False expectations can be devastating in our personal lives, toward our spouses, in parenting, and in other relationships. Humans are sinners by nature not able to please God, being under sin with a bent to rely upon self. Expecting those in authoritative government positions to make godly decisions is the difference between light and darkness, Spirit and flesh. Holding this expectation is a false expectation. Yet, it is the expectation those in Christ have the tendency to fervently possess. Therefore, frustration, anger, wrath, and disappointment result when those in government fail to live up to the righteous decisions we hold them to. The truth is these decisions can only be made from the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, which those under sin do not have. Moreover, we end up praising these men and women when they make decisions that may benefit our life on earth or give a righteous and holy appearance. When we celebrate, the children of wrath and their decisions which are void of the effectual working of God’s Word, we extol filthy rag morality, not righteousness and true holiness. Even more, it seems that we are increasingly relying upon the government to reform by their policies and programs, of which, only the Spirit of God can. Moral reform has its place but isn’t what ultimately pleases our Father or has eternal value. The things of the Spirit proved by the church, no matter the situation or circumstance, does. Therefore, what is it that we are cheering and rallying for? May it not be support for government to play substitute for what only Christ in the church can perform. True holiness, righteousness, and transformation only happen by the Spirit of God working in and through the church.
The discussion of leading this quiet and peaceable life in godliness and honesty isn’t to compromise truth nor to remain silent. Yet, this life we are examining most assuredly isn’t to substitute government for the church as the main agency of reform. The Spirit of God isn’t in the business of reformation, but transformation. God exhorts us to use our mouth to communicate truth. He also provides the necessary attitude, understanding, and meekness to communicate that truth. The church has been dormant and government dependency for doing what the church is called to do is no answer. The church has been dormant but smug, boastful celebration on Facebook in favor of filthy rag morality manifested by the current decisions of those that hold office isn’t speaking the truth in love. As the church, God’s peculiar people, siding with the elephant or the donkey isn’t so peculiar. Echoing either animal’s sounds or possessing their manners only manifests agreement, not the truth. Bipartisanship may be a horse of different color but is still beastly, not peculiar.
Fundamentally, two problems exist 1) the possession of false expectations from a willful ignorance of what we should keep in memory, the gospel, and 2) such celebration and jubilation which minimizes the righteousness and holiness of God.
Keeping in Memory the Need for the Gospel
Although ungodliness rears its’ evolving, multifaceted heads, her mother has not changed. The course of this world is run by the god of this world who uses his children of wrath and disobedience to carry out his will. He uses his wisdom to grow, develop, and increase that which man has inherited from Adam, namely, sin. The manifestation of iniquity is graphically described throughout the Word of God: Isaiah 59 being one place. Here the prophet indicts the nation of Israel for their iniquities. All the defilement, void of justice, conception of mischief, beastly behavior, destructive paths, distant judgment, obscure views, dark and false words are results of the iniquities of their unbridled, unrestrained, reign of sin. Chaos, confusion, noise, and destruction chronicle Israel during her history instead of stability, order, quietness, and peace. The only period of time in which she possessed this glory was during God’s gracious interlude of blessing for His name sake with David and Solomon.
This, of course, wasn’t only true of Israel. God had given up, and over, the Gentiles to their reprobate mind years earlier. Israel, although possessors of the oracles of God in the law, couldn’t keep the law to be right in God’s sight. When it came to blessings or curses in the land their self-sufficiency failed over and over. The law and Israel’s transgressions conclusively teach that the whole world is guilty before God. Romans 1:18-32, as well as, Romans 3:9-18 recap Isaiah’s indictment. Deeds from a dark heart and reprobate mind have and always will be worthy of wrath and death. The speedy continuance of man “finding themselves” leads them further into the night and what we know as “this present evil world”. Evil men in evil days, living in an evil world will only wax worse and worse. Is this not what we witness with our eyes as we watch news reports? Is this not what we hear when we listen to the sound bites?
Keeping in Memory God’s Righteousness in the Gospel
Beloved, we are not called to be amazed at these things. The gospel and our memory of it do not allow us to be amazed at grotesque rebellion toward God’s things, nor amazed at their moral policies that exuberate self-sufficiency. We are not to be in fear, nor drawn away. Remembering the gospel and its necessary bad news is instrumental in having a proper worldview and isn’t to be abandoned at the first glimmer of filthy rag morality. Of course, filthy rag morality is better than lewd uncleanness when addressing policies, but the jubilant celebration that fills our tweets, Facebook newsfeed, and liked YouTube videos should be solely reserved for righteousness and true holiness. Imagine the fruit that would result if a fraction of the time, attention, and joy Christians often have for moral policies was directed to the church, for the church, and the world the church is to influence. Such joy isn’t one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit – for this Spirit-joy is founded upon what the government can never provide. Spirit-joy remains even when the government persecutes those that bear His name. Spirit-joy is constant in the midst of corrupt and moral policies.
Christian’s drawn to filthy rag morality reveal ignorance of fundamental doctrines in the gospel itself. Gazing in wonder at these things as if they are great or extraordinary is contrary to righteousness and true holiness. Beloved, Christ is great and extraordinary. It is His work through the Word of God proven in your life that the church seeks for and the world needs. We must not be slothful.
The Beginning of the Quiet and Peaceable Life
Godly gospel understanding is the beginning of the quiet and peaceable life. This understanding is fundamental to living godly in this world.
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Titus 3:1-3
Gospel understanding takes into consideration who we once were and maybe, at times, still manifest. Yet, we are called to be a peculiar people. We are not to brawl – physically or over social media. Do not expect true holiness from the foolish, disobedient, and deceived; less when a form is provided, you find it comes from unrighteous men. Do not resort to their hateful tactics, but be gentle and meek as the pillar and ground of the truth.
Be Ready to Every Good Work
How do we influence? If our influence isn’t by being partisan or bipartisan; if it isn’t siding with either corrupt government or filthy moral government; then how can we make a change? We change by being who we are called to be – a peculiar people, zealous of good works. If we are ever going to be a light, we must be light. God has called us to be wholly peculiar. Therefore, let us stop celebrating and holding with high regard a form of holiness as a substitute for what only true holiness can work. The church needs to be ready to every good work with zealous vehemency. The church needs to be ready to every good work – good works that are not grounded in government or constitutional policy, but in truth and upheld by the truth.
Maybe, just maybe, if the church was mesmerized with our God and His things instead of laws, policies, and programs we would have something to truly celebrate – the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ manifest in the church lighting dark hearts. Do you behold Him? Or, have you fallen asleep? Awake!!!
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher