THE SUPREME GOOD IN LIFE
I Peter 3:8-12
In I Peter 3: 10-12 the apostle said, “He who would love life and see good days, let him turn away from evil and do good. ” Micah the prophet said, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”(Micah 6:8). Amos the prophet said, “Seek good and not evil...hate evil, love good”(Amos 5:14,15). The apostle Paul said, “Do not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”(Romans 12: 21). The word “good” is one of the choice words of the Bible. It is used 356 times in the Bible. The word has the same meaning in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Webster's dictionary tells us that the word is a general term of approval or commendation and has the meaning “better than average” or “as it should be.” To right thinking people it is the opposite of evil. There is much evil in the world, but there is also much goodness in the world. Doing good generally has one meaning to worldly minded people and another meaning to spiritually minded people. There are many ways to do good in the Christian religion. I shall not attempt to discuss all the ways we can do good in this world. In this study I am interested in the one way to do good, the best way of all ways to do good. Let us center our thinking on the supreme good of life, the good that excels all others, the highest good that any human being can perform.
Let me begin by acknowledging there is a wide difference of opinion on what constitutes the supreme good in life. Philosophers and worldly-minded thinkers have argued over the supreme good in life for thousands of years. They refer to it as the summum bonum which is Latin for, “the highest good.” Their conclusion has been the highest good depends on the individual and the end he seeks in life. Many consider wealth the chief good in life. Those who consider wealth the highest good in human attainment, will think it virtuous to turn the world over in an effort to get money. Some have become millionaires, and there are a few billionaires. Others consider fame to be the chief good. There are famous movie stars, famous rulers, famous soldiers, famous government leaders, famous scientists, famous athletes, famous musicians, etc. Still others consider pleasure as the chief good in life because life is so short. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Even the apostle Paul mentioned this as a desirable way of life, if there is no God, no resurrection of the dead, no final judgment, and no eternal life. One popular philosophy of the ancient Greeks was, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” This is considered the highest good by most people in the world today. However,
some in the world consider philanthropy the chief good in life. This is the desire to help mankind by making generous gifts to charitable or humanitarian institutions. Such people are highly honored. Wealth, fame, pleasure and philanthropy are the best the world has been able to do. The world has never been able to invent anything better than this. If any of those accomplishments are the chief good in life, then most of us common people will never experience it. They represent an exclusive class in society that leaves most of us out.
Next, let's turn to the Bible and consider its “summum bonum,” the highest good in life, the good that excels all others. It is stated by Paul in I Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The Bible summum bonum, the supreme good above all others is, “the glory of God.” There is much grandeur in the universality of this great general rule, commandment and truth. How broad is this duty? It implies that all of life and every act of life can be used to glorify God, even to eating and drinking. The question arises, “But how can we glorify God by eating and drinking? We can do it by eating and drinking justly, temperately, and thankfully, recognizng that He gives us our daily bread. . The greatest good you can do in life is to glorify God, whether by eating or drinking or whatever you do. Anything else you may do for God is less than this. There is no greater good than glorifying God. This is the highest good. the good that is above all other good.
The Bible reveals that promoting the glory of God is the greatest good man can do in life, but thus far we have not been learned what the glory of God is. The glory of God is the majesty of His Being, the magnificence of His nature, the beauty of His Godhood, all in the nature of His being that makes Him God. The glory of God is His attributes, including His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His holiness, His justice, His love, His mercy, His goodness, and His longsuffering. His glory is Himself, Who He is. When Moses asked Him who He was, the answer came, “I Am that I Am.” There is no one like Me Our search has come to an end. The chief good in life is not to glorify our selves by the pursuits we choose in life. The chief good is to glorify God.
The supreme good man can strive after in life is revealed in many places in the Bible, and nowhere is it more plainly declared than in I Corinthians 10:31 which we have just analyzed. In addition, the apostle Peter said, “If anyone speaks, let Him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified though Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and the dominion forever and ever, Amen”(I Peter 4:11). Peter 3
states that whatever we do, be it teaching God's word or serving Him iln some other capacity, it is to be done to the glory of God. Here again the Bible states that the first and paramount duty of man is to glorify God. When Jesus lived on earth, He revealed to us most wonderful things about God never known before, and He dedicated His life to the glory of God. When you live in such a way as to show your respect, love and veneration for God, you have attained unto the noblest form of human conduct. Jesus bore witness to this same truth in Matthew 22:37,38, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Jesus stated there the chief good in life. He declared that was the greatest commandment in the Old Testament, and in my judgment is the greatest commandment in the entire Bible. God's glory, not man glory, is the highest good in life. This is one more example of the immense superiority of God's thoughts over man's thoughts. It takes man out of himself and bids him seek the glory of the all-glorious God. Please notice that the Bible does not simply say this is the best thing, on the whole, to do. No, it says this is the thing you shall do. It is a commandment, and we shall be held accountable if we disobey it. There are no ifs and ands about it. It simply says, “Do it.”
