Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:8-10 NASB
The thing God wants most for us to do is love. Love fulfills every aspect of the Law. So, If we will love our neighbors as we love ourselves, thereby doing no wrong to anyone but doing good to them, we will fulfill the law.
The law is impossible to keep because we’re self-centered. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We must become other-centered.
He loves us so much He wants us to love each other. This is what we have to do to be who God wants us to be.
Since we’re incapable of keeping the law, we must therefore be incapable of loving others on our own. Only by His grace can we be supplied with the love we need to love others.
We need to be transformed by God, and this is one of the deepest changes that must take place in us.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NASB
Unless we believe, unless God is at work in us, the Gospel is foolishness to us. The truth is we are the foolish. God is wise beyond measure, so wise that our “wisdom” cannot stand before Him.
God wisely chose to save us, not through ways that seem wise to us, but through a way that looks foolish to us. In fact, God’s plan of salvation is essentially the opposite of what we look for in a way to heaven. But those He calls see His wisdom. We see that we are fools, we are weaklings, in light of His wisdom and strength.
We have to trust God’s wisdom more than that of men. It’s only by His grace that we are called and can receive both salvation and wisdom.
He is infinitely wise, and the only wisdom we have comes from Him. When we forget this truth, pride takes over. We need the wisdom He offers and the humility that arises from knowing that need.
Let’s have the humility to ask for and receive His wisdom, to learn to actually trust God.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Because faith in Christ is credited to us as righteousness, we are at peace with God, and we stand in grace. We can rejoice in the hope of God’s glory and in tribulation because, by building character, trials lead to that same hope, a hope that will not disappoint.
Because faith is credited to us as righteousness, we can exult in true hope. Because trials, through building character and and perseverance, lead to hope, we can exult in tribulation. We have hope no matter what through the gift of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Let’s praise God because He loves us and has shown it by placing His Holy Spirit in us. Let’s praise Him because He does the work of faith, grace, justification, and hope in us.
Let’s rejoice in this hope that we have, even when we don’t feel we have hope.
What powerful change would be evident in us if we lived in continual hope born out of godly character.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:8-14 NASB
I must remember that Christ died to sin and is alive forever to God. I must remember that I have died with Christ and am alive with Him. Sin is no longer my master because I’m under His grace, cleansed by His blood spilled at the cross, set free by His payment of my debt.
When I forget this truth, I believe I’m under sin’s power. That, my friends, is a lie.
By the grace of God given through Christ, with Him, we followers of Christ are dead to sin and alive to God. That means that if sin rules me, it’s because I let it.
We have to get this: if sin rules you, it’s because you let it. You and I have to stop giving ourselves to sin and give ourselves to God instead. Ask Him for the will and the strength to refuse sin’s rule over you.
God, not sin, is our master. Let’s give ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness.
I recently finished Pastor Timothy Keller’s latest book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, and wow. What a phenomenal work. It’s got a permanent place in my library, now, folks, and I highly recommend it to each of you.
As a Christian, and especially as a worship pastor, I believe prayer is of utmost importance, but I’ve always struggled with it. That’s why 2014 was the year of prayer for me. I pray everyday, but I made it a personal goal to find the prayer life God had for me.
I read two books last year that had an impact on my prayer life:
I’d recommend them both to you without hesitation, but Keller’s book is the one that’s left the most lasting impression on me.
Keller provides the reader with a deeper understanding of what prayer is scripturally and historically, as well as what it is not. And he gives practical tools that focus your prayers on God, rather than your own needs and wants.
In the couple of weeks since I finished the book, I have applied Keller’s wisdom, and I’ve seen the difference. In all honesty, I’ve experienced God in my prayer time in ways that I never have before.
There’s no magic here. Keller simply points us to Scripture as our source for the power of prayer.
As is Your name, O God, So is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness. – Psalm 48:10
This morning, I was struck by the words of this Psalm: “As is Your name, O God, so is Your praise…” The power, the majesty, the immensity of the name of God overwhelms. His name holds power throughout the universe. His hand is evident all over creation.
Even so is His praise. If we don’t praise Him, every rock, in every corner of the earth, every star, every galaxy, everything that is proclaims the glory of its Creator. There is no escaping His praise. There is no way He will not be praised.
To the ends of the earth, praise Him!