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Bible verses about God's Standards
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Nehemiah 5:14-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Few of us know much about Nehemiah or the times he lived in. Our mental picture of him is that he was austere, harsh, and perhaps even pharisaical. From what the Bible presents of him, he was undoubtedly serious about his responsibilities, brave, and circumspect, and he loved and feared God. His character displays a lofty nobleness. Regardless of our estimation, God thinks highly of him, and his life was so remarkable He included a few vignettes of it in His Word for our instruction.

When the Persian king appointed him governor of the Jewish exiles who had returned to Palestine from Babylon, Nehemiah discovered that the governors before him were in the habit of "squeezing" the people for their own gain. Nobody would have wondered if Nehemiah had done the same. Is that not the way people in government operate? Everybody does it! The people would have simply shrugged their shoulders, fully expecting it as the way things are done. It was the custom. Nehemiah's standard, however, was exceedingly higher: His hands must be absolutely clean.

Why did he do it? He feared God! Nehemiah's way of living reached down into the nitty-gritty of everyday life and may have involved considerable sacrifice. He would not operate the way the world does. Certainly, the laborer is worthy of his hire, but sometimes sacrifices must be made, and Nehemiah determined this was one of them. He would not conform to what everyone else did. Several other vignettes from the same book confirm this was not a one-time occurrence. Unless we are willing to say, "No," to what everybody else is doing, and do it often, our Christian life will be static from its outset.

God and the world do not have the same perspectives on how to live life. Once we have the right standards, God's standards, saying, "No," to ourselves is of paramount importance if we want to put on the image of God and remove the image of this world. The world, combined with our own carnality, keeps pressuring us to conform to its attitudes and ways, and if we are passive, it is easy for us to drift with its way of thinking. We must make choices. Sometimes, they are very difficult because of the sacrifice involved. In them, we will show whether we respect God and His purpose or this world.

The fear of God must become a foundation stone to us, one of the kind of nobility and strength of character Nehemiah possessed. It does not matter whether the issue is losing weight because of gluttony or eliminating debt because of covetousness. The world takes little notice of God until trouble is already upon them. But we must learn to do all things to glorify God, and it takes deeply respecting Him to do this. Honestly, would Jesus allow Himself to drift from His focus on glorifying God to become obese or in debt to the point of bankruptcy? His respect for—fear of—God would not permit Him to do these things.

The Christian has to rip himself from the world's way of thinking and doing. He must be a nonconformist in this regard. He must always understand that the world, though mentioning God frequently, does not fear Him, as its conduct shows. Romans 3:18 asserts, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." A Christian must consciously march to the beat of a different drummer.

Why do we not all conduct our life the way Nehemiah did? Partly because of laziness, to a degree because of cowardice, and sometimes because of ignorance. At times, we are so out of touch with God, we become swept up in sinful activity before we are aware what is going on. Yet, at other times, we fail because of this powerful sheep characteristic to give in to the impulse of the moment because everybody else is doing it. There is no tyranny like the tyranny of the majority. It can be every bit as harsh as the tyranny of a despot. Either can put us into bondage. Unless we are willing to look at things through the eyes of God and stand on our own two feet because we fear Him, we will be just as helplessly enslaved to the opinions of the hour as ever.

It is a historical truism that truth on an issue often lies with the minority. The opinions and ways of the majority are often impulsive, taking the path of least resistance without being concerned about the long-range effects. Those in the minority usually have the advantage of thinking things through because they know their ideas will be unpopular and resisted, and so they prepare themselves better.

God is most concerned about how things end, the conclusion of a matter. He wants us to understand what the fruit of an action will be. Nehemiah was willing to be different, a non-conformist if conforming was wrong. His respect for God and what God thought was greater than his fear of what men would think of him or what he would have to deny himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part One): Fear


 

Psalm 10:4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Is God a reality to us all the day long, or are there long periods when He is not in our thoughts? Do we go through long stretches of time when we think only of carnal or secular things? Is everything we do filtered through the spiritual knowledge God reveals to us for creating Himself in us? Does everything we do pass the bar of His standards? Are we really part of His Family, the Body of Jesus Christ? Do we know? Does everything we do reflect the way the Family of God would do things?