Having learned that living in such a way as to give glory and praise to God is the supreme good of life, let us next consider how the Christian can best do this. I Corinthians 10:31 tells us to glorify God, but does not tell us how to do it. However, the word of God tells us how to do it in Colossians 3:16,17, “Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord, and whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” That passage tells us what to do and how to do it. Whatever you do in word or deed, do it in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. Three ways to glorify God are mentioned, namely, by our words, deeds and prayers. Tell people about God glorious nature. Tell others how wonderful our God is. Tell them He is all powerful, all wise, all knowing, all seeing, all loving, all merciful, all just, all forgiving and all holy. By our words we glorify Him. In addition we glorify Him by our deeds, by the things we do for Him, by the service we personally render to Him, by the service we render to the church and by the hymns we sing. We glorify Him by the prayers we offer to him, giving thanks in the name of His Son, making requests for forgiveness and requests for help in times of need.
We learn another important truth from this scripture telling us how to glorify God. We are instructed to give thanks to God the Father through
the name or authority of Christ. Al prayer is to be addressed to God through Jesus, by His authority an d in His name. This is a new law on all prayer addressed to God. Prayer is to be offered through Jesus. The thought comes to me that God the Father is not to be ignored in the Christian religion. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven.” Philippians 4:7 says, “Let our requests be made known to God..” Colossians 3:17 states, “Giving thanks to God the Father through Christ.” The New Testament teaches that prayer should be addressed to God in the name of Christ. There are three persons in the Godhead, and the Holy Spirit saw fit to instruct us that the most fitting and proper way to address the Godhead is to direct our prayers to the Father through Christ, that is, by His name or authority. Jesus himself prayed to the Father, and we should do the same. If we do not pray as scripture directs, we will not be in danger of dishonoring or ignoring the Father. In directing our prayers to the Father through Christ, we do not ignore the Son or the Holy Spirit. In all our prayers to the Father, they also ascend to the Son and the Spirit. This seems to be the way the Triune God wants our prayers to be offered. Yet, it is just as clearly taught that all prayer is to be offered through Christ, in His name and by His authority. I think the best way to abide by this teaching is to say the name of Jesus during or at the end of the prayer. How else could we indicate that we are praying by the authority of Christ? We see this ignored by religious groups when called on to pray during public gatherings when people are present who do not believe in Jesus. All I can say is, a clear teaching of God's word is being disregarded, and it dishonors Christ.
In view of the passages we have studied, it is fitting to give a word of caution here. This precept to glorify God in word and deed is a precept that belongs only to Christians, to people who have been reconciled to God by obedience to the gospel of Christ. One must be in Christ before he can represent Christ and glorify God in His name. No one is capable of walking in this holy fashion until he has been born again, born of the water and the Spirit. For all who are not Christians, the precept demanding your attention is not the precept we have studied in this message, but another found in the word of God. It is the words of Peter spoken to thousands of Jews on the birthday of the New Testament church. After preaching the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the people asked Peter what they should do to be forgiven. Peter gave them this precept, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. for the remission of sins(Acts 2:38).
It will but mislead people to exhort them to live like Christians live before they have been born again into the redeemed family of God. All people must make a radical change in their lives or they will perish everlastingly. The message of Jesus, “You must be born again” is a figure of speech for a radical change of life and do not belong to people who have been immersed for the pardon of sins.
The Bible is a perfectly plain and a perfectly practical book. It was given to plain and practical people, as a prescription to cure them of the disease of sin. It's prime purpose was simply to tell sinful people what a wonderful God they had, and what they practically needed to do in order to serve that God and save their souls. In this book people learn there is such a thing as right and wrong, and it lies in the power of men and women to distinguish them and choose between them. And more importantly they learn that it will go well or ill with them according to the choice they make. The greatest thing a human being can do for God in the Christian age of the world is first to become a Christian, and then whatever you do for the rest of your life, whatever you do in word or deed, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks to God the Father though Christ. This is the sure way to make it to heaven.