Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Paul's Exhortation's to the Church: An Exhortation to Good Works

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." 
(Philippians 2:12)

The "wherefore" is introducing a conclusion based upon the previous example of Christ. With such knowledge of Jesus' servanthood, sacrifice and superiority, it is only fitting that every believer be called to righteous actions. Paul's tenderness is may be felt in the phrase my beloved. A call to obedience is often received more humbly if it is given more tenderly.

Paul acknowledges the past obedience of the Philippian church. It is always good to offer appropriate praise when it is due. Rebuke is biblical and necessary; however, praise is often just as important. The man who refuses to praise will find that his rebukes are far more likely to be ignored or misunderstood. The administration of praise reveals to people that their efforts of obedience have not gone unnoticed; and when the time for rebuke comes, those same people are far more likely to receive the correction in a profitable manner. When giving His rebukes to the seven churches, the Lord prefaced five of the seven rebukes with an acknowledgment of that particular church's obedience. Christians should follow this example.

The Philippian church's obedience was not dependent upon apostolic presence. As previously mentioned, true obedience is demonstrated in the absence of a godly influence. The Lord wants His saints to do righteously regardless of the presence or absence of holy peer pressure.

The command to "work out" one's own salvation is not teaching salvation by works. The command is simply challenging the believer to live out practically the salvation which he has been given positionally. When a man is inducted into the military, positionally speaking, he is a soldier; however, practically speaking, he must perform the part.

Each believer is responsible to live out his own salvation. No man may live it for him. Some professing believers act as though they desire their spiritual friends and teachers to live the Christian life for them, but such is not possible. Each saint is individually accountable to God. The personal responsibilities of Bible study, prayer and Christian conduct may not be delegated to a pastor, teacher or any other individual regardless of the depth of his Christian walk.

Fear and trembling are to characterize the Christian's lifestyle. In the original text, the phrase with fear and trembling is emphatic. A word for word translation would render, "with fear and trembling, the of yourselves salvation work out." The holy example of Christ should move a believer to sobriety, not foolishness. Much modern-day Christian service is performed in a spirit of carelessness and silliness while a healthy fear of God is noticeably lacking. Youth groups, worship services, special events, visitation and many so-called church activities are all too often characterized by pride, disrespect, sacrilege, apathy, folly and many other carnal attitudes and actions. Such things are fleshly products, not biblical patterns. Being afraid to fail Christ and others is a good thing. Fear of disobedience's consequences can help to keep a person on track.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Paul's Exhortations to the Church: An Exhortation to Humility (Part V)

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

Exaltation by the Father is the result of Christ's willingness to humble Himself. The deepest humility possible resulted in the greatest glorification imaginable. The phrase highly exalted is from a single verb which means to exalt to the highest position possible. Jesus has not simply been exalted to some lofty position; He has been placed in the highest possible position of glory.

Just as Jesus Christ has received the rewards of obedience, the believer will also receive the approval of his Master when the battle is over. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (I Peter 5:6)." Christ-like humility goes against human thinking, desires, emotions and pride; but the end result of obedience is great glory and the sweet approval of God Himself. Without such a spirit, unity in the doctrine of Christ will be impossible.

Though, for the time being, Jesus is rejected by most, the day is coming when all will be forced to give Him glory. The bowing of every knee will demonstrate the reality that Christ is the only way to the Father. He alone is supreme. Three realms are mentioned in the text: the heavenly realm, the earthly realm and the realm of the damned. These three areas encompass all that has to do with the conflict between light and darkness. Nothing will be left to chance. Every angelic messenger will acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus. Every earthly being, as well as the powers of darkness that roam the earth, will acknowledge the supremacy of Christ. Even those who have been consigned to hell will be brought forth and forced to acknowledge that Jesus is superior. Their confession will not be profitable to their souls; it will serve to vindicate God's righteousness. Every soul that has ever scoffed at Christ's sacrifice will be forced to confess His superiority. From the morally pleasing lost man to the most vile sinner imaginable, each will acknowledge his rightful damnation and Jesus' righteous glorification. Even the devils and demons who have strived to destroy each and every soul will give praise to the high and holy name of JESUS.

As the world becomes increasingly apostate, the name of Jesus becomes cheaper. Rather than being revered, His name is used as a curse. This precious name is used lightly by millions who profess a Christianity that is curiously void of repentance, faith and holiness. His name adorns sacrilegious clothing, posters and religious trinkets of all kinds; but someday, the light and profane use of His name will cease, and the Holy One of Israel will be restored to His rightful place of reverence. God's people ought never to be guilty of using Jesus' name in a flippant manner. Such sin is easy to commit when one is surrounded by so many bad influences; however, to use the name of Christ insincerely is to take God's name in vain.

