Called to Freedom

Monday, October 9, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 5:13-26 (NASB).

Law in One Word (vv. 13-15)

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

What does it mean to be called to freedom? What does freedom in Christ really look like? There are divided thoughts on this issue. Many people think freedom in Christ means we are no longer obligated to obey Christ’s commandments. But, is this true? These same people also teach that God requires nothing of us other than some obscure (vague) belief in Jesus Christ and an acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins. Some even go so far as to say that we don’t have to repent of our sins and we don’t have to obey God. But, aren’t they missing the whole point of what our salvation is all about? Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not just so we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of eternity in heaven.

What has happened here is that many people, in order to forsake legalism, have gone to the other side of the pendulum, i.e. to the opposite extreme. Instead of now being legalists, they follow the way of libertinism. They think they are escaping man-made religion only to go to another form of man-made religion, because neither side is based primarily in the truth of God’s Word. I am not saying there are not elements of truth on either side, because I am certain there are, but that they have many distortions of truth, too, for one adds to God’s grace while another subtracts from God’s grace. And, neither one teaches true biblical freedom in Christ, but both get their cues from human beings, whom they often follow above God and His Word.

Ok, so what is the correct balance? If you weighed your beliefs on balance scales, with God’s standard on one side, and your beliefs on the other, would your beliefs be in balance with God’s standard of measurement? If you say, “Yes,” how are you measuring that? The only true measurement is God’s Word, primarily the New Testament, and not just select scriptures, and not what you hear from some preacher, or read in some book authored by some famous person or in some devotional book or meme you read on Facebook.

Yet, God’s standard has been simplified for us here. The whole law is fulfilled in one word (love), in the statement “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet, this love is not human love which may often be compromised by the flesh – by sinful passions. This kind of love is God-like (agape) love which prefers what God prefers, embraces God’s choices, and obeys them through his power (1), so it will do no harm to others. In practice, this love won’t lie, cheat, steal, hate, do evil, murder, slander, gossip, or commit adultery or fornication (includes viewing pornography), etc. And, loving others in this way means we also must love ourselves in this way, for when we sin against God, we are not loving God or ourselves or others.

By the Flesh (vv. 16-21)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, if we follow the way of (agape) love, we will first of all love God, and we will desire his will for our lives, and we will want to obey him, and not be looking for loopholes as a way to avoid obedience. Obedience does not demand absolute perfection, though, which is why Jesus died for us on a cross, so that through faith in him we could be reconciled to God. But, God’s standard does have to do with our walks, i.e. the way we live, day in and day out. Do we walk according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God or do we still live our lives (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh?

So, how do we NOT conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh now that Jesus has set us free from slavery to sin? We live our lives, instead, according to the Spirit, according to God’s Word, and in agreement with God’s divine character and will. If we do that, scripture teaches, then we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For, you see, many who call themselves Christians are not really living their lives for Christ. They may do good things, and avoid killing people and robbing banks, etc., and they may attend church services, and even serve in some capacity within the organized church, but then live no different from the world, or think their lives are to do with what they want the rest of the time.

If Jesus is not Lord (owner-master) of our lives in actuality, but just in theory, then we can’t expect that we will be able to resist Satan and flee temptation to sin. If we are not submitting to his Lordship over our lives, and if we are not walking in obedience and surrender to him, then we are not daily putting on the armor of God, with which we are to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and his schemes against us. And, if we are filling our minds daily with the values, principles, philosophies, attitudes, morals, thinking and behaviors of this sinful world via TV, movies, music, the internet, social media, video games, and the news media, and the like, we should not be surprised when our thinking, attitudes and behaviors reflect the world of sin.

Yet, we must know here that to be in Christ, and to have the hope of heaven when we die means we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is not saying we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that sin no longer has mastery over our lives, but Christ does, and we now live to his righteousness and no longer to gratify our sinful desires. If we continue in sin (on a sinful course), we should not expect to be rewarded with God’s heaven, but we should anticipate that, instead, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Believe this!

