Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 9 May 2021 (Lesson 999)
Topic: Consistent Christian Living (STS 9 May 2021)
MEMORY VERSE: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
TEXT: Genesis 5:22-24; 17:1 (KJV)
22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
Genesis 17:1 (KJV)
1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
One of the negative end-time prophecies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is that the love of many Christians shall wax cold. Its fulfilment, being presently witnessed in the Christendom, spells grave consequences. It is obvious now that many who were once zealous and committed to the Lord are losing their first love and enthusiasm with which they served God. This is because the god of this world has enticed them with materialism, injected them with spiritual sleep and sown tares of discord, misfortune and sickness into their lives. Manipulated by the enemy, these Christians lose their conviction as their fellowship with God and His people become irregular. They have consequently become unstable and unpredictable in character, and unfaithful to God and His Church. Outright backsliding has become rampant. With this development, Christ, the ever-living One, charges fervent believers and the Church to wake up to their responsibility of reviving despondent, weak, lukewarm and inconsistent believers (Revelation 3:2,3). Saved from sin or restored from backsliding, the believer needs to maintain a consistent righteous life to qualify for heaven.
Question 1: State the indispensable step to a consistent Christian living.
THE CHARACTER OF HEAVEN-BOUND PILGRIMS (Genesis 5:.22-24; 17:1; Hebrews 11:5,6,13-16; Philippians 3:20)
Enoch, the son of Jared and father of Methuselah, is mentioned in our text as one who maintained a consistent, God-pleasing lifestyle throughout his lifetime. According to Scripture account, he knew God at the age of 65 and walked with Him for 300 years. That he lived in the Old Testament period before the cross strips inconsistent believers of excuses they give for rising and falling in the Christian faith. Enoch lived in this same wicked world infested with demons as we do today. Moreover, with the death and resurrection of Christ at Calvary, every earnest seeker can live a consistent Christian life. If it were not possible to live a righteous life, God would not have called Abraham to it (Genesis 17:1). However, the call to salvation precedes the call to consistent Christian living and perfection. Abraham had first responded to the call to come out of sin unto salvation and separation before this time. None is on pilgrimage to heaven until he or she is genuinely saved from sin. Pilgrimages to holy lands and engagement in religious rites or duties do not set the religionist free from sin. Every sinner and backslider needs to repent from sin and receive Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour to be free.
Question 2: How can the omnipresence and omniscience of God help the believer live a consistent Christian life?
Set free from sin that inhibits spiritual progress, the believer begins to live a life of victory over sin, the fleshy self, the world and the devil. He is careful to “walk with God” and “walk before God” in righteousness. These phrases suggest that the believer consciously walks side by side with, lives and does everything under the watchful, never-blinking eyes of God (Psalm 139:1-12). As sane human beings do not want to expose their nakedness before the camera, so also the believer would not want to do evil while the omniscient and omnipresent God watches. These attributes of God, together with the fact that He is the final Judge who knows every detail of our lives, should instill holy fear and enable us live consistent Christian lives. Besides, maintaining a consistent Christian life requires courage and faith. The heroes of faith grouped with Enoch and Abraham in Hebrews chapter 1 1 and regarded as “strangers and pilgrims on earth”, all had their problems, difficulties, temptations, trials and challenges. Rather than give in, they exercised faith in God and were victorious. The challenges we face as believers will not last; we will continue to overcome if we lean on the Lord.
CAUSES OF INCONSISTENCY AND BACKSLIDING (Matthew 24:12; Genesis 19:26; 2 Timothy 4:10; 2:16- 18; Zephaniah 1:12; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10)
The heroes of faith focused their desire and attention on the city of God. “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). Just as they did not allow their challenges to overcome them, they were not divided in heart and aspirations like Lot’s wife. They forgot the sinful world and lifestyle that existed in it when they came out. To this end, Paul the Apostle exhorted believers to set their affections on things above where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-3). Demas returned to the world because he loved it just like some believers who have not burned the bridge that linked them with the world. They want to enjoy the best of the two worlds. But Christ says no one can serve two masters and fervently love both at the same time. Therefore, those who seek to maintain a consistent life of holiness with God must be crucified to the world.
Question 3: What are the causes of inconsistency of believers in the faith?
