What Will You Do?

 

Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it? Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in at once to King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying, “Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne”? Why then is Adonijah king?’ Then while you are still speaking with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”

So Bathsheba went to the king in his chamber (now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was attending to the king). Bathsheba bowed and paid homage to the king, and the king said, “What do you desire?” She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.’ And now, behold, Adonijah is king, although you, my lord the king, do not know it. He has sacrificed oxen, fattened cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army, but Solomon your servant he has not invited. And now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted offenders.”

While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet came in. And they told the king, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, he bowed before the king, with his face to the ground. And Nathan said, “My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’? For he has gone down this day and has sacrificed oxen, fattened cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest. And behold, they are eating and drinking before him, and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But me, your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he has not invited. Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not told your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?” – 1 Kings 1:11-27 ESV

David is old and bed-ridden. His days on this earth are numbered and, once again, one of his own sons is plotting to take his kingdom from him. When David should be enjoying his final days in peace and quiet, he is suddenly confronted with yet another looming disaster. Until he breathes his final breath, David is still the king of Israel and he must deal with the situation facing his kingdom and protect the right of his son, Solomon, to rule in his place. But the only problem is that David knows nothing about what is going on. He is oblivious to the danger facing the kingdom. He is safely ensconsed in his bed within his royal chamber, being cared for by Abishag the Shunammite. He is completely unaware of the actions of Adonijah, Abiathar and Joab. But Nathan the prophet is on top of all that is going on and sends Bathsheba, David’s wife and the mother of Solomon, to inform David of the gravity of the situation.

One of the problems seems to be that David had made no preparations for his succession. It would appear that Adonijah, as the oldest living son (his three older siblings had all died), assumed that he was the legitimate heir to the throne. He was simply taking advantage of David’s old age and speeding up the transition process. But God had clearly told David that Solomon would be his successor.

“But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a Temple to honor my name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will secure the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” – 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 ESV

And yet, it seems that David had done nothing to ensure that the transition of power to Solomon would take place. Once again, his inaction had produced some very negative consequences, and could even result in the death of Solomon, should Adonijah’s coup succeed. So Nathan sent Bathsheba to David, encouraging her to prompt him to take action. And she did just that. She not only informed him of what was going on, but warned him that all the eyes of Israel were on him. He was being watched and the people were waiting to see what he would do. Despite his old age, David was going to have to take action. What he did next was going to secure the future of his kingdom and that of his son, or seal Solomon’s fate.

Nathan saw the gravity of the situation and told Bathsheba, “let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon” (1 Kings 1:12 ESV). He knew there was no time to waste. Something had to be done and David was the one who had to do it. But he would need prompting and support. So Bathsheba’s job was to bring David up to speed and to beg him to do something about the situation. Then Nathan was to come in and corroborate her story and provide much-needed counsel to David. He was also to act as a second witness to anything David decreed in their presence.

Bathsheba was blunt with David. This was not a time for pleasantries and politeness. She knew that her son’s life was in danger. She even reminded David, “If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals as soon as my lord the king has died” (1 Kings 1:21 NLT). And she was not going to leave David’s side until he took action. So, she boldly challenged him, saying,  “And now, my lord the king, all Israel is waiting for you to announce who will become king after you” (1 Kings 1:20 NLT). There was no time to waste. Inaction was not an option. And just as planned, Nathan followed Bathsheba into the king’s presence, confirming her words and challenging David to do something about this dire situation. The entire nation was waiting on pins and needles, wondering what David would do. A line had been drawn in the sand. Sides had been chosen. Adonijah had put together his team and secured what he thought to be his future. The only one who is conspicuously absent from this whole affair is Solomon himself. He had not been invited to Adonijah’s feast with all their other brothers, for obvious reasons. But he was also not present when Bathsheba and Nathan met with David. His fate was in their hands. His future and that of his kingdom was completely in the hands of his father. He would have to trust that his father would do the right thing. Solomon was at the mercy of David. He does not appear anywhere in the passage. He doesn’t show up, begging David to keep his word and give him the kingdom God had promised him. Perhaps Solomon was not aware of the word that God had spoken to David. But we will see in the next section of this chapter, that Bathsheba knew, and it is doubtful that she kept this news from Solomon. He most likely knew that he was the God-appointed successor to the throne, but he was not demanding his rights or whining about his fate. He had to have known what Adonijah was up to and that all of his brothers were at the feast, enjoying Adonijah’s hospitality and shouting along with all the other guests, “Long live King Adonijah!” (1 Kings 1:25 ESV). But Solomon simply waited in the wings. Like all the rest of the people of Israel, his eyes were on David. What would he do? How would he respond?

