Choosing Rather to Be

Hebrews 11:6 ESV

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Faith is not some innocuous (lacking in qualities that stimulate or challenge) belief in God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. We can’t just say we believe and then go on with our lives without that faith stimulating and challenging us to change, and without it affecting change in our lives.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9]

For one, we can’t even believe in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ, i.e., unless God persuades us as to his will for our lives (Jn 6:35-58). So, this faith comes from God (Eph 2:8-10), and thus it submits to God and to his divine will and purpose for our lives.

And what is the goal of this faith? It is to please God. And we don’t please him if all we do is acknowledge him and his sacrifice for our sins, but we don’t surrender our lives to him to allow him to work in our lives to change us, to transform us, and to make us into his likeness (Eph 4:17-24).

Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. For, they are those who have their minds set on the flesh and not on the Spirit, who are living to please themselves, and are not living to do what pleases God.

Therefore, the mind set on the flesh is death, for it is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot (See: Rom 8:1-17).

And do you know that whoever sows to please their flesh, that from their flesh they will reap destruction? But whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8; cf. Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10).

So, we make it our goal to please the Lord, and we find out what pleases Him, so that we can do it, and we live a life worthy of the Lord, by his grace, and we seek to please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, and we live by the Spirit in order to please Him, in his strength.

[Rom 8:8; 2 Co 5:9; Gal 6:8; Eph 5:10; Col 1:9-11; 1 Thes 2:4; 1 Thes 4:1; 2 Tim 2:4; Heb 11:6; Heb 13:6; 1 Jn 3:22]

Hebrews 11:24-28 ESV

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

This is a wonderful picture here of what genuine faith in Jesus Christ should look like. We are to refuse to be children of the kingdoms of this world, too. We are to no longer live according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit. We are no longer to live for the pleasures of this world, but we are to live to please God with our lives (Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24).

We are to no longer live to please our flesh or the world. Rather, by living to please God, we open ourselves up wide to be hated and persecuted by the people of the world, and by worldly-minded Christians, too. For, even within the gatherings of the church, holy living is not being taught much today.

The church, overall, has gotten so worldly that many are rejecting those among them who are choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. So, they accuse them of being over-zealous for God or hyper-religious or self-serving or legalistic.

But for those of us who are being treated this way because we choose to serve our Lord with our lives, and not the flesh, we are to have this same attitude as Moses had. We are to consider the reproach of Christ of greater worth than the treasures and pleasures this world has to offer us.

For, indeed, we are being mistreated because of our faith in Jesus Christ, and we are being treated like Jesus Christ was treated, because we are his followers. But our rewards are eternal, not of this world. Our rewards are everlasting, not of this world which is perishing.

So, by faith in Jesus Christ, we obey our Lord by coming out of the world and by being separate (unlike the world), because we are being made into the image of Christ, our Lord. And we don’t fear the anger of church leaders, friends, family, or the government, but we endure persecution for the sake of the name of Jesus and for the sake of his gospel.

For, by faith in Jesus Christ, we died with Christ to sin so that we would live in it no longer. And we were resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And so we now live to please God with our lives, and we walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 6).

And now we have eternal life with God, and we will not die in our sins. And all of this is because of God’s grace to us, and because Jesus Christ died on that cross to deliver us out of our slavery to sin and to empower us to become slaves of his righteousness. By his grace we are saved. Amen!

The Lily of the Valley

Lyrics by Charles W. Fry, 1881
Music by William H. Hays, 1871, arr. Charles W. Fry, 1881

I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I’ve all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.

He’ll never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

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