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.

Put On the New

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

No Longer (vv. 17-19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Renewed (vv. 20-24)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel of Grace

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

The Gospel Message (Acts 26:16-18)

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

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

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

Instructing Us (Titus 2:11-14)

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

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

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

A False Grace (Jude 1:3-4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distortions of Truth

Monday, June 19, 2017, 3:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1 (NASB).

To Rescue Us (vv. 1-5)

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

What is the gospel of our salvation? It is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Then, he was crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong, merely because people hated him, were jealous of him, were threatened by him, didn’t like what he taught, didn’t like some of the things he did, didn’t agree with what he stood for, and didn’t believe him for who he was (and is). Yet, this was all in God’s plans and purposes from the beginning of time, that he should be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

For, you see, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope of salvation, and without the promise of eternity with God. We have all sinned, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). So, Jesus, although he knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. He did all this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. For, you see, Jesus didn’t die that horrible death merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives, to deliver us out of bondage to sin, and to free us to now become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might be rescued from the kingdom of darkness, and that we might be brought into God’s wonderful light (Jesus Christ, righteousness, and truth). Our salvation does not mean we are merely forgiven our sins so we can continue in sin without guilt. Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age, that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness.

A Different Gospel (vv. 6-9)

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

There are many people who are distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are twisting God’s Word to make it say what their itching ears want to hear. These distortions of truth come in many different forms, all of which I cannot cover in such a short period of time. One of the most grievous ones, though, is what I term a “false grace gospel.” These people distort God’s grace to make it a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, thus they dilute the true gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, to make it more acceptable to the world and more agreeable to the adulterous and idolatrous church. Thus, they teach that God requires nothing of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross.

The gospel message they end up with is no gospel at all, because it leaves its adherents still in slavery (addiction) to sin. Now, this is not to say that we will never sin, but that, as followers of Christ, sin should no longer be our master or us its slaves, for Jesus freed us from slavery to sin, if truly we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. We should no longer walk (in lifestyle; habitually) according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, WE WILL DIE IN OUR SINS. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:1-2).

What many of these false teachers are telling people is that all they have to do is believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, and accept his forgiveness of their sins, and that now they have heaven guaranteed them, and it cannot be taken away from them, no matter how they live from this point forward. But, that is not salvation! That is just carte blanche to continue living in sin while believing that you will still go to heaven when you die. But, where is the freedom from slavery to sin in that? There isn’t any, because there is no death to sin, and no resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus. There is no new birth (being born again) of the Spirit of God, because there has been no death to the old life of living in sin and for self (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Pleasing God, Not Man (vv. 10-12)

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

I hear many of these false teachers also tell their listeners that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, and that he smiles on us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sin and willful rebellion against him. This is not freedom from sin! This is giving excuses for continued sin against God, and giving God’s blessings upon it, too. Oh, how wrong!

If God is pleased with us with everything we do, even when we are ignoring his Word, and going our own stubborn way, then why does scripture teach us that we need to find out what pleases him and to do it? Why does scripture teach us what does please God? Why does it say that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God”? And, why does it say that “whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”? (See: Ro. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22.)

Jesus died on that cross for our sins that we might die to sin and live to please him, and that we might become followers of God, and not of man (humans). What is the point of our salvation if all we do is try to look for loopholes in God’s Word to excuse away our sin, and to try to avoid obeying it? Isn’t that counterproductive? We can’t be servants of the Lord and slaves to sin and the flesh, too. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die to sin) for the sake of Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).

A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

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.

For Our Healing

Thursday, May 25, 2017, 5:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Lord is With You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 58 (Select vv. ESV).

Lift Up Your Voice (vv. 1-5)

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

God’s people are now the church, the body of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God. We are the people of God who have repented of our sins, have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and who have turned to God to follow (obey) him in all our ways, at least initially. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ Jesus, we were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just that we might escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Nonetheless, faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we instantly reach divine perfection. We still live in flesh bodies, thus we still have a propensity to sin against God. Yet, by God’s grace to us, via Jesus’ death for us on a cross, we have been delivered from the power sin once had over us, so we are no longer under its grip. Jesus already won that battle for us against Satan and against sin, so there is no reason we should still be under its control. So, as followers of Jesus Christ, we should be walking in victory over sin, and we ought to be walking now according to the Spirit, not in sinless perfection, necessarily, but no longer under bondage (addiction) to sin’s deceitfulness.

