Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the
heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Hebrews 4:14
Young people today, more than ever before, are being tempted to leave what they profess. Quite often it is in the way of marrying someone from another denomination. The passion of love blinds one to the reality of the sin and danger of leaving the church in which the truth is preached and taught. In hard economic times a job in another part of the country is offered to us. We are tempted and so inclined to accept this offer. After all, jobs are hard to come by. One has to make a living and support a family. The things of the world appear to outweigh the things of the kingdom of heaven.
The writer to the Hebrew was aware of these temptations. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he gives us exhortations based on the truths of Holy Scripture. He says, “Let us hold fast our profession.”
It is good to be reminded just what that profession is. In the fellowship of the saints it is given you to know of the marvelous works of God, of the glory of his grace in the beloved, and the blessedness of salvation. This is redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and covenant fellowship with the triune God. It consists of what through the word, the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the church has revealed to you things that eye has not seen, neither the ear heard, nor has ever arisen in the heart of man. In the fellowship with the church in the world you embrace that truth by a true and living faith. It is the truth that controls and dominates your whole existence and very life in the midst of the world.
We look to the glorious truth that we have a great High Priest who sacrificed himself for your and my sins and obtained for us forgiveness of sins and righteousness. As High Priest he is also our advocate who intercedes with the Father for us. He knows and is acquainted by deepest experience with all our infirmities, sins, and weaknesses, trials, and temptations. He constantly prays for us with a prayer that is never denied. Indeed, he is great. All the Old Testament priests could only point to him, for they were but shadows. Christ is the reality who brought not the blood of animals, which could never atone for our sins; but he brought himself, the perfect sacrifice.
He is Jesus, the Son of God, the revelation of the God of our salvation. We had made ourselves incapable of doing any good and were inclined to all evil. God came in the person of his Son and joined himself so perfectly to our nature in the womb of the virgin that he assumed that nature in its entirety, though without sin. He came to do God’s will, to fulfill the law that we had transgressed and could not keep. Burned by the wrath of God, he satisfied the justice of God completely. What a Savior! Indeed, a great High Priest!
Having erased our debt and guilt completely He arose from the dead and ascended into heaven and came to sit at the right hand of God the Father. To this profession we hold fast.
Our holding fast means to take hold of and hold fast, never to let go. One cleaves with a firm faith, a lively hope, and an ardent love. It is to love the word of the gospel, and to cling to our High Priest with all the power of faith and child-like trust. That implies that you are zealous concerning the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, revealed in the Scriptures. You strive for the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints. Standing firm, you refuse to be tossed about by any wind of doctrine. It further implies that you appropriate this pure revelation of the living Lord by a true and living faith. You cling to it so that your mind is constantly enlightened by it as a certain knowledge, and so that your will is wholly controlled and determined by it, clinging to Christ in complete confidence. Living such a life, you will let your light shine, never hiding it under a bushel. Forsaking your old nature and walking in the new, you reveal yourself as being of the party of God, revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
This must be taken seriously, for it is a matter of life and death. You must be prepared fully, without wavering or compromise, to accept the word of the Lord: he who will save his life shall lose it, and he who will lose his life for my sake will save it unto life eternal. The world calls you to be tolerant of its ungodly ways and beliefs. They, of course, are most intolerant of any of your Christian beliefs. Do not be deceived by their pious talk, for that is all that it is. They have no intention of tolerating what you believe.
You must reject the other lordship in this world. It is of the man of sin, of the son of perdition, of the beast and of the false prophet. It too strives for your all and is wholly intolerant. It stands radically opposed to your profession and will not rest until all the world worships him. He will seduce you by false philosophy, even under the cloak of righteousness. He will tempt you to become unfaithful to your profession by offering you privileges of the kingdom of this world. He will threaten you with his furious wrath, cast you out so that you can neither buy nor sell, and put the sword power to your throat.
Your and my calling is to hold fast, looking unto Jesus, our ascended High Priest. Without that look of faith, that constant look upon him, you will be swallowed up by the waves of temptation and tribulation. But seeing him, you will be safe, without fear of wavering.
The encouragement that we are given here is that we have a High Priest who is favorably disposed to us (v. 15). Here we see that we do not have a high priest who is not able to be affected with respect to our infirmities, but he was tried according to all things in like manner as we are, though without sin. He knows exactly what we go through when our faith is tried, when we are surrounded with manifold temptations. He, the strong and sinless one, was tempted in all points as we are, but did not succumb. He knows that we are weak and sinful. He knows that we would not be able to stand for a moment without his sustaining and redeeming grace. Such a sympathetic High Priest we need. We still dwell in the body of sin and death that never delights to do the will of God, is still inclined to all evil, and still constitutes our greatest enemy. We constantly need this High Priest who sits at the right hand of God to pray for us to the Father.
We are called to come boldly to the throne of grace (v. 16). The Father’s grace is his attitude of favor that shines upon us through the face of Jesus Christ.
What you, as young people, and all of God’s children, must do is come to this throne of grace. We must acknowledge our own emptiness, our sin and death, and our need for grace and mercy. We must have a spiritual apprehension of his fullness as it is revealed in all its beauty in the face of Jesus Christ. There must be a deep longing for his fellowship. With the confidence of faith we must appropriate all the spiritual blessings revealed unto us and promised to us by the symbol of that throne of grace, in order that we may receive mercy and find grace.
Mercy is God’s will to bless, for God is filled with a holy, eternal longing to lead his children into the glory of his everlasting tabernacle. Grace is the power by which all this is accomplished, the marvelous power by which He redeems us.
This we can do boldly, for our reception is assured. Christ is ascended as our High Priest who knows all our needs and fills them. This he does only as our ascended Lord. Hold fast to that profession!
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation (I Peter 2:11, 12).
Peter addresses the church here as “dearly beloved” who are “pilgrims and strangers.” In the opening verses of this epistle Peter mentions those who have been elected to be strangers. “Stranger” could probably be translated as “boarder,” one who lives in a home, perhaps with a family, but does not belong to the family. He has no right in the house; he simply lives in the house. This is the position of true believers in the world: they are in it, but do not belong to it.
