Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 5 May 2017
Page 5

Guard Your Steps!

Denny PetrilloMany biblical passages warn us to be careful in the paths we choose to walk. There are many Satanic-placed traps. Yet, Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:1 warned each to guard his steps “when you go to the house of God.” When we come to worship, we’d better give careful consideration and make sure we know what we are doing. When dealing with worship, we need to do the following:

First, we come to listen. Worship is our opportunity to listen to the voice of God. Thus, we need to “keep silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20). James reminds us that we need to be “quick to hear and slow to speak” in regard to God’s word (James 1:19). It is a fact that the one talking is not the one learning.

Second, we must be aware lest we offer the sacrifice of fools. What are these kind of sacrifices? (1) When we make promises we do not keep. Solomon warned about making hasty vows that were not well thought out. We ask God to do things all the time in the songs we sing and the prayers we pray. Have we really thought about the words of those songs and prayers? (2) When we say things we do not mean or are not true. When God challenges our words we don’t want to say “they were a mistake” (v. 6). So, when we sing, “Have Thine own way, Lord,” are we truly living like we belong to Him? (3) When we do not offer to God what He has asked. Jesus warned, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). He is a fool who believes he can offer to God anything. God isn’t happy with just anything. He only accepts worship that meets His divine standards (John 4:24).

How many of us “guard our steps” when we come to worship? Do we get to bed early so we’ll be well rested? Do we prepare our minds through the morning as we’re getting ready? Do we clear our minds of the various distractions that frequently hinder our worship?

Let us be careful. We do not want to offer to our God the sacrifice of fools.


Transformation

Andy RobisonThe cap of the doctrinal section of the Book of Romans ends Chapter 11. Through Romans, the apostle Paul argued that the Gentiles of old were in sin by their amoral Godlessness (Chapter 1), the Jews were in sin by their hypocrisy (Chapter 2), and that, therefore, all were in sin (Chapter 3). He set forth that the only hope comes in Christ through faith, as opposed to the nailed-to-the-cross works of the law (cf. Colossians 2:14). This message begins in Chapter 3 and runs through Chapter 4. He pointed out, quite cleverly, that even revered Abraham was not justified by the works of the Law, since he obeyed God before the Law, and even before the covenant of circumcision (Chapter 4). Therefore, faith (obedient faith) saved Abraham, not the works of the Law. Likewise, “obedience to the faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26) is what provides justification and reconciliation in the era of Christ (Chapter 5).

In Chapter 6, the difference between the sinful lifestyle and the new life in Christ is elucidated. Chapter 7 tells of the codification of the Old Law and how it brought about guilt (by people’s disobedience), sin and death. Chapter 8, then, is refreshing, as opposed to that hopeless view: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (8:1). Some twist this verse into a once-saved, always-saved doctrine. In context, it is rather a statement of hope once one puts himself in the right place—in Christ rather than under a “law of sin and death” (8:2).

Chapters 9-11 are given to calling Jew and Gentile together in this faith in Christ. The Israelites needed to come to believe in and confess Christ in order to obtain salvation (10:6-13). The Gentiles needed to be thankful they were grafted into a natural tree (the Jews) (Chapter 11). To end the doctrinal section, God is praised for His unfathomable wisdom in working out this plan (11:33-36).

Chapter 12 begins the practical section of the book. Many have memorized the twenty-one verses of this chapter because of their succinct discourse on practical Christian living. The instructions might be divided into three parts:

Be transformed from your old system (12:1-2). Gentiles must not be a part of their old system of pagan beliefs resulting in immorality (Chapter 1). They are to be new creatures in Christ. Jews must not revert to pride in the oracles of God that had been delivered to them (3:1-2), but which they had not kept (2:17-24). Rather, both need to not be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of their minds.

The Greek word for “transform” in this passage is akin to the English word “metamorphosis.” As a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly, so these brethren were to morph from the sinners they once were to the Christians they were designed to be (cf. Ephesians 2:10). They needed to renew their minds. They needed a paradigm shift. Their old worldview was to be replaced with a new one. Their old practices and behaviors had to change.

Be thoughtful to your new siblings (12:3-8). In the employment of the human body analogy, as in 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul made the point that Christians need one another. Christianity is not a “go-it-alone” religion. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (12:5). In that vein, each should think of himself humbly, and place his brothers before himself. Therefore, one should use his gifts for the good of one another.

Be true to your Savior (12:9-21). These verses pithily put forth a series of instructions necessarily applicable to the Christian life, and all of the qualities have ties to the character of Christ. Real love (9-10), diligence and fervency were emulated in the actions and teachings of Jesus (1 John 5:16; 2:13-17; Luke 9:57-62). Hope got Him through the experience of the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). He was patient with His disciples (Mark 8:13-21) and relied constantly on the power of prayer (Luke 6:12). He helped the needy; He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). He taught more fully the doctrine of blessing one’s persecutors (Matthew 5:10-12). Furthermore, though He was always right, He taught the doctrine of humility and service better than anyone (Mark 10:42-45). Vengeance He left to His father (Luke 23:34; Matthew 26:63-64). He did not overcome the devil’s evil with force and power but by submission (Hebrews 2:14-15). To follow the instructions of Romans 12:9-21 is to imitate the character of the Savior.

It will take a lifetime to work on such characteristics demanded by the 12th chapter of Romans. Fortunately, that is just how long each one of us has, however long or short each life might be.


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