Still, although Jesus paid the price for our sins so we could go free from sin, and live for him and to his righteousness, many have abandoned their initial faith in Christ and have wandered off to follow after the gods of men, their own sinful passions and desires, and have been engulfed once more in the ways of this sinful world. Much of the church here in America has adopted the ways of the world for how to grow their ministries, and they have partnered with an ungodly government, making it the head over the church. And, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and God is not pleased, so he is calling his church to come out of “Babylon,” for her sins are piled high to heaven.

So, when the church, or when individual Christians pray to God, and they pray to know God’s will, and they ask God for his blessings, and for answered prayers, thinking God will hear them, and that he will answer, they (we) need to first consider whether or not they (we) are walking in his ways and in his truth, or if we are just going through the motions, i.e. mere formalities of religious practice, but our hearts are truly not sold out to our Lord. Have we forsaken the ways of the Lord? Are we yielding to sin’s deceitfulness? Are we engrossed in the ways of this sinful world? Or, are we truly walking in God’s ways, in his truth, and in his righteousness?

Break Every Yoke (vv. 6-11)

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

God is calling out to his wayward people, who have wandered away from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ, in order to immerse themselves in the culture of this sinful world. He is calling them to return to HIM as their ONLY GOD and LORD, and to once again make HIM the owner-master of their lives. He is calling them to return the ways he has marked out for them to follow, and to abandon their idols and their spiritual adultery against him.

He is letting his church know that the way of salvation from sin is a narrow road that few travel, not the broad road that many have made it, which only leads to destruction. He wants to remind us that he died to transform us, not just to forgive us our sins. We don’t come to Christ merely by acknowledging his existence and by accepting his forgiveness for our sins, although many would have you believe that is true. When we believe in Jesus, with God-given faith in him, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life. The old life of living for sin and self is gone, and the new life of living to Christ and to his righteousness has now been birthed in us of the Holy Spirit of God. This is what it means to be “born again.”

Jesus Christ not only desires that we walk in his righteousness and holiness, and no longer according to the ways of our sinful flesh, but his desire is also that we proclaim to the world around us that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, so that others might be delivered from their slavery to sin and might walk in freedom, according to the ways of God. We need to be telling people the truth of the gospel, and the church needs to cease with soft-pedaling the gospel in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world. For truly, although they may like us in this life, for telling them what they want to hear, we are sending them straight to hell with our “feel-good” gospel messages, and this needs to STOP!!

Yet, one thing the modern church does seem to have right is that they do focus on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sorrowful, and ministering to the needs of the homeless and to those in prison, which is something many in the old-fashioned evangelical churches have often neglected, sad to say. Yet, the church which ministers to people’s physical needs often do this at the sacrifice of the truth to the gospel, for they don’t want to offend anyone in the process. And, that, as well, is sad indeed.

Yet, the other day I was in a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and nearly bumped into a man who was wearing a sweatshirt which had words about Jesus on its back, so I read them. It was a prayer to Jesus Christ for salvation from sin, and included in the prayer it said, “I repent and turn from my wicked ways.” I learned this was from a ministry which feeds the homeless. Amen! What this shows is that it is possible to hold on to the truths of scripture, and to not abandon the truth of the gospel, and still be able to minister to the poor, the needy, the helpless, and the homeless. Jesus never compromised truth to minister to people’s physical needs, and neither should we! It is never loving to tell people lies. We should be a people who make a practice always of speaking the truth in love, and be those who meet people’s real needs, too.

God is saying here, basically, that if we are people of integrity who live what we profess, not necessarily in absolute sinful perfection, but in life practice, and we are not those who are willfully yielding regularly to our sinful flesh and who are denying the truths of scripture, that he will hear us when we call to him, he will listen, and he will answer. This is not to say, though, that he will always answer in the way we desire, so we need to be willing to accept whatever he answers us, too. Yet, he is also promising us that we will then experience his healing power in our lives, and that our burdens will be lifted, and we will rejoice in what Christ has done for us. There is much healing that takes place in our lives through our obedience to His Word.