“Pilgrim” means almost the same thing. He is one who travels in a foreign country, a country to which he does not belong. He is a citizen of another country, that is, a heavenly country. As long, therefore, as he is in this world, he does not build his foundations deep, but he pitches his tent as he moves from day to day. These strangers and pilgrims are a people who have no country here below, but their homeland is in heaven, where presently they expect to go. These the apostle exhorts to walk honestly. In the midst of the world they are constantly to have a walk or conversation that is praiseworthy.
Our walk as to its outward manifestation is one’s conduct with relation to other people and the things about him. This is implied in the word “conversation,” which receives the emphasis in the text. Yet it can easily be understood that one’s outward display has more to it than mere form, for life and its manifestation is more than what can be seen of it. What is outward is motivated by inward principles. One’s walk includes his thoughts, desires, and intents of the heart that always regulate the members of the body with respect to what is without. That the inward, moral character of a man belongs to his walk of life becomes very evident as soon as you observe the walk of a man either in sin or in its antithesis, grace.
Scripture speaks of the walk of both the ungodly and the godly. The walk of the ungodly is motivated by the inner principle of a depraved and wicked heart. He is inwardly corrupt and ungodly at heart. All his thoughts are to do evil; his will is perverse; his root is unholy. Thus, his outward conduct and manifestation of life is revealed in every kind of abominable work. When he speaks, he lies and curses. When he sings, he rejoices in darkness. The difference between him and the child of God is that he does not have grace. He does not possess the grace of faith, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. This does not mean that the ungodly man always cheats and tells lies when you deal with him. That he does not do so is not due to a certain common grace that is given to check him in his sin and enable him to do good works. He has no grace whatsoever. There may be many reasons why he does not cheat, but grace is not one of them.
The apostle, however, is not speaking of the walk of the ungodly, but of the child of God. He also has a walk that involves his whole conduct in the midst of the world, where he is called to be a light. His outward walk and manifestation of life should be—and in principle is—motivated by the inward principle of grace.
First, he does this, negatively, by abstaining from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. Lusts have their seat in the flesh, that is, man’s nature which is corrupt. The flesh is not only visible material of which our bodies are composed, but includes all of our nature through which we are connected to and have contact with the world of sense. Lusts of the flesh are the desires that come up out of that corrupt flesh, that seek to satisfy the flesh. They are as evil as the flesh from which they arise. They are found not only in the ungodly, but also in the flesh of the Christian. As long as the Christian is in the world, he has to contend with his flesh, his old nature. Because he still has an old nature, he also has in a lesser or greater degree the lusts of the flesh that seek to satisfy the worldly aspect of his nature.
From these lusts we are to abstain. That means that in no sense may we indulge in or make provision for these fleshly lusts. We must fight against them, as suggested by the phrase, “which war against the soul.” The soul and its fight refer to the soul of the Christian who has been regenerated. The soul is the intellect and will, and all that pertains to them from the point of view of the dominion that the regenerated principle must have and does have over the soul. These fleshly lusts fight against that soul that is under the dominion of the regenerated principle. From these we must abstain. The Christian has within him a new principle of life. Therefore, he is a stranger and a pilgrim in the world. Fleshly lusts do not belong to the world from which he is reborn, and thus he must fight. In the measure that he fights, in that measure he overcomes and is sanctified; and in the measure that he does not fight, in that measure he is overcome, and walks in darkness.
Second, from a positive viewpoint, one must walk honestly. Literally this means “good in appearance, beautiful.” One is honest in his walk when in every aspect he manifests himself to be what essentially he is, a Christian. When a Christian seeks to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, he is dishonest. If his walk is good and beautiful, when he lives according to Christian principles, he is honest. Such a walk that is good and beautiful, and therefore honest, is possible for the Christian because he is renewed by the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. By grace he is impelled to fight against fleshly lusts and to walk a new and holy life.
This calling is difficult. One must contend with his own flesh. Though he is now a stranger, formerly he was not, living as the Gentiles, quite at home in the world. According to his nature he is a citizen, seeking the things of the flesh and of darkness, but now he has obtained mercy with a changed life and a heavenly citizenship. Though he has the beginning of a new obedience, he finds another law in his members.
The Gentile world speaks against the stranger and pilgrim and actually accuses him of being an evildoer. So it was in Peter’s day. When there was an earthquake or pestilence, the Christians were blamed. When they refused to worship Caesar as God, they were treated as criminals. So it always is. The church is either laughed to scorn or persecuted. If she is faithful, what happened to Christ also becomes her experience. Thus the life of a Christian is very difficult.
Now there is a good purpose for this exhortation as delivered by Peter. It is the day of visitation. On the one hand, it is the day of God’s judgment that he inflicts upon the ungodly in just retribution for their sin. This is not only meted out at the end of the world, but is being realized in this present time. The very fact that a drunkard experiences delirium tremens is due to the judgment of God. This is true also for the one who lives in vice and consequently suffers a broken home and venereal disease.
On the other hand, it is the day when God visits with his grace and calls the sinner out of darkness into his marvelous light, thus converting the sinner from his evil way. This is the sense that Peter is using in the text. The idea is that the Gentile may see your good works, and glorify God when he visits them also in his grace. This makes the words of our text most meaningful, not only with a view to the walk of the people of God, but also with a view to the children of this world among whom God also has his people, and who must yet be saved.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Peter says almost the same thing here. Those good works are those that proceed out of true faith, that are done according to the law of God, and unto his glory. They are truly manifestations of an honest walk. The ungodly will not glorify God unless they are converted. But when God visits them in his grace and converts them, they will see the good walk of the Christian in an altogether different light. When once they falsely accused the children of God, and slandered those whom they observed were walking honestly, they will now glorify God for his grace, which they will behold in the good works of the Christian. Therefore, when we reveal ourselves as those who are partakers of the anointing of Christ, when we walk in all good works that God has before prepared that we should walk in them, God is pleased to use that godly walk to bring others to conversion. What a privilege, what a calling! May God give to you, young people, and to all of us that grace to walk honestly to the end.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom (Col. 3:16a).
