Category Archives: grace

He Will

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

‭Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭14-16‬ NASB

Our high priest, our mediator, is Jesus, the Son of God. He’s been through all our temptations. He knows, understands, sympathizes with our weaknesses. This means we can trust Him to give us mercy and grace when we need them. So, don’t be afraid to ask, but ask with confidence, knowing He will provide.

Jesus knows our temptations, but He didn’t give in. Because of this and because of who He is, we can trust Him to give us mercy and grace.

When we’re tempted – and we will be – we need His mercy and grace. We can confidently approach Him, though He rules over all, and ask for mercy and grace when we need them. Believe that you can approach Him confidently when you’re in the middle of temptation. He knows your weakness already.
We can trust Him. He WILL do this.

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Trust His Goodness

Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Psalm ‭25‬:‭8-11‬ (NASB)

God is good and righteous and trustworthy and honest and faithful and merciful and just and forgiving. He will give wisdom. He will save. He will pardon iniquity. This truth is powerfully expressed in Jesus Christ.

We can trust God in His goodness and uprightness to show us the way, to give us wisdom, to save us. If we humble ourselves and obey Him, He pardons our sin, even though our sin is great.

He will be merciful if we humble ourselves.

There is no need to doubt, to despair, to live without hope.

Let us become humble and obedient.

Grace Reigns

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭18-21‬ NASB)

Just as Adam’s sin resulted in sinfulness and condemnation for all, Christ’s act of righteousness on the cross leads to the righteousness and eternal life of many. The Law caused our sin to become greater, but God’s grace is greater still. His grace now reigns, bringing us righteousness and eternal life.

Like all humanity, sin ruled over each of us by death, except for the grace of God that now rules over those who believe by righteousness to eternal life, given by the sacrifice of Christ.

God didn’t write us off because of sin. He made a way, a way of grace that is greater than sin. He doesn’t just free us from the consequences of sin. He frees us from sin, makes us better, righteous.

His grace is greater than our sin and more powerful than I can imagine. We can’t allow it to rule over us. Grace reigns now.

Who Rules You?

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.

Fighting the Wrong War?

In case you missed it, we Christians are involved in the Culture Wars.  If you haven’t yet, you’ll probably get your draft notice soon.  You’re not allowed to remain neutral.

So what the heck are these Culture Wars?

The enemy is anyone who stands against biblical values.  The heated battle of the moment – thanks in part to the “news” of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s views on the subject – is the issue of same-sex marriage.   The weapons of our warfare are outraged words, political wrangling, boycotts, legislative maneuvering.  What’s at stake – as the name suggests – is American culture.

In this war over the culture, biblical values appear to be steadily losing ground.  Is it because we’re not wielding our weapons well?  Is our strategy at fault?  As I mulled this over, at first I thought that perhaps we’re using the wrong weapons.  That’s part of it, but the full truth is much worse.

We are using the wrong weapons against the wrong enemy in the wrong war. The right weapon is the Gospel.  The real enemy is Satan.  We fight for the souls of men and women who are oppressed.

The Wrong War

Why shouldn’t we fight for the culture?  Well, what is culture?  One definition on Merriam-Webster.com is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”  The culture is not some concrete object or place that we can fight over.  It is a set of ideas and values that finds its origin in the people.  In order for the culture to change, the people must change.

That’s how we got here, remember?  Americans used to hold different values.  Now they hold these values.  Therefore, the culture is what it is.

And the people.  All of us – every man, woman, and child on Earth – are oppressed, enslaved by sin.  (Romans 6:20)

Let’s fight the right war – to free the slaves from sin.

The Wrong Weapons

Our only hope of salvation is the Risen Savior who died to free us from the very thing that enslaves us. (John 14:6)  Therefore, our words hold no sway over the souls of men and women.  Only the Gospel does.  In fact, our words just get in the way. (1 Corinthians 1:17)  We cannot change the values of the people by fighting over them, shouting, making laws, or buying a chicken sandwich.

The Wrong Enemy

Imagine the United States Army during World War II.  The soldiers enter France to liberate the land.  They begin gunning down terrified men, women, and children in the streets.  Meanwhile, Hitler’s forces march ever forward, conquering all the peoples of Europe.  In every moment of the Culture Wars this is what we do.

We are using the wrong weapons to fight against people who are oppressed, and it is their oppression that that has led the culture to dismiss biblical values.  Our true enemy is their oppressor – Satan.  (1 Peter 5:8)

The people are so deceived by his lies that they believe God’s hatred of sin to be bigotry.  They are intolerant of the truth, but it’s because they are enslaved.  We can’t expect them to know and love the ways of God until their chains are broken and He remakes them into His likeness.

Let’s stop all the shouting and political maneuvering.  Instead, let’s pick up the Gospel and fight Satan for all we’re worth to free these slaves.

Woe to you…

Matthew 23:13-30 – “Eight Woes”

I find the Pharisees to be – perhaps strangely – a strong example of how easily human nature comes between us and the truth of the Gospel. The roots of Pharisaism were in a movement meant to return Jews to right belief and right practice at a time when pagan culture (namely Greek) was overtaking their own culture and religious practices (the period between the Old and New Testaments). Instead, as evidenced in Jesus’ words here, they created a set of rules that actually drew them away from what God really wanted.

So, what does this have to do with human nature? Humans like rules. I know, most people would disagree. We don’t want to be told what to do, but think about it. We’d rather have rules that clearly define how we get to Heaven (Be good! Don’t hurt people!) than deal with this ethereal “relationship with God” thing. It’s easier!

Scripture points us to right behavior, but it is also clear that right behavior is meaningless without the right heart. Otherwise, why would Jesus come down on the Pharisees here?

It’s also easier when the rules serve to make me look good without my having to worry about other people.

You see, the Pharisees missed the point – the Law never saved anyone, not even a Jew. The Law existed for the people to maintain relationships with God and one another. Hence, the two greatest commandments:

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 22:36b-40

If that wasn’t happening, the Law wasn’t serving its purpose.

Sadly, many Christians – those of us who live under the New Covenant in which Christ has fulfilled the Law – still want it this way. We want the rules.  Even though they don’t teach this way with words, many churches teach this way by example.  It’s not about going to Bible study or Sunday morning worship or putting in time in the food pantry.  Those things are all good things, but they must all grow out of love.

This is not to say there is no place in the Christian life for duty.  Let’s face it.  Sometimes, we don’t feel like doing the things that we know we ought to do.  We should do them anyway because they are our duty as followers of Jesus.

It’s a line that is easy to cross, as the Pharisees show us. We must do our duty, but we don’t just do it for the sake of duty.  We do our duty because we love the God who first loved us and the people whom He loves.