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BEING RIGHTEOUS IN AN UNRIGHTEOUS WORLD

 

"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous . . . whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another . . . We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no  murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."  (1 John 3:7-15)

 

Devotion 1 of  29

INTRODUCTION
 

In the world, wisdom is often related to human philosophy. It frequently involves conjecture, opinion, theories, and assumptions. Because of this, worldly wisdom, however disciplined, cannot yield the "full assurance" of faith or hope in those embracing it. It is like a foundation of sand that shifts here and there, being unstable. 

It is unfortunate that such wisdom has found its way into the professed church. An astounding amount of opinion and philosophy is being vaunted among believers. It is the source of division and contention that has often reached epochal proportions. Historically, it has even occasioned the violent death of those holding opposing views. Also, professed followers of Jesus have even called themselves after the names of the men whose thoughts they have embraced. 

All of this accentuates the nature of the times in which we are living. They are truly "perilous," because the truth itself is often given, at the best, secondary consideration. Whole denominations have been formed upon the flimsy foundation of purely human views. As if that was not transgression enough, these groups often condemn all who do not embrace their views, going so far as to consider themselves the solitary custodians of God's truth. All of this is done in the name of the Lord, yet is founded upon the words of men. Coincidentally, the preponderance of current Christian literature is nothing more than a purveyance of human opinion on subjects having little or nothing to do with eternity. This is the current environment in which faith must be maintained.

While this may appear to have little to do with our subject, it is not at all divorced from it.  When a person takes the Word of God in hand, and begins to search it with an intent to see the truth, a stark realization will dawn upon the soul. The Scriptures stand apart from all other literature. They do not promote private views or opinions, nor are they the expression of ideas developed by certain theological experts. There is a firmness in Scripture that is most arresting. Its power is in its affirmations the pronouncements that it makes. They are without equivocation, and free from all ambiguity. Such statements are to be believed without reservation.

For example, the word "verily," often translated "truly," is used at least 140 times in the Word of God. It is the prelude to a statement that cannot be controverted, and upon which men are called to put their trust. In keeping with this line of thinking, the expression "Thus saith the Lord" occurs no less than 415 times in Genesis through Malachi. The phrases "the Word of the Lord," "mouth of the Lord," and similar expressions, also speak to our faith. They summon us to embrace the Word with certainty, suspending our very lives upon it. God's word is free from any contamination, flaw, or element of falseness.

The text before us must be seen in this light. Certain statements will be made that will sound either too harsh or too lenient. Often, they will appear on the surface to be said in a general way. But that is not the case at all. People will be viewed as either of the world or of God, with nothing in between.  They are either in Christ or not in Christ, of God or not of God, in light or in darkness, walking in love or not in love. They are either dominated by Christ or the devil, and there can be no neutral ground. 

All of this is very apparent to faith, but it is totally obscured to the flesh. Frequently we will hear expressions like "carnal Christians," "worldly Christians," "sinning believers," and the likes. Such expressions are nowhere found in Scripture. They represent certain VIEWS of Scripture that allow for a person in affiliation with Christ to maintain a close association with the world at the same time.  The Spirit will confirm to our hearts that this is not possible.

Once these things are recognized, the one relying upon the Word of God develops a certain distaste for religious theorizing and philosophizing. Such things will then be seen as distracting, while others may see them as interesting, and even intriguing. Here, in my judgment, is an area where there is much room for improvement. There is altogether too much speculation among professing Christians.

This very Epistle is written, from the standpoint of time, by the most seasoned believer the world has ever seen John the beloved Apostle. He outlived all of the other Apostles, and is known as one  especially close to the Lord "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7,20). He wrote this book nearly 30 years after Paul and Peter were martyred, and was in the inner circle of Christ's followers several years before Paul was converted. 

Notice how this aged saint writes, as moved along by the Holy Spirit. He does not involve himself in the affairs of that time which was something less than ideal. Nor, indeed, does he engage in political and social analyses of the day. He does not pull our thoughts into the area of opinion, or tantalize us with intellectual novelties. Instead, he makes powerful statements concerning the way things really are.  He ushers us into a thoughtful area where faith can do its work within us.

You will find John, as moved by the Spirit, will give no quarter to the flesh. He will not allow it, as it was, to live. It must be crucified! He will also strongly affirm the direct relationship of righteousness to Christ. He will not permit it without Jesus. Neither will he allow Jesus without righteousness. He will also declare that Satan, and Satan alone, is the source of sin and iniquity.

PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for giving us a clear Word concerning Jesus and Satan, good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness.

 

-- Tomorrow: THE PRACTICE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS --
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