In this text the apostle Paul is exhorting the Colossians to be heavenly minded. They and all God’s children are to put off the old man and put on the new man, that they look not to the things of the earth which is characterized by wickedness, but look to heaven which is the home of eternal glory. One’s whole life is then one of love, the bond of perfectness. With that love we have harmony with God with the result that peace shall rule in our hearts. In order that we live a life of sanctification and have peace rule in our hearts we must let the Word of Christ dwell in us.
That Word of Christ is none other than the Word of God through Christ and his faithful servants. This is in contrast to the word of Satan as it comes to us from the lips of men of the world, dreamers and philosophers and unbelieving educators. The Word of God through Christ is exceedingly rich. Although the Word of God in creation is rich yet the Word of God through Christ is far richer. It contains rich and precious promises to us. Here we find the gospel, the good news of salvation unto us in which we see the love and mercy of God.
Paul tells us here to let this Word of Christ dwell in us richly. That does not mean that the Word of Christ merely dwells among us, in our midst. It must certainly be preached from the pulpit, taught in catechism, discussed in our society meetings, and taught in our homes. But if this is all we have we are still not heeding the admonition in our text and the preceding. All these require that the Word dwell in our hearts as we see in vs. 15 which reads, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,” and in vs. 16, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Indeed, the Word must be in our spiritual control center, the heart. The heart controls all of our thinking, willing, thus all of our activity for out of it are all the issues of life. Therefore, the Word of Christ must be in our heart, ruled by it so that it will rule us in all our actions. If the Word is not there, what more do we have than Satan, for he too has the Word in his mind. We must have it in our hearts; otherwise the Word of Christ in our midst will have no positive effect at all. The Word must be a permanent resident, not an overnight or weekend guest. Our hearts must be the house of the Word of Christ, its home. He must be the resident.
It follows, then, that he will also be the ruler, for he who dwells in the house rules it. A guest may enjoy the facilities, but the house is ruled by the man that dwells there. He has the say as to what goes on in that house, determining all that takes place within that house. So the Word of Christ dwells in us in order to rule us. It rules by very virtue of being the Word of God. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway. Thus, it is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
It becomes very plain, then, that the Word is authoritative. It dwells in us that it may rule us. For that purpose we receive it into our hearts. If we lean unto our own understanding and pay attention to the world’s ideas, then the Word of Christ is displaced and Satan is dwelling in us and ruling us. If you do not believe that this can happen, it only shows how much this is true already.
Our calling is to let it dwell there in our hearts so that it may continue to rule us. Paul in effect is saying, “Keep that Word in your hearts.” Paul is addressing the saints, regenerated children of God, including you young people as the seed of believers. Let that Word continue to dwell in your hearts and be the sole tenant in that spiritual control center. The word of Satan has always been there and we are exhorted to evict him so that the Word of Christ may dwell alone.
If that Word is to dwell in us richly, we must learn it richly. We must be taught from childhood, in our schools, from the pulpit nothing other than that Word of Christ. We must learn it fully, in rich detail, that it may dwell in us richly. May the Lord and king of his church richly supply you with His grace unto that end.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:7-10).
James asks the church, which includes its young people, why there are wars and fightings among themselves. For young people this certainly would include harassment and bullying. James informs us that it is because we lust after the world which is spiritual adultery. Hence, friendship with the world is enmity with God. Therefore, he calls them to be friends with God.
In order to do this we must humble ourselves, for it is only to them that God gives grace. We are not equals with God for he is the Creator and we are the creatures; he the redeemer and we the redeemed. Beginning with vs. 7 James shows us what true humility is. He does this with ten different admonitions. The central and positive admonition is in vs. 8. “Draw nigh to God.”
This is an essential idea seen throughout history. God dwelt in the temple in the midst of his people. Enoch walked with God. Abraham was the friend of God. Moses spoke with God face to face. That essential idea remains in the New Dispensation although the types are gone. God’s temple is the body of Christ. It becomes so through the cross and the resurrection: through the state of humiliation and resulting glory.
God dwells in Christ, for through the Spirit of Christ we are attached to that body and become that body. In this way we come nearer to God and to the brethren. We see, then, that drawing nigh to God is not a mere physical act, but a spiritual-ethical act of faith. We emphasize this, for God in the spiritual-ethical sense can be far away. We are sinners and sin is departure from God, called spiritual fornication. The sinner banishes God from his thoughts, walks in his own way, afar from God. In addition, God resists the proud. He is angry over the sinner and gives him over to his sin. His curse rests upon his house and he says, “Depart from me, I know thee not”.
To be spiritually-ethically near to God we do not have to go physically to Mt. Zion. To be near God is the conscious awareness of his presence in his favor. It is to walk step by step in the consciousness of his guidance and dependence. It is to experience in life all the blessings of salvation through Christ. That includes all his love, mercy, and favor. It means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is to be God-conscious in all that we do. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” One must commit his way to him in constant prayer. We walk, as it were, hand in hand, serving and confessing him, experiencing his guidance, approval, and fellowship.
We do this, first of all, by resisting the devil, that slanderer who slanders us before God as he did with Job and as he slanders God to us as he did with Eve in paradise. As an adversary he is formidable for he has thousands of demons to assist him in his wicked work who are in absolute subjection to him. He has vast and great powers himself for he was an high angel and did not lose his powers. He has the whole world on his side, direct access to our thoughts, desires, and inward life. He has vast experience in the work of destroying the church and purpose of God. As our foe he is utterly ruthless, never vacations, never ceases fire, and is always busy. Our sinful flesh is fertile ground and a good ally for him.
James admonishes us to resist the devil. That is an essential impossibility because the ally is in our own flesh. Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness set a pattern for resistance. One weapon which the devil can not stand against is the Word of God. One must always quote the Word of God to him; it is the sword of the Spirit, the whole armor of God. We can not resist him in our own strength. Christ has principally defeated him on the cross. The devil can do nothing without the will of Christ for Christ rules sovereignly. Therefore, we can resist and stand only by faith. If you so resist him and do so properly he shall flee from you. The devil is by us until death, but after each confrontation he will flee away defeated. Each time we resist him will give us added strength to meet the next attack. If we do not resist, then we are weaker until finally there is no resistance at all. Resisting the devil is the antithetical side of submitting to God.
