Christ Our Power Before Christ Our Example

I haven’t posted anything for a while, but there’s a good deal of material that I have underway which I hope to be posting soon. Here’s something I think that needs to be emphasized more: Christ our example comes down to legalism without Christ our Savior and Christ our Power beforehand.

Please see: “I am a Christian, not because I think I can walk in Jesus’s footsteps, but because He is the only one Who can carry me. I am not the gospel; Jesus Christ alone is the Gospel. His story saves me, not only by bringing me justification, but by baptizing me into His resurrection life” –> Christ Our Power

“Jesus as an example is law. Jesus living, dying, rising for us & saving sinners is gospel.” — J. L. Martin

Advertisements

Something I Once Heard . . .

Some years ago, when I was driving through southern Ohio in car with only an AM radio, I picked up a sermon on that radio from an African American preacher. His style of delivery was unique, but I’ve never forgotten the point that he was making: “God isn’t interested in the best that you can do; he’s interested in the best that you can do through the Holy Spirit.”

The Vampire’s Interview with Dale

First, let me start out by declaring that I’m not a fan of the current vampire craze in novels, movies and television. I read through Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula when I was in ninth grade, and I believe that I’ve seen several more or less impressive renditions of that in movies over the past thirty years (Love at First Bite was actually my favorite). But I’m not a fan of the genre at all, and there have been some Christian authors lately addressing the trend with grace and discernment.

Second, let me say that I’m also not someone who sets a lot of store by what happens in dreams. I believe that God’s will is for the believer normally to be guided by his Word (II Timothy 3:16-17), and not by dreams. And I recognize that it’s easy for the undiscerning to be drawn into New Agey ideas and come into contact with counterfeits of the divine and thus will end up being guided by  demonic counterfeits rather than God (II Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-9). And though I will give account of two dreams that I’ve had, I don’t ascribe to them any value other than as interesting dramas served up in my unconscious that illustrate how scripture might have influenced my reaction if I were to encounter a vampire or other conflict with spiritual evil. And since I’ve been reading and studying the Bible for more than 37 years, it would be more of a wonder if scripture did not influence the content of my dreams than otherwise.

The first dream featured a vampire by the name of Milosevic, strangely named after the dead Communist dictator of Yugoslavia. In the dream I believed, with a wholly understandable naturalistic bias, that the US State Department was trying to deport him as an undesirable criminal illegal alien. The vampire Milosevic, though, had some designs upon my own life, and it is safe to say that he was out for blood.

So this is what I said in the dream to the vampire: “I understand that you vampires are vulnerable to two things, and one of them is the cross, correct?”

The vampire nodded his head, so I continued.

“So I want you to know that I have been crucified with Christ, and yet I live, but not I, but Christ lives in me. So for you I am the cross.” (See Galatians 2:20).

“Even more, you have no power and authority over me, and even if you should somehow manage to kill me, I would not become like you or under your power, but I would go to be with Christ, and my body would await being raised with him when he returns. And, though I will not test or assert it now, I believe that I have authority over you, in the name of Jesus.” (See Luke 10:19 – this applies to demons, but in literature, vampires would seem to be a kind of demonic inhabitation of a dead body, somewhat like the UnMan in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra. I wonder if the UnMan was a more scriptural view of what a zombie or vampire would really be like – a demonically animated corpse.)

“I don’t know why God would allow a wicked monstrosity like you to walk the earth, but I take comfort in the fact that one day you, whatever you truly are, will face him one day in judgment for all the evil things that you have done.” (See Philippians 2:9-11, Revelation 20:11-15.)

It’s easy for someone to get caught up in this kind of literature and develop a kind of fearful fascination and dread of the supernatural. I believe that there may be a definite Satanic influence to try to get an undue glory to and fear of the power of spiritual and supernatural evil, with the presentation of these kinds of spooky and repulsive creatures – which would include vampires, zombies and ghosts — from the human imagination. Yet in the Word of God there is definite conflict with evil (Ephesians 6:10-20), but ultimate and real victory over evil through the power and authority of Jesus Christ. And this is part of the security that comes from being grounded in the Word of God – that a believer can rest assured in victory in Christ where there is real conflict with the powers of evil.

