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Pleasing God in Perilous Times

Paul issued a dire warning to Timothy “that in the last days perilous times shall come.” 2 Timothy 3:1.  One would think he had reference to international crises or political dilemmas.  Surprisingly, he did not.  He specifically focused on the decadent behavior of mankind.  Thus, the changing values of our world and culture demand a response from the church.  Does the Apostolic lifestyle—the way we live, the way we dress and the things we do—have any significance to the Christian today?  Where do we see predominant trends taking us? 

I think most of us would agree that we are trending in a worldly, non-Christian, non-Biblical, secular direction.  This dangerous direction, including the deterioration of morals, the rise of perversion and pornography, the use of sexuality and immorality as a commercial tool, the erosion of ethics, the breakdown of decency and wholesome living, the blurring of gender distinctives, the sanctioning of promiscuity and provocative dress, and the lowering of standards in every area of behavior, appearance and thought, fall under the purview of sound Bible doctrine and holiness teaching.

Question:  Where should the behavior, attitudes, dress, appearance and practices of Christians be taught?  If holiness principles are not taught in church from a Biblical perspective, where and how will they be taught?  Few institutions or people think these things are important anymore.  They are rarely taught or encouraged any place in our society, not even in many churches.  In fact, such standards are routinely scorned by the powers that be.  Many leaders have even opened the doors wider than ever to a more permissive lifestyle.  “This is a post-modern society,” we are told.  “People don’t think that old way anymore.”

My reply is this:  Our mandate is to please God, not man.  If the church embraces the declining morality of our times, we necessarily forfeit our sure, biblical foundation.  The Bible, in spite of numerous translations and liberal interpretations, has never changed its basic message of holiness and righteousness.  We cannot hold the bible in high regard and simultaneously violate its principles.  Abandoning these principles in order to accommodate “post-modernism” will find us adrift in an ocean of theories; a perilous journey devoid of absolutes.  Three important observations must be made here which secure the place for holiness teaching.

Holiness is essential part of the Christian life.   “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  Hebrews 12:14.  This is not merely a recommendation, but a command.  Peter wrote to the church, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16. 

The Bible gives us powerful reasons to live a holiness life.  We do it for God.   “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  We do it for others.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16.  We do it for ourselves.  “To present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Colossians 1:22.

The Bible provides a solid basis for a holiness life.  Faith produces holiness.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”  Ephesians 2:8-10.   Love for Jesus produces holiness.  “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  John 14:15.  “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.” 1 John 2:15-16.

God knows the perils of this journey. He has given us three main forces to guide us in a holiness life:

First, we have the Bible to give us formal and authoritative statement of truths.  Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  2 Timothy 3:16-17.  These truths come to us in explicit statements and implicit principles.  When we cannot locate specific statements in the Word of God, we can always find principles that answer our questions. 

Second, God has provided for us chosen leaders that we call pastors and teachers.  Although human, God grants them anointed insight to qualify their leadership.  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18.   Leaders have no authority to add to or take away from the Word of God.  They are charged with the task of explaining and applying the teaching of Scripture.

Third, we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God will not contradict the Word of God.  Since He is called the Holy Spirit, He is immersed in the nature of holiness and gives us internal promptings in time of need or question.  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26.

We can complicate this discussion in a plethora of philosophical views, anecdotal illustrations and contentious arguments.  Simply stated, however, the overarching goal of every Spirit-filled Christian must be to please God.  It is He who establishes our holiness benchmark.  Pleasing God often dictates positions and actions that the world and the flesh find displeasing.  “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:4.  The operative question must never be “What does God permit?”  Rather, let it be “What is God pleased with in me?” 

Pleasing God in perilous times becomes the premise of our relationship with Him. 

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Reader Comments (2)

I found this one puzzling: "the blurring of gender distinctives." Unless you are seeking a marriage partner and wish to have offspring, there is no reason at all for you to know whether I, or anyone, is either male or female.

There are no gender distinctives at all, properly, in the body of Christ, for there is "neither male nor female; for you all one in Christ Jesus."

Gender distinction make sense in the physical realm for the purposes of Biblical marriage (Matthew 19:5) and the natural function of creating offspring. There is otherwise no need for me to know whether even you are male or female, because it is irrelevant. We are given no special privilege or function (or handicap) due to our physical gender -- which by the way, scientifically, can be ambiguous, even at the level of the chromosomes!

October 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Garcia

No need to know about gender distinctives or differences? I can think of a few:
Medical care differences
Employment at certain jobs (Acting, for one)
Beauty Contests
Competitive Sports (LPGA, WNBA, NCAAW, etc.)
Educational profiles (Check out studies of gender differences in educational progression)

And that's just off the top of my head. JMJ

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Jordan

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