Thus we turn to the positive admonition to submit yourselves to God. Here the whole concept of humility is implied. God gives grace to the humble, therefore, submit. This is not natural at all for a young person, but this is the commandment of God. To submit is to arrange and group yourselves under the commander. A subordinate must obey. To do this under God means that you arrange yourself under His law, recognize His superiority and do this with your whole life.
Next we have “cleanse your hands, ye sinners.” This is a reference to the Old Dispensation priests who had to wash their hands before they might come before the Lord. Hands are expressive of outward conduct. It does not mean that we are authors of our own salvation and can come only after being perfect. It does mean that we must wash our hands in the blood of Christ. He only can ascend the holy hill of Mt. Zion. The only way to God is through Christ. Sinners miss the mark, for they shoot in the opposite direction of the target.
“Purify your hearts, ye double-minded” refers to our inner life. To be double-minded is to halt between two opinions. We want God and the world. We want to be saints and sinners. We seek forgiveness but cherish secret sins. Thus, purify your hearts in the blood of Christ. Forsake your two-mindedness at the foot of the cross for you can not serve God and mammon.
Next is a trio of closely related admonitions. James says be afflicted, that is, labor heavily, endure hardships, therefore, feel wretched and miserable. Secondly, we are to mourn, which is an inward sorrow not manifested outwardly. Thirdly, we are to weep, a visible and external weeping, sobs. As mentioned these are closely related. To be afflicted results in mourning and in weeping. This comes from the heavy labor of carrying the burden of sin and guilt. It is to know sin in a personal and experiential way. We realize how horrible sin is, that it is committed against the most high God. The man who knows this mourns, which is soon manifested in outward expression. This is the only way to draw nigh to God for it leads to the cross. We must come with a broken and contrite heart which leads to confession and repentance, which is not once in a life time, but daily.
Then, let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness, both of which are brought on by the former three admonitions. By laughter is meant the laughter of the world, the silly laughter which tries to cover up deep and profound misery. It is a laughter which mocks holy things, obscenities, and life’s tragedies. It is often cold and ruthless meant to cut, hurt, and destroy. For the child of God it comes from down in the heart. It is rooted in peace with God and spiritual well-being. True happiness arises by first mourning, for in mourning we go to the cross where we find forgiveness and salvation. By joy is meant the joy of the world; the joking of sin we turn to sadness.
The final admonition is humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord. It is to make very low, which refers to our spiritual attitude of ourselves. As creatures we are very low in relation to God who is almighty and sovereign Lord over all. This is a spiritual knowledge through faith.
Heeding these admonitions there is blessedness. He will draw nigh to you. He draws nigh to us in Christ through the cross, the resurrection, and the pouring out of the Spirit. The future tense indicates that we will not have this conscious experience of his favor unless we turn to him. This is not on the basis of our turning, but the way. This is a promise. We need this promise in the consciousness of our sins. We need not be afraid for he will draw nigh. His covenant life engulfs us so that our life is filled with joy and peace.
The second part of this blessedness is that He shall lift you up. This is exaltation from one’s lowliness. He raises us from a prone position before him to our feet and onto a throne beside him. In so doing he takes us into his fellowship. He forgives and pardons, making us taste of his blessedness. The final exaltation will be when we are brought to glory. This is the promise of God himself which can not fail and which shall surely be fulfilled.
God called us into being, made us what we are and set us in that particular place in which he would set us in the midst of his creation. Our task is the work that he has laid upon us. Our strength is the strength that he is willing to give us in his sustaining power. All that we have, even the hairs of our head which are numbered, are solely his possession. He entrusts these things to our care that we may use them consciously, willingly, and devotedly in his service toward one simple purpose unto which all things are set, namely, the glory of his name. We have not one second to live which God has not entrusted to us. We cannot stir one member of our bodies without his power. And when our life is ended we must give an account of our stewardship to our master who privileged us with this service.
Indeed, we are stewards. A steward is a servant, one who takes care of the possessions of his master for the good of the master. A biblical example is Joseph. Potiphar entrusted all that he had to Joseph. After Joseph was placed in prison, the jailor put the running of the jail in Joseph’s hands. Likewise did Pharaoh after Joseph interpreted his dreams. A steward is accountable for all that is placed in his care
We are stewards in that we are servants of God who take care of God’s things which he has entrusted to our care. We do this to the glory of God. We are held accountable for everything entrusted to us. God is the Master based on the fact that God owns everything, all things which are in heaven and on earth. This includes the big things such as the sun, moon, the stars, the earth with all of its trees, plants, and animals, and everything else. There are things that we take for granted such as the air we breathe, that which we call our own, time, our very lives. This is very plain from Scripture. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 50:10-12). “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth thee” (Neh. 9:6).
These principles one must apply to his own life. As young people, what do you do with your time in light of the fact that every second is God’s time? God will ask you some day. It is so easy to waste time in front of the TV, at the computer, on Facebook, texting, and the like. While at school are you attentive to your teachers or do you daydream or simply fritter away your time? At work do you really work or do only the minimal to maintain your job? Each moment wasted cannot be recalled; it is gone. How do you use the tongue that God has given you to praise him? So often one uses this good gift of God to take his name in vain, to talk back to teachers, parents, or employer or to hurt the feelings of others whoever they may be. God has also given us gifts of ability such as singing, learning, helping others, and many other gifts. Do you use them to the best of your ability and to the glory of God?
