PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
Getting Out and Staying Out of Personally Destructive Choices (Continued)
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Sunday, September 24 / Oct 1 -

Jude 24-25 - “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, [25] to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

The important question is this - HOW does God do that? How does He keep my from falling? Am I involved in that process, or am I passive? If I’m involved, what am I to do. And if I’m involved, why does the text say “He” (God) is the One who keeps me from falling?
Psalm 139:23-24 - “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; {24} And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” At least part of the answer seems clear. First God searches and cleanses. Then He leads in the way everlasting. There are three key passages of Scripture that will lead Christians into righteousness: First, the ten commandments will regulate your actions. Second, the Beatitudes will regulate your attitudes. And third, First Corinthians 13 will guide your relationships. We will study the first two categories today:

1) THE TEN COMMANDMENTS REGULATE MY ACTIONS

Two common mistakes people make about the Ten Commandments:

a) Some people think they are Christians because they obey the Ten Commandments. See Romans 7:8-9 - “But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. [9] I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” Paul makes it clear. The purpose of the law isn’t to produce righteousness. It is designed to manifest inward sin. See also Galatians 3:21-22.

b) Some Christians think because they are saved by grace, the law no longer has any place in their lives. This too is an error - James 2:22-24 - “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; [23] and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"— and he was called a friend of God. [24] You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” The righteousness that comes by faith must be more than intellectual assent. It must, in the terms of Jesus and Paul, fulfill the law. This principle of fulfillment can be seen in the following chart:

The Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:3-17 Related NT Scriptures
1. Vs 3 - You shall have no other gods before me Mark 12:28-30
2. Vs 4 - You shall not make for yourself an idol...You shall not worship them or serve them Matthew 4:10, 1 John 5:21
3. Vs 7 - You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain Matthew 5:33-37, Matthew 6:9, James 5:12, James 3:10
4. Vs 8 - Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy Acts 20:7 (note the early church’s celebration of the first day of the week celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection), Hebrews 10:25
5. Vs 12 - Honor your father and your mother Matthew 15:4, Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20, 1 Timothy 5:1-2
6. Vs 13 - You shall not murder Matthew 5:21-25, Matthew 19:17-19, Romans 13:8-10
7. Vs 14 - You shall not commit adultery Titus 1:6, Matthew 5:27-28, 31-32, Romans 7:3, 1 Corinthians 6:9
8. Vs 15 - You shall not steal Matthew 19:18, Romans 13:9, Ephesians 4:28. 1 Peter 4:15
9. Vs 16 - You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor Matthew 5:43-44, Colossians 4:6, Titus 2:8, James 3:2-10
10 Vs 17 - You shall not covet your neighbor’s house...wife...servants...ox...
donkey...or anything that belongs to your neighbor Mark 12:31, Romans 13:10, Romans 15:1-2, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8

We must train ourselves to see our actions and attitudes, not merely as issues of habit or temperament, but as issues of actual righteousness. For example, which commandment(s) has been broken in each of the following examples?

a) John has just been promoted. He is excited because his advancement at work is the number one goal in his life. True, he’ll have to quit his involvement in the church. But after all, how many times do these opportunities come along?
b) It’s Sunday morning. Don is on his way to the golf course. He hears on the car radio that Christians working in shopping malls will now be forced to work Sundays regardless of their religious convictions. Don is outraged.
c) Wendy is dating a non-Christian young man. Her parents disapprove, but Wendy feels they are simply out of touch. She certainly has no plans to marry him anyway.
d) All the young families in the church live in nice houses except the Winfreds. Finally the pressure gets too great. They can move into a new home too if they both commit to work more evenings and weekends.
e) Sue, a single teen, has decided to go on the pill because, after all, she is against abortion.

2) THE BEATITUDES WILL REGULATE MY ATTITUDES

Jesus made it clear that our righteousness needed to exceed that of the religious leaders of His day. His particular emphasis was in the inside of the heart and mind - Matthew 23:25-26 - “"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. [26] You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” In these words Jesus showed the inadequacy of outward law keeping to produce the righteousness required for His kingdom. Perhaps we can best see the attitude required when we compare it with its opposite:

The Beatitudes
Matthew 5:3-11 The Opposite Attitude
1. Vs 3 - The poor in spirit - an attitude of reaching out to God for strength and resource Self made man or woman. Able to make it on his or her own. I’m as good as the next person.
2. Vs 4 - Those who mourn - a sense of one’s own sin and unworthiness that leads to repentance and confession Excusing sin. Planning to cover up his tracks to enjoy the pleasures of sin without being caught.
3. Vs 5 - The meek - an attitude of humility and teachability. A willingness to be corrected by conscience, the Word and the Holy Spirit without argument. Justifying sin. Refusing to admit guilt. Blaming others for sinful choices. Hard and non-complying in the face of any convicting work of God
4. Vs 6 - Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness - a heart that finds its greatest delight and fulfillment in forsaking self for the will and way of God’s Spirit. One whose heart is most fulfilled in physical, material accomplishments. Spiritual pursuits are seen as remote and other worldly. We’ll worry about those things when we get to heaven
5. Vs 7 - The merciful - an attitude of kindness and forgiveness rooted in an ongoing appreciation of personal salvation and cleansing freely received from Jesus One who keeps track of wrongs suffered. A heart driven by personal revenge. People get what they deserve. Be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you.
6. Vs 8 - The pure in heart - a life that is driven by only one passion. Same on the inside as the outside. No mixed motives. No part-time spiritual pursuits. The hypocrite. One who wants to appear of greater spiritual quality in public than he is in private.
7. Vs 9 - The peacemakers - one who bridges relationships and loves people at personal cost to his own rights and pride. Not just a peacekeeper, but a peace maker. Directs love to those who deserve it least. One who delights in self-justification and preserving his own course of action, even if this means exposing the faults of others. Gossip, envy, cruelty, etc, mark his ambitions
8. Vs 10 - Those who have been persecuted for righteousness - A heart that will not turn from Jesus in the face of loss, injury, ridicule or pain. A life that is already rooted in eternity so as to be unmoved by present loss. One whose life is fueled by popularity and the esteem of others. Values will be compromised for the sake of friendship and acceptance.

More than anything else, these beatitudes probe for a deeper righteousness. We may be able to produce outwardly ethical behavior for varying stretches of time. But only the Holy Spirit can create the hunger for a righteous relationship with God. This only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. This is how He keeps us from falling. Yet we must exercise faith and trust as we abide in Jesus Christ daily - John 15:3-5 - “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. [5] I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” This is how we too are involved in the process. Our faith in Christ isn’t works righteousness. It is the reception of a free gift. Remember, salvation is free. It is never unconditional.