Examples for Us

Friday, December 30, 2016, 6:19 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close to You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13 (ESV).

Running the Race (9:24-27)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Evidently the race Paul had in mind here was an athletic contest similar to the Olympics. The athletes went into the strictest of training for these games. The athletes had to be fully dedicated to the contest, doing what it took to win, for them even to be considered as contestants (or participants), I believe. And, they had to be very self-disciplined, exercising self-control in all things, always keeping before them the goal of winning the prize.

And, so we should be, not in our own strength and power, but in the strength and power of the Spirit of God living within us. We should have the same type of commitment to our Lord and to the race he has set before us, which is our walk of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We should not be meandering around aimlessly, with no real direction, doing what pleases ourselves, with little thought to what we were saved from, and to what we were saved for (or to). For Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).

We can’t serve God and our flesh, too. We can’t walk in the Spirit and walk according to our sinful flesh, to fulfill our fleshly desires. This does not mean we will be perfect, or that we will never sin, but it means that when we believe in Jesus we die to sin so that we might live to righteousness. The Holy Spirit of God transforms our hearts and minds away from living in sin to living in victory over sin because of what Jesus did in dying for our sin. We now have the Holy Spirit living within us teaching, guiding, empowering, strengthening, encouraging, counseling, correcting and convicting us so that we know the direction not to go, and so we know the way we ought to go.

The Christian life is not free from rules. The New Testament is our rule book for Christian living, and it contains many, many rules by which we are supposed to live as followers of Christ. There are all kinds of dos and don’ts, and put ons and put offs, and warnings of the consequences should we decide to ignore the rules and to go our own way instead. Those who would tell you that God requires nothing of us at all are telling you lies. Jesus and his NT apostles taught repentance and obedience as required for salvation and for forgiveness of sins. So, we need to put off sin, and put on Christ and his righteousness, getting rid of even the things which might lead us into sin, so that we can run the race God has marked out for us to run.

God was Not Pleased (10:1-5)

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

There is a popular teaching today, even in evangelical churches, that says that once you believe in Jesus that God is pleased with you no matter what you do. That is blatantly false. It is not what the Bible teaches at all. And, some take it a step further by saying that God delights in us even when we are steeped in sin and rebellion against him, and we are ignoring his commands, and we are boldly and willfully choosing to sin against him, and right in his face, too. At least, that is what is implied.

Yet, consider these verses: “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8:8). “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Co. 5:9). “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:4). “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:6). “…and find out what pleases The Lord” (Eph. 5:10).

Don’t Put Christ to Test (10:6-13)

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So, because God was not pleased with the Israelites, whom he had delivered out of slavery in Egypt, but who continually rebelled against him in the desert, even turning to false gods in rejection of the One True God, he killed them all off so that they were not able to enter the Promised Land. Only those who remained faithful to God and believed him and did what he said were able to enter. And, this was written down for us (Christians) as an example to us so that we don’t do like they did, and end up not being able to enter our “promised land,” i.e. eternal life with God in glory.

For you see, Jesus said that if we would come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (are crucified with Christ in death to sin), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in the darkness, we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, don’t put Christ to the test, i.e. don’t test the limits of his grace. You know the rules. Live by them, and do not do what you know is contrary to his commands (his teachings/instructions to us). If you do, you are playing with fire, and the end result may not be what you are expecting at all. He died that you might no longer live for yourself, but for him who gave his life up for you, so choose to live to please him in all things from now on.

Draw Me Close to You / Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace

Help me find a way
Bring me back to You
You’re all I want…

Defrauding the Saints

Thursday, December 29, 2016, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (ESV).

