How to keep our eyes on the prize.

Written by Lee Stevenson, sorry I am not the best editor.

The bible tells us to be without blemish and free from accusation. How can we accomplish this? In keeping ourselves without blemish it will help us keep our eye on the prize.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27) 24 Do you not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Now everyone competing in a contest exercises self-control in all things. Of course, they do it to receive a crown that can perish, but we, one that does not perish. 26 Therefore, the way I am running is not aimlessly; the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air; 27 but I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.

To be free from accusation we must continue in our faith which means we must continue to leave God’s world guide all we do. In order to continue to be cleansed by the blood of Christ we have to continue to grow spiritually and take in God’s word. We have to do all we can to make sure we have a clean conscience. The bible tells us to keep ourselves chaste. Chaste means undefiled or untouched. If we are accused and we are blameless our works will show our fruits and show the truth of matters. So if we remain blameless we will not end up suffering the results of our works. By remaining blameless we maintain the future hope in the promise of the gift of living forever. All the things in this system will be gone soon . Our lives in this system are very fleeting compared to what it will be like if we have hope in the future promises. The bible warns there is no forgiveness for those who willfully sin once they are aware of their sinful nature. We cannot expect to change over night it sometimes takes time to change but it is our willingness to work towards correcting our sinful nature once we have become aware of it that God takes note of. If we believe we do not sin the bible warns we are only deceiving ourselves. So growing spiritually means we continue to take in God’s word and to grow and overcome our sins as the mirror of God’s word makes us aware of our short comings.

The bible warns that things that are lawful are not always beneficial, this would include God’s laws. We are to remain blameless and free from accusations. If we are married and we constantly hang with members of the opposite sex and do things with them. It may be biblical lawful but it puts us in a position to commit an act of adultery. It can smear our reputation which would make our spouse seem foolish. Also how would the spouse feel if you would rather spend your time with someone else instead of them? We are told bad associations spoil useful habits. It may seem harmless but those who lack faith or do things they should not do can get us to start false reasoning and justify what they do and then we ourselves may get drawn in and fall short of God and start false reasoning.

If we realize we are sinning we need to confess our sins and do our best to set matters straight. Because if we do not then we are unrepentant and there is no forgiveness for our sins. You must confess the error to those harmed by it and to God. You should do your best to take corrective actions. Sometimes when the damage is too severe when we have fallen short it will take time for people to see if you are truly repentant and can be trusted. Some error we commit against others can leave scars emotionally that do not fully heal. Things would never be the same. If this occurs it is a consequence of our sinful nature and we must do our best to deal with it in a way that would please God so we do not forfeit the prize. Often times we do not realize we have sinned against someone until we have reflected in God’s word and it has opened our eyes to a short coming. If this occurs we cannot go back and ask forgiveness from every person we sinned against we should ask God to forgive us and do our best to overcome the short coming.

Even though something is permissible if it starts to control and overtake our life then it becomes a sin. The bible considers this a form of idolatry. Whether it is a person, object, money or even power if we start letting the desire for them overtake us then we are committing idolatry. Not only that but we start coveting things and the bible warns coveting is a sin.

The bible warns friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God. If we put more trust in ourselves and mans word then we do God’s then we are rebelling just as Adam and Eve did and we are making ourselves friends with the world. The bible warns bad associations spoil useful habits. They may seem very kind and may seem trust worthy but if they are deliberately sinning against God and have no desire to learn his word then it tells us something about them. They put their trust in man and themselves and associating with them can get us to use their reasoning instead of leaving God’s word guide us. It can draw us away and by the time we realize it often times the damage is done and it can dramatically change our lives. For example I know a man who went 20 years without drinkingl, he had been an alcoholic. He started associating with ones who drank alcohol. It drew him back into drinking. He got intoxicated and wrecked and his son was in the vehicle with him and had gotten killed in the accident.

