Godliness with contentment is great gain! – 1 Timothy 6:6
True godliness produces and strengthens contentment; and contentment is the calm sunshine of a man’s life. We do not mean sitting down in idleness, feeling at home in filth, or indulging in negligence; this would be a disgrace to any creature, especially a professing Christian! But contentment is connected with honest industry, general purity, and a concern for the honor of God.
True contentment springs from acknowledging and eyeing God’s providence, whose “tender mercies are over all His works.” It is a bowing to His will as the infinitely wise and invariably good; believing the promises He has given; expecting the provision He has made; and feeling satisfied to share in the common lot with His people.
Contented Christians prize spiritual blessings before temporal, and live sensible of their demerit and desert. They know that everything short of Hell is a favor and that the glories of Heaven will more than make amends for all the toils and privations of this world’s wilderness pilgrimage. They do not expect to find rest below, or a paradise in the desert of this world. They are persuaded, “that all things work together for good, to those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose.”
Pride is slain, and humility flourishes; for pride is the parent of discontent, ingratitude, peevishness, rebellion against God, and many other evils. While humility produces contentment, patience, gratitude, submission to the will of God, and many other virtues.
The godly who are contented are rich for they have a good fortune! They have inward peace and satisfaction of mind which are better than gold! They are filled with gratitude and thankfulness to God which are better than a large estate! They have love to God and delight in Him which are preferable to a splendid mansion! They have a joyful anticipation of eternal glory, of being acknowledged as the sons of God, and fellow-heirs of Jesus which is to be esteemed above all the titles and honors of this perishing world!
They contentedly live in the enjoyment of what they now have realizing that their glorious portion is yet to come! Their aspirations are on the same level as their earthly condition hence, they are strangers to fretfulness, murmuring, and the constant vexations which most men experience. They prove that, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”
Reader, are you a godly person? Are you acquainted with God as your God, your Friend, your Father? Are you contented with your place, portion, and prospect in this perishing world! If so, you have a good fortune!
If you are a Christian, you battle with sin. It is not necessary for me to list examples of the struggles with the flesh you may have. The minute you read the title of this post, you most likely had a specific struggle in mind. You have within you both flesh and Spirit, and the two are contrary to one another. Knowing this, however, does not mean the fight will easy or that you have it all under control. Here are five truths about your fight with sin you hate to admit.
1. Some battle scars are more recent than you are comfortable acknowledging.
As Christians, we are quick to acknowledge our struggles with sin, but we prefer to talk about the battles of the past. The ones where we have seen significant victory. The problem is, you have recent battle wounds as well. The fact that the battle is on-going is not something you like to broadcast to the world.
2. You sometimes try to get as close to the flame as possible without getting burned.
No matter how much you despise the sin that so easily besets you, you still find yourself wanting to get as close to the fire as possible. You think, “I will only allow myself this much room and will draw the line here.” The problem is that every time you get close to the line, it seems to move just a little further. This tendency to push boundaries has left you, on more than one occasion, beating yourself up over going too far.
3. You sometimes wonder why you are drawn to the very thing you despise.
Every time you are deceived by the deceitfulness of sin, you wonder how, at times, you desire the very thing you hate. Like Paul, you cry out, “who will save me from this body of death?” Even when you want to do right, evil is close at hand. You know that the problem with temptation is you because deep down you still have desires that war against your soul.
4. When it comes to your growth in godliness, you thought you would be further along than you are now.
You often think back to the many times you swore it was the last time, and you set out to grow in godliness. If you have been a Christian for a long time now, you remember looking forward to this time in your life with great anticipation. You imagined you would have experienced greater sanctification than you have.
5. You wonder if you are the only one; certainly there are other Christians out there who have risen above this.
You occasionally look at other Christians and think, surely they don’t have to war with sin the way I do. They seem to be the picture of piety. When you look at them from the outside, you think, “certainly their heart does not struggle like mine.” You may even hear from someone who claims, contrary to scripture, to have stopped sinning, and you think, maybe it is true. Maybe it is just me.
What you need to know
1. You are not an anomaly because being a Christian means battling sin.
This fight is something we all face, and warfare never happens without a few wounds. The fact that sanctification is a process that will not be completed this side of eternity means that every believer, no matter how sanctified they are, still has unsanctified areas in their life. In fact, the closer you walk with Jesus, the more aware of the battle you will become. The problem is not when you feel the conflict, the problem is during those times when you do not. John Newton once asked the Lord that he might grow and found that these inward trials were part of the growth process. Temptation will continue to come as long as you live, and it can be difficult to resist, but our standing in Christ is not shaken because we encounter temptation. As John Owen once said, “When we say a tree is firmly rooted, we do not say the wind never blows upon it.”
2. You are not alone because Jesus is with you.
Christ did not go to the cross to atone for your sin and bring you forgiveness to leave you to yourself to see if you could hack it. He called you, and He will keep you. Even when He sends His rod of correction, it is His love that is dealing with you, not His wrath. His wrath was satisfied on the cross. He is faithful and just to complete the work He has begun in you. You can look back and see victories over sin in your life, and you will continue to see more. Stay close to our Savior, hide His word in your heart, and pray without ceasing. He has promised to be with you, even to the end of the age.
