Summary: OUTWARD FAITHFUL SERVICE. INWARD BLAMELESS DEVOTION. Not some RELIGIOUS, SELF RIGHTEOUS, SANCTIMONIOUS FAKE LIFE but a life that honours God from the inside out.
Part 1 - Genesis 17:1 - RELIGIOUS, SANCTIMONIOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS, OR BLAMELESS?
I was speaking to a man yesterday who is 95 years old. He still has all his mental faculties and is fascinating to speak with. Many old people can be rigid in their thinking but he has an ability to be flexible and when you speak with him, you know that He has a deep relationship with God. He walks well with a walking stick and still drives a car. He still preaches at various Churches and is still excited about winning people to Christ. He has led many people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He amazes me. I want to grow old like that.
In GENESIS 17 Abraham is 99 years old and still going strong. Thirteen have passed since Genesis 16? What has happened during those years? We will never know, but obviously now the time has come for God to reveal Himself again and unfold His plan for Abram a little further. Lord, You do that with me too. You seem to like revealing things to me just a little bit at a time. If you revealed it all at once I'm sure I wouldn't be able to handle it.
He also reveals different aspects of His character to me a little bit at a time. God makes Himself known to Abram as El Shaddai - God almighty. This is a term which speaks about God's OMNIPOTENCE - He is ALL-POWERFUL AND ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. I think He needed to introduce Himself in this way to Abram because His plan is so impossible.Then again our GOD IS THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE!
In Matthew 19:26 Jesus confirms this part of God's character when He says "WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE". Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says it this way "Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." At times, just when I have been left wondering about the impossibility of my circumstances, He makes Himself known to me and I see another aspect His power at work in my life in remarkable ways and I want to serve Him even more.
God commands Abram to SERVE HIM FAITHFULLY AND LIVE BLAMELESSLY. So how is this possible? Last time I looked I wasn't blameless. There are times when I get things wrong. I sin and have to repent. Abram's paddling the same canoe. Abram has already failed in the sinlessness department. But he HASN'T failed in the "living blamelessly" department, which is fortunate because it means there's hope for me.
This is a command for every person who loves God. LIVING BLAMELESSLY ISN'T LIVING SINLESSLY. A BLAMELESS PERSON is a person who "accepts God's way and seeks to live by it. When he or she falls short, God's way prescribes confession (and in the OT) provides sacrifices for restoration" (The Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 128). As I seek to be positive to the things of God in my life, I can also trust in the sacrifice of Christ. Hebrews 9:13-14 (NLT) says "Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins."
Abram doesn't always get things right, but in Genesis 17 he is living according to what God has revealed to him. This is a healthy reminder to me to constantly set my course towards what God wants for my life. It's the process of a lifetime. It is a welcome prompt from the Holy Spirit when God tells me to live blamelessly before Him.
When God says to live blamelessly, THAT MEANS THAT IT IS POSSIBLE. I am a sinner saved by grace because of the work of Christ on the cross. The Holy Spirit helps me to live a life that is pleasing to God. OUTWARD FAITHFUL SERVICE. INWARD BLAMELESS DEVOTION. Not some RELIGIOUS, SELF RIGHTEOUS, SANCTIMONIOUS FAKE LIFE but a life that honours God from the inside out. Sounds good to me.
Romans 6:4 (NLT) expresses this kind of life in this way. "... just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." Galatians 5:16 (NLT) says "...let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) makes it even clearer "I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
God bless you Church as we consistently live the new life we have in Christ and grow old gracefully having made a difference.