Good Conduct

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 3 (ESV).

We Who Teach (vv. 1-5a)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Not many Christians should become teachers of the Word of God. This is not something we should do lightly, or just because someone asked us to do it, or because we just like to hear ourselves talk. We should also not become teachers just because we have biblical knowledge, or because we might be gifted with words, in the natural, or because we think the position will gain us some kind of prominence or popularity. We should only become teachers of the Word because we are called of God to teach, and because we are trusting in him to give us the words he wants us to say. In other words, teaching the Word of God should be a calling of God, and led of the Spirit, and it should be practiced in complete submission to the Spirit of God.

Even at that, i.e. even when we are called of God and submitted to his purposes, we are still humans living in flesh bodies, and we will stumble, at times, for we are not yet perfect, although we are being perfected (made holy), and we are being conformed into the image of Christ (See: Phil. 3:12-16). Yet, this should never be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Many professing Christians continue to live as though they have never been delivered from slavery (addiction) to sin, and then they excuse it away with “I am not perfect.” May that never be! May we always strive toward maturity in Christ Jesus, holiness, and godliness, in the power of God’s Spirit now at work in our hearts and lives, and for the glory of God!

If we do stumble (sin), particularly in our speech, we should humble ourselves before God and others, admit our wrong, and then seek God’s guidance in turning away from that wrong, and doing what is right.

Tongue a Fire (vv. 5b-12)

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I think all of us can attest to the truths presented to us in this passage of scripture, with regard to our tongues (our speech). Yet, the tongue, itself, is not the real culprit, for the Bible teaches us that it is out of our hearts that our mouths speak (See: Matt. 15:18-19). In other words, if we want to tame our tongues, we must first deal with what is in our hearts. If in our hearts we are storing up hatred, envy, strife, murder, jealousy, unforgiveness, malice and bitterness of spirit, these are what will come out of our mouths, particularly when we are put under pressure. So, we must willingly yield these things over to God, let go of all wrong attitudes, and replace them with godly thinking and attitudes, and with love for our fellow humans.

Yet, I believe it goes back even one more step further, and this has to do with what we are willfully and knowingly allowing or are taking into our hearts and minds on a daily basis. You have heard the saying, “Garbage in; garbage out,” most probably. It is true. If what we are consuming on a daily basis is rage, pornography, nudity, disrespect towards others, devaluing of people, murder, envy, strife, mocking of others, humor at others’ expense, immorality, sexual perversion, adultery, cheating, and lying, etc., this is what our minds will think on, and this is what will influence our heart attitudes, and this is what will spew forth from our mouths, too.

So, we need to make certain that daily we are taking into our minds and hearts what is godly, holy, righteous, and pure, etc., and that we are applying these right thoughts and attitudes and behaviors to our daily lives. And, we need to put off (or out of our lives) all that is ungodly, unholy, impure and unrighteous, including what we take into our minds via outside influences, as well as any wrong attitudes which we willingly dwell upon. And, we need to let go of all that is evil, and allow God to fill our minds and lives with his peace, holiness and righteousness. Then, our tongues should follow suit.

Who is Wise? (vv. 13-18)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Do we think we are wise and understanding, and that we have much knowledge, especially with regards to Biblical knowledge and understanding? Then, we need to show it by our good conduct in all meekness and gentleness of spirit. Words can be cheap if they are not followed up with or supported by our actions. If we say we love God, or that we have fellowship with him, but we continue in willful sin against him, we are liars, not truth tellers. If we claim to love God, and to worship him, but we don’t do what he says, in daily practice, we don’t really love him or know him, the Bible says. So, true knowledge and wisdom is not in what we know, in our heads, but it is in what we do with what we know, because it is now applied to our hearts.

We also need to be people who live by the truth, and who are not hypocritical. We should never pretend to be more than we are, or act as though we are living beyond where we are living. We should not make an appearance (act) of godliness while we deny its power in our lives via willful sins against God. We should always be truth tellers, but to speak the truth in love, not in brashness and rudeness and in order to willfully bring hurt to others unnecessarily. In other words, I recognize that sometimes the truth hurts, and we can’t avoid all that, for it is often necessary for true healing to take place. The gospel is truth, but it offends many people, because they do not want to conform their lives to Christ or to his gospel. Yet, we must share the truth of the gospel, because it means salvation for many lost souls.

