Living The Good Life

Do you want to live a good life? Do you want to prosper and receive Godí blessings? Well, of course you do Ė who doesnít? We all want God to bless our lives, but are we willing to do what He tells us we must do to gain His blessing and live a good life? And what is it exactly that He tells us to do?

We have to be very careful, because there is a false doctrine of peace and prosperity that has taken over our culture. It basically says this: "God wants us to be happy because we're His children. Therefore whatever makes us happpy is okay with Him. God wants us to have a life of abundance, so anything we ask for in faith He will give us, and even more than we ask for. God wants us to be be happy, healthy and live a life of peace and prosperity".

The problem is, this is all false! It takes a few Scriptures out of context, and twists and turns them to say something that was never intended. God isn't so much concerned with our wealth here on earth, as He is about our riches in heaven. He doesn't necessarily promise abundance here and now, - but we can be assured that He has an abundance prepared for us in heaven. He isn't nearly as concerned with our happiness as with our holiness. "Be ye holy, for I am holy", He tells us in Leviticus 11:45 and I Peter 1:16. There is a vast difference between the abundant life Jesus promised and a life of abundance here and now - although God often blesses us with material abundance.

If God meant for all His people to be blessed with wealth, wouldn't He have made His own Son be born to a wealthy family, instead of a blue-collar carpenter? If God meant for us all to be able to "rebuke" sickness and make it go away, what then do we say to those who are sick? That they don't have enough faith? They didn't ask right? They have too much sin in their life? And as far as peace, yes, we will have perfect peace in heaven, but even Jesus Himself said that in this world we will have trials and tribulations, but we are not to despair, because He overcame this world. (John 16:33)

No, it is quite clear when we search the Scriptures that God's blessings come through our obedience. God gave Moses a set of rules, called the Ten Commandments, and promised that those who kept them would be blessed - but not necessarily with earthly riches. Because so many find the language of the Old Testament outdated and difficult to understand, I have written a poem of the Ten Commandments that is short and to the point, and very easy to understand. Here it is, straight out of Deuteronomy, chapter 5:

There is only one God, put nothing before Him,
Worship Him alone, bow down and adore Him. (5:7)
Do not worship idols, things made by men,
Do not bow down or pray to them.†(5:8)
Donít use Godís name in a vain or cursing way,
Or you will be found guilty on Judgement Day. (5:11)
Keep the Sabbath Day as a day of rest. (5:12)
Honor your parents, and you will be blessed. (5:16)
Do not take another personís life, (5:17)
Do not cheat on your husband or wife, (5:18)
Donít take anything that doesnít belong to you, (5:19)
Donít say things of your neighbor that are not true. (5:20)
Donít look with greed at what others own,
Or plot to get those things for your own. (5:21)
To live long and well, and please the Lord,
Obey these commandments, and keep His Word.

The Jews considered the first five books of the Old Testament to be "the Law", or the Pentateuch. These books are full of God's instructions to His people to help them live according to His plan for them, and He assured them that if they would do these things they would receive His blessings. Godís word never changes; He assures us in every generation that in doing these things, we will be blessed. Here are a few other words of wisdom from the book of Deuteronomy to live by.

Therefore, see that you do all that the Lord your God has commanded
you; do not turn aside to the right or the left. Walk in all the ways He
has commanded you, and you will live long and well. (5:32-33)

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your might. And these words, which I command you today,
shall be in your heart, and you must teach them diligently to your children;
talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you go out together,
when you lie down, and when you get up. (6:5-7)

You must understand, and know in your heart, that the Lord your God IS GOD;
He is faithful, and keeps His promises, and has mercy toward those who love
Him and keep His commandments, even to a thousand generations. And He will
repay those who hate Him, not behind their backs, but to their faces; He will
destroy them. He will not be slack to those who hate Him, He will repay them
to their faces. Therefore, you should keep His commandments, statues, and
judgments, which I command you today, and do them. (7: 9-11)

Until John the Baptist began to preach about Jesus, the Law was all there was. (Matt. 11:13; Luke 16:16) The people were given the law as a guide, and tried to keep it the best they could. However, itís important to understand that the law, or the Ten Commandments, could not save them, and it cannot save us. We do not live under the law, as they did in the Old Testament days. If the law could have saved anyone, there would have been no need for Jesus to die. Faith in Jesus, Godís only Son, is what saves us. John, the apostle Jesus loved, made this clear when by divine inspiration he wrote: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John†1:17) The Law could not justify us, only through Jesus are we justified. What the Law could not do, Jesus did for us! (Rom. 8:3; Gal. 2:16 , 3:11)

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from
which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts†13:39)
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified
in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom.†3:20)

The Law was given to show what sin is. If there is no law, there is no sin. (Rom. 4:15; 5:13; 7:7) All sin is transgressing the law in some manner. (I John 3:4) The Law served as our our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal.†3:24) Jesus did not abolish the law, however. In His own words:

Do not think that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets:
I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. (Matt.†5:17)

The word translated as "fulfill" in the original Greek literally meant to "fill up, to make full and complete". The law and the prophets painted a picture, an outline of a perfect life that pointed to the Messiah. The Law was a "shadow of good things to come." (Heb. 10:1) Jesus filled in the outline, giving it flesh and body; He colored in the outline, so that the entire picture became clear.

Under the law of grace provided by Christ Jesus, we are saved by our faith in Him, not by keeping the Law. However, the Law provides us with a blueprint, or road map, as to how we should strive to live. This blueprint cannot be improved on, for it covers every life, in every generation, in every circumstance. The first four commandments specify how we should relate to our God; the last six how we should relate to others. When we are obedient to the law, our lives go well. When we are not obedient, we suffer the consequences. It really is as simple as that. Jesus made it even simpler: when he was asked what was the greatest commandment, He said:

Jesus said unto him, 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. (Matthew 22:37-40)

If we truly love God, we WILL put Him first in our lives, and worship not other gods. We will not take His name in a careless, casual manner, or use it for a curse. We will keeep the Sabbath day holy. And if we love others, we will not do anything that harms them, cheats them, or dishonors them. Without love for God, it is impossible to love others. Oh, we may love a few people, but to fulfill the law of love, we have to love God first. God IS love, the Bible tells us in I John 4:16, so love always originates with Him. Paul wrote:

Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore
love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom. 13:10)

This theme of loving God and keeping His commandments is emphasized all through the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Jesus himself spoke of keeping His commandments as an expression of our love for Him, and explained that love for Him is love of God.

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,
he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be
loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest
myself to him. John (14:21)

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my
love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments,
and abide in His love. (John 15:10)

Look at what else John the apostle wrote:

And by this we know that we know him, if we keep
his commandments.He that says, I know
him, and keeps not his commandments, is a
liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 1:3-4)

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments:
and His commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3)

If we want to experience God's blessings and live the good life we desire, we have to do as He says. He is not obligated to bless us if we do not! While we no longer live under the law, it provides a blueprint, or a plan for us to live by. The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, wrote this:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep his commandments:
for this is the whole duty of man. (Eccl. 12:13)

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