MOMENTS OF TRUTH
“They Think It Strange”
8 September 2019
One of the first lessons we learn from the Scriptures about the people of God is that they are to be different from the people who are in the world. The evidence is abundant that this is true. This distinctiveness is the demonstration that a change has been wrought in a person's life. The apostle Peter warns us about the world around us and what they will think of us in 1 Peter 4:4 where the apostle Peter says, "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you."
The Bible teaches us that one who is a Christian enjoys "newness of life." When a person is raised from baptism, note what Paul said in Romans 6:4, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; be-hold, all things are become new." Then, he said that from among the Jews and Gentiles, Christ made "one new man" (Eph. 2:15). Something about the life of a Christian is described by the Holy Spirit as "new." It is that "newness" that makes the Christian different from those who are still in and of the world about us. Thus, it is imperative that Christians understand just what this difference is all about.
Peter taught in 1 Peter 2:9-10, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy." Should we not reasonably expect that "the people of God" would be different from the "people of the Devil"? Paul said in Philippians 2:15-16, that Christians should "be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life." And, in that respect, we are taught a "new" conduct and relation to evil. Paul admonishes in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Learning this lesson is the most difficult thing for new and old Christians.
We should be especially distinctive in our moral conduct. Note the following Scriptures, and their emphasis on how we approach life and the evil things of the world. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." He says in 1 Timothy 5:22, "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Paul states in Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, accept-able unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Our Lord says in John 15:19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." The apostle John says in 1 John 3:13, "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."
Obviously, there are numerous passages which teach this truth, so let us continue to note them: 2 timothy 2:19, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." The verse where we get the title of our lesson is 1 Peter 4:4 where the apostle Peter says, "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you." James tells us in James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Paul goes on to tell Titus in Titus 2:11-12, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." The apostle John admonishes in 1 John 2:15-17, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
Now, we may be badly mistaken, but we believe that any and every child of God can understand these verses. We can easily see that a certain conduct is expected of us. We surely know that we are not at liberty to act the way we acted before we became Christians. It was that former way of life that brought us under the condemnation of God, and it was from that life that we sought deliverance when we obeyed the gospel. It is totally inappropriate that we should look back to that way of life and engage ourselves in it again. If we do, we will surely bring ourselves again under condemnation. Peter taught in 2 Peter 1:4 that Christians have "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Peter also said some will fall back into that way of life in 2 Peter 2:20-22, "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the be-ginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." Jesus said that those who will not maintain their distinctiveness "are not fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk. 9:62).
Thus, the message for us is the same as it was for Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:15, "that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." We must as Paul says in Colossians 3:10, "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." Christ is the pattern and the image which Christians try to duplicate in their lives (1 Pet. 2:21). He was certainly different than those of the world of his day. In like manner, so must we be different in our day. May God help us to be what we ought to be. Let us remember what Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:4, "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you."
The world is going to think we are strange and they will more than likely speak evil of us. However, let us do as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
Let everyone believe Jesus Christ as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Let everyone hear the Word of God and have the faith described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:1 and 6, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Let everyone do as Peter told those to do on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Let all confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God as Jesus explains in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Let all follow the wonderful example of obedience found in Acts 8:36-39 where Philip has been teaching the Ethiopian eunuch, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” The apostle Paul helps us see the importance of baptism in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” When one has been baptized, their sins are washed away and they rise a new child of God, a Christian. This is where the “walk in newness of life” begins. This new beginning requires a lifetime of service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”
To close our lesson today we turn to the apostle Paul and his dealings with the world when he obeyed the gospel of Christ. You see, he turned from being one who persecuted the church to one who championed the cause of Christ. Listen to his testimony before King Agrippa found in Acts 26:1-32, “Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 "especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 4 "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5 "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? 9 "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 "And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 12 "While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15 "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' 19 "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21 "For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come-- 23 "that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." 24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" 25 But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 "For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe." 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." 29 And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains." 30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31 and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, "This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains." 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."
Do you recognize how “strange” it must have been for Paul’s friends and family to see him turn from being so zealous against the Cause of Christ to being one of its greatest champions? Everyone who has obeyed the gospel of Christ has to come to terms that there will be those of the world who think they are strange for living a life different from theirs. Let us praise God for giving us the kind of life that He desires for us.
Well, we come to the end of another edition of “Moments of Truth” and we thank you for listening right here on WSLM 1220 AM and 97.9 FM and studying God’s Word with us today. We hope that you have been encouraged and will continue your studies of the Word of God. We want to encourage you to listen to “Moments of Truth” again next week where we will study more of God’s Holy Word.