Honestly answering these questions in the affirmative is a daunting order. Indeed, none of us can answer them all with a "Yes." However, the apostle Paul charges us with this very obligation in II Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Could we do this? Why would God set it as a standard if it were not possible?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Eight): Conclusion (Part One)


 

Isaiah 28:16-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In verse 17, the plumb line is defined as justice and righteousness. We have seen that already in our word "upright," a synonym of "vertical." What is upright is righteous, and God will judge according to that standard. He will set us up so that we can see—and He can see—how close we are adhering to godly judgment and right doing. He and we will see how much we are living by the standard.

He writes, ". . . the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place." The process of this judgment will sweep away 1) the deceptions that we have allowed ourselves to believe and 2) the hidden, secret sins that we have allowed to continue. We will not be able to hide from the lies and the sins that we have ignored for so long.

The plumb line is nothing to sneeze at. God is serious. When He holds the plumb line next to His people, He is deadly serious, "eternal life and death" serious—especially to those who are converted. We had better measure up.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 5)


 

Matthew 9:30-31   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus gives this command in five of His thirty-three miracles. His warning is sternly given, as in Greek it is a scolding phrase linked to strong emotion like anger. It adds extra force and implies danger in disobedience. Here, it suggests that the two men need to improve in doing right.

We should not always go easy on new converts about living a strict, upright life. God's standards must be upheld, guarded, and not watered down, whereas today's society tolerates sin and weakens standards that are deemed "too hard" to keep. While ministers must follow God's command in Isaiah 58:1 to, "Cry aloud, spare not; . . . tell My people their transgression," they must be careful not to offend or burden new converts with requirements that, because of their weak understanding, they cannot fulfill completely. Nevertheless, new members need to know God's holy standards. If His Spirit is working in their hearts and minds, they will not be driven away by them.

At first, Christ's warning to keep quiet may seem to contradict the Christian duty to tell the world about His works (Mark 16:15). In this case, He has something else in mind. His command is first to protect against the impedance of His ministry (Mark 1:45) and imperiling Himself.

In addition, He wants to keep the healed men from being puffed up with pride, as well as to give proof of their healing in their conduct, not by words. Nothing proves faith in Christ as well as righteous conduct that comes from a true change of heart. However, though these men had faith enough for healing, they did not have enough to follow His commands. A Christian must make sure that His faith is not a temporary faith that lacks obedience, but one based on love for God. As Christ says in John 14:23-24, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word."

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing Two Blind Men (Part Two)


 

Matthew 23:23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Pharisees made their first major error in this area of judgment. They had abandoned the proper yardstick for their basis of judgment. As Matthew 15:1-9 shows, they had developed their own traditions that transgressed the law of God (verse 3). Their worship had become vain - worthless - as they substituted the doctrines of men for the doctrines of God (verse 9).

The Pharisees had lost touch with God's instructions, His mind. They leaned on carnal reasoning, which always decided in their favor. Situation ethics ruled, rather than the precepts of God. They became very harsh in their dealings with the "little people," taking advantage of them simply because they could (Micah 2:1-2).

"A just weight and balance are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are His work. It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness" (Proverbs 16:11-12). Though the Pharisee's "additions" to the law seemed innocent enough at their inception, over time they became increasingly partial to those who made the additions. This destroyed godly standards, and wickedness reigned. Since the leaders' righteousness had been destroyed, their leadership was void of justice. Significantly, the Bible's final warning is not to add to or subtract from God's Word (Revelation 22:18-19), for our own judgments do not have the purity and objectivity of God's.