How about ourselves? Jesus bought us with his blood. Thus he is our Lord and master. A good servant and steward always works as if the master were at his side. Many of the things that we do we do because we think nobody sees us. But God is there and sees us. We do not see him, but he is there and certainly sees us. We should ask ourselves, “Would I want to be doing this if Jesus would come now? Would I do this if Jesus were with me? Would Jesus do this with me?” All things must be done consciously and willingly to God’s glory. In this way we are blessed. He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Walking in obedience we do what God wants us to do. Then we know in our hearts that we are pleasing in God’s sight. That gives us joy. We must pray for that for we cannot do that in our own strength. We pray to God that he will lead us by his Word and Spirit to be good stewards, that we may see his face in Jesus who paid for our sins. Then we have comfort because our whole life will show that we are children of God. The Spirit will tell us in our heart. And those about us will tell us because they will see it in our actions. Nothing is more precious to us than to know that we belong to Jesus. Thus we walk in thankfulness before our God, happy that we can serve him in his kingdom.
And the Tongue Is a Fire…
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6).
As we have heard many times in church when the minister preaches on the Heidelberg Catechism, we are to use our tongue in love for the neighbor for the sake of God. If we love God, then we will love the neighbor. So a test whether or not we love God is to ask ourselves whether we use our tongue in love to the neighbor. The tongue is just a small member of our body, but it can do great things. Let us see.
James compares the tongue, a little member, to several things. First, to a bit in the mouth of a horse. A horse is a rather large animal, but we can turn it in whatever direction we want because of that bit in its mouth. Second, to a helm on a ship which is a very large vessel sailing upon the water. One can turn this very large ship with the helm. A helm is the wheel which the captain turns just like the steering wheel in a car. Thirdly, to a spark which is a tiny bit of fire. This little spark can start a whole forest or prairie on fire.
So it is with the tongue. It certainly is not very large when compared to other members in the body. We use the tongue for speaking. But the idea of the tongue includes more than just our speech of the mouth. It refers to all ways in which we communicate with others. It would also include what we write in books and letters and the songs that we sing. Let us not forget that this would also include the newer forms of communication such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the like.
God created the tongue good. When God made man he made man perfect, which included the tongue of man. Man could use his tongue to speak to God and praise him. Man could also use his tongue to speak to other men. Man was able to see all that God had made and then glorify God with his speech. We read that God and man were able to walk and talk in the garden of Eden. What a wonderful gift God had given to man.
Man, however, fell into sin. The devil used his tongue to lie to Eve about God. She listened, gave to her husband, he did eat, and all mankind was plunged into sin. Now instead of praising God man curses God and uses his name in vain. He does the same thing to his neighbor.
In vss. 7 & 8 James writes, “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” That is quite an indictment against the tongue; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. As we see in our text the tongue is like a fire, set on fire of hell. In other words, the devil sets it on fire. One uses his tongue in the service of Satan. God created it to be used in his service, to praise him, but now man uses it to sin.
Think of all the trouble that one can start with the tongue. That is why it is likened to a spark starting a great big fire, a conflagration. The tongue does that too. Using our tongue in an evil way shows that we are friends of the devil. We were created to have fellowship with God and to be friends with God. But after the fall we are under the continual influence of the devil.
The first target of our tongue is God himself. We curse and swear, thus taking God’s name in vain, and pray in a thoughtless way. Then we direct our tongue against our neighbor. We tell a lie about someone. You can imagine how hurt someone is when you tell a lie about him. People then will think badly about that person. We lie when we make things worse than they really are, by stretching the truth. We must always speak the truth. Backbiting is another sinful use of the tongue. Here we can actually tell the truth, but still sin. If someone has sinned, we must not spread that fact to others. We hurt them by doing that. One can also speak hateful words to each other by calling names, mocking or poking fun of others, or laughing behind someone’s back.
That is why it is so important to be careful in how one uses Facebook and the like. As long as we are not face to face with someone it seems so easy to just type those hurtful words and then push the “send” button. That is the spark which starts the wildfire which spreads far and wide very quickly. So prevalent is this evil that I have learned that in some churches the elders have begun to monitor Facebook in order to curb this evil. It is a shame that this has to be the case. It blackens the name of our churches and the name of Jesus Christ. If one can not speak well and unto the welfare of his neighbor, he should not speak at all about him.
A further evil is talking back to our parents and to our teachers. You are to respect them, for they have been given authority over you by God himself. To use your tongue against them is to use it against God and for the devil. As long as the tongue is on fire it will continue to spread fire. The tongue under sin can not be tamed. So it will go here and there starting and spreading fire wherever it goes, just as the foxes which Samson set fire to and released in the grain fields of the Philistines.
What can be done to put out this fire from hell? The cures of the world simply will not work. None of the world’s cures work because they do not touch the cause. The source must be cut off. Behind the tongue lies the heart filled with evil. Behind the heart lies hell and spiritual communion with the devil. Therefore, the supply from hell must be cut off. So how can this possibly be done?
Christ is the One who cuts the connection to hell. He did that by paying the price of redemption, saving us from our sins. He delivers us from the power of the devil by the power of his grace. He establishes a new connection. He is the truth and the life. He connects and unites us to himself. For this grace we need to partake of the means of God’s grace as provided in the preaching of the Word both in church and in the catechism room.
An evil tongue is a bad sign. It suggests that you have fellowship with the devil. So we must fight against this sin of which we are all guilty. An evil tongue must not walk among us. We must speak the truth in love. We must walk in faith. James tells us that we can show our faith by our works. A good tongue will show that we have faith. If we love God and each other, then we will keep God’s commandments which tell us that we may not bear false witness against our neighbor, but will always speak to his good.
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:1, 2).
The calling of God’s people is a call to separation, not amalgamation. It is always a call to separation in the spiritual sense of the word. For when, through the deep way of sin and grace, God establishes his covenant of friendship with his people, that covenant friendship of God reveals itself in this world antithetically, and therefore, as enmity of God’s enemies. That is seen in God’s Word from the beginning of the Bible to the end. Being in the world we are spiritually not of the world. To live as though we are of the world is to deny the line of demarcation between light and darkness, between righteousness and unrighteousness.
We, including you young people, are a militant church for we have a battle to fight. This is a spiritual battle which we fight with spiritual weapons. Thus we must equip ourselves with the whole armor of God. All the while that we are fighting we must keep our eye of faith on the glory and the perfect victory that is to come in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today this truth is not popular. We are living in an age that emphasizes amalgamation which is really synthesis. A spirit of worldly-mindedness has captivated the church. Church-world, believer-unbeliever, Christ-Belial, supposedly go hand in hand. For the most part that spirit is manifested in the preaching in that the call to separation is not clearly sounded forth.
