Saturday, December 19, 2015

Whatever You Do, Do All Like This

Crystal Sea by C.V. Lacroix
There are several passages in Scripture that tell us how to do all things.

Do All in Love
“Let all that you do be done in love. (1Co 16:14).  As the NIV says, “Do everything in love.” Also see my article, Law of Love in the New Testament.

Do All for the Glory of God
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Co 10:31). Also see my article, For the Glory of God Alone.

Do All Heartily as for the Lord
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Col 3:23). Also see my article, Having a Servant's Heart.

Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col 3:17). There are actually two things in this verse. We are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the second is that we are to be giving thanks to God through Him. Also see my article, The Name of Jesus.

In Everything by Prayer and Supplication with Thanksgiving
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Php 4:6). Also see my article, The Disciples’ Prayer.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,” (Eph 6:18)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Th 5:16-18)

"Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart..." (Luk 18:1)

Keep Alert at All Times
But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) 

Always Rejoice in the Lord
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Php 4:4; cf. 1 Thes 5:16)

In Everything, Treat People the Way You Want to Be Treated
"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mat 7:12)

Do Everything without Complaining or Arguing
"Do everything without complaining or arguing.” (Php 2:14, NIV)

Children Obedient in All Things
“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” (Col 3:20)

Slaves Obedient in All Things
“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” (Col 3:22) 

Be Faithful in All Things
Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.” (1Ti 3:11)

Be Sober in All Things
“But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (Ti 4:5)

Good Deeds, Doctrinal Purity, and Dignified in All Things
"Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified." (Tit 2:6 -7)

Be Holy in All You Do
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Pe 1:15-16, NIV)

Putting it All Together
Based on these passages, we learn that there are some universal commands that apply to everything we do. We are to do everything in love, for the glory of God, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and as unto the Lord. We are instructed to rejoice in the Lord always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. We must keep alert at all times. Be faithful and sober in all things. In all things we should be an example of good deeds, doctrinal purity, and dignity. Children and slaves must be obedient in all things. We must treat people the same way we want them to treat us, do everything without complaining or arguing, and be holy in all we do. Now let us live like this with the Lord’s help.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. The Crystal Sea painting is by my seventeen-year old daughter, C.V. Lacroix. You can find more of her lovely artwork at A Brush with Life.

Author's note I invite you to visit these other articles of mine: For the Glory of God Alone, Fruit in Every Season, Doing What is Right, The Name of Jesus, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Aim for Perfection, Law of Love in the New Testament, Pleasing the Lord, Living a Life Worthy of the Lord, The Way, Will, and Word of God, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Righteous Deeds and White Robes,  Faith Works!, Practicing Your Righteousness, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of GodThe Straight and Narrow Path, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Led by the Spirit, and You Must Be Born Again. You can access more articles like this from the Home page of this blog, and you can also find my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Holding Fast the Faithful Word

Dear brethren, let me encourage you today to hold fast to the faithful Word. In this dark and evil age that we live in, we need to hold firmly to it, in order to be saved.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1Co 15:1-2, NIV).

He said, “By this gospel you are saved.” (1 Cor 15:2a). So we are saved by the gospel, but look at the condition for being saved, which he states in the same verse. The condition is, “If you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you,” or as the NASB states, “If you hold fast the word which I preached to you.” Paul also wrote to Titus saying, “Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching...” (Tit 1:9a). You see, we must hold on to the Word. It’s the basic condition for being saved by the gospel. Someone will say that sounds like a gospel of works. But that is the true gospel, which Paul preached. Those are God’s Words, not mine.

The Lord Jesus gave a parable about the seed scattered on four types of soil. The seed represented the Word of God. Only the seed that fell on one of the four soils ended up bearing fruit. These are the ones who retain the Word. He said, "But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the Word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance." (Luk 8:15).

All three of the other types of soil received the same seed, the same Word of God, but failed to bear fruit. One type will not believe the Word and be saved, because the devil comes and takes the Word out of their hearts. The second type hears the Word and receives it with joy, but since they have no firm root; they believe for a while, and fall away in time of temptation. The third type are the ones who have heard the Word, but as they go on their way, they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life. Those worries, riches, and pleasures are like thorns that choke a plant, so these people bring no fruit to maturity. The fourth type are the ones with a good and honest heart, who hold fast the Word that they have heard, and bear fruit with perseverance; these are the only ones who are saved. Therefore, in order to ultimately be saved, we must hold fast the Word, and by continuance in it, bear fruit.

But aren’t we saved by faith alone and not by works? Yes, we are indeed. Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8). Salvation and eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord are a gift of God (Rom 6:23). No man can know the Father unless Christ reveals the Father to him (John 17:25-26). Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father, except through Him (Jn 14:6). No man can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (Jn 6:44), and "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” (Joh 3:27).

Therefore, God gives each of us, whom He draws to Christ, a measure of faith. Paul said, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Rom 12:3). That verse also says that He gives us each grace, too.  James also wrote about the gift of grace, saying, “But He gives a greater grace.” (Jas 4:6a). Both he and Peter said, “He gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6b; 1 Pe 5:5b; cf., Pr 3:34). So we are given both the grace and the faith.

Likewise, He has given us a freewill (Joh 7:17; Jam 1:13-16; 1 Co 7:37), so we can decide what to do with the measure of grace and faith we've been given. That “free will” thing is where we run into problems. It is possible to miss the grace of God (Heb 12:15), to resist it (Ac 7:51), to receive it in vain (2 Co 6:1), to abuse it, and to use it as a license to sin (Jude 1:4; Rom 6:1).  It is also possible to shipwreck your faith (1 Tim 1:19), throw away your confidence (He 10:35); and abandon your faith (1 Tim 6:21) as well as to believe in vain (1 Cor 15:2). If we do not hold fast to the Word, then according to Paul, we have believed in vain.  Moreover, we cannot diminish the fact that the devil hates us and is seeking whom he may devour (1 Pe 5:8). There is a very real spiritual war being waged against us (Eph 6:12).

