Strangers & Pilgrims With a Witness Secured In Heaven

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the pilgrims and saints which were the elect of God. More specifically today’s passage is found in the third chapter of this New Testament book. “Wives, likewise be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible Beaty of a gentle and quite spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1 Peter 3:1-6).

 

            “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

 

            “Finally, all of you be one of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender hearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reveling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For, He who would love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:8-12).

 

            “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the LORD God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile you goods conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17).

 

            “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the sprits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an anti type which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:18-22).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the strangers and pilgrims in the world during those days you will find him beginning with profound instruction given unto wives. If you begin reading with and from the first verse you will find the apostle Peter encouraging and admonishing wives to be submissive to their husbands. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is that although it’ similar in language to the words the apostle Paul wrote in the epistles written unto the Ephesian and Colossian saints it is different. In fact if you take the time to read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture you will find that the words and language more closely resembles that which the apostle Paul wrote in the first epistle unto the Corinthian saints. Upon reading the words presented by the apostle Peter in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the admonition for wives to submit their husbands and yet the truth of the matter is that their submission was centered entirely and completely on the nature of their witness and testimony. If you take the time to read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter admonishing these saints to be incredibly mindful of their testimony—not only their testimony in the civil and civic realm as it pertains to culture and society but also in the personal and private realm of their relationship(s) as husbands and wives.

 

            If you take the time to read this first epistle written by the apostle Peter you can and will encounter the tremendous reality surrounding the apostle Peter’s call to be mindful of one’s witness and testimony in the midst of the culture and society in which they lived. I am convinced it is absolutely impossible to read the words found within these epistles and not encounter and come face to face with the overwhelming need to be mindful of one’s witness and testimony in the earth. The more I read the words presented in this epistle the more I am brought to the place where I am forced to examine my own witness and testimony in the world. If we are being truly honest with ourselves and with the living God we will admit that there is a call to be mindful of our witness and testimony in every area of our lives. I am sitting here this morning thinking about these words and I can’t help but encounter a direct challenge within my spirit to take a good, long and hard look at the witness and testimony I have in every area of my life. I find myself examining the witness and testimony I have in my own home with my wife. I would be incredibly naïve to think that I have not and that I am not being called to bear a witness and testimony in my own home. There is not a doubt in my mind that even if you are married there is a tremendous need to guard and to watch over diligently the witness you have before your spouse. There are many who would think that it is not necessary to have a witness at home—even if both spouses are believers—and yet I am convinced the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. Regardless of whether one or both spouses are believers and profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ there is a call to arms and to be mindful of one’s testimony in the midst of the home. We dare not and must not think and believe that our witness is limited solely to the realm outside the home in the midst of our culture and society.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in this epistle and I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth that even within our own homes—whether it’s just ourselves and our spouse or whether there are children in the home—we are and have been called to be mindful of and guard our witness and testimony carefully. Having grown up in the church my entire life and even growing up in a pastor’s home I heard it preached all the time that parents are perhaps the single greatest witness and testimony unto their children. I have heard it preached from behind the pulpit and in other venues that one of the parent’s greatest challenges, takes and responsibilities is to be a witness and testimony unto their children. If you were to examine this according to worldly vernacular you would encounter it in terms of parents bearing the responsibility to be roles models unto their children. Even in the secular world there is the call to arms for parents to be role models unto their children and to provide their children with a true example of what it means to be a “decent” and “good” human being and person within the world and this generation. I am absolutely convinced this is incredibly true and must needs be carefully considered by any who are parents and/or any who would seek to be parents. I am convinced that one of the greatest responsibilities parents have within their lives is to provide their children with a positive example of what it means to be a good person in society. While in the world this is termed and deemed as being “good” and “decent” it is entirely different in the realm of the Christian and those who profess to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            The more I think about the words which are found in in this passage of Scripture the more I am convinced that those who have been entrusted with the privilege to be parents in this life have also been entrusted as good stewards of the lives of the children they have been called to raise. There is not a doubt in my mind that men and women who have indeed and have in fact been called to be parents in this life bear the responsibility of being a good witness and testimony in this life. Men and women who have indeed and have in fact been called to be parents in this life bear the incredible responsibility of modeling the principles that are found within the divine Word of God. Any parent who is a professing believer and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs recognize and understand that they have indeed been called to not only model the truth(s) found within the Word of God but also teach it to their children. Lest you think this is something that is somehow untrue and irrelevant you need only look at the Old Testament—specifically the part of the Old Testament known as the Torah—for within the Torah you will find the living and eternal God instructing Moses to speak unto the children of Israel concerning their witness and testimony within the home. Time and time again when you read the words which are found in the Torah—the first five books of the Old Testament—you will find the living and eternal God giving command to the children of Israel to teach their children the truth that is contained within the Law and that which was commanded by the living God. You cannot read the words found in the Old Testament Books of Moses and not find incredibly powerful instruction given unto the children of Israel to ensure that they took the time to teach their children the rules, the principles, the statutes, the commands and the decrees which were found in the Law given unto them by the living God atop the mountain in the midst of the wilderness.

