Are We Slaves?

Monday, June 26, 2017, 2:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (ESV).

Died with Christ (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.

When we are baptized with water, subsequent to our faith in Jesus Christ, it symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Yet, this death with Christ to sin, and resurrection to newness of life, does not take place in the waters of baptism, but in the heart of man. When we are baptized into Christ and into his death, this is speaking, not of water baptism, but of the baptism with the Spirit of God, which is done by Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:11). It is a spiritual, not a physical baptism. And, it is an immersion (participation, engagement) with Christ into his death to sin and into new life in the Spirit. We die with Christ in death to sin, and we live with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness.

Because Jesus Christ put sin to death on the cross, and by faith in him, we, too, are able to die to sin. And, because he was resurrected from the dead back to life, we, by the Spirit, are able to live new lives in Christ Jesus to the glory and praise of God. This is God’s grace to us. This is his free gift to us, not just that he took our place on the cross, and thus he took our punishment for sin so that we could go free from eternal damnation and have the promise of eternal life with God.

God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not just forgiveness of sins, and freedom from punishment (hell for eternity), but it is death to sin; it is deliverance from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is freedom to now walk in his holiness and righteousness in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. His grace 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 (Tit. 2:11-14).

In this baptism (immersion, participation) into Christ and into his death to sin, our old self (flesh nature) 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. So, how is it that so many preachers are telling people that believing in Jesus is nothing more than an acknowledgment of him and of what he did in dying for our sins, and that it is a mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, but they do not teach death to sin or living to righteousness, which was the very reason for which Jesus died? (See: 1 Pet. 2:24).

If Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, then why are they telling people that God requires nothing of us? – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ or to his cross? Their false grace gospel is giving its adherents free license to continue in willful sin against God, and that is wrong!

Slaves to Sin or Obedience (vv. 12-19)

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.

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.

So, if we have truly believed in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, and we have, thus, been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with him to newness of life, sin should no longer reign (rule, govern) our lives. We should no longer obey the lusts of our flesh, but we should now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and in the power and strength of God’s Spirit, whom we were given when we trusted in Jesus Christ. Jesus delivered us out of slavery to sin, so we are no longer under its power.

If we are still living as though we are still enslaved to sin, we have to understand here that this leads to death, not to eternal life with God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we still walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we still walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). It is obedience which leads to righteousness. So, we are now to become slaves to righteousness which leads to sanctification (purification, holiness).

Set Free from Sin (vv. 20-23)

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.

If we are still living as though we are enslaved to (addicted to) sin, we are free from the control of righteousness. We can’t serve two masters. So, if Jesus set us free from all that, why continue in sin and sin addiction? Don’t you know that will lead to death? If we continue to practice sin, and if we continue walking (living) in sin and according to our flesh, we will die without Christ and without the hope of eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, don’t play around with sin. For, if we truly have been saved of our sins, by God’s grace, via Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we should now be slaves to God/Christ, and to his righteousness, and he should be our ONLY Lord (owner-master).

Your Grace Divine
An Original Work / November 6, 2011

All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.
Crucified for my sins;
You paid what I owe,
So I’d be forgiven;
My God come to know.
All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.

Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.
I have been forgiven
For all of my sins,
So I’d live with Jesus;
His grace flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.

Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.
Sitting at Your feet, Lord,
List’ning to You speak,
Leads me to love You, Lord,
More throughout the week.
Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.

Save It, or Lose It?

Friday, June 16, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 9 (Select vv. NASB).

Take Up Your Cross (vv. 22-25)

Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God (and God) was rejected by the elders, the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees. They hated him, and they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by his popularity among the people, for they feared losing their own positions of power and control.

So, they harassed him at every turn, continuously questioned his authority and his actions, and made numerous attempts to try to discredit him. They didn’t like it that he didn’t follow all their ceremonial laws and customs, which were handed down to them by the elders. They despised the fact that he healed people on the Sabbath. They resented his accusations against some of them, that they were hypocrites who tried to look good on the outside while inside they were full of wickedness. And, they definitely hated him when he intimated that he was equal with God. So, eventually they killed him by having him crucified on a cross, as though he was a criminal.