Overconfidence in our spirituality can cause us to fall short. If we are aware of short comings we may have. We need to make sure we do not put ourselves in a situation to sin. I have seen many people drawn away from God and their lives were changed negatively forever because they got over confident and lost the awareness of their sinful nature. I watched them try to pursue happiness but never seen them succeed because they did not repent and try to set matters straight so they continued to decline and become even more sinful which destroyed their lives even more. Their quality of friends declined because as they became less trustworthy they lost the friends who would have truly stood by their side. Surely we would not want this to happen.

Jesus sermon on the mount tells us how to be happy I can say I have experienced many trials and they knock me down for a while but I get back up and continue forward spiritually and it has become very difficult to completely take happiness from me. I remain happy because I have the hope in the future promises and I know the things in this system are temporary and all suffering and sadness will be gone soon. Would it be worth giving up an eternity of happiness for what appears to be a source of happiness be seeking our happiness in the world? Jesus warned once we have repented if we turn back to our sinful nature not only will the demon that left come back but they will bring many more with them. Meaning our sinful nature will become very bad. Though sin may seem as if it would get rid of our loneliness or be exciting, would it be worth destroying our lives and others in such a way? If we have children do we want them to follow the example we have set? The bible warns of the consequences of stumbling even one child. Children learn by the examples we set. Our faith and obedience to God sets the example for them. If we fall short children will take note and most likely accept it as behavior that is ok to do. If we have bad associations we are telling children it is ok to have bad associations. What are we telling God , the bible clearly warns we should not have bad associations. This can lead the children to become corrupted, God would hold that against us. Would we want children to learn to forfeit the hope in the future promises and to lack faith? By having bad associations we are showing God we approve of such behavior, this includes associating with those who scoff at the bible.

We are to remain without blemish from the world we do this by being no part of the world. We cannot take ourselves entirely out of the world because we are to teach others about God’s word. Also we have obligations that cause us to be dependent on the world for certain things but we should not befriend those of the world they will draw us away from God and can cause us to full short then we would not remain unblemished or without spot from the world.

If we become a part of the world then we will start being molded by the world. The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. Is this who we would want shaping our thoughts. If we have children would we want Satan and those who chose his side as Adam and Eve did and put their faith in man or ourselves? The bible warns if we love the world or the things in the world then the love of the father is not in us. If we do not know Godly love then we will never know what real love is , to be able to give it. In return we will not know when we have been truly loved so will end up in emotionally empty relationships. We cannot experienced the oneness of mind that Jesus and God experience if we love the world more then we love God. Since God is love then we could never truly know love we would only know love as the world does. They lack devotion, commitment, loyalty, humility, and often times they only look out for their own self interest. This is why many marriages end in divorce now days.

The bible teaches us to view others as being superior to ourselves. Not only that but the bible tells us not to look out for our own self interest. Jesus set the perfect example of humility and willingness to serve others when he washed the disciples feet. He knew he had already earned the right to sit on the heavenly thrown and would be seated by God on the throne with full authority over everything but God himself and he still washed the disciples feet something that servants would have done. One of the ways of the world is to yell and scream at others and say hurtful things. They will attack them and pick them apart. This is not an act of humility and it shows they view themselves as being superior to the person they are attacking. They feel no remorse when this occurs. The bible warns not to even associate with such ones. It makes sense because they are showing their lack of humility. I often times wonder if they would talk like that to Jesus. The bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Rage and anger does not work God’s will towards others. There is righteous anger but it should be dealt with appropriately not with anger, back biting and personal attacks on someone. The bible warns those full of strife , God has handed them over to a disapproved state. Surely we would not want to be in a state of disapproval in God’s eyes? Being no part of the world means we do things as God and Jesus would want us to do and not as man would do. Just because things are lawful to do does not mean they are approved by God to do.

