Setting the Right Example

Philippians 2:14-16 ESV

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Those Who Grumble

As followers of Jesus, we should not fight and quarrel with each other. Now, if we are falsely accused of something we did not do, this is not saying that we cannot defend ourselves. Jesus did sometimes, and so did Paul. It was necessary for Paul to defend himself, since he was a minister of the gospel, for when he was under fire, so was the gospel. In other words, if he could be discredited, so could the gospel. And if people bold-face lie to us, we are also permitted to renounce the lies they tell, and then to tell the truth.

What we are not to do is that we are not to be people who go around throughout life complaining about everything in a bad-tempered way, out of utter selfishness. This is like people who never or hardly ever smile, who don’t like much of anything. They complain about their food and drink, and they complain about the weather, and they are hardly ever or never grateful or thankful for anything. Something is always wrong with everything, according to them, but not all grumblers take it to that total extreme.

Now today we have this teaching or this philosophy that is sweeping over the church, at least here in America, where we are being warned against anything that might be considered negative. Everything has to be positive and upbeat and feel-good, and we are not to say anything to anyone that might make that person uncomfortable or to be offended in anyway. And so we are being encouraged to only say nice things that make people feel good about themselves and about us, which is really the bottom line.

This is NOT what this passage of Scripture is talking about. For we are taught in the Scriptures that the message of the cross is an offense to those who are perishing. And we are told that if we teach the truth of the gospel that we are going to be opposed, and hated, and rejected, and falsely accused, and fought against, and maligned, and mocked, etc. And they are not going to do that if all we do is say “nice” things that everyone wants to hear. So, yes, we will be accused of being “negative.”

So, when this says that we are not to dispute with others, this is not saying that we can’t defend the truth of the gospel and that we can’t refute the lies and tell the truth. But it would refer to those people who go around on the internet, for example, just looking to pick fights with people, and who usually get very nasty in their comments, lowering themselves to name calling and to attacking people’s characters, without cause. But this is not saying that we should not test other people’s words. We should.

Blameless and Innocent

Now, this is not saying that we have to be absolutely perfect people, without fault of any kind. The apostles were not perfect people, yet they did walk in holiness and in righteousness, and they ceased from living in sin. And that is how we are to live, too. If we died with Christ to sin, and if we were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, then our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God (Romans 6:1-23).

The whole idea of being blameless and innocent is that we are not guilty of living in sin. Sin is not our practice, but righteousness is our practice. We are no longer living according to the flesh, to gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh, but now we are walking in holiness in obedience to our Lord and in the daily putting off of the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. But this is a process of sanctification. But we need to be moving in a forward direction, not going in circles habitually sinning against God claiming, “I’m not perfect.”

So we should be people with clear consciences who know that we are not deliberately and habitually sinning against our Lord, willfully doing what we know displeases him. And we should be people who are daily denying self and dying to sin and who are walking in obedience to our Lord. And if we fail in some way (not talking here about addictive sin), then we confess our sin and we move forward and we don’t keep going back to that same sin. We should always be moving in a forward direction, ever changing for good.

A Crooked and Twisted Generation

We are definitely living in a crooked and twisted generation here in America, and within the gatherings of what are called “churches.” Moral values have plummeted. Good is being spoken of as evil, and evil is being spoken of as good. If you have moral values and you keep to them, by the grace of God, you may be attacked and accused of being a “holy roller,” or “hyper-religious,” or “self-righteous,” or of being “negative,” and of being “judgmental,” especially if you are teaching those morals to other people out of obedience to the Lord Jesus.

For we live in a day and time when the gospel has been altered and adulterated in order to appeal to human flesh and so as not to offend anyone with the truth. And so not many people are believing that they must repent of their sins and walk in obedience to the Lord Jesus and they must live godly and holy lives to the praise and glory of God. They are convinced that a mere profession of faith in Jesus is enough to secure heaven for them regardless of how they live their lives on this earth.

And so this is why it is critical that we live holy and godly lives, not only because we love God and we want to obey him, and not only because that is required biblically for eternal life with God (see verses referenced below), but because it is the right thing to do. And it is also as an example to others in how they ought to live so that when we teach them the truth of the gospel we are not doing so hypocritically. For we should not just teach the truth with our lips, but we should lead by example in how we live our lives.

Philippians 2:17-18 ESV

“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

When we follow Jesus Christ with wholehearted devotion, in walks of holiness and in surrender to our Lord, and in obedience to his commands, and when we then share with others the truths of the Scriptures so that they can also die with Christ to their sins, so that they can live to him and to his righteousness, we are going to be hated. We are going to be rejected, cast aside, mocked, slandered, maligned, and we will be falsely accused of wrongdoing when we are doing no wrong that we know of.

But, out of love for our Lord, out of a desire to serve him with our lives, and out of love for our fellow humans, we willingly lay our lives down in order to see others go free. So we will tell people the truth they need to hear even if they hate us and misuse us in return. And we will trust their lives into God’s hands, and we will pray for their salvation from sin, because we love them, and we want them to spend eternity with the Lord, even if it is at the last minute. But no one should ever count on having that last minute.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

In the Sweet By and By

Sanford F. Bennett / Joseph P. Webster, 1868

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

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