This is why remaining obedient, alert, sober, watchful, vigilant, and prayerful, are so important (1 Pe 5:8; Lk 21:36). We must remain in His love (Jn 15:10), walk in the Light (1 Jn 1:7), remain on the straight and narrow path (Mt 7:13-14), walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), walk in love (Eph 5:2), walk in the Truth (3 Jn 1:4), abide in Christ (Jn 15:4), pray without ceasing (1 The 5:17), practice our righteousness (Mt 6:1), run the race with perseverance (He 12:1), keep the faith (2 Tim 4:7), hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (Heb 10:23), hold fast the faithful Word (Tit 1:9), and by continuance in it bear fruit (Lk 8:15). We must guard the trust (1 Tim 6:20), fight the good fight (2 Tim 4:7), work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12), deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). We must prove faithful with the trust we have been given (Mt 25:21; 1 Cor 4:2), stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24), encourage one another (He 10:24), keep ourselves from being polluted by the world (Jam 1:27), pursue holiness (Heb 12:14), strive to enter the kingdom of God (Lk 13:24) and endure to the end (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13). He who endures to the end shall be saved, so hold on to the faithful Word!

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Pleasing the Lord, Living a Life Worthy of the Lord, Drifting Away, The Straight and Narrow Path, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Practicing Your Righteousness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Doing What is Right, Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Faith Works!, The Judgment Seat of Christ, The Obedience of Faith, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Remember the Eternal Law of God, Purge the Evil from Among You, James Agboola Revelation of Heaven and Hell, The Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to God, Election and Predestination, Keeping Power of God, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?


“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Judging with Righteous Judgment

I'd like to address the topic of judging with righteous judgment. I have written several articles on Eternal Destinations about how the Lord is warning His Church of evil practices that His sons and daughters are engaged in. In His mercy, He is warning us to repent, so that we don't perish.  Yet many have rejected these warnings, and they give various reasons for doing so. Today I would like to discuss one such reason some nay sayers may give, which is that we must not judge by appearance.

One sister in Christ who read my article, Seven Reasons to Believe the Seven Divine Revelations, wrote to me saying that she used to believe all Seven Divine Revelations on Godly Attire and Adornment, but now she does not believe any of them. The Scripture she quoted was John 7:24, in which Jesus said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." Her point is that the Lord taught us not to judge according to outward appearance, and she believes these revelations are judging other people according to their outward appearance. However, it's important to correctly understand what the Lord meant in that passage, before we can properly apply it to this situation.

In the context of that verse, He was refuting those who were angry with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath, and who claimed that He had a demon.  So let's keep the verse in it's proper context, in order to understand its meaning correctly.  They were judging the Lord merely by the appearance of what He was doing, and because they had never seen anyone do such things before, they assumed it was work, which was forbidden on the Sabbath.  However, notice what the Lord said to them. He said, "Judge with righteous judgment." What does that mean? He explained what it means with the following words.

"For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? (Joh 7:22-23)

The Lord pointed out to them how they had no problem circumcising a baby on the Sabbath, in order to keep the Law of Moses.  They knew it was right to conduct a circumcision on the Sabbath, if it was the eighth day since the child was born, even though it could be considered work. They realized that although work was forbidden on the Sabbath, they could obey God's Law on that day by circumcising, and not be guilty of breaking the Sabbath. Likewise, since the Law also requires that we love our neighbor and do good, then Jesus could heal a man on the Sabbath without breaking the Law.  He was doing what was pleasing to God, making a man well, and there is no law against that.

Furthermore, since we do not know the thoughts and intentions of other people, it impairs our ability to properly judge them. We might perceive that a person is doing something wrong, as they assumed Jesus was on the Sabbath, when in fact the individual is actually doing good. Likewise, there is the danger of assuming the person is innocent in what they are doing, when in fact they are doing evil. That is why we should not judge the motives and intentions of others, but we can judge their actions or fruit. To judge with righteous judgment is to judge others based on what is truly righteous, not based on our opinion of how their actions appear to us.

Judging Righteously Based on Scripture
The key to judging with righteous judgment, as the Lord taught us to do, is that all righteous judgment must be based on the Word of God. Since the Scriptures teach us what is righteous and what is evil, then we should judge others based on what is in the Word. Our judgment must not be based upon our religious traditions, upon our preferences, upon culture, upon what is popular or fashionable, or upon anything else besides the Bible. Let me illustrate my point.

Rainbow hair in braids
The sister who used this verse to say we should not judge by appearance is essentially claiming that we should not judge anyone in the Church by the way he or she is dressed or the way a Christian adorns himself or herself, such as unnatural hair styles, dying the hair, immodest clothing, makeup, and jewelry.  That sister, who once believed the revelations about godly attire and adornment, now says a person can dye his or her hair without sinning. I suppose she means a Christian may dye her hair any color she likes, since it is fashionable to do so, or even multiple colors if she so desires, and thereby change the way God made her in His own image (Gen 1:27).

Therefore, to anyone who uses such an argument from John 7:24 to say (like this sister did) that we are free to do such things, and nobody can judge us, I'd like to ask you some questions. If someone claims to be a brother in Christ, but comes into church wearing a pentagram (a five-pointed star that is formed by drawing a continuous line in five straight segments, often used as a satanic symbol), would you warn him? If he comes into church dressed as a woman, claiming to be a brother in Christ, would you warn him? If he claims to be a brother, and as a musician leading worship, he gets up on the platform with makeup on his face to make him look like a demon, even perhaps with red color beneath the corner of his mouth to look like blood dripping down, would you warn him? I know you personally would not judge a person, because you are against judging by appearance. But would you warn him? What if he wears a T-shirt with a satanic Baphomet image on the front of it? Would you warn him? What if a so-called brother wears an upside down cross? Would you warn him? What if a so-called pastor has the number "666" tattooed on his forehead? Would you sit under his preaching? Or would you warn him?

