Saturday, January 5, 2013

Piety


Piety

 

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – Luke 2:29-32

Salvation changes your destination, but sanctification changes your life.  Just as true love cannot be hidden, salvation has its working in us to produce sanctification. 
We have all seen people, or been one, that received salvation, yet failed to drop the old dead creature and move on.  Dragging it throughout life, with all its carnal thoughts and ways, salvation still existed in the heart, but life was not lived as a Christian.  We made no attempt to be Christ-like.  The label most often given to these is “hypocrite”, which means to say one thing and do another.  It’s an ugly word.  No one likes it.  But we’re willing to wear the label, rather than follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in us.

To live as Christ, to allow your will to become God’s will, to be devoutly loyal to God in your heart, mind, and spirit is to live in what is called ‘piety’.  It is inspired obedience.  It is the attempt of man to be holy, even as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16) through the lead of the Holy Spirit within. Pious people are not perfect, but they desire to be so, and long to hear God says “well done, GOOD and FAITHFUL servant” (Matthew 25:21).
In Luke 2 we read of such a man.  In fact, he was one of the first to believe that Jesus was indeed the son of God.  His name was Simeon. 

He was possibly, according to historic records and not Biblical account, the head of the Sanhedrin at the time.  His character was well known and Luke starts the story of Simeon by saying “behold” or “take a look at this man”.  Simeon was the kind of man that mothers could look at their young sons and say “Don’t you want to grow up to be good like Simeon?”  He was the kind of man that influenced young men to walk away from sin and do what is right. 
A life of sanctified living is a life of peace with God.  When others see it, they naturally want to live it.  This is the thirst that our being salt to the world should bring.  Simeon’s reputation was spotless, as the Word tells us he was “devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

Even before the Holy Spirit of God had been sent to comfort us, He had visited several throughout the old and new testament.  One of those was Simeon.  Simeon walked according to the old laws, regulating his conduct, and living in piety.  Yet in his heart, he longed for the day when all of Israel would be redeemed from the old covenant and given the new covenant in Christ, the “Consolation of Israel”. 
God found his faithfulness and the desires of his heart worthy of a promise upon his life.  Through the Holy Spirit, he was promised that he would not die till he saw the face of Christ. 

On that day, the desires of Simeon’s heart came true.  God delivered on His promise.  Jesus, then a young child, was brought into the temple, and the Holy Spirit instructed Simeon to go there.  So Simeon went to church expecting to find Christ…and he did.
It is a beautiful scene!  There was Jesus, in the temple with Mary and Joseph, and Simeon walks through the doors.  Surely Jesus, even as a young child, knew to turn and look for Simeon. Their eyes must have met.  Simeon’s heart is overwhelmed with joy!  He then does what we all would do as Luke 2:28 says “he took Him up in his arms”.  Here is Simeon, old and yet still obedient, holding his Messiah, cradling Him in his feeble arms.  He must surely have kissed the face of the Son of God!  Then he turns his attention, his gratitude, to God and says in Luke 2:29-32:

 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Simeon was ready to die, to “depart in peace”.  And while Jesus and Simeon knew what he meant when he spoke of “Your salvation”, and the “light to bring revelation to the Gentiles”, verse 33 says Joseph and Mary stood marveling at what Simeon was saying.

The Holy Spirit had not only revealed to Simeon where to find Jesus, and the promise to see the Messiah before He died, but He also revealed how Jesus would die.  Simeon looks at Mary in verses 34-35 and says “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Jesus was set, or destined, “for the fall and rising of many”.  Romans 9:30-33 says that the Gentiles would attain righteousness through faith, but Israel would pursue the law and not attain righteousness because they refused to seek it through faith.  It calls Jesus the “stumbling stone” and quotes the prophet Isaiah in verse 33 who said, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Simeon said Jesus was “for a sing which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also)”.  The method of crucifixion before a holy day was that the legs of the victims would be broken to allow death to come faster, to occur before the holy day came.  But it was prophesied that Jesus would not have a bone broken. Psalms 34:20 says He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.” In John 19: 33-37 Jesus crucifixion is recorded.  After breaking the legs of the thief and murderer, when the Roman soldiers came to Jesus they saw He was already dead. Verse 34 says,But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
Blood is for atonement, and water is the symbol used for the Holy Spirit throughout God’s word.  Both were poured out for us at the time of Jesus’ death.  But as thousands did in the days of Simeon, thousands still do today.  We accept the blood to cover our sins, but will not walk in obedience, submitting to the flow of the water, the Holy Spirit, and His guidance.

Sanctification is the process of submission to God in body, mind, and spirit.  It is living in piety through an inner love and desire to follow Christ.  If you want salvation to change your life – YOU MUST CHANGE.  Drag the old dead man along with you, and eventually your whole life will stink.  God desires to give you “abundant life” - here.  He has a plan for each of us, a formula for life that creates joy and excitement - here.  It all begins with salvation, belief in Jesus Christ through faith, for without faith, it is impossible for man to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  But it doesn’t end there.
 

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