There was another age, another world, in which this very amalgamation took place. This was the time before the flood. There never was a period in which sin revealed itself so terribly and developed so rapidly and in which the world became ripe for judgment so quickly as in the pre-diluvian age. Scripture sets forth that age as an example of iniquity and the embodiment of wickedness. As we are now approaching the last minutes of the last hour of time, our age is more and more looking like that age. Thus we must be more and more vigilant to keep ourselves separate from the world spiritually.
In our text the sons of God represent the people of God, the seed of the woman as issuing forth in the generations of God-fearing Seth. The daughters of men represent the seed of the serpent as issuing forth in the generations of wicked Cain. The sons of God looked upon the daughters of men and saw that they were fair. They were attracted by their natural beauty in the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh. Not only were they attracted by the women themselves, but also by all the worldly goods and entertainment which characterized the line of Cain, especially as we see it in the sons of Lamech, Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain. They were fascinated with the greatness and the glitter of the world. Instead of keeping an eye on the city that hath foundations, they lived Cain’s life of the world and were attracted to it. These sons of the church looked at the daughters of men with adultery in their hearts, to lust after them. This infatuation of sensuous beauty is a short-lived thing since it is devoid of the love of God.
Thus it goes when the church intermingles with the world and when those who are of the generations of the church make common cause with the ungodly, put on a yoke with them. True in the most serious and the most intense sense of the word when it comes to marriage; but it applies to any putting on of an unequal yoke with unbelievers in any sphere of life. This bit of history is a serious God-given warning to all of us. We are so ready with our excuses. “Maybe he or she can be gained for Christ through marriage.” “We must witness. We must join their labor and business organizations, and witness from within. We must join them in education, and witness of our Christianity and perhaps Christianize their schools.”
Indeed we must witness, but such a witness is both impossible and futile. The fact is that when God’s people ally themselves with the world, the world never becomes the church; but the church is swallowed up by the world.
We must remember that only God converts and changes us into his children. Moreover, he does so, as a general rule, in the generations of his people. What reason have we to believe that if it pleases us to form alliances with the world, that God is going to accommodate himself to those alliances and change the world? None!
When the believer puts on a yoke with the unbeliever, that yoke is always an unequal yoke. When such an alliance is made, the church does it on the terms of the world. The world will not join the church, nor form an alliance on the church’s terms.
Do you see the danger? In that first world it did not take very long, only a few generations, and there developed a general wickedness in the world. It may be that when such alliances are formed and such marriages consummated, there is in the first generation yet some battle and some misery on the part of those who are really the sons of God. But in generations God does not bestow his covenant blessings where such amalgamation takes place. In generations, also in that world, there was a rapid decline until wickedness and godlessness prevailed. Thus you have the picture of that world as our Lord described it; they ate, they drank, they married and gave in marriage; and knew not until the flood came and destroyed them all. So shall it be in the days before the coming of Christ in judgment. We live in those days now. Just look about you and see the signs.
Therefore, the word of the Lord is: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; Christ and Belial have no concord; walk with God; walk before him; walk in his way; walk to his praise. And if any would ally themselves, let them walk with you, not you with them.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Eph. 4:14, 15).
The last time we heard from the Pastor’s Study we were instructed in the first verse of this chapter to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” This time we once again look at another admonition from the apostle Paul as he applies the doctrinal truths which he gave us in the first three chapters of this letter. Although written to the whole church of Christ, this word can be applied specifically to the youth of the church. Youth are like tender saplings which can easily be bent or broken by the winds of false doctrine. Thus the exhortation to “be firm in the truth.”
There are two figures in the text. First, there is the figure of a child, of an inexperienced babe, that can easily be led astray and is inclined to follow others. Second, there is the figure of a ship. It sails across the ocean and is met by angry waves and all kinds of contrary winds, which the apostle calls winds of doctrine. A ship must have a strong helm. And at the helm of the church there must be a strong helmsman. The helmsman is Jesus Christ who steers the church to the safe destination of that eternal harbor. He uses his word which he has revealed to us in the holy scriptures, and by his Holy Spirit.
Negatively, the youth of the church must be firm over against all kinds of false doctrine. You are like a ship crossing a storm-tossed sea that meets all kinds of winds which, if not fought against, will prevent the ship from reaching a safe harbor, her proper destination. These winds try to drive the ship off her course so that it gets nowhere and is even shipwrecked.
So also are false doctrines in relation to the church of Christ. There are all kinds of false doctrines. Not one doctrine of the truth as it is in Christ has not been denied or attacked. The holy scriptures are denied as the infallible record of the word of God. Also attacked are the doctrines of the Trinity, predestination, the natures of Christ, his atonement, resurrection, exaltation, and his coming again. There are the truths concerning the church, the means of grace, and the sacraments. Many not only have been but are the false winds that seek to throw the church off its straight course, most recently the old heresy of denying justification by faith alone as set forth by the proponents of the Federal Vision.
The question is why? What motivates these false teachers? Is it because they simply honestly err? Do they not know any better? Are they simply honestly presenting what is their conviction? In answer we do not have to depend upon our own opinion. The answer is in our text. It is because of the sleight of men, cunning craftiness, and because they lie in wait to deceive. Scripture has no patience with men of such like and warns us that we must not even say good-bye nor receive into our home those that do not teach the truth of Scripture.
The sleight of men in the original makes one think of the game of gambling. One gambles with the truth. They do so for filthy lucre, not because they love Christ or his church. Such a one fleeces the sheep rather than feeds them. They seek their own carnal ambitions. Such is a false prophet.
One who practices cunning craftiness plays hocus pocus with the truth. They twist and twist the truth in such a way that you no longer can recognize it from the lie. One who speaks the truth can do so clearly, unambiguously, so that you do not have any question as to the truth. Only when you exercise cunning craftiness, play hocus pocus with the truth, do you have to camouflage it.