Judging Those Inside the Church

Before you answer, please read 1 Cor 5:9-13, in which the apostle Paul wrote the following directive to the Corinthians:

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”  (1Co 5:9-13)

Paul clearly instructed us that we are not to associate with immoral people who claim to be brothers or sisters in Christ. He instructed us to "judge those who are within the church" (v. 12) and "remove the wicked man from among ourselves" (v.13).  Therefore, anyone who says we are not to judge others, in the sense that Paul was referring to, is not following these instructions. 

Regarding verses 12 and 13 of the passage above, Matthew Henry commented:

"...as to members of the church, they are within, are professedly bound by the laws and rules of Christianity, and not only liable to the judgment of God, but to the censures of those who are set over them, and the fellow-members of the same body, when they transgress those rules. Every Christian is bound to judge them unfit for communion and familiar converse*. They are to be punished, by having this mark of disgrace put upon them, that they may be shamed [2Thes 3:14], and, if possible, reclaimed thereby: and the more because the sins of such much more dishonour God than the sins of the openly wicked and profane can do. The church therefore is obliged to clear herself from all confederacy** with them, or connivance*** at them, and to bear testimony against their wicked practices. Note, Though the church has nothing to do with those without, it must endeavour to keep clear of the guilt and reproach of those within."

*Converse is "To keep company; to associate; to cohabit; to hold intercourse and be intimately acquainted; followed by with." -- Webster.

**Confederacy is "a combination of two or more persons to commit an unlawful act." -- Webster.

***Connivance is "Properly, the act of winking. Hence figuratively, voluntary blindness to an act; intentional forbearance to see a fault or other act, generally implying consent to it." -- -- Webster.

Warning the Wicked as a Watchman
And before you answer the series of questions I have asked above, please read the entire passage of Ezekiel 33:1-16. For the sake of space, I will only quote a portion of it here:

"Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. "When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. "But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life." (Eze 33:7-9)
 

The Lord commanded Ezekiel to warn the wicked, so that they do not perish, and that is what the Church must do also.  We must warn the wicked. Once we have warned them, then their blood will be on their own heads. Our hands will be innocent of their blood, according to that passage, and according to the apostle Paul's own words in Ac 20:26-27, in which he said, "Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God."

Furthermore, the Lord commanded us to warn our brother when we see him in sin (Mt 18:15-19). Before you answer my questions, I'd like you to read that, too. The Lord wants you to purge the evil from among you. You need to understand that there is such a thing as ultimate accountability.  In addition to being accountable before God for our own lives, we are accountable for our fellow man.

Knowing Them by Their Fruit
I also recommend reading Matthew 7, in which the Lord taught us not to judge others, but said we would know people by their fruits (Mt 7:20), as I explained in my article, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets. To check someone's fruit, look at their ways, their actions, and the results of their actions. If the fruit is good, then the tree is good, since a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. However, if the fruit is bad, then the tree is bad also, since a good tree cannot produce bad fruit.

Doesn't a person's fruit refer to anything produced by their life, including how they attire and adorn themselves? So part of fruit testing is to observe the attire and adornment of others who claim to be disciples, in order to see whether it is godly, worldly, immodest, occultic, or even satanic.  After all, not everyone who says to Jesus, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of His Father Who is in heaven (Mt 7:21).

The Lord warned us about the rise of antichrists in the last days, so we must beware of them. Testing the fruit of so-called prophets, pastors, preachers, teachers, and any other so-called Christians will help you to judge with righteous judgment.  It will help you discern between true disciples and false disciples.  Just be sure you get the log out of your own eye first, before you try to help anyone get the splinter out of his or her eye.

Perhaps if the people who judged Jesus by appearance, who accused Jesus of being demon-possessed and breaking the Sabbath, had tested His fruit, they would have realized there was only good fruit in His life and no bad fruit, and consequently they would have realized that He Himself had to be good.

Judge Not!
Since I mentioned the Lord's command not to judge, I think it's important to quote His exact words, in order to give this subject proper treatment. He said, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Mat 7:1-5)

I think it's pretty clear from the context what Jesus meant by judging others. Now I would like to share the following commentary notes from Matthew Henry and John Wesley about what Jesus meant by "Judge not":

Mathew Henry wrote: "There are those whose office it is to judge - magistrates and ministers. Christ, though he made not himself a Judge, yet came not to unmake them....We must judge ourselves, and judge our own acts, but we must not judge our brother, not magisterially assume such an authority over others, as we allow not them over us: since our rule is, to be subject to one another. Be not many masters, Jam 3:1. We must not sit in the judgment-seat, to make our word a law to every body. We must not judge our brother, that is, we must not speak evil of him, so it is explained, Jam 4:11. We must not despise him, nor set him at nought, Rom 14:10. We must not judge rashly, nor pass such a judgment upon our brother as has no ground, but is only the product of our own jealousy and ill nature. We must not make the worst of people, nor infer such invidious things from their words and actions as they will not bear. We must not judge uncharitably, unmercifully, nor with a spirit of revenge, and a desire to do mischief. We must not judge of a man's state by a single act, nor of what he is in himself by what he is to us, because in our own cause we are apt to be partial. We must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions, for it is God's prerogative to try the heart, and we must not step into his throne; nor must we judge of their eternal state, nor call them hypocrites, reprobates, and castaways; that is stretching beyond our line..."

John Wesley wrote: "Judge not any man without full, clear, certain knowledge, without absolute necessity, without tender love. Luk 6:37."

Needless to say, I think that both these eighteenth-century, holiness preachers were absolutely correct in their interpretation of what Jesus meant.  The Lord's directive does not prevent His disciples, especially His ministers, from judging those within the Church with righteous judgment. And neither does it keep us from warning those within the Church of sins that will keep them from heaven. In fact, we are obliged to both judge and warn them.

Wrapping it Up
So once you have read those Scripture passages I have cited above (1 Cor 5; Ez 33; Mat 7 and 18), please tell me whether you would warn the wicked man in the Church who does the things I mentioned. If you believe that those things I mentioned are obviously evil (e.g., the pentagram or the 666 on the forehead), then on what basis do you consider them to be evil? The Lord commanded us to judge with righteous judgment, and the standard by which we do so is His Holy Word. That is why we must declare the whole counsel of God as Paul did, so that people may be warned and repent, rather than perish. If you would warn the people in the examples I cited above, based on the Word of God, then why wouldn't you also warn others of wickedness in the area of attire and adornment, based on the same Word of God? Why would you think that warning others is judging them?

The problem is that the shepherds are like dogs that don't bark. They are not warning people of these evil things. They are afraid to offend people. But it is primarily the responsibility of the shepherd to warn people as a watchman. That's not judging by appearance. It's part of the shepherding role of elders. If it's judging at all, then it's doing so with righteous judgment. 

The Lord does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, and He requires that we warn them. As Paul instructed the elders of Ephesus, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Act 20:28).  Guard yourself and guard the whole flock among which you are an overseer, as the Holy Spirit has made you to be.  Warning people is part of shepherding them, and elders must shepherd the Church of God that He purchased with His own blood.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note: Also see Seven Divine Revelations on Godly Attire and Adornment, Seven Reasons to Believe the Seven Divine Revelations, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, The Rise of Antichrists, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Purge the Evil from Among You, Ultimate Accountability, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, The Shepherding Role of Elders, and The Judgment Seat of Christ, as well as the articles available through the Home page of this blog.  You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Followers of the Way

In my recent article, The Ways of Life, I said that Jesus Christ called Himself the Way, and that we must walk in His ways.  In fact, the early Christians were more widely known as followers of The Way, as seen throughout the book of Acts. It is believed that this name used for the followers of Christ may have originated with the Lord, who is the Way. In fact, even after his disciples initially began to be known as Christians (Ac 11:26), they continued to be known as the Way long afterward.  So both before and after the term "Christian" came into use, they were still known as followers of the Way.

"Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." (Act 9:1-2)

"But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus." (Act 19:9)

"About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way." (Act 19:23)

Paul said, "I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison..." (Ac 22:4, NIV).

"However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets;"  (Act 24:14, NIV)

"But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, 'When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.'" (Act 24:22)

Brethren, it's time we once again become followers of the Way, not just in name, but to be so in all our ways.  Then we'll truly be working God's way.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend
The Ways of Life, The Straight and Narrow PathAsk for the Ancient Paths, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Michael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Practicing Your Righteousness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Doing What is Right, Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Faith Works!, The Judgment Seat of Christ, The Obedience of Faith, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Remember the Eternal Law of God, Purge the Evil from Among You, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Ways of Life

"Walking on the Narrow Way" by C.V. Lacroix
In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter quoted Ps 16, in which David said, “You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with Your presence.” (Act 2:28)

Peter attributed David's words to Christ. For the Lord’s ways are the ways of life! So today I would like to talk about what it means to walk in the ways of life, and what that means for us as disciples of Christ.

Walk in His Ways
All throughout Scripture we are commanded to walk in His ways. Let’s look at those passages:

"Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. (Deu 8:6)

"Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, (Deu 10:12)

It's important to understand that God made His ways known to Moses.  The psalmist said, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” (Psa 103:7). That means that the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) teaches us the ways of God that He revealed to Moses.  

"For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, (Deu 11:22)

“If you carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in His ways always--then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three.” (Deu 19:9)

"You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.” (Deu 26:17)

Walking in His ways is a key to being established as a holy people to the Lord.

"The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” (Deu 28:9)

“In that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. (Deu 30:16)

"Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1Ki 2:3)

“That He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.” (1Ki 8:58)

“That they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.” (2Ch 6:31)

"My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped." (Psa 17:5)

“How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.”  (Psa 119:2-3)

“How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.” (Psa 128:1)

That's working God's way!

His Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways
"’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isa 55:8-9)

Knowing His Ways
Therefore, since His ways are higher than our ways, we must seek the Lord and ask Him to make us know His ways. 

Moses prayed, "Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people." (Exo 33:13). If you want to know the Lord and find favor in His sight, you need to know His ways.

David prayed, “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.” (Psa 25:4). He will teach us His paths, so that we might walk in them.

The psalmist prayed, "Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Your ways." (Psa 119:37)

Considering His Ways
We must remember His ways and regard them. The psalmist said, “I will meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.” (Psa 119:15, NIV)

"You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember Your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?"  (Isa 64:5, NIV).

This applies to New Testament living. If a person does not walk in His ways, but continues to sin against them, God is not going to save them (1 Jn 1:6; 2:4; 2:11; 3:6-10). It's important to walk in His ways, and when your life comes to an end, He will deliver you from hell.

Teaching His Ways
David prayed, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.” (Psa 51:13)

Although Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord, Priscilla and Aquila explained the way of God to him more accurately. "Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." (Act 18:24-26)

Paul instructed the Thessalonians how to walk. He wrote: "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more." (1Th 4:1)

The Narrow Path of Life Leads Upward
The Scripture teaches us that God's ways are the paths of life.  This is the way that leads to eternal life. As David said, which Peter quoted in our opening verse, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psa 16:11). 

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray.” (Pro 10:17). You have to heed instruction of you want to remain on the path of life.

The path of life leads upward for the wise That he may keep away from Sheol [Hell] below.” (Pro 15:24)

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.” (Pro 6:23)

"You shall also say to this people, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.” (Jer 21:8)

The Lord Jesus also spoke about the way of life when He said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt 7:13-14)

You must strive to enter this way, because many have tried to do so and failed. The Lord said, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luk 13:24). Therefore, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus.