 

            I am writing these words and I am brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the responsibility parents had to teach their children the statutes, the precepts, the decrees and the commands which were found in the Law throughout the generations. That first generation which witnessed the thunders and lightning atop the mountain and which saw the mountain ablaze with fear, and saw the mountain quake before them, and saw the thick clouds and darkness was the first generation to teach their children the Law and statutes which were commanded and instructed by the living God. That first generation which emerged from the bondage, the slavery and oppression of the land of Egypt would be the first generation to receive the Law of God which was given to Moses atop the mountain in the midst of the wilderness. That first generation was given command after command and instruction after instruction to teach their children the truth about the living and eternal God who had delivered them from and out of the oppression, bondage and slavery of Egypt. In fact the Passover itself was a powerful teaching tool used in the hands of the parents to educate their children on how the living and eternal God had delivered them from the bondage, slavery and oppression in the land of Egypt. The Passover itself was a communal meal that was shared among families and others in the community as they would rehearse the goodness of the living God and His mighty deliverance in the land of Egypt with a strong arm. The first means of teaching and educating the children of Israel from generation to generation dealt specifically and primarily with their deliverance from the land of Egypt and how the LORD sent ten plagues and judgments upon the land of Egypt and upon the Egyptians that He might bring His people out with an outstretched arm.

 

            I am absolutely convinced that when you read and study Scripture you will find that within the observance and celebration of the Passover is indeed a wonderful and powerful means of teaching and education given unto the children of Israel as the parents’ responsibility to teach their children of the mighty and wonderful works of the living God within the land of Egypt. There is something incredibly unique and powerful about the words which are found within the Old Testament Torah—the books of the Law—for within them we find the implementation of the Passover meal. It would be the Passover meal that would indeed and would in fact be a powerful witness and testimony within the houses and homes of the children of Israel as parents would teach and educate their children on the mighty and wonderful works of the living God as He executed judgment against Pharaoh and the land of Egypt and delivered His people out of their slavery, bondage and oppression. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth centered upon the Passover and the witness and testimony it would have among the children of Israel from generation to generation. That first generation which actually experienced the deliverance of the Lord from the land of Egypt would recount those events with their children as they would celebrate the Passover each year celebrating and observing the goodness of the living God. What’s more is that if you study the five books of the Torah you will find that the Passover was undoubtedly celebrated forty times in the wilderness as the children of Israel would have celebrated it once a year each year over the course of those forty years. Pause for a moment and consider how truly unique and astonishing this is for when that younger generation would grow up in the wilderness—those twenty years of age and younger at the time of the decree of the LORD—they would grow up having celebrated the Passover forty different times over the course of forty years.

 

            It is at this particular juncture I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the culture and society in which we are presently living. If you have observed anything that has taken place over the past two and a half years you have undoubtedly come to the conclusion that there has been an assault on the nucleus of the family within our culture and society. If you have observed and witnessed that which has taken place within our culture and society you have encountered and come face to face with the absolutely appalling reality of the government—and not only the government but also school boards, teachers, educational systems and the like—coming after and assaulting our children. For years—since the sixties—there has been an assault on our children through abortion as millions of unborn infants have been slaughtered and murdered in the name of convenience and “rights.” With this being said the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade this year inciting an uproar and outrage from many within and throughout our culture and society. The “my body, my choice” movement took this nation by storm as countless women would take to the streets in protest of the Supreme Court’s decision concerning abortion. With this being said we have witnessed an assault on the children of our nation—particularly and especially within the schools—as teachers and school boards are seizing control, authority and power over our children. This is especially true as it pertains to gender identification, sexual education and sexual orientation. I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what it is actually like to be in the schools of our nation in this generation. We thought schools were a battle ground when we were growing up in our generation and yet the truth of the matter is that the children and youth of our nation are facing an unprecedented challenge never before seen in any generation before.