By the Spirit (vv. 22-26)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

But, if we walk according to the Spirit, to do what God desires for us, and what he requires, the outgrowth of that should be evident in our lives. This, again, is not saying we will have arrived or that we will be perfect, and that at all times we will display perfectly the fruit of the Spirit, and never the flesh. But, as we grow in Christ, and in his Word, and as we walk with him day by day, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, these qualities should become more and more evident in our lives.

But, we still have to resist Satan, flee temptation and sin, and we have to draw near to God, and lean on him and on his grace to help us to daily die to our flesh and to be able to walk (in lifestyle) according to and by the Spirit. This keeps us daily dependent on Christ and not on our own flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

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.

Sources:

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/25.htm

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In the Potter’s Hand

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 7:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 18 (ESV).

Spoiled Clay (vv. 1-11)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

God/Jesus is our potter. We who are Christians, by faith in Jesus Christ, are his clay. He designed us for a specific purpose, which is to give honor and glory to him through our lives. Yet, many people today who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not honoring him by their lives. In fact, many of their teachers are telling them that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ or to his cross. They make the gospel of salvation out to be an “entitlement gospel,” which is very “me-focused.” It is, thus, not focused on God/Jesus, and what he wants from the relationship, but solely on what they, the adherents, can get out of the relationship, and not on what we are required to give to God at all.

And, so, what these teachers are producing are “spoiled” children who think God is there to grant their every request and to meet all their needs, but that he is ok with them still floundering in their sins, for he should be so grateful that they decided to “believe” in him. They give this notion of God’s grace as though it is a free pass (carte blanche) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, as though Jesus died just to cover our sins but not to eradicate sin from our lives. And so we have a large number of these spoiled (clay) children who think a mere acknowledgment of Christ is enough to get them into heaven, and thus they can continue to live for themselves and feel no obligation whatsoever to submit to Christ or his cross.

Since they are, because of their choice to follow this false gospel, not fit for the purpose the Potter first intended, God has in mind to do what needs to be done in their lives in order to remake (revive) them, and to mold them into his image, and to make them into the likeness of Christ. Since they have not turned from their evil ways, even though his Word teaches them that they must, and so they have ignored God’s Words, and have chosen to go their own way, instead, God has in mind to judge (discipline, chastise) them, but not to destroy them, but so that he can remold them. So, he is calling out to these “spoiled” children, and he is saying “Return, everyone from his evil way, and change your ways and your deeds.”

But They Say (vv. 12-17)

“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

“Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
has done a very horrible thing.
Does the snow of Lebanon leave
the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
the cold flowing streams?
But my people have forgotten me;
they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
not the highway,
making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
and shakes his head.
Like the east wind I will scatter them
before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
in the day of their calamity.”

Even though God’s Word is abundantly clear on what it means to be “in Christ Jesus,” by faith in him, many, many professing Christians are continuing to follow their own plans and to act according to the stubbornness of their own human hearts, which are being given over to wickedness on a daily basis, in many cases. They willfully ignore the scriptures which convict their hearts of sin, and they cling to the ones which make them feel good about themselves, even in their sins, because they take the scriptures out of context to make them say what their itching ears want to hear.

Yet, God’s Word says that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and that we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It says that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It teaches us that faith in Jesus Christ means we conduct our lives (lifestyles) no longer after the flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. It tells us that God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but that it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return.

And, yet, even though God’s Word teaches this clearly throughout the New Testament, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ have willfully forgotten their Lord and his instructions to them in order to continue to live however they want. And, so, they follow after humans, the world, their culture, and the gods (idols) they have made for themselves, giving their hearts, minds, emotions, devotion and passions over to what is sinful in God’s eyes, instead of over to God and to his will for their lives. They are, thus, not traveling the highway of holiness, but they have wandered off to follow the ways of the flesh, which is why God plans to do what is necessary in order to bring them back to him to follow in his ways and in his truth.