When He said He is THE Way, it carried with it the connotations of all the passages I have just cited, as well as all the ones I am about to cite. Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (Joh 14:6).  There is no other way to the Father, except through Jesus, Who is the Way. That does not negate the fact that it is a narrow way!

Walking as Jesus Did
We must walk in the same way in which Jesus walked. John wrote: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (1Jn 2:6). The NIV says "walk as Jesus did."

Peter taught that Jesus, who committed no sin, left us an example to follow in His steps and do what is right: "But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1Pe 2:20b-23)

Walking in Him in the Light
Paul taught that we must walk in Him. "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Col 2:6)

John taught us to walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light. "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1Jn 1:7). 

The Way of Holiness
His way is the way of holiness for those who follow Him and walk on it.

“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.” (Is 35:8, NIV)

"Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Jos 22:5)

The Way of Righteousness
The Scripture says that all His ways are just and true. "And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,  'Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!'" (Rev 15:3; cf. Deu 32:4)

Zacharias the priest prophesied over his son, John the Baptist, "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;" (Luk 1:76).  Now think about the ministry of John the Baptist, and how he preached against sin and called people to repent.   He proclaimed God's righteous ways.

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders regarding John the Baptist, "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him." (Mat 21:32)

The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.” (Psa 145:17)

Wisdom says, "I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice." (Pro 8:20)

"He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake." (Psa 23:3) 

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.” (Pr 28:10)  

In spite of all this, many people who start out on this path have turned aside from it by turning away from the holy commandment handed on to them. The apostle Peter said, "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them." (2Pe 2:21)

The Way of Understanding
"Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding." (Pro 9:6)

"A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead." (Pro 21:16)

"Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?" (Isa 40:13-14)

Paths of Justice
The Lord guards the paths of justice and preserves the way of His godly ones. "For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones." (Pro 2:6-8)

Paths of Lovingkindness and Truth
"All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." (Psa 25:10)

The Path of Peace
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied about Christ saying, "...the Rising Sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luk 1:78b-79, NIV). The Lord's way is one of peace. He gives peace to those on whom His favor rests (Luk 2:14).

The Wicked Have No Regard for His Ways
The Scripture tells us that the wicked have no regard for the ways of the Lord. They do not care about righteousness, holiness, and truth. They don't care about the commandments of God. Job, who lived before Moses and before the Law was given said, “Because they turned aside from following Him, And had no regard for any of His ways;” (Job 34:27).

"They say to God, 'Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Your ways.'” (Job 21:14)

"Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?” (Eze 18:25)

“Now the end is upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and bring all your abominations upon you. For My eye will have no pity on you, nor will I spare you, but I will bring your ways upon you, and your abominations will be among you; then you will know that I am the LORD!” (Eze 7:3-4) 

Jeremiah prophesied, "Thus says the LORD, 'Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.' But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'” (Jer 6:16). It's time once again, Church, that we Ask for the Ancient Paths.

For the way of life we inherited from our forefathers was futile. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.” (1Pe 1:18).  The ways of the wicked are crooked. They leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness.

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Consider your ways!'" (Hag 1:7)
 

"Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you.” (Jer 26:13)

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" (Psa 1:1)

"For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish." (Psa 1:6) 

Also see Psa. 146:9; Pro. 4:4,19; 12:26; 15:9. 

Millennial Prophecies
"Prepare the Way" by C.V. Lacroix
Isaiah prophesied of a bright future day, saying, "And many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.' For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isa 2:3)

Micah prophesied, "Many nations will come and say, 'Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.' For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Mic 4:2).

These twin prophecies of Micah and Isaiah were speaking about the thousand year reign of Christ on earth, or Millennium, which is still future!!  It says that during that time He will teach us His way, so that we may walk in His paths, and the Law will go forth from Zion, even the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  Maybe that has you scratching your head and wondering how it could be yet future, but it's true! "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Rom 11:33)

His Word, His Will, and His Ways
In order to help you understand how this could be possible, please allow me to explain to you what I call "the www of God's kingdom". We all know that here on earth in the kingdom of this world, the "www" is short for the "World Wide Web". But the "www" in the kingdom of God is His "Word, Will, and Ways." These three things are inextricably connected to each other, and they connect everything else in His kingdom.

There are both similarities and differences between the World Wide Web and the www of God's kingdom. The World Wide Web is called an information superhighway, and it contains both a mixture of holy things and profane things, good things and evil. But "the www of God's kingdom" is the "highway of holiness" and wicked fools will not go about on it! There is no mixture on His www, nor is there any profanity or impurity of any kind.

His Word
First of all, His Word was in the beginning, and it endures forever. The Word was with God in the beginning and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. His Word is eternal.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (Joh 1:1-2,14; cf. 1Jn 1:1-2)

"Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." (Ps 119:89, NIV)

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:8)

“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the Word which was preached to you.” (1Pe 1:23-25)

His Will
The Lord made a direct connection between His Word and His will. His will is found in His Word. He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Mat 7:21).  And He also said in that same context, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." (Mat 7:24-25).  So the Lord tied together His Will with His Word, and since they are one and the same, the man who does His will by acting on His Word will inherit eternal life.

Likewise, the apostle John, who said we must keep His Word (1 Jn 2:5), makes a connection between His Word and His Will. He wrote, "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1Jn 2:17).  John seemed to be alluding to the passage in Isaiah 40 where it says the Word of God endures forever. Where Isaiah said the grass withers and the flower fades, John said this world and its lusts are passing away. And where Isaiah said the Word of God endures forever, John said that the one who does the will of God lives forever.

His Ways
In the same way, the ways of God are also eternal. Habakkuk said, "His ways are everlasting." (Hab 3:6b). David prayed, "Lead me in the everlasting way." (Psa 139:24b). The Lord is eternal and does not change (Heb 13:8). His ways are still the same today as they were in the past; they are still holy, righteous, and good. What was morally evil in His sight thousands of years ago is still evil today. It did not become good or right in His sight just because of the New Covenant.  Likewise, what was morally right then is still right today. His ways never change.