 

            With all of this being said the assault on the children and youth of our nation is seriously undermining and seeking to destroy the parent’s role and responsibility within the lives of their children. The spirit of the Antichrist is active and well within our culture and society and is seeking to target and destroy our youth corrupting and polluting their hearts and minds. Think about how many teachers and educators are seeking to indoctrinate children as young as those in kindergarten concerning sexual orientation and gender identification. There is not a doubt in my mind when looking at our culture and society right now that the children and youth of our nation are being assaulted and attacked on every front as there is a war that is being waged for their identification and their identity. What’s more is the educational systems of our nation together with countless educators are seeking to effectively strip the parents of their God-given right to teach, train and educate their children. I am not a parent myself and I don’t have any children, however, I am very much aware of the dangers and struggles facing the children and youth of our nation in this generation. There are countless children and many youth who are facing challenges in their schools no generation has ever had to face within this nation. There are countless parents within and throughout this nation who are being removed as the primary influence within the lives of their children as teachers, educators, guidance counselors and other individuals are taking the place that they might indoctrinate them at a young age.

 

            I think about that which the living and eternal God instructed the children of Israel in the wilderness and I am absolutely convinced that it is the parents’ responsibility to teach and educate their children above and before anyone else. Please note that this isn’t a declaration of homeschooling, or private school, or even a Christian school for the primary source of education for our children and youth. What I am speaking of is an incredibly unique role parents play within the lives of their children to ensure that regardless of whatever they are taught in the schools of our nations. I am absolutely convinced that for many parents they need to invest time after their children come home from school to reprogram certain things that might have been instilled within the minds of their children while they were at school. I firmly believe that parents in this generation not only need to ensure their children are strong enough to withstand the temptations and dangers they will face when entering into our public schools but also need to engage in dialogue and conversation with them after school to ensure their children are not being reprogrammed and reconditioned by teachers, educators, guidance counselors, principals and those within our school systems. I am absolutely convinced the single greatest influence within and upon the lives of our children is not the teachers or guidance counselors in our schools but the parents themselves. Parents—particularly and especially if they are believers in the Lord and are disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—are called to teach and train their children in the way they ought to go that when they are old they will not depart from it.  

 

            There is a great need for us as the saints of God to recognize and understand just how incredibly important this truly is for there is a great responsibility placed upon the shoulders of parents in this generation—perhaps more than any other generation in history. Parents in this generation need to ensure they take the time to truly teach and train their children in the principles of the one true and living God and that they are firmly rooted and grounded in the divine principles of the Word of God. Parents have a great responsibility to be those who recognize and understand that they have a responsibility to their children to not only prepare them to stand, face and endure what they are being taught in school if it is contrary to the divine Word of God but also to speak to their kids after they come home to guard their hearts and minds. Within this generation this whole “woke” agenda and “woke” movement is incredibly prevalent as history is attempting to be rewritten and societal norms which have been in place for generations now are being undermined and destroyed by an agenda that has America last. You would have to be incredibly blind and naïve to not see and be ware of this and it’s present in the midst of our culture and society as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding to how we need to ensure that our children are such who recognize and understand the truth that is found within the Word of God. What’s more is that in addition to this I find it absolutely necessary to say that if you are a parent who is also a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and a disciple of His you must needs recognize that it is not up to the Sunday School teacher or the children’s church teacher to educate and train your children. The greatest source of education for your children as it pertains to spiritual matters should be you as the parent. That responsibility and assignment should not passed off nor pawned on someone else and it should always be supplemental and not primary.

 

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention back to the reality and concept of husbands and wives within our culture and society today. While it is indeed true that parents bear the responsibility of being a witness and testimony to their children I am also convinced that husbands bear the responsibility to be a witness and testimony to their wives. I am also convinced that wives must needs be a witness and testimony unto their husbands as well. There would be those who would like to separate this reality from being reality and yet I am convinced there is a tremendous danger and snare that is found in doing so. I firmly believe that men and women have the absolutely wonderful and powerful responsibility to be a witness and testimony within their home(s)—even if both spouses are believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Husbands have a tremendous responsibility to be a witness and testimony unto their wives—even if their wives are themselves believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and walk with and follow Him. At the same time wives have the incredible responsibility to be a witness and testimony unto their husbands in the home. Just because both spouses and partners might be believers and followers in the Lord Jesus Christ that doesn’t negate the responsibility they have to be witnesses and to bear a wonderful and powerful testimony in the home. Of course we know this is true if one of the spouses is not a believer as the witness and testimony of the believing spouse can indeed be used to win them to Christ through their genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. OH it is with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention—both to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle unto the Ephesian saints as well as the epistle written unto the Colossian saints. I would also like to call and draw your attention to the words the apostle Paul wrote in the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints in the seventh chapter. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture beginning with the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints:

 

            “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself from her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands out to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband’ (Ephesians 5:22-33).

 

            “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

 

            Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Colossae with the same admonition and instruction he gave to the saints which were at Ephesus:

 

            “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:18-21).