So often, we can find ourselves in similar, if not quite as dire, circumstances. We can come to a place where a decision is required, an important, potentially life-altering decision. And others are watching us to see what we will do. Perhaps our family is waiting on us to act, wondering how we will respond. Maybe our co-workers are anxiously watching to see how we will handle a difficult situation in the workplace. There are always others watching us, depending upon us to do the right thing, to make the right decision, and to give them peace and confidence that we can be trusted. Even the world is watching us. The church of Jesus Christ is to be salt and light in the midst of all the decay and darkness surrounding it. As the secular world presses in and the enemy continues his assault on the will and the ways of God, the world is watching to see how the church will respond. Will we do nothing? Will we be marked by inaction and complacency? Are we confident enough in the Word of God that we will confidently take our stand against all the forces lined up against us? What David did next was a matter of life and death. The future of his kingdom and that of his son were at stake. All eyes were on him. What would he do? But what about us? The world is watching and waiting to see what we will do?

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
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Living His Way.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. – 1 Corinthians 7:7-11 ESV

Paul understood well the necessity of marriage. He knew it was ordained by God and, when treated properly, could provide believers with the full benefits of their sexuality as intended by God. As far as Paul was concerned, marriage was the only appropriate context for sexual expression between a man and a woman, because that was how God had planned it. But Paul had a personal appreciation for singleness. Evidently, Paul was unmarried at the time this letter was written. We do not know if he had ever been married. But when he writes, “I wish that all were as I myself am,” he is stating a personal opinion, not the will of God. He is in no signifying that singleness is better than marriage. He simply knew that marriage required a great deal of commitment and sacrifice, requiring each person in the relationship to put the needs of the other ahead of their own. For Paul, being single allowed him the freedom to dedicate all his time and attention to the spread of the gospel and for ministry to the growing number of churches around the world.

For Paul, singleness was a gift from God. He believed it was God who had given him the self-control to live as an unmarried man and to not, as he put it, “burn with passion.” He had a supernatural, God-given capacity to resist the temptations associated with lust. Even Jesus alluded to the existence of this gift. One day He was confronted by the Pharisees and asked whether it was “lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause” (Matthew 19:3b ESV). Quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus replied, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5-6 ESV). Jesus went on to explain that “whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful” (Matthew 19:9 NLT). Marriage was a binding covenant. This statement led one of the disciples to state, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” (Matthew 19:10 NLT). And Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this statement. Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:11-12 NLT). Jesus Himself never married, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38 ESV). 

Singleness has its advantages when it comes to ministry. But it is not for everyone. So Paul goes on to address those who were married. He speaks to the women first, reminding them that they should not divorce their husbands. Paul was simply repeating the words of Jesus. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12 NLT). Paul knew, just as Jesus did, that just because divorce was prohibited, it would not stop it from happening. So they both commanded no remarriage after divorce. To do so was to commit adultery. Paul states that if a woman divorces her husband, “she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:11a ESV). And then he adds, “and the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:11b ESV). Jesus seems to have given only one exception to His no-divorce mandate. When He stated, “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9 ESV), He appears to present sexual immorality on the part of one of the married partners as the only grounds for divorce. In that case, it would seem that the offending partner has broken the covenant of oneness. But Paul emphasizes that whoever finds themselves divorced for whatever reason, should remain single or be reconciled to their partner.

It is important to remember that Paul is calling the Corinthians believers to live out their faith in the midst of a dark, pagan culture where virtually anything was considered acceptable behavior. Divorce was commonplace. Sexual immorality was rampant. Sexual sins of all kinds were prevalent and regularly practiced. He is demanding that the Corinthians live lives worthy of their calling as followers of Christ. They are to be distinctly different in their actions and attitudes. Their approach to life was to be determined by their faith, not their feelings. They were to be driven by a desire to please God, not their own desires. It is highly possible that there were some in the church in Corinth who were divorcing their spouses in order to escape having sexual relations altogether. More than likely, these individuals were influenced by the philosophy of dualism that flourished in Greek culture. It led them to believe that anything associated with the body was evil. Divorce allowed them to experience “freedom” from involvement with sex altogether. But their views were unbiblical and un-Christlike. While the culture around them was distorting God’s views on everything from marriage to human sexuality, Paul was reminding them that they were the church of God, “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV). Like the Corinthians, we have been called to live lives that are set apart from the world. We are to be holy, different and distinct. We exist to bring glory to God. We are His children, His workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).