Just as the will of God is found in the Word of God, so are the ways of God. And as I have shown you from the Scriptures throughout this article, the ways of God are the ways of life, which lead to immortality. We are commanded to walk in them, regardless of what part of God's Word they are found in. Since God made His ways known to Moses, you will find the ways of God in the books Moses wrote, as well as the rest of the Bible. Those who walk in the ways of God ascend upward, away from hell, until they reach the Father's throne in heaven, where they enjoy eternal pleasures in His presence forever.

The www of God's kingdom
As I have already said, the Word of God, the will of God, and the ways of God are completely harmonious and connected together as one, in a similar way that the worldwide web is one vast network made up of many parts.  This is why I use the expression "the www of God's kingdom".

In this world we have various domains like ".com" for commercial content, ".edu" for educational, ".org" for organization, etc.  There are also country specific ones like ".us" for United States, ".ca" for Canada, ".hu" for Hungary, ".nz" for New Zealand, and ".eu" for European Union. For the sake of this analogy, we could say that the kingdom of God is the ".kog" domain.

And if we take further liberty to expand this analogy, we could define what corresponds to the URL, which is that address you type into the bar at the top of your web browser. URL stands for Universal Resource Locator.  For example, the URLs for some of my websites are www.eternaldestinations.info, www.Jesus-Reigns.org, www.dmiworld.org, and this site you are on is www.len-seekingthelord.blogspot.com.

So to complete the picture for you, some of the universal resources locators (URLs) you might use to locate resources on the www of God's kingdom could be www.holiness.kog or www.righteousness.kog or www.truth.kog or www.commandments.kog.  We could also have www.genesis.kog, www.law.kog, www.prophets.kog, and www.gospels.kog. But they are all tied together on the same ".kog" domain, which is the kingdom of God. There are no web filters on the www of God's kingdom that allow you to filter content you don't like or don't wish to see.  You cannot separate His Word, His Will, and His Ways (www) from each other.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2Ti 3:16-17)

Putting it All Together
The Lord’s ways are just.
All God's ways are righteous and true (Rev 15:3). His ways are unfathomable. They are the ways of life. The path of life leads upward. His ways and His will are one and the same, and “the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn 2:17b). If you want to inherit eternal life, you need to repent and follow Jesus.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by Him (Jn 14:6).

His ways are not only found in the pages of the New Testament, but in all Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. He has revealed to us His ways in the whole Bible, the Word of God.  We are commanded to walk in His ways always. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable. (2Ti 3:16-17). So don’t compartmentalize the Bible and refuse to listen to certain verses simply because they are found in the Old Testament, or because they are found in the Pentateuch.

The Lord is eternal and does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb 13:8). His ways are still the same. What was morally evil in His sight thousands of years ago is still evil today. It did not become good or right in His sight just because of the New Covenant.

Let’s be careful not be like those who say, “The way of the Lord is not right” (Ez 33:20).  They have turned aside from following Him and have no regard for His ways. If you have done that, then repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Ac 3:19).  He wants to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways (Ac 3:26). For the way of life handed down from our forefathers is futile.  But all the Lord’s ways are profitable. The way is broad that leads to destruction, but the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Mt 7:14). His way is the way of the cross.  It's the way of righteousness and holiness!

Therefore, I exhort you to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Then He will fill you with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand forevermore (Ps 16:11).

Disclaimer: As we walk in His ways, we are not to concern ourselves with ceremonial law like circumcision, rituals, dietary laws, or animal sacrifices. We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ. We are not justified by doing the works of the Law.  It is only when we put our faith in Christ that He justifies us, so that we have true righteousness, the righteousness of God, and this is the intent or “end goal” of the law. Once we are justified, we will be led by the Spirit to be a doer of the Law (James 1:25; 4:11). Keeping God’s commands in what counts! (1 Cor 7:19b). Just remember that we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5), and if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10). It's not something you have to force, or do legalistically, but it happens as you open up and receive the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to flow through you.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. The "Walking on the Narrow Way" and the "Prepare the Way" illustrations, as well as the "Holiness" calligraphy are by my seventeen-year old daughter, C.V. Lacroix. You can find more of her lovely artwork on A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend
James Agboola Revelation of Heaven and Hell, Followers of the Way, The Straight and Narrow Path, The Way, Will, and Word of God, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Michael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Practicing Your Righteousness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Doing What is Right, Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Faith Works!, The Judgment Seat of Christ, The Obedience of Faith, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Led by the Spirit, Remember the Eternal Law of God, Purge the Evil from Among You, The Spirit's Law of Life, The Book of Life, Pleasing the Lord, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?


“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun

The Lord Jesus said "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Mat 13:43)

He used this term “the righteous,” which is found all throughout the Scriptures back to the book of Genesis. It is found before, during, and after the Law of Moses in the New Covenant, so it is not a legalistic term.  For all that the righteous do is by faith, as Paul said, “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.’" (Gal 3:11)

This term, “the righteous,” refers to those who serve the Lord, and live in such a way that has His approval.  They live according to the pattern of God's Word, doing His will. As I explained in my previous article, “Practicing Your Righteousness”, these are the ones who are doing righteous deeds, such as prayer, fasting, worship, Bible reading, giving tithes and offerings, not stealing, not accepting bribes, serving in the Church, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, entertaining strangers, visiting those in prison, and giving to the poor.

When Jesus described the final judgment, He said, "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' (Mat 25:34-40)

Whenever the righteous do these things to one of the least of the Lord’s brothers, they do it unto Him. However, the wicked are the ones who do not do these things. "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Mat 25:46).  We like the part about the righteous going away into eternal life, and shining forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. We as Christians all like to assume we are among the righteous.  But the Lord looks at our deeds, not just our beliefs. Are you truly one of the righteous?