Thus, wisdom can be godly and it can be earthly. It can be of God, or it can be of the devil. Truth can be for our good, or it be to cause harm. If we preach one thing, but practice another, we do more harm than good. So, we must test our hearts, our attitudes, and our behaviors against the truth of God’s Word, get rid of all which defiles us, and cling to what is good. Make sure, in our teaching, that our motives are pure and godly, and that we are not being hypocritical in our teaching because we profess one thing while we secretly are engaged in willful and continued (addictive) sins against God. If God puts his finger on areas of our lives where we need to repent of sin and follow him in obedience, then we need to obey, and not resist him.

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.

 

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For Christ

Thursday, September 14, 2017, 4:59 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 1 (Select vv. ESV).

Gospel Advanced (vv. 12-14)

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

In Jerusalem, Paul had been falsely accused by some Jews, who had stirred up a whole crowd against him. Then, Paul was falsely arrested and he was brought before the Sanhedrin for questioning. The Jews then formed a conspiracy to kill Paul, so Paul was transferred to Caesarea where he stood trial before Governor Felix. He was kept in prison for two years under Felix, and then Paul came under the jurisdiction of Governor Festus, before whom he was also brought for trial. Paul was being encouraged to return to Jerusalem to stand trial, so he appealed to Caesar. Then, Paul was brought before King Agrippa. And then Paul was sent to Rome to stand trial before Caesar, where he lived at least two years in a house under guard (See: Acts 21-28). On each of these occasions, Paul was able to share with them his testimony about Jesus Christ, and concerning the gospel of our salvation.

So, truly, what Satan meant for evil in Paul’s life, God meant for good. Amen! The gospel not only was not hindered from spreading, but the gospel was advanced through Paul’s sufferings, under his imprisonment. All glory to God! And, as a direct result of his imprisonment for Christ, many other believers in Jesus were encouraged and strengthened in the faith and became bolder in speaking the word of God without fear. So, what had the appearance of defeat in the life of Paul was actually in God’s design for the advancement of the gospel. And, so it is often for us, as well.

I can give testimony, myself, that I would not now be doing what I am doing in sharing God’s Word and his gospel of salvation on the internet if it had not been for many instances of rejection and persecution of myself and of God’s gifting and calling in my life, and also from religious leaders within organized and institutionalized Christian religion. It was through these times of rejection and persecution that God placed his call on my life to spread his gospel message on the internet, and so I have been doing that faithfully these past 11 years. All glory to God, for great things HE has done!

To Live is Christ (vv. 18b-26)

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Not everyone, even within the Christian community, will be supportive and encouraging of us if we are proclaiming the whole counsel of God, as Paul did. One of the reasons for this is that so many of them are listening to humans over and above God and his Word. They are buying into humanistic philosophy and a diluted gospel message intended to tickle itching ears and to appeal to the flesh of humans. Not only that, but they are being taught that if anyone mentions repentance or obedience, in the context of the preaching the gospel, that they are teaching works-based salvation and so their words should be disregarded or challenged as untrue and misleading.

Yet, we should not let this discourage or dishearten us, but we should continue proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and of his gospel, and we should rejoice that we are sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. So, even if we are falsely accused, and even if people who oppose us end up poisoning others against us, in hopes to discourage them from believing the truth of the gospel, we should not be afraid. God is still completely sovereign over all things and all people, and his Word will never return empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Is. 55:11). Amen! We just need to do what is right, and then trust God with the results, even if we are mistreated in return.

We should always have this attitude in us that for us to live is Christ, but to die is gain, because then we get to be with our Lord forever. It is not that we seek death, although we would like to be with Christ, but that we don’t fear death or persecution, rejection, false accusations, etc. We know we were put here on this earth to give glory to God through our lives, and we know that faith in Jesus Christ also means we die to sin and self so that we might live with Christ in newness of life. Also, we know that Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins, so we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want, but we are to honor our Lord in all that we do. So, we accept God’s will for our lives, and we praise Him!

Worthy of the Gospel (vv. 27-30)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

As followers of Jesus Christ, and as ministers of the gospel of our salvation, our manner of life, i.e. the way we live day in and day out, should be for the glory of God, and for his honor and praise. How we conduct our lives should be worthy of (becoming, suitable, fitting) the gospel of Christ. What this means is that, since the gospel teaches us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, this should be how we live. We should no longer live to gratify our sinful flesh, but we should conduct our lives in a manner fitting (suitable) to one who has been set free from slavery to sin and who is now walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, according to the Spirit of God.

