Monday, October 01, 2012

1st Clement 29 to 30 - Live like we belong to God

Clement reminds us that we are the Lord's own possession.
"Let us then draw near to Him with holiness of spirit, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, loving our gracious and merciful Father, who has made us partakers in the blessings of His elect. For thus it is written,  'When the Most High divided the nations, when He scattered the sons of Adam, He fixed the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. His people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of His inheritance.' " (1 Clement 29)
God has chosen us for His own possession. Just as he previously chose the nation of Israel, so now He has chosen us to be His own special people. Peter confirms this saying, " you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:10) God has chosen us and taken us for Himself. Therefore, we ought to draw near to God in holiness and purity of spirit.
"Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change,all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. 'For God,' saith [the Scripture], 'resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.' " (1 Clement 30)
 Some translators render "seeking after change" as "youthful lusts" which seems to be more consistent with the rest of this chapter. Clement encourages us to do those things that pertain to holiness. This is not a theoretical holiness but a practical holiness; a holiness that is demonstrated by a behavior that is pure and holy. It is not enough to say we are holy, we must also live a life that demonstrates that holiness. This life of holiness is not before God alone but also before our fellow man; we should live a holy life before God and mankind.

We must also be careful with who we fellowship. A holy life is encouraged by the fellowship with holy saints. As we are to be holy, so we should associate with other holy ones. Clement writes,
"Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words." (1 Clement 30)
In writing of those who have been given grace, he is referring to those who have received a grater grace from God due to their humility. Clement encourages us to fellowship with those who are humble and devoid of gossip, sedition, and evil speaking. While we cannot, nor should, completely shun the world, our lives should be bound with the humble and with those who demonstrate a holiness of life that is consistent with the Gospel. We can interact with the world around us, but our brothers and sisters are the saints of God.

Finally, Clement commands us to be humble in spirit ourselves.
"Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him." (1 Clement 30)
Humility, meekness, and moderation are the property of the godly. All boldness, arrogance, and audacity must be cleansed from our lives. As we are to cleave to the humble so must we be humble ourselves. These should be the characteristics that mark our lives.

David Robison

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