THEME: Pleasing God
This week’s lessons conclude the account of the southern and northern campaigns, and show us the necessity of committed obedience to God in all things.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” What He is saying is that if you really are a justified man or woman, if His righteousness really has been imputed to you, if you have been made spiritually alive, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, there will be such a power in you and such a desire to please God that your good deeds will exceed the good deeds of the scribes and Pharisees. One thing that bothers me about the church today is that the church is so much like the world. Where do people turn to believers and say, “There is something different about them”? I don’t mean to say that doesn’t happen. It does. There are many cases where it happens. But to a large extent today, it seems that we really are not radically distinguished by our desire to fully obey Jesus Christ and do the deeds that He did. Can it be said of you as it was said of Joshua, “He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded”?
I give one final application. In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul is talking about working out your salvation with fear and trembling. God has worked salvation in; we are to work salvation out. And then he says towards the end of that, giving the glory to God, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Are you doing everything in your life that you know of to please God? That’s a little bit more, you see, than just doing good deeds. Doing God’s good pleasure has to do with attitudes.
I just have a simple conclusion, and it’s in the nature of an explanation. And the question I raise is this: Why don’t we do these things? Why is it not true of us that we leave nothing undone of all the Lord’s commands? I think the answer is that we haven’t stopped doing a lot of the things that God has commanded us not to do. The Book of Common Prayer expressed this so well in one of its great collects on the confession of sin: “Oh, Lord, we have done those things we ought not to have done. And we have left undone those things which we ought to have done. And there is no health in us.” One of the reasons we don’t do the things we should do is that we are doing the things that we should not be doing. And until we confess the sin, which is a barrier between ourselves and God, we do not find ourselves in that spiritual state that says, “Lord, regardless of what happens, I want to do everything that you command.” May we confess the sin and be blessed as Joshua was.
What are some ways in which the church is acting like the world? How does that impact the church’s witness?
We know that a poor attitude will keep us from doing the things we know we should. But even as we do good works, how might our attitude still not be pleasing to God?
Pray that God would give you opportunities, and also the desire, to minister to the needs of others.