3. The enemy will continue to accuse you, but there is no condemnation in Christ.
The enemy will frequently tell you that you are not worthy of being a Christian. Never go for the bait because what he wants you to do at that moment is to begin to justify yourself. The minute you start listing off all your good qualities and victories over sin, he will have you right where he wants you. There are clearly victories you have experienced in Christ, and you are right to rejoice in them, but they do not make you worthy to be a Christian. When Satan tells you, you are not worthy to be a Christian; the correct response is to agree with him. Of course I am not worthy to be a Christian, no one is. I was not worthy in the past, I am not worthy now, and I will not be worthy in the future, but Jesus is worthy, and my worth is found in Him. I am counted righteous in Him. And if you ever start to believe the lie that you may have fallen beyond forgiveness, here is something you can do to snap you back into reality. Picture Jesus dying on the cross and imagine yourself walking up to Him, and try to tell Him He didn’t do enough to atone for your sins.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. – Matthew 19:24
How can God get camels through a needle’s eye, and what exactly is the difficulty to which this metaphor is referring? The context of this passage speaks volumes about the depravity of man and the grace of God. Jesus is talking privately to His disciples about the rich young ruler who walked away because his love for worldly treasures was greater than his love for the things of God. Jesus proceeds by stating that it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew Henry makes some interesting observations when he says, “The way to heaven is fitly compared to the needle’s eye, which is hard to hit and hard to get through. Secondly, a rich man is fitly compared to a camel, a beast of burden, for he has riches, as the camel has his load.”
Jesus tells us that the road to heaven is difficult by calling it narrow, and He reiterates it by relating it to the eye of a needle, but we must be careful what we call difficult, because we know we cannot work our way to heaven and our striving cannot add anything to our salvation. So what is the difficulty that is being revealed here? The problem stems from our fallen nature. Our nature at birth is at enmity with God and loves the world. We know that “if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 Jn. 2:15).” We also know if the love of the Father is in a person, then He has faith and therefore is saved. The difficulty is changing from a person who loves the world to one who loves the Father.
The rich man has twice the difficulty because he not only has to contend with his fallen nature but, like the camel, has heaped upon his back the burden of his riches, which his fallen nature clings to with iron clad shackles. The poor do not escape easily either because the world is full of charms, which our nature is bound to, but with wealth, we have greater means to pursue them.
The disciples are astonished at this teaching and respond with a serious question, “then who can be saved?” Jesus’ response is important because it is the key to salvation. He states, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” The difficulty of turning away from the world and breaking the fetters that bind us cannot be done by anything we do. In fact, because we are attached to the world with such a strong love for it, we do not desire to alter our affections away from it. The love of the world is in us and will never be removed without divine intervention, but, praise God, all things are possible with Him. He is the one who breaks the chains and places in us a love for the Father, and He never fails. Even if this work is being done in a rich man’s life, the love of the world, even with his passion for riches, will be conquered by the work of grace.
Salvation is the gift of God; no man in his fallen nature will ever turn his own heart to faith without God working it in Him. If we find ourselves desiring God over the riches of this world, praise Him because we could have never come to that point had God not wrought it in us. Riches, though not evil in themselves, are bindings that hold many out of the kingdom of God. May God do for us what is impossible for us to do ourselves.
With the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.– 2 Corinthians 6:7
There are weapons of righteousness for each of our hands. The phrase, “weapons of righteousness,” sometimes translated as, “armor of righteousness,” has been interpreted many ways, from the plausible to the ludicrous. These weapons are often linked to our spiritual armor found in Ephesians 6. Though I do believe there is likely some link to the armor of God, I believe John Calvin was closer to the mark when he linked these weapons to holy conduct and a clear conscience. Understanding it in this way, we can see them as both armor and weapons.
Nothing can hinder us in our work for the Lord more than sin and a troubled conscience. In both of these things, we find ourselves exposed to the attacks of Satan and unable to work to advance the kingdom of God. However, with a righteous life and a clear conscience, we can stand in the midst of adversity and persecution.
The real problem is that in and of ourselves, we have neither. We are guilty and we know it, but in Jesus we find our forgiveness and acceptance in the Beloved. Jesus is the foundation of our armor and weapons of righteousness. None of us have any ability or right to stand in truthful speech and the power of God unless we are in Christ, but with him we can stand with our conscious clear, justified by His blood.
From there we must grow in sanctification. This means we are not only declared righteous, but we also begin to be conformed to His image. If we plan to stand against the prince and the power of the air and the patterns of this world, both justification and sanctification are necessary.
As we grow in the Lord, we become able to work to advance the kingdom of God without any fault being found in our work. We must put aside underhanded ways (2 Cor. 4:2). In this way we can press on in the face of any mistreatment, knowing that we have conducted ourselves according to the word of God.
It is only with these weapons of righteousness that we can stand as servants of God and commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. Treated as impostors, and yet true; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything with our hearts wide open (2 Cor. 6:4-11).
So Saul died for his breach of faith. – 1 Chronicles 10:13
These are sobering words. A man who was anointed as king by the Holy Spirit did not follow the ways of the Lord and died because of it. We must be careful, for our enemy is seeking whom he may devour.
Are we vigilant in the things of God, paying attention to the snares around us? Too often we are not as diligent as we should be. We expose ourselves to many dangers, and there are genuine and dire consequences that can come from it. Take heed lest you fall.
Lord, You are our only hope: our Strength, our Shield, our Rock, and most importantly our Righteousness. Keep us when we cannot keep ourselves. Protect us when we are blind to the dangers that surround us, and especially those that we see not see, yet, in our sinfulness, are still drawn to them.
Father, be glorified in us today in the work we have to do, in our family lives and relationships, and in our ministry to others. For you are worthy. We love you, Jesus.
Not that I have already attained, but in my desire to press on, I recently taught a class called Holiness: Seeking the Savior’s Likeness at Bethel Grace Baptist Church. If you are interested, you can listen to the lessons at the links below. Simply click on the link to play, or right-click to download the mp3.