Yet, it was God’s will that Jesus should die, because in his death he put our sins to death, and in his resurrection, he conquered sin and the grave, that we might live. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, Jesus told his followers that they, too, would be hated, rejected, persecuted and even killed for their faith in him, and for their testimonies of God’s saving grace, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. In fact, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means that we are crucified with him in death to sin, and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, if we want to believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, so that we might have eternal life with him, and so that he might save us from our sins, then we must die with him to our old lives of living for sin and self (daily). Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14). And, Jesus said that if we want to save our lives, i.e. if we want to hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives for His sake, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will save our lives, i.e. we will have eternal life with God.

So many people today are telling people that faith in Jesus Christ requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross, but they are lying to you, and their lies will send you straight to hell if you believe them. Believing in Jesus is not just some intellectual assent to who Jesus is (or was) or some emotional decision we make because we don’t want to end up in hell, or because we want to have heaven guaranteed to us when we leave this earth. Faith in Jesus is not just some mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, either, while we continue living for sin and self. John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. He also said that if we say we know God, but we don’t obey him, we are liars.

Basically, if we think salvation and eternal life means we do nothing, then we have it all wrong. Yes, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith – and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. But, we are saved TO good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Jesus gave his life up for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we continue in sinful lifestyles, in practicing what our flesh desires, we will die in our sins. Count on it!

Don’t Be Ashamed (v. 26)

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Part of our death to sin and self, and living to Christ and to his righteousness, means we consider the will of God for our lives above and in place of our own selfish will and desires. Instead of living our lives so that others will like us and think we are wonderful, we live our lives for God and for his purposes, and for his glory. We realize that “Lord” is not just a title given to Jesus, but it means he is now owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants, here to do his will. We also realize that the earth is not our home, but heaven is, and so we are not here to build earthly kingdoms, but we are here to advance God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus did not put us on this earth, in other words, for us to live selfish lives for our own pleasure. We are not here to entertain or to be entertained continuously. We are here on this earth to serve God, and to live holy lives pleasing to him, and to tell others about him.

Too many people these days are describing “the gospel” as though it means nothing more than being “good deed doers,” which gets us liked by people, not hated. But, anyone can be a good deed doer. Now, good deeds are certainly a part of what we do, as followers of Christ, but they are what God has called us to do, and they are the deeds he prepared in advance for us to do, which includes sharing his gospel message of death to sin and living to righteousness. And, yes, that means we will be rejected and hated by some when we tell others about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But, if we are ashamed of Jesus and his gospel in this life, he will be ashamed of us when he comes again one day.

Don’t Look Back (vv. 57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Yes, our salvation is a free gift, and we do nothing to earn or to deserve it, but that gift, if understood correctly, is NOT just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross, and take upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could be forgiven our sins and have the hope of heaven when we die. Salvation is not mere forgiveness of sins, but it is DELIVERANCE from BONDAGE to sin. It is death to sin and living to righteousness. It is death to self, and it is living to God and doing what pleases him. We are born again of the Spirit of God, created to be like God IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS. And, holiness means to be separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming LIKE CHRIST.

Jesus made it clear that following him is no picnic. It isn’t about us and our comfort and enjoyment (pleasure). It isn’t about what we want to do, or what we think will please God, but it is total surrender to God and to his will and to his purposes for our lives. It is going where he sends us, saying what he wants us to say, doing what he says, and being who he has called us to be. It means leaving homes, families, friends, and worldly comforts in order to go with God to the regions beyond with the gospel of our salvation. If we want to be Jesus’ followers, it means total abandonment to God, i.e. we must forsake all to follow him, and we must yield ourselves fully to his will and to his ways. We can’t hold on to our old lives and follow Jesus, too. We have to let go, and let God have his sway in our lives. And, then we will be fit for the kingdom of God (See also: John 6:35-66; 10:27-30).

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

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

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

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

A Voice Cries

Thursday, June 1, 2017, 8:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 40:3-8 (ESV).

Prepare the Way (v. 3)

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Wilderness – “an empty or pathless area; wild, natural or uncultivated state” (M-W). Spiritually speaking, this is talking about our lives outside of faith in Jesus Christ – in our sin nature, void of God in our lives, and going nowhere.

