Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 32:36-42 (NASB).
“Now therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.’ Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. For thus says the Lord, ‘Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.’”
Gladly I’ll Forfeit
Our Lord, throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, warns his children against falling away from the faith, and/or against returning to the sins they committed prior to coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul said, as recorded in Romans 6, “You died to sin. How can you live in it any longer?” We, who are in Christ Jesus by God’s grace, through faith, were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Our old self was crucified with Jesus so that we should no longer be slaves to sin. So, as Christ’s followers, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Ro. 6:11). Just as we used to give our bodies over to impurity and lawlessness, we are now to give them to God as slaves (servants) of righteousness (Ro. 6:19).
Scripture teaches us that Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us, “who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:3-4). Since we have died with Christ to sin, we are under obligation to no longer live according to the flesh, for if we are living (conducting our lives) according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:12-13). So, if we, after having died with Christ to sin, return to sinning against God as a matter of course, we need to lay aside every weight which hinders our walks of faith, or which lead us into sin, and throw off the sin which so easily entangles us, so we can run with perseverance the race that is set before us, “fixing our eyes on Jesus… who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Heb. 12:1-2).
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him. We can sing songs of praise and lift our hands in the air during a “worship” service, but if Jesus does not have our hearts and lives, we are not truly worshiping God. True worship lays its life down at the cross, denies self, and dies daily to sin, i.e. by the Spirit puts sin to death. As well, we are no longer to be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, thinking and behaving just like the world does, but we are to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 12:1-2). We are called to be holy, which means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Jesus. So, we should gladly forfeit all this sinful world has to offer us in order to follow our Lord Jesus in surrender and obedience.
Full of Compassion
Notice with me here that God’s compassion (his grace) is not patting his children on the back and telling them it is ok for them to sin. His grace is not free license to continue in sin without guilt and remorse. God does not approve of us sinning against him, nor does he allow for excuses. He does not delight in us when we are steeped in sinful rebellion against him, yet he still loves us, and he is grieved by our sin, and he cares deeply when we are caught up by sin’s deceitfulness once again, much like loving parents feel about their children when they do what is wrong and what is harmful to themselves and/or to others. And, so he disciplines (judges) us, not because he hates us, or because he enjoys watching us suffer, but because he loves us, he knows what is best for us, and because he wants us to forsake our sins, discard our idols, and take up our cross daily and follow (obey) him.
All throughout scripture God’s purpose in judging (disciplining) his wayward children is to bring them back to him so that he can revive, restore, renew and heal them, and “so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:10-11). God’s purpose in discipline is that we may be humbled before him, so that we might turn from our sin, and return to following him with our whole hearts. Then, those who have returned to him will make him their only God, and their only shepherd. God will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always revere (honor, respect, and obey) him for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. He will inspire them to revere him, so that they won’t turn away from him again. And, God will rejoice in doing good to them, i.e. in doing for them what is in their best interest.
When Jesus Christ, God the Son, walked the face of this earth, he was fully God yet fully man. His words were, thus, the very words of God. He spoke on behalf of God the Father in instructing us in the way we should go. Jesus said that if we would come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living in the flesh, we will die, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will have eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). He confronted people with their sins, warned of judgment, and called them to repentance (turning from sin) and to faith in him. He said if we keep his word, we will never see death, and that if we love him, we will keep (obey) his word (his teachings and instructions to us). His disciples taught the same message. John said that if we say we have come to know him, but we don’t keep his commandments, we are liars. He also said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we persist in conducting our lives according to our flesh (walking in darkness), we are liars and the truth is not in us (See: Jn. 8:51; 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 1:6; 2:3-6).
Because Jesus Christ confronted people with their sins, warned of judgment, claimed to be God, called people to repentance and faith in him, and because of his popularity among the people, the religious leaders of his day hated him and wanted him dead, so they turned the people against Jesus, formed a mob calling for his death, and hung him on a cross to die. When we, as his followers, as well preach the gospel of our salvation, tell people the truth about sin, warn of judgment, and call people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, we will be hated, rejected, abandoned, mistreated and even killed for our faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation, just as Jesus was. Also, when we try to help a brother or sister in Christ to confess sin, to turn from it, and to walk in obedience to Christ, we may also face rejection and mistreatment, yet we must be willing to endure cruel reproaches in order to see people saved, or to see people return to their Lord in obedience.
In His Likeness
For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith, we are being made holy, and we are being conformed to the image of God/Christ, by God. We, in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, are to be like Jesus in thought, word and deed. We are to willingly give up what we consider our rights in order to minister to the needs of others. We are to die daily to sin, and live to righteousness; to walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh; and to live holy lives, pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. We must by the Spirit be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and be conducting our lives by the Spirit, according to the Spirit. And, we must be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Jesus in all that we do and are and say. And, we are to be the light to the world and the salt of the earth that God intended us to be in taking the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth so that many will be saved. Amen!
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.