 

When Judgment Is Justified.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV

Evidently, Paul had written another letter to the church in Corinth that was sent prior to this one. In it he had made it quite clear that they were “not to associate with sexually immoral people.” That one command makes their toleration of the sin within their midst all the more egregious. They had turned a blind eye to the individual in their fellowship who was having an incestuous affair with his stepmother. Rather than confront this man about his sin, they were willingly tolerating it, even bragging about it. And yet, according to these verses, it seems that the believers in Corinth were isolating themselves from the unbelievers in their city. They were practicing a form of isolationism, refusing to have anything to do with the lost, probably out of a sense of moral superiority.

But Paul wants to make himself perfectly clear. In his previous letter, he was in no way promoting a brand of monasticism or spiritual isolationism. To attempt to eliminate all contact with unbelieving sinners would require that they leave the world. It is impossible to disassociate oneself as a believer from all contact with the lost. In fact, to attempt to do so would go against Jesus’ call that we be salt and light in a world filled with moral decay and spiritual darkness. Jesus Himself was accused of associating with sinners. He went out of His way to spend time with those who, in His day, were deemed the worst of sinners. If we adopt a policy of spiritual isolationism, it will be difficult to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 6:15 NLT). Had Paul determined to have nothing do with the immoral, greedy, swindlers, and idolaters, no one in Corinth would have ever come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. In the very next chapter, Paul writes,

Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people — none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT

As Christians, it is so easy to judge the world and to view ourselves as somehow morally superior because of our faith in Christ. But we should never forget that, prior to the gift of grace given to us by God, we were sinners, condemned, unclean. We“lived in this world without God and without hope” (Ephesians 2:12 NLT). But God showed us mercy and graciously revealed to us the message of hope found in the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. We were lost, but God found us. We were spiritually blind, but God gave us sight. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but God gave us new life through Christ.

We have no right to judge the world. But Paul would say that we have every right and responsibility to judge one another as believers. The Greek word Paul uses is κρίνω (krinō) and it has a range of meanings. It can mean “to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong.” It can also mean, “to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure” (“G2919 – krinō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible). There is a sense in which we are to judge one another’s actions. But our judgment is not to be arbitrary or subjective. It is not left up to our own opinion. We are to use the Word of God with the help of the Spirit of God to determine whether the behavior of a brother or sister in Christ is in keeping with the will of God. Our first goal should be restoration. Paul told the Galatians, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1 NLT). James wrote something very similar: “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins” (James 5:19-20 NLT). If we judge or determine that a fellow believer is living in sin, we have an obligation to lovingly confront them. Our goal is to be repentance and restoration. But in those cases where they refuse to repent, we have a responsibility to the body of Christ to practice a form of tough love. We must remove them from our midst. Paul says, “not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11 NLT). Their lifestyle choice does not match their professed belief in Jesus. By their actions, they are bringing shame and dishonor to the name of God. They are a cancer in the body of Christ, and our refusal to remove them allows their sinful, disobedient mindset to infect others.

It is our willful tolerance of sin in the camp that causes the body of Christ to be weak and anemic. We are more than willing to judge the world, pointing our fingers at their sinfulness and pridefully claiming the moral high ground. But when it comes to the blatant sins of our own, we are more than willing to turn a blind eye and act as if nothing is wrong. That is exactly what the Corinthians had done. There was sin in their midst and they had chosen to ignore it. Like so many of us today, they were probably saying, “Who am I to judge?” Or they were basing their lack of judgment on the words of Jesus, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matthew 7:1-3 NLT). But what Jesus was saying was that we are not meant to pass judgment on those whom we have no authority to do so. The context to Jesus’ statement is hypocrisy – judging someone else when you have not effectively dealt with your own sin. It is judging and condemning the “speck” of sin in someone else’s life while ignoring your the “log” of sin in your own.

Judgment is appropriate and right when done with the spiritual well-being of the body of Christ in mind. We have a responsibility to protect the integrity of God’s household, removing those who refuse to repent. The fact is, we all sin. But we are to confess our sins and turn from them. When we do, God is faithful to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But if we choose to remain unrepentant, our brothers and sisters in Christ have an obligation to step in and call us out. As Paul so clearly puts it: “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning” (1 Corinthians 5:12 NLT).

 

No Solitary Soldiers.