False doctrines are deadly to the spiritual health of a Christian. Beliefs in purgatory, unconditional security of saved souls, continuing to live on earth without any hope of going to heaven, etc., engender licentious, careless living. The antidote to being poisoned by false doctrines is diligence in acquiring the word of God in both personal and congregational study (2 Timothy 2:15-18). The devil may allow a man to start the journey to heaven but he will do all he can to obstruct him from getting there. In these last days, he uses scoffers to dissuade believers from continuing on the path of righteousness (2 Peter 3:3-11). The global economic recession is another factor that can divert the attention of a heaven-bound pilgrim. Some would even dare to deny the faith in an attempt to survive in these last days. But the Bible warns, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12: 15). Men are apt to forget God during promotion and prosperity (2 Chronicles 25:14). It is possible for a fervent believer to grow cold gradually until he loses all the good virtues he once had. Other causes of inconsistency in Christian living are fear of men (1 Samuel 15:24), evil association (1 Kings 11:4), stony hearts (Luke 8:13), spiritual laziness and emptiness (Amos 6: 1), unbelief (John 6:64,66), love of the world (2 Timothy 4: 10), lust of the flesh (Proverbs 7:6-27) and quest for materialism (1 Timothy 6:10).
CALL TO CONSISTENCY AND CONTINUITY IN HOLINESS (Genesis 17:1; Matthew 5:48; 1 Thessalonians 4: 7; 1 Peter 1:15, 16; Luke 1:74,75; Acts 11:23; Galatians 5: 1; Ephesians 4: 14; Philippians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Peter 3:17; Hebrews 12:14;
Question 4: Why is it necessary for believers to respond to God’s call to consistent holy living?
God’s demand for holy living cuts across generations As He called Abraham to lead a perfect life, so has He called every believer to this same experience. “Be therefore perfect”, Christ demands of every Christian “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”‘ (Matthew 5:48; 1 Thessalonians 4:7). God’s call to perfection or holy living is not limited to a particular day, week, month or period of time in our lives; we are to walk “in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:75). Everyone can experience holiness, sanctification or purity of heart through prayer and faith in the blood of Christ.
Question 5: How then can a believer maintain a consistent walk with the Lord?
Our text gives us the antidote to backsliding. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). The believer is in constant warfare with the devil and his agents who are at work night and day trying to entrap, enslave and ruin the careless. The breastplate of holiness or righteousness is a great and indispensable weapon in spiritual warfare without which the believer cannot walk consistently with God (Ephesians 6:12). The feet of the consistent Christian must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Soul-winning is an important weapon as far as victorious Christian living is concerned. Also, believers need to make use of the shield of faith as none can live the consistent Christian life without it; so also is prayer. A believer who prays “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” will be able to “stand” unconquered by the enemy. He or she must avoid gluttony, talkativeness and much sleep that lead to spiritual poverty. Men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). And a believer who adds fasting to the prayer of faith will be able to abide in the will and word of God, and do exploits for Him. After all, the goal of consistent Christian living is to bear fruits of righteousness and soul-winning to the glory of God.
THE COMPENSATION FOR CONSISTENT CHRISTIAN LIVING (Exodus 19:5; Matthew 5:8; Numbers 32: 12; Joshua 14:12-14; Numbers 23:21-24; Daniel 1:18-20; Ruth 1: 16; 4:13-22; Philippians 3:7,8; Psalm 103:17,18; Matthew 24: 13)
Believers who maintain consistent lifestyle of purity will be peculiar treasures unto the Lord and experience increased divine presence. The pure in heart shall see God and shall receive divine interventions and answers to prayers. They shall see the move of God in their lives and ministry on earth and live with Him in heaven. Consistent Christian living demands that believers wholeheartedly follow the Lord, constantly examine their lives and conduct to make sure they are Scripture- based, and sincerely renew their vow to walk with and serve the Lord. They must be ready to deny self, carry their cross and forego even legitimate things that inhibit entire consecration to the Lord and holy pilgrimage to heaven. Joshua, Daniel, Ruth, Paul, etc. were consistent and faithful in their walk with God and were blessed and used for His glory; so also were Enoch and Abraham in our text. Enoch in particular was translated to glory without seeing death, giving hope of eternal bliss in heaven to believers who live consistent holy lives. The Scripture affirms that those who do not maintain a consistent holy lifestyle will be denied entry to heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). But believers who are steadfast and faithful in God’s service will be blessed on earth and rewarded in heaven by the Lord.