God not only created man but also gave him life and everything he needs to sustain it for a well-defined purpose.
IMMEASURABLE HIS GREAT love for mankind, God not only created man but also gave him life and everything to sustain it for a well-defined purpose (Eccles. 12:13-14; Eph. 2:10). To guide everyone toward this purpose for which he is accountable, the Almighty Father commanded that His words be written in a book universally known as the Bible. Apostle Paul, one of those sent to preach in his time, declared: “and you remember that ever since you were a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the man who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good work” (II Tim. 3;15-17, Today’s English Version, emphasis ours). And for man to be able to live righteously, Paul gave the first-century Christians this instruction which applies well more today: “In the Lord’s name, then, I say this and warn you: do not live any longer like the heathen, whose thoughts are worthless, and whose minds are in the dark. … They have lost all feeling of shame; they give themselves over to vice, and do all sorts of indecent things without restraint” (Eph. 4:17-19, TEV).
Through God’s wisdom, man will be able to live in accordance with the well-defined purpose—serve God, live righteously, and do good works. Likewise, he should not live the way the pagan does—having worthless and dark thoughts, vicious, and grossly indecent. Neither he lives being governed by his human nature. Apostle Paul describes one who live so and the evil of doing such: “What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies, they fight, become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not receive the Kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19, Ibid.).
With the passage of time, this divine purpose has not been respected an God’s instruction on right living has been violated by those who choose to live the pagan or ungodly way. This way of life is globally observable today when moral decadence is among the crises disturbing the world. Many have been culturally conditioned that God’s wisdom which is written in the Holy Scriptures is now obsolete, no longer relevant and responsive to the needs of the time. Veering away from God’s commandments, they have turned to philosophical thoughts prioritizing their worldly or secular concerns such as satisfying first their changing physical, emotional, and social needs as well as other cravings They also have turned from religion to science, technology, medical science, media, academe, and so on for answers to life’s fundamental questions concerning sexuality, marriage, morality, and the like.
What influences man’s life today pervasively
Specifically, modern society through secularization, the prevailing social change, has pervasively influenced the world. According to James M. Henslin (1993), a sociologist, secularization occurs when religious influence over life is lessened, both on a society’s institutions and on individuals. It works massively using cultural mechanisms such as media and schools among many others to engineer the promotion of the agenda of social change. Its impact on mankind is reflected by he spread of the culture of materialism, of promiscuity or sexual perversion, of liberalism which makes people even proud of doing what they must be ashamed of, of philosophic arrogance and utter disregard of the sacredness of the Bible, and of relative morality which does not give the distinction between what is morally right what is morally wrong among others.
Working strategically, modern society has succeeded in secularizing even religion. There are churches that have compromised their supposed gatekeeping function to uphold firmly the fundamental biblical teachings on morality and family to social pressures. Like judicial institutions, they have departed from being strictly conservative to being tolerant of marriage and sexual practices that are against the teachings of the Bible to favor liberalism and misleading ideological advocacies. There are countries where divorce and same-sex marriage have been legalized even if God’s laws are being trivialized or outrightly opposed by such. Indeed, man’s attitude toward his Creator, toward his fellowmen, toward his environment, and toward himself has changed radically. He chooses his secular or cultural values to rule over the Christian values taught by the Holy Scriptures in conducting his life.
What the Bible foretold long before
To see how people are conducting their lives today, choosing to be ungodly instead of being God-fearing, Apostle Paul warned all: “You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others, and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. They will betray their friends, they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.” (II Tim. 3:1-5, Living Bible). Paul’s graphic statement gives a vivid description of how a person lives the unchristian way.
ON the other hand, those who choose to remain conservative, that is, being biblically oriented in their moral values, uncompromisingly abide by what Christ teaches in conducting their lives. They will neve let waves of changes make them deviate from God’s commandments. No matter how compelling circumstances are, their conviction to follow His will on how to live properly can not be moved.
Which way of life to choose
Since everyone is accountable to God to live in accordance with the purpose for which He created man, Apostle John who was among those whom Christ sent to preach the gospel taught explicitly: “Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did” (I John 2:6, LB). The first two things everyone should do to fulfill God’s purpose for creating man—to know his Creator, the Almighty God, to serve and worship Him, and to obey His commandments (Ps. 100:2-3, I John 2:3, Ps. 95:6-7)—are to be a Christian first, which can only be done by entering the Church Of Christ which He built and, second, to live as Christ did.
A good example of who abided by this purpose is Apostle Paul. Named Saul, an accomplished person who lived a privileged life before his conversion into the first-century Church Of Christ to be among the first-century Christians, he chose to give up all his gains and even his own righteousness for the righteousness that comes from God (Phil. 3:7,9).To live as Christ did, Apostle Paul strived to have the attitude that Christ had—was humble and walked the path of obedience to His death on the cross (Phil. 2:5,8)—to let God’s will rule his life that it was no longer h who lived, but it was Christ who lived in him, and to live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).
To live righteously, the Scriptures further teach all that they should not be involved in sin, should live the rest of their earthly lives controlled by God’s will, not by human desires (I Pet. 4:1-3, TEV) but be purified from everything that makes body or soul unclean and be completely holy, by living in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1< Ibid.)
Warning against a corrupt culture and deceptive philosophy
Witnessing the prevailing Greco-Roman culture—strongly influenced by paganism and the philosophies highly recognized by his society—that was wo ungodly and blasphemous, Apostle Paul warned the Christians: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix our attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Rom. 12:2, The Message). More often than not, man is at the mercy of his society and culture. Good or bad, they work hand in hand. When they drag people to disobey God’s will, such society and culture are corrupt. Deceptively they work, usually subliminally or subtly, that the ignorant or the undiscerning fall victims of their assault.
Apostle Paul pinpointed what is at work behind the deception: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8, New International Version). Today such philosophy can also be in the form of “intellectualism” or “high sounding nonsense founded on men’s ideas of the nature of the world” (The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips), or “man’s wisdom and deceit, going after the beliefs of men and the theories of the world” (Bible in Basic English). An example of a philosophy that opposes Christian values is relativism which people in the academe such as educators and scholars promoted by using Kuhn’s paradigm shift—a high-sounding idea immensely popular in various domains including theology (Irving Hexham, Concise Dictionary of Religion, 1993).
It is definitely a conscious choice
As people across cultures continuously choose to disregard the Bible by merely considering it as a work of literature and it can be interpreted subjectively, to be individualistic, materialistic and hedonistic, to ignore God’s wisdom and prefer to be philosophically arrogant, and to be liberals of almost without restraint, Christians or true servants of God always choose to be God-fearing and to conduct their lives fulfilling the well-defined purpose for which man is created.
Above all of man’s concerns in life, choosing to live in accordance with God’s commandments is the most important decision he ought to make. If he chooses otherwise is the worst. That man is inevitably accountable for whichever decision he makes, the Bible clearly states: “… Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that man was created for. God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret” (Eccles. 12:13-14, TEV).
By CELERINO G. BACLAAN
Photo by Brian Pangilinan