Thoughts to Ponder

Responsibility

We all have responsibilities in life. As parents we try to instill a sense of responsibility in our children. We expect others to take responsibility for their own actions. We expect our workers to be responsible. We expect our employers to be responsible.

I spent 14 years in the Military and I learned many important lessons on responsibility. I learned that I had a responsibility not only to show up for work everyday, but to be the kind of person the military service required me to be. I could not just show up for work late, or with a bad attitude. I had to be punctual and polite. This went for interaction with people above me in rank and those below me. My personal conduct was my responsibility.

I also spent 7 years on the Sheriff's Department and learned more lessons about responsibility. Again it was my responsibility to show up to work on time and to present a good attitude whether I felt like it or not. It was my responsibility to treat everyone fairly, even when I personally did not think they deserved to be treated fairly.

We all understand responsibility in every day life. For example, having a drivers license puts responsibility on the person who holds that license. You are responsible to follow the laws of the state and community in which you are driving. If you violate those laws and are caught you will be held legally responsible in a court of law.

When we have children we are responsible for them and their well being until they reach an age where they are responsible for themselves. If we do not take responsibility for our children, they can be taken from us, or we can be punished for neglect or even abuse.

We live with these kinds of responsibilities every day and just accept them as part of life. Yet we as Christians also have responsibilities to God and we often either don't think about them or totally ignore them.

Paul talks about it, but he calls it an obligation:

(Romans 8:12-14 NIV) [12] Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-;but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. [13] For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, [14] because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

An obligation (responsibility) to not live to the sinful nature, but to live holy lives. You don't hear people telling believers that they have an obligation to live holy lives much anymore. It is not preached because people are afraid it might offend someone.

I often hear people make the statement that Christians sin daily in word, deed and thought. That is a sad commentary on the life of a believer. We should not be sinning, we have been set free from sin and are to live holy lives.

(Romans 6:16-18 NIV) [16] Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? [17] But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. [18] You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

We have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. So why don't we act like it? Is it that we have forgotten our responsibilities? Our responsibility to our Lord and Savior?

We as Christians have many responsibilities. The great commission would be one, to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Folks, that includes preaching here where you live!!

I want to look at some of the personal responsibilities Christians have. I want to start with the responsibility to remain in the faith:

(1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV) By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

(John 15:6 NIV) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

People tend to ignore these types of passages. They do so at their own peril.

We have the responsibility to live holy lives:

(Romans 2:7-8 NIV) [7] To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. [8] But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

(Galatians 6:8-9 NIV) [8] The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. [9] Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

(1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV) [15] But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; [16] for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

(Hebrews 12:14 NIV) Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

This is not a suggestion, it is a commandment. We are not under the Law, but we are still under the commands of Christ. The Law showed all mankind that we could not be good enough to earn a place in heaven. It exposed sin for what it was. We have been set free from the Law, but even more than that we have been set free, in Christ, from sin. People misinterpret the idea that we are not under the Law as meaning that we are free to sin. That is a lie from the pit of hell.

(James 5:19-20 NIV) [19] My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, [20] remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

(1 John 5:3-5 NIV) [3] This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, [4] for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. [5] Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

If you don't think that God takes sin seriously in His children, then you need to go back and read your Bible. Jesus made the following statement to His disciples.

(Mark 9:42-48 NIV) [42] "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. [43] If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [45] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [47] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, [48] where "'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Not only do we know that Jesus is speaking of believers, because He is speaking to the disciples, but also because it would do a sinner no good to quit sinning. The only way to get to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ, so He can't be telling sinners who don't believe in Him to cut off their hands, or pluck out their eyes to enter the kingdom of God.

This passage should sober a lot of people up. It should make them realize that Jesus does not look the other way when we sin. We serve a merciful God, who sent His Son to die in our place, but we cannot mock Him by accepting His forgiveness and then continuing to sin.

We are freed from sin but that does not mean we are never tempted. It does not mean that we will never stumble and sin, but it sure should not be a lifestyle of sin. If we do fall and sin, we have One who will intercede for us with the Father, but we cannot just ignore the sin and pretend that it is taken care of before it happens.

(1 John 1:9 NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This passage shows that confession is required. It is not optional, it is not just to repair our fellowship, it is for forgiveness. I am not trying to say that one sin will void a person's salvation, but I am saying that if we take sin so lightly in our lives that we abuse God's grace we are in danger of apostasy (falling away from the faith). Apostasy will bring spiritual death.

(Galatians 6:7 NIV) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Jesus is not a hard task master, but He does require some things from us.

(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV) [28] "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

We must be willing to take His yoke. If we are not willing to take His yoke and follow Him, then we are fooling ourselves about being Christians.

(Matthew 16:24 NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

We must deny ourselves to follow Him. Again these are not suggestions, these are commandments.

Speaking of commandments, Jesus told us what the two main commandments are:

(Matthew 22:37-40 NIV) [37] Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' [40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

People will claim that because we are not under the Law we are not required to follow the 10 commandments. I would agree, but so what, we have these two commandments which cover all the others with one exception. That exception is to keep the Sabbath. All the others are contained in this passage from Matthew.

If you love your neighbor (others) as you do yourself, you will not lie to them. You will not steal from them. You will not covet what they own. You will not commit adultery. If you love the Lord with all your heart, you will not do things which you know He disapproves of, such as take His name in vain, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, getting drunk, etc... In fact if you want a list Paul gives us one several times in his writings.

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV) [9] Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders [10] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul did not mention all these things just to enumerate why sinners won't get to heaven, he was making a much more basic point. No one who does these things will get to heaven. Christians are not wicked, if they are, they are not Christians!! As Paul says: "Don't be deceived!"

If you are unwilling to fulfill your responsibilities as a Christian then don't fool yourself by thinking you are on your way to heaven. It is that simple. That is what Jesus is speaking of in this passage:

(Luke 14:28-33 NIV) [28] "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? [29] For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, [30] saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
[31] "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? [32] If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. [33] In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

If we are going to follow Him, we better weigh the cost and see if we are willing to finish the job. If we are not, then there is no reason to start in the first place.

(2 Peter 2:20-21 NIV) [20] If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. [21] It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

If we don't continue in the faith and don't fulfill our responsibilities as Christians, we are worse off in the end than we were in the beginning. I know what I am saying is not popular, but it is God's word. Too many people take the 'good' of salvation with no thought of the responsibility it places on them. We are not saved by good works, nor is our salvation retained by good works, but these things show where our heart is. If we refuse to fulfill our responsibilities to the Lord and Savior of our souls, then we are saying in effect that we no longer have faith in Him. We are saying that we don't truly love Him. That is a sign of apostasy.

If that describes you then I urge you to come back to Christ. Ask Him to forgive your sins and cleanse your soul, before it is too late.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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November 2002