|Vol. 15 No. 11 November 2013||
Ernest S. Underwood
Throughout biblical history, God chose certain individuals to carry out His work at that particular time. One of these individuals was Noah.
A Look at Noah
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostle Peter penned these words about the Old Testament patriarch: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:4-5). In this passage, we draw attention to the fact that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” Since Psalm 119:172 states, “My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness,” we can know as a fact that whatever Noah may have taught all those years while he was preparing the ark, he was a man who taught the truth of God.
Does God still want that kind of man proclaiming His Word? Will He tolerate any other kind? We notice from Genesis 6 that Noah operated under the grace of God. Because of His grace, God gave Noah the opportunity to be saved from the impending worldwide flood that was to come upon the earth. Noah was free to accept or reject this offer of God’s grace.
Noah was a man of faith, faith that comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). The writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). There can be no doubt that Noah was a man of faith. He believed that God wanted him to be saved. He believed God when He gave him instructions on how he was to be saved. He believed that God would save him if he followed precisely the commands that God gave him.
Thus, not only was Noah a man of faith, he was also a man of obedience, obedience to the right things – the things that God told him to do. Inspiration records, “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). When the record states that Noah did “all,” we can be assured that he did exactly what God commanded, nothing more, nothing less. Noah was not bound by any system that stated that he needed to first check to see if what he was doing or saying was offensive to those to whom he preached. When preachers of righteousness “speak the truth in love,” that truth will offend those who don’t want to hear it. One simply cannot please all men, but he is commanded to please God. “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if men today adopted the same attitude that Noah had? If they did, it would mean the termination of every religious denomination on the planet, and all men would be members of the one church for which our Lord died, and which He purchased with His own blood.
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul instructed the church to live a godly life and not to allow former ways to creep back into their lives. Paul said in verses 17-27:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
The devil has no power over us except the power we give him. Make no mistake about it, if you give the devil an inch, he’ll take as much as he can. Everyone has the responsibility to choose whom he will serve in this life. Jesus clearly teaches that one cannot serve two masters, “for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24). Just as those of old that were asked by Joshua to choose whom they would serve (Joshua 24:15), we, too, must continually decide whom we will serve, God or the devil.
God’s desire for all of mankind is that everyone would want to be saved as much as He desires to save them. Peter declared in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It’s not God’s will that any should perish, but many choose to live in sin, and therefore, cause a great separation (Isaiah 59:1-2), refusing the salvation God offers. If we are not careful, we just may give the devil an inch, and he will take advantage and enter in. The first couple gave an inch and that was all that the devil needed to work his deceptive plan (Genesis 3; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14). Judas allowed the devil to enter him just a little, but that was enough to sell his Lord (Luke 22:3ff.). Ananias and Sapphira gave the devil an inch, and the devil was able to fill their hearts with lies and deception that resulted in death for them both (Acts 5:3ff). We need to be very careful not to give the devil the smallest invitation, not to give him an inch, because he will take so much more!
How can we keep the devil out of our lives? First, we can learn how Jesus kept the devil from gaining an advantage over Him. Though Jesus had fasted for forty days and was extremely exhausted as the devil tempted Him (Matthew 4), His defense in every temptation was, “It is written!” There is no greater defense for the Christian against the wiles or schemes of the devil than the full armor of God and the Spirit’s sword, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:11-17).
Second, we must do our very best to resist the devil. The devil is very good at what he does. Seeing that he is so good at what he does, we need to be better at what we do! We need to develop an attitude that seeks to serve God first and foremost (Matthew 6:33). This will strengthen us to resist and stay clear from the devil and draw closer to God. James said that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us, and if we determine to draw close to God, He will in turn draw close to us (James 4:7-8). What a wonderful benefit and strength for the child of God!
Third, Christians must understand that the devil does not sleep, so we must be continually vigilant. Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist stedfast in the faith…” Christians are to remain “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” with the understanding that our “labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
As long as we wear flesh, there will be a battle between the things of God and of the devil. Knowing that we cannot serve both at the same time, we must decide early and often whom we will serve. Let us say with the greatest of conviction the words of God’s servant Joshua, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Heaven is being prepared for those that commit themselves to following the Will of God (John 14:1ff.). Hell has already been prepared for those that live in opposition to God’s Will (Matthew 25:41). God commands us to give Him our all—all our heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27), and the devil is just asking for an inch. Where one spends eternity depends on whom they are willing to serve. Don’t give the devil an inch!