Word, and His Way, nothing can separate us from our eternity with Him.

,31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

                                    “For Your sake we are killed all day long;
                                   We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'  (Romans 8:31-39    NKJV)

Be Blessed, on this day and every day to follow!


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