Practical Godliness
Lesson 9

The greatest deception to captivate the human is that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. History’s darkest chapters are weighted with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees thought themselves the greatest religionists of the world, but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify Christ. Over the centuries that followed, millions perished for their faith for no other crime than that they worshiped God in a manner that was not in keeping with the faith of the established church.

The same danger still exists today. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets, but without having brought the truth into practical life. Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not lead them to make manifest the fruits of the Spirit in their daily lives, it is but a curse that will ultimately cause their ruin, and through their influence be a curse to the world.

The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God which is only possible as by faith we maintain a vital connection with Him. Only then will the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity.

1. What did Christ say regarding oath taking?

Matthew 5:34
Matthew 5:34

Note: All that we have comes to us from God and we have no right to pledge it, as though it were our own which we would promise for the fulfillment of our word. In saying this, Jesus did not forbid the use of the judicial oath, in which God is solemnly called to witness that what is said is truth and nothing but the truth. Jesus Himself, at His trial responded under oath when the high priest said to Him, “I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. See Matthew 26:63-64.

2. Of what did Jesus say our communication should consist?

Matthew 5:37
Matthew 5:37

Note: The Jews did not shrink from perjury so long as it was veiled by some technical evasion of the law. Jesus condemned this, declaring that their custom of oath taking was a transgression of the law and he proceeded to lay down a principle that would make oath taking needless. He teaches that the exact truth should govern all our communications and prohibits those words that do not convey the real sentiment of our heart. Deceptive and flattering compliments, evasions of truth, and all misrepresentations in trade are likewise forbidden.

3. How are we to deal with evil?

Matthew 5:39
Matthew 5:39

Note: In Jesus time there were many unfair and unjust social practices. Between the occupying Roman soldiers and the people of Palestine there were constant conflicts that led to wide-spread social unrest and a popular hatred. Often when moving from one point to another, some Roman official would seize upon some local Jewish peasant to carry burdens or render other service. This was in accordance with Roman law and to resist such demands only led to further cruelty which in turn opened the heart to an even more intense hatred and desire for revenge. It is not possible to retain the spirit of Christ in the heart and at the same time a desire for revenge on one’s enemies.

4. According to biblical principle, who only is responsible for avenging wrongs done to us?

Romans 12:19
Romans 12:19

Note: Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 32:35. See also Psalm 94:1.

5. When confronted with evil, upon what are we to depend?

Proverbs 20:22
Proverbs 20:22

Note: “The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and “all things” that are permitted “work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28. The Mount of Blessings, 71

6. When a court of law awarded a creditor one’s coat, in addition to the coat, what did Jesus say they should be willing to give?

Matthew 5:40
Matthew 5:40

Note: Jesus taught His disciples to submit to the decisions of the court. More than this, they were to give the creditor his due, if necessary surrendering even more than the court gave him authority to seize.

7. What startling command did Jesus then give ? (first part)

Matthew 5:44
Matthew 5:44

Note: The command that they should not resist evil was a hard saying to the revengeful Jews and they murmured among themselves but Jesus did not back off. Instead, he made an even more forceful statement revealing the attitude we are to hold towards those who may have done us wrong. As supporting evidence that this is the true spirit of godliness, He went on to point out that God shows no distinction between the obedient and the disobedient when extending to man the blessings of nature. (See verse 45.)

8. Where are we to place our treasure?

Matthew 6:19-20
Matthew 6:19-20

Note: Earthly security is only an illusion. The only real security is found in heaven and thus it is only the treasure we place in heaven that is really ours. On earth, changing fortunes and unexpected calamities can quickly alter life’s landscape sweeping away the savings of a lifetime. In the final day of reckoning when the wealth of earth shall perish, only those whose treasure is in heaven will see with satisfaction that which this life has gained.

9. How does where we place our money effect us?

Matthew 6:21
Matthew 6:21

10. Between what two great attractions must all eventually decide?

Matthew 6:24
Matthew 6:24

Note: “Christ does not say that man will not or shall not serve two masters, but that he cannot. The interests of God and the interests of mammon have no union or sympathy. Just where the conscience of the Christian warns him to forbear, to deny himself, to stop, just there the worldling steps over the line, to indulge his selfish propensities. . . . On that side of the line the Christian cannot go.” Mount of Blessings, 93

11. How does God view a friendship with the world?

James 4:4
James 4:4

Note: In this world there can be no neutrality—no halfway service. If we fail to place our will fully on God’s side, we are under the control of another spirit listening to his suggestions and doing his bidding.

12. What is said of the road that leads to life?

Matthew 7:13-14
Matthew 7:13-14

Note: It takes no effort to find the road that leads to death as it is broad and the whole world may pass over it. However, the road to heaven is described as narrow with few finding it because to travel this road requires sacrifice. If one is determined to retain any sinful habits or indulge his own ways or practices, he will find the road to narrow to afford him passage. It is for this reason that but few find it.

Do not conclude, however, that the broad and downward road is free of pain and trouble. Though Satan makes it to appear easy and pleasant, it is all an illusion. All along the way that leads to death there are sorrows and disappointment. These are warnings not to go on. The bright light of hope that lights its entrance fades into the darkness of despair.

13. What will Jesus eventually say to those who profess a relationship with Him, but have failed to render obedience?

Matthew 7:23
Matthew 7:23

Note: Though pleasant to the natural heart, it is a delusion to believe that God will accept our sincerity, no matter what may be the faith, no matter how imperfect the life. God requires of His creatures perfect obedience.

Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul. Our eternal reward will not be bestowed because of any merit on our part, but it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace of Christ. See Luke 19:15–19.

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