As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are to prepare or make ready the way of the Lord for the people. The way of the Lord is the way of holiness, not just the way to forgiveness of sin and the promise of heaven when we die. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord for the people by preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus preached the same message, as did his NT apostles.

So, we tell people the truth. We tell them that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not just so we can be forgiven our sins. We share with them that coming to Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are risen with Christ to new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We inform them that if we make a practice of sinning, i.e. if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our sin nature, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we have the hope of eternal life with God (Ro. 8:1-14).

We are to also make straight in the desert a highway for our God. This highway is the road we are to travel, the path we are to follow, and it needs to be straight, not crooked. Straight – honest, above-board, upright, pure, and unadulterated (unmixed, undiluted) by the world of sin.

It is the way of holiness, and to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the image of Christ. We are not to immerse ourselves in the culture of our societies or to blend in with the world in order to be accepted by them, for God called us out of the world. If we love the world like we are supposed to love God, then the love of the Father is not in us. God’s grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to do what we want. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 2:15).

Shall Become Level (vv. 4-5)

“Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

My husband and I moved into a high-rise apartment complex a year ago, right after he retired. Right after we moved in, a major renovation of the property, inside and out, was under way, and it is still not completed. For the past year we have watched all kinds of earth moving equipment dig up the old and replace it with the new, as well as we have witnessed multiple trucks hauling stuff in and out as the old has been taken away and has been replaced with what is new – new paint or wallpaper on walls, new ceiling tiles, new lights, new carpeting, new doors, new security system, new landscaping, upgraded parking lots, and remodeled party rooms and lobbies.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, via death to sin and resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus, born anew of the Spirit of God, our Lord puts to death our old lives of living for sin and self, and he gives us completely new lives in him, which are to be lived to him and to his righteousness. The old is taken away, and the new has come, just like in our building and on the building’s property, only spiritually and perfectly done by God, and not physically removed and replaced by human flesh. Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, in his death on a cross became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (2 Co. 5:21; Tit. 2:14).

Yet, it is not as though God just zaps us and we instantly become perfect, and that we have nothing to do with it at all. We must exercise the faith he provides, and we must cooperate and participate with the Spirit of God in the removal of the old and in the replacing of the old with the new (See: Eph. 4 – the whole chapter, Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14 & Lu. 9:23-25). We must humble ourselves before God, acknowledge and repent of (turn from) our sin, and turn to God/Christ to follow him in his ways and in his truth, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Flesh is Grass (vv. 6-8)

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

A lot of people these days, though, who are sharing what they believe is the message of the gospel, are not preparing a way of holiness, i.e. the way of the Lord, which is straight (unmixed with the world). They are not making the uneven (potholed, irregular) ground (terrain) level (straight, upright).

Instead, they are preaching a message which is adulterated with the world of sin, and which gives its adherents the impression that they can merely acknowledge Jesus’ existence, accept his forgiveness for their sins, and that they now have salvation from sin, escape from eternal damnation, and the promise of heaven when they die, which can never be taken away from them. Many of these “preachers” of the “Word” tell them that they don’t have to repent of their sins, and they don’t have to obey Jesus, because, they say, God requires nothing of us other than to “believe,” which is made out like a mere intellectual or emotional acknowledgement of what Christ did for us, but absent any teaching on death to sin and living to righteousness.

What this also does is give the impression that one who “believes” in Jesus is now set for life no matter what he or she does from this moment forward. This false (adulterated, diluted) gospel gives its followers the notion, too, that they can continue living in sin, that they can continue sinful practices, and that God’s grace just covers it all, so no worries.

But, that is not what scripture teaches, and we need to know what the Word teaches, because these men or women are flesh, and they will die, but it is the Word of God which stands true to the very end. And, it is the ONLY WORD we can really depend on. It says if we say we have fellowship with God, and we walk in darkness (sin), we are liars. It also teaches us that if we practice, if we walk in sin, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God (See: 1 Jn. 1:6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; & Gal. 5:19-21).

Only to Be What He Wants Me to Be
Norman J. Clayton

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way…

Water and Blood

Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Sing of His Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 5 (Select vv. NASB).

Born of God (vv. 1-4)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

What does it mean to believe that Jesus is the Christ? I can tell you it is not mere intellectual acknowledgment. James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder. So, what is it, then? And, who is the Christ?

Christ is the Anointed One (of God). He is the promised Messiah of Israel, i.e. he is the God-anointed deliverer to redeem both Jew and Gentile from their sins. He is Jesus, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father chose him to come to the earth, to take on human flesh, to suffer as we suffer, and to be tempted as we are tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Yet, he willingly went to the cross for you and for me so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so we might walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8).

So, what does it mean to believe in him? Well, first of all God the Father must draw us to Christ. Even the faith to believe in him is a gift from God. Because this faith is God-given, it is spiritual, and not human faith. Therefore, it is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, and as such, it submits to the cross of Christ and surrenders to God’s will for our lives. It repents of (turns from) sin, and turns to follow Jesus Christ in obedience. Yet, even the repentance is granted by God, and the ability to obey is given to us by God, too, so none of this is of the flesh, but only of the Spirit. We don’t produce our own salvation, in other words, but we are saved by the blood of Jesus, and we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Therefore, to believe that Jesus is the Christ is to have faith in what he did for us in dying on a cross for our sins, and to appropriate that to our lives by acceptance of God’s gift of grace into our lives, which 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).

Water and Blood (vv. 5-8)

Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

So, what does it mean that Jesus came by “water and blood.” There are varied thoughts on what this means, so I will share with you what I believe the Lord is showing me here. For one, to come by water means to be born of woman, i.e. to be flesh. Jesus, when he walked the face of this earth, was fully God and yet fully man. Although he was God, he became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Yet, he also came by blood. To come by blood, would be to come by his death on a cross for our sins, which is how he, thus, redeemed us from sin so that we could be saved and have eternal life with God. He came by life (water) and he came by death (blood).

Yet, I also see that water symbolizes cleansing (holiness, righteousness, purity). Through faith in Jesus Christ we can be cleansed of our sins and be made pure and righteous. And, yet, he came by water and blood. So, the blood represents death, and the death is death to sin. So, if we want to be cleansed of our sins, we must die with Christ to sin. We can’t have the cleansing without the blood. We can’t live unless we first die with Christ to sin so that we can be resurrected with Christ to newness of life in Him. Too many people these days want the resurrection without the cross, but you can’t have one without the other. He had to die so we could live. And, we have to die to sin if we want to live with him for eternity.

Continuing in Sin (vv. 16-21)

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

This passage of scripture is a little complicated, i.e. it has many different interpretations as to what the sin leading to death entails. So, once again, I am going to share what I believe the Lord is teaching me through this.

To truly be born again of the Spirit of God we must have accepted the gift of faith given by God, which means we would have believed in our hearts, not only that Jesus died that we might be free from condemnation, and have eternal life with him, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We would have accepted that coming to faith in Christ means we forsake our former way of living for sin and self, i.e. that we must repent of our sins, and that we must turn from sin to God/Christ, to follow him in obedience.

Jesus didn’t die just to forgive us of our sins, but to cleanse us, and to deliver us out of slavery to sin so we might be servants of his righteousness. If we are truly born again of the Spirit of God, we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him. We now walk according to the Spirit of God and not according to our flesh. Yet, this does not mean we will never sin again. It just means we are not living in sin, i.e. that sin is no longer our master, and that we are not continuing to sin against God in “willful and obstinate rejection of God’s grace and persistence in unrepentant sin” (Pulpit Commentary).

So, when this says something about us seeing a “brother” (one who professes to believe in Jesus Christ) commit a sin not leading to death, I believe this is speaking of someone who has been cleansed of his sin, forgiven, delivered out of slavery, and who has the hope of eternal life. If he sins, Jesus Christ is our sacrifice for our sin, i.e. that sin is covered by the blood of Christ. We can pray for that person to be renewed and restored in his relationship and fellowship with the Lord. We can pray for healing, strengthening, encouragement, and for steadfastness of faith for him/her.

Yet, if this “brother” is one who is living in willful and obstinate rejection of God’s grace and persistence in unrepentant sin, then this is speaking about a false brother or sister in Christ whose faith is based upon a lie. The lie says that they don’t have to turn from their sins and that they don’t have to obey Jesus or his commands. It says, in fact, that God is pleased with them no matter what they do. It gives carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God while promising them the hope of heaven when they die.

