Flimsy Excuses

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Sacrifices.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Beginning of Knowledge

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If we want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to where we hear him speaking his words to our hearts, and to where we understand what he is saying to us, so that we can apply what he is teaching us to our daily lives, and so we can walk daily in intimate fellowship with him, then we need to begin with the fear of the Lord. So, we must understand what this means.

The fear of the Lord is us giving respect, honor, value, esteem, reverence, obedience, submission, worship, devotion, faithfulness and love to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our thoughts should not be solely focused on what he is going to do FOR us, but they should also be on what he will do THROUGH us as we submit our lives to him to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will. For, belief in Jesus is not just about him saving us from our sins so we can go to heaven one day. It is about him saving us so that we can honor and glorify HIM with our lives day by day.

If Sinners Entice

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.

Believing in Jesus Christ means we are delivered out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, but it does not mean that we cannot or that we will never sin again, or that we won’t be tempted to sin. We most likely will be tempted, because Satan wants nothing more than to captivate us once again, and because we still live in flesh bodies, which still have the propensity to sin. So, it is likely that, at some point, we may sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). But, sin should no longer be our practice. It should not be the normal course of our daily lives, for we died with Christ to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, what do we do when we are tempted to sin? The Bible says that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, so that we will be able to endure it (or to bear up under it) (1 Co. 10:13). So, what escape has he provided? For one, he put sin to death on the cross and he rose victorious over sin from the grave, so that we can also die to sin and live to righteousness. He, too, has given us the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) to put on daily, so that we might fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, he has given us much instruction in the NT on how to overcome sin. He also gives us much wisdom, if we will heed the wisdom and counsel he provides.

So, what are some of those instructions and wisdom’s gems? For one, the scriptures tell us we must resist Satan and flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God. And, it teaches us that we are to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and the weight that hinders so we can run the race God has set for us to run (our spiritual journey). And, it instructs us that, if something is leading us into sin, we should cut it out of our lives. As well, we are to put off what we know is sin (or sinful practices) and replace them with what is holy and righteous, such as we must put off lying and tell the truth, put off stealing, and work, and give to others, etc. So many people are still practicing sin because they are not utilizing the armor of God, the wisdom of God, and the instructions in God’s word in how to defeat sin in our lives.

Wisdom Shouts

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you…
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

So many people claim ignorance when they are not ignorant. It isn’t that they don’t know what to do, but it is that they don’t do what they know, or that they ignore what they know and/or avoid learning what they need. Or, because they want to continue in sin, they willfully remain naïve, always claiming that they didn’t know or that they are just learning, when they have been learning a very long time – always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. They willfully choose ignorance over knowledge in hopes that they can excuse away willful and continued sin against God, but their excuses don’t hold water. Their excuses are useless!

I hear so many Christians say that they are “struggling” with sin, but what does that really mean? Is that just another excuse for willful and continued sinful practices? We shouldn’t be “struggling” with sin, at least not in the sense of regularly and consistently yielding to the same sins over and over again, for Jesus set us free!

The bible teaches us that if we make sin our practice, that we will die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity, and this includes anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ, too. It isn’t that we will never repeat a sin, but it is that we should no longer be addicted to sin. It should no longer have dominion over us. But, for many who call themselves Christians, they are very much addicted to sin, but they will just say they are “struggling” as a way to gloss over it and make it not sound so bad.

So, wisdom is shouting out to God’s people, and it is asking them how long they will love being simple-minded. How long will they take pleasure in remaining naïve, in hopes that they will not have to take responsibility for their lives? How long will they continue to claim they are “struggling” with sin, while they don’t take the necessary steps to not give in to the sin? You see, we have to flee sin, and we have to resist Satan, and we have to cut out of our lives those things which trip us up and cause us to fall.

You can’t keep claiming ignorance. You must turn to God’s reproof, turn away from your sins, put them off, and put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and then you will experience the fullness of the Spirit of God in your lives, and you will be at peace in knowing that you are following the Lord with your lives.

Living Sacrifices / An Original Work
September 14, 2012

Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.

 

Advertisements

Do You Not Know?

Saturday, August 12, 2017, 7:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (Select vv. NASB).

Lawsuits Among Believers (vv. 1-8)

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

In the USA, lawsuits are big business. It seems, at times, that when anyone even feels that he or she has been injured by another that they are far too ready to sue the ones they believe are the offending party. I have even found this to be a common practice among those who call themselves Christians. And, so much of this appears to have more to do with seeking revenge than in seeking reasonable damages (an award) for serious loss or injuries. At least, this has been my observation. Yet, some statistics seem to support the idea that lawsuits in the USA are outrageous in the numbers of them, in the context of them, or in the ease with which they are obtained.

