God is Good but am I “good” with God – Purity 765
Purity 765 06/23/2022 Purity 765 Podcast
Today’s photo of a pathway by the ocean comes to us from a friend who visited the Sebastian Inlet State Park at Melbourne Beach Florida back on June 20th.
Well, It’s Thursday again and as is my habit I share this photo of a pathway as an encouragement to get on, or to keep going, on the pathway of Christian Discipleship which is my little euphemism for “following Jesus”, or “walking in the Spirit”, or “seeking the Lord and His will for your life” or “growing in your faith”, or “developing your personal relationship with God”. If you notice, each of these concepts describe a present and continuous journey. They describe a process more than a possession.
Although we “have Christ” or are “in Christ”, when we put our faith in Jesus as Our Lord and Savior, Christ called His disciples to follow Him with their lives. Although our faith in Christ gives us a new and eternal life and makes us “good with God”, it doesn’t mean we are “done” with God. Although Christ said that “it was finished” as He died to pay for our sins on the cross, He was resurrected to life again, and He is not finished with us.
The Christian life is to be lived. The Christian life is a process of becoming more like Jesus through the process of sanctification while we discover our purpose in Christ, which is to walk into the good works that the Lord has prepared for us. So while we have attained much with our covenant relationship with God that was established forever when we put our faith in Christ, there is much more to discover and accomplish in our lives of faith.
The Apostle Paul, who had accomplished much in his life as a disciple of Jesus said:
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
So as Christians, we are to keep “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” in our walk with God, to answer the “upward call of Christ.” We are to keep going “onward and upward” as we seek to grow in spiritual maturity and to do good works for the kingdom of God and for God’s glory.
Unfortunately, many of us who grew up in liturgical traditions of Christianity were exposed to a form of “cultural Christianity” where faith was viewed as a possession more than a process, a religion more than a relationship with God.
In a religion, you perform certain rights to be a member of that religion and there is a sense that once you meet the requirements of your faith tradition, you are “good”. Once you meet the requirements of your religion, like baptism or confirmation, there is “nothing more to do”. In the tradition I grew up in, the rite of confirmation was often followed by a steep decline in church attendance. Once you were confirmed, you met that “minimum qualification” of faith, that was required by the church, or at least that of the your family’s expectations. “Grandma wants you to be confirmed”.
Well thank God for the grandmothers and grandfathers that required obedience to the precepts of the church tradition, but unfortunately the emphasis on meeting religious requirements was often accompanied by a lack of discipleship and resulted in a next generation of practical atheists.
We can’t force people, even our family members, to have faith. We can’t teach someone to have a personal relationship with God. As much as we can all gather together in a congregation for a worship service, our relationship with God is personal. It’s one on one.
And if you don’t have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus, where you know God and He knows you, no amount of religious duties performed or traditions adhered to are going to make you “good with God”.
While we can’t see the hearts of men like God can, even we can observe that some “members” of our church seem to be going through the motions or are utterly disengaged and bored with the worship service and seem more filled with joy when they leave the house of worship than when they walk in, and it’s a joy that is not necessarily a result of the Pastor’s edifying message or the worship team’s performance as it is joy born from the freedom from God’s presence to pursue worldly or selfish desires.
The whole concept of viewing yourself as “good with God” for performing minimum requirements reveals an ignorant or immature faith that at best will result in a fruitless life of selfishness or could result in a rude awakening when the Lord that they paid lip service to declares that even though they thought they are “good with God”, they weren’t with God at all and that He never knew them.
Unfortunately, many of us grew up in these church cultures where our relationship with God was like a game, where if we “followed the rules”, for the most part, we would “win”. Unfortunately, many of us were raised up in families of spiritual infants who liked to “play dress up” on Sunday mornings at church but never brought faith home, who were more childish than child like in their faith, and who may have been “playing make believe” more than believing and trusting in the Lord in a real and significant way.
Because of my experience with the goings on around the “church building” of my faith tradition, when I heard a message that proclaimed salvation through Jesus Christ alone part of me was amazed at God’s great love for us that didn’t require us to jump through a bunch of religious hoops to be one with Him. God only required that we leap into His grace through an act of surrendering to the Lordship of His beloved Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Even though I knew my salvation was assured, I didn’t want to declare myself as “done here” in my relationship with God. I didn’t want to leave the presence of a such a kind, loving, and holy God. I had found the safety for my soul and I wanted to bask in the wonders of its joy and to pursue the One who had pursued me all my life.
In the process of seeking to know God more and to know who I am in Christ and in discovering how one could live in His presence and in His ways, I discovered that our faith wasn’t a set of rules, it wasn’t a game. Our faith is a relationship with the God of all creation who wants His love for us to pour out into our lives and into the lives of all we come in contact with.