Grievances Against One Another (vv. 1-8)

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

Why do so many Christians sue anyone, let alone their brothers and sisters in Christ? Lawsuits have become epidemic in our day and age, it would appear. It seems this has now become common practice, even within the church. And, not only do they sue others, but they often ask for exorbitant amounts of money in their lawsuits, which, probably, they don’t need, but is intended to make the other person(s) pay big time! In other words, in my opinion, which is based upon what I have observed, many lawsuits are more about revenge and punishment than they are about recovering actual damages, i.e. asking for recompense to pay doctor bills or to make repairs, et al. And, the many people bringing the lawsuits are often opportunists, using a tragic or a difficult situation as a get rich quick scheme, it seems.

Yet, this is not what the Bible teaches we are supposed to do. If a brother or a sister sins against us, we are to go to that person individually and confront him or her with their sin against us. Wisdom dictates, though, that if a man or a woman makes a sexual advance (or the like) against you, that you not confront this person alone, but that you have someone with you to serve as witness to the conversation for your own protection. Perhaps it is wise in all cases that women not confront men and men not confront women alone. The purpose of the confrontation, nonetheless, is to give the other person the opportunity to repent of his or her sin against you. If he or she does not, then you are to bring in others, and if there is still no repentance, then it is supposed to be taken before the church, not before public courts.

As well, the Bible teaches us that it is not our place to take revenge, but we are to leave that to God. Instead, we are to love our enemies, pray for them, desire what is best for them, and do good to them. Christians are not going to win the world to Christ if we go around suing everyone who does us harm. Instead, we are to rejoice in our sufferings, and we are to count it all joy whenever we face various trials, or we are treated unfairly (unjustly) and we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This does not mean that we don’t ever confront sin or expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, though. We do! But, we do so out of love for our brethren and out of love for the people of this world, because we want to see all people be delivered out of darkness and brought into God’s wonderful light, so that they, too, can be saved.

The Unrighteous (vv. 9-11; cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-7)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

So, to whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to the church, but more specifically to those within the church who are defrauding their brothers and sisters in Christ, and who are doing so before a public court (before the world), rather than following the appropriate steps (biblically) for how to settle such matters. And, what Paul is telling them is that, if they continue to live like this, they will be counted among the wicked (the unrighteous), and they will not have eternal life with God in heaven.

Now, I know this goes against (contrary to) the theology of some groups of people who profess to know Jesus as Savior, but this is what the Bible teaches consistently. We read in 1 Jn. 1:6 that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth. Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful nature, we will die (in our sins without God), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). Jesus said the same thing. 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 we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

It all comes down to lifestyle. We are not condemned every time we commit a sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but we are condemned for living sinful lifestyles (in unrepentant sin). In other words, being saved is not just a prayer we pray to receive Christ, nor is it merely an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and of what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, nor is it a mere recognition even of the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior. When God saves us from our sins, by his 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.” We now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, to satisfy its lustful cravings and desires (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Sexual Immorality (vv. 13b-20)

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Sexual immorality is so prevalent in today’s church, perhaps more specifically within the institutional church, of which some (or most) of the body of Christ are still members. Pornography addiction is sky high among the saints, including among many pastors, deacons and elders (church leadership), so much so that it has emasculated (weakened, made spiritually impotent and ineffectual) the vast majority of the church today.

The saints of God are supposed to be gathering together to help strengthen and encourage one another in the faith, which includes speaking the truth in love, so that they can go out into the world and be lights to the world in sharing the gospel. Instead, the vast majority of congregations here in America appear to be marketing the church to the world, and planning their meetings around attracting the world to the “church,” using worldly means and methods. This should not be! It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So, in order to attract the world, the church has diluted the gospel message, which has given free license for Christians to continue in unrepentant sin, and this is a matter of great concern.

But, God’s grace is not a free license to continue in unrepentant sin while claiming heaven as our eternal dwelling place. God’s 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 Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35). And, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28).

You see, it is not enough to just profess that you know Jesus as your Savior. You have to live as though he truly is your Savior and your Lord (owner-master). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Paul’s commission was “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:16-18). So, if you are still living for sin and self, expect to be counted among the unrighteous and that you will not inherit God’s eternal kingdom. These are not my words. They are God’s words!

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Seeker-Sensitive?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 10:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise the I AM!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 5 (ESV).

You Are Arrogant! (vv. 1-2)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

Much of today’s modern church here in America has gone way beyond this. Sin is barely even mentioned anymore, and/or it is placated (appeased). The cross of Christ has definitely been emptied of its power. It has been reduced to merely a get-out-of-jail-free card and a free ride into heaven for when we die, i.e. for when we leave this earth. Few preachers preach death to sin anymore, but rather they picture God’s grace as a free license to continue in sin while claiming heaven as their eternal destiny, and the gospel as God’s forgiving of our sins, but absent of any true repentance or commitment to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. They don’t preach the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, because it is an offense to the people (customers) they are trying to bring into their “churches,” i.e. into their human-based businesses, and marketed as such.

Many of those who call themselves ministers of the gospel have been emasculated by the dilution of the gospel, which has taken place in much of today’s modern church. They no longer preach in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the conviction of the cross and its message, but they give out feel-good messages (or talks) which will gain them favor with the world (their customer base). Their “seeker-sensitive” approach to doing church looks to please the flesh of humans so that the world will feel comfortable and at home in the “church,” and will want to come back. But, the church is not a business, or a corporation, or an organization of men for the purpose of attracting the world. The church is the body of believers in Jesus who are supposed to meet together for their strengthening and maturity in Christ so that they can go out into the world with the gospel of our salvation.

Since the cross of Christ has been emptied of its power in most of these “churches” (i.e. businesses), the body of Christ has been dumbed-down into believing Satan’s lies in place of God’s truths concerning sin, salvation, repentance, forgiveness and obedience. Probably over half of these preachers, according to studies which were conducted, are addicted to pornography, so it is no wonder they are not only not preaching about the evils of sin and the requirement of repentance, but they will not follow the teachings of scripture on how to deal properly with unrepentant sin, especially sexual sin, which is rampant in today’s culture within the church. So, they will ignore this teaching or will find ways around it, because they are caught in the web of sinful addiction themselves.

For His Salvation (vv. 3-5)

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Wow! If you preached something like this today from the pulpit you would probably be removed from your position, or at least you would be accused of being hateful, bigoted, bitter, resentful, unforgiving, and/or revengeful, etc. Forgiveness is being taught as a pat on the back, telling the person they are not so bad, or that Jesus delights in them, even when they sin, and that he is pleased with them no matter what they do. Many are teaching such things as this, so rather than preach conviction of sin, they are getting those who profess the name of Jesus to just recite who they are in Christ, even while they are steeped in sin and rebellion against God/against Christ. No one wants to be the “bad guy” anymore. They want people to like them, so they tell them what will make them feel good. And, they call this “love.”

But, it is not love. It is hate. And, it is selfish. And, it is cruel, because it leaves the hearer still steeped in bondage to sin with no way out. Not many preachers, today, will go to such lengths as what is being taught here in order to rescue a professing Christian from the depths of sin addiction, and to deliver him to walk in purity and righteousness and in the power of God over his life. They would rather be buddies with him (or her), and laugh together, and hang out together, and then pass the person off to Christian counseling, which may or may not help at all, so that they are relieved of their responsibility to confront sin and to make the professor of Christ be held accountable for his sin, and hopefully be brought to repentance so he (or she) can be restored to full fellowship with God; with Jesus Christ.

A Little Leaven (vv. 6-8)

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Not only is it unloving and unkind to leave a person who professes the name of Jesus in his sins, because no one wants to be the “bad guy” in confronting sin and calling for repentance, but it is detrimental to the church, the body of Christ, as a whole. And, this could not be more obvious than it is in today’s modern “seeker-sensitive” congregations where sin is barely mentioned, let alone called what it is, and where repentance is not preached at all. In fact, sin is often glorified in the church gatherings, even from the pulpit. Sensuality abounds in stage productions meant to draw in large crowds of people, and where movie clips are used for sermon illustrations, even if the movie itself contains sexual scenes, immorality and adultery.

