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Introduction: Micah 6:1-10:. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –
- if there was any question that we need to answer correctly it is the one voiced here. What does God require? How can I know what God wants? Does God care at all?
- I. Accountability: The presence of expectations implies the possibility of judgment. Expectations joined with the power of judgment equals accountability. The whole redemptive story of the Bible speaks of our accountability toward God.
- Hebrews 4:12-13 – 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
A. God has expectations of us. At times I have had people ask me what they would have to do if they became a member of this church. Would they be expected to attend all the worship assemblies, be active in any teaching program? Give money to any projects, pray, etc. How would you answer them? Even if I could give them a list, my list, or the church’s list wouldn’t mean anything.
1. At the heart of the creation account in Genesis is the reality of the creature personal responsibility to the Creator. God has had expectations of His creatures from the beginning. Gen. 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (NKJ) Creation itself implied a relationship where man would reverence God and look to Him for purpose and life.
a. Adam & Eve failed to meet God’s expectations and judgment followed. Cain failed to recognize his responsibility to God, and God reacted to his disobedience. As the world grew more and more irresponsible and wicked, God brought a worldwide judgment on His creation in Genesis 6. 2 Peter 2:4-9 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) — 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
b. One of the clear principles that we can learn from the O.T. is the accountability of every person toward God. The willingness of God to judge the sinner stands as a continuing warning to those who would attempt to escape their responsibility or live in disobedience.
B. Some have rejected the revelation of God’s expectations contained in scripture and created their own expectations. They set up their own rules. How can I please God?
1. Many (or maybe most) would attempt to answer that question completely apart from scripture. They see salvation in being good to man and animals, environmentalism, involvement with homeless, giving large sums to charity, etc. They adopt the expectations of society & culture. Good & right become relative to the behavior of those around them.
a. This is similar to Naaman’s approach to the clear words of Eslisha, God’s porpeht on how to be cleansed from his leprosy. 2 Kings 5:10-13 – And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
b. In this type of approach it is possible to arrive at just the opposite conclusions concerning what God wants. How can churches that claim to want to please God approve of homosexuality and adultery?
2. But we must all give account for our life and behavior before God. Romans 14:12: “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
C. How does God express to us His requirements? The Israelites were not confused on this question. They understood that God had spoken in His word. Deut 6:1-6 – Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you — ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
- Notice that God speaks clearly about their accountability toward every commandment, and extends that to the heart.
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1. God expects obedience to every command. James clearly works under the premise that God’s word is the source of our accountability toward God.
- 1:20 – receive the implanted word which is able to save your souls.
- 1:22 – be not hearers (of the word) but doers.. God blesses the doers.
- 1:25 – look into the perfect law of liberty
- 2:10 – For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
2. Many who look to scripture for direction are confused and disappointed. They expect to find a list of rules & regulations or a book of moral platitudes for daily reading. Scripture does contain commands – some specific – pray, tell the truth, repent, be baptized, etc. But God also teaches through principles. Our inability to concretely apply principles leads to frustration or to the conclusion that the Bible is useless to us.
3. God’s requirements go beyond “religious activity”. God’s desires are to impact our entire lives and transform our hearts.
II. Look at the O.T. passage wherewe began tonight. God expresses our accountability in the context of 3 principles . Micah 6:8
A. To Act Justly — Some translations have “do justice” – indicating a responsibility to seek for equality, or what is fair. This requirement has its implications in our relationship with God and each other. Adam Clarke says the meaning here is to give a person what is due them.
1. Give God what is due Him – honor, obedience, praise. It was unjust For Israel to turn their back on God when He had done so many things for them (Mic. 6:2-4) Live by this principle – Do not blame God for the bad things in your life – Do not allow trouble to turn you away from God. Jer 10:6-7 “Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might), Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due.”
2. Give every person what is due – Rom 13:7 “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Every one in your life has a right to expect something from you. Paul told the Christians even Rome could expect their taxes.
B. To Love Mercy – mercy is the willingness to show kindness instead of justice (condemnation). Psalm 103:6-14 depicts God as the source of all mercy. God loves to be merciful to His children – not wishing any to perish
1. Do you love to show mercy? Or do you relish the idea of catching someone in a fault, so you can condemn? Mercy is a principle of life that comes from God – not us. The natural man seeks retribution & vindication.
C. To Walk Humbly With Your God – Jesus used the same trilogy of requirements to upbraid the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as they placed arbitrary religious duties above the practical principles of God’s law. Matt 23:23-24 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” To walk humbly is to live by faith.
1. Humble faith always involves a readiness to obey. A life lived without excuses and rationalizations. I do not seek to justify myself, but to bow myself down so others to see Christ.
Conclusion: Micah’s principles of what God requires are reflected later in the gospel of Christ – though the law has changed, God’s principles are changeless. Jesus said:
1) “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:2) – Do Justly
2) “Be merciful, as your Father also is merciful;” (Luke 6:36) – Love Mercy
3) and Paul encourages us to, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:5-8) –Walk humbly with your God.
My accountability toward God is not mystical or individually determined. God has spoken. The thus saith the Lord of the prophets, the I say unto you of Jesus’ words; and the it is written of the apostolic doctrine all define what God requires.
Mark 16:15-16 – 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Do you see your accountability here?