What this means for us is that we should be ones who take God and his Word seriously, to heart, and who walk in obedience to his instructions to us. We daily, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We don’t lie to ourselves, and to others, or make a pretension of godliness while willfully living in sin, or make excuses for willful and persistent sin against God. We also don’t make compromises with the world of sin in order to be liked, accepted or to not be persecuted, or in order to hold on to pet sins. Jesus died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to cleanse our lives of all unrighteousness.

Instead of playing it safe, and joining in with those who are making “nice” with the world, we should be ones who are standing on the Word of Truth, who are living what we say we believe, and who willingly lay down our lives in order to see others go free from addiction to sin. We should not shrink back from living for the Lord or from sharing his truths out of fear of persecution, but we should accept the fact that it has been granted to us by God, not only that we should believe on him, but that we should also suffer for him and for the sake of his gospel. So, we should be striving side by side with all followers of Christ for the faith of the gospel, standing firm in one spirit, and not frightened in any way by our opponents, which are many.

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.

 

Likewise

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 4:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 3 (Select vv. ESV).

Pure Conduct (vv. 1-6)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

I am a woman, and I have been married to my husband for 45 years now, so these words speak to my heart. We wives are to be subject to our husbands. We are to yield to their authority, be secondary to them in rule and authority in the household, and we are to be their assistants (partners, helpers). We are not to be head over them. Yet, we are not to subject ourselves to or to be partners with what is sinful, i.e. we are to obey God above all else and to respectfully decline any invitations to sin against God. We should never let our husbands lead us into sin, in other words, and then use “submission to spouse” as an excuse to willfully sin against God.

Our behavior should always be pure and respectful, both to God and to our husbands. We should set an example before our husbands, and before all people, of what it means to live pure and holy lives, pleasing to God. Yet, does this mean that we are never to say anything to our husbands about their conduct? I believe the implication is that the husband, in this case, is not a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is also in the context of the woman being in subjection to her husband, and not lording it over her husband. It also appears that the husband did hear the Word (the gospel) preached, but that he rejected it, so the wife should not try to pound the gospel into her husband through words, but rather to live the gospel before him, which would have a greater effect on him than her preaching it to him.

But, this is not to say that wives must live in absolute silence with their husbands, or that a wife cannot lovingly approach her husband with concerns over inappropriate conduct, or that if her husband is a believer, but he is going astray, that she cannot lovingly speak to him in hopes that he might be deterred from error. There are many passages of scripture, with regard to the body of Christ, that teach us to speak the truth in love to one another so that we might be brought to maturity in Christ, and which speak of what to do if a fellow believer is being led into sin or is caught in a sin, and also regarding what it means to love someone with the love of Christ. It is not loving to see a believer being led into sin and to say nothing. Also, if the wife is the helper, there are times when she does need to speak out.

As far as our outward adornment (beautification) is concerned, it should not be what is gaudy (loud, flashy, tasteless) or sensual. It should not be what attracts people to our bodies, especially, but it should be simple, discerning and modest. We especially do not want to adorn ourselves outwardly in such a way that we might knowingly lead men to lust after us, so we should always dress ourselves in such a way that is appropriate for women who profess Christ as Savior and who want to live holy and godly lives. For, what we want to show to others is the righteousness of God in our hearts, which comes not merely through our words, but through our reverent, submissive and humble attitudes and behaviors.

Honor the Woman (v. 7)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Even though these instructions to husbands are few in words, they “pack a punch,” i.e. these few words are capable of having a powerful effect on the lives of the husbands who take these few words to heart.

Husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, via applied knowledge. So, what specific knowledge or understanding is implied here? I believe the “likewise” in both the instructions to the wives and to the husbands refers back to the words spoken at the end of chapter 2, which speak of suffering unjustly, responding in love, and following Christ’s example of humility and holy conduct, especially in the face of unjust suffering. We read there that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). Husbands and wives, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, should live as Christ lived, following his example, and should die to sin and live to righteousness, and then we will live with each other as God intended.

This brings to mind the instructions to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-33 where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” In this way a husband is living with his wife in an understanding way, with applied knowledge, by following the Biblical instructions on how he is to live with and love his wife. And, this is a “tall order,” yet God can give them all that they need to do and to live this.