So, the majority of these modern church congregations are totally worldly. There is not much distinguishable difference between the church and the people of the world at all anymore, for they pretty much all engage in the same junk; in the same sins. Casual conversations rarely revolve around Christ, his word, or godly living, but they center on the world and all that it has to offer us. Many professing Christians spend hours upon hours engrossed in TV shows, movies, video games, social media, the internet, or in listening to secular music, much of which is filled with the immorality and the values, ideals, goals and objectives of this sinful world. If you attempt to share with them a scripture, or a spiritual song, or a lesson you are learning from your times of personal worship with the Lord, many of them will consider you odd, out of touch with reality, or just plain weird or crazy.

Our Associations (vv. 9-13)

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

I don’t know of any church congregation in America who would actually follow this directive. If any do, I would suspect it is rare indeed. The point of this, I believe, is that we, as the church body, should not invite into our fellowship those who profess the name of Jesus but who are living sinful lifestyles, and who are unwilling to repent, for they will infect the whole body. I believe the point, also, is that such associations would be, in some sense, providing consent and approval to the individual who confesses the name of Jesus, but who is living just the opposite. And, it would only help to further their rebellion and sin against God, since no repentance would be required or enforced. As well, it would give a message to the world that God does not require repentance, and that being a Christian is just something we claim, but we don’t actually have to live what we say we believe. Yet, it is a slap in the face to God, and makes what Jesus did for us a farce.

It is not enough, though, just to admit sin. Repentance has to do with leaving the sin behind us and turning in the opposite direction, and following our Lord in obedience. Believing in Jesus means death to sin and living to righteousness. We don’t clean up the old self. We eradicate the old self, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, and God replaces the old self with a new self, now in Christ, and dedicated to living to his righteousness and walking in his truth (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6). But, if we walk in the light, as HE (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses (purifies) us from all sin (1 Jn. 1:7).

Praise the “I AM!”
An Original Work / February 24, 2012

Jesus, my Savior, full of compassion,
Glorious in power, mighty in strength;
Gracious Redeemer, mighty deliv’rer,
My heart adores Him. Praise to His name!
Perfect salvation my Lord provided
When He died for my sins on a tree;
Crucified my sins; conquered in vict’ry,
When He arose, so I could be free!

I am so thankful for His forgiveness;
Grateful that He chose to pardon me,
Giving me new life full in His Spirit,
So I can serve Him; His servant be!
Walking in daily fellowship with Him,
Obeying Him whate’er He commands;
Forsaking my sins, living in freedom,
I will endure with Him to the end!

He gives me peace and calm reassurance
In times of sorrow, or in distress.
His grace is sure, and oh, how sufficient
To meet me in my need for sweet rest.
Oh, how I love You, Jesus, my Savior.
My heart longs for You where’er I am.
Your word is precious; speaks to my spirit;
Brings comfort, healing. Praise the “I AM!”

When Burdens Grow Greater

Tuesday, December 27, 2016, 11:06 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Giveth More Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 4:1-13 (ESV).

Be Faithful (vv. 1-2)

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

What is a steward? A steward is a servant; an agent of another. He manages the property of another. He is one who is given a trust; an assignment. A trust is a responsibility, a charge, or a guardianship over something or someone. Basically, as servants of the Lord, we are all his stewards. We have all been given a trust – a responsibility or an assignment, as an agent (instrument) of God in his service. We have been given salvation, and the gospel, and God living within us, and spiritual gifts of the Spirit, and spiritual assignments (roles) within the body of Christ, selected for us by God alone.