To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 18b-20 ESV

Paul ended his description of the armor of God with a call to prayer, strongly advising his readers to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (Ephesians 6:18a NLT). Constant communication with the Father is essential for our spiritual survival. Prayer is not simply a tool we use to get what we need from God. As Paul will show, it is not to be used for our own selfish desires either. Throughout this letter, Paul has been addressing the great doctrine of the church. In chapter one, Paul addressed Christ’s headship over the church, having earned that role through His sacrificial death and resurrection. “And he [God] put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22 ESV). And all believers are members of that body because they share a common faith in Christ, and that faith was a gift provided to them by God, “not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9 ESV). The church was the mysterious or previously hidden idea of God, miraculously joining Jews and Gentiles into one body, “that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV). 

It was God who has made us “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV). And it is through the church that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10 ESV). It was Paul’s prayer that the Ephesian believers would “know the love of Christ” and be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19 ESV). Paul knew that God had a divine plan for the church. He also knew that the future success of the church, including all those who would become a part of it through faith in Christ, was totally dependent upon the work of God and for the glory of God. That is why he ended his prayer in chapter three with the words:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

The body of Christ, the church, is a powerful force, but only as long as it remains dependent upon God. It is a God-ordained agent of change in the world, but only when it stays committed to the will of God and connected to the power of God made available through His Spirit. When we lose sight of the fact that God saved us and placed us within the context of the body of Christ, and begin to see our salvation as something individualistic and isolated, we miss the whole point. A self-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me attitude has no place within the body of Christ. Even the armor of God, is of little use to the Christian, if worn in isolation and utilized as a one-man army. As Christians, we must come to grips with the fact that we are in this battle together. Even the best equipped, most highly trained army, without unity, will fall to its enemy. And without constant communication with and obedience to its commander, even the mightiest army will fail. So Paul calls Christians to prayer. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Ephesians 18 NLT). There is a sense of camaraderie and unity in his words. We are to pray not only for ourselves, but for one another. We should desire that each and every believer on the planet is living in the power of the Spirit and according to the will of God. The body of Christ requires members who are healthy, whole and committed to the cause of Christ. That is why Paul even asks for prayer on his behalf. “And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike” (Ephesians 6:19 NLT). Paul knew that he needed the prayers of the saints in order to stay committed to the call given to him by God. He coveted their prayers. And he longed that they would pray for one another.

What more selfless, loving thing can we do than pray for God to protect, guide, strengthen, and embolden our fellow believers. We must realize that our strength, while provided by God, is found in our unity with fellow believers. It is together that we form the powerful force that can dramatically alter the landscape of the world in which we live. Solitary soldiers, even though well-armored, will have little impact “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV). So we must pray. We must seek God’s face, determining to know His will, lifting up our fellow soldiers, and resting in His divine strategy for ultimate victory.

Children of Light.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:3-14 ESV

Darkness is the absence of light. It is what happens when light is removed or unavailable. The term, “darkness” is used by Paul and others to describe the moral and spiritual state of mankind apart from God. Without God, they are left in a state of darkness. The apostle John explained it. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 ESV). God brings light into the world. He illuminates and eliminates darkness wherever His presence dwells. So the spiritual darkness in which mankind finds itself is the result of an absence of God. And John goes on to say,  “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6 ESV). In other words, our relationship with God should impact our conduct. That is why Paul tells us: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11 ESV). As children of God, we have been exposed to the Light, Jesus Christ. As John wrote in his gospel, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5 NASB). Darkness and light cannot coexist. So when Jesus, the Light, came into the world, He illuminated and exposed the darkness all around Him. John goes on to say, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:9-13 ESV). There were those, living in darkness, who preferred darkness over the Light. John tells us the sad news: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” John 3:19 ESV).

But some turned to the Light. They received Him. Their sins were exposed by Him and their need for a Savior was made clear to them for the very first time. It is interesting to note that John says, “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” The Greek word John used is φωτίζω (phōtizō) and it can mean to “to give light” or “to enlighten, spiritually, imbue with saving knowledge” (“G5461 – phōtizō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible). Obviously, John was not indicating that every man was saved as a result of Jesus coming into the world. But His message of salvation came into the world, exposing every man and woman to the truth. Some received it, while others rejected it.