This is sin leading to death, because there has been no repentance, and there has been no death to sin, and no living to righteousness, because the “believer” has been told he/she doesn’t have to, that nothing is required of them at all, and that God does it all. What a mockery of our faith!

If we are truly born of God, we can’t continue living in sin (in lifestyle). We can’t be those who make it a practice to sin, and especially to then cover it up with lies and deceptions. We especially can’t proclaim we have been brought out of darkness into God’s wonderful light, if we are still walking in the darkness. If we do that, then we are liars! If we claim we have not sinned, when we have, then we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we give off an image to others that we are living righteously, but we are knowingly living in secretive sin, and if we are refusing to acknowledge the sin and to repent of it, then we are not born of God, according to God’s Word. There is no forgiveness of sin for such a person. But, there can be if he/she repents of their sin and turns to follow the Lord in obedience.

I Sing of His Mercy / An Original Work
Based off Psalm 32 / April 10, 2014

Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven
By the blood of Jesus Christ.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does
Not count against them; freedom found.
When, in silence, I did not confess
My sin to You; had no strength.
Then I owned up to my sin and
You forgave and cleansed me within.

Therefore let the godly pray to You;
Draw near to You; grace they’ll find.
They will not be o’ertaken by afflictions,
But in Christ peace abounds.
Lord, You are my hiding place.
I find my refuge in You secure.
You protect me from all evil.
You give songs of vict’ry in You.

Lord, You teach me to walk in Your ways;
Counsel me in love, I know.
Help me to not be stubborn and
Unwilling to follow in Your truth.
Thank You for Your love and mercy.
I put my trust in You always.
I rejoice in my Lord and
I sing of Him throughout all my days.

Mere Accolades

Sunday, February 26, 2017, 2:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 1 (NASB).

We Proclaim Him (vv. 1-4)

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

When our Lord walked the face of this earth, John was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. So, John gave eyewitness testimony here as to Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, Lord and Christ of God. He and the other eleven traveled with and worked with Jesus in ministry for at least three years. He was also an eyewitness to Jesus’ death on the cross and of his resurrection from the dead. So, he was able to say that he, along with the others, had heard him, seen him, and that he had touched him. He was sharing first-hand testimony and knowledge concerning the Christ, the Son of God (God the Son).

In the Gospel of John, he shared even more detail concerning the Word of Life. Jesus Christ was in the beginning with God, and he was God – the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All things came into being through Him, i.e. Jesus Christ is our creator. He is the Light of men (humankind) which shines in the darkness. The Word (Jesus) became flesh, and he made his dwelling among us. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Jesus, too, was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, via his death on a cross and resurrection from the dead.

Yet, not everyone received (believed on) him. Many hated him, were jealous of him, and despised him because he told them the truth about who he is, about their sin, about judgment, and about their eternal destiny, as well as he gave many messages of hope and healing for the penitent. So, they killed him. But, this was God’s will that he should die for us so that we could believe on him, be delivered from slavery to sin, and have eternal life with God, and so we could be born of God and could become children of God.

In the Light (vv. 5-10)

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

When I woke up this morning, the phrase “mere accolades” was in my mind, so I did a dictionary search on the word “accolade.” The words which jumped out at me, which were contained within the definitions, were “ceremonial,” “ritualistic,” “formality,” “performance,” “nominal,” and “acknowledgment.” To acknowledge something means to admit its truth or existence. For something to be nominal, it means that it is in name only, or it is so-called. And, other words for “formal” are “mechanical” or “performed.” And, to “perform” means to “play act.” The phrase “ceremonial embrace” was also included, which means formality or show of acceptance, agreement or belief.

So, how does this apply to this passage of scripture? Well, first of all we read here that God is light and that in him is no darkness at all. Light is truth, morality, righteousness, goodness, mercy, holiness, and purity, etc. Darkness is the opposite of light, so it is lies (deception), unrighteousness, wickedness, sinfulness, hatred, immorality, impurity, and irreverence, etc. God is not a mixture of both light and darkness. Only goodness exists within him. So, if we say we are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, and thus we have fellowship (friendship, partnership) with God, but we conduct our lives (walk) in darkness (wickedness), then this says we are liars.

