Summary: You and I are called to live blamelessly, shinning as lights in the darkness of a wicked and ungodly world. In spite of the opposition which will arise, it is possible for you and me to live righteously in an unrighteous world.
LIVING RIGHTEOUSLY IN AN UNRIGHTEOUS WORLD
Introduction: You and I are called to live blamelessly, shinning as lights in the darkness of a wicked and ungodly world. Paul in his second letter to Timothy said that “all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand]. (2 Tim. 3:12 AMP) In spite of the opposition which will arise, it is possible for you and me to live righteously in an unrighteous world.
I. The Example of Three Men Who Lived Righteously in the Face of Opposition
A. Noah – lived virtuously in the midst of a vile culture
1. What is culture? It is the ways of thinking, living, and behaving that define a people and underlie its achievements. It is a nation’s collective mind, its sense of right and wrong, the way it perceives reality, and its definition of self. Culture is the morals and habits a mother strives to instill in her children. It is the obligations we acknowledge toward our neighbors, our community, and our government. It is the worker’s dedication to craftsmanship and the owner’s acceptance of the responsibilities of stewardship. It is the standards we set and enforce for ourselves and for others: our definitions of duty, honor, and character. It is our collective conscience. - Winning the New Civil War, Robert P. Dugan, Jr., p. 169
2. Noah’s culture is described in Genesis 6:5-9 (ESV):
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”
3. Noah lived in an extremely sinful age. There was little to curb wickedness in the world around him. Man’s mind was filled with wicked imaginations and continually dwelt on the inappropriate and vile. Those with a godly heritage intermingled with the wicked and were being absorbed into the world culture. Virtually all mankind had corrupted itself. Violence and vice were rampant upon the earth. But Noah remained virtuous in the face of violence and vice.
4. Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
5. The world in which we live is best described as
• Secular – there is little or no place for God – Psalm 10:4 “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.”
• Materialistic – driven by possessions and greed – Job 20:20 “"Because he (the ungodly) knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him.”
• Sensual – motivated by pleasure – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
6. "If you are living in a world where everyone limps, a person who walks normally is considered abnormal." – Peter Lord, Kent Crockett’s Sermon Illustrations, www.kentcrockett.com
7. It is possible to remain faithful in a sinful world. A scuba diver takes his environment with him: he lives in the water, but he breathes the air. In the same way Christians are to be in the world, but not of the world.
8. 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
9. Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
B. Daniel – lived resolutely and undefiled under a repressive government
1. Daniel 6:6-10 “All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." Therefore King Darius signed the written decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”