in the Christian Library
John L. Kachelman, Jr.
I. In this passage Paul presents a broad contrast that is designed to show the great difference between believers and unbelievers.
1. The true believers follow a lifestyle (walk) which
results in wonderful blessings and immeasurable joy.
2. The unbeliever, and the faithless disciple, will never
find true joy because he is not concerned enough to "walk" in the right
3. In our last lesson we observed the RIGHT way to walk
in verses 17, 20-21.
a. The HOW was shown: by imitating Paul and mature believers
b. The WHY was answered: Because we are citizens of heaven!
c. We briefly noted the joyful results: eager expectation
of Christ's return (v. 20); assurance of the resurrected body (v. 21a);
vindication by the glorious power of God (21b).
II. In our present study we turn to consider the other
way of walking -- the WRONG WAY (v. 18-19).
1. Should one deliberately choose not to follow the right
way of obedient living, this is the only alternative left!
2. Those who refuse obedience need to carefully consider
this section and realize the gravity of disobedience!
I. Paul shows us the WRONG WAY to walk (v. 18-19).
A. We note the HOW of walking in the wrong way.
1. Paul is very specific in stating how one can walk in
the wrong way. This involves a deliberate choice of rejecting God's will,
just as walking in the right way involves a deliberate choice of accepting
God's will (cf. Ac 13:44-48).
2. One who walks in the wrong way makes their belly a
god to them (v. 19).
a. A similar statement is found in Ro 16:18.
b. This refers to one who is concerned only with pleasing
himself. His goal in life is to satisfy only himself. He is not bound by
the standards of God's will, he is guided only by that which satisfies
and pleases him!
c. This "god" may be a multitude of things -- whatever
comes first in one's thoughts, that which you most want to do. Anything
that habitually occupies the mind and actions.
d. This trait directly strikes at a number of texts which
emphasize the need to deny ourselves of things that are wrong and things
which become barriers to our service (1 Jn 2:15; Ro 14:17; Gal 5:24; 6:14;
1 Pt 2:11).
e. How sad it is to see one like this -- who is so selfish
and so interested only in pleasing self that others are hurt and used!
f. It is very possible that some have followed this way
and followed the wrong way -- Have you put aside Christ and His church
for some personal desire thus making your "god" your belly?
g. Seriously think on this point! "The meaning of this
devotion is the degradation of the man below the level of the beast" (Pulpit
3. One who walks in the wrong way will glory in their
shame (v. 19).
a. They glory in that which should cause them to be ashamed!
b. I have heard people boast about doing things which
should never even been spoken about! They gloried in fornication, how much
alcohol they drank, of money gained by gambling, fighting, and other shameful
acts! They actually boasted in doing things for which they should have
c. How sad it is whenever one's conscience will become
so dull and insensitive that the early training of parents and Bible school
teachers is cast aside with no regard and life is spent glorying in shame!
(2 Pt 2:9b-10; Hos 4:7).
4. One who walks in the wrong way will possess earthly attitudes and goals (v. 19).
a. Their value system is based upon the dollar mark. They
are unable to appreciate any spiritual values because it is not material!
b. Paul is not saying that material things are sinful
(cf. 1 Ti 6:17b). He is saying that the attitudes of living for the present
and neglecting the future is wrong (Jere 45:5).
c. What does it mean to have your mind on earthly things?
1) You accept the standards of morality of the world.
"Those outside of Jesus Christ have the ethics and morals of animals. They
basically live as animals. When a man accepts the moral standards of an
animal, he can never conform to the holiness and righteousness of God"
2) You desire the world (Col 3:2); admire the world (Lk
21:5, 6); labor after the world (Jn 6:27).
d. "The apostolic description fits a great many people
who would be chagrined and embarrassed to admit it; but it is evident to
all except themselves that their one and only interest is centered in the
present life on earth" (Coffman).
B. Paul tells us the TRAGIC RESULTS of walking the wrong
1. Such dispels all joy with sorrow (v. 18).
a. In an epistle filled with joy it is shocking to read
of the great apostle weeping!
b. Ps 119:136 -- There is no heavier sorrow than that
arising from disobedience of God's Law!
c. The one who walks in the wrong way will be a source
of great agony for family, friends, and God!
2. Such will become an enemy of the cross (v. 18).
a. "Cross" -- Stands representing all of the doctrine
b. Those in the world despise and scoff at all of the
teachings of Christ (Jas 4:4).
3. Such will face the inevitable end of destruction (v.
a. Those who deny the cross and refuse salvation will
reap eternal separation from God!
b. There is but one end to such a life (Ro 6:21; Hb 6:8;
2 Co 11:15).
4. Such must be "marked" (v. 18). Paul had noted them
before and does so again. They must be marked so as to provide safety for
the remaining members (1 Co 5:7; Ro 16:17; 2 Ths 3:6).
III. The PLEA of Paul to walk in the right way stated
A. The chapter division is unfortunate because it removes
this grand conclusion from the body of exhortation.
B. In view of the great contrast the readers are encouraged
to stand fast in the right way!
1. Do not allow yourself to be swept away by the world's
allurements -- recognize the end which awaits the world!
2. The right way is found only "in the Lord."
3. Surely the reasonable listener will see the need to
follow inspiration's counsel on this point!
I. Thus Paul has outlined a most important lesson for
Christians today -- we are either following the right way or the wrong
way (Mt 7:13-14)!
II. May all be impressed with the understanding that this
world holds nothing of eternal values, it will pass away and only those
who are prepared will enjoy eternity!
III. Which way are you walking today? Which will you deliberately
choose? Choose the right way as the Lord's invitation is sung!
Copyright 1998 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
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