So, we must prove faithful to God with what he has entrusted to our care. Regarding our salvation, we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. Concerning the gospel, we should be sharing it with others so that they can know how they can know Jesus Christ, too. Related to the Spirit of God now living within us, we must not quench the Spirit, but we must be responsive to the Spirit’s voice speaking God’s truths to our hearts, and we must respond with obedience. Pertaining to the Word of God, we need to be daily drinking in the Word and then doing what it says, and not be hearers only. About spiritual gifts and our assignments given us by God within the body of Christ, it is essential that we are being led by the Spirit, and that we are not trying to serve God in human flesh.

Human Judgments (vv. 3-7)

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Paul had been addressing the Corinthian believers concerning quarrels and fights among them, prompted by the fact that they were making idols of men, and that they were raising one preacher (servant) above another. So, he attempted to correct their thinking, and to point them back to Jesus Christ as the one they should be following, not human beings. He let them know that all God’s servants are just servants of the Lord, doing his bidding, and being faithful to the tasks they were assigned, and nothing more. And, he also reminded them that it is God/Jesus who makes things grow, i.e. who brings the increase. We can do none of what God has assigned us in our own willpower and strength, but only in the power and strength of the Lord.

In the process, he also made a distinction between the wisdom of men and the wisdom and power of God. He said that God made foolish the wisdom of the world. He basically let them know that God doesn’t think like we do. He doesn’t evaluate other humans with human logic and reasoning. Those that humans might choose, God might reject, while those God might choose for his service, humans might reject and treat as though they are trash. So, what he was trying to say here, I believe, is that we should not judge other humans by human standards, i.e. not by today’s culture and values nor by our own personal preferences and prejudices. But, we should make all evaluations (examinations) according to the truths written in God’s word.

As well, he appears to have addressed here the problem of spiritual pride, i.e. the lack of true humility in service to our Lord. So, he brought things into perspective for them. All that we have that is good is from God, and not from ourselves, so we have no reason to brag over what has been given us, and about which we had no part in attaining, i.e. we don’t earn our own salvation or our own giftedness. We don’t choose our own roles within the body of Christ, either, so if God should choose to use one (or some) of us in a way that is different from others, who are we to act as though we did not receive this from God, and that we somehow did this in our own strength? We should always give God the glory for whatever good he does in and through our lives, which is for his purposes and for his glory.

The Refuse (vv. 8-13)

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

When we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are faithful to the trusts we have been given, and we fulfill the roles he has assigned us within the body of Christ – all in the power and strength of the Spirit within us – there will be people who will not get us, i.e. who won’t understand why we do what we do, and are who we are, and they may judge us by human standards, rather than against the Word of God. And, they may hate, reject, persecute, accuse falsely, cast aside, or otherwise treat us with disdain, or completely ignore us, as though we do not even exist, because they do not regard us as worth their time.

Yet, when we are treated poorly, we should respond with love and kindness. We should endure persecution for the sake of the gospel and for the name of Jesus. We are not to take matters into our own hands, or to try to get even with those who despitefully use us. But, we are to forgive our persecutors. We are to love our enemies, pray for them, want good for them, and do good to them. Even if we are treated like the scum (refuse) of the world, we should not retaliate, but we must rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Christ and his gospel. And, in all these things, our Lord Jesus will give us all we need to endure, to remain faithful to him and to the trust he has given to us, and to keep sharing his gospel, despite all opposition. His grace is enough to see us through any and all situations.

He Giveth More Grace / Annie J. Flint

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

The Correct Foundation

Monday, December 26, 2016, 7:14 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 3:1-15 (NASB).

Infants in Christ (vv. 1-4)

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

When we first believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, depending upon our physical age or our background, we may know little of God’s word, or of Jesus Christ, or of what it means to be a Christian. So, we need to daily be in the Word of God, reading and studying it, and praying for understanding of just the basics of our salvation. As well, our Lord has provided believers in Jesus with the gift of teaching within the church to teach us those elementary truths of what it means to be a Christian, and concerning how we are to walk in Christ’s holiness and righteousness.

But, as we progress in our walks of faith with Christ, and we grow in him through times spent with him each day in his word, in prayer, and in obedience; in fellowshipping with the body of Christ (the church), and in learning more of Jesus and his word, taught to us within the church, we should soon move on past the elementary truths of our salvation to maturity in Christ, and on to deeper spiritual truths. Yet, not everyone does. Some people remain spiritual infants after many years of knowing Jesus as Savior of their lives, though I suspect that some (or many) of them may be Christians by profession only, who have never been born again (transformed) of the Spirit of God.

So, what distinguished these particular believers as still fleshly (or worldly) was that they were making idols of human beings, and they were even fighting and arguing with each other over what man should be followed, or over who they thought was better. And, this still goes on today, for one says “I am Baptist,” and another says, “I am Presbyterian,” or “I am Methodist.” So, not much has changed. And, some of them argue and fight (down and dirty) with one another over whose doctrine is superior to the other.

Now, we should stand for what we believe is right, and we should correct doctrinal error, if we believe error has taken place, and if it involves doctrines essential to our salvation and our eternal security, but we should not fight and attack one another. Never! We should, instead, present the Word of truth plainly, and trust the Holy Spirit to speak to human hearts. And, we should be willing, when presented with something in conflict with what we were always taught, to search the Word of God, to make certain we are not the ones in error, instead of holding fiercely to our Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian (etc.) doctrines, because we could be wrong. I know I was taught some things wrong, and God has had to correct me, at times.

One Body, Many Parts (vv. 5-9)

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

The church is worldly when it raises one man (or woman) above another, as though some gifts of the Spirit are to be given recognition above others; or when it demeans other gifts of the Spirit and those servants who exercise those gifts; or when it follows human personalities over following God and the witness of the Spirit within them. We are all one body. We just have different parts (roles, assignments). We are not to treat one as less than others just because we have different gifts from them, and we are not to regard ourselves in that way, either. As well, we are not to say to one part of the body, “I have no need of you,” though many churches are doing this today, as they are being taught to do in their training classes, so as to weed out those they don’t want in favor of those they think will be an asset to their “church” (business of human making, and marketed as such).

We need to see one another as essential to the body of Christ and to the growth of his church. We need to stop thinking with human reasoning and think like God thinks, i.e. have his eternal perspective about his church and ministry, instead of buying into human marketing schemes for how to build the church. The church has been turned into businesses of human making, which definitely idolize personalities and particular gifts (or talents). We have to view all of this through God’s eyes, though, which says that all of us who serve the Lord are just servants, but it is God who causes the growth. We can only boast in the Lord and in what he does through us, and not in ourselves, for all we have and are comes from him, and not from us.

How We Build (vv. 10-15)

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

First of all, we need to make certain we have the right foundation before we begin building. If the foundation is wrong, the building will not survive at all, but will come crashing down. For instance, if our foundation is a half-truth gospel or a watered-down version of the true gospel, then that is a faulty (or false) foundation, and we won’t be saved at all, no matter how we build. So, how do we know if we have the correct foundation? We have to read the Bible, preferably the New Testament, for that is where much of the foundation is laid, though the prophets of old also laid some of this foundation. And, we have to read the scriptures in context, and not pull scriptures out of context to make them say what we want to hear.

So, what is the correct foundation? Jesus Christ, God incarnate, though sinless, became sin for us when he died on a cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, for if we live according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, and the truth is not in us. If we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:6).

When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ (of the Spirit) in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23.)

Jesus did not die just so we could be forgiven our sin, freed from punishment in hell, and have the hope of heaven when we die, with no requirements for godly living while we await his return. 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 (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said that his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones which can’t be snatched out of his and the Father’s hands (Jn. 10:27-30). Paul was sent to open blinded eyes, “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in” Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).