The second dream that I had happened shortly after the release of the last Harry Potter movie. In the dream I was standing beside Harry Potter, who was trying to fight against evil powers with his wand, and wasn’t having much success with it. I started to use the name of Jesus against the evil powers, and  that was successful. This is a reminder that the believer has already been given weapons for the war against evil in scripture, and that they are more powerful than anything that the human imagination or human ingenuity can dream up. “For although we walk in the flesh we do not make war after the flesh – for the weapons of our war are not fleshly but rather powerful to bring about the pulling down of strongholds – as we pull down reasoned arguments and every high and proud thing that raises itself up against the knowledge of God, and as we take into custody every thought into obedience to Christ . . .” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).

“And the seventy returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us by your name.” And [Jesus] said to them, ‘I was seeing Satan fallen from heaven like lightning. See, I have given you authority to step on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and noting will ever cause any harm to you. Except do not rejoice in this, that the demons are subject to you, but rather rejoice that your names have been written down in heaven.’” (Luke 10:17-20).

Soldiers of Christ Arise (Charles Wesley)

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Stand then against your foes, in close and firm array;
Legions of wily fiends oppose throughout the evil day;
But meet the sons of night, and mock their vain design,
Armed in the arms of heavenly light, of righteousness divine.

Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;
Indissolubly joined, to battle all proceed;
But arm yourselves with all the mind that was in Christ, your Head.

 

But, above all, lay hold on faith’s victorious shield;
Armed with that adamant and gold, be sure to win the field:
If faith surround your heart, Satan shall be subdued,
Repelled his every fiery dart, and quenched with Jesu’s blood.

Jesus hath died for you! What can His love withstand?
Believe, hold fast your shield, and who shall pluck you from His hand?
Believe that Jesus reigns; all power to Him is giv’n:
Believe, till freed from sin’s remains; believe yourselves to Heav’n.

 

To keep your armor bright, attend with constant care,
Still walking in your Captain’s sight, and watching unto prayer.
Ready for all alarms, steadfastly set your face,
And always exercise your arms, and use your every grace.

Pray without ceasing, pray, your Captain gives the word;
His summons cheerfully obey and call upon the Lord;
To God your every want in instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray and never faint; pray, without ceasing, pray!

 

In fellowship alone, to God with faith draw near;
Approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the powers of prayer:
Go to His temple, go, nor from His altar move;
Let every house His worship know, and every heart His love.

To God your spirits dart, your souls in words declare,
Or groan, to Him Who reads the heart, the unutterable prayer:
His mercy now implore, and now show forth His praise,
In shouts, or silent awe, adore His miracles of grace.

 

Pour out your souls to God, and bow them with your knees,
And spread your hearts and hands abroad, and pray for Zion’s peace;
Your guides and brethren bear for ever on your mind;
Extend the arms of mighty prayer, in grasping all mankind.

From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, ‘Come!’
‘Til Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home!

Where Are the Legalists in Our Churches?

A little while ago there were some preachers that I know of who were going back to the book of Galatians and preaching a series of sermons on the foundational truths in that book of the atonement of Christ, justification and sanctification. Their explanation of the bedrock truths of the faith was very good. Where I think that they came up short was in attributing legalism in the modern church to a theological belief in righteousness by good deeds. That may well indeed be true of some people, but it is not generally not characteristic of many believers in modern evangelical churches who are most dogmatic about certain rules and regulations and setting themselves up as the authorities and judges of other believers where the scriptures are silent. In fact, many of these same believers may be at the same time extremely vocal about their conviction about salvation by grace through faith. So I don’t think that dealing with the theological truth is going to deal with the true motivation of their legalism. Moreover, I don’t think that most of them would ever see themselves in the place of a legalist however many sermons they heard that dealt with legalism as a mere theological belief that my good deeds will get me into heaven.

I think that the legalism that many are stuck in is the legalism that their religious convictions and obedience make them superior to others who do not believe in and practice the same things. This is often the perception of those who do not make a profession of faith in Christ of those in the church, and they are often right. In addition, I have also heard the same thing from those who had a profession of faith in Christ but who have fallen away. So, this attitude of religious superiority because of personal religious observances has been and will continue to be a great stumbling block to many both inside and outside our churches. And I don’t think that talking more about grace from a theological standpoint to those who are stuck in it will receive anything more than the protest that, “I do believe completely in the grace of God” – as a foundational plank in their theology.

