Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 9, 1956
NUMBER 14, PAGE 6-7b

To Dwell With God

Jerry F. Bassett, San Diego, California

In studying the Bible it is of great significance that not one case is recorded in which an impure or unholy man was ever acceptable before God. An understanding of the reason for this ought to magnify this significance in the minds of those who would seek God's favor. Christ set forth the underlying principle when he stated "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." (Matt. 12:30.)

In short, righteousness and sin do not mix and have no part one with the other. When man comes to an understanding of God's holiness and then applies the aforementioned principle to the relationship between himself and God he will understand that it is impossible for him to walk in sin and walk with God at the same time. In order to walk with God, to be a child of God, and an heir of eternal life man must be holy; for man to be otherwise is for him to be incompatible with God's holiness. In the Law of Moses and restated again by Peter in the Gospel of Christ we hear God say "Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16.)

At this point, one might ask, if God is holy and divine and all wise how can man expect to attain to God's holiness when he must dwell in a fleshly body and employ only earthly wisdom? Can a mortal direct his steps in the path of the immortal God? The prophet Jeremiah clearly answers this question: "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23.) It is here that we see the place of Christ, the Son of God, in God's plan of salvation. For though man is not holy in or of himself, he still may attain holiness for God has provided the way through Christ. This is exactly what Paul had reference to when he stated "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them . . . ." (2 Cor. 5:19.)

It is also at this point that so many fall short in understanding God's will, for rather than accept Christ as "The way; the truth, and the life," (notice the singular use of terms in John 14:6) they speak of accepting Christ in terms of "faith only" or in terms of glittering generalities involving God's mercy.

The New Testament does not so teach. In Romans 6:17-18 we find that those who have become "the servants of righteousness" are those who have "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered." In Romans 1:15-17 we learn that the form of doctrine referred to is simply the gospel of Christ. Moreover, man is expected to continue in that doctrine for if a man does not abide in God's way (Christ) then neither does he abide in God. (2 John 9.)

Many labor in vain under the impression that God's love and mercy compel him to overlook evil and to justify men regardless of whether they are obedient to his will. Indeed God is merciful and a God of love but it does not necessarily follow that he must therefore tolerate sin. Rather God's mercy is made manifest in that he was willing to give his Son that men by the purifying and strengthening power in Christ's blood might overcome sin. In John 3:8 we read "...for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." God, being holy, has not chosen to tolerate evil but to destroy it through his Son Jesus Christ.

An understanding of God's hate for evil and the works thereof is paramount if one is to live the Christian life for not only does God hate evil but his children are likewise expected to hate it. The writer of Proverbs said "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth do I hate." (Prov. 8:13.) Christians are commanded to "...abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." (Rom. 12:9.) Moreover, Christians must realize that this hate of evil is not to be a mere unexpressed, passive attitude, but is to be a rebuke of evil both by our example of life (Matt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:11-12), and through aggressive teaching. Paul, writing by inspiration, said, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them." (Eph. 5:11.)

It is because of God's hate of evil that men must ever watch to be sure that they are living and working according to God's will. The man outside of Christ must realize that in such a position he will be without strength and justification in the day of judgment. (2 Thess. 1:7-9.) The Christian must realize that to fall away from Christ, to be negligent and indifferent in any respect in performing God's will as revealed in the gospel is to turn back to destruction. (Heb. 10:38-39.)

Satan is relentless in his efforts to turn man's ears, from the truth and to destroy their faith in God. Peter warns to "be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8.) Satan is pictured here as an adversary or enemy who seeks to destroy man by drawing him away from the life that is in God. If a man had an enemy in the world and knew that the enemy intended murder it goes without saying that such a man would take extreme caution. He would watch for any move that might lead him into a trap, or prove dangerous in any way. The caution exercised in the spiritual realm should be infinitely greater for craftier is Satan and far greater are the consequences to be suffered for laxness. Satan indeed is the enemy of the righteous who seeks to trap and ensnare; to overcome and destroy. If caution for the physical life is desirable how much greater caution should be shown for the spiritual life?!

Often brethren seem to assume that Satan is stupid and easily thwarted. They often act and speak as though his devices are obvious and ineffectual in leading men astray. Nothing could be more pleasing to the devil than the adoption of such an attitude for overconfident, indifferent, proud men are easy prey for subtlety. This is what Paul was speaking of when he said by inspiration "Wherefore let him that thinketh he stand take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:12.)

In fact so deceiving is Satan that God took occasion through the Apostle Paul to warn Christians "And no marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:14.) Making people understand the import of 2 'Corinthians 11:14 is not always easy. It is often difficult for people of the world to understand that many individuals and organizations professing godliness and having an outward show of godliness are actually servants of Satan. Any religious doctrine or work, or any worship that does not have its basis of authority in apostolic teaching is not a means of fellowship with God. (1 John 1:3-4.) So it is that any time individuals or organizations seek to function religiously outside the pale of New Testament (apostolic) teaching they become ministers of Satan leading men astray in the guise of godliness.

Many brethren need to think seriously of Satan's ability to beguile, and to understand that all that has a show of godliness before men may not be of God. Many wish to introduce innovations into God's plan of doing the work of the church by supporting human institutions from the treasuries of local churches to perform the work of caring for the needy. The same brethren advocate the pooling of funds by many local congregations under the eldership of one congregation usually to do evangelistic work. All too often these schemes are supported ( ?) by the assertion "look how much good they are doing even if scriptural authority for them does not exist." Such brethren would do well to realize that they are obligated before God to justify their practices by God's word or else give them up. (1 Peter 4:11.) Remember brethren, all that looks good may not be of God; "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light"

It is common to hear people say that the Christian life is too binding, too restrictive, too narrow. Admittedly God's commands are of such nature, but still they are not unreasonable nor grievous. (1 John 5:30 God has commanded "Therefore come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing," but the fulfilling of this command brings rich reward for God continues, "and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord almighty." (2 Cor. 6:17-18.) Is not the reward of an eternity spent in the presence of God's glory worth the keeping of his commands in this present life? Is simple obedience too much for God to expect of men in return for the gift of eternal life? The answer to these questions is easily obtained from the inspired record: Romans 8:18, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Let us lay aside worldly ideas and prejudices, abstain from fleshly lusts, and raise our eyes to God as doers of his word; God alone is able to reward.