Your Lord is With You
An Original Work / August 14, 2016

Based off Various Scriptures

Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.
When you walk through valleys of life’s rough ways,
You must fear no evil, for God is near.
Be of courage, then, and be not dismayed,
For your Lord is with you throughout your days.
Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.

Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.
The Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear.
He will strengthen us. He sees all our tears.
Do not be afraid, but to God do pray,
And the peace of God will be yours today.
Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.

My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep I’d sink.
My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes, gave me sight.
My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.

Is It Good News?

Sunday, March 26, 2017, 2:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in the Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 40:1-11 (NASB).

Speak Tenderly (vv. 1-2)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

God’s grace to us is amazing! Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, came to earth, took on human flesh and died on a cross for our sins. When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we can be delivered out of slavery (addiction) to sin, and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, born again of the Spirit of God, to be lived to God and to his holiness and righteousness.

A Voice Cries (vv. 3-5)

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

So, what does it mean to have God-given faith in Jesus Christ? Well, it means that we are divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. And, what is God’s will? Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. 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 return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of 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” (Eph. 4:24). In other words, we are not saved from our sins merely to escape hell and to have the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus died on that cross so that we could be radically transformed of the Spirit of God away from living our lives to sin and self, to walking with God in his holiness and righteousness. To be holy means to be set apart (unlike, different) from this world, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. As well, righteousness is to be equated with morality, uprightness, honesty, and purity, which God has imputed to us who believe in Jesus.

So, having faith in Jesus Christ is not repeating some words after someone else in a prayer after which we are congratulated that we are now part of the family of God and that our eternal salvation and heaven are guaranteed us. Jesus said that his sheep listen to him, they know his voice, and they follow (obey) him. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives for Christ and for his gospel (die with him to sin), we will have eternal life with God. And, Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Jn. 10:27-30; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Will Stand Forever (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.

So, what is this saying? It is saying that what is of this world, i.e. what is fleshly and worldly, is temporary, and like grass, it will wither. It has no eternal value. We, as humans, without Christ, are destined to perish in our sins. So, if we hold on to the things and the sinful pleasures of this life, we will perish with them. If we think we can continue in our sins and still have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, then we need to think again. That is not what the word of God teaches, but it is what fleshly humans would like us to believe. All that is of this world will one day pass away. So, we shouldn’t be “hanging our hats” on the things of this life. John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

So, what can we count on? We can count on God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to do what he says he will do. We can depend on his Word, which will never fail us, and which will stand forever. So, we need to stop listening to humans, unless they are telling us the truth, and we need to listen to what God’s word teaches us, because our eternity depends on it. If we say we love God or that we know God, but we don’t do what he says, we don’t know him, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with him (1 Jn. 2:3-6). If we continue in HIS word, then we are truly disciples of HIS (Jn. 8:31-32). And, we have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Heb. 3:14-15).

Good News (vv. 9-11)

Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

So, what is this “good news”? The “good news” of the gospel of our salvation is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Paul was given a commission by Jesus Christ to spread this good news. He told him that he was sending him to open blinded eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). The good news here is that Jesus died to turn us away from lifestyles of sin, and away from the power that Satan had (or has) over our lives. And, he died to turn us to God and to his truth and his righteousness, and to his power in our lives to deliver us out of slavery to sin and to bring us to wholeness in him.

If the “good news” to us is merely that we have been delivered from the punishment of our sin so that we can go to heaven when we leave this earth, but we are still left in slavery to sin, that that really isn’t good news, is it? Why? Because that means we have believed a lie, because if we are not delivered out of slavery to sin, that means we are still dead in our sins, and thus we don’t have the promise of heaven or the escape from eternal punishment. For, if we deliberately keep on sinning, “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26-27).

The “good news” is not only that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, but that we don’t do this in our own strength or willpower. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to him. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God. He even grants us repentance, and he gives us the ability to obey him. This is a spiritual work of God’s grace in our lives from beginning to end, and yet we must cooperate with that work of grace by submitting to our Lord and Savior, and by following his lead, and doing what he says, yet all in the power and working of his Spirit within us who gives us all we need in Christ to live godly and holy lives unto him. So, we need to yield the control of our lives over to our Lord, and allow him to do his work in our lives, in making us like Jesus.

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.