Jesus told two parables in the gospel of Luke that showed what could be called practical and relational grace – how the grace of God deals with our own comparison of ourselves with others in our religious observances, and anything done out of obedience to God. I would myself preach sermons on these either as a preparation or as a follow-up to a sermon series on the book of Galatians.

The first one is in Luke 18:9-14:

“[Jesus] spoke this parable to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and who lived in contempt toward others: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a revenue agent for the Roman government. The Pharisee stood off by himself and prayed, ‘Oh God, I thank you that I’m not like others – thievish, abusive, sexually immoral, or even like this government revenue agent. I fast twice a week, and I tithe on everything that I have acquired.’ But the government revenue agent had stood a far way off, and he would not even lift his eyes toward heaven, but he was beating his chest as he was saying, ‘Oh God, be merciful to me – this sinner.’ I tell you, the government revenue agent went down to his home and had been justified rather than the other one; for whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.’” (Dale’s sight translation)

The next one is in Luke 17:7-10:

“[Jesus told the apostles], ‘When you have a slave who has been plowing or herding sheep and who then comes in from the field, who among you says to him, ‘When you have come in, sit down immediately to dinner’?  But won’t you say to him, ‘Prepare my dinner, and wait on me while I eat and drink, and then you can eat and drink?’ Will you give any special favor to that slave because he did what he had been assigned? In the same way, when you have done what you have been assigned, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have just done what we ought to have done.’’ (Dale’s sight translation)

In the first parable Jesus spoke to the Pharisaic sense of personal security and superiority that comes from comparing one’s own religious observances to others. This could be parallel to someone in a modern church having a testimony of having received salvation, but acting as if what he or she thinks, says and does in religious conformity as a part of a church makes him or her superior to those who don’t do the same things, or don’t do them as well. And believe me, those outside our church fellowships pick up on this quite easily. In the second parable, Jesus dealt with the idea that anything we do in obedience to God entitles us to any special favors from God in any way. The way that I’ve seen this work out – and I’ve been tempted with this myself – is to see that something that I’ve done entitles me to something special – some special privilege or permission – in some other way.

Very often this becomes an entrenched habit of thought and action and may well become the peculiar kind of religious superiority, authoritarianism and inflexibility that many see in believers who have been involved heavily with church activities for a long time. This may well be why often that someone in a position of church or denominational leadership seeks out or arrogates to themselves special privileges of position, offices, or even financial favors because of what they would call their faithful service to God in some way – usually in some church activity or office. Many times they may also extend this to their families, to where their religious involvement and observance means special privileges of church position, promotion or financial support for their family members.

There can often be an emotional incentive to this kind of legalism, because it feeds a person’s pride, self sufficiency and independence from God, and sense of superiority to others. After all, most adults in modern churches have never grown beyond the same social goals and skills as a high school senior. So  this kind of legalism can buttress the ‘formula driven’ forms of Christian involvement, where a person’s participation in the approved activities, saying the approved formulas and following the rules is normally perceived the outward indication that a person is ‘all right’ with God and with others. When coupled with a selectively proud and aggressive self presentation, this can be seen as nothing less than hypocrisy. Moreover,  this leads to, in some very competitive people, an aggressive use of the rules for personal aggrandizement and denigration and contempt of other believers.

Here are the signs that this kind of practical and social legalism are at work behind a theological profession of salvation by grace through faith:

  • Social conformity:  Believers seek to avoid sticking out and being different because this might attract attention and harassment by the social enforcers of the rules. In addition, this might lead to the idolatry of personal reputation that leads to a stubborn hypocrisy, where someone tries to preserve his or her reputation and outward conformity at all costs.
  • Social competition: This leads to a habitual quest to the demonstrate superiority over other people in some way, often by display of superficial Biblical or theological knowledge. An unbroken pride and an inflated self estimate does this to keep up a personal sense of having to be better than someone else in some way.
  • Social oneupmanship: Social conflict and aggression come from this sense to prove one’s superiority in following the rules over others. This is where some believers are on the prowl looking for areas in which others fall short, or testing them in short conversations or enlisting others to keep an eye on someone else.
  • Social control: This is where some try to keep the social group within the church in conformity to the rules. There may actually be an associated  sense of pride and explicit boastfulness how one has changed others to one’s own expectations and has actually been playing the Holy Spirit in the lives of others.