To remain no part of the world we need to be aware of our short coming and not put ourselves in a position to fall short. For example if we have a tendency to hang with bad associations we should work on correcting that behavior, if we have a tendency to drink excess alcohol we should avoid situations that can make us fall short. It may offend some people but we have to make sacrifices if we want to place first God rather then men. Man cannot give us hope in the future promises. None of God’s past promises have gone unfulfilled they all were fulfilled so we can be certain the future promises will be kept by God. We are going to suffer no matter what as we deal with imperfect humans , and our own imperfections. Why add more suffering to that by falling short of God? As this system winds down the friends we choose can determine if we survive or not. Now more then ever it is very important to choose our friends wisely and to walk with the wise. That means walking with the spiritually wise who have shown they produce fruits of the spirit and fruits of the lips. Though we are no longer required to provide animal sacrifices because Jesus ransom sacrifice has done away with that we are still required to make sacrifices of praise by letting people know about God’s love, mercy, kindness and many other amazing qualities he has. If we do not see others producing fruit we may want to be careful they may be lacking in faith. If they are newly learning then we need to be patient with them they may make many errors as they learn and apply God’s word.

So we need to do our best to remain without blemish from the world which will help us keep our eye on the prize and help us find true happiness no matter what we endure. So many say they feel empty. If they would learn to fully trust God and Put his will instead of their own or mans first they could feel the completeness that one who has complete faith in God has. Some appear to have faith in God but have not completely gave themselves over to listening to his word and guiding all they do so their thirst is never quenched. This results in them being unhappy, and depressed. They also are like a wave on the ocean. Whichever way the wind blows the wave goes. Those who have not fully trusted to leave God’s word guide them will be indecisive and often times confused about what they should do in life. Those who fully leave God’s word God them have a certain confidence because they know when to let their yes mean yes and no mean know. Mans ideas and beliefs are always changing but God’s word does not change and God does not change so we know what we ought to do and have no doubts about what is right or wrong. Putting our trust in the wisdom of man such as certain professionals over God’s word will lead us to make bad decisions and be indecisive. By letting God’s word guide all we do it makes our paths straight. The bible tells us to make our yes mean yes and our no mean no. Anything else is from the wicked one. So if we are indecisive it may indicate we need to study and apply God’s word more in our lives. (Matthew 5:36, 37) . . .. 37 Just let your word ‘Yes’ mean yes, your ‘No,’ no, for what goes beyond these is from the wicked one.)

(Colossians 1:21-23) 21 Indeed, you who were once alienated and enemies because your minds were on the works that were wicked, 22 he has now reconciled by means of that one’s fleshly body through his death, in order to present you holy and unblemished and open to no accusation before him— 23 provided, of course, that you continue in the faith, established on the foundation and steadfast, not being shifted away from the hope of that good news that you heard and that was preached in all creation under heaven. Of this good news I, Paul, became a minister.

(Hebrews 9:14) how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we may render sacred service to the living God?

(Hebrews 10:22) let us approach with sincere hearts and complete faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from a wicked conscience and our bodies bathed with clean water.

(1 Timothy 5:22) 22 Never lay your hands hastily on any man; neither become a sharer in the sins of others; keep yourself chaste.

(1 Peter 2:12) 12 Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, so that when they accuse you of being wrongdoers, they may be eyewitnesses of your fine works and, as a result, glorify God in the day of his inspection.

(2 Peter 3:11-13) 11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, consider what sort of people you ought to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, 12 as you await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens will be destroyed in flames and the elements will melt in the intense heat! 13 But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.

(1 John 1:8-10) 8 If we make the statement, “We have no sin,” we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we make the statement, “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.

(1 Corinthians 10:23, 24) 23 All things are lawful, but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. 24 Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.

(Hebrews 10:26-31) 26 For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, 27 but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a burning indignation that is going to consume those in opposition. 28 Anyone who has disregarded the Law of Moses dies without compassion on the testimony of two or three. 29 How much greater punishment do you think a person will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God and who has regarded as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? 30 For we know the One who said: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again: “Jehovah will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

(1 Corinthians 6:12) 12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful for me, but I will not let myself be controlled by anything.