Husbands are to honor their wives. If they love them as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, they will honor their wives. So, how should they honor them? First and foremost, I believe, is by keeping their marriage vows to them, and by not going after “other lovers,” whether through viewing pornography, or via romantic or sexual relationships with other women or men, or by being “married” to their jobs, hobbies, sports or whatever else may have their hearts, passions and desires above God and above their spouses. Secondly, they honor their wives by treating them with decency, dignity, respect, and value, and by showing regard for their thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and by valuing their opinions or input in decision-making. Bottom line – love them like Jesus loves them, and you won’t go wrong. And, in this way, your prayers will also not be hindered.

Kindred Love (vv. 8-12)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

All of us, whether wives or husbands or singles (unmarried) or children, if we are in Christ, through faith in him, should have unity of mind, but with what mind? Whose mind? We should have unity (harmony, agreement) with the mind of Christ, not with the mind of humans. Too many humans are pushing unity, but it is not unity with God, with his purposes, with his Word and with his will and his ways, but it is solidarity with the thinking of humans and with humanistic philosophy, and it is a blending in with the world. So, when we hear the word “unity,” even within the church, we must be cautious and discerning with regard to what we are essentially unifying with. Be aware! The beast wants unity, too, only with him. Know the difference!

If we, as followers of Christ, do have unity of the Spirit of God with one another, then we will also have sympathy, kindred love, tender hearts and humble minds, especially in regards to how we treat one another. We will not want to exact revenge on others who we believe have harmed us in some way, but we will love them, forgive them, and we will want to help them, if possible, to be right in their relationships with the Lord. We will not slander others, or speak hateful words against them, in order to cause them harm, but we will speak the truth in love to them, in hopes that we might turn a sinner from his or her sinful ways. Yet, seeking peace should never be at the cost of compromise of the truth, of the gospel message, or of our testimonies and lifestyles, which are to be given over to our Lord in submission to his will. Seek peace, but never compromise with evil!

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.

 

Show Integrity

Saturday, September 9, 2017, 4:56 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 2:1-14 (ESV).

Sound in Doctrine (v. 1)

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Not all of us are teachers, in a formal sense of the word, but we all teach something each day by our lifestyles, words, attitudes and actions, for good or for bad. For, we ought to all have people whose lives we influence, because we should, if possible, have some human contact each day. Also, for us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be the light of Christ to a dark world, the salt of the earth, and to proclaim the excellencies of HIM who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. As well, we are to go and make disciples of people of all nations, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all things Jesus commanded (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Since we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, and to make disciples of people of all nations, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is sound in doctrine, i.e. that it is the truth, and not twisted truth or half-truths designed to make people feel good in their sin. So, what is doctrine? “Doctrine, then, is scriptural teaching on theological truths” (1), i.e. scriptural (biblical) truths. “According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God (2). I like that one!

Sound doctrine, essentially, is the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It makes no compromise with the world in order to make nice with the world, but it presents the truths of scripture according to the context in which they were written, for the purpose for which they were written. In other words, it does not pull scriptures out of context to support a particular chosen belief while ignoring the bulk of teaching in the Bible on that same subject (or subjects).

Too many people stubbornly hold on to particular beliefs, even though the bulk of scripture speaks the opposite, or even if, in comparing scripture with scripture, we are able to see that a particular held belief is not fully supported in scripture, and thus we must form our beliefs based upon all teachings on that subject, and not just the ones that support our beliefs. It would behoove all of us to be good students of the Word of God, not to support preconceived beliefs, but to find truth, and then to live the truth.

Sound in Faith (vv. 2-6)

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

What does it mean to be “sound” in faith? It means to be complete, thorough, unblemished, unadulterated (unmixed) and firm (secure), without wavering. It means we are no longer like children being tossed here and there by every wave of teaching, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (See: Eph. 4:11-24). It means we first know the truth, are certain that what we believe is truth, and then we stand on what we believe, but not just in theology or doctrine, but in practice, day in and day out, no matter the circumstances, and no matter who we are with at the time. We don’t blend in with the world to be accepted, and we don’t compromise our faith to not be rejected or persecuted. And, it means we walk (in lifestyle) no longer after the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit.

