“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”
We have clearly established the need for us to surround ourselves with the proper teaching of the Word of God. When there is clear, correct and regular teaching of the Word of God, society at large is restrained form doing evil. Sin is always there; we are sinners, all of us. But it is not as publicly flaunted as we see today. Sins that used to be done in the shadows, done in private and with some degree of shame are now flaunted as rights, and sin is paraded as normal; and all who oppose such liberties (rights) are intolerant. In Isaiah 5:20, the prophet laments the openness of sin in his day and comes to this conclusion:
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
No better statement describes us right now as a society; good is being portrayed as evil, and evil as good. The shame once attached to sin is now being lifted, and that sin is being promoted as good. If one took the time to research the rise of pedophilia in our time, we will see that this is the last straw of human sexuality. There are still taboos associated with this sexual practice, but once society accepts that pedophiles are born this way, just as they say homosexuals are according to the law, then pedophilia will become acceptable as well. Go for yourself and research how many women, especially teachers, have been arrested for sexual interactions with their students, and you will see that pedophilia is just as prevalent among women as men.
Folks, we are in the last days. In Genesis 6:5, we see this assessment of mankind on the earth from God:
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
I fear that God would make the same assessment of us today. We are an evil people; and sadly, we are proud of it. We have no intention of repentance, no feelings of shame and no remorse. God is old- fashioned and narrow-minded, and we simply refuse to submit to Him. Jesus told us that as it was in the days of Noah, so it would be in the last days, and here we are. Matthew 24:37-39,
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so, shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
The world thinks they have overpowered God; they mistake His gracious patience with either apathy or evidence that He does not exist. Well, like it was in the days of Noah, soon the first raindrops will fall; and it will be too late for billions of people. When those raindrops fall, for us it will be the Rapture; this will signal the beginning of God’s judgments here on earth for a 7-year period as He prepares a people for the Millennial Kingdom. But while God is pouring out His wrath on the earth, we, the saved, will be facing our own judgment. We are told this by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8-10,
“We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.”
We “must all appear,” we are told, before the judgement seat of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-13, Paul writes this,
“For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work.”
Here we have it; the foundation is Jesus. He is our salvation. In Him we have eternal life. If you are at this judgment, the issue here is not heaven or hell. But what did you do with the wonderful foundation that Jesus laid in His life, body and blood for you? Verse 15 tells us that if a man’s work is burned up by the judgment of fire, he, himself is saved. But there is a loss of rewards.
This brings us to what we have been discussing over the past few weeks, the fact that – as the Lord’s people, seeing where we are in history and with full understanding that we are in the last days – we should be living in such a way that shows we are prepared or at least preparing to be judged. Sadly, a lot of churches do not teach about the end times. A full 25% of the scriptures deal with the end, the return of Jesus is prophesied by the OT prophets, it is reiterated by the NT writers, and we should take these warnings seriously.
- A Recap
We have explored the verse from Proverbs 29:18 about the proper teaching of the Scriptures being a restraining power in the lives of a society and especially in the lives of the children of God. We also looked at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, verses that tell us the Bible is given by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof and correction and then to equip us to do good works. These are the works that will NOT burn up when we are judged. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 again.
In addition to the above verses, we also looked at Romans 12:1-2. These verses give us the process of how we are transformed from doing evil works to good works as we grow in the Lord. Let us establish that normal people can do what appears to be good works on the outside. They can love their wives, love their children, serve their community and help their fellowman, and all looks good. But the problem is that they have not been reborn in Jesus (John 3:3). The inner man has not been changed, so all these good works account for nothing. However, once a person is saved, redeemed by Jesus and washed in His blood, these same actions now have the potential to become good works.
The process begins, as we discussed, with us surrendering ourselves to the Lord. Luke lays this out for us in Luke 9:23,
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Yes, you read that right; deny yourself. Once saved, we must begin the process of surrendering control of our bodies and lives with our dreams and hopes to Jesus. As we daily do this, the Holy Spirit takes the Bible and begins to show us ‘reproof and correction,’ helping us to stop being conformed to the mindset and actions of the world system. He, the Holy Spirit, begins to call us out on things with the intent on changing the way we think. This bring us to the final stage of transformation to aid us in doing ‘good works.’
- Transformation – Romans 12:1-2
The word for transformation in Greek is the root word from which we get our English word metamorphosis. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul writes this,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
This is the whole idea of metamorphosis. We know the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly; the caterpillar is cocooned, turns to liquid, and over a process of time transforms into the beautiful butterfly. One cannot have butterflies without caterpillars. Well, you and I are being transformed by the Holy Spirit in us, who changes us from the inside out just like the caterpillar, and makes us beautiful in Jesus. This is a process that affects every aspect of our lives, beginning with the way we think. Paul calls it the “renewing of our minds.”
Let me give you one of the ways that we can be transformed, and I want to stress that this is a lifelong journey. Just read the Gospels and see how frustrated Jesus got with the lack of insight with the men who would become the apostles. But Matthew offers us this lesson in transformation from Matthew 6: 25-34,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Learning to stop worrying is a ‘good work’; the idea of total and confident dependence on the Lord for everything is part of our transformation. Jesus will supply. He must; He promised to. We stop gauging our lives by the measures of the world: how big your house is, what car you drive, what clothes you wear and how big your bank account is. Rather, you seek to invest in the Kingdom of God first, no matter the cost, and learn to be contented with what you have here. Notice that this good work includes not doing something. This is part of the transformation that we are to experience. Not just that we do some things, but that we STOP doing seemingly insignificant things. How about this that we find in Romans 12:10-11,
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Putting others first, thinking of how our lives and our actions will affect our weaker brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
Paul writes this way about taking liberties. Galatians 5:13,
“For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your flesh, but through love make it your habit to serve one another.”
In the garden of Gethsemane that fateful night before Jesus was crucified, He was there not for His own sin but ours; not for His redemption but ours; and not for His failures but ours. He tells Peter that in His freedom He could ask God the Father for 12 legions of angels, and they would show up and make an end of the Roman arrest that was going on. But Jesus considered our needs, He considered the Father’s will, and He endured the cross. We are not in danger yet of being called to die for the cause of Christ, but we can begin by denying ourselves some of our liberties so as not to be a stumbling block to our fellow saved family. This is part of the transformation that takes place; I become second to the Lord and others. Me gets demoted to second, maybe third, maybe 100th, whatever it takes to build up a brother or sister. Good works always come from the heart of a servant to Jesus.
One day, maybe sooner than you and I think, we will be called to stand at the judgment and give an account of how we lived our lives once we found the solid rock of Jesus as our Saviour. Let us begin to be ready for this and give our bodies, our minds and our lives over to Jesus to be transformed into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18,
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”