(Romans 7:7) 7 What, then, are we to say? Is the Law sin? Certainly not! Really, I would not have come to know sin had it not been for the Law. For example, I would not have known covetousness if the Law had not said: “You must not covet.

(Colossians 3:5) 5 Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion, hurtful desire, and greediness, which is idolatry.

(James 4:2-5) 2 You desire, and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting, and yet you are not able to obtain. You go on fighting and waging war. You do not have because of your not asking. 3 When you do ask, you do not receive because you are asking for a wrong purpose, so that you may spend it on your fleshly desires. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God. 5 . . .

(James 4:2-5) 2 You desire, and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting, and yet you are not able to obtain. You go on fighting and waging war. You do not have because of your not asking. 3 When you do ask, you do not receive because you are asking for a wrong purpose, so that you may spend it on your fleshly desires. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God. 5 . . .

(Romans 13:8-10) . . .. 9 For the law code, “You must not commit adultery, you must not murder, you must not steal, you must not covet,” and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this saying: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore, love is the law’s fulfillment.

(James 1:14, 15) 14 But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn sin, when it has been carried out, brings forth death.

(Matthew 12:43-45) 43 “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it passes through waterless places in search of a resting-place and finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will go back to my house from which I moved,’ and on arriving, it finds the house unoccupied but swept clean and adorned. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven different spirits more wicked than itself, and after getting inside, they dwell there; and the final circumstances of that man become worse than the first. That is how it will be also with this wicked generation.”

(Matthew 18:5, 6) . . .. 6 But whoever stumbles one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have hung around his neck a millstone that is turned by a donkey and to be sunk in the open sea.

(Romans 12:1, 2) . . .. 2 And stop being molded by this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, so that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(1 John 2:15-17) 15 Do not love either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; 16 because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. 17 Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

(John 17:20-23) 20 “I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word, 21 so that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. 23 I in union with them and you in union with me, in order that they may be perfected into one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you loved them just as you loved me.

(Philippians 2:3, 4) 3 Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you, 4 as you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.

(John 13:2-11) . . .. 3 So Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he came from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the evening meal and laid aside his outer garments. And taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist. 5 After that he put water into a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him: “Lord, are you washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand after these things.” 8 Peter said to him: “You will certainly never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him: “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him: “Lord, wash not only my feet but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him: “Whoever has bathed does not need to have more than his feet washed, but is completely clean. And you men are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For he knew the man who was betraying him. This is why he said: “Not all of you are clean.”

(1 Corinthians 15:26-28) 26 And the last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing. 27 For God “subjected all things under his feet.” But when he says that ‘all things have been subjected,’ it is evident that this does not include the One who subjected all things to him. 28 But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.

(Proverbs 16:32) 32 The one slow to anger is better than a mighty man, And the one controlling his temper than one conquering a city.

(Proverbs 22:24, 25) 24 Do not keep company with a hot-tempered man Or get involved with one disposed to rage, 25 So that you never learn his ways And ensnare yourself.

(Proverbs 14:17) 17 The one who is quick to anger acts foolishly, But the man who thinks things out is hated.

(Romans 1:28-30) 28 Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting. 29 And they were filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and badness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice, being whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, schemers of what is harmful, disobedient to parents,

(Galatians 5:22-24) 22 On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Moreover, those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed to the stake the flesh together with its passions and desires.

(Galatians 6:7-10) 7 Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap; 8 because the one sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but the one sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit. 9 So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due time we will reap if we do not tire out. 10 So, then, as long as we have the opportunity, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.

(Hebrews 13:14-16) . . .. 15 Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that make public declaration to his name. 16 Moreover, do not forget to do good and to share what you have with others, for God is well-pleased with such sacrifices.

(John 4:13-15) . . .. 14 Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to him: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may neither thirst nor keep coming over to this place to draw water.”