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LIVING IN A WORLD where the forces of evil appear to have the upper hand, and where the Apostle Paul’s forecast of godless times to come has proved all too real, the Lord’s people today in declaring their loyalty to Him must be willing to stand up and be counted.
Doing all to the glory of God is a deeply serious commitment. It will not endear us to the worldly, who will be embarrassed in our company and will avoid us. It may make enemies of some, whose licentious lifestyle cannot bear the light. Some may even be angry at what they regard as our stubborn faith, and at the very least, we shall be ridiculed.
But we are in good company. Jesus forewarned his followers: “’No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15: 20).
But while rebuking society as a whole for immoral behaviour and corrupt practices, it is not our responsibility to draw attention to the wrong conduct of individual unbelievers. We are not appointed as their judges, and they are in fact already under the condemnation of the death sentence on the human family. Rather, surrounded as we are on all sides by calls to condone – even approve – what we deplore, it is the more vital that we do our utmost to live our own lives according to the standards set out in the Word of God, and taught by our Lord Jesus. Our first scrutiny must therefore be directed towards our own conduct, and there are questions we must ask ourselves.
Am I praying the prayer of David?
“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!” (Psalms 143: 10, 11 – NKJV).
Do I commit everything to God, asking
Having dedicated all to God’s service, and being a disciple of Jesus, am I day by day striving to live a holy life? The Apostle Paul exhorts:
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 22, 24).
The old self was captive to the common condition of mankind. Satan, called “the god of this world,” has the minds and consequently the bodies of his victims under his control, and the majority have no will to resist. His chief ambition is to recapture those who have been freed from his tyranny and have become servants of Christ. We are not to give any heed to his dictates, nor to yield to temptation and revert to the old self. It is no sin to be tempted; the sin lies in yielding. The new self belongs to Christ and was created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
As the hymn says, “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.” We should daily, in compliance with our consecration, yield ourselves to God – as though already raised from the dead and having the promised eternal life. Our hearts and minds and all our faculties are dedicated as instruments of righteousness and holiness to the service of God.
Adam’s race as a whole is a race of slaves – “sold as a slave to sin” (Romans 7: 14). Looking back to see when it was that the human race became slaves of sin and how this condition came about, we find that in Eden Father Adam sold himself and incidentally all his race, which was then unborn. What price was paid by the purchaser? What did Adam get when he sold himself and all his posterity to become servants of sin? He got his own way. He got his choice of companionship with his wife for a time, and in the course of disobedience rejected God and His will, His law. For this price – this self-gratification, he sold himself to sin and was cut off from his status as a son of God, and in becoming a slave of sin he became also a slave of death (Romans 5: 12).
Sin, the great monarch ruling the world, has enslaved the entire human family. None can escape this bondage, except in one way. Under this bondage of sin all suffer disease, sorrow, disappointment, death. Death is the inevitable climax of the rule of this great monarch. And so we read, “The soul who sins is the one who will die”; “the wages of sin is death”; “the whole creation has been groaning” (Ezekiel 18: 4; Romans 6: 23; 8: 22). They are all toiling in this slavery, which was pictured in the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt under Pharaoh. The unavoidable truth is that the whole world is alienated from God, banished from His favour and having no hope of escaping the death sentence and experiencing everlasting life. Many learned to make the best of their situation and chose to co-operate with the great taskmaster, adopting his tactics and satisfying the desires of the fallen nature.
But not all have been willing captives. Thousands, even millions, have yearned to be free from their bondage, desiring to serve a kinder master. The existence of a loving Heavenly Father remained deep in the conscious – or sub-conscious – conviction of many, and while the majority had lost all hope for recovery, these kept alive the yearning for a perfect life, a perfect earth, where mankind would no longer be slaves to sin and death, but restored to harmony with their Creator.
Their hope was well founded.
In due time God in His love, and without violating His just sentence upon disobedient Adam and his race, provided a ransom for the purchasing back of the slaves. Father Adam went into slavery of his own volition. His children – all mankind – were born slaves, born under the sentence of death.
God “gave his one and only Son” (John 3: 16), that He might redeem the one who sinned, that He might give as a ransom-price His own perfect human life to buy back the perfect human life forfeited by Father Adam. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15: 21, 22).
How will this wonderful recovery of mankind be achieved? At Jesus’ First Advent and during the centuries that followed, a comparatively small number of godly men and women came to understand His mission, and joined themselves to His cause, laying down their lives in the service of Christ. These are referred to in the Scriptures under various descriptive terms: the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11: 2), members of His body (1 Corinthians 12: 27, the elect (1 Peter 1: 1).
Because of their utter faith in the efficacy of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, and by their consecration to do the will of God, they were counted as righteous and were reckoned as passing from under the death sentence into eternal life. Theirs was a heavenly inheritance, to be with their Lord (1 Peter 1: 3, 4). But the unbelieving world remained subject to sin and death. Their rescue awaited a special period of time which will begin after the promised Second Advent of Christ – times of restoration (Acts 3: 21).
Adam’s fallen race will then be given (1) the light, the knowledge of the Truth (John 1: 9), and (2) the benefit of Christ’s death on their behalf (1 Timothy 2: 3-6). All will then have a full and fair opportunity to prove themselves worthy of eternal life on earth, God’s original purpose for the human family (Genesis 1: 31). This will be the world’s judgment day – not a time of condemnation, but a time of opportunity and rejoicing.
In due time God’s original purpose for mankind will be reflected in their perfect humanity and their new-found loyalty to His will. Earth will eternally be a place of beauty and glory.
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