Why? Because they lie in wait to deceive. All these things belong together. The gambling part of it is the selfish motive of their own ambition and filthy lucre. Cunning craftiness is the method that they employ. All with the purpose to deceive the people of God into believing that the lie is the truth.
Therefore, the apostle warns you young people as well as the whole church of Jesus Christ. Thus, also the exhortation to not be as children, meaning that one must not be easily led astray, but strong in the truth. These false doctrines will come at you from many different ways. You will not be able to prevent your coming into contact with all these false doctrines. By the grace of God you must use these false doctrines to establish the truth. God uses them to wake up the church that it may be set strongly against false doctrines. The calling of the church is to develop the truth over against the false doctrine. Instead of being docile in regard to false doctrine, one must be strong and say “No!”
If tossed about by every wind of doctrine we lose Christ. The text says that we must grow up, grow up into Christ. Without Christ we have nothing, for in Christ as the organic head of the church is all our salvation. Therefore, we must grow into Christ in order that we may grow out of Christ, become like him, conformable to his image.
Positively, then, you must be firm with a view to the truth. You must grow into Christ. Just as a little tree strikes its roots into the soil so you must strike your roots into Christ. If God in his grace gave us roots so that we are able to strike into Christ, then we seek all our food, all our nourishment, all the spiritual blessings from Christ alone. Hence, we strike our roots deeper and deeper into Christ. If we do that, then we must not have false doctrine. There is no other Christ than that of the Scriptures. As soon as you depart from the truth of the Scriptures and follow false teachers, you lose Christ, you strike your roots into the wrong soil. The result is that you suck poison into your soul instead of Christ.
Not only must you grow into Christ, but you must also grow out of Christ so that all the manifestation of your life becomes like Christ. As one grows into him, one derives everything out of him; and deriving everything out of him, one becomes conformable to his image. In this way you and I work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
This is all a very serious matter. One cannot be indifferent with respect to the truth. You may not gamble with the truth. It is either…or, not both…and. Therefore, grow up into Christ in all things. You must not grow into anything that is outside of Christ. You must have nothing to do with that which is foreign. Both in one’s inward life and outward manifestation and walk of life one must grow spiritually into and out of Christ.
You can do this by speaking the truth in love, the truth as it is in Christ. That must be done in love. It must not be the goodie-goodie love of man which embraces false doctrine and which does not want controversy. But it must be the love of God, that which he has towards his people in Christ, the love which he puts into our hearts so that we taste it. This love will find its response by the grace of God in the love of us to God.
That, young people, is your calling. Speak the truth in love; put away all false doctrine, and grow up into Christ. In this way the Lord pours out his blessings.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called (Ephesians 4:1).
With these words the Apostle Paul begins the fourth chapter of his letter to the saints in the church at Ephesus. Paul divides his letter into two major parts, a doctrinal part and a practical part. The first three chapters are doctrinal in nature as he looks at the church in her beauty as the body of Christ, emphasizing her oneness or unity in the Lord.
Beginning with Chapter four to the end of the letter he exhorts the church at Ephesus and the church of today on how we are to put that doctrinal truth in practice in our daily lives. It is not the purpose of this article to tell you how to live your life in all its various spheres. Rather it is to draw your attention to your vocation that you are now considering or should be. It is not to draw attention to any particular vocation, but to the idea of vocation, i.e., what you will be doing during your lifetime.
To begin with we all know that we must work. God has commanded that. We read in II Thessalonians 3:10, “that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” The point to be made is that “work” is a calling. That is what the word vocation means. The word vocation comes from a Latin word which, when translated, means calling. This in turn means that each of us has a calling. Traditionally we have spoken of a minister or a teacher having a calling to preach or to teach. This, of course, is true, but certainly not limited to these two occupations. We all have a calling to do something. Thus, whether minister, teacher, doctor, nurse, farmer, gravedigger, housewife, or any other number of occupations, it is a calling. A calling varies and is different from person to person because God has given us different and varying gifts. An example of this is the different members in one’s body. Each member has a specific function which benefits the body as a whole.
This means that whatever occupation that we choose, it is a calling, an assignment from God to do a certain thing. Our labor is an assigned labor. In light of this it follows that we must work as a citizen of the kingdom of God. We are God’s people working in God’s world using God’s tools, all unto the advancement of his kingdom and unto his glory. This has certain limitations in that there are certain occupations that we may not do. One should not even consider professional sports, for all of them are breakers of the fourth commandment which commands us to keep the sabbath day holy. We should not even be watching them on the Sabbath Day. Nor should we work in a location which would prevent us from attending God’s house on the Sabbath Day. That job in a distant location may be ever so attractive, but if it takes us away from our church then we must avoid it. I put in this same category voluntarily joining the armed forces when we know that it will take us away from the means of grace and place us among those whose lifestyle is a complete contrast to the life of a faithful child of God. At one time the government had what was called the draft. It would call one to mandatory service for a certain period of time. In obedience to those whom God has placed in authority over us one would heed the call. But the draft is no longer in use. However, to do so willingly, voluntarily, is another matter.
Furthermore, our calling must be in harmony with our abilities. We must have the ability to do something. If you are afraid of heights, then you would not seek the work of a window washer on a skyscraper. Or, if you get sick or faint at the sight of blood, then to be a doctor or nurse would not be the best of choices. On the other hand, if we have the gifts to do a certain legitimate job, then we must not waste God’s gifts by not using them.
With all this in mind we can see that the matter of a vocation is a serious matter because a vocation is a calling of God. It is more than just “getting” or “having” a job. Therefore it must be given serious thought. What is God calling me to do?
How is it that we are called? How do we know what is God’s calling for us? It will not be boomed out of the sky nor whispered in your ear. God uses you. With the mind and senses that God has given you, you must follow the signs that God sets before you. It is a matter of self-assessment, of taking stock of yourself. What kind of person am I? What gifts has God given to me? What kind of person does it take to fulfill the requirements of a specific task? You must know what certain vocations are like. What is expected of one? When you have evaluated yourself and the various vocations, and when you have brought these before the throne of God’s grace in prayer, then he will guide you to your life’s calling.