It is here where Galatians speaks most powerfully to these situations, with verses that deal with the personal and social effects of this kind of social legalism: “The works of the fallen human nature are obvious . . . fights, strife, jealousy, fits of rage, cutthroat competitions, vicious cliques, divisions,  . . . and such other things like these, which I already told you before that those who keep on practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21). With this citation, I’ve left out the sexual and addictive sins, but left in the sins of personal rivalry and conflict, which are the works of the fallen human nature (flesh) which can have the most prevalent religious expressions among us.

Rather, there needs to be a renewed emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit as the effect of genuine regeneration and walking in the Spirit of Christ: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control; against such things there is no legal sanction” (Galatians 5:22-23, Dale’s sight translation).

There are two last observations that I have from this:

I’ve noticed that evangelical believers when operating in the social environment of the church are extremely vulnerable to listening to and passing on vicious gossip and to being instigated against others by false gossip. I’ve also noticed that many times false impressions and malicious rumors about others may persist among some believers and Christian leaders long after others have seen through them for the falsehoods that they are and have moved on. My hypothesis is that these false impressions and malicious rumors have become baked into that person’s sense of personal superiority, and that they function to keep that person’s sense of personal superiority by giving them someone else to be superior to through this persistent sense of contempt toward someone else. This also was a problem in the Galatian churches: “If you keep on sniping at and chowing down each other, watch out that you annihilate each other” (Galatians 5:15).

The second observation is that the rules often become a weapon and a smokescreen of the person with an abusive personality.  This is most likely one of the reasons why abusive personalities too often find long term sanctuary in churches as long term members and even leaders.They may harbor within themselves a belief that they have a special right and the justification to treat others any way that they please  so long as their own outward reputation remains intact. It is why sometimes credible accounts of vicious long term abuse come out where someone had a reputation for being a perfect spouse or from a perfect family. They were adhering to the rules, but not showing the fruit of the Spirit within their own marriages and family.

Called to Follow, Not to Be Radical

This is something that struck me this morning, as I was reading through the last chapters of the gospel of John. In John 21, where Peter asks Jesus, “What about this guy?” (John 2121), Jesus answers, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” (John 21:22; emphasis in you in the original language).

I’ve heard a number of terms over the years that get coined and discarded to describe the kind of Christians we should be. ‘World Christians’ was big for a while. For a while, the word, ‘Extreme’ or the creative spelling, ‘XTreme’ was used for a while. Now, the term ‘Radical’ seems to be used a lot.

The problem that I have with adding the other adjectives and superlatives is that Jesus didn’t do it. His call was to follow him – no words of radical, simple, world, sold out, surrendered and consecrated or extreme. And it may seem like this may become a desire not to be an average pew sitting Christian, however in your own church background and experience you may define, ‘average.’ And so that may also become a desire to be better than some others that you may see as average or below average in your experience – when Jesus’s call is to follow him.

So, if you do set out to follow Jesus, you may actually end up doing some of the things that may be termed at some time as being radical, world, missional, missionary, Spirit filled, or extreme – but it won’t be from attempting to be any of those things. And you will likewise avoid doing some of the foolish things when people try to be radical, world, missional, extreme or whatever, and they end up doing things that Jesus did not call them to do.

‘WWJD’ and By-Path Meadow

“Now the way from the river was rough, and their feet (Christian and Hopeful) tender by reason of their travels; so the souls of the pilgrims were much discouraged because of the way. Wherefore still as they went on, they wished for a better way. Now a little before them  there was  on the left hand of the road a meadow and a stile to go over into it, and that meadow is called By-Path Meadow. Then said Christian to his fellow, if this Meadow lieth along by our way-side, let’s go over into it. Then he went to the stile to see, and behold a path lay along the way on the other side of the fence. ‘Tis according to my wish, said Christian; here is the easiest going; come, good Hopeful, and let us go over.”  — John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress.

