When I look at how people begin smoking tobacco at a very young age under the influence of peer pressure, I am reminded of the Genesis 3:1-6 account of the fall of man. Like the statuary warning on every cigarette pack, Adam too was warned by God that if he would eat the fruit of self-righteousness, he would die spiritually in that very moment for having forsaken the righteousness of God. This is very much like smokers today, they see the warning on the pack but it does not matter much to them because they are wise in their own eyes and that purview they have of themselves is estranged from all truth. It’s like the lines in that famous anti-smoking advertisement: “with a cigarette in my hand, I felt like a man… with a cigarette in my hand, I was a dead man.” This is precisely what happened to Adam under the deception of Satan, his self-righteousness fired up his rebellion against God and in doing so brought about a death in his spirit. This spiritual death, Adam has passed down to all his posterity through procreation but it did not thwart God from keeping His people in Christ (Col 1:16-20) even in the midst of Satan’s bastards who serve instead as that furnace of affliction, under God’s sovereign hand to burn out the dross (Heb 12:4-8) and sanctify the Godly into His image (moral likeness) in which we were made.
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
Unbelief is more like that lemming kind of mentality, where the goal of their lives is to bring death upon themselves simply because they find their strength in numbers and not in the truth of that Salvation, which God presents us in Jesus Christ. So, if we look at verses like Isaiah 55:8-9 and Rom 3:4 we understand that true religion requires us to swim against the world’s idea of religion. This is not accomplished by the power of our will but by the power of Christ in us (Phil 4:13) that we may overcome the world’s lethal but sweet lies and persevere our way unto God as worshipers genuine in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23-24). This is only possible for those who are called out of this world to unite with their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because their salvation is not powered by their own will but by the will of God who saves (Jn 1:12-13). The capacity therefore to please God is not about you going out of your way to do something good but about receiving a whole new nature in Christ (2Cor 5:17), which shifts your orientation/worship from serving yourself to serving God.
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Looking at Mat 16:13-18 above, we see that Jesus is not too concerned about what the masses say of Him, as much as he is concerned about His people knowing who He is. It is for this reason that those who believe their survival is dependent (serve their own interest) on pleasing the people around them find it outside their nature to take a stand for the Gospel. This situation is what the Lord Jesus sights in the Parable of Sower (Mat 13:7-22) of those who try to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, concerning remaining pleasers of the world while trying to adhere God in His righteousness. These people do not have that gumption to trust Jesus with their lives because their unbelief makes them look to their peers and not to God for their survival. There is nothing wrong with helping people in need, the question really is who are you doing it for, to please whom, and from what motive? So, it all boils down to… are you motivated by holy fear/zeal to please God and serve His interest or are you moved by unholy fear to please the people in power and serve your own interest? This is precisely the difference between the people of God and the people of the world (1Jn 4:1-6), we are all human and the only difference is: what is at work in us and to what purpose? Either Satan’s deception is at work in you by way of your self-righteousness or the righteousness of God is at work in you by the saving power of Jesus Christ. In any case, unbelievers always live under the fear of being left out because the world is moving at such a fast pace, and so they try to do all they can to further with their godless take on life. The truth is, unbelief is going to be wiped out from this world (Hab 2:14/Heb 8:11) and that is why their conscience as unbelievers is filled with that unholy fear (Is 2:19/Rev 6:16) of being left behind while their estranged relationship with God and the truth about Jesus, keeps them away from God’s solution to a fulfilling life. Now, here’s some scripture we could look at to learn the crux of a Godly life.
23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The world is so conditioned with pleasing people to serve their own interests that they don’t get the goal of a godly life, because it is not within their fallen nature to please God and serve His interest. It’s sad to see humanist fools interpret verses like Mat 23:11-12 as speaking of the humility required of the believer as not unto God to serve the needy (Mat 25:40) but unto pleasing those who wield corrupt power so as to serve themselves. I am reminded of a very apt quote in Christian circles that says “a man that kneels before God, stands up to the world”, which is very true indeed because you are either spiritually adopted/restored in Christ (1John 3:10) to be a lion unto the world and a lamb unto God or a bastard son of Satan continuing from the fall of Adam to become a lion unto God and lamb unto world. The only thing is, unlike God, Satan has been a murderer from the beginning & deception is like his mother tongue (John 8:44) in bringing forth the fall of mankind while fabricating every counterfeit world religion and superstition in people’s mind to keep the ball rolling.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
I would like to conclude this post by saying this, if you truly understand the sheer majesty of God and privilege His people enjoy in worshiping Him, you will understand that God is worth everything you can give, even your life if it is called for in bearing witness for the Gospel (Mat 16:25). Please note, that I am in no way implying that in coming over to Christ, you have to go suicide bombing public assemblies to help the world take notice your new-found religion while you get a direct passage to heaven, because that is certainly not a Christian teaching, it is an Islamic one, and there is a heaven and hell difference between these two religions. Bearing witness to the Gospel only requires you to resist that peer pressure and remain faithful to God by way of keeping the Moral Law and when you do that you will understand to what extent this godless world is fascist but then if the Sovereign Triune God Almighty is for us, it really doesn’t matter who is against us (Rom 8:31, 38-39).
Take Care & God bless!