(First Published on 4/20/07)
Genesis 5: 21-24. Those who have studied Wesleyan history have come across the name John Fletcher. Origionally from France, he was saved and served as a pastor in England in the 1700's. John Wesley thought so highly of him that he stipulated that if he, Wesley, were to die, Fletcher was to assume leadership of the Methodist movement. Fletcher was a bachelor most of his life. For many years he debated the wisdom of marriage, thinking the demands of being a husband and father may interfere with his walk with God. Then one day he was reading this text. His attention was fixed upon verse twenty-two: "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters." Fletcher had before him a Biblical example of a man who not only married and had a family, but walked so close to God that the Lord took him unto Himself before Enoch died naturally. The example of Enoch shows all of us that there are no circumstances in life that can prevent us from living a holy life. Fletcher married his long time love interest and lived a short but happy life with her.
Can we walk with God as Enoch did? Can we pass down a Godly heritage to our families as Enoch did? Can we have a holy life without falling into the bondages of self-effort and legalism? Of course. Yet we must remember that there is one thing that is key as we do so. I'll mention that at the end.
Man can certainly pass down an un-godly heritage. Let's look at Adam's decendants briefly. When Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked and were ashamed. The covered themselves with fig leaves and hid from God. (Gen. 3: 6-8) How different was Cain's reaction, after he killed Abel, when God asked him where Abel was. "I do not know" Cain told God. "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 4:9) Cain had no shame. He lied to God and and tried to cover up the crime and showed disrespect in God's presence. A few generations later, we see Lamech not only killing a man, but bragging about it to his two wives. (Gen. 4: 19-24) In Genesis 3 and 4, we see the sin nature not only being passed down, but with each generation an increase a lack of shame before God and a decrease in the knowledge of who God is.
Not so with the sons of Seth, Adams son born after Cain killed Abel. I am sure Adam and Eve passed down a knowledge of who God is, and how their sin caused them to be expelled from the Garden of Eden. Geneis 4: 26 informs us that after Seth's son Enosh was born, man began to call upon the Lord. In these days men lived for hundreds of years. By my calculation (please inform me if I am wrong; math has never been my strongpoint) Adam lived until Noah was about sixty-one years of age. With these lifespans it can be seen how Adam, Seth, and family could pass down a Godly heritage as far as the generation of Noah. Enoch was in this family tree; so was Noah. Genesis 6:9 says of Noah that he was a just man, perfect in his generations and that he pleased God. Here we have before us scriptural evidence that we can not only walk holy before the Lord, but we can pass down a family heritage of being holy before God. (I am not saying that all members of a Godly family will choose to walk in God' s ways. I have not forgotten we have free-will.)
The New Testament calls us to be holy. I Pet 1:16 repeats the Old Testament command that we be holy because God is holy. Rom 8:1 points to the possibility that all who want to walk according to the Spirit can do so, if they want to repent of walking in the flesh. In I Cor 5:7 Paul exhorts us to "...purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you are truly unleavened..." This purging is not just a one time event, but to be done continuously. Repentence is for believers as well as those who are first coming to Jesus. We are called to be holy, and we are to pass down a heritage of living for God. But what is the key to all that we do? How can we walk as holy as Enoch walked? The key can be found in Heb. 11: 1-7. Verses five and six especially need to be focused upon: "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him," for before he was taken away he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." It is faith that allows us to live holy before God. We often forget that while we are saved through faith, we are also sanctified through faith, not through our own efforts to live sinnlessly. And faith is the key to passing down a Godly heritage down through the generations. We can do everything right, yet if we don't act in faith, all our efforts to pass down our faith to the next generation will fail. Many who espouse holiness often fail to become truly sanctified because they forget that faith is the key. And so they live a lie before others, or come to the conclusion that holiness is not to be achieved in this lifetime. But not only does Scripture require us to be holy, Scripture shows us the way. And the way is through faith. (All Scripture quotations are from theNKJV.)