Psalms 27:11-14 ESV
“Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!”
I read a quote on Facebook today by Sinclair Ferguson. Now, I had read a quote by this same man a few months ago that I agreed with, so I am certainly not calling out this man as a false teacher, as an enemy, as an adversary, nor as a false witness who breathes out violence. But I do believe that the Scriptures do not agree with his statement, and therefore I believe his statement to be false. Yet, even good people may say false things at times because that is what they were taught.
He said, “It’s misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather He accepts us despite the way we are.”
Now, my immediate reaction was “neither of these statements is true.” What I mean is, it is not true to say that God accepts us the way that we are, but it is also not true to say that he accepts us despite the way we are. So, I did a word search in the Scriptures for the word “accept” with regard to God accepting us, and what I found did not agree with this quote at all. This is what I found:
Acts 10:35: “But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Romans 14:18: “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.”
Hebrews 12:28: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
1 Peter 2:5: “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
So, according to these Scriptures, what makes us acceptable to God?
• If we fear the Lord (take him and his word seriously and obey Him)
• If we do what is right (if we obey the Lord)
• If we present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, holy unto Him
• If we serve Christ with our lives (in obedience to Him)
• If we offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe
• If we are offering to God spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him
Now, this is not a complete list. These were verses I found in my search which spoke of being acceptable to God. Then there are those which speak on the subject of doing what is pleasing to God, such as “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:8), and “..so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way..” (Col 1:9-11), and “..brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God.. (1 Thess 4:1; cf. 2 Co 5:9; Gal 6:8; Eph 5:10; 2 Tim 2:4; 1 Jn 3:22).
But it isn’t just the Scriptures that use the phrase “acceptable to God,” or “pleasing to God” that tell us the truth, but it is all the Scriptures which teach the concept of what is acceptable to God or not acceptable to God which we must also take a look at, because it is not true that God accepts us despite the way we are, if the way that we are is not acceptable to him, and if it is contrary to his will and purpose for our lives, and if he distinctly teaches that if we are that way that we will not inherit eternal life with God.
For Jesus taught that if we do not participate with him in his death to sin that we have no part (no life) in him. And he taught that if we do not deny self and take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow him in obedience, in practice, but if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, instead, that we do not have eternal life with him. And he said that not everyone saying to him, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven (John 6:35-58; Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 7:21-23; cf. John 15:1-11).
And Paul taught that we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and that we must no longer live as slaves to sin but now as slaves to God and to his righteousness. For if we obey sin, it ends in death, but if we obey obedience, it leads to righteousness and to sanctification, and its end is eternal life with God. And if we walk in sin we will die in our sins but if by the Spirit we are putting sin to death we will have eternal life (Romans 6 and Romans 8).
And then he went on to teach that if sin is what we practice that we will not inherit eternal life with God, for we are all going to be judged by what we do. And if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. And so if we are living sexually immoral lives, and lying, cheating, committing adultery, and hating our fellow Christians, etc., as a matter of what we practice, heaven is not our eternal destiny. Hell is.
Basically what these Scriptures and many more are teaching us is that there are things we do which are acceptable to God and there are things which we do which are not acceptable to God, so it is not true that God/Jesus Christ accepts us despite the way we are. And they also teach us what things we do will determine whether or not we will spend eternity in heaven or in hell, and that mainly comes down to what we practice. If sin is our practice, we will die in our sins. If righteousness is our practice, we will live for eternity.
So, it is critical that we ask the Lord to teach us his ways and that we then walk in his ways if we want to look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. For what makes us acceptable to God is what we do in surrender of our lives to him in obedience to his commands, as a matter of our daily walks of faith in him, by his grace, and in his power. And what makes us unacceptable to him is if we refuse to obey him and to forsake our sins and to submit to his will and purposes for our lives.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-10; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Hymn lyrics by Anonymous/Unknown
Music by American Melody
I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
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