Friday, January 11, 2013

Polycarp 5 - Mocking God with Unrighteousness

This is a continuation of my series on Polycarp's letter to the Philippian church. If you are unfamiliar with Polycarp or his letter to the Philippians, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.

Oftentimes, people learn of God by watching those who profess faith in God. This is why Polycarp wrote,
"Knowing, then, that 'God is not mocked,' we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory." (Polycarp 5)
To "mock" means not only to treat with contempt or ridicule, but also to imitate in a demeaning way, in a way that brings ridicule and derision to the one we are imitating. We are made in God's image and God Himself has said, "You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High." (Psalms 82:6) Our lives are meant to be an "imitation" of God; of His likeness and of His image. However, when we live our lives in unrighteousness and ingratitude, then our "imitation" is flawed and we bring ridicule to God. Our lives, instead of giving glory to God, serve only to mock Him.

God has called us "to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) To live a life that testifies to the righteousness of God; to live a life that reflects of His nature. This is true for all believers and especially for those who represent Him through service in His name. Specifically, Polycarp addresses the deacons of the church.
"In like manner should the deacons be blameless before the face of His righteousness, as being the servants of God and Christ, and not of men. They must not be slanderers, double-tongued, or lovers of money, but temperate in all things, compassionate, industrious, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was the servant of all." (Polycarp 5)
In the early church deacons assisted with serving during the agape feasts and, afterwords, in taking leftover food to those who could not attend, to the sick, disabled, and the shut-ins. In their service they were the arms of God reaching out to others as we too are when we serve anyone in the name of the Lord. Along with theirs lives, our lives should reflect His righteousness, realizing that we are servants of God and not of men.

Polycarp reminds us of the reward that awaits those who thus serve God in this life.
"If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, 'we shall also reign together with Him,' provided only we believe."(Polycarp 5)
Faith and belief require more than a simple acknowledgment or mental assent to the truth, they require obedience. It is not enough to know and even believe the truth, we must also obey the truth. To those who live the truth in their lives on this earth, an eternal life in heaven awaits them as their reward.

Polycarp further enjoins both young men and young women to embrace a life of holiness and to live righteously before God and man.
"In like manner, let the young men also be blameless in all things, being especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since 'every lust warreth against the spirit;' and 'neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God,' nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming. Wherefore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. The virgins also must walk in a blameless and pure conscience." (Polycarp 5)
Purity of conscience begins with purity of body. Those who believe that they and their culture have become "enlightened" because they have cast off previous sexual mores and have become "liberated" in their bodies have failed to learn that licentiousness has existed in every age past. There is nothing new with our "sexual revolution" nor the problems it brings to both cultures and individuals.

Righteousness demands purity; purity of body and purity of mind. Oftentimes this cannot be achieved except through the rejection of the things of this world. We mist "bridle" our lives to the truth in obedience to it. Righteousness does not just happen, it happens when we choose to obey the truth, when we choose God's word and His Kingdom over the world and the things it has to offer, when we abstain from this life that we might receive the life to come.

David Robison

1 comment:

  1. When you mentioned mocking I was reminded of the false apostles in Acts 19 the Sons of Sceva who tried to cast out a demon in the name of Jesus who they did not know. Of course it did not end well for them. Getting beat up by a demon is my definition of a very bad day.
    Also, I never thought about the fact that the licentiousness of our society is nothing new. Like King Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun."
    I always enjoy your post.

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