Good Repaid with Evil (vv. 18-23)

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

Hear me, O Lord,
and listen to the voice of my adversaries.
Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you
to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Therefore deliver up their children to famine;
give them over to the power of the sword;
let their wives become childless and widowed.
May their men meet death by pestilence,
their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
May a cry be heard from their houses,
when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them!
For they have dug a pit to take me
and laid snares for my feet.
Yet you, O Lord, know
all their plotting to kill me.
Forgive not their iniquity,
nor blot out their sin from your sight.
Let them be overthrown before you;
deal with them in the time of your anger.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, burdened in heart for God’s people, the church, who are wandering off the pathway of righteousness to follow after the gods of this world, and if you care enough about your wandering brothers and sisters in Christ to speak the truth in love to them, you may find yourself right where Jeremiah was. You may find that your words, spoken in love and concern and conviction of the Spirit of God, will not only fall on deaf ears, but that you will be rebuked, criticized, ridiculed, mocked and even falsely accused because you cared more about them than you did about your own life and reputation.

Even though you intended good by your words, they will return your good to them with evil by slandering you and intentionally causing you harm, and by speaking evil against you in order to make other people reject you, too. Yet, we must trust God with our lives, believe in his sovereignty, and know that he is working all things for good for us who love him and who are called according to his purpose. We must remember God’s Words to us warning us in advance that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and that we will be rejected even by those in our own households, and by those of our own towns and in our local church congregations, too. Yet, this is God’s will for us that we should suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel, so we should not fear what humans might do to us.

God has all things under his control. He has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, so trust him, rest in him, believe him, and keep pressing on in being who he has called you to be and in doing what he has called you to do, and trust him with the results. His Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (See: Is. 55:11).

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Take His Hand

Monday, September 4, 2017, 9:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 4 (NASB).

Things Hidden (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

When we share with people the gospel of our salvation from sin, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, we should do so in truth and in complete integrity. So, if we want to be certain that what we are sharing with people is the truth, then we must study the Word of God, in particular the New Testament, and we need to learn what the gospel message teaches. For, many people today are adulterating (polluting, infecting) the Word of Truth by twisting scripture to their advantage or by picking and choosing only a few select scriptures which, taken out of context, say what they want to hear, while they ignore the rest. They, thus, fit the scriptures to their lifestyles rather than fit their lifestyles to the teachings of scripture.

Also, when we share with people the gospel of our salvation from sin, we need to not do so hypocritically. We should make certain we are walking the talk and not just talking the walk. We ought to be people of God, born of the Spirit of God, who are walking in holiness and righteousness, and who are not given over to sinful addictions. We must be godly people who have renounced secretive and shameful ways, instead of being people who make a profession of faith only, or who are not living what we are teaching others. It is imperative, too, that we make no pretense, and that we participate in no hidden sins, as well as that our walk matches our talk.

Blinded Minds (vv. 3-6)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The truth of the gospel should not be hidden from people on our account because we failed to learn the truth, and because we trusted in the lies (half-truths) being taught by others. If the truth is hidden from them, it should be because Satan has blinded their eyes, and because others, not ourselves, are the ones polluting the gospel to make it more acceptable and appealing to human flesh. We should be ones who are committed to knowing and sharing the truth of God’s Word, because the truth is what will change human hearts, and set them free, not clever lies disguised as truth which leave people still in bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin.

So, we must be bearers of Light, not of a mixture of light and darkness, disguised as light. What we proclaim must also be focused in Jesus Christ and not in giving glory to ourselves. We should be promoting Jesus, not humans. And, we ought to present ourselves as servants of Christ and give him all the glory for all that he does in us and through us. For what we have, and what we are, and what we do should be all because of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, and because he delivered us out of slavery to sin so that we might walk in his righteousness, in his power and strength. And, all the praise, honor and glory ought to go to him alone.

Earthen Vessels (vv. 7-12)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

It was God’s design and plan that he would use human beings, his followers, to spread his gospel message throughout the earth. Yet, we live in flesh bodies, and we get sick, tired, and weak, and we have our enemy Satan fighting continually against us, even through other humans, so we must rely on the strength, power and wisdom of God to continue in the work of the ministry to which he has called us. But, that is a good thing, because then we know that when God uses us that it wasn’t us who did it, but it was God. So, it keeps us humble and trusting and resting in our Lord, even for the strength to keep going, at times, and then for the empowerment of his Spirit in our lives in knowing what to do and say. Then, he gets the glory, not us.

