By Roland W. Keith
Psalm 90:1-2 is designated “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.” In it Moses prays, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” We see from his words that Moses understood that God is both an eternal being and the Creator of the heavens and the earth (see also Psalm 33:6-9; 93:1; Hebrews 1:2; 11:3; Colossians 1:16). As our Creator does it make sense for us to question Him or rebel against Him? Paul asked the Romans, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:20-21).
God created man for many reasons. He made us in His Own image to have a like being to commune with. He made us for good works. He wanted someone to bestow His love upon who would reciprocate that love of their own free will. At the same time, He wants, in fact commands, that we behave in a manner worthy of the eternal spirit that He has given each of us. A spirit that was created to reflect His own attributes. We are the only creatures in His creation with such a Spirit. The only one set apart with the attributes of our Creator. With the ability to understand the universe around us. To appreciate it and its Creator. To comprehend its grandeur and feel awe for the all-encompassing power of the One Who brought it forth. We are the only ones called to acknowledge Him as the eternal and Supreme Being. The only ones required to worship Him, even as He offers us a place in heaven as His beloved children. However, though He has the right to command our obedience and our praise and adoration He does not compel it. Among His own attributes He has instilled in us is free will. He has given us the right to choose or reject His call. To stand with Him or against Him.
For those who stand with their LORD, there will be the reward of eternal life with God, but for those who reject their God, there will be eternal punishment. At the end of our lives we will be called upon to give an account of our lives (Romans 14:12). Did we live our lives according to God’s word or did we reject it, and live as we pleased in rebellion to God? Jesus said it is by the word He has given us to lead us to salvation and guide us in right living that we will be judged (John 12:48; Hebrews 4:12). It is our relationship to His word that will reward us for being His obedient followers or condemn us for fighting against Him. Paul looked around at his fellow man and noted, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18).
Solomon was a wise man. The Bible tells us the wisest man who had ever lived. After studying the world and testing all that it offered, he concluded, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Hundreds of years later Peter wrote, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (I Peter 2:11). Solomon and Peter both understood that we are just passing through this life on our way to eternity. The best we can do, the right thing to do is to keep God’s commandments. It is in His divine word that right and wrong behavior is defined. Paul enumerated many of these behaviors when he wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:19-24). Accordingly, we are to obey all the words of God, including abstaining from these behaviors and other works of darkness (I Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:11; II Timothy 2:19).
It is our responsibility as followers of Christ to avoid sin and focus on those things that are just and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Everything that we do should be not just pure in motivation, but in compliance with the will of God. Whatever we do for ourselves, or families, our church, our community, our country, and our fellow man should be done according to the will of God, as the psalmist wrote, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Joshua gave the Israelites an ultimate from God: choose whom you will serve, saying, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Each of us has a choice to make. Who will we serve? Will we serve the world, self, or the LORD? Will we establish our families according to God’s pattern (Matthew 19:6; Ephesians 5:23; 6:1-4), or will we just wing it?
What about our businesses or work relationships, how we treat friends and strangers, our attitude toward government (Romans 13:1)? Paul told the Romans that the unrighteous would be “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless,” among other things (Romans 1:30-31). To Timothy he wrote, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” (II Timothy 3:2). For the Christian there is no mystery as to what our attitude or behavior should be. The Bible makes it clear. If we stick with the Bible and apply its lessons to our lives, we will do fine.
In his letter to the Colossians Paul wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (2:8). Every generation seems to be susceptible to false doctrine and willful disobedience among those who profess faith in God, a problem that prompted the Lord to say, “in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."
And He said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition… thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:7-9, 13). Such behavior also led Him to ask, “Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46; see also I John 2:4). We are either with the Lord or against Him (Matthew 12:30; 6:24).
This is true not only for those of the world, but for those in the church as well, as Peter wrote, “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22). We must always strive to keep our minds set on the things of the spirit and not of the flesh (Romans 8:6; see also Mark 8:36-37). To fail is to incur the wrath of God, and as Paul noted, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31; also 12:29). And, as Jesus said, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). If we choose to fight against God, we will lose.
It is our chose. We can choose instead to take a stand for God and fight against the world, arming ourselves as Paul told the Ephesians: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (6:10-12; see also II Corinthians 10:3-5).
The armor of God is fashioned in His word, as noted by John: “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
If for some reason we feel unworthy to take up the cause of Christ or to accept His offer of salvation remember what one of His greatest opponents, Paul, wrote after his own conversion: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). It has been said that nothing worth having comes easy. In many respects that is true. Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). The Lord does not place on us more than we can bear, and the more we trust and turn to Him, the easier it gets, but we must remember it is a fight that we must engage in for the rest of our time on earth for it was also the Lord Who said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.