This problem never seems to go away. Christ excoriated the Pharisees for it. James addressed the church about it because some were showing partiality to the wealthy in the congregations (James 2:1-12). Decision-making, judging, discerning, and evaluating fruits often become subjective. We base them on how they may affect our own well-being rather than render them impartially and objectively in the light of God's Word purified seven times (Psalm 12:6). Is it any wonder God gives us an average of 70 years to learn to make right judgments?

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 2): Judgment


 

Luke 8:14-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Growth requires an honest and noble heart. We deceive ourselves through rationalizations and justifications, allowing our appetites to overwhelm what we know is true. Sin engulfs the mind with a cloud of alibis and cover-ups to hide from ourselves the wrongness of what we do. Sin promotes twisting and distorting of truth. We reason, "This isn't so bad"; "I'll do it just one more time"; "I'm too weak. God will just have to take me as I am"; "God will just have to do it for me." We have all reasoned ourselves into transgressing.

Have we been deceived into thinking of sin only in the sense of breaking one of the Ten Commandments? While sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4), its biblical usage is much broader. When we fail to think of sin in its broader sense, we stumble into a trap. It is far better to think of sin as falling short of the glory of God. The central concept of sin is failure—failure to live up to a standard, God Himself. The glory of God includes His attitudes, intents, and His very thinking processes, all of which produce the way He lives. For us to fall short in any of these areas is missing the mark—sin.

We are deceived, lured into actually transgressing, through neglect, carelessness, laziness, irresponsibility, ignorance, bull-headedness, fear, shortsightedness, and ingratitude for forgiveness and the awesome potential that God has freely and graciously handed to us on a golden platter of grace. We are detoured from progress to holiness and are enticed into sin by failing to see God and by not considering seriously the subtle influences on the fringes of actual transgression of the law. At the foundation of both spiritual and physical health is how we think and what we think about.

James 1:13-16 confirms this:

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

The way to stop sin, as well as to improve health, is to change our thinking. Between what God does and what we should do, we can do it. This is real conversion!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Five)


 

Luke 12:48   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God's judgment is perfectly fair. In this life, some have better opportunities to develop God's character. Others have greater intelligence or natural abilities. God will apply the principle of "to whom much is given, much is required" with perfect fairness. Teachers of God's way will be held to an even higher standard.

Staff
Basic Doctrines: Eternal Judgment


 

John 12:48   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God will judge us by the things written in the "books," that is, His Word. The Bible contains God's laws, the standard of righteousness by which everyone is judged.

Staff
Basic Doctrines: Eternal Judgment


 

Ephesians 5:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Until God calls us, we are subject to the constant bombardments of the words—the thinking and the ideas, the hopes and dreams, and the ideals and standards—of this world. Some of them also come from God. It is a mixture. But would it not be far better to use the pure thing? Every Word of God is pure. If we want our thinking to be pure (I John 3:3), then our minds must be fed with what will make our thinking pure.

We have the use of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Then we must put God's instruction into practice so that it becomes inscribed on our hearts. This is done by making those behaviors habitual. God gives most of us a long time to do this. He gave the Israelites forty years to inscribe it on their hearts. He gives us so much time because it takes an awful lot of time to change a carnal mind—to purify it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 8)


 

2 Timothy 2:11-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We need only to grasp Paul's overall point here. Jesus Christ, our Example and Savior, will never deviate from His character; He "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The apostle gives this admonition directly to God's children: Despite how we may personally relate to God as shown by how we live, our Savior will always be faithful to God and His purpose. He will live and act as He truly is regardless of what we personally think or how we live our lives. This is what we, too, must strive to do.

Thus, two applications to our lives follow: God loves and mercifully and generously gives to His children, but He also judges, requiring His children to live up to standards that glorify Him and His Family.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part Two)


 

1 John 2:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God is mostly concerned about the world's ideals, its standards, its concepts of right and wrong. These influence the way we look at everything, and produce inclinations, attitudes, feelings, and the purposes for which we live. In the final tally, the world's standards are short-sighted and selfish—unlike God's, which are eternal and outgoing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

 




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