So, what is a liar? He (or she) is a fraud, fake, pretender – a phony. He is a fibber, storyteller, and a deceiver. He is someone who pretends to be what he is not, i.e. he is a hypocrite. He is someone who goes through the motions of being a Christian and a follower of Christ, but it is just an act. He is just performing for the crowds. He is a Christian in name only, but not in reality, i.e. not in lifestyle, i.e. not in actions. His profession of faith in Jesus Christ is ceremonial only, i.e. it is ritualistic or mechanical, but his heart is far from God. His praise of God is for show only. His worship is in vain. He acknowledges the existence and truth of Christ, but it is head knowledge only. His lifestyle does not back up his profession. Thus, he is a liar.

This is not saying that, as Christians, we will live in absolute perfection, though, or that we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). But, it is saying that when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives that our lifestyles (the way we live our lives day in and day out) should reflect Christ in our lives. If we truly have believed in Jesus, our old self was put to death with him, and we have been born anew of the Spirit of God, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We died to sin so that we might live to righteousness. So, this should be evident in our lives that this spiritual transformation has taken place. Daily we should be dying to sin and self; daily we should be putting to death, by the Spirit, the misdeeds of our flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). And, daily we should be walking (living our lives) according to the Spirit of God.

You see, there are many people today who are preaching a false grace gospel. What I mean by this is that they are not teaching that genuine faith in Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness. True faith in Christ includes repentance (turning from sin) and obedience (submission) to Christ and to his Word. This is because genuine faith is a gift from God, i.e. it is God’s divine persuasion (convincing) of us as to his will for our lives. It is him moving us to some kind of action, and that action is holiness, which is what we were called to. So, if we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, our hearts will be transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin to God and to his righteousness. We will be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we will be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, and our lifestyles will reflect this, although this is an ongoing process of being made holy by God.

Yet, if we get this idea that we can just acknowledge that Jesus Christ died for our sins to free us from condemnation, and to promise us heaven when we die, and that we can make a mere profession of such, but with no real heart transformation ever having to take place, then we are lying to ourselves. If we think God is pleased by our mere formality of service to him, by our false worship of him, or by our mere church attendance, and/or with us just going through the motions (rituals) of Christianity, while we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, then we need a wakeup call! Genuine belief in Jesus Christ results in genuine lifestyle change. We no longer live our lives to please our sinful passions and desires, but we live our lives to please God, and we keep growing in our faith and service to our Lord, and he continually cleanses us and renews us and grows us in Him.

Then, like John, we can give first-hand witness, knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ and of his saving grace, not because we touched him physically, as did John, but because we have a real-life relationship with him. We know him, not just intellectually, but experientially. We have true fellowship with him because we walk in the Light, and we’ve been cleansed from all sin.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Ice Born Again

Friday, February 24, 2017, 8:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 3 (NASB).

Mockers will Come (vv. 1-7)

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

We all need reminders, don’t we? Have you ever noticed how scripture keeps repeating the same message over and over and over again? It is because we need to be reminded, because we can get dull of hearing sometimes. The main message throughout scripture is that, because of what God did for us in providing us with salvation from sin, we need to turn from our sins, and we need to turn to God to walk in his ways and in his truth – all in the power and working of his Spirit who provides us with all we need to live godly lives.

Yet, not everyone has faith. In fact, many people will be belligerent in their refusal to believe in Jesus and to follow in his ways. And, they will come against those of us who are walking in the Spirit, and who are no longer conducting our lives according to the flesh, though not in absolute sinless perfection. They will attack us and our faith, and the Bible, and they will mock us and God’s Word, and they will persecute, hate, reject, ostracize, ridicule, falsely accuse, and mistreat us because we stand on the Word of Truth and we do not deny our Lord. They may also try to trap us and trick us, or they may find multiple ways to cut us to the heart and to belittle us and to devalue us because they don’t like what we stand for, and/or because our lifestyles serve to convict their own wandering hearts. But, their refusal to believe God’s Words do not change his Words. They will be fulfilled!