It is bad enough when a Christian goes to court against a non-Christian and seeks unreasonable damages, just out of revenge or greed, and thus destroys any testimony for Jesus he or she might have otherwise had. But, when a Christian takes another believer to court, instead of taking the matter before the church, then that is even a more grievous matter. Where is the justice in all of this? Where is love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness? Where is the thought or belief that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives? What happens to our Christian witness and testimony? And, what about loving our enemies (or those we feel are our enemies), praying for them, doing good to them, and blessing them? Have we forgotten?

When we go to court against other people, especially against other believers, in order to sue them, and we ask for more than we need in damages, especially out of revenge (to get payback), or out of greed, to spend the reward on our own pleasures, we wrong and defraud (swindle, cheat, and take advantage of) others. And, it destroys the work of God in our lives and through our lives in showing his love, grace and mercy to others. Do we truly believe we must do this, and that God was absent during our injury, or that he can’t provide for all that we need? It is far better that we suffer this wrong than for us to seek revenge, for it is God’s job to take revenge, not ours! We are to show love, kindness and forgiveness, instead.

The Kingdom of God (vv. 9-11)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

This is a warning, not to the unsaved, though it certainly applies to them, too, but to Christians or to professing Christians who are practicing sinning against God. If we wrong (ill-treat, abuse) and defraud (swindle, cheat or take advantage of) others, as our practice, we should not think we have any inheritance coming to us from God. We should not bank on having eternal rewards, but we should consider what scriptures teach on this subject, and know that those who practice sinning, who continue in sin, and who walk (in lifestyle; who conduct their lives) according to the flesh, will die in their sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25; & Eph. 5:3-6).

Flee Immorality (vv. 15-20)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

As you can tell from the long lists of sinful practices in 1 Co. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-25, & Eph. 5:3-6, they cover a wide span of sinful practices. One of the ones which is predominant, though, and is repeated over and over again in scripture is immorality, or most especially sexual immorality. Immorality can be anything which is wicked, depraved, corrupt, dishonest or adulterated, including idolatry. Sexual immorality is confined to such areas as adultery, lust, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, same-sex marriage, oral sex, incest, and viewing of pornography or sexually charged (or insinuated) movies or videos, or sexting, or having sexual conversations with someone with whom you are not married, et al.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are united with him in spirit, and we become members of his body, the church (not the institutional church). We become the bride of Christ, and he is our husband, and in faith we vow faithfulness, love, and commitment to our Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Our desire is to please him in all that we do, say, think and are. When we are married to our spouse, we also vow love, faithfulness, commitment and fidelity. And, our desire should be for our spouse, to please him or her, and to do to or for the other according to love and faithfulness, and according to the teachings of Christ and his Word. So, it is absolutely sinful and wrong (harmful, injurious) to do what is contrary to these vows of fidelity and love, either to God or to our spouses.

So, we are to flee all immorality, idolatry, wickedness, lies, deceit and sexual immorality, and we are to commit ourselves to faithfulness and love toward both our Lord and toward our spouses. When we marry, we become one flesh with our spouse through sexual union, so we are to regard our spouses as though they are one with us, and to treat them accordingly, in love, purity, and in all kindness, respect and honor. As well, when we believe in Jesus, and his Spirit comes to dwell within us, our bodies become his temple, and we are no longer our own, to live however we want, for Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. So, we are to honor and glorify God in our bodies, and in our minds, hearts, attitudes, words and actions, too. For, Jesus set us free from slavery to sin in order that we might become bondservants (slaves) of his righteousness.

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.

Use It, or Lose It!

Saturday, June 10, 2017, 7:49 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ecclesiastes 6 (ESV).

Wealth and Possessions (vv. 1-6)

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place?

Some people have been blessed with wealth – either materially and with many possessions, or with knowledge and understanding, or with natural talent and much giftedness. They may have been given many aptitudes for many things. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are blessed with the riches of God’s grace, not only in our salvation from sin, but with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, and in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. We have been forgiven our sins, delivered from slavery to sin, given new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived to his righteousness, and indwelt and empowered with the Holy Spirit, and granted eternal life with God (See: Eph. 1:1-14). God gives good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11; Jas. 1:17).

But, what matters is not what we have, but what we do with what we have. Great wealth, talent, and knowledge means nothing if it is not used for good purposes, or if it is not shared with those who are in need, or with those who may benefit from it in some way. It also means nothing if it is amassed for future purposes, but the person dies before he gets to put it to good use, and especially if he has no heirs, and strangers then get his wealth. Or, if his country is conquered by a foreign entity and he loses it all, and the conquerors then take possession of it. He should have shared it with others while he still had it, for what good is it if an enemy now takes possession of it?

He may also lose it, too, because God takes it away, because he didn’t use it for good, to benefit others, but he squandered his wealth and just used it for his own selfish purposes. And, this can be true of spiritual blessings and giftedness, too. Many people have been given the gift of salvation, and, perhaps, initially they produced fruit in keeping with repentance, or seemed to, but since then they have gotten caught up in the world of sin, or have become lazy and complacent, and they are living their lives wholly for their own self-pleasure. Maybe they initially received the gospel message with joy and with enthusiasm, but as time went on, they went back to their old ways of living for sin and self, and they have forgotten that salvation means death to sin and living to righteousness. They are also ignoring all the warnings in scripture regarding how we will reap what we sow, and instructions which teach that our spiritual walk, or lack thereof, determines our eternal destiny.

Never Satisfied (vv. 7-9)

All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

The things of this world will never satisfy us. They are like eating a meal. Hours later we need to eat again. They are also a lot like water that only temporarily satisfies our thirst, for then we get thirsty again, and then we need more. The treasures of this life do bring some temporary satisfaction and pleasure (enjoyment), but they are temporal. They are not lasting. One day they will all perish, too. But, since they are only temporarily satisfying, it is human nature to keep wanting more, thinking if we just have this or that, now we will be happy, but they never truly make us happy. And, some of them come with great debt because people buy what they can’t afford, and thus they come with a great financial burden, too. Or else they come with enormous responsibility, and thus they take a great amount of our time, money and energies just keeping them maintained, and for what?

When I think of the wandering of the appetite, it is not just in wanting more possessions, or more food than what we need to eat (to live), but it is going outside the boundaries of our covenant relationships with God or with our spouses. It is not being satisfied with what we have, or with the marriage covenant, or with God alone, and it is going after “other lovers,” thinking they will satisfy the deep longings of our souls. Yet, these are all just empty cisterns full of holes.

Regarding marriage, this adultery can take place via the mind only, lusting after those who are not our own, but it can also involve viewing pornography, and sexually charged movies, TV shows, and books or magazines, too. It can, as well, involve extramarital relationships, that may begin seemingly innocent enough, but which may lead to romantic and/or sexual relationships. As well, private chats or texts with people of interest with whom you might have intimate conversations, especially without the knowledge or approval of your spouses, and behind their backs, is another form of adultery and a “wandering appetite.”

Sovereignty of God (vv. 10-12)

Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

God knows the end from the beginning. He knew before he even created man that he would sin against him. He knew before we were even formed in the wombs of our mothers who we would become, what we would do, and whether or not we would believe in him. But, it is more than just knowing these things in advance. For those of us who know Jesus, or who will yet believe in him, God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight. He chose us even before the creation of the world (Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). All the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came into being (Ps. 139:13-16; cf. Jeremiah 1:4-5). God placed me in the womb of my mother, so he chose the home I would be raised in, even knowing the good, bad and the ugly of it all, because he made me who I am so he could use me in the way he is using me, and all for his glory!

The point here, also, is that there is no point trying to go our own way, or to resist God, because his word will stand true, and he will do what he says he will do. What we sow, that will we also reap. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we profess to believe in Jesus Christ. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. If we persist and insist on going our own way, and continuing in willful and unrepentant sin against God, and we make a practice of doing what is wicked, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment.

One other thing here is that it says, the more words, the more vanity. This is not saying that we have to be people of few words, though there is wisdom in that, at times, when we say more than is necessary, or more than we should. Yet, what this makes me think of is how words can be cheap if not accompanied by action. If a man or a woman proclaims to love his or her spouse but he or she cheats on the spouse and then covers it up with lies, they should not call it love, for it is not love. If we proclaim to know and to love God, as well, but we cheat on God with “other lovers,” i.e. with the gods of this world, and we go our own way, and we do what we want, and we think we are ok if we keep sinning, and we think obedience is not required, then all is vanity! Because, our expressions of love are vain, because they are just words.

So, we should not take God and his grace for granted. We should be satisfied with where he has us, what he has us doing, and with the blessings he has bestowed upon us, unless he moves us to something else, according to his plans and purposes for our lives. We should not wander outside our covenant relationships with God or with spouse, but we should be faithful in all that we do, think, speak and are (in character). If God has gifted us and has given us wealth, knowledge, talent, salvation, and spiritual gifts, we should use them for his glory, and for the benefit of others, and not hoard them to ourselves, or to use them only for our own pleasure. But, we should rest in the Lord, believe what he says, do what he shows us, go wherever he sends us, and use what he gives us – all for his glory!

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.

The Faith We Profess

Monday, June 5, 2017, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Blessed Assurance.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Our Faith (vv. 3-8)

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, what should that faith look like? Well, first of all, where does this faith come from? And, do we generate this faith ourselves?