Peter said, “And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?” (1Pe 4:18) Therefore, we know that it is with difficulty that the righteous are saved. It’s through many hardships and trials that we enter the kingdom of God. Peter was referring to the suffering of the righteous when he said that, and the fact that judgment begins with the household of God (1 Pe 4:17). But he also referred to the Lord’s righteous ways that we must live by. This is evident in other parts of His epistle, when he speaks about obeying Jesus Christ (1 Pe 1:2), obeying the truth (1 Pe 1:22), being holy even as the Lord is holy (1 Pe 1:16), putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (1 Pe 2:1), abstaining from fleshly lusts (1 Pe 2:11), living as aliens and strangers, keeping your behavior excellent (1 Pe 2:12), doing good deeds (1 Pe 2:12; 3:11), doing right (1 Pe 2:15,20), and living to righteousness (1 Pe 2:24), keeping your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies, and being zealous for what is good (1 Pe 3:13), being of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer (1 Pe 4:11), and remaining fervent in your love for one another (1 Pe 4:8). And Peter says that God impartially judges each man’s work (1 Pe 1:17). Therefore, it is evident that when Peter said it is with difficulty that the righteous are saved, he was referring to the exemplary kind of behavior required of the righteous.

In the third chapter of his epistle, he says:

For, "The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the lord is against those who do evil." (1Pe 3:10-12).

In this passage, Peter was quoting Ps 34:12-16, in which David used the term “the righteous” four times (Psa 34:15,17,19,21). So Peter was very intentional in his use of the term “the righteous” in his epistle, and he used it with the same meaning that David did when he used it.  He was not merely referring to those who possess positional righteousness, but to those who practice righteousness.

Other Scriptures About the Righteous

Before my conclusion, I would like to list for your benefit most of the Scriptures in the Bible, which I have not already mentioned, that refer to “the righteous.” If you will take the time to read through these, I believe you will be edified, and then I will make my closing remarks.

Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? (Gen 18:23)

"Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" (Gen 18:25)

"Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. (Exo 23:7)

"You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. (Deu 16:19)

"If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, (Deu 25:1)

then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness. (1Ki 8:32)

then hear from heaven and act and judge Your servants, punishing the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness. (2Ch 6:23)

"Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way, And he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger. (Job 17:9)

"The righteous see and are glad, And the innocent mock them, (Job 22:19)

"He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; But with kings on the throne He has seated them forever, and they are exalted. (Job 36:7)

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psa 1:5)

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psa 1:6)

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield. (Psa 5:12)

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. (Psa 7:9)

If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?" (Psa 11:3)

The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. (Psa 11:5)

There they are in great dread, For God is with the righteous generation. (Psa 14:5)

Let the lying lips be mute, Which speak arrogantly against the righteous With pride and contempt. (Psa 31:18)

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. (Psa 34:15)

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psa 34:17)

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psa 34:19)

Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned. (Psa 34:21)

The wicked plots against the righteous And gnashes at him with his teeth. (Psa 37:12)

Better is the little of the righteous Than the abundance of many wicked. (Psa 37:16)

For the arms of the wicked will be broken, But the LORD sustains the righteous. (Psa 37:17)

The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives. (Psa 37:21)

I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread. (Psa 37:25)

The righteous will inherit the land And dwell in it forever. (Psa 37:29)

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. (Psa 37:30)

But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble. (Psa 37:39)

You love evil more than good, Falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent, And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah. The righteous will see and fear, And will laugh at him, saying, "Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, But trusted in the abundance of his riches And was strong in his evil desire." But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.  (Psa 52:3-8)

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psa 55:22)

The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. (Psa 58:10)

And men will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely there is a God who judges on earth!" (Psa 58:11)

The righteous man will be glad in the LORD and will take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will glory. (Psa 64:10)

But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness. (Psa 68:3)

May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous. (Psa 69:28)

In his days may the righteous flourish, And abundance of peace till the moon is no more. (Psa 72:7)

And all the horns of the wicked He will cut off, But the horns of the righteous will be lifted up. (Psa 75:10)

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. (Psa 92:12)

They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death. (Psa 94:21)

Light is sown like seed for the righteous And gladness for the upright in heart. (Psa 97:11)

For he will never be shaken; The righteous will be remembered forever. (Psa 112:6)

The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. (Psa 118:15)

This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it. (Psa 118:20)

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong. (Psa 125:3)

Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name; The upright will dwell in Your presence. (Psa 140:13)

"Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me." (Psa 142:7)

The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; (Psa 146:8)

So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous. (Pro 2:20)

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. (Pro 3:33)

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. (Pro 4:18)

The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked. (Pro 10:3)

Blessings are on the head of the righteous, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (Pro 10:6)

The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot. (Pro 10:7)

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (Pro 10:11)

The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. (Pro 10:16)

The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, The heart of the wicked is worth little.
(Pro 10:20)

The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding. (Pro 10:21)

What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire of the righteous will be granted. (Pro 10:24)

When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. (Pro 10:25)

The hope of the righteous is gladness, But the expectation of the wicked perishes. (Pro 10:28)

The righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not dwell in the land. (Pro 10:30)

The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out. (Pro 10:31)

The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted. (Pro 10:32)

The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place. (Pro 11:8)

With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. (Pro 11:9)

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. (Pro 11:10)

Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered. (Pro 11:21)

The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath. (Pro 11:23)

He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. (Pro 11:28)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls. (Pro 11:30)

If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, How much more the wicked and the sinner! (Pro 11:31)

A man will not be established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous will not be moved. (Pro 12:3)

The thoughts of the righteous are just, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. (Pro 12:5)

The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand. (Pro 12:7)

The wicked man desires the booty of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit. (Pro 12:12)

An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will escape from trouble. (Pro 12:13)

No harm befalls the righteous, But the wicked are filled with trouble. (Pro 12:21)

The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Pro 12:26)

The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked goes out. (Pro 13:9)

Adversity pursues sinners, But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity. (Pro 13:21)

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Pro 13:22)