In His Timing (vv. 8-10)

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

This morning, when I woke up, I could hear the name of someone I know spoken in my mind (silently, not audibly). It was the person’s first and middle name. So, I committed this person to prayer. But, then I sensed that I was to look up the meaning of this person’s name. The first name means “ice” and the middle name means “born again.” This is someone who is born again.

As I pondered this in my mind, I immediately saw the connection to this passage of scripture. “Ice” is cold and it is hard. It is not pliable at all. This is a picture of these mockers and those who have continuously resisted the voice of the Spirit and have gone their own way instead. They have hearts which are hardened against God and against his Word, at least in some areas, if not in all areas of their lives. They are cold (emotionless and indifferent) to the truths of God and to his way of righteousness.

Some of us may have people like this in our lives whom we love dearly, but who have been resisting the Spirit of God. They have hardened their hearts against God because they know that faith in Christ means death to sin, and it means walking in holiness, and they are wanting to hold on to sin in their lives, and to not give up control over their own lives. So, they resist the Spirit, and twist the Word to their advantage, and they deny or excuse away their own sin, and refuse to take responsibility, and then they shift the blame on to others. They lie continuously to cover-up their own sin, and they even begin to believe their own lies they tell themselves. They are a lot like a vehicle driving round and round in a cul-de-sac. They are wandering aimlessly, going nowhere, and just recycling the same behavior patterns over and over again, because they don’t want to let go and let God.

So, these words are written here to encourage our hearts when we begin to feel disheartened over those who keep resisting God. God’s timing is not like our timing. His ways and his thoughts are not like our ways and our thoughts. He is very patient. He has not yet brought his wrath on the earth, because he is patient, and because he wishes that all people would come to repentance and would not perish (die) in their sins. So, evil will prevail, and the wicked will continue to be wicked, for a time, but God is going to move in a mighty way at his appointed time, and there will be many people who will come to faith in Jesus Christ, including many who are now resisting him and who have hardened their hearts against him. And, then “ice” will be “born again,” i.e. they will no longer have hardened hearts, but God will give them pliable hearts to believe in Christ, to repent of their sins, and to turn to walk in obedience to Christ, in his holiness and in his righteousness.

In Holy Conduct (vv. 11-18)

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

One day, God is going to pour out his wrath on this earth in judgment, and when he does, many people will die, many of whom will die in their sins. And, ultimately, the earth as we know it will be gone. God’s Word will be fulfilled, even if it has not happened yet. So, we should never take the time we have now for granted. Not one of us knows if we have tomorrow or even the next minute. Our lives could be taken from us at any moment in time.

So, why is it important that we live godly and holy lives until this time in which God does destroy the earth? And, what does this have to do with what Paul wrote in his letters? The answer to these questions has everything to do with our understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ and to be saved from our sins, and to have the promise of eternal life with God.

Very simply put, Jesus died on the cross for our sins that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He did not die merely to give us an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. He died to radically change (alter) our lives while we still live on the face of this earth. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15, 21). When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, that we might live with Christ to his righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). A saved life is one that no longer walks (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but it is a life which walks (conducts our lives) according to the Spirit of God (Ro. 8:1-14).

The Bible teaches us that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). If we say we love God, or that we know God, but we do not obey Christ’s commands (his instructions to us), then we don’t really love or know God (Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6). This is not saying we must live in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it is saying that we should have a change of lifestyle, and that we daily should be putting sin to death, by the Spirit of God, if we want to have eternal life with God (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). The Bible also says that “we have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Heb. 3:14). In other words, we are not guaranteed eternal life with God on the basis of past faith or on the basis of a profession only of faith. Paul said that the righteous requirement of the law is fully met in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

So, what sort of people ought we to be until the Lord’s coming? We ought to live holy lives, in holy conduct and godliness. And, we need to remain steadfast in our walks of faith in the Spirit and no longer live according to our sinful flesh. And, we must guard against teachings which try to convince us that we can still walk in sin and yet have the promise of heaven when we die, for those are a lie of Satan. Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). And, for those of us who sometimes grow weary or who get disheartened over the many who are living in open rebellion against God, we need to trust God.

Trust Him / An Original Work / August 15, 2012

Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

Life and Peace

Thursday, December 15, 2016, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-17 (ESV).