In the last verse, the name Lord is emphatic. A literal reading would render "Lord is Jesus Christ." Such a title not only acknowledges the mastership of Jesus, it also indisputably connects His name to that of JEHOVAH.

The end prospect is the full and final glory of God the Father. I Corinthians 15:28 says, "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." Even in the throws of such glory, Jesus Christ abides as the supreme example of He who is fully subjected to the will of the Father. In light of such things, the believer is entirely without excuse.

Such is Paul's admonition concerning humility. Without it, contention and carnality will plague the local assembly; but when it is present, peace, charity, obedience, endurance and holy unity will be the result.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Paul's Exhortations to the Church: An Exhortation to Humility (Part IV)

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:8)

The Lord who possesses all power chose to set aside the privilege of that power so that sinful people might have hope. Such an example is the zenith of meekness. The term meekness conveys the thought of power under control. Jesus' power is supreme. He is not threatened by any opposition. No man took Christ's life; He willingly laid it down (John 10:18). No man is able to humble God; Christ humbled Himself. The verb humbled in the text is active and not passive. Christ as the subject performed the action upon Himself. Yet, in spite of such power, the Lord chose to set aside the privileges of His power and do what was best for those who could not and cannot help themselves.

God's love expressed through such humility did not stop short of the ultimate sacrifice. The thought of the Creator subjecting Himself to the agony and shame of the cross seems unimaginable, yet such is the reality. If Jesus Himself was willing to display such humility, what excuse does the Christian have for pride? This passage is calling believers to humility. Pride destroys unity. It does not delight in sacrificing for others. It hates personal rebuke. Pride is always seeking for a way to sow doubt and contention rather than seeking to edify. Prideful people want to be noticed. They want to be worshiped and respected. Ultimately, pride encourages a man to usurp the authority which God alone possesses. Pride is the sin that removed Lucifer from his place in heaven, and it is the sin which is sure to remove the believer from his place of usefulness (I Timothy 3:6).

On the other hand, Christ-like humility is in direct opposition to human pride. Humility delights in sacrifice for others. It appreciates personal rebuke. Rather than tearing down, it seeks to build the righteous faith of others. Humble people are willing to bend for the wellbeing of others. This is not compromise, it is simply putting the needs of others ahead of one's own. Humility lets God be God, and it does not attempt to remove the Spirit from the throne of the believer's heart. It diligently considers the admonishes of the Scriptures, and it seeks to apply those admonitions to daily life. All of these attributes, and many more, are life and health to the righteous unity of the Church.   

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Paul's Exhortations to the Church: An Exhortation to Humility (Part III)

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:" (Philippians 2:6-7)

These verses offer a wealth of insight into the nature of Christ. First of all, Christ's deity is expressed by His eternality. Before He ever became a man, He was being God. The idea of continuous action is expressed in this statement. Jesus Christ has always been with the Father. He has no beginning of life, and He has no end of days (Revelation 1:8). Next, His deity is seen in the fact that He is, was and always will be in the very form of the Father. When Phillip asked Jesus to show him and the others the Father (John 14:9), Jesus responded, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" To look into the eyes of Christ, is to look into the eyes of Jehovah God. No better picture of God's character exists because Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of that character. Lastly, the Scriptures clearly place the Father and the Son on an equal plain. Jesus is equal to God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John1:1)." Christ was never ashamed to equate Himself to the Father. The Scriptures clearly demonstrate that the three Persons of the Godhead have different positions; however, the Scriptures never show one to have greater deity than the other. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in divinity.

Not only do these verses testify of Jesus' deity, they also testify of His humanity. Even though the Lord could claim deity without shame, He was not unwilling to put on human flesh and to come to the aid of helpless men. Although He would have been justified in doing so, God the Son did not remain in heaven while beholding the misfortune of mankind; but instead, "the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation (Isaiah 59:15-16)." When men are in a place of advantage, they often demonstrate a lack of concern for the helpless but not so with God.

The phrase made of no reputation is translated from a single Greek verb which means to empty. The term kenosis, which is in reference to Christ humbling Himself, is derived from this Greek verb kenoo. In becoming man, Christ did not lay aside His deity; but rather, He divested Himself of any privileges. He allowed His glory and splendor to be temporarily masked in order that He might accomplish man's redemption.

