My wife recently reminded me of an old television commercial where the tagline was: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The point of the ad was that if people came to Las Vegas, they could be free to do what they wanted without any guilt. It is as if the people were saying that God isn’t in Las Vegas (Ps. 139:7-12), or He cannot see what we are doing there (Prov. 15:3)! Las Vegas was giving people a “license to sin!”
It concerns me when I hear about Christians who think that taking a vacation means taking a vacation from being a Christian as well. Some Christians have been known to go to another county or another state to engage in sin. They think they are “safe” from “prying eyes” if they go somewhere that no one knows them. Of course, they are just fooling themselves because, as we noted above, there is nowhere they can go that God is not there and sees them!
It is for this reason that people like Joseph and Daniel, as well as women like Vashti and Esther, stand out to me. They stand out because Vashti and Esther lived in the King’s palace. They could justify any behavior they wanted by referring to where they lived, or by saying, “The King made me do it. I had no choice!” Yet, these two ladies, just as the others named, did not use their location as an occasion for sin!
When Vashti was called into the King’s presence, she did not yield to her husband’s drunken demands (Est. 1:10-12). She could have easily justified sin by saying, “The King has called me,” but she didn’t. We do not know Vashti’s origin, but we know she had morals and was not going to compromise them for anyone. Where she lived made no difference to her! Right was right, and wrong was wrong.
Esther did not allow fear to overcome her (Est. 4:16-7:10). We know she was raised well under the guidance of her cousin, Mordecai (Est. 2:5-7). Yet, when she was brought into the King’s palace, she did not allow her location to hold her back from speaking when she needed to speak up for her people! She had the opposite issue from Vashti, in that the King had not called for her for a month (4:11). She might have justified her silence by saying, “I can’t go until he calls me, and so there is no point in trying. No one will know if I spoke to the King or not, anyway.” These ladies knew they had responsibilities. The God of Heaven is in Shushan, just like He is in Jerusalem, and He must be respected!
What excuses do we make to justify our sins? Do we justify our sins based upon where we are and who saw or didn’t see us? Remember, God sees all of humanity and knows our hearts (Heb. 4:12-13). We are not going to get away with sin just because we did it out of town! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that godliness only applies at home! Take a lesson from Vashti, Esther, Daniel, Joseph, and so many others who served God faithfully even when they were away from home.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Getting An Answer You Don’t Want
An old saying often repeated is: “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” In like manner, be careful when asking a question, you just might get an answer that you do not want! Is this not what happened when the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what to do to inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:16)? Jesus answered him, but the man received an answer he did not want, and so he abandoned Jesus (Matt. 19:22).
What about us? Do we sometimes get an answer from God’s word that we do not want? How do we react when we learn that a thing we have been doing (or would like to do) is not authorized of God in the Bible? Do we become defiant, saying, “I’m going to do it anyway”? Do we get mad, or sad? Do we say, “That doesn’t make sense to me”? Such responses do not change what God said. Getting mad, sad, protesting, or substituting our ideas for God’s does not change what has been written. Let us take a moment and examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5). How do we react to God when His answers are not what we want?
For example, some do not like God’s answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The Lord’s answer is to have faith in Christ, repent of sin, confess our faith in Christ, and be baptized (Heb. 11:6; Acts 17:30; Rom. 10:10; I Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:22-38; etc.). Will you accept God’s answer to this important question, or will you turn away like the man in Matthew 19?
Some ask, “What kind of music does God accept in worship?” God’s answer is vocal music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15; Jas. 5:13; etc.). Yet, this is not the answer men give to us! Therefore, whose answer will we accept? God’s or man’s?
Others ask, “Did Christ really establish one church?” The answer from Scripture is that Christ promised to establish a church (Matt. 16:18), and this church began on the Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:41, 47). Before Acts 2, the church was spoken of in promise, but after Acts 2, the church was spoken of as being in existence on earth. This church belongs to Him and not man (Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28). This is the Lord’s answer. However, is this the answer we want, or the one we have been taught? When was your church established?
Another common question asked is whether or not the kingdom is in existence. Jesus said the kingdom was “at hand” when He was on earth (Matt. 4:17). He promised some would not “taste of death” until they saw the “kingdom of God come with power” (Mk. 9:1). He equated the kingdom with the church in Matthew 16:19. Thus, the kingdom was brought into existence in Acts 2 when folks heard the gospel, believed, obeyed it and were saved (Acts 2:36-41). As further proof of the kingdom’s existence, the apostle Paul said folks who are saved are “transplanted” into this kingdom (Col. 1:13). The apostle John said he was in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9).
These and many other questions are answered by God in the Bible. Therefore, what is the proper response when we get an answer from God’s word that we do not want? The answer is to be honest, and accept what the Lord says (Jer. 10:23; Col. 3:17). There are times when God’s answers do not make “sense” to us, but this does not give us license to change the answer (Rom. 3:4). Let us submit our will to God’s, and let us be ready to accept what He says always (I Pet. 4:11), knowing that God’s ways are best (Isa. 55:8-9; I Cor. 1:20-31).
The Silence Of The Scripture
Many today think that God’s silence within the Scripture is in fact, permission to act. In contrast, there are others today who say that if God is silent on a subject, this means we cannot do it! Which viewpoint is the Scriptural viewpoint? Are they both wrong? What does the Scripture say? Let us see what the truth is concerning the silence of the Scripture.
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it was not long until they reached the Red Sea. Knowing that the Red Sea prohibited their travel, and the Egyptians were quickly catching up, what were they to do? Exodus 14:10-14 records the people’s frustration and Moses’ response. He said, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Seeing that God had not spoken yet about what they were to do upon arriving at the Red Sea, Moses commanded the people to “stand firm.” They were not to act until God spoke to them! We know that God parted the water, and they crossed on dry ground (v. 15-16), but until God spoke to Moses, they “stood firm” and did not move!
Consider Numbers 9:2-11. After God had given the command to keep the Passover, two came and said they had missed it because they were defiled. Therefore, they asked Moses what to do. What did Moses say? Take note of his answer: “Wait, that I may hear what the LORD will command concerning you” (Num. 9:8). Moses did nothing until God spoke, and required those men do nothing until God spoke! Once he inquired of the Lord, then the matter was resolved. Let us learn and learn well that when God is silent, we cannot act!
In the New Testament, when the Jews disputed over whether or not uncircumcised Gentiles could be saved, it was God’s silence that settled matters (Acts 15:7-15, 24). When we read Acts 15, Peter recalled his experience with the Gentiles (Acts 10-11), and the fact that God had said nothing about the Gentiles being physically circumcised was evidence to them that it was not necessary anymore.
This is not the only time that men in the Bible reasoned based upon God’s silence. For example, in Hebrews 7:12-14 we learn that without a change of the law, Christ could not be a priest. Why? It is because God, through Moses, had allowed the Levites to serve as priests, and had been silent about Judah’s descendants serving as priests (Num. 1:50-54, 3:12, 45, 18:1-7)! God had not given a list of all the tribes not allowed to serve as priests. Rather, by only allowing the Levites to serve, it was understood that all other tribes were forbidden in the Old Covenant. Therefore, there has come a change of the law, and we today are subject to the New Testament, the New Covenant, and not the Old.
In Old Testament days, it was stated, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). God has revealed all necessary to live a pleasing, acceptable, and enjoyable life (II Pet. 1:3; II Tim. 3:16-17). Why would we want to act when God has been silent? The truth is that most people have not yet come to terms with what God has said! Let us learn and learn well that God’s silence never permits, it only prohibits!