“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
“Thought” is put at the center of everything in this world that is bad and sinful not only here near the beginning but also much later by Jesus in the gospels where He teaches about lust.
Before sin comes the thought about sin or the intent to sin. Then the actual sin follows heavy on the heels of thought. When this passage was written, wickedness had become so common place that it appears it was everywhere and all, or at least most, were involved in it.
Observing the corruption, extensive immorality, and unbelievable violence in our world makes it appear this passage could have been written yesterday. God makes it clear in His word that He is totally opposed to such.
Obedient believers are the opposite of what this verse mentions—they mold their lives by the wholesome principles of purity and truth commanded in scripture.
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
“But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’ ” (Acts 10:34-35).
It is at this moment that the Apostle Peter acknowledges his understanding and acceptance of God’s plan to bring all people under the scheme of redemption. Peter is in the house of a Gentile, a man named Cornelius, when he comes to this realization.
Impartiality is an admirable trait in anyone; but we can take the greatest comfort in the fact that our heavenly Father shows no partiality in his assessment of our behavior and in His acceptance of us into His home, regardless of race, color, or social standing.
It is true throughout divine history that God had special relationships with some individuals and with the nation of Israel, but He had the same expectations of each one of them: He expected all of them to do what He said.
That expectation remains the same for us: if we want God to accept us and to allow us to enter the eternal home in heaven, all we have to do is to “fear Him and work righteousness.”
“But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11).
In every age of time, God has always demanded that His followers be honest and forthright. He has never condoned hypocrisy. In this passage, the Apostle Paul is the instrument God uses to confront the Apostle Peter for eating with Gentiles when Jews are not present but separating himself from Gentiles when Jews are present.
Since it has been about ten years since Peter violated Jewish tradition by entering the house of a Gentile—Cornelius—and then offering the gospel to him, Peter’s behavior here is confusing. Paul openly rebukes Peter for his actions.
This passage is only one of several that illustrates the necessity for Christians to be consistent in their behavior and actions at all times and in every kind of situation.
We cannot please God if we are hypocritical—that is, if we act one way when we are with other Christians and another way when we are in the presence of unbelievers.
“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe” (John 5:38).
Jesus rebukes the Jews severely in this passage because they have refused to believe Him—they have refused to accept the truths He has been teaching them and they have refused to give up their former ways and to change their lives to conform to His new doctrine. Thus, He says, the word does not abide in them.
Even though they are refusing to obey Him, His greater condemnation is that they do not believe Him, thus indicating that when a person doesn’t obey the teachings of the inspired message, he is, first and foremost, showing a lack of belief.
This thought should give us pause, causing us to stop and think seriously before we make a decision about any action we take either in our everyday physical lives or more especially about actions we take in our spiritual lives.
Third and final in a series of studies in Isaiah 54
“For a mere moment
I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies
I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:7-8).
Israel was in Babylonian captivity for about seventy years, but that time was but a moment to God, especially when compared to all of the time God had watched over her and nurtured her. God had been angry, briefly, but now His mercy will hold sway again.
Actually, God has put Israel through His school of correction in Babylon because of her continual rebellion against Him. Israel, no doubt, felt God had left her forever as she endured the hardships of captivity. God assures her that relief will come. Now is the time for blessing.
Even though God doesn’t work directly and miraculously with us today, we may feel He has turned His back on us when we undergo difficult times. God allows us to experience life, but He doesn’t send calamities on us as He did on Israel.
More importantly, God has made provision in the Christian Age that those living under the Law of Moses never had. We have constant access to the greatest blessing His grace and mercy could ever extend: the opportunity for salvation through obedience to the gospel of His precious son, Jesus Christ, whose blood bought our redemption.