Whose Standards?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 74:1-12 (NIV).

The Redeemed (vv. 1-3)

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth to redeem the people of the world, i.e. to purchase us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. Why did we need this? Because, when God first created man, man was without sin. But, when man disobeyed God’s commandments, sin entered into the world. When we, as humans, are born into this world, we are born in the image of Adam. We were all made sinners because of this one man’s sin (See: Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-49). And, as sinners, we are destined to spend eternity in the pits of hell, apart from the saving grace of God.

So, God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth, to die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When the Father resurrected him from the grave, Jesus rose victorious over hell, sin, death and Satan. So, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be forgiven our sins and have eternal life with God.

So, how does that happen, for us? We have to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. When we do this, by God’s grace, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). This is new birth of the Spirit. Our old lives of living for sin and self are put to death, and we are given new lives to be lived for God, in the Spirit. No longer should we conduct our lives according to the sinful nature, but our lifestyles should reflect that Jesus Christ is truly Lord of our lives, and not just our Savior (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

When we are born of the Spirit of God, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to dwell. He is the one who empowers us to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God. He is the one who brings the Word of God alive to our hearts, and who teaches us how God’s Word is to be applied to our lives and world today. The Holy Spirit counsels, leads, guides, encourages, gives courage, strengthens and empowers us to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. We just have to yield our lives over to God, in full submission to Him, and we have to cooperate with the Spirit’s work of grace and sanctification in our lives. For, if we claim to have fellowship with God, and yet we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars and the truth is not in us (See: 1 Jn. 1:6).

The Enemy (vv. 4-8)

Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
they set up their standards as signs.
They behaved like men wielding axes
to cut through a thicket of trees.
They smashed all the carved paneling
with their axes and hatchets.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

Yet, we have an enemy who is against us, who would like nothing more than to destroy us and the gospel of our salvation. He, Satan, has a very large bag of tricks from which to pull, to be used against us, until he can get us to give up, or until he can discredit or deceive us, or until such a time in which he can incarcerate us, silence us, or put us to death.

One of Satan’s greatest weapons against us is his lies (his deceptions). Yet, his lies are not all that obvious to the naïve or to the unsuspecting eye or ear. In fact, he is very subtle, stealthy, patient and slow in his attempts to discredit the gospel and to deceive the minds of the unsuspecting. His lies are so cleverly disguised as truth, and they have come into the church at such a slow pace, that most people have not even noticed the gradual changes that our enemy has slipped into the gospel and among God’s people. Little by little he has brought in his lies and deceptions, and the people within the church have largely accepted them as truth, one by one.

What has happened is that Jesus’ standards, which he has set for our lives, in the way of godly living, have been replaced with our enemies’ standards, i.e. with the world’s standards. What is being taught across America, in the church, is that we don’t have to repent of sin, we don’t have to obey Christ’s instructions to us, and we don’t have to submit to Christ and his cross. I call this a “do nothing” gospel, for it is a false grace gospel. It says we do nothing at all, and God does it all. Well, if that were true, then the whole world would be saved, for none of us would need to have faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. But, faith is required, and that faith is revealed as genuine through repentance, through obedience, and through submission to Christ and his cross, in death to sin and living to righteousness. But, this only happens via the Spirit of God in new birth, and through his empowering (gifting) us even to believe on Jesus Christ.

How Long? (vv. 9-11)

We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

When we see all the destruction the enemy has done to the gospel, and to those who call themselves messengers of the gospel, in removing the core truths of the gospel of our salvation from the message itself, it should grieve our hearts. And, we should long for the day when all will be restored.

We should cry out to God over the many who are being deceived by the enemy day after day, and we should pray for deliverance. We should pray for the eyes of the blind to be opened, and that they might be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they can receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. And, we should keep praying until our Lord exposes these fruitless deeds of darkness, so that the deceived will see the light of life, and will turn, and God will heal them.

Our Savior (v. 12)

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he did not die just so we could escape hell and have the hope of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might not any longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, as well, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the sinful nature, but who walk according to the Spirit.

His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. He is not pleased with us no matter what we do. He is grieved when we turn away from his righteous requirements and we decide to go our own way. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. The whole point of our salvation is to free us from sin, not to excuse away sin. So, if someone is telling you that you can be saved but that you don’t have to repent of your sin, and that you don’t have to obey Christ, then know that they are lying to you, and if you believe that lie, it will cost you your life for eternity.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But, if, by the grace of God, we lose our lives (are crucified with Christ in death to sin), then we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). And, Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die (without Christ), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). In other words, a saved life is a life that is crucified with Christ in death to sin, and which is resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23).

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

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