Instead of coming in the glory and splendor of divinity as one might expect, the Creator of all came as a servant. Such an advent is in direct opposition to the prideful thinking of man; therefore, the Holy Spirit uses the humility of Christ's first advent to teach His children how they are to behave toward each other. Not only did Jesus come in a humble fashion, He came as a servant or slave. As the One invested with all power, the Lord chose the meanest of appearances in order that His example might forever be the guiding light for His disciples. If Christians will view themselves as servants of God and each other, they will be far more likely to stand fast in the Lord with one mind.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Paul's Exhortations to the Church: An Exhortation to Humility (Part II)

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

The reader is now introduced to a key element in maintaining Christian unity - sincere humility. Christian service is never to be performed in a spirit of rivalry or empty glory. Serving in an attitude of strife is quite easy to do, and the pursuit of vain things in the ministry is all too common. Examples of this would include rivalry between members of an assembly, looking down on another believer while esteeming one's own position in the church, being proud of one's spiritual pursuits etc. A man who uses an assembly as a steppingstone to aid him in moving up the religious political ladder would be a prime example of pursuing vainglory. If professing believers were removed their respective congregations based upon these two attitudes, the local church would be quite small.

These attitudes do not reflect genuine humility which is here referred to as lowliness of mind; but rather, they reflect a prideful spirit. God wants each Christian to consider the other over his own agenda. He wants His people to consider themselves to be less important than they may be tempted to think they are. Jesus illustrated this attitude when He said,

When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. (Luke 14:8-10)

The verb behind look is the word from which scope is derived. Rather than focus on one's own needs while blocking out all else as a rifleman might look through the scope of his rifle, the Christian is to take great interest in the needs of others. In fact, he is to esteem them above his own. This verse is not forbidding a man to take care of his needs. On the contrary, such things are necessary in order to keep on serving. Instead, this passage is forbidding a self-centered attitude which blocks out the physical and spiritual necessities of others. Serving people means sacrificing time, money, a certain amount of freedom, pleasure and often times, rest. Such sacrifices will not be performed if the believer is too busy bringing his own goals into scope while blocking out the burdens of others.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5)

The mind to which the text refers is this mind of Christ-like humility which has been discussed up to this point. The Lord Himself is the supreme example of one who put others first. He is the ultimate illustration of selfless service. No one else had such a righteous focus. No one else has ever been in perfect harmony with the will of God the Father; therefore, the Christian should strive to apply the very same attitude which Jesus Christ displayed during His earthly ministry.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Paul's Exhortations to the Church: An Exhortation to Humility

"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." (Philippians 2:1-2)

The ifs in these verses may be understood as since. Since there is consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit and bowels and mercies, believers are to be likeminded. The spiritual consolations of Christ are real, and His Spirit is ever present in the Christian's life, providing the unparalleled comfort of Christ-like love. The word for fellowship is the same word from which communion is derived. God Himself lives within the Christian's soul. He is the "new man" which is so often mentioned throughout the New Testament. His presence is what gives victory over sin, and it is this very presence that encourages the lost to see a difference in the saint's life. The word bowels refers to the compassions and tender mercies which are ultimately displayed through Christ's love for the souls of people.

Because the children of God have been given free access to these divine helps, they are all called unto an attitude of Christian unity. The verb fulfill is a direct command given in the second person plural form. Bringing joy to God's heart by means of Christ-like unity is not an option. Through this direct command, the Christian's will is challenged to submit in obedience. The phrase likeminded literally means thinking the same thing. Everyone has a different personality which manifests various likes and dislikes. The Lord is not commanding that each individual put aside his unique identity. He is commanding each believer to put aside his own desires in order that he might fulfill the desires of the King. When a man is completely focused on obtaining some personal desire, he easily becomes upset if God changes his plans; however, when that same man is most concerned with fulfilling the mind of God, deep disappointment will be less frequent should God change that man's direction. Even though Paul and Silas were two different people, both men were focused on spreading the good news of Jesus Christ; therefore, their efforts harmonized and brought glory to the work of Christ.

The text says that every believer is to have the same love. Even though the local church consists of many different types of people with various strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, it will enjoy a strong unity among its members as long as each believer's love is centered in Christ. Christian's who love the Bible and desire nothing more than to obey it are people who are difficult to separate. Trouble and disunity come about when the members of the congregation begin to fall in love with the world. Members become distracted by jobs, pleasure, social fellowships, hobbies, gossip, fears, movements of various kinds; and through these things they can be distracted from the love of Christ; and once their love has shifted from Christ to sensual things, they are no longer effected as deeply by His commands and principles. When this occurs, disunity is sure to follow. A healthy church does not consist of one or two people who are bent on serving God. One or two God-fearing people will not keep a church from shipwreck. A healthy church consists of very different people who all share a central desire to love God above anything else.

