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Godly Living, God’s Sufficiency, and the New Covenant


The following is adapted from Bob Hoestra’s class Living By God’s Sufficiency, available free at the Blue Letter Bible Institute (www.blbi.org).

Not many would argue that God has saved us from death by grace (Ephesians 2:4-5).

But what about about our growth toward Christlikeness in the Christian life? Is this now up to us? Or do we grow continually in our lives of faith by that same grace which saved us?

That is what this new blog series is about.

The kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven

Mankind learns naturally, through even his earliest experiences in life, how to rely upon his own sufficiency. The world teaches that for man to make a way for himself in the world, he is called to do what he can do and be what he can be. He is the captain of his own destiny and what he makes of himself will be his lot in life. We are all too familiar with the kingdom of man.

The kingdom of heaven is of a different sort. It resembles very little the kingdom of men. When Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), He reminded us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts; they are higher than the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:8). In the kingdom of heaven, we are called upon to learn to live by the sufficiency of God rather than the sufficiency of man.

For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:12)

Paul’s ministry: by the grace of God

The apostle Paul ministered throughout the world, traveling and sharing the word of God. He conducted himself in godly sincerity; and that sincerity did not come out of fleshly wisdom. The wisdom of man would be insufficient for Paul’s ministration. The whole of Paul’s ministry occurred by the grace of God. Godly living comes only by the grace of God and we who believe are called to live godly lives.

For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:17)

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God
(2 Corinthians 4:2).

We are called to godly living. We desire to remain apart from things that are shameful: craftiness and deceit. We want to live the truth and share the truth. This is the work that God has begun in us and commends to us—that we might walk in righteousness before men. From the earliest part of the Scriptures, we are called to live in a godly manner. From Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, where the Law is given, the message resounds: “Be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7).  God is a holy God. In walking with Him, we are called to walk in godliness.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

In Scripture, God promises that if we come out of the ways of the world and walk with God, He will be our God and will change our lives. In this state, we will grow naturally in godliness out of reverence for the Lord. The believer is called to godly living, but the questions arise:

How does the believer accomplish this? Where is the resource for godly living? That is what we will study in this blog series.

The natural mind thinks the power to godly living is of self-discipline and human effort. But that is the way of the kingdom of man. The kingdom of God draws on a different resource. It is of God’s provision alone that sufficiency for godly living comes.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)

Let me put it plainly: man is not sufficient of himself

Man, of himself, does not have the adequate resource for anything of eternal value. Of his own means he cannot live as godly, he cannot save souls, and he cannot transform lives. The sufficiency to accomplish anything of godly value is from God alone.

Do you believe this?

Next post→ “Godly Living Under the New Covenant”.