The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, But the stomach of the wicked is in need. (Pro 13:25)

The evil will bow down before the good, And the wicked at the gates of the righteous. (Pro 14:19)

The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. (Pro 14:32)

Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, But trouble is in the income of the wicked. (Pro 15:6)

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. (Pro 15:28)

The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. (Pro 15:29)

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. (Pro 17:15)

It is also not good to fine the righteous, Nor to strike the noble for their uprightness. (Pro 17:26)

To show partiality to the wicked is not good, Nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment. (Pro 18:5)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe. (Pro 18:10)

The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, But is terror to the workers of iniquity. (Pro 21:15)

The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous is in the place of the upright. (Pro 21:18)

All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back. (Pro 21:26)

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. (Pro 23:24)

Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not destroy his resting place; (Pro 24:15)

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (Pro 28:1)

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves. (Pro 28:12)

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase. (Pro 28:28)

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan. (Pro 29:2)

By transgression an evil man is ensnared, But the righteous sings and rejoices. (Pro 29:6)

The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern. (Pro 29:7)

When the wicked increase, transgression increases; But the righteous will see their fall. (Pro 29:16)

An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked. (Pro 29:27)

I said to myself, "God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man," for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. (Ecc 3:17)

Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions. (Isa 3:10)

"Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful. (Isa 26:2)

The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. (Isa 26:7)

The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, (Isa 57:1)

Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause. (Jer 20:12)

Because of the sins of her prophets And the iniquities of her priests, Who have shed in her midst The blood of the righteous; (Lam 4:13)

"However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself." (Eze 3:21)

"Because you disheartened the righteous with falsehood when I did not cause him grief, but have encouraged the wicked not to turn from his wicked way and preserve his life, (Eze 13:22)

"The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. (Eze 18:20)

and say to the land of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am against you; and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off from you the righteous and the wicked. (Eze 21:3)

"Because I will cut off from you the righteous and the wicked, therefore My sword will go forth from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. (Eze 21:4)

"When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. (Eze 33:13)

"When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. (Eze 33:18)

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them. (Hos 14:9)

Thus says the LORD, "For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they sell the righteous for money And the needy for a pair of sandals. (Amo 2:6)

For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes And turn aside the poor in the gate. (Amo 5:12)

Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted. (Hab 1:4)

"Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. (Hab 2:4)

So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. (Mal 3:18)

so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mat 5:45)

"So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, (Mat 13:49)

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, (Mat 23:29)

"It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luk 1:17)

"And you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luk 14:14)

having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. (Act 24:15)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." (Rom 1:17)

Jesus Did Not Come to Call the Righteous to Repentance
One final point I would like to mention is that Jesus said He did not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners. 

In Matthew's gospel, He said, "But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mat 9:13).

In Luke's gospel, He said, "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luk 5:32)

In Mark's gospel, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mar 2:17)

I realize someone might use that as a reason to argue that somehow the Lord loves sinners and not the righteous.  But that's not what He meant.  The abundance of Scriptures I have just cited from the Old and New Testaments, including the words of the Lord Himself, prove that He loves the righteous. So what did He mean then?

The Lord meant by this that if someone considers himself righteous in his own eyes, as did the scribes, Pharisee, and experts in the law, then He was not calling them to repent and follow Him. Those who are self-righteous, content to have a righteousness of their own that comes from the Law, and outwardly pious cannot be saved, because they rely on themselves and do not submit to God's righteousness. They reject God's authority.

Therefore, He was calling sinners to repent and follow Him. These are the people He spent time with, because they were heeding His call to repent and follow Him. The reason is that as long as you think you are a good person or a righteous person, and you do not see your need for Jesus, you cannot be saved. You must admit you are a sinner and repent of your sins, asking the Lord to forgive you and to come into your heart as your Lord and Savior. Only then can He cleanse you of your sins and give you His perfect righteousness. Once you do so, then you are righteous in God's sight, and the righteous should not sin, according to Ezekiel 3:21; 18:24; 33:12; and 1Jn. 2:1.

The apostle John said you may not sin:

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous;" (1Jn 2:1)

"If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." (1Jn 2:29)

"Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;" (1Jn 3:7)

"not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous." (1Jn 3:12)

It cannot be more plain and clear that the righteous practice righteousness and the wicked practice evil.  Therefore, Jesus never condoned sin when He said he came to call sinners. For He came to call sinners to repentance, which requires that you depart from sin and follow Him.  The righteous walk by faith in the ways of the Lord.

Putting it All Together
There are so many wonderful promises for the righteous contained in God’s Word. I hope that these have blessed you, and I hope that you will lay hold of these promises for yourself, appropriating them to your life by faith.  But more importantly, I hope that I have proven from Scripture that the righteous are those who practice righteousness. Everyone who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (1Jn 2:29; 1Jn 3:7). Not every so-called Christian or person who was once "saved" is among the righteous.  So let us make every effort to be found spotless and blameless in the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns. As Peter wrote:

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Pe 3:13-14, NIV)

Only the righteous will inherit eternal life. Only the righteous will dwell with the Lord in glory forever. Only the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The Scripture says that heaven is home of the righteous whose spirits have been made perfect.

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.” (Heb 12:22-25).

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. They did not escape when they refused to obey Moses who warned them on earth, and much less will we escape if we refuse Him who warns us from heaven. He is coming right away, but He is only coming for the righteous, those who are truly holy. You ought to live holy and godly lives. Bear in mind that it's difficult for the righteous to be saved. Therefore, repent and seek the Lord while He may be found. Call on Him while He is near, so that you may live a life worthy of His glory, worthy of the calling you have received, and receive the reward of the righteous to enjoy throughout eternity.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.  "Welcome My Child" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend Righteous Deeds and White Robes,
Practicing Your Righteousness, Doing What is Right, Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Faith Works!, The Judgment Seat of Christ, The Obedience of Faith, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, and The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?

If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.