Reverence for God
John 4:22-24; Matthew 6:24; Exodus 20:3-7;
Luke 4:6-8 & Matthew 5:33-37
INTRODUCTION As the Psalmist noted long ago, "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes" [Psalm 36:1].
In harmony with this observation, the Scripture declares, "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" [Proverbs 16:6].
Religion and morality are inextricably related, and so the decline of religious faith in our country is accompanied by a disastrous abandonment of moral principles in government and society. Nothing but a great revival of Christian faith, nothing but a return of reverence for the God of our fathers, can save our nation from utter ruin.
Our lesson includes several selections of Scripture teaching the all-important duty of reverence for God. Outline:
1. Reality, John 4:22-24. a. Real salvation, 22. b. Real seeking, 23. c. Real Spirit, 24.
2. Realism, Matthew 6:24.
3. Retribution, Exodus 20:3-7. a. Jehovah's jealousy, 3-5. b. Jehovah's generosity, 6. c. Jehovah's judgment, 7.
4. Refusal, Luke 4:6-8. a. Satan's snare, 6-7. b. Satan spurned, 8.
5. Reverence, Matthew 5:33-37. a. Obligation of oaths, 33. b. Objuration of oaths, 34-36. c. Outlawing ordinary oaths, 37.
NOTES ON THE TEXT: REALITY, John 4:22-24. Materialists pretend to believe that nothing is real except material or physical substance perceptible to the physical senses. More intelligent people know that there is much more to reality than materiality. Many things which we cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell with the physical senses are as real as anything material, or even more so. Real Salvation, 22 . Spiritual salvation is among the things that cannot be clearly demonstrated to the natural mind. But people who experience the salvation of God are made to know the God of their salvation. "Salvation is of the Jews" in the sense that under the Old Testament administration the Jews were the custodians of God's message of salvation [Romans 3:2]. Further. "salvation is of the Jews" in the sense that our Savior was a Jew. Real Seeking, 23. We should be encouraged to worship God "in spirit and in truth," since "the Father seeketh such to worship him." It seems best to interprete "spirit" here as referring to the Holy Spirit, and "truth" as referring to the written Word [John 17:17]. Real Spirit, 24. God is the immaterial, invisible, eternal, spiritual Reality before, above, and through all Creation. As such, He is not "worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything" [Acts 17:25]. Rather, He must be worshiped in the truth of His Word and under the guidance and power of His Spirit.
REALISM, Matthew 6:24. Attempts to serve two masters at once must end in failure. Most especially is this true when the two masters are far apart and contradictory in their demands. "Mammon" means wealth. or the god of wealth, or money. Faithful service to the true God cannot possibly be combined with the love of money [I Timothy 6:10].
RETRIBUTION, Exodus 20:3-7. Proper fear of God takes into account the fact of divine retribution. God "will render to every man according to his deeds" [Romans 2:6]. God remains in complete control of His creation, and He has so ordered things that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," either in this world or in the world to come. Jehovah's Jealousy, 3-5. Divine jealousy is not a charge brought against God by one of His creatures; it is Jehovah's own statement concerning Himself given to His people as a warning against the worship of false gods. False religions lead to the ruin of their followers and their descendants. Jehovah's Generosity, 6. If the judgments of God reaching to the third and fourth generation seem a little hard, they no longer seem so when we note His generosity in showing mercy to thousands of generations "of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Jehovah's Judgment, 7. Taking the name of God in vain may seem like a light thing to a person of little character, but the holy God is concerned for the honor of His name, and "will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
REFUSAL, Luke 4:6-8. Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" [Hebrews 4:15]. Forty days of temptation by the devil [Luke 4:2], not described in detail, were followed by three specific temptations recorded by Matthew and Luke, but Jesus refused to yield to any of them. Satan's Snare, 6-7. "All this power" refers to "all the kingdoms of the world" in the preceding verse. It was a dazzling offer, well calculated to make any ordinary man forget his responsibility to God. But Jesus was not an ordinary man. Satan Spurned, 8. Knowing that Satan "is a liar, and the father of it," Jesus as God's perfect Man maintained His stand with the Word of God. Let us also spurn the advances of Satan and be faithful to the commands of God.
REVERENCE, Matthew 5:33-37. Swearing of oaths, allowable for legal or other solemn purposes. is out of place in common conversation. Such frivolous swearing, as well as false swearing, is taking the name of God in vain. Jesus here condemns the wrong use of oaths. Obligation of Oaths, 33. Reference to God in an oath amounts to calling upon Him to wi1ness the oath and to punish any deception involved. So what was said on this subject "by them of old time" was good as far as it went. An oath or vow once taken should certainly be observed. Objuration of Oaths, 34-36. However, many people like to use some byword or epithet instead of mentioning God directly, trying thereby to escape the odium of swearing. Jesus will have none of such subterfuge. Swearing by any part of God's creation is an indirect reference to the Creator, and has no place in decent conversation. Outlawing Ordinary Oaths, 37. God Himself has sworn by Himself [Hebrews 6:13], Jesus submitted to being sworn in court [Matthew 26:63], and the apostle Paul wrote various statements under oath [for instance, Romans 9:1]. Nevertheless, Jesus has outlawed swearing in ordinary everyday communication. Yes or No is answer enough for a truthful man, or if more emphasis is needed we can say Yes, yes, or No, no! Any swear words added in ordinary conversation are "of evil."
CONCLUSION [Proverbs 9:10a]. Surely the words are clear enough to need no explanation. The sinner who does not fear God has not even the beginning of wisdom. ============[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, October 6, 1978, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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