Although this section of scripture deals with particular groups of people, for the most part what is instructed to these specific groups applies to all who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. We should all be serious-minded about our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. Too many people take God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word all too lightly, and do not take them to heart, to make God and His Word a reality in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean we go around with frowns on our faces all day long or that we never laugh or smile. Serious-minded is not to be equated with grumpy and downcast. We can have the joy of the Lord in our hearts and smile and laugh (appropriately) and still be serious about God and His Word.

We are all to be steadfast (unwavering, constant) in our faith, reverent (respectful) in our behavior, not slanderers, and not addicted to strong drink, drugs, or anything else which might cause us to lose self-control. Self-control has as its basis Holy Spirit control, for self-control is one of the characteristic traits of the fruit of the Spirit, which is to be seen (exercised) in our lives, as followers of Christ. We, too, are all to teach what is good, i.e. what is spiritually healthy and what is God’s best for us, not the junk that is being passed off as the gospel today which is intended to appease the flesh and gain customers for big businesses called “church.” And, all of us are to be submissive to God and, in reverence for God, also to one another, which includes wives being in submission to their husbands. But, not one of us should ever submit ourselves to sinning against God.

Be a Model (vv. 7-10)

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Too many professing Christians today make excuses for willful and continuous sin against God, claiming “I’m not perfect,” but that is a lame excuse, and God doesn’t accept it. Certainly none of us lives in sinless perfection, though I know some people claim they do, but all of us should be walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and not according to our sinful flesh, if we are truly in Christ by faith in Him. So, in reality, if this is true, we should all be good examples of what it means to be a believer in Christ and to walk with integrity (truthfulness, honor, uprightness), which includes admitting wrong and repenting of sin when one does sin.

Grace of God (vv. 11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Too many professing Christians and non-Christians, alike, are also confusing God’s grace with libertinism, i.e. the freedom to be “unrestrained by morality and indulging a variety of amorous impulses” (M-W). They see God’s grace as carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sinful practices, as though thinking that God’s grace just covers it all, and that God just looks down on them and smiles when they choose to keep sinning against him. But, that is not true.

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return. Jesus did not die just to forgive us our sins, but he died to transform us! When we come to faith in him, we die with him to sin so that we might live with him to his holiness and righteousness, for this is why he died! So, give your lives to him today, and let him have HIS way now in your lives.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

Resources: (Not an endorsement of these sites)

(1) http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/doctrine/
(2) http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-doctrine/

 

Life and Death

Monday, July 24, 2017, 7:23 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Newness of Life (vv. 1-11)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I believe there is a huge misunderstanding today of God’s grace. So many people are teaching grace as though it is merely Jesus taking our place on the cross so we will be free from the punishment of sin, and so we will have eternal life with God in heaven one day when we die. But, his grace, as taught by many teachers today, does not translate into a changed heart and life, of the Spirit of God. There is no new birth of the Spirit, because there is no death of the “old man,” i.e. of the old self.

The “grace” they often teach is a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and without true remorse. In fact, many are teaching that God does not even require repentance or obedience, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, even while we are rebelling against him via willful and continued sin.

Yet, God’s grace to us is not just to deliver us out of hell and to assure us of heaven when we die. His grace to us is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace is for the purpose that we, who have died with him to sin, might walk (conduct our lives) with Christ in newness of life; with changed lives, transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God. God’s purpose in saving us from our sins was to put sin to death in our lives so that we would no longer be enslaved (addicted) to sin. Jesus died to sin and he lives to God, so we must also consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Death to Life (vv. 12-14)

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

So, sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. It should no longer have power or control over us or hold us in bondage. A truly born again believer in Jesus Christ should not be still living in addiction to sin, for Jesus set us free! He or she, by the Spirit, should be putting sin to death, so that he or she might have eternal life with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14). We should no longer be obeying our sinful passions or giving our bodies over to the lusts of our sinful flesh. If we have been brought from death to life, this should be evident in how we conduct our lives day in and day out.

So, what does this look like? Well, for one, we should no longer be feeling as though we just can’t help it when we sin. We can help it! Jesus paid the price for our sins, and he delivered us out of slavery to sin. If we choose to willfully sin against God, we choose to disobey what we know is right and to do what is wrong despite Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. And, we choose to not tap into the strength and power of God within us to resist Satan, to flee temptation and to draw near to God. Sometimes it is because we are not willing to go the distance with God in ridding our lives of those things which lead us down the path of sin, too. So, we end up playing with temptation and toying with sin, and of course, we will eventually sin.