God’s amazing grace did not merely rescue me from hell, and give me the hope of heaven when I die. His AMAZING GRACE freed me from the control of sin and Satan over my life, and freed me to live to Christ and to his righteousness – all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit now living within me. My eternal life with God does not begin when I die. It began the day I met Jesus, and he cleansed me of my sins, and he gave me new life in him to be lived for him – holy and pleasing to him, which is my reasonable and acceptable worship of him (Ro. 12:1-2). Amen!

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Taught by The Spirit

Sunday, December 25, 2016, 11:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 2 (NASB).

The Power of God (vv. 1-5)

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

So, how do we know when the teaching we are listening to comes from the wisdom of men or from the power of God? We have to test everything we hear against the Word of God, and his divine character and will, and see if it is consistent with God’s Word and with his divine character. Also, if we are truly followers of Jesus Christ, and his Spirit is living within us, if we are listening, and receptive to what the Lord wants to teach us, his Spirit within us will quicken our hearts and will let us know when something isn’t right.

In addition to this, if we are students of the Word of God, and if we know his Word, we should be able to discern when liars and deceivers, or when the naïve speak words, as though they are from God’s Word, when they are not. To check out whether or not a preacher/speaker is speaking the truth from God’s Word, we should read the scripture in context, and then compare scripture with scripture to get the full understanding of what is being taught. But, we must do this prayerfully, seeking guidance and understanding from the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all things.

The Wisdom of God (vv. 6-9)

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

So what is this wisdom that, if the rulers of that age had understood it, it would have prevented them from crucifying Jesus? Well, for one, it was that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was their promised Messiah for whom they had been waiting a very long time, and for whom the vast majority of Jewish people continue to wait, because they rejected Jesus as their Messiah (Christ). Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies about the Messiah (Christ), who was to come. He is their Savior; their Lord God. He is their King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the one who came to save them from their sins. There is no other, no matter how long they wait. He is their ONLY Messiah.

So, what is it today, if the people truly understood it, would keep them from crucifying him all over again, by how they live their lives in opposition to him? It would be that Jesus did not die just so they could escape hell and go to heaven when they die. It would be that we can’t earn our way to heaven by good works, and that all people don’t go to heaven when they die, no matter how many good things they do on this earth. And, it would be that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

You see, the reason Jesus died to save us from sin was not just we could escape punishment, but so that we would live for him who died for us. He didn’t die just to save us, but to transform us. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not a free ride to heaven while we live like hell while we are on the earth. God does demand repentance and obedience for salvation, but he gives us the ability to repent and obey him. We don’t do this in our own flesh, but in the power of the Spirit. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ (born again), to be lived in the power of the Spirit to Christ’s righteousness.

What all has God prepared for those who love him? He delivered us out of sin so that we would no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful nature, living to satisfy its lustful desires, but so we would conduct our lives according to the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh. Paul was called to open blinded eyes, and to turn them from darkness (sin) to light (truth, Jesus, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, so they might receive forgiveness of sins. This is repentance! This is what Jesus died for, to turn us from caterpillars into butterflies, i.e. metamorphosis. Sin kills, but the Spirit gives life, and he died to give us life in the Spirit!! Amen!

The Mind of Christ (vv. 10-16)

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

As genuine believers and followers of Jesus Christ we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us, speaking to us, counseling, correcting, teaching and encouraging us, etc. He guides us into all truth, and he lets us know when we are going astray, if we will listen, and if we will not quench the Spirit. He reveals to us all that God had planned for us from even before the world was formed. And, he leads us in the right way; in the way we should go.

He knows the mind of God; of Christ. Because God/Christ is living within us, in the person of the Holy Spirit (the 3rd person of our triune God), we have the mind of Christ. It doesn’t mean we know everything, as he knows, but that his thoughts are now within us, and we can know him and his will for our lives, and we can feel what he feels, and see what he sees – not everything, but as much as he chooses to reveal to us and we are willing to see, I believe. The Spirit living within us reveals to us God’s nature, his character and his will for us, and he shows us how to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God. But, we have to be open to hear his voice, and we have to be responsive to obey what he does show us. Many people don’t obey God, not because they don’t know how, but because they are unwilling.

