What makes one approved of God? Good looks did not help Absalom (see 2 Samuel 14:25). Being the first born did not help Esau (Genesis 25:25). Having wealth did not help the rich young man of Matthew 19:16-22. Personal convictions that have nothing to do with salvation will not help one be approved of God (Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 7:19). The factious Corinthian's opinions did not help them get closer to God (2 Corinthians 10:12). How is man approved of God?
Isaiah, speaking for God, said, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word" (Isaiah 66:2b). Again, the prophet of God writes, "For thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15). Moses writes, "And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require ofthee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all they soul, to keep the commandments of Jehovah, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) Solomon writes "This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Micah writes, "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require ofthee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). When Jesus was asked by a lawyer what the greatest commandment in the law was the Lord said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy god with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Matthew 22:37-40).
Is there any doubt that the approved of God are those who read God's commands and follow those commands? While there is nothing wrong with having a personal conscience and conviction, opinions, wealth, and good looks none of these things will get one close to God. Man's greatest battle against Satan is in the area of making a proper distinction between these adiaphorous issues and the doctrine of Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 2:11). When one blends these nonessential elements in their lives with the word of God they cause confusion and strife with their selves and all those they teach.
The factious brethren in Corinth stand as a prime example of those who placed their opinions, convictions, and personal prejudices on par with God's divine standard. Paul said that all who do such things are "without understanding" (2 Corinthians 10:12). To be truly approved of God I must measure up to God's standards and no one else's (2 Corinthians 10:18). Let us all learn to put aside human opinion and conviction and put our total trust and confidence strictly in the word of God. The apostle Paul writes about the power of God's word saying that it, "Cast down imaginations (human reason) and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Not everyone will have such an approach to spirituality. Most are bent on doing things their own ways. Jesus said, "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leads unto life, and few are they that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). Few find and keep the way of Christ in obedience. Why? Solomon writes, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; But Jehovah weighs the spirits" (Proverbs 16:2 see also Proverbs 16:9, 25; 21:2). The eternally successful man or woman will be the one who is able to give the right reverence and fear toward God's divine revelation.
John C Robertson