A few years ago there was another resurgence of interest in Charles Sheldon’s book, In His Steps, and it’s ethic of the Christian considering his own conduct from the perspective of, “What would Jesus do?” The book was an inspiration to my own youthful passion for Christ back in 1977, and it inspired another generation of Christians from the late 1990s onward. It resulted in the ‘WWJD’ bracelets and some other fashionable ways of bringing the question to a believer. Unfortunately, I think that the fashionable, hip and trendy path has become a kind of threadbare and possibly deceptive ‘By-Path Meadow’ for many.

One of the considerations that led me to a much diminished consideration of the question, “What would Jesus do?” was the lack of scriptural support that I could find for that question being a guide to Christian conduct. Rather, as I read the gospels and the rest of the New Testament, I found a lot more explicit instructions on what Christ has done for us in his death and resurrection and living for him as Lord and Savior. Even more, I found that Jesus and the apostles were much more concerned about his people following his commands as Lord than in contemplating his example and following our speculation about what he would do in our situation.  For example, the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke represent what Jesus actually expected from his disciples: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them – I will show you what such a person is like. He or she is like a man who is building a house who dug deep and placed the foundation upon the rock. When the flood came the torrent burst upon it but it was not able to shake it because it was well built. But the person who hears and does not do is like a man who had built a house without a foundation, which the torrent burst upon, and immediately it fell apart, and great was the ruin of that house” (Luke 6:46-49). So, it was passages like this that drew me more to consider and follow what the Bible actually taught rather than my own speculation about what Jesus might do.

This, then, is how the WWJD ethic can become a ‘By-Path Meadow’: if it leads at any point to anyone neglecting to learn, believe and follow the Word of God in its explicit teachings. Recently I heard a pastor of a church which I visited and which seems to have some connection to the ‘Emergent Church’ movement say something to the effect that it’s not really that necessary to seek to learn the Bible that well, and that he seemed to say that knowing some of the stories about Jesus – he mentioned the story about the woman at the well from John 4 and the rich young ruler – and following the WWJD ethic was enough to get by with as far as knowing the Bible. I pray that he reconsidered (or will reconsider) what he said and corrected it before his congregation at some point. The truth is that churches and denominations already went down that path at one point in the past. It was called Modernism and 19th century theological Liberalism, and it ruined many Christians, churches and denominations. It resulted in a preaching and teaching about a merely human Jesus who set some vaguely good example, a Bible treated as if it were error filled and thus ignored, a deadening of spiritual vitality, missionary service and evangelistic fervor and a severely dumbed down social ethic of following mere speculation about the example of Jesus.

Personal Accountability to Jesus Christ and the Judgment Seat of Christ

There is one recurring theme in scripture that is rarely heard today in the preaching and teaching of the church: the judgment seat of Christ. Yet I think that many in our congregations need to hear it clearly. It may be mentioned from time to time in churches when there is preaching or teaching on the end times, but generally it is more put into place on a timeline and rarely mentioned during the normal preaching and teaching of the church as the genuine motivation to godly living that it really is. A fresh recovery of the significance of the judgment seat of Christ is essential, I think, to making the understanding and application of the Word of God as more than another kind of self help teaching.

Here’s why I think the peculiar absence of mentioning this in preaching and teaching contributes to a lackadaisical attitude toward believing and obeying the Word of God among many believers: their working standard by which they choose what they will think, say and do is based more on their own estimation of what will make them satisfied, happy and comfortable than on the written Word of God. They will disobey the Word of God in what they think, say or do if they believe for some reason that they may lose anything related to their satisfaction, comfort and happiness.  And secular self help is based on thinking, saying and and doing what will supposedly bring a person satisfaction, comfort and happiness. When the preaching and teaching of the church attempt to emulate secular self help, it often does neglect this scripturally significant motivation to follow the Word of God: personal accountability to Jesus Christ

Here is the basic summary from scripture about this coming event and its significance for the believer.

Every believer will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give account for everything that he or she has thought, said or done.

“ . . . For we must all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written:

“As I live,” declares the Lord, every knee will bow to me,
And every tongue will confess to God.”

Therefore each one of us will give an account to God.”

(Romans 14:10-12, Dale’s sight translation)

Here are some further statements of scripture on the final judgment of each believer.