Sometimes life can get pretty tough. Sometimes the opposition against us can get pretty severe, too. We may feel, at times, as though the weight of the world has come crashing down upon us. We may lose sight of God’s sovereignty over our lives, and feel like we are drowning in our circumstances, but we should never give up hope. We may go through some serious trials on this earth, because we are being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our lives. But, our Lord is always with us, he is in control over all that he has made, and he will never abandon us. He has a plan and a purpose for what he allows us to go through on this earth, and it is to make us holy, to purify our hearts, and to make us more like Jesus, so that his life shines through ours to the world.

Don’t Lose Heart (vv. 13-18)

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Even though we may be going through some hard stuff in this life, on this earth, we do not lose heart, or we should not lose heart, because we have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Not only that, but Jesus Christ is doing some awesome things in our lives while we still live on this earth, if we will let him by submitting to his will for our lives, and by walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. He uses these trials in our lives to mature us in him, and to grow us in our faith, and to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves. So, even though we may be going through a difficult period of time, he is busy changing our hearts by inwardly renewing us day by day. So, he is working it all out for our good (what is best for us).

So, we need to keep our focus on Jesus and not on our circumstances or on ourselves or what we are going through. We must trust him with our lives and with our life situations and let him lead us in the way he would have us to go. We can’t see what lies ahead for us, so we don’t always know why things are happening to us the way they are, but God knows. So, we must trust him. And, we must follow his lead. He won’t lead us down the wrong path. We just need to take his hand, and follow him. We should always keep an eternal perspective and not let what is temporary cause us to lose sight of what is eternal. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. So, rest in him. Believe him. And, follow him.

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.

His Own Purpose

Monday, September 4, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Name I Love.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 1:8-14 (NASB).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Not Ashamed

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:34-38

If we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we sincerely love him, worship him, and revere him, we should never be ashamed of him and his Words to us. It should not even enter our minds to shy away from speaking of him. So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) feel uncomfortable talking about Jesus and his Words, even among themselves? And, yet, they have no problems at all talking about major sports figures, sports teams, movies and movie stars, TV shows, or political heroes? I believe a lot of it comes down to rejection or acceptance by others, and our culture, including church culture, but some of it has to do with lack of true, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Yet, if we look at these words here in Mark 8 (cf. Lu. 9:23-25), we see that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means denial of self, death to sin, and following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will. Our lives are no longer our own to live how we want, and to please ourselves, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ shed on a cross for our sins, therefore we are to honor God with our lives, not try to save our lives for our own selves. For, if we hold on to living our lives to please ourselves, and to preserve them for this world, so that we will be liked and accepted by other humans, then we will lose our lives for eternity. But, if we die with Christ to sin and self, we will gain eternal life in him.

It saddens me to get together with other Christians, and to find they are not comfortable talking about Jesus or their relationships with him, or his Word, but they are perfectly fine talking about everything this world has to offer. They may even call their gatherings “Christian fellowship,” and they may even pray to God to “bless” their times of “fellowship” together, but other than that, Jesus’ name is not even mentioned, and if you try to begin a conversation about Jesus, it is real obvious that is not a subject many Christians (or professing Christians) want to talk about. Yet, Jesus said that if we are ashamed of him and his Words, he will be ashamed of us when he returns for us. And, not only that, but many people are dying in their sins, and they need someone to tell them about Jesus and his salvation, but if we don’t tell them, who will? We need not be ashamed of Christ and his Words!

Suffering for the Gospel

Instead of shying away from talking about Jesus and his Words with other humans out of fear of being hated, rejected or mistreated for our faith and testimonies, we need to be bold in our witness, and not fear what other humans might do to us or think or say about us to others. We are to share with Christ in the fellowship of his sufferings, first in his death to sin, and in his resurrection to new life in Christ, and then in suffering persecution for our testimonies for him and his gospel of salvation. For, we are not here on this earth to please ourselves, or to have people like us, but we are here to reflect Christ in all that we do, say and are, and to be lights for him and his gospel to a world lost in sin, so that they, too, can believe in Jesus and have eternal life with God.