So, we need to cut out of our lives those things which lead us to sin, and then we have to resist Satan and flee temptation and we have to pursue righteousness. For example, if your sin issue is pornography or sexually charged movies, and you keep going back to these time and time again, then it is time to cut the cord. Get rid of your TV, movies, cable, internet, etc. so that you don’t have the opportunity to sin in these ways. Ask for accountability, especially from your spouse. Don’t have private internet access. Do everything out in the open where anyone can see. So many, many people are bound in sin addiction because they have so many avenues to do so in the privacy of their own homes right from their own pockets or purses without anyone seeing what they are doing.

Leads to Righteousness (vv. 15-23)

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have to stop giving our lives over to what is sinful, and we have to give our lives over to what is godly and righteous and holy. We have to stop following the crowd or blending in with the world or immersing ourselves in our culture. The church and other Christians have helped encourage us toward worldliness for many, many years, but that is not acceptable to God. It is not the way he wants us to live. Our lives are no longer our own to live how we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on a cross for our sins. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-slaves, slaves to his righteousness. So, we need to live in the power of God’s Spirit like we believe this is true, instead of compromising with the world.

We need to realize here that a mere prayer to receive Jesus Christ as Savior or a mere acknowledgment of Christ’s existence or a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins does not guarantee us eternal life with God. If we remain slaves to sin, addicted to sinful practices, and we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we are not bound for heaven, but for hell. Slavery to sin leads to death, not life, but if we walk in obedience to our Lord, it leads to righteousness, which leads to sanctification (purity, cleanliness), which then results in eternal life with God. If we walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, regardless of what we believe about salvation and eternal life with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

What benefit, then, do we gain if we remain in slavery (addiction) to sin? Nothing! We may get some temporary pleasure for our flesh, but at what cost? Sin not only hurts us, but it hurts those closest to us, too, and it hurts those with whom we come in contact, because when we walk in sin, it is what comes out in our thinking, speaking, attitudes and behaviors. And, this does impact the people around us, as well as it kills the good that was planted in our hearts when we heard the gospel message of salvation from sin. And, it results not in the hope of heaven when we die, but in hearing God say to us, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013

Based off John 3:1-21

Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”

“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.

“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.

“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”

Put On the New

Friday, June 23, 2017, 7:51 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To My Beloved.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4:17-24 (NASB).

No Longer (vv. 17-19)

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Our walk is how we live our lives day in and day out. It is what we think, do, say and believe, as well as it entails our attitudes, perceptions, philosophies, values and morals. It is also our habits – rituals, traditions and practices. Our walk is not to be like that of the ungodly. We are not supposed to think like this sinful world, nor adopt their attitudes, values and practices. When we were blinded by sin’s deceitfulness, we walked in that way. We were under the power and influence of the evil one. But, now that we have been saved from our sins, that old way of living should no longer be a part of our lives.

It is futile (useless, fruitless) to live like the ungodly. When we were in slavery to sin, we were free from the control of righteousness. The outcome of those things is death (See: Ro. 6:1-23). We can’t serve two masters. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). We can’t live in the world of sin and follow Jesus Christ with our lives, too. These are in opposition to each other. In other words, you can’t walk left and walk right at the same time. They don’t parallel each other. Evil does not coexist with righteousness.

We also can’t walk in darkness and in the light at the same time. And, if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), yet claim to have fellowship with God, we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk in darkness (in the flesh), we will die in our sins, i.e. we will lose our lives for eternity (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). And, if we make a practice of sinning, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God (Gal. 5:19-21). We can’t be open to hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, in doing what he says, and in following his lead, if we are steeped in sinful rebellion against God, have our ears closed, and if we refuse to listen to what is truth, just because it doesn’t fit our lifestyles.

When we close our ears to the truth, and we choose to go our own way, instead, because we want to hold on to our sin, then we harden our hearts against the Spirit’s voice, and his promptings, and we end up becoming unfeeling and insensitive to the Word of God speaking to our hearts. We do this through a continual practice of resisting the Spirit’s voice, and giving in to willful sin time and time again. The more of this sinful world that we adopt into our lives and put into practice, the greater we become desensitized (numb) both to evil, and to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and urgings.