In the Bible we read, first of all, that no one can even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws him (Jn. 6:44). Generally, this is done through the preaching of the gospel of our salvation (Ro. 10:14-15). Yet, God is certainly not limited to depending on humans to tell people about himself; about Jesus Christ (Ro. 1:18-20; Ps. 19:1-6; Lu. 19:40; Rev. 14:6). Then, once the Father draws us to Christ, then he also gives us the faith to believe in him (Eph. 2:8-10). This faith is not the kind we might muster up ourselves out of our own human flesh, though. This faith is divinely persuaded as to God’s perfect will for our lives. It submits to God’s will, because it comes from God, and it is of God (of his divine character).

So, what is this gospel of grace? Where do we learn about it? We learn about it in the “Word of Truth.” And, it is “the grace of God in truth.” We learn about it, not just in the New Testament books of the Bible, though, for there are many prophecies of scripture concerning this gospel of grace in the Old Testament, too. And, it is the Holy Spirit of God who reveals it to us, who convicts our hearts of sin, and who convinces us of our need of the Savior.

What is this gospel? It is first of all that humans are born into sin, and thus they come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. They are bound for eternity in hell, without God, and without hope (Ro. 3:23; Ro. 6:23). And, there is nothing we can do in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. So, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, became flesh, and dwelt among us. He suffered like we suffer, and he 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. And, he was hung on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong, but in his death he took upon himself our sins so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness (Jn. 1; Phil. 2; 2 Co. 5:21; Is. 53).

And, what should it look like when we believe in Jesus, and in his gospel? It should radically transform our lives. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). And, holiness means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We are turned from darkness (sin) to light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). The old has gone, the new has come.

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. If you believe that you can have faith in Jesus Christ, and that God requires nothing of you – no repentance, no submission and no obedience to Christ, then you are sadly mistaken. That is human faith, not God-given faith. We have to remember here that James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians don’t even shudder, i.e. they have no fear (honor, respect) of God. Yet, God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just about freeing us from hell’s fires and promising us heaven when we die. His grace teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

So, what should this faith look like? It should be surrendered to God, in death to sin and living to his righteousness. And, it should be bearing fruit and increasing, and not be stagnant and complacent. In other words, we should be growing in our faith, and we should be maturing in our spiritual walks. We should be denying the flesh, and by the Spirit we ought to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We should be walking in the Spirit and no longer living to gratify the desires of the sinful flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 1:6). And, we must have love for others, especially for other followers of Christ, for if we hate and devour one another, how, then, can the love of God be in us? (1 Jn. 2:11; 1 Jn. 4:20).

Worthy of the Lord (vv. 9-14)

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

First, we must have the correct foundation. If our faith is based in human flesh, and it is not God-given faith, then what follows will not take place, because we have a faulty base. If a house is built on a faulty foundation, it won’t last. When the storms of life come crashing in, it will fall. If we believe that all we have to do is acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and accept his forgiveness of our sins, but that nothing is required of us, then that is the wrong foundation, and our house will fall. But, if we believe the words of Jesus and those of the NT apostles, that coming to Christ means we die with Christ to sin so that we don’t live in sin any longer, and that repentance and obedience are required as part of believing faith (God-given faith), then by God’s grace, we can walk (in lifestyle) in a manner worthy of our Lord.

Then, we can be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, because we don’t have an attitude that we don’t have to obey him. Why would he fill us with the knowledge of his will if we are predisposed to ignore that knowledge, and to go our own way? Why would he show us anything if we feel we now have our ticket into heaven, that nothing can take it away, so it doesn’t matter if we still play around with sin, or if we make it our practice to excuse away willful sin as all covered by God’s grace. What he will show us is that we have the wrong foundation, and he will show us the correct way to him and to salvation. And, when we have responded to him with God-given faith, then he will increase our knowledge and understanding so that we can bear fruit in every good work.

Again, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means he rescues us from the domain of darkness (sin, wickedness, the power of Satan), and he transfers us to his eternal kingdom, to live to his righteousness and to his holiness.

Beyond Reproach (vv. 21-23)

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Here again we have the point of our salvation, which is to deliver us out of slavery to sin. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7). And, it is that we may live a new life – not like the old life. It is that he may present us before himself (God) holy and blameless and beyond reproach, not just positionally, but experientially. In other words, it is not just that Jesus’ righteousness is credited to our accounts, but it is that we live righteously in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us (Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 12:1-2; Lu. 9:23-25; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24).

But, this is all conditional. We have to continue in the faith we have been given, firmly established and steadfast, not moved away from the hope of the gospel. And, this doesn’t mean we hold out hope that we will go to heaven when we die while we largely or even partially ignore God’s commands and do as we please in the meanwhile. This is not continuing in the faith of the gospel as was taught us by Jesus and by his NT apostles. This is continuing in human faith which promises a false hope of heaven, based in a lie, which is being preached to us by those who are false shepherds and wolves in sheep’s clothing, who are out to kill, to steal and to destroy the church. So, we have to continue in God-given faith, which produces love, obedience, submission, repentance and holy and godly living.

Blessed Assurance / Fanny Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.