            Here are the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints which are found in the seventh chapter of this particular epistle:

 

            “Now concerning the things which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: it is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:1-9).

 

            “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:10-16).

 

            “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).

 

            “Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. I suppose therefor that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: :Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. But if any man think he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better. A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:25-40).

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful reality of the witness and testimony we are to have in the home. It is indeed true we are to have a witness in the midst of our culture and society, however, I am absolutely convinced we must recognize the need to have a witness in the midst of our own home(s) as well. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely necessary it is to be mindful of our witness and testimony with the home. We would be incredibly naïve to think and believe that our wives are not watching us and how we conduct ourselves in the midst of this culture and society. We would be naïve to think our husbands are not watching how we conduct ourselves in the home and how we act toward them. I firmly believe that we as men and women must needs guard carefully the witness and testimony we have within the home—regardless of whether or not our spouse is believing or unbelieving. Whether we want to believe and/or accept it or not our wives and/or our husbands are watching us and how we live our lives in service and honor unto the Lord. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is how we are living and how we are conducting ourselves in the midst of our home in the presence and company of our wives. What’s more is what type of witness and testimony is had within our home(s) when we have company over for fellowship and the breaking of bread? Is there a Christian witness in the midst of our home when those who do not live within it enter and can they see the character and nature of the eternal Christ in the home and through the lives of those present within it? How we answer this question can and will determine how we live our lives in this generation and the type of witness and testimony we have.

 

            Oh if you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find the power of witness and testimony in the home. The apostle Peter calls on wives to be submissive to their own husbands that even if some do not obey the word they—without a word—may be won by the conduct of their wives when they observe their chaste conduct accompanied by fear. This is something which warrants strong consideration for the apostle Peter sought to convey to his readers and audience that it is not about external appearances but rather the inward witness and testimony of a life that is lived before and for the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter goes on to write unto women and exhort them to not let their adornment be merely outward—the arranging of the hair, the wearing of gold, the putting on of fine apparel—but rather let it be the hidden person of the heart with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of the living God. Pause and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for the apostle Peter compared and contrasted an outward appearance and an outward adornment that completely and utterly negates and diminishes the witness of the hidden person of the heart. I firmly believe there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to this reality and concept of “the hidden person of the heart” for you will recall that when the LORD sent Samuel to the town of Bethlehem to anoint the next king from among Jesse’s sons He instructed him to not look on the outward and external appearance of a man. Instead the LORD declared unto him that man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart. This would be in direct alignment with the truth that when anointing and choosing the next king the LORD was looking for a man after his own heart and not a man that was pleasing to the sight and senses of the people.

 

            This reality of the hidden person of the heart is something which warrants strong consideration within our lives for it is this reality that speaks of the witness and testimony we have. It must be understood that it is not the external and outward appearance that serves as the testimony and witness within our lives in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation. The true source and foundation of our witness and testimony is indeed the hidden person of the heart—something which the Lord Jesus spoke and is recorded in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It was the Lord Jesus who declared that it was not that which goes into the mouth which defiles a person but that which proceeds from the mouth that defiles the person. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would go on to declare that what proceeds from the mouth comes from the hidden person and reservoir of the heart and is manifested in the midst of the world and culture in which we are living. Jesus declared that it was out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks which suggests and reveals the incredible truth that we have indeed been called to know what is in our hearts. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to declare unto you that if you want to truly understand what is in the hidden person of the heart you need only listen to the words which proceed forth from your mouth. It was the prophet Jeremiah who emphatically declared that the heart was deceitful above all things and then asked who can know it. It was Solomon king of Israel who admonished his son to guard his heart for out of it flow the issues of life. What is true in the physical and natural world concerning our heart is indeed true in the spiritual sense for just as our physical and natural heart is vital for our physical existence so also is our spiritual heart vital for our spiritual existence. I am convinced that as our heart goes so will go the rest of us and if our heart is evil the rest of us will indeed be evil. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning the heart and how incredibly vital it is within our lives and for our witness and testimony:

 

            “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:31-27).

