Malachi 3:13-15 ESV
“Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
If your idea of faith in Jesus Christ is merely that a confession of him as Savior and Lord now secures for you forgiveness of sins for all time, escape from hell, and heaven guaranteed you at your death, but that how you live will not impact your eternal security, then you have the wrong concept of God’s grace and of his salvation. If you think that is all there is to it, and that nothing else is required of you, then sadly you are mistaken.
Remember the Parable of the Sower? There were four different types of soil, i.e. four different responses to the gospel message. The second one heard the word of the Lord and immediately received the word with joy, but the word never took root in his life. His heart never changed. And although he endured for a while, when tribulation and persecution arose on account of the gospel message, he immediately fell away (Matthew 13:20-21).
And this is how I see these people here in Malachi 3 who were complaining to God that it is vain to serve him, for obviously they had a different perception of faith in God than the Word teaches. They expected something different than was promised. So, they thought they got a “raw deal.” They felt they were somehow cheated while the arrogant and evildoers appeared to have things go easy for them.
And we have plenty of people today speaking hard words against the gospel message and against its messengers because their concept of Christianity and faith in Jesus Christ is different from what the Scriptures teach. And they don’t like what the Scriptures teach in their fulness, and in context, and so they are fighting against it. For they want to believe and embrace the lies, because the lies are more comfortable for them.
And that is what these people were doing, too. They were believing lies which told them that it was vain to serve God and that it profited them nothing to walk in humility before God. And they got their eyes off of God and onto men, and they started looking at other people and pointing fingers and they decided, I believe, that they could live like the arrogant and the evildoers and that God would not punish them, either.
And, although this is not an exact parallel, it is what many are doing today, deciding on their own that they can continue to live in sin and to disobey the Lord, and that they don’t have to serve the Lord, and that they don’t have to walk in humility and surrender to the Lord Jesus, for they believe that if they continue living in sin that God will not judge them because they prayed a prayer or they made a confession of faith.
And they, too, have gotten their eyes off of God and his word and they are looking to other humans to tell them what is truth, and they are following after their own wicked hearts’ desires, which is what these people in Malachi were doing, too. They are rejecting the Word of the Lord, and they are drawing their own conclusions regarding what is truth, and they are following after the flesh and not after the Lord. And it will not end well for them.
[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]
Malachi 3:16-18 ESV
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. ‘They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.’”
A lot of people these days have a wrong concept of “the righteous” vs. “the unrighteous.” They think that if they say a prayer to “receive Christ,” or if they confess with their mouths that “Jesus is Lord,” that they are now righteous, regardless of how they live their lives. And they think that the unrighteous are all who do not “believe” in Jesus Christ, i.e. they are all who make no profession of faith in the Lord as their Savior.
But that is not how the Scriptures teach that. The righteous are those who fear the Lord, i.e. who revere, honor, respect, worship, and obey him, as a matter of life practice. The righteous in God’s sight are those who are practicing righteousness, i.e. who are living righteously in their conduct, consistently and continually, although not necessarily in absolute perfection. For, they are those who are walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
The Scriptures make quite a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous all throughout the New Testament. The righteous are not legalists who follow after man-made rules and regulations and traditions, or who feel they must obey the liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, and/or purification laws of the Old Covenant. And they are not the Sunday nor the Saturday “church goers,” who do so by tradition.
They are also not those who have merely made a confession of Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives but who have continued in deliberate and habitual sin, in practice, and who are not walking in obedience to the Lord. For, if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin, after we have the knowledge of the truth, we are going to die in our sins, and we will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, no matter what you have been told.
The righteous, according to Scripture, are those who believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, which submits to Christ as Lord. We are those who have left our sinful lifestyles behind us, and who have now surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ to follow in his ways, to go where he sends us, and to do and to say all that he commands. It doesn’t mean we are perfect people, but that we are no longer living as slaves to sin, but as slaves to God and to his righteousness – all in the power of God who now lives within us.
So, the distinction between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous serve the Lord with their lives, according to the Word of God, and in accord with the Spirit of God, and under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit within them. They walk in obedience to the Lord, whereas the wicked choose their own path, and they chart their own course, and they decide what is best for them and what is not, and they spurn God and his word, for they decide in their own hearts that they do not have to obey God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Rom 8:24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13]
Our God, He is Alive
Music and Lyrics by A.W. Dicus
There was a long, long time ago,
A God whose voice the prophets heard.
He is the God that we should know,
Who speaks from His inspired word.
Our God, whose Son upon a tree,
A life was willing there to give,
That He from sin might set man free,
And evermore with Him could live.
There is a God, He is alive,
In Him we live and we survive;
From dust our God created man,
He is our God, the great I Am.
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