At the judgment seat of Christ we will give account to him and receive our just treatment for both our good deeds and bad deeds.

“For it is necessary for all of us to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one will receive our reward for everything that has been done in the body, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10, Dale’s sight translation).

Justification by faith in Christ through the propitiation of the cross of Christ does not, according to the plain words of scripture, mean that no believer will ever have his or her bad deeds – sins – mentioned in the final judgment. Rather, it does mean that a believer will not face the eternal penalty for his or her sins and that he or she can live in fellowship with God because of the blood of Christ.

Believers will give account for everything that they have said at the judgment seat of Christ.

“But I say to you that men and women will give account for every idle word they speak  in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36, Dale’s sight translation).

Here Jesus is telling about the personal responsibility that people have for what they say. It’s not, ‘Just talking.’ He obviously means something more wicked than small talk and chitchat about the weather. It’s the careless slander and reckless words that are let fly without regard to their truth or their effect (Ephesians 4:29-30). Sometimes even professed believers seem to have a definition of sin that is no higher than not having committed murder lately, or not having openly committed sexual sins that receive the disapproval from church people. Loose tongues receive little attention and talk is treated as something that is cheap. Yet even the words of believers will definitely be something that they give account of before Jesus Christ personally.

This will include everything that believers think will remain secret and hidden because it is not open and evident to other people.

“Therefore judge nothing before the time when the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make known the thoughts of their hearts; and then praise will come to each one from God.” (II Corinthians 4:5, Dale’s sight translation).

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be made manifest, and nothing secret that will not be made known.” (Mark 4:22, Dale’s sight translation)

This means that no one will ultimately get away with anything that breaks the moral law of God. This reality should drive believers away from any idea that their standard of conduct can remain as anything that trying to get away with before man that they can. This low standard of right and wrong is most likely part of the mentality of anyone who is trying to keep up a religious reputation but continues in thinking, saying and doing things which that person knows are contrary to the Word of God. Sometimes it seems as if some professed believers seem to think that their actions are OK if God does not immediately swat them down. Rather, the truth is that God may and most probably does allow some things to wait until he has a final day in court with each one of us.

The standard of judgment will be the moral law of God, whether received through the written Word of God or through the less reliable light of conscience.

“The person who rejects men and does not receive my words has something which judges him; the word which I have spoken judges that person in the Last Day” (John 12:48, Dale’s sight translation).

For those who do not have access to the Word of God, through being in an isolated part of the world, the moral law as reflected in the lesser light of conscience, as the apostle Paul wrote: “. . .  for when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do by nature the things set down in the Law, they who do not have the Law are act as a Law for themselves. They show the deeds set down in the Law written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness with them, and their own thoughts either accusing or excusing them, on the day when God judges the secrets of mankind, according to my gospel, through Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:14-16, Dale’s sight translation).

Moreover, this means that ultimately the only winner in the universe will be God, and he will ultimately have his own way in every situation.This reality should likewise drive believers away from thinking and acting as if simply “getting my own way” in a situation is the ultimate goal and satisfaction in a person’s conduct.

This should be a constant motivation to seek Christlike purity in one’s life, far beyond any kind of social acceptability.

This should incite believers to seek for entire sanctification, as holiness, righteousness, and Christlike love in all that they think, say and do. The ultimate motivation for this would then be to bring glory to God and demonstrate the power of his salvation in the day that he opens up the thoughts, words and deeds of everyone before the entire universe. For the person who has truly experienced salvation by faith in Jesus Christ and has come to love God with all his or her heart, soul, mind and spirit, this is motivation indeed. And this would then not be a standard and a coming reality that that person would seek to hold over the heads of others to try to keep them in line, but rather a coming reality that would motivate a believer himself or herself first of all. The apostle John put it this way: “Dearly loved brothers and sisters, now we are the children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been made manifest. We know that when it is made manifest, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure” (I John 3:2-3, Dale’s sight translation).

There is clearly more that could be written on this from the simple statements of scripture. A simple look through Nave’s Topical Bible, a concordance or a systematic theology would most likely show much more. I would encourage anyone who preaches and teaches the Word of God nowadays never, ever to skip over or minimize the clear statements of scripture about the final responsibility of every person, and especially, every professed believer in Christ to him.