Now a parting word to you young ladies. Many of you will consider various types of work and higher education. Higher education is certainly to be commended. In today’s society an educated wife and mother is practically a necessity. However, do not forget the calling to be a housewife and mother. Have you ever given thought that being a housewife and mother is a life-calling? Modern society would have you think otherwise. They say that you must find fulfillment in your life in the workplace, in a career. But stop to think for a moment. To be a housewife and mother is really the calling of the woman. To be a help meet unto her husband, the mother of his children, to bring forth the seed of the covenant that God’s church may be brought forth and gathered, is the greatest fulfillment. Thus, do not over-emphasize the so-called necessity to work outside of the home. A far higher calling is to bring forth the children of the covenant and nurture them in the fear of the Lord.
Therefore, “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” for there God commands his blessing.
Last month we ended with the words, “players need to stop trifling with salvation, sin and hell; there are eternal consequences involved.” “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Sam. 15:23a).
Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31b, 32). Perseverance in obedience to Scripture is the fruit or evidence of genuine faith. Real disciples are both learners and faithful followers.”
Stephen Kline of Simon Fraser University media research is concerned about the desensitization to violence. He says, “Interactivity increases identification. Identification increases stress levels and the level of addiction.” Children surveyed were aware of their surrender to the game and almost every child interviewed admitted video games are addictive. “It’s fun to kill everyone around—it’s especially fun with ‘god mode’ on,” says a seven-year-old boy who is a fan of DOOM, and took part in Kline’s study. DOOM is an incredibly violent and evil game. They are being taught that violence is a way of problem-solving.
Virtual reality has taken video games into a real life-like experience. The player places a wrap-around screen on his head that puts him right in the middle of all the action. It’s like looking at the real world with no obstruction, even if people walk in front of you.
Video-games are murder simulators—just like the simulators used to train soldiers for Vietnam. Kids spend hours every night, firing tens of thousands of shots at thousands of human targets. Satan knows sin hardens the heart and conscience and will gladly help one to go deeper and deeper into sin, addiction and bondage. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:8). Make no mistake, while they are involved in this violence and evil, whatever they strive to do in the way of Christian ministry will be done in the flesh. They will not be empowered and led by the Holy Spirit while they are serving Satan and their flesh. “No man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24a). Satan wants control of our minds, but God says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23, 24).
Remember the frog that we started out talking about? Bit by bit it became acclimatized to the temperature of the water, until it was too late. Well, this is what is happening to players! They are gradually being acclimatized and desensitized to violence and evil. Sin is dampening their desire to read and study God’s Word, and is destroying their service to God in holiness and righteousness.
It is impossible to fill one’s mind with this diabolical garbage, be an active participant in it, and expect to have a walk with the Lord—it won’t happen! “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Stop for a minute, and think how they spend their free time. Suppose they can’t get to sleep at night, and get up for a while. What do they do? Go to God’s Word or a good book and read for a while to be encouraged and strengthened in the Lord until they feel ready to go back to bed? More likely than not, they go and fire up the old computer and have some fun! With their latest blood and guts, kill-everything game that they’ve grown to love so much. Satan, the great deceiver, smiles again in victory!
Players need to take “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17b). “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31b, 32). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12, 13).
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
It also becomes harder and harder to spend time in prayer and communion with God, because they try to come to him with all their unrepented sin, but God says, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (I Tim. 2:8). They can’t “lift up holy hands” or “walk with the Lord” when they continue doing that which is an absolute abomination to God. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (I Tim. 6:11, 12a). “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17). “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17). “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:3-6). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).
God didn’t say to us, “Hang onto me with one hand, and onto the world’s entertainment and vices with the other.” Players need to think about the hours and hours they spend willfully sinning against God by actively participating in this, and filling their minds with violent and diabolical garbage! It is not innocent entertainment. STOP IT, and REPENT!
Repentance is not only being sorry and feeling remorse for our sinful lives, but it is to make a radical turn around, a complete change of the basic motivation and direction of one’s life, and to accept total dependence on God. “But, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3b). “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8). The main sign of a regenerate life is a hatred of sin and evil. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
If players refuse to STOP IT! and REPENT! they must not comfort themselves with the lie that a person can continue his life in sin as a carnal Christian. God tells us, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:5-8). “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1, 2). That kind of transformation can occur only as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking through consistent study and meditation of the Scriptures (Psa. 119:11, Col. 1:28; 3:10, 16; Phil. 4:8). The renewed mind is one saturated with and controlled by the word of God. (Read all of Psalm 119) “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7, 8). “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13, 14). “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Tim. 2:19b).
Players need to take responsibility for their sin and deal with it—STOP IT! and REPENT! “A man may hate sin just as a murderer hates the gallows, but this does not prove repentance. If I hate sin because of punishment, I have not repented of sin. I merely regret that God is just. But if I can see sin as an offence against Jesus Christ, and loathe myself because I have wounded him, then I have a true brokenness of heart” (Charles H. Spurgeon).
We all need to humble ourselves before God and ask him to give us a hunger and thirst for holiness and righteousness, and for a hunger and thirst to read and study his Word. May our hearts desire be to live lives pleasing and honoring to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we examined the first eleven chapters of Genesis last month, we took note of the fact that the book of Genesis is theological, meaning it helps us to grow in our knowledge of God. In addition, we noted that the book of Genesis is historical, meaning that the events chronicled in it are the […]
Who am I? What is my purpose on this earth? Why is everything the way that it is? These are the kinds of questions that often trouble young people as they become more independent from their parents, enter the world of college or career, and make major life decisions such as choosing a spouse, a […]
The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]
The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]
This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]
Although it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been immersed in news coming from Japan about the 2020/2021 Olympic games, it’s still worth considering how these events are understood in the modern worldview of our country. The “Top Story of the Day” on Monday, August 9 (at least according to my newsfeed), was how […]
One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]
At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]
The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]
This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. The story of Judah is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. We often overlook this history because it is nestled in the middle of the story of Joseph. All the […]