A Holy Calling

For, our Lord did not die on a cross for our sins just so we could be forgiven our sins, escape hell, and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us and called us to himself with a holy calling. And, to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from this sinful world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. He called us according to His own purpose for us, which is that we might live holy lives pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways (patterns, behaviors) of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds to make us more like Jesus. His grace to us is not free license to continue in sin, but it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for Christ’s return.

Retain the Standard

God has given us a standard by which we are to live. We have it recorded for us in his written Word, but his Word is also living within those of us who are his by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son (and God). We are to hang on to or to keep a hold of that standard, and preserve it, not just intellectually, but by how we live our lives day in and day out. It is not enough to just know the Word of God, but we need to DO what it says. We need to live it! And, we need to do it, not just because God commands that we do, but because we love him, and we want to please him in all that we do, think, say and are.

So, if we are doing this, and we are living holy lives, pleasing to God, and we are not ashamed of Christ and his gospel, and we are suffering for the sake of his name and for our testimonies for him, what should that look like? Well, for one, we should not be one (united) with the world in their thinking, culture, philosophies, attitudes, values and beliefs. We should not adopt their ways and thinking and make them our own, so that it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So, that means that we should also not be choosing each day to saturate our minds with all that the world is offering us, nor should we be engaging ourselves in being entertained daily by their sinful attitudes and behaviors. But, we should come out from them and be separate (unlike, different) from them.

This also means that we are now living for our Lord, living holy lives pleasing to him, and that we are walking in his ways, and in his truth, with undivided hearts, in order to bring honor, glory and praise to his holy name. We are not ashamed of him and his Words, and in the power of the Spirit within us, we are bold in our witness for him, in saying what he wants us to say, despite how other humans may respond to us. And, we are being hated, rejected and persecuted because people, including many of those who call themselves Christians, will be offended by us and our stand on God’s Word, because it won’t mix with their sinful, ungodly, lackadaisical lifestyles. And, although we may not live in absolute sinless perfection, we are conducting our lives (in lifestyle) according to God’s Holy Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, to do what our flesh desires, but our desire is for our Lord, to please him in every way.

Jesus, Name I Love
Or, Like the Strain of Sweetest Music
William M. Runyan

Jesus, Jesus, name I love,
Sinful needy hearts to move.
Name, all other names above,
Jesus, name I love.

His Grace to Us

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 2:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible teaches us that ALL have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous before God in our own merit. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life with God. In fact, we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to His Son (Jn. 6:44). Without Christ we are spiritually dead, without hope, and without God. Our destiny is eternal damnation in the fires of hell, no matter how many good deeds we might do in this life, or how seemingly kindhearted we may be towards other people.

In our sin natures, we are drawn towards sin, and towards doing even what we know is wrong. We are under the control of Satan, not of God. We are of this sinful world, not of the kingdom of heaven. And, we are under the influence of the world, not conformed to the image of God. We are bound towards disobedience rather than obedience. We live and walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit of God. And, we indulge ourselves in the desires of our flesh, rather than resist Satan, flee temptation and sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

This is what an UNSAVED life looks like. So, if you profess to be a Christian, but this is what your life looks like, then something is terribly wrong.

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But, thanks be to God, he did not leave us bound in our sins, without hope. He provided the way for us to be saved from our sins, to be delivered out of slavery to sin, and to become bondservants of his righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (Is. 53). And, those who hated him saw to it that he was crucified on a cross, thinking that would be the end of him.

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. 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. Jesus Christ “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” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

So, by God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die on a cross for our sins, and to be resurrected back to life, we can also die to our sins and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins, and we turn to God to follow him in his ways. We are forgiven our sins, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven (See: Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, and nothing we do in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

For Good Works (v. 10)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Many people who quote this passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 stop at verse 9, and they assume that good works are not required at all of us. Yet, although it is true that we are not saved by our own fleshly works, and that we cannot earn our way into heaven, our salvation is not absent of good works. We are saved not just FROM something, but we are saved TO something. In other words, we are saved from sin, but we are saved to righteousness.