 

            It was Jesus who declared that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and then declared that a good man—out of the good treasure of his heart—brings forth good things while conversely an evil man—out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth  evil things. We must recognize and pay close attention to this for there is a tremendous need for us to be consciously aware of the treasure of our heart and what we have stored up within it. Permit me to ask you who are reading these words whether or not you are aware of the treasure that is in your heart—whether that treasure is evil or whether that treasure is good. When was the last time you took spiritual inventory of your heart and were keenly aware of the condition of it and what is present within it? When was the last time you were still before the Lord and truly asked Him to expose and reveal the condition of your heart and show you what is presently in it? It was the psalmist who emphatically prayed before the living and eternal God to give him an undivided heart and to search and know him that he might indeed be one who truly pleases the living and eternal God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality surrounding the condition of our heart and how we need to be those who continually take inventory of our hearts that we might know the condition of them, that we might know what is present within them and that whatever does not belong in them might be removed. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the following passage of Scripture in the fifteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel:

 

            “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, Why do you disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. He answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and your mother; and, He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death. But you say, Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God—then he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. When He has called the multitudes to Himself, He said to them, Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. Then his disciples came and said to Him, Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant which my Heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. Then Peter answered and said to Him, Explain this parable to us. So Jesus said, Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceeds out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:1-20).

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find at the very heart of this epistle the clarion call to commit oneself to guarding with all diligence their witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. Within and throughout this epistle—thus far—we have found the apostle Peter call on his readers and audience to recognize they were strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the earth. As strangers and pilgrims in the earth they had indeed been called to live their lives completely and utterly detached from this world and the things within it. IN order for us to truly understand the reality of being strangers and pilgrims of this world we must acknowledge within our hearts that this world is not our home. Not only is this world not our home but this world has absolutely nothing for us. Throughout this epistle we find the apostle Peter calling and drawing the attention of his readers and audience to the place where they recognize their witness in the midst of the culture, society and generation. In fact it is in the second chapter in verses eleven and twelve you will find the following words: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12). The apostle Peter makes it abundantly clear to his readers and audience that as strangers and pilgrims they were to abstain from fleshly lusts which warred against their soul that they might have a conduct honorable among the Gentiles that when they speak against them as evildoers they might by their good works which they observe glorify God in the day of visitation. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament that call on us to be mindful of our witness and testimony in the midst of the earth. Consider the following passages found in the New Testament beginning with the words of Jesus which He spoke unto the multitudes which came unto Him:

 

            “You are the light of the world. A city is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so hinge before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

 

            “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16).

 

            “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:17-21).

 

            “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For the two, he says, shall become one flesh. But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

 

            “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? OR what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore Come out from among them and be separate, says the LORD. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to return to the third chapter of this epistle—and specifically verses eight through twelve. If you take the time to read the words which are found here you will find the apostle Peter admonishing and instructing the saints and pilgrims to be of one mind having compassion for one another. Moreover the apostle Peter also goes on to instruct them to love as brothers, to be tender hearted, to be courteous and not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling. What’s more is that if you continue reading the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter emphatically declaring unto them that they were to bless knowing that they were called to such a life that they might inherit a blessing. What we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is that we as the saints of God have indeed been called to be a blessing the midst of our culture and society. What’s more is that if we have indeed received any blessing from the Lord it is not that we can be those who hoard that blessing but that we might indeed bless others. We must realize and recognize that we have indeed been blessed to be a blessing unto others. Just Abraham was blessed that he might be a blessing unto the nations of the earth so also have we been blessed that we might be a blessing unto the nations and unto the generation in which we are living. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament concerning our need to be a blessing to those who are before and around us within our culture and society. Consider the following words and allow the truth that is contained within them to truly captivate and draw your attention to the incredible truth that we have indeed been called to be a blessing unto the world. In which are presently living that we might indeed have a witness and testimony to those who are around us:

 

            “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer, distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourself, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

 

            In the thirteenth chapter of the same epistle written by the apostle Paul written unto the saints which were at Rome he writes the following words:

 

            “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The nigh is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry, and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strive and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and meek no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14).

 

            There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need to be a witness in the midst of our culture and society. What’s more is not only have we been called to be a witness in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation but we have also been called to be a blessing to those who are before and all around us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how utterly important it is for we were indeed blessed by the living God to be a blessing unto the world that they might see our good deeds and therefore glorify our Father who is in heaven. We as the saints of God have indeed and have in fact been called to be men and women who recognize whether or not we have in any way compromised our witness and carefully examine ourselves that we might fully engage with the world around us having a witness and testimony that is pleasing in the sight of the living God. Although we are in the world we are not of the world and we therefore ought to be separate, distinct and holy from it. We have indeed been called to be holy even as the living and eternal God is holy and with must pursue holiness for without it no man shall see the living God. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we as the saints of God are indeed and are in fact being holy as the Lord is holy and whether or not we are being perfect even as the living and eternal God is perfect. Are we as the saints of God truly being those who are serving those around us esteeming others better than ourselves that we might glorify, honor and please the living God? Oh that we would indeed be men and women who know and understand the call of God on our lives to be a witness and testimony that we might in fact glorify and honor Him in everything that we so and do.

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