Paul’s message in today’s passage is addressed to those who have received the Light. He is calling them to live lives that reflect their new standing as “children of light” – “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8 ESV). Notice that Paul does not say, “you are in the light,” but “you are light.” They have been transformed. At one time, they were not only living in darkness, they were darkness. Their lives were characterized by the deeds of darkness. But the Light, Jesus Christ, had penetrated their lives and they had become children of light. And Paul was simply calling them to lives as who they were. This meant a change in behavior. Children of light were not meant to live like children of darkness. And Paul was very explicit in what he meant. “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people” (Ephesians 5:3 NLT). And just in case his audience got a bit prideful and puffed up, thinking they had no problem with those particular sins, Paul dropped a bombshell on them. “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes — these are not for you” (Ephesians 5:4 NLT). These are those “little” sins that so many Christians excuse as somehow acceptable to God. But Paul says, “these are not for you.”

It is so easy to rationalize our behavior as Christians. We can find it so tempting to justify certain behavior as somehow not so bad. But Paul lumps obscene stories, foolish talk and course jokes in with immorality, impurity, greed and idolatry. They are all deeds of darkness. And Paul says, “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him” (Ephesians 5:6 NLT). Those are not the characteristics of those who have become light. They mark the nature of those who are children of darkness. That is why Paul goes on to adamantly demand:

Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. – Ephesians 5:7-9 NLT

Instead, we are to determine what brings pleasure to God and to do those things. We are to live differently than all those around us. The light within us is to produce what is good, right and true. Rather than participate in the deeds of darkness, we are to expose them. I don’t think this means that we are to walk around pointing our fingers in judgment at those who sin, but our very presence as light is to provide a dramatic contrast. Paul says, “their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible” (Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT). Our very presence among those living in darkness and death will provide a convicting influence on their lives. In essence, when children of light live as light in the darkness, our lives become a call to those in the dark to experience the grace we have received: “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14 NLT).

Filled, Directed and Protected.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. – Matthew 4:1 ESV

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. – Mark 1:12-13 ESV

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. – Luke 4:1-2 ESV

These three gospel accounts provide us with a composite picture of what happened immediately after Jesus’ baptism by John. Matthew simply says Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke indicates that He returned from the river Jordan and then was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. But Mark indicates that the Spirit immediately drove Him out. Mark had a love for the word “immediately,” having used it 46 different times in his gospel. But regardless of how each of these men chronicled the events surrounding Jesus’ wilderness experience, they all clearly state that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit. The 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness were part of God’s plan for His life. And Jesus, determined to obey the will of His Father, listened to the promptings of the indwelling Holy Spirit and did as He was commanded.

What amazes me about this entire story is the very fact that Jesus, the Son of God, was filled with the Holy Spirit and followed the Spirit’s direction in His life. Why would Jesus, as the Son of God, need to the filling of and direction from the Spirit of God? We must always remember that Jesus came to earth as a man. He took on human flesh. In order for the sins of man to be paid for, a sinless sacrifice was required. And while the sacrificial system God had ordained in the Old Testament could provide temporary forgiveness for sin, it was impermanent and incomplete. The write of Hebrews tells us, “But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4 ESV). The sacrificial system was a shadow of something far greater to come. The death of bulls and goats could never fully satisfy the justice that God required. It would demand the death of a man – a sinless man. “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book”’” (Hebrews 10:5-7 ESV).

It was essential that Jesus become a man. The sins of mankind demanded a payment. But because God is holy, only a sinless sacrifice would satisfy His justice and righteousness. Just as goats and bulls acted as substitutes for the people in the Old Testament, a man would be required to act as scapegoat for the sins of mankind. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “For this reason he [Jesus] had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV). So Jesus became a man. He took on human flesh. And when the people of His day looked at Him, that is what they saw – a man. We know from the Scriptures that Jesus was fully human and full divine. He was the God-man. But to the disciples and every other individual, He appeared to be just a man. That is why His baptism is so important. As a man, He followed the will of God. At His baptism, He received the indwelling Holy Spirit, confirming His divine Sonship, but also indicating God’s coming plan to fill every child of His with His presence and power. Jesus, as man, was filled by the Spirit of God. He was led by the Spirit of God. He was protected by the Spirit of God.

Why would God require His Son, the Savior of the world, to undergo 40 grueling days without food and water, facing the relentless attack of Satan? Why couldn’t Jesus have just launched into His earthly ministry without having to endure this painful experience? It was essential that Jesus prove Himself to be morally qualified to act as the substitute for the sins of man. It was not enough that He be human. He must also be sinless. Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness would prove His worthiness. But His ability to withstand the temptations of Satan was not self-manufactured. It was divinely provided. It was the Spirit of God who gave His humanity the strength to say yes to God and no to Satan. In this experience we have a foreshadowing of the same divine power that each of us as believers have received. What Jesus did during those days was made possible by the indwelling Spirit of God. And we have that same Spirit within us. That does not mean that you and I can live sinless lives. The key difference between Jesus and us is that we have a sin nature inherited from Adam. Jesus did not. He had no earthly father. Jesus was born without a sin nature. But we can still say no to sin. We can still live in obedience to God, rejecting the temptations of the flesh, the world and Satan. Why? Because we have the Spirit of God living in us. But we must let Him lead us. We must allow Him to empower us. We must daily depend on Him to protect us. Jesus showed us the vital necessity of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. He also demonstrated the victory that comes when we willing submit to His leadership in our lives.