When an individual gets to the point of hardening his heart, via resisting the Holy Spirit, and choosing sin over God, as a regular practice of his life, it naturally flows that such individuals would then give themselves over to sensuality and the practice of every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. And, then, to top it off, they alter the gospel of Jesus Christ to fit their lustful and impure lifestyles so that they don’t feel guilty for their lifestyles of sin. And, this is why so many people today are preaching and teaching a half-truth diluted gospel message, so that they can continue in their sin, and still claim heaven as their eternal destiny.

So, what are some of these impure and sensual practices? They are not limited to just what is sexual in nature, but they include whatever is fleshly (worldly, unspiritual, ungodly). They include gossip, overeating (gluttony), self-indulgence in worldly pleasure, and being engrossed in the culture of our societies; lying, cheating, stealing, filthy language, and idolatry, as well as the viewing of pornography, watching sexually charged TV shows or movies, and extra-marital affairs (romantic or sexual), etc. And, it is not just the personal involvement with these sins which is wrong, but it is allowing ourselves to be entertained by them, and/or to give approval to these sinful practices in other people’s lives, which is what we do when we watch them.

Be Renewed (vv. 20-24)

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

So, what is the crux of the whole matter here? It is that, if we have been taught the truth that is in Christ Jesus, we did not learn Christ in the way of free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, while claiming heaven as our eternal destiny. That is a false grace gospel.

The truth that is in Christ Jesus, which Jesus and his NT apostles taught, is that, with regard to our former way of living for sin and self, we are to lay it aside, reject it, and put it off. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness. Daily we take up our cross and follow (obey) Christ. Daily we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh so that we might walk in the Spirit and no longer gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Jn. 6:35-66).

Our old self, which is corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, should no longer be in control over our lives. We should no longer be enslaved (addicted) to our sinful passions and desires. Jesus Christ set us free from all that through his death on a cross, and via his resurrection from the dead. He delivered us out of slavery to sin so that we could become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

Instead of still groveling around in the mud (filth, lewdness, immorality), we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. This is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, but we have to cooperate with that work via submission and obedience to our Lord, and to His Word. We must choose to leave our old lives of sin behind us to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives (Acts 26:16-18; Jn. 10:27-30; 1 Pet. 1:13-16). And, we must willingly put out of our lives what is corrupting our minds and our lifestyles, and put on what is wholesome, pure and righteous.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and we are born again (born spiritually) of the Spirit of God, our old lives are put to death with Christ so that we might live our new lives, which are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our new lives are not supposed to be like our old lives, only maybe just slightly cleaned up. They are to be radically different! It is as if we were traveling west, and then we decided to travel east, instead. So, we do a U-turn, and we go the opposite direction. This is what takes place when we repent of our sins and when we choose to walk in obedience to our Lord. Our new lives are to be like Jesus.

We are not only made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ, but we must live righteously. He not only purifies us and makes us holy, but we must walk in holiness. And, holiness means we live our lives separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. Too many people who call themselves Christians reject this teaching by their lifestyles, because they are still practicing sin and they are entertaining sin in their minds and by the things they choose daily to take into their minds, and many are convinced that Satan still has power over their lives, and that they can’t say “No” to sin, but that is a lie! Jesus set us free! We just need to live like we are truly free, if truly we are in Christ Jesus by faith in him. And, we do this in the power of God’s Spirit living within us.

To My Beloved / An Original Work / November 14, 2011

Based off I Pet. 5:6-9; Eph. 6:10-20; Jms. 4:4-10

Be strong in the grace of Christ, and
Put on His full armor in your fight
Against the enemy of your souls,
And resist him with all your might.
Take up the shield of your faith within you.
Salvation’s helmet – you put it on.
Put on the belt of truth,
And walk in the Spirit,
And you’ll not be ashamed.
Love your Lord Jesus; call His Name.

Call on your Lord and Savior, Jesus, and
Make Him Lord and King of your hearts.
Obey all of His teachings He has given
To you to follow in all His ways.
Repent of your sins. Return to your God.
Follow Him where’er He leads you now.
Humble yourselves in full
Surrender to His will
For your lives today.
Bow before Him, and humbly pray.

Be strong in the grace of Christ, and
Obey your Lord in ev’rything, always
Keeping His teachings in your hearts near you.
Walk with Christ in ev’ry way.
Resist the devil. He will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and He’ll be near you.
Wash your hands you sinners
And double minded.
Weep and wail o’er sin.
With Christ, your new lives begin.

