Tag Archives: sin

Really Christ’s

For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother. – Matthew 12:50

Whoever is a true follower of Christ, whoever is obedient to the will of God, that person is closer to Jesus than biological or earthly family.

Relationship with Christ is defined by obedience to the will of God the Father, and obedience is the result of heart condition. Obedience is more important to God than heritage. God desires our obedience.

Closeness to Christ requires obedience. Without obedience, we will not be claimed as His. True relationship with Christ, true salvation, is evidenced by obedience to the will of God the Father. If we aren’t obedient to the will of the Father, we’re not really Christ’s.

God wants closeness with us. He wants our obedience, and our obedience is the result of His saving work, of His changing our hearts to want to obey, to want intimacy with Him.

We are not saved by works, but works are evidence of our salvation. When we forget this truth, we treat Jesus like fire insurance. We forget that what He really desires is all of us. If we have given all of ourselves to Him, then we will obey Him.

Deeper Change

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 10:37-39

The one who loves even that which is most precious – father, mother, son, or daughter – more than one loves Christ, one who loves even one’s own life more than one loves Christ is not worthy of Christ. You will certainly lose your life, but if you lose it for Christ’s sake, you will find true life.

God expects everything from us. He expects us love Him with everything we are. Anything less than this is as though we do not love Him at all. No one and nothing is worthy of greater love than He is. He should be the most important thing in our lives – more significant to us than our very lives.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we love many people, many things more than we love Christ. We have not taken up our crosses.

We have to submit all of ourselves to Him – every relationship, every possession, every desire, every thought, every breath. Otherwise, we’re not worthy of Him.

He calls me to love Him with everything, and He is worthy of everything.

We think that we’re okay living a life of mediocre faith, but until we have taken up our crosses and followed Him – walked with Him regardless of the risk – we’re not worthy of Him. We must become like Him, and that should be enough for us (v. 25).

We are not capable of this. We need great grace: His grace.

Many of us, even those of us who have believed for most of our lives, have never been like this, never come close. We want to be, but, oh God, there must be deep change in us. Deeper change than we may even be aware of.

 

Freed from the Darkness

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
– Luke 1:68

Bless the Lord! Praise Him because He has come to us and redeemed us, saved us.

God saves. He is merciful. He forgives sins. He guides us into the way of peace. God is faithful to keep his promises. Salvation in Christ comes from God and is the fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham. He, and He only, accomplishes salvation.

We need salvation. We need His mercy and faithfulness and forgiveness. We need His guidance. Before salvation, we sat “in darkness and the shadow of death (v. 79).” Now, He is guiding us on the way of peace.

We should praise Him. Bless Him. He has accomplished salvation. He has kept His promise to Israel and the nations through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

We, His people, are no longer in darkness, under the oppression of death, because He has been faithful to save us by grace through faith in Christ.

We often do not trust in His faithfulness. We often still live like we’re in darkness. We do not give Him the praise and blessing due Him.

We live in darkness though we have been freed from it by God’s faithfulness, mercy, grace, forgiveness. We need Him to guide us away from the darkness, the oppression of sin and death.

It is by His grace we are forgiven – our sin, our old nature is crucified with Him – and it is by His grace that we are raised with Him new creatures, in His image, free from darkness and the shadow of death.

God, You have already faithfully, mercifully done the work required to free us from darkness and the shadow of death. We don’t want to sit in it anymore. Please change us so that we “might serve [You] without fear, in holiness and righteousness before [You] all [our] days (v. 74-75).”

My Only Possession

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.
– Psalm 73:25-28

There is nothing and no one in heaven or on earth worth desiring but God. He destroys the wicked who are far from Him, but He is a refuge for those who draw close to Him. If our bodies and our hearts fail us, could we say with the psalmist that God is everything and will sustain us? Will we tell of His great works?

When we’re envious of the wicked who do whatever they want seemingly without repercussion, He still forgives us. It’s by His grace the wicked don’t suffer now. One day, they will.