Those outside of faith in Jesus Christ, including many who proclaim to know him, but who have never really been born again of the Spirit of God, don’t accept these good things God has for us, through his plan of salvation for us, because they don’t have the Spirit of God. Their minds are blinded to the truth. So, they need to have their blinded eyes opened, and 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 (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ, their Lord. So, we need to pray for their salvation.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Only by His Grace

Saturday, December 24, 2016, 11:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV).

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro. 5:8b). He didn’t call us because of our own righteousness or goodness. He called us because he loves us, and because of what he had planned to do in us and through us for his glory and for his purposes. It is only by his grace that we are saved, for we can’t even come to Christ unless the Father first draws us, and even the faith to believe in him is a gift from God (See: Jn. 6:44; Eph. 2:8-10). And, it is only in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit that we are able to forsake our sinful lifestyles, be transformed (born again), and walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Yes, we must yield control of our lives over to God. And, yes, we must cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives, but we have nothing to boast about, because we can only be who we are in Christ by the grace of God and his great mercy towards us.

He also didn’t choose us because of our social status, income level, education level, or because of our smooth talk and our ability to naturally be winsome and convincing, or because we are well-liked by others. NO! In fact, look at his first 12 disciples. Most of them were fishermen. One, at least, was a tax collector, and tax collectors were the most despised. And, look at some of their personalities. Thomas was a doubter. Peter was impulsive, made big boasts, and often acted first and thought later. Jesus had to chide him more than once because he was too quick to speak or to act without thinking first about what he said or did. He ended up denying Christ three times, because he didn’t heed Jesus’ warnings, because he thought he knew better than Jesus about his own true character. And, Judas, one of the twelve, ended up betraying Jesus and handing him over to death.

The Pharisees, on the other hand, were influential, powerful, and scholastic, but inside they were full of wickedness, and they refused to repent. They thought they were better than everyone else, and they abused their positions of authority. They were more concerned with following a set of man-made rules and human traditions, and with punishing those who didn’t follow suit, than they were concerned with the salvation of human lives. But they were full of hypocrisy because what they forced others to do they did not do themselves. So, God could not use them, for they would never humble themselves before God in submission to his will for their lives.

So, God doesn’t call us because of our goodness or talent or whatever, but he does call those he plans to mold and make into his likeness. In other words, we are not saved because of our own goodness, but salvation means we take on the goodness of God, by God’s grace. We are not saved because of our own righteousness, but salvation means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God (born again), and we are resurrected with Christ to live to his righteousness. God calls the weak, the lowly and the despised, because he can make us into who he wants to be, and then he gets all the glory. He can take an impulsive Peter and turn him into a great leader in the church to preach the gospel. and to lead people to leave their sins, and to walk in Christ’s righteousness, even though he once denied Jesus three times.

So, we don’t have to be perfect for God to use us, but we do have to be receptive to the changes he wants to work in our lives, and we do have to cooperate with his work of grace. Our lifestyles should no longer be of those who walk according to the flesh, but we should now be people who walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and by the Spirit we should be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. Daily we must humble ourselves before God, and yield to the control of the Holy Spirit, and submit to our Lord’s will and purposes for us and do what he says. We need to be in his Word and in prayer daily, and we need to be listening to what he wants to teach us and not close our minds to what we don’t want to hear. And, we must follow him wherever he leads us. And, he will work miracles in and through our lives, and in the lives of others because we obey him.

When we can view ourselves in this way, and remember that we were once enslaved to all kinds of sins, and that it is only by God’s grace that we are now free from the control of sin and its grip it had on our lives, then we can be compassionate towards others who are still bound in sin. Nonetheless, compassion does not mean we are soft on sin, or that we dilute the gospel to make people feel better in their sin. We still need to speak the truth in love, because people need to be set free from sin, not pacified. In other words, we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ in how he loved.

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.