Sunday, January 22, 2017
Moral Living Versus Living in Christ - January 22, 2017
We all know good people. These are folks who would never lift a finger to hurt anyone. To the best of their ability they have always tried to live the Ten Commandments. You would also think about the "Golden Rule" if you considered how they would certainly "do unto others as they would do for themselves." Yet, as "good" as these folks are, if they have not placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is all for naught. It means nothing in the light of eternity. The very sad truth is that there will be myriads of "good" folks in hell. I didn't say this but it was said long before I came along. The scripture is clear when Jesus states in John 14:6 ... "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Even with the clarity of this and many other scripture references pronouncing a definite way to salvation, I would never tell someone they are or aren't saved. That is between them and God. All things will be revealed in time.
However, how does one distinguish between good, moral living and living in Christ? Folks can certainly put on a good exterior and look like they are pious by displaying certain attributes that are applauded within our society. If one does not lie, does not cheat, does not swear, does not drink, does charity work, is kind, etc. then it is fairly well accepted that this person must be a godly character. However, as they say looks can be deceiving. While someone may smile on the outside they may be full of despair. While one may be giving ten percent to their church, they may have a covetous heart and a grasping attitude in their business that totally nullifies their supposed generosity. The scripture states in Luke 18:9-14 that the Pharisee was feeling very good about himself as he considered himself "moral" -- that he was not a swindler, unjust, an adulterer, or like that tax-gatherer! The tax-gatherer could not even raise his eyes to heaven but said "Have mercy on me O God, a sinner!" Jesus said that the tax-gatherer went up to his house justified while the Pharisee stood condemned. The tax-gatherer obviously had a change of "heart" whereas the Pharisee was not in the least concerned about examining his heart but was merely relying on his actions to justify him before God. This seeming "morality" of the Pharisee did nothing to commend him to the Eternal God, but rather it condemned him.
Morality in and of itself when it does not spring from a heart given to God leads us in the wrong direction, only strengthening self and leading us AWAY from salvation. Ask yourself: Why should ANYONE care about a moral compass when its compass points will always point straight to hell? Morality will never save me, but Jesus will. And, He is the one that will give me the power and the joy to live the normal Christian life. What is a normal Christian life, some may ask? JESUS LIVED IT! That is the normal and credible testimony of how a Christian should live. Paul said in I Corinthians 4:16 "Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me." WHOA! We either just read the most arrogant statement made in first century Christianity or we have happened on someone who is confident that their life has been crucified with Christ and that they no longer live but Christ lives in them. Thank God, it is the latter! What a glorious living testimony was Paul to the power of a Christ-resurrected man. Who needs to live up to the Law when there is One who has fulfilled the Law and now lives it through any who would but accept Him for who He is.
Recently, I had someone tell me "Keep being the good man you are!" I shuddered inside, because if they only knew. This person is not a believer (by their own admission), but a good person and so therefore was congratulating me from their own point of reference. There are a couple of things wrong with their statement. For one thing, I am not good but for the grace of God. Some of you who knew me in my pre-Christ years can attest to that. It is only by His grace that I am anything today. Secondly, if he mistook "morality" in me rather than "Christ-likeness" than I have done him a huge disservice and have not offered him anything that can stop their eventual slide into hell. Friends, the world is not looking for good people. There are lots of "good" people doing lots of noteworthy and wonderful things. Humankind is looking for LIFE -- an eternal personage that is full of the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Humankind is yearning for men and women who have been transfigured by the person of Jesus Christ. They are thirsting after the Living Water that only He can give. There are rivers of intellect, and moral turpitude, and high human ideals that are flowing temporal and wide, just waiting for the masses to jump in so that they can be swept into hell with the rest of "good" humanity. However, there are some who will refuse to be jettisoned down this metaphoric river of Egypt into the abyss -- those of us who will but choose to be identified with Christ and drink from the river of Living Water that is eternal, never to thirst again.
Commandments, Golden Rules, and compasses are what they are -- merely tools to define direction and position. They can not save because they are inherently "tools" to point us to the One who can save. That One IS the Law fulfilled, the Just and Righteous Ruler, and the One who points us to the cross, and ultimately to our own resurrection and that of others. Hallelujah!
Your Barefoot Servant,