17 My beloved friends, imitate my walk with God and follow all those who walk according to the way of life we modeled before you. 18 For there are many who live by different standards. As I’ve warned you many times (I weep as I write these words), they are enemies of the cross of the Anointed One and 19 doom awaits them. Their god has possessed them and made them mute. Their boast is in their shameful lifestyles and their minds are in the dirt.20 But we are a colony of heaven on earth as we cling tightly to our life-giver, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 3:17-20 TPT).
When Apostle Paul penned this writing above to the church in Philippi, he did so to encourage those walking rightly in Christ to continue as well as warn them of carnal Christians who were not genuinely converted. He warns the believers in this letter that they must remember that even though they are natural citizens of Rome their real and eternal citizenship is in Heaven. Paul calls the church to unity and boldly states the so-called god these Christians believe in was not the true Jesus Christ but rather a god that filled their own lustful desires. These carnal Christians lived by the standards of the world and not God’s.
Have you ever thought about how a person knows what is right and what is wrong? Or what is sinful and what is righteous? Most people probably don’t even think about this subject unless they are correcting their children or watching someone in the grocery store fail to correct their own. I think about this often because as a prophetic voice to the body of Christ I understand that it is God’s will that we know Who drops the plumb line for right and wrong.
A plumb line is a small mass of lead or other heavy material that is suspended by a line and used to measure or ascertain a vertical line. It is considered downright or absolute, exact and precise. That’s God’s word to believers, a plumb line. So, to answer the question, how do we know what is right or wrong, sinful or righteous one must say it is the inerrant word of God. We are to be found true to God’s standards which are written in His word.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. - John 1:1-3
Jesus Christ is the Word of God, He was and is the first and the final authority of all things. When we don’t know Him, of which all things pertaining to life and godliness are given (2Pet 1:3), then we will follow the destructive ways of others (2Pet 2:2). Just because we don't live by God’s word doesn't make it irrelevant or ineffective. His word is always relevant to our lives no matter the situation or era, and it can be a useful resource to resolve any issues that arise in our lives if we apply the wisdom in it.
There is a way that feels good to people, a way that allows them to do whatever they please and not suffer the consequences. Adam and Eve took this way and led the whole world into captivity. James, the half brother of Jesus said, Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. - Jas 4:4
Friendship with this world, its ways, its rules, and its standards is adultery to God. When one loves this world and its ways then that person is cheating on God, they are putting something above Him.
Without the word of God, His laws and standards, we cannot really know what is right or wrong, good or evil. We can have a sense of something not being good because God has given us a measure of faith to believe in Him and a conscience attached to that which can lead us into the knowledge of right and wrong to a degree. However, it is God’s word on any subject that defines truth and draws the boundaries between spirit and flesh, right and wrong, and sin and righteousness. Without the word, there is no boundary and no way to identify male, female, mother or father. There is no means to instruct one in righteousness if we don’t use the manual.
We can make up our own minds about what we want to be right and good, but that doesn’t mean it is. We can guess, surmise, and run on our own fleshly desires and opinions all day, but without moral instruction, we are left to our own understanding which is derived from that which surrounds us. Our environment, upbringing, and own wants become our truth.
Think about that last statement for a moment. Our environment, upbringing, and own wants become our truth. If an adult desires a child for inappropriate pleasure and he/she sees nothing wrong with it, who is to say it is wrong? If a man wants to marry his daughter or mother her son, brother his sister, who is to define the natural, unnatural, right or wrong position of such behavior?
When our hurts, pain, and abuses become our filter for our understanding of right and wrong the results will be catastrophic. That is what we see in our nation today, a world that has no plumb line for right and wrong if it feels good, they declare it to be good. This is what happens when a nation throws away their Creators standard and code of ethics.
Blessed [are] the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD! 4 You have commanded [us] To keep Your precepts diligently. 5 Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes! - Psa 119:1, 4-5
Those who walk in the ways of God, His true nature of love and righteousness, will not be defiled. These are the kind of people that will not compromise truth because it feels good and these are the kind of people who have yielded their flesh to the cross of Jesus Christ. The only way a young man can cleanse his way is by living a life unto God’s word (Ps 119:9).
When Jesus called the people to Him as well as His disciples He said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? - Mar 8:34-37
Notice that Jesus called the people to Him, everyone that was there and within earshot, He called along with His disciples. Jesus told every one of them the same thing; deny yourself and pick up your cross and follow Me. Jesus didn’t mince words, and He was firm and absolute to those who showed interest in going with Him. The first thing a disciple of Jesus Christ must have is a desire to follow Him; I believe that is why He started the conversation with desire and not the word want. The word translated as desire from the Greek is thélō, and it implies intention, resolve, determination, and purpose as well as delight. Jesus is telling the crowd that if they are going to bind themselves to Him, they must be resolved, and determined to let go of their old life and embrace His. For a person to let go of something they cherish as much as their entire life they must have a will to do so and they must understand that the sacrifice in today’s life will result in eternity with God; but a choice to keep your life and deny Christ will result in His denial of you.
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." - Mar 8:38
So, what is the standard of a Christ follower? The word of God. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. - Psa 119:3 NLT
What is the problem then? Why are so many Christians confused about their own religion? I’m sure many wise scholars are asking the same question and have found some answers, but I think the number one reason is that people have been duped by Satan in believing that the Bible is old-fashioned and outdated! That is why we have so many versions of the Bible today; everyone is trying to make it work for today’s generation when in fact, they are watering the word of God down and removing the standard of righteousness from the pulpit.
What is wrong about teaching on the subject of sin? Are pastors afraid of the implication to their popularity or tithe? I don’t want to bash a brother or sister in Christ so I will leave that last thought up to the reader. However, I will not compromise on truth, and I do not think anyone calling themselves a Christ follower should either. It is the truth that sets us free, and Jesus said who the Son sets free is free indeed. Depending on an individual’s understanding of freedom that verse may not imply the genuine meaning it is intended. Freedom to sin was not was Jesus was talking about.
I will end with this thought and pray that you will allow the word of God to expose your true heart condition and be set free from the wiles of Satan and sin. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. - Heb 4:12 NLT
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your word as a standard to right living. Thank You for taking the guesswork out of knowing how to live in a way that would be blessed and please You. Today, I confess my inadequacy of keeping all Your laws and thank You that Jesus Christ made way for me to be saved without the works of the Law. However, I understand that as a child of Yours there are ways that have been established for me to live and I fall short of those way often. I ask for Your help in keeping my heart and eyes focused on You so that I can live according to Your will and have the abundant life Jesus died to give me. In Jesus name, Amen