When the scripture says “serve God acceptably,” that means there is an unacceptable way.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
We must have to have a holy heart through salvation by godly sorrow and repentance to serve God acceptably. We’re living in a very irreverent world that has no respect for God. Many people don’t think God requires anything, but there are rules and requirements in the old and new testament. We’ll be lost if we don’t meet God’s requirements.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
If we choose to not walk in all his ways (his requirements) but we go our own way, we’ll have a curse. If we obey and serve him with all our heart according to his requirements, we’ll have a blessing.
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
We have to repent and forsake sin to love God with all our heart. Jesus taught we have to repent (Mark 1:15). He also said to love our neighbor. We have to ask forgiveness and make restitution if we sin against our brother.
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Sin separates us from God and he won’t hear us.
Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
If we’re hiding sin, God knows about it and it will keep us out of heaven. It’s important to know what is truth and what is a lie. A lot of people in religion are believing lies, thinking they can sin and still go to heaven. But when God saves us, he cleanses us of all sin (I John 1:9). Jesus warned us to watch out for false prophets that teach false doctrines. Jesus said there are only two ways, the broad way and the narrow way.
Matthew 7:13-20 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The broad way is the one many are following that leads to destruction. The fruit is how we live every day, in sin or free from sin. False prophets are telling lies to people like, you can’t help but sin every day. Doing good works is not enough. Our heart needs to be changed for God to be pleased with the way we live. Sin is abounding in the world today and the love of many will grow cold, but we must be determined to stay saved until the end.
Matthew 24:4-5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:11-13 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Jesus was concerned about false prophets who live in sin and have no help for your soul. False prophets will get you to think they are ministers of righteousness, but you can see their fruit is sinful.
II Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
We have to be serious about serving God. Going through rituals and doing good works is not enough. Only repentance and a crises experience (crucial turning point) in your life will produce salvation. If someone wants to be saved, there must be a diligent search and a forsaking of your own way.
Isaiah 55:6-9 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God wants us to follow all the way. We have to see ourselves like God sees us, not like anyone else sees us. We need a cry in our heart every day that God will search us. Pride will make you not want God to search you, but humility will want God to search us and show us anything that needs to be corrected.
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
The devil masquerades as a prophet of God, but teaches false doctrines: baptism saves (Romans 6:1-7), sinners are going to heaven, or once saved always saved (Judas fell by transgression Acts 1:25, Peter backslid by denying Jesus and had to be converted again Luke 22:31-34, Luke 22: 60-62). We need to make sure what we’re reading is God’s word. Jesus said we must worship him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). God will send a strong delusion so we believe a lie if we don’t receive a love for the truth.
II Thessalonians 2:9-13 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
God said he will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:5-7). In Noah’s day there were millions of people but only 8 were saved. We can only live a holy and righteous life by having the grace of God through salvation. Jesus told religious people they had to depart because they were working iniquity, which is sin (Matthew 7:22-23). We are either a child of God because we’re obeying God or a child of the devil because we’re sinning.
I John 3:7-10 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
God wants everyone to be saved, but he won’t continue talking to us if we don’t listen when he’s talking to our heart. It’s important to have our heart changed so we can obey and serve God acceptably every day.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)