According to the Spirit (vv. 1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

A lot of people quote these first few verses, while they ignore the rest. They assume they are no longer under condemnation because they recited a prayer to receive Christ; or since they were baptized, or they are members of, or they were raised in the institutional church. Yet, none of these are what save us, nor are they what deliver us from condemnation. The Word of God teaches that there is therefore no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus. So, how do we get to be in Christ Jesus?

According to the Apostle Paul, who spoke as he was moved along by the Holy Spirit, the way in which we come to be “in Christ” is by God’s grace, via faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10). He also said, with regard to how we come to know Christ, that we are taught, with regard to our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:20-24).

If we are “in Christ,” by faith in him, we died to sin. 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. If we are still slaves to sin, that leads to death. But, if we are slaves to obedience, that leads to righteousness (Ro. 6:2, 6-7, 16).

Paul reiterated the same message here in chapter 8 of Romans. If we are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, we no longer conduct our lives (in lifestyle) according to our sinful nature, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. This does not mean we never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it does mean that we do not consistently practice sinning as the normal course of our everyday lives, without regard for God and for his commandments. If we live according to the sinful nature, our minds are not on pleasing our Lord, but they are set on what our sinful nature desires. Those who are controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. This means God is NOT pleased with us no matter what we do. He does not delight in us when we willfully and consistently give way to our sinful nature, while claiming God’s grace.

If we want to experience life and peace in Christ Jesus, then our minds need to be controlled by the Spirit of God. This, again, is not saying we will live in sinless perfection, or that we will never have a straying thought. It is clear Paul is talking about lifestyle. Do we daily make it our practice to disobey our Lord and to do what we want to do without regard for his will for our lives? If we do, this ends in death. Or, do we make it our practice to follow our Lord in obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives? If we do, this results in life and peace, in righteousness, and eternal life with God.

If in Fact (vv. 9-11)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

The usage of the word “if” raises doubt here. It brings into question whether some of those who may be claiming to be in Christ, and to be free from condemnation, may not actually be in Christ at all.

There are a lot of people here in America who claim to be Christians and believers in Jesus Christ, but whose lifestyles appear to speak just the opposite. Their lives give off the appearance of being not much different at all from those who make no claims to faith in Jesus Christ at all. Yet, our Lord, when he called us, called us to be holy, set apart from the world of sin because we are becoming like Jesus. He called us to separate ourselves from conformity to the ways of this world, and to walk in purity, righteousness, holiness, godliness and integrity – all in the power of the Spirit within us.

We are Debtors (vv. 12-17)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

What is a debtor? He or she is one who owes a debt to someone. And, a debt is an obligation, a duty and a responsibility. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, have an obligation to God, who saved us from sin, to not live according to the sinful nature but to live according to the Spirit. This flies in the face of those who are teaching that we owe God nothing, and that nothing at all is required of us – no repentance, no obedience, and no surrender or submission to God – but they say that God is obligated to us to give us his blessings and his heaven, because they say he promised.

So, is Paul wrong? Was he speaking blasphemy when he taught that if we live according to our sinful flesh that we will die (in our sins)? But, if by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live (with Christ for eternity)? Was he confused in his mind as to what the truth is? NO! The problem we run into here is that so many people just ignore the words they don’t want to accept, because they don’t fit with their lifestyles, and so they embrace only the words which fit with their way of life. Yet, scripture is real clear on this subject. If we are led by the Spirit, we are children of God, but if we are being led by our flesh, then we are illegitimate children who will hear God one day say, “I never knew you.”

Yet, if we are being led by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, and if we are walking according to the Spirit, and not according to our sinful nature, then we are God’s true children, and we have nothing to fear. We can claim the promise of heaven and eternal life with God, because we are legitimate sons and daughters through genuine faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We can rest on his everlasting arms because we truly know him, and his Spirit lives within us, and we are in relationship with Almighty God because of his grace to us, and because of our walks of obedience in accordance with his Spirit. And, so we truly have fellowship with our Lord, and our desire is to please him in all that we do, and to no longer live to please ourselves.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms / Elisha A. Hoffman / A. J. Showalter

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.