When we become children of God, it is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, and he put sin to death, on our behalf, he bought us back for God with his blood, so that when we trust in him to be our Savior and Lord, we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bondservants (his workmanship). And, he has good works which he created us to do, and which he prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them.

Some of these good works are specific to all of us who believe in Jesus, whereas some of them are specific to each of us as individuals. What I mean by this is Jesus not only has a purpose for all of our lives, which applies to all his followers, but he also has individual callings, giftings, and assignments he has for us to do (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). And, we would do well to seek his face concerning what purpose and calling he has for our individual lives, and then to be about doing what he had prepared in advance for us to do, and to live the lives he had marked out for us, all in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us, and to his glory!

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

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.”

His Loving Kindness

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) on the subject of God’s lovingkindness towards us.

Rich in Mercy (Eph. 2:1-10)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

When God created man and woman, they were sinless, but then they sinned against God by doing what he commanded them not to do. Ever since then, all of us have been born into sin, with sin natures, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49; Ro. 3:23). Yet, God had planned, even before he created the world, and us, how he was going to save us from our sins (See: Gen. 3:15; Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He sent his Son Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth to take on human form, and then to die on cross. Although he knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

Because we are born sinners, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough in our own merit. None of us are deserving of God’s grace to us. No amount of good works will ever earn us a place in heaven. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can any of us be saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, we must have a biblical understanding of God’s grace lest we be led astray by those who would tickle itching ears with feel-good messages which give its adherents a false hope of eternity with God based on a lie, which leaves its followers still dead in their sins, yet thinking they are going to heaven.

So, what is God’s grace to us? Notice with me how this passage begins where it states how we formerly walked (in lifestyle) according to the course of this world, in disobedience, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging in sinful passions and desires, and thus we were children of wrath. Yet, because of God’s loving kindness towards us, he made us alive in Christ. Not only did he forgive us of our sins, but he delivered us out of bondage (slavery) to sin. So, now we don’t walk according to the course (path, pattern) of this ungodly world, but we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14).

The Kindness of God (Titus 3:1-8)

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins is not merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die (or when he comes to take us home). His grace to us is for the purpose to deliver us out of slavery to sin (darkness) and to bring us into his wonderful light (truth, righteousness). It is to turn us from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to follow our Lord in his truth and in his ways, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).

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 to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross so we could continue in sin without guilt. He gave himself up for us to release (liberate) us “from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).

Notice again with me that it says here that we were ONCE (meaning past) disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts, envious and hating one another. God’s grace to us, again, is not just to forgive us our sins, but it is to free us from our addiction to sin. It is so that we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to the ways of this sinful world, but so we now walk according to the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness. We are not merely forgiven of our sins and given a free pass, but we are washed, we are cleansed of our sins, and we are transformed, and given new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, being holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord (owner-master).

Long for the Pure Milk (1 Pet. 2:1-5)

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The primary purpose of God’s lovingkindness to us in saving us from our sins is that we might no longer walk (live) in sin, but that we might walk (conduct our lives) according to his righteousness. When we truly believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ to his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). For, if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we believe we are saved. But if we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, as followers of Jesus Christ, daily we should be putting sin to death in our lives, and we should be walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). And, we should be longing for (thirsting after) the pure milk of the Word of God. This is not to say we should remain content with the milk only, though, and that we should not move on to the meat of the Word, for if we do, we will remain spiritual infants, and not move on to maturity in Christ. And, the whole purpose here is that we might grow (mature) in respect to salvation, i.e. that we should be mature in Christ and walking in his righteousness and holiness.

The house of God under the Old Covenant was a physical building. Yet, when Jesus Christ died for our sins, and he rose from the dead, and his Spirit came to live within those who have believed him to be Lord and Savior of their lives, we became his house, his body. We are not a physical building, but a spiritual one, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. He is our foundation, our Rock on which we stand. And, we are being built up (developed; formed; encouraged) as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In other words, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, and so we are to give our lives to our Lord as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind (Ro. 12:1-2) for the glory of God.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.