Practically speaking, likemindedness is not possible if people do not communicate with one another. When appropriate, praise should be given for righteous attitudes and actions. If an offense occurs, the individuals involved are required to resolve such things in a biblical manner (Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15-17). If correction is necessary, the appropriate person or persons should not fail to administer it (Romans 15:14). Sometimes a man is unwittingly pushing or intruding upon another and he simply needs to be lovingly informed of his misconduct. People often fail to communicate for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is due to pride. Often times, fear inhibits communication, or it may be due to a lack of concern. Quite often, it is due simply to a lack of awareness. Regardless, a failure in communication will result in hurt feelings, bitterness, misunderstanding and a host of other attitudes and emotions that are detrimental to the Body's unity.   

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Paul's Desire for the Church: A Desire for Steadfastness (Part IV)

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me." (Philippians 1:29-30)

At some point in his Christian life, the believer will undergo some degree of persecution or trouble for the name of Christ. The Greek word for given means to freely give. The believer has been freely given the blessed opportunity to simply believe in Christ, and he has been freely given the responsibility to suffer in some way for the cause of Christ; therefore, he should not think it odd when such things befall him. Every employee expects to encounter difficulty while serving his employer. The soldier is not surprised when he is called upon to confront the enemy and to experience injury or perhaps death. Therefore, why should a Christian think it so strange when his world is disrupted for the cause of Christ? If a professing Christian does not experience conflict with the world, he is either a false professor or a carnal one. Jesus said to the religious lost men of His day, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil (John 7:7)." If a man is pursuing Christ's righteousness, the world's servants will not appreciate him; however, if he is hiding his light under a bushel, or if he is not truly saved, the world's servants will not view him as a threat. It is interesting to see how this principle holds true even among believers. When a Christian is walking in carnality, he is aggravated by the saint who is trying to please the Holy Spirit; and he enjoys the saint who is as carnal as he is. Sometimes persecutions can come from within the church as well as from without.

A Christian must guard against inappropriately applying the realities of persecution. Some people believe they are being persecuted when they are not, or they imagine themselves to be persecuted worse than they truly are. Others get themselves into trouble through sin or foolish choices and then proceed to label themselves persecuted. None of these scenarios equate to what is being taught in this verse.

Paul recognized the fact that the Philippian believers were experiencing the same opposition to the gospel as he was. The word for conflict is the root word from which agony is derived. The Christian's battles are often agonizing, yet his ultimate victory is irrevocable. Paul did not view himself as the only man experiencing fierce opposition. He appreciated the fact that every believer is in the same fight. In his attitude is an air of refreshing humility. Some believers act as though no one else has ever undergone the troubles they face. Such an attitude is self-centered and prideful, and it encourages self-pity rather than charity.

Having ended with a charge of steadfastness, the Holy Spirit will explain in the verses to come how the believer is to fulfill that charge.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Paul's Desire for the Church: A Desire for Steadfastness (Part III)

"And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God." (Philippians 1:28)

Refusing to give in to the fear of man is part of standing fast. Fear of anything other than God will cripple Christian service. Fear is a reality. The believer is consistently tempted to fear the troubles and persecutions brought on by the world (I Corinthians 2:3); however, when tempted to fear, a Christian is not required to give in. In fact, he is commanded not to fear man and his methods. Why? Because unbelief is closely linked to the fear of man. In Revelation 21:8, the fearful are at the forefront of those mentioned who will be committed to damnation. When a man allows himself to be overcome by the fear of people and circumstances, he is choosing to disbelieve in God's power and promises. Every believer will experience the fear of man; however, when this happens, he should flee to God in prayer as David so often did.

When a Christian refuses to live in fear of his situation and the persecutions brought on by others, the ungodly will be benefited. A Christian should remember that his persecutors themselves live in a constant state of fear concerning death and the unknown (Hebrews 2:15); therefore, his refusal to be intimidated by their hatred will only serve to remind them that he has a power which they do not possess, a power which is found only through faith in Christ. The Scripture says that such a situation is an evident token of perdition. The word perdition means destruction. In the Greek New Testament, this word most often refers to eternal damnation as it does in this verse. By keeping his focus on Jesus during times of turmoil, a Christian has the blessed opportunity of reminding the lost that hell is their ultimate end unless they repent.