But for His grace given through Christ, we are among the wicked. But because we sought Him (also by His grace) He has forgiven us. He has become our refuge from His own wrath, from the consequences of our own sin.

Do not envy those who are wicked without consequence. You are a sinner as well. God shows each of us grace. One day, all will face the consequence of their wickedness or will find Christ. Either way, God’s wrath and justice are satisfied, and the price for sin is paid. But the latter results in a soul saved.

Our sin deserves His wrath. We should not wonder why the wicked aren’t punished: God is just, but He is also merciful and gracious.

We place value on so many worldly things, but in the end, He is all we have.

When we forget this truth, we become bitter and envious. We become materialistic. We pity ourselves.

We need to focus on God and His kingdom, not the things of this world because those things are temporary. God is eternal, and, in truth, He is all we have.

God, please don’t let our minds be conformed to this world any longer. Renew them, and transform us so that we don’t become envious and bitter. But rather, let us seek refuge in You, our portion, our only possession.

Be Blessed

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
– Psalm 84:5

The one who trusts God, who finds strength in God, whose heart is seeking God, moving toward His presence, is blessed.

God strengthens those who trust Him. He gives life and protection, grace and glory, joy and blessing. He makes our sorrow life-giving. He hears our prayers. He withholds nothing good from the person who trusts Him.

Do you find this kind of joy in God’s presence? Do you long for it this way? Do you long like this for worship? God strengthens us when we trust Him, but we don’t always trust Him. Why don’t we trust Him?

 

We often grow embittered, angry, sorrowful, allow our attitudes to be dictated by our circumstances because we don’t trust God. We lose the desire to be in His presence, the joy of worshipping Him, of being with Him because we don’t trust Him as we should.

We need His strength, His grace, His protection, His glory, all the good things He gives to those who trust Him, who seek Him, who truly spend time in His presence. Therefore, we need to seek Him first, to trust Him above all.

Lord God, please change our wills so that we want to trust You at all times and in all things, so that we seek Your presence above all.

It is only by Jesus’ grace and sacrifice that we’re even able to come into God’s presence, to receive His great blessings.

Precious Bond

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13 NASB)

If we are justified in Christ, we are free to do anything we please – there is no longer a law to prohibit us. We are allowed to do anything, but not everything is good for us.We are free to do anything, but let us refuse to be mastered by anything. For example, food is a good thing for the stomach, but neither food nor your stomach are eternal. But the body is NOT for sexual immorality – it is for the Lord.

God cares about the holiness of our bodies. God cares about what we do. God cares about who we are joined with. In fact He’s deeply invested in these things. There is a precious bond between us.

Physical pleasures – like gluttony and lust – can master us. Though we’re free to do what we want, some behaviors, such as sexual immorality, defile the bond between us and Christ.

Therefore, it is an error – if not a sin – to believe that we can do anything we want, and it won’t impact our relationship with Christ or the church at all.

We must avoid behaviors that affect our bodies negatively or that can take control of us because they defile the bond between us and Christ, taking His place in our lives. Your body is His.

We need to be pure and holy.

Jesus’ sacrifice and grace free us from the law, but they also empower us to live as we ought, rather than as we want to.

The Wisdom of Fools

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ” He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS “; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. (1 Corinthians 3:18-23 NASB)

If you think you are wise, you must become foolish in your own estimation because your wisdom is foolishness compared to God’s wisdom. Because of this, don’t boast in men. It doesn’t matter what teacher you follow because all things belong to all believers, we all belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

God is wise beyond our ability to comprehend – so wise that the wisdom of men is useless in comparison. Christ belongs to God.

Our wisdom apart from God is foolishness. There is no room for boasting in our following a particular teacher because the concept of this kind of “ownership” is foreign to the wisdom of God. We belong to Christ.

We need God’s wisdom because ours is useless. On our own, we are fools.

It’s sinful to trust any man’s wisdom above God’s. There is pride in following a particular school of thought or a particular preacher and judging followers of other schools or preachers to be less than. It creates useless division, and it creates idols of men.

Only by His grace can any of us truly become wise, wise enough to be humble, to seek unity with all believers.