Gospel of Grace

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 7:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures on the subject of the gospel of God’s grace (NASB).

The Gospel Message (Acts 26:16-18)

But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul was called of God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel of Christ (of our salvation from sin). This is the call he was given by Jesus Christ, which embodies the message of the gospel of our salvation.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures and we come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (his glory). We are bound in slavery to sin, without the hope of eternity with God. So, by God’s grace, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on a cross, putting our sins to death, and he was resurrected from the dead, victorious over sin. He did this so that we could have our spiritually blinded eyes opened, be turned from darkness (sin) to light (his righteousness), be delivered from the power of Satan, and be turned to God, to follow (obey) him. When this takes place in our lives, we receive forgiveness of sins, and we are given an inheritance among others who have been sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen!

Instructing Us (Titus 2:11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

While it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and that this is not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone of us should boast, but it is the gift of God, this does not mean we do nothing, or that nothing is required of us (See: Eph. 2:8-10). God’s grace is not a “do nothing” gospel. It instructs (commands) us to deny (reject, refuse) ungodliness and worldly desires. The main reason Jesus died on the cross was not just to give us the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, or to give us an escape from hell, but it was that we might die with him to sin and be resurrected with him to newness of life to be lived to him and to his righteousness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

In other words, this also fits with Paul’s calling to the gospel, to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and so they might have an inheritance among the saints of God. God’s grace is not just that he took our place on a cross so that we would be free of the punishment of sin (eternal damnation). It is for the purpose that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, that sin would no longer be our master, but that we would now be bond-slaves of Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ means turning from our sins (repentance) and turning to our Lord to follow (obey) him. Instead of now living for sin and self, we now live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us, and for God’s glory.

A False Grace (Jude 1:3-4)

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are many people today, including many who call themselves ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are turning God’s grace into a free license for immorality (for continuing in willful sin against God). Some of these people even used to preach the full gospel message, but have since wandered off from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ to become followers of men, and to market the church to the world, much like they would any other business. Since the world is their target customers, they now dilute the gospel of our salvation in order to make it more acceptable and appealing to the world, and to the worldly church. Thus, they have turned God’s grace into licentiousness and they deny our ONLY MASTER AND LORD, JESUS CHRIST, by the very messages they proclaim.

Basically, what they do is teach a half-truth (false) gospel. Most of them do teach that we are sinners at birth, and that we can’t earn or deserve our own salvation. They teach that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and not by works, lest any of us should boast. And, they do preach that it is only by Jesus’ sacrifice for sins that any of us can be saved from our sins, escape the fires of hell (if they even mention that), and have the hope of eternal life with God.

All this is true, but it is only half the truth. They leave out the other half which is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. They strip the gospel message of the cross of Christ in the life of the believer, which is death to sin and living to God and to his righteousness and holiness. They fail to proclaim that if we walk (in lifestyle) in our flesh (in sin, in darkness), we will die in our sins, not live eternally (Ro. 8:1-14).

And, they tell their adherents that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ and to his cross. Not only that, but they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, even when they are engrossed in willful sin against God. So, the way they teach the gospel is more like the broad road that leads to destruction, rather than as the narrow road, that few find, which leads to eternal life with God. They turn faith in Christ into nothing more than a mere acknowledgment of who Christ is or of what he did for us in dying for our sins, and as a mere acceptance of that fact. But, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in their gospel message, thus there is no new birth of the Spirit of God, and no promise of eternal life with God, either.

Be Holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Another factor that many of them fail to mention, as well, is that our salvation is not a one-time event, after which we live however we want, and that one day we get to go to heaven. That is hogwash! Scripture disputes that notion all throughout the New Testament! Our salvation is progressive, i.e. we are saved (past), we are being saved (present and continuous), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns and our salvation is complete. It is not just our initial faith which saves us, but it is us continuing and walking in that faith which secures our eternal salvation (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 8:31-32; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 11:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 6:35-66; etc.).

Here again is the message which says we must not only obey our Lord, but that we must forsake our former way of living for sin and self. This is what it means to be “born again.” And, this is what it means to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, for if we walk (conduct our lives), according to the 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 (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). Instead of living for self and for sensual pleasure, we are to be holy. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of God/Christ. And, we are to do this in all our behavior. Amen!

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!