So rejoice over the fact that your faith in Christ has made you “good with God” but long to stay in and to grow in the goodness of God by walking and talking with Him. We are “good with God” but we are not “done” with Him and neither is He done with us. Our life of faith, our relationship with God, is to be pursued and it is not for His good that we pursue it, it’s for ours, and for all the lives that we can touch with the assurance that God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
John 15:10 (NLT2)
10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love..
Today’s Bible verse encourages us to follow in Christ’s example and how our harmonious relationship with God is maintained with obedience.
Yesterday, I shared a couple of verses from Deuteronomy on Facebook to encourage Bible study and to reveal God’s revealed will for our lives and the reason why God calls us to obedience.
13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
Here the Lord speaking through Moses, informs the nation of Israel of their requirement of obedience to His commandments has a reason: our obedience is for our good!
Christ’s words here tell us more about how our obedience to God’s commandments are “good” for you. When we obey Christ’s commandments, which contain all the wisdom of the Old Testament Law and Prophets in His simple instructions to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves, we remain in Christ’s love.
When we are obedient, we remain in harmony with God because we are doing His will on the earth. When we obey, our words, thoughts, and actions are representing God’s kingdom and demonstrating our love for Him, When we obey the Lord we have no guilt or shame and can have joy knowing that we have peace with God and we are doing nothing to disrupt it.
When you obey, you can rejoice in the transformation the Lord has brought to your life and continue to experience the wonders of God’s love as much today as when you first believed. So “feel the love” of God, and remain in it, by walking in obedience to the commandments that are pure and holy and were written with your good in mind.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The apostle Paul was a jew. his lineage was rooted in the tribe of Benjamin; he was circumcised as a Jew, trained by the rabbis, and became a zealous Pharisee, a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” After Paul encountered the risen Christ, Jewish Christians nurtured him. Although he was commissioned to be the apostle to the Gentiles, he still proclaimed Christ to the Jews throughout Asia and Greece, following his guiding principle, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” He planted a number of churches, all having a strong, if not dominant, Jewish contingent.
We should therefore learn to appreciate what first-century Judaism believed about evil spirits if we want to understand what Paul believed about the powers of darkness and if we want to see how he applied his theology of the powers to the early Christian congregations. To what extent did a belief in the influence of evil spirits factor into the world view of the Jews of Paul’s day? An answer to this question will help us paint a sharper portrait of Paul’s views in terms of the continuity and contrast to his religious upbringing and the beliefs of the Jews to whom he writes. Since Paul accepted the Old Testament as an authoritative informing source for his theology, it is best to begin there.
It is often thought there is virtually no demonology in the Old Testament, and it is only when we turn to the New Testament that we find any substantial teaching on this theme. While the issue of the demonic is more to the forefront in the New Testament, demonology is not absent from the Old Testament. The Old Testament writers assume the existence of a major figurehead of evil and a plethora of evil spirits. The authors spend no time reflecting on the nature of this realm. Satan, demons or evil spirits suddenly make an appearance from time to time in the text as hostile opponents to the people of God, with the writers giving very little description of their identity or how they operate. The Old Testament authors apparently felt little need to explain what these beings were; rather, writers and readers apparently shared a common awareness of the distinctive traits of this realm.
Demons and False Gods
The nations around Israel worshiped a multiplicity of gods and goddesses. In every century and in every geographical region, including Palestine, the Jews lived in a polytheistic environment. Among the hundreds of deities they were exposed to were the Assyrian gods Anu and Ishtar; the Canaanite deities El, Baal, Dagan, Anat and Ashtoreth; the Egyptian deities Re, Atan, Amon, Thoth, Isis and Osiris. Later in their history they were introduced to the numerous Persian, Greek and Roman gods.
Biblical writers attributed no real, independent existence to these deities. Instead they called them idols, a way of referring to the images of these gods and goddesses as the focus of worship. The term idol, meaning copy or image, emphasized the unreality of all the pagan gods, and was clearly a slur on non-Jewish religions. The Jews claimed to worship the one true, real God. All the rest were phonies.
These idols, however, were not mere harmless stone images a covenant person could be indifferent to. There was a real spiritual dimension to the pagan cults and the worship of idols. Biblical writers complete the picture of Yahweh’s attitude toward false gods by portraying the pagan cults as the work of demons. In Deuteronomy 32:16–17, Israel’s abandonment of God for idols in the wilderness is explicitly described:
They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to demons, which are not God—gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear. (italics mine)
The Psalms express the same thought. One psalm describes Israel’s entry into Canaan, deploring the fact that God’s people had adopted many of the local customs and had worshiped the local idols. They also “sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons,” which the psalmist sets parallel with the statement that they “sacrificed to the idols of Canaan” (Ps 106:37–38). In Psalm 96:5, where the Hebrew text reads, “for all the gods of the nations are idols,” the Septuagint text (the Greek translation) reads, “for all the gods of the nations are demons.” The Septuagint reflects the Jewish conviction that pagan religions had a close affiliation with the demonic realm. This belief also became the conviction of the apostle Paul (1 Cor 10:19–21).
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 55–57.