Like One Unclean.

Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. – Isaiah 64:5b-7 ESV

Isaiah 64

Isaiah was brutally honest in his assessment of the condition of God’s people. It was not a pretty picture. He had just finished saying, “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways” (Isaiah 64:5a ESV), but then he had to sadly acknowledge that no one in Judah fit that description. God was going to meet them, but it would not be a joyful occasion, because of their sins. God was angry with them, and rightfully so. They just couldn’t seem to stop sinning, and Isaiah couldn’t think of a reason why God would ever want to save them. Their sins had left them unclean, like a leper banned from access to the temple of God. They were impure, unholy, and unable to come into the presence of God. But Isaiah uses even more graphic language to describe the nature of their sin. All their activities, even their so-called righteous ones, were like soiled menstrual rags – unclean, unacceptable, and repulsive to the sight of God. Like a leaf fallen from a tree, they were lifeless and easily carried away by the winds of sin. 

Isaiah paints a bleak, yet honest, picture. He knew all too well just how bad things had gotten in Judah. He had been trying to get their attention. He had been warning them of God’s pending judgment. But no one had listened. They had even stopped calling out to God. They couldn’t even seem to rouse themselves from their sinful stupor long enough to lift a hand in God’s direction. From the human perspective, it was as if God had hidden Himself from them. But it was their sin that had created a barrier between them and God. He was still there. He was ready to respond as soon as they were willing to repent. But their constant state of sin had left them in a sorry condition. They were separated from God and unable to do anything to remedy their problem. In fact, God had given them over to their sin. He had allowed them to reap the consequences of their choices. They were experiencing the consequences of their sin.

The apostle Paul describes a similar situation in his letter to the Romans. “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23 NLT). Rather than worship God, they created their own gods. They came up with gods who would approve of their sin and validate their selfish desires. As a result, God let them have exactly what they wanted. “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired” (Romans 1:24 NLT). That verse should send shudders down the spine of every believer. The very thought of God abandoning us to do what our hearts desire should scare us. Our natural man, left to its own devices, will always choose the wrong path. Our old nature, motivated by pride, lust, greed, and selfishness, will always gravitate toward rebellion against God. Even as redeemed children of God, we must never lose sight of the fact that our capacity to sin remains within us. It is only our dependence upon God and our reliance upon His indwelling Spirit that gives us the ability to live righteously instead of sinfully. Paul reminds us, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16 NLT).

Sin is a constant threat to the child of God. We have our old sinful nature to deal with. We live in a hostile world that is opposed to us and intent on destroying us. We have an enemy who can’t stand us and who is out to steal, kill and destroy. While our sins can never separate us from the love of God or cause us to lose our salvation, they can destroy our joy, rob us of peace, damage our witness, harden our hearts, limit our effectiveness, and harm the reputation of God. There is nothing more sad than a child of God whose life doesn’t reflect his position. We have been redeemed by God through the blood of Jesus Christ and are intended to live lives that reflect our new-found status as sons and daughters of God. We have the Spirit of God living within us and the Word of God to guide us. We have been placed within the body of Christ and been given spiritual gifts designed to minister to one another so that we might grow in Christ-likeness. But sin can and will wreak havoc on our spiritual lives if we allow it to. If we give in to our sinful nature, we will reap the consequences. That’s why our constant dependence upon God is so important. Paul put it this way: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:2 NLT). I can choose to live as one unclean or as one who has been cleansed by the blood of Christ. I can give in to my old sinful nature or I can live in constant reliance upon the will of God with the help of the Spirit of God.

Spiritual Schizophrenia.

Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers. Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! – Jeremiah 20:13-14 ESV

Jeremiah 20:7-18

These two verses couldn’t be more contradictory and confusing. On the one hand, Jeremiah is singing the praises of God for delivering his life from the hands of his enemies. Then it seems as if he has an immediate and dramatic change of heart and curses the day he was born. The most likely explanation is that these two divergent views represent two separate moments in Jeremiah’s life. While they appear to be a single unit, there is actually a gap between verses 13 and 14. What it reveals to us is just how human Jeremiah was. Like us, he could go from delight to despair in a matter of minutes. He could go from praising God at one moment to questioning the very purpose of his existence. The circumstances of life can wreak havoc on the child of God. That’s why it is so dangerous to place our hope and trust in the things of this world. Jeremiah was having to learn the difficult, but invaluable lesson of trusting in God. His calling was not an easy one. Fulfilling the role of a prophet of God was not for the feint of heart. His message was not going to be well-received. He was not going to be popular or get invited to a lot of parties. His was going to be a life of loneliness accompanied by constant rejection and apparent failure. The risk Jeremiah would run would be to let his circumstances dictate his view of God.

It is so easy for us to rejoice in God when things go our way or turn out well. Praise comes easy when we find the circumstances of our lives worthy of praise. When we get a promotion, it’s easy to rejoice and praise God. When we get good news from the doctor, it’s natural to thank God and give Him glory. But if we get looked over for a promotion or receive a less-than-satisfactory report from the doctor, we can find it difficult to muster up the motivation to give God thanks. It is so easy to see God in the midst of blessing. But He becomes far more difficult to comprehend when our circumstances take a turn for the worse. Difficulty can make God seem distant. The presence of trials can make us question the presence of God. But He is there. In the best of times and in the worst of times. God is not a fair-weather friend. He had promised to be with Jeremiah through thick and thin. “I am with you to save you and deliver you” (Jeremiah 15:20 ESV). God had not told Jeremiah that it was going to be easy. In fact, He had told Jeremiah that the people would reject both he and his message. He would face opposition. He would encounter persecution along the way. But God would be there every step of the way.

When difficulty shows up in our lives, it is normal and natural to wonder what is going on. Nobody likes trials in their life. But as children of God we must always remember that our God loves us and cares for us greatly. He has not promised us a trouble-free life. In fact, as children of God, we have been placed smack dab in the middle of a very difficult situation. We have been given an assignment by God to live distinctively and differently all the while being surrounded by spiritual darkness. Paul put it this way: “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” (Philippians 2:14-15 ESV). It’s difficult to be lights in the darkness. It’s hard to keep from being overwhelmed by those who hate what we stand for and reject the message we have been told to share. We can easily find ourselves experiencing spiritual schizophrenia, moving from the heights of glory to the depths of despair, in the blink of an eye. All it takes is a setback, a disappointment, a trial or a temporary trouble in our life, and we can go from praise to pessimism in a heart beat.

But when those occasions occur, we must go back to the truth. We must remind ourselves of the nature of our God and the promise of His calling. We belong to Him. He loves us greatly and has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has given us His Spirit. He has provided us with His Word. He has secured our eternal future through the sacrifice of His Son. The troubles and trials of life are real. They are difficult to understand and endure. But as Paul said, “our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT). We have to keep an eternal perspective. This life is temporary and all the trials and troubles we face in it are nothing compared with the incredible future God has in store for us. He is even using the difficulties of this life to mold us into the likeness of His Son. Yes, that’s hard to see sometimes. It can seem so unfair and far from fun. But God’s agenda for our lives involves our holiness, not our happiness. He is in the perfecting business. His desire is to make us increasingly dependent upon Him so He can reveal His power on behalf of us. So no matter what is happening around us or to us, we must always remind ourselves to think about what God is doing in us.

Fire In My Bones.

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.” – Jeremiah 20:9-10 ESV

Jeremiah 20:7-18

Jeremiah had given his nemesis, Pashtur, an interesting, if not too flattering, nickname. “The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, ‘The Lord does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side’” (Jeremiah 20:3 ESV). But in reality, Jeremiah had become known for having a one-track mind that always seemed to be thinking about nothing but doom and gloom. It had gotten so bad that Jeremiah had contemplated giving up his job as a prophet of God. But every time he tried, he found himself unable to contain the message God had given him. He described it as “a burning fire shut up in my bones”. Even his close friends had threatened to denounce him because of his incessant calls to repentance and warning about pending judgment. They were even anxious to see him proven wrong. Their collective hope was that Jeremiah, while a prophet of God, could just be deceived and his message not be from God at all. After all, there were other prophets claiming to speak for God who were offering up a message that was radically different than that of Jeremiah. But God would have harsh words for those individuals. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, “No disaster shall come upon you”’” (Jeremiah 23:16-17 ESV).

