Derek begins the second message in our current series by dealing with what our response should be. If we really believe that God is going to do what He says and shake all things, then what kind of persons ought we to be? Three key elements come are apparent as we look at the need for holy conduct and godliness.
Now we’re going back to the theme that we began to deal with in the afternoon, the shaking of all things which God has predicted through His prophets. I’m not going to go over the material we covered, just point out that God says, “I will shake all things, I will shake the heaven, I will shake the earth, I will shake the dry land, I will shake the sea, I will shake all nations, I will shake everything that can be shaken.” The purpose being that those of us who have received the kingdom that cannot be shaken may be, as it were, filtered out from the rest of humanity.
Now, this evening I want to deal with a practical response, how shall we respond? If we really believe that God is going to do what He so clearly says He is going to do, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to do nothing or are we going to seek from the Bible to know what the sensible and scriptural course of action is.
First of all, from what I said this afternoon, it’s obvious that if we want to remain unshakable we have to build a foundation on the word of Jesus, hearing and doing His word. So all that I’m going to say now follows out of that. In other words, in what ways shall we hear and apply the teaching of scripture?
I want to start with two verses in 2 Peter 3, a chapter which deals with this period, the period of shaking. I’ll read these verses, 11 and 12. 2 Peter 3:11–12:
“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
We’ll stop there. Peter asks a very sensible question, and he asks the right question. The question is not first and foremost what shall we do, but what kind of persons ought we to be? What we are is more important than what we do. And he gives a very simple outline answer which contains three elements. He says, first of all, in all holy conduct and godliness. Secondly he says looking for. And thirdly, hastening the coming of the day of God. So there are three things that he speaks about: holy conduct and godliness, looking for the coming of the day of God and hastening the coming of the day of God. That should be our basic response: holiness, looking for the coming of the day of God and hastening the coming of the day of God.
I will deal briefly with those, first of all, with regard to holiness. I’ll just turn to one scripture which is 2 Corinthians 6, beginning at verse 17 and continuing on into chapter 7:1. You need to bear in mind the chapter divisions were not in the original text, they were put in many, many centuries later by translators. And sometimes they obscure the sense. So we’re going to start now with 2 Corinthians 6:17. And most of it is a quotation from the Old Testament.
“Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean; and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
So God makes a promise to be a Father to all of us who fulfill His conditions. But bear in mind there are conditions stated. And the first one is:
“Come out from among them...”
That’s the unbelievers. Not the other Christians but the unbelievers.
“...and be separate.”
Be set apart to God.
“Do not touch what is unclean; and I will receive you.”
There are many different ways we can touch what is unclean but one very common way which is a problem for nearly all of us is by our mental attitudes and the things we entertain in our minds. And also the things we look at. Particularly, I would have to say by my standards a lot of television programs are unclean. And if we deliberately expose ourselves to them we are touching what is unclean. If we can’t help it, that’s another matter.
Now, I got saved in the British Army and I spent another four and a half years in the army. You cannot help being exposed to things that are unclean in the army. I mean, British soldiers are incapable of speaking without blaspheming and swearing, unless they’ve been saved. So, I heard that day after day for four and a half years. But, I did not expose myself to it. I couldn’t avoid it. I never deliberately, by the grace of God, I never deliberately exposed myself to something that will defile me.
Being a preacher, I’m particularly careful because I know that if I let anything in my mind, sooner or later it will come out of my mouth when I’m preaching. I guard my mind. I do not deliberately take anything into my mind that could corrupt the word of God that God has given me to proclaim.
I suggest that all of us need to consider. You don’t have to take the same attitude that I take but you need to ask yourself am I touching the unclean? Am I unnecessarily exposing myself to things that defile my spirit?
Jesus said blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And the book of Proverbs says keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. Everything there is in life comes out of your heart. If you have a pure heart you will have a pure life. And if your heart is impure your life will be impure. That’s an unalterable law that governs all human conduct.
And remember, what you put into your heart determines the course of your life. You cannot have the wrong thing in your heart and live right. And, you cannot have the right thing in your heart and live wrong. So what you have in your heart determines the course of your life.
I think while I was a teacher in Africa, in Kenya, I got interested in various African dialects, including one called Looragoli, which is spoken by the Maragoli people. I was the principal of a college for training African teachers. I don’t know why but I walked into the dormitory of some of the students and in the Looragoli language I saw Proverbs 4:23 up in their language. It said, and their language was a little more simple:
“Guard your heart with all your strength, for everything there is in life comes out of it.”
And I have never forgotten that. Everything there is in life comes out of your heart. If you want a good life, have a good heart, have a pure heart, have a clean heart. And if you defile yourself, ultimately you are the one that will suffer the most.
Obeying the Bible is not really to be very pious, it’s to have common sense. Because, it works.
Then God says:
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
God does not offer to be unconditionally Father to anybody who wants it. He says I’ll be a Father if you meet my conditions.
And then Paul adds “therefore” at the beginning of chapter 7. And you’ve probably heard me say, some of you, if you find a therefore in the Bible you need to ask what it’s there for. And this therefore is because of the previous two verses.
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves...”
Some things God does for us and some things we have to do for ourselves. There are many aspects of holiness which only God can do. But here is something which is our responsibility to do.
“...let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit...”
Filthiness of the flesh, I think most of us have a pretty clear idea of some of what’s entailed by that. Sexual immorality, drunkenness, anger, swearing. But what about filthiness of the spirit? I’ll tell you one thing that I think, that is, every form of contact with the occult is filthiness of the spirit. Many, many Christians today often unknowingly are involved in the occult. Many Christians read horoscopes, is that right? Maybe not the ones here. But let me tell you that if you lived in Israel under the law of Moses and you read horoscopes, you would have been put to death. That’s God’s estimate of it.
“Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
So that’s a responsibility placed on us. I could spend the rest of this evening talking about how to do it but that’s not my theme. My theme is we’re responsible to do it. This is not something God will do for us, this is something He tells us to do for ourselves.