In every way, the saint of God is made to triumph. The text says that the believer's calmness in the midst of trial is an evident token of that man's salvation. Instead of being a threat to the saint's welfare, the attacks of the God-haters can serve to remind the lost of their need while openly declaring the spiritual welfare of the God-fearing man. This truth was demonstrated in Paul's life prior to his salvation. When he witnessed Stephen's death, he must have been convicted by Stephen's peace in the face of such adversity. The more Christians he persecuted, the more miserable he was. When Paul finally met Jesus on the road to Damascus, the Lord said to him "...it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (Acts 9:5)." Paul's conscience was bothered by the spiritual welfare of those he persecuted. It was also bothered by the need which he felt in his own soul, a need which was only amplified through the persecution of Christ's Church.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Paul's Desire for the Church: A Desire for Steadfastness (Part II)

Continued from verse 27

The Lord desired for the Philippian believers to be steadfast in biblical truth and His desire for the present-day church has not changed. Small compromises here and there are the enemy of a believer's steadfastness. Concessions to seemingly insignificant doctrines will eventually lead to wholesale apostasy. Should not a believer become more conservative with age? As he grows in Christian charity, he should grow in his appreciation for God's holiness. It is every believer's responsibility to become less like the world over time, not more like it.

The Lord wants His people to be of one spirit and one mind. The word for mind means soul or life. Such unity is made possible only through obedience to Scripture. The modern-day concept of unity does not do justice to this passage. Many professing believers imagine unity to be the absence of any doctrine which might cause division. They gather together around the banner of "love" while putting aside any conviction which might cause tension. Such is not biblical unity. This type of unity is shallow and deceptive. It leaves room for numerous false doctrines to arise, and in the end, it leads people to hell through its lack of appreciation for God's unwavering standards. True unity demands obedience to the Bible. In Acts 5:1-11, God protected the unity of the early church by removing from its midst two people who were practicing deception which is contrary to the heart of God's law. God-fearing, humble people are unified people.

The Lord makes it clear that such steadfastness will be accompanied by confrontation and difficulty. The word translated striving together means to fight with or to contend with. Believers should expect to join hands and fight the spiritual battles of their faith. In God's army, there are no spiritual commandos. Every believer needs the prayers and gifts of other believers. God is able to provide special graces for times when Christian communion is not possible; however, Christians helping Christians is the norm, not the exception. Pride is a prime characteristic of all those who do not appreciate the truth of Christian helps.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Paul's Desire for the Church: A Desire for Steadfastness

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;" (Philippians 1:27)

"Only, worthy of the gospel of Christ conduct yourselves." This is a literal translation. Christ's holy gospel is worthy of the Christian's utmost dedication. "The Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 2:12)" is absolutely spotless, because "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5)." His righteous gospel is worthy of a righteous life. "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (I Thessalonians 4:7)." In every way, a Christian's conduct should reflect the gospel unto which he has been called. As society becomes more wicked and the professing church becomes more enamored with the world, the term "gospel" becomes more and more meaningless. When people think of the word "gospel," they often think of a Bluegrass music festival or a Rock n' Roll concert attended by people who are characterized by emotion, sensuality, lust and pride. Such is Satan's representation of the gospel. A biblical gospel is characterized by humility, godly fear, repentant faith, separation from the world and a host of other attributes that reflect consecration. A believer's conduct should be humble (James 4:10). His speech should be free of crass or defaming words (Colossians 4:6). He should dress in a way that encourages people to see not him but God (I Timothy 2:9-10). His priorities should show that he values eternal things rather than temporal things (Colossians 3:1-2). The spiritual and physical care of his family should ever be at the forefront of his thinking (I Timothy 5:8). Love for others and a readiness to share the judgment and forgiveness of Christ must be present in his life (I Corinthians 5:14-21). The true Christian possesses the Spirit of Christ, and that Spirit is holy; therefore, He will not be content until His child has submitted to this command concerning a holy life.

Paul expected the Philippian church to walk worthy of the gospel whether or not he was present. Often times, doing right is much easier when a godly influence is present. Many people will do right if someone is there to encourage them; however, when the godly peer or authority is removed, the same people will often allow the world's philosophies to control their thinking. The United States Nuclear Program defines integrity as "doing what is right when no one else is watching." If a sailor in the nuclear program were to take procedural shortcuts upon the absence of his supervisors, the results could be disastrous. If man's military institutions are able to recognize the value of integrity, how much more should God's people? The Lord often places righteous influences in the lives of His people for the purpose of encouraging biblical thinking and behavior; however, at some point, every saint must learn to lean upon the power of the Holy Spirit and to make biblical choices regardless of who is watching. Not one believer has ever been disappointed with such a choice. God's grace has always enabled those who desire to do right even when they found themselves alone. In the dreary prisons of Egypt, "the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison (Genesis 39:21)." Joseph did nothing worthy of prison, yet he chose to do right in the absence of any godly peer, and God richly blessed his decision. Eventually, he was made ruler of all Egypt with only Pharaoh himself being above Joseph.