It doesn’t take a genius to understand whose message was more readily received. The false prophets were telling the people exactly what they wanted to hear: All is well. There is nothing to worry about. Everything is going to be fine. God is not angry. Destruction is not coming. Jeremiah is wrong. But God felt otherwise. “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds” (Jeremiah 23:21-22 ESV). These men didn’t speak for God. They were simply telling the people what they wanted to hear. As a result, they were popular. Their messages were well received. Centuries later, Paul would warn Timothy about a similar situation in his own day. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3 NLT). The fact is, the truth is hard to handle. Sometimes we just don’t want to hear it. Sometimes we don’t want to tell it. And like Jeremiah, we live in a time when the truth of God is not politically correct or popular. Sin is becoming increasingly acceptable and, in many ways, celebrated. Courts made up of men now determine what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. Behavior that was once classified as sin is now deemed normal and natural. The Word of God, which speaks clearly and truthfully about such matters, is simply reinterpreted, redefined or simply ignored in order to justify behaviors that God classifies as sin.

And in the midst of all the pressure to conform and compromise, it would be tempting to give in. It would be easy to soften our message in order to find acceptance. After all, nobody likes rejection – even Jeremiah. But he discovered that he had a fire in his bones, a burning in his heart that would not allow him to shut up or give up. Despite the opposition, he had to keep speaking the truth of God to the people of God. God had given him a message and he was obligated to share it, whether anyone wanted to hear it or not. He was also called to live differently than those around him. He couldn’t afford to compromise his convictions or cut corners when it came to his commitment to God. And the writer of Hebrews had a similar message to his readers. “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:1-6 ESV).

The truth of God is not always easy to hear. It isn’t always easy to share either. But it is the truth of God that sets men free. The lies of the enemy deceive and delude. The world wants to contradict the Word of God. Even many of our fellow believers would rather listen to the promises of so-called prophets who offer us false hope and faulty messages that contradict the will of God. Hearing what we want to hear may be comforting for a season, but it will always prove dangerous and deadly. The truth of God is what we need to hear. And our prayer should be that God would give us a fire in our bones to speak the truth in love, against all odds and in the face of any and all opposition. Because the Lord is our helper. We have nothing to fear. What can men do to us?

The Folly of What Is Fading.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:17 ESV

This world is temporary and transient. But for most of us, it has become our only perception of what is real. Here in this world we can see, touch, smell and experience what appears to be reality. We can enjoy a good meal, watch a beautiful sunset, feel the love of another human being, and experience a thousand other moments of legitimate joy and pleasure. And there is nothing wrong with any of those things, until we allow them to replace or distract us from what is truly real. John’s whole point in this passage has been to warn believers of the danger of the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride we get from our possessions or positions. When we turn to those things in order to find our sense of worth and value or to feed our need for self-importance and self-indulgence, we have lost sight of reality. Those things we lust after, long for, and find satisfaction in are temporary and not timeless. John says they are fading away. Not only that, he indicates that our desire for them should be diminishing as well. As believers, we should have a growing sense of eternity, that our destiny is out ahead of us. This world is not our true home. We truly are just passing through on our way to somewhere else.

The writer of Hebrews spoke of this very attitude when he wrote about the saints of the Old Testament. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10 ESV). Abraham never got to live in a city with foundations – on this earth. But he does now. His faith was in something he couldn’t see. He trusted the promises of God in spite of the fact that those promises so often appeared to be unfulfilled. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV). Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Abel, Isaac, and Jacob – they all lived by faith, setting their hopes on things they could not see. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).

The danger we all face is to confuse our present circumstances with future reality. Nothing here lasts. New cars become old ones. They lose their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. New outfits become outdated in no time at all. New homes slowly fall apart. New toys lose their novelty and appeal. Even the bodies we live in are growing old and giving out on us. But Paul would remind us that these bodies are indeed temporary. They are not built to last. But we are. We are eternal creatures. Our souls are eternal and not temporary. Paul refers to these bodies as tents – much like what Abraham lived in. They are not our permanent home. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT). We are to live in this world with a sense of expectation in what is to come. Like Abraham, we are to see ourselves as temporary residents here. Our home is elsewhere. “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:6-9 NLT).

Our goal is to please Him. That is exactly John’s point when he says, “whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17 ESV). We are to live in this world with a determination to do what is pleasing to God, not ourselves. We are eternal creatures. We have an eternal destiny. This world is fading along with its desires. Which is why Paul warns us to live our time here wisely and carefully, with a full awareness that how we live our life in the here and now directly is directly tied to our view of the hereafter. “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT).