Concerning God’s Law

I believe it will be profitable to contemplate the following on this subject.

Christ didn’t lower/eliminate/destroy the law:

“Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the Law [of Moses] or the [writings of the] Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you and most solemnly say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke [of the pen] will pass from the Law until all things [which it foreshadows] are accomplished. So whoever breaks one of the least [important] of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them, he will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness (uprightness, moral essence) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17‭-‬20 AMP

The purpose of the Law is to increase and expand awareness of what sin is (falling short of genuine holiness), and make clear our inability to meet the true requirements of true holiness, and our need for grace as a free gift of salvation from God (and not of ourselves):

But the Law came to increase and expand [the awareness of] the trespass [by defining and unmasking sin]. But where sin increased, [God’s remarkable, gracious gift of] grace [His unmerited favor] has surpassed it and increased all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, so also grace would reign through righteousness which brings eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:20‭-‬21 AMP

But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
Ephesians 2:4‭-‬10 AMP

The purpose of this grace is not a license to sin, but this call to freedom ands eternal life is a baptism into the death of Christ to be raised to newness and life:

What shall we say [to all this]? Should we continue in sin and practice sin as a habit so that [God’s gift of] grace may increase and overflow? Certainly not! How can we, the very ones who died to sin, continue to live in it any longer? Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways]. For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection. We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross 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 the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin [ending its power and paying the sinner’s debt] once and for all; and the life that He lives, He lives to [glorify] God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts and passions. Do not go on offering members of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness. But offer yourselves to God [in a decisive act] as those alive [raised] from the dead [to a new life], and your members [all of your abilities—sanctified, set apart] as instruments of righteousness [yielded] to God. For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy]. What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under [God’s] grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that when you continually offer yourselves to someone to do his will, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey, either [slaves] of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (right standing with God)? But thank God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed. And having been set free from sin, you have become the slaves of righteousness [of conformity to God’s will and purpose]. I am speaking in [familiar] human terms because of your natural limitations [your spiritual immaturity]. For just as you presented your bodily members as slaves to impurity and to [moral] lawlessness, leading to further lawlessness, so now offer your members [your abilities, your talents] as slaves to righteousness, leading to sanctification [that is, being set apart for God’s purpose]. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness [you had no desire to conform to God’s will]. So what benefit did you get at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None!] For the outcome of those things is death! But now since you have been set free from sin and have become [willing] slaves to God, you have your benefit, resulting in sanctification [being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose], and the outcome [of this] is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:1‭-‬23 AMP

The written law can act as a baby sitter of sorts to the spiritually immature who do not understand what sin truly is (sin is not a checklist that some live up to and some do not — all have fallen short of true holiness and require the grace of God through Christ Jesus):

Now what I mean [when I talk about children and their guardians] is this: as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave even though he is the [future owner and] master of all [the estate]; but he is under [the authority of] guardians and household administrators or managers until the date set by his father [when he is of legal age]. So also we [whether Jews or Gentiles], when we were children (spiritually immature), were kept like slaves under the elementary [man-made religious or philosophical] teachings of the world. But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family]. And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave (bond-servant), but a son; and if a son, then also an heir through [the gracious act of] God [through Christ]. But at that time, when you did not know [the true] God and were unacquainted with Him, you [Gentiles] were slaves to those [pagan] things which by [their very] nature were not and could not be gods at all. Now, however, since you have come to know [the true] God [through personal experience], or rather to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and worthless elemental principles [of religions and philosophies], to which you want to be enslaved all over again? [For example,] you observe [particular] days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored [to the point of exhaustion] over you in vain. Believers, I beg of you, become as I am [free from the bondage of Jewish ritualism and ordinances], for I have become as you are [a Gentile]. You did me no wrong [when I first came to you; do not do it now]. On the contrary, you know that it was because of a physical illness that I [remained and] preached the gospel to you the first time; and even though my physical condition was a trial to you, you did not regard it with contempt, or scorn and reject me; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus Himself. What then has become of that sense of blessing and the joy that you once had [from your salvation and your relationship with Christ]? For I testify of you that, if possible, you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me [ to replace mine]. So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? These men [the Judaizers] eagerly seek you [to entrap you with honeyed words and attention, to win you over to their philosophy], not honorably [for their purpose is not honorable or worthy of consideration]. They want to isolate you [from us who oppose them] so that you will seek them.
Galatians 4:1‭-‬17 AMP

It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed]. Notice, it is I, Paul, who tells you that if you receive circumcision [as a supposed requirement of salvation], Christ will be of no benefit to you [for you will lack the faith in Christ that is necessary for salvation]. Once more I solemnly affirm to every man who receives circumcision [as a supposed requirement of salvation], that he is under obligation and required to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, if you seek to be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] through the Law; you have fallen from grace [for you have lost your grasp on God’s unmerited favor and blessing]. For we [not relying on the Law but] through the [strength and power of the Holy] Spirit, by faith, are waiting [confidently] for the hope of righteousness [the completion of our salvation]. For [if we are] in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith activated and expressed and working through love. This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church]. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view [contrary to mine on the matter]; but the one who is disturbing you, whoever he is, will have to bear the penalty. But as for me, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision [as I had done before I met Christ; and as some accuse me of doing now, as necessary for salvation], why am I still being persecuted [by Jews]? In that case the stumbling block of the cross [to unbelieving Jews] has been abolished. I wish that those who are troubling you [by teaching that circumcision is necessary for salvation] would even [go all the way and] castrate themselves! For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another. For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “Y ou shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].” But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:1‭-‬6‭, ‬8‭-‬26 AMP

And we see that God’s law has been faith not self-righteousness even from the beginning with Abraham:

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather humanly speaking, has found? [Has he obtained a favored standing?] For if Abraham was justified [that is, acquitted from the guilt of his sins] by works [those things he did that were good], he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed in (trusted, relied on) God , and it was credited to his account as righteousness (right living, right standing with God).” Now to a laborer, his wages are not credited as a favor or a gift, but as an obligation [something owed to him]. But to the one who does not work [that is, the one who does not try to earn his salvation by doing good], but believes and completely trusts in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God). And in this same way David speaks of the blessing on the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed and happy and favored are those whose lawless acts have been forgiven , A nd whose sins have been covered up and completely buried . Blessed and happy and favored is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account nor charge against him .”
Romans 4:1‭-‬8 AMP

And Christianity tells us it is the opposite — that our best is filthy rags — that we are incapable of true selfless love apart from the Lord — that anything pure and true in a believer comes from the Holy Spirit of God and not from self. Yet, we seem surprised and offended by people’s weaknesses, hurts, and struggles — and expectant and demanding of others’ perfect outward appearance to meet our standards.

The Kingdom of God definitely turns the ways of the religious on its head.

Lord, help us.

Prove That You Really Are

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
2 Peter 1:10 NLT

Life Application Study Bible
Peter wanted to rouse the complacent believers who had listened to the false teachers and believed that because salvation is not based on good deeds, they could live any way they wanted. If you truly belong to the Lord, Peter wrote, your hard work will prove it. If you’re not working to develop the qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7, maybe you don’t belong to him. If you are the Lord’s-and your hard work backs up your claim to be chosen by God (“called and chosen”)-you will never be led astray by the lure of false teaching or glamorous sin.

So we should ask ourselves — if I say that I am a Child of God, is my life developing to demonstrate such an extraordinary claim?

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NLT

What does this look like?

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬25 NLT

This isn’t a demonstration of our “worthiness” or our “earning” anything — because no man or woman is worthy in and of themselves, nor can any man earn his own way — all fall short of the glory of God.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 NLT

God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!
Psalms 53:2‭-‬3 NLT

The things that Peter describes in 2 Peter 1 that we should “Do these things, and shall never fall away” are:

faith…

moral excellence…

knowledge…

self-control…

patient endurance…

godliness…

brotherly affection…

love for everyone.

You see these are character/nature/ being and not a checklist of actions. So this is a demonstration of either Christ alive in us, God making His tabernacle with His people, in them and through them with those He has called and chosen — or the absence of such a personal and life altering relationship with Almighty God.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:1‭-‬17 NLT

The fruit comes from God and is the trustworthy and true evidence of His indwelling His children. It isn’t how religious someone is, or how much they know “about” God — do you truly know and love God? Does He truly know you and live in and through you?

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:15‭-‬23 NLT

If you look at your life today, and you can see your need to be changed, your need to be reborn, to be washed from your sin and changed on the inside to sell after and grow and live in the ways of God, for His glory instead of for your own, I have Good News for you, friend.

If you have never truly repented and believed,

If you have always opposed God or just given Him lip service or Sunday service,

Never truly surrendered your whole life because you believe His way is the only way, the only truth, the only life,

Read this Good News:

Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!
Mark 1:14‭-‬15 NLT

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ”
John 3:16‭-‬21 NLT

And this is not a decision to be taken lightly, frivilously, or half heartedly, but with full commitment and surrender:

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
Hebrews 10:26‭-‬39 NLT

Count the cost and be fully decided today in your heart who it is that you serve.

A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
Luke 14:25‭-‬35 NLT

We are called to repentance and belief, dear brothers and sisters. Hear the call:

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.
Luke 15:3‭-‬10 NLT

And you, prodigal sons and daughters, who have been in the slop with the odds instead of in your Father’s house and you need to be drawn back in, read this:

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
Luke 15:11‭-‬24 NLT


Lord, grant us today the gift of repentance. Call us ot of sin and into the faithful lives that you have set before us. Come, live in and through us, as we surrender our lives to your way, your will, your purpose, your plan, and your glory. Hallelujah, Amen!

He chose YOU to come OUT. No excuses.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.  Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.
John 15:18‭-‬23 NLT

“you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you”
Almost daily, I see a backlash from “carnal Christians” (who know the name of the Savior but who have only themselves as Lord of their lives) towards those who would share truth and warn others about the dangers of sin. I hear things like “you’re being judgemental” when someone speaks about sin, repentance, discipleship or sanctification from the, same people that sing proudly of grace as if it is a license to sin.

Wake up and hear the truth. If you are a slave to sin, see what the Word of God says:

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34‭-‬36 NLT

If we are currently a slave to sin, but we know that we are called to be a child of God, the solution is simple – repent (turn away from your sin), believe in your heart,  confess with your mouth, and He will send the Holy Spirit to convict you against sin, to teach you, to guide you, so that you will walk in the Spirit of Christ, following His example and demonstrating Him to the world.

So we are either a slave to sin, or we are a new creation in Christ – and the two types of desires are so different from one another that the two are at war with each other. One desires sin and the things of this world as treasure and reward and the will of man,  while the other desires only Christ and the will of God.

“now they have no excuse for their sin”
Yes, many hate to hear the whole message of Jesus Christ – that He calls us to no longer be a part of the world,  to no longer live like the world. Many are satisfied with the idea that their sins might be forgiven,  but they have no real interest in giving up their sin. And when He says that we are free indeed,  and that He has given us the power to see evil flee from us – it really bothers those who no longer have any excuse for remaining in their sin.

It bothers those who are either:

A) deceived and confused because they can’t reconcile their own opinions about God with what the Word of God actually says

B) aware that their claims about being a Christian are nothing but outward lies

The Good News is that salvation is just a turn away. But it does take deciding to love Christ more than our sin.

And for many, the broad path seems so attractive when we can’t see and touch what is behind that narrow gate. The broad path seems so much easier when we can only see the struggle and strife and trial of those poor,  sacrificing Christian missionaries who are willing to give it all up to serve the Lord. The broad path seems so much more friendly and crowded when we can only see those “judgemental Christians” who are isolating themselves by standing firm upon the truth of the Word of God.

The broad path of finding a compromising “church” that will speak what I want to hear and won’t expect me to change or grow as long as I show up,  volunteer,  and tithe seems so much easier than actually picking up my cross and following Jesus,  making disciples, baptizing them,  and walking like Christ. People will say,  “Isn’t there someone else who will go? Isn’t there someone else who is better qualified? Can’t I just give my money to them and maybe God will leave me alone?”

Do you love your life,  or do you love Christ?

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.
Luke 17:33 NLT

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
Revelation 12:10‭-‬12 NLT

Little Children

Do you ever ponder over the things of God? Do you wonder about His ways? What about the little children? What is their fate? What is ours?

children-are-innocent-childrens-world-16382924-670-405

INNOCENCE

See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:29 ESV

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 ESV

And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3 ESV

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:23 ESV

Autosomal-recessive-inheritance

INHERITANCE

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. – Ezekiel 18:20 ESV

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. – 1 Corinthians 7:14 ESV

And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. – Deuteronomy 1:39 ESV

Knowledge

KNOWLEDGE

For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. – Isaiah 7:16 ESV

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17 ESV

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. – Proverbs 20:11 ESV

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. – Psalm 58:3 ESV

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. – Romans 7:9-11 ESV

Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. – Exodus 30:14 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Psalm 14:2-3 ESV

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6 ESV

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. – Romans 7:14 ESV

quote-David-Herbert-Lawrence-this-is-the-very-worst-wickedness-that-90120

SIN

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 ESV

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:12 ESV

salvation

SALVATION

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, – Romans 4:1-25 ESV

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. – Genesis 8:21 ESV

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV

Zech4_6

POWER

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16 ESV

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, – Colossians 1:11 ESV

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV

repentance

REPENTANCE / RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 18:1-32
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

“If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

An eternity perspective

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I  do,  forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
Philippians 3:12-15 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/php.3.12-15.NKJV

We are being prepared for our final destination today. We are either serving the one master who makes us more like  Christ, producing love through a grateful, faithful,  repentant life of service and self control. Or we are serving that great enemy of self that is driven by pride and vanity and jealousy and haughtiness and isolation because we are blind to and unbelieving about things eternal. Or we are serving evil, knowing that what we are doing is wrong, but still letting our lives be a stumbling block to others and an enticement to serve the purposes of ac rebellion against the way that is best and most abundant for all.

Yes, the problem isn’t always that we don’t realize the need to change, the need to be a good example for others, the need to offer help to others in need – the problem sometimes is that we just don’t care about anyone enough to make a change,  to entertain the concept of stepping out of our comfort and complacency and idleness into a place of personal sacrifice, self control, and trust in the Lord in the midst of a life of trials,  tribulation,  and suffering.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jhn.16.33.NKJV

People will say, but God wants me to be happy and protected and safe and prosperous “right now”. And I tell you that God is more focused on your eternity than this short breath of a life that is like the blink of an eye. Yes, He lives you and will help you “right now” in the troubles you are facing,  but it will be from the eternal mindset and purpose that is His – not the immediate and urgent and anxious mindset that the world has taught us to trust in. The world tells us to only trust in what we can see and touch today,  right now. While God tells us to have Hope and Faith in things unseen that are not yet ours.

And when we start understanding and believing God for eternal purposes – when we start receiving revelations of the blessings eternal,  those things that nourish our soul,  those things that feed and heal and help those around us – those temptations,  and false idols in our lives,  and those things like earthly riches and wealth and comfort and security and trust in our own strengths and abilities are revealed as poisonous traps for the short sighted and blind.

Being blind to eternity is like the difference between getting a high interest loan for one night of wild partying that saddles you with debt you can never pay back and will leave behind for your family after you are gone – versus living reasonably within your means so that you can avoid unnecessary anxieties, so that you can help others around you while you are hear,  and so that you can leave an inheritance for your family to help them after you are gone. But we are not just talking about money and comfort on earth for ourselves and our families – we are talking about our eternal souls.

You see,  once we understand and believe in the Word of God, once we believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ in our hearts, and aren’t just flirting with the idea and concept of Jesus Christ in our minds – once we make Him Lord of our lives instead of just claiming His name as our Savior – or while perspective changes from this life to eternity.

And when our perspective changes, it changes our priorities as well. Loving and serving God with our WHOLE life becomes our WHOLE priority – not just one thing in a list of priorities. And having this priority places us into His Kingdom service now, because we are His body,  His church,  His hands and feet, His voice, sent to pour out His love and blessings into the lives of others so they might find and know Him and come to understand this new perspective and these new priorities.

We do not “invite Him into our lives” so that He can help us accomplish our own selfish “right now” desires. He comes when we seek Him and He abides in us and changes us to desire His will,  to be eternity focused,  to turn away from the trappings of this world, to be Kingdom minded,  faithful servants of a righteous,  holy,  perfect God who says “Go and sin no more” and who also says “if you do sin, you have an advocate”.

But if we know and love Him, “Go and sin no more” is our plan A and we have no intention of using testing that safety net,  even if we are glad that it is there. If falling into the safety net is our Plan A, we must ask ourselves if we are really focused on walking that thin, narrow path to its final destination, or do we just enjoy the experience of going up the ladder a bit so we can fall? I don’t want to see people going down into the pit,  but I know that He says few will find the narrow gate and walk the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Few will live in the perspective that they are paying on towards their eventual goal of eternity, of salvation. Few will live with their priority being God’s will and His Kingdom work playing out in their lives.

Many will be be satisfied with an empty and powerless concept of Jesus that offers them a “someday redeemable ticket to heaven redeemable after death” – they will deceive themselves with a combination of “once saved,  always saved” and “I’m just a sinner” and “only God can judge me” that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is not following the way,  the truth, the life – but that is the broad way that leads to destruction.

Yes, we are meant to die to Christ and walk as His follower,  as His disciple,  as messengers, ambassadors, as a royal priesthood TODAY. And we do this because we are a new creation,  with new desires and perspective and priorities. And we do this so that He might use us for His work,  for His purposes TODAY, that can have eternal implications for the lives of those around us – that they might recognize Christ in us – that our testimony and our love and our service might be just what God uses to usher them back into the fold. Because at some point, a Christ minded person’s perspective has moved past self to a place of serving and loving Godc and others, willing to sacrifice “right now” knowing that eyebrows is so much more important.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? ” So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.10.25-37.NKJV

Love is walking according to His commandments

And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
II John 1:5-9 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/2jn.1.5-9.NKJV

Do we realize that every commandment is meant to keep both ourselves and those around us from harm? There are no harsh commandments that God has laid down upon us as a task master,  but all of His instruction is for good – in fact, it is for the best life for us. All of the commandments and all of the law have their source in loving God wholeheartedly and loving and serving others.

God’s instruction is not a set of rules that we begrudgingly try to obey in order to not suffer consequences. No, that perspective is empty and dead religious practice. When we believe, or perspective shifts to understanding that the Word of God is not a list of facts and rules and laws as much as it is divine instruction and assistance. B.I.B.L.E. “Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth” That is a pretty good perspective to maintain.

So if we believe, we will obey – not out of begrudgingly complying to a set of rules – but out of loving trust that our heavenly Father knows best. If we aren’t obeying,  it is because we aren’t believing, we aren’t trusting. We cannot claim Him as Savior and dismiss Him as Lord,  because it is about our belief, or faith,  our heart,  or desires. So I don’t ask “have you accepted Jesus” or “have you asked Him into your heart”. No, I ask “Do you love Him, obey Him, and seek His will in your life” – and I explain that these are not separable, but are one and the same – just as God the Father,  Jesus the Son,  and the Holy Spirit are one and the same – just different point of views necessary to comprehend the whole truth.

Many are eager to claim Him as Savior,  to grasp intellectually onto the concept of mercy and grace – but are loathe to offer the living sacrifice of making Him Lord and to truly exercise and apply repentance, holiness, and righteousness. And being a Christian isn’t about intellectual ascent – even if that is what contemporary American religion has seemed to grasped onto en masse. He calls us to “Follow me” not just to know about Him. He calls us to “Love God with our whole” not just in part.  He calls for application of His teaching in our lives,  a turn away from the ways of this world, to seek a life more and more,  closer and closer, to His life example.

If He is just your spare tire and not the steering wheel of your vehicle,  I have to ask,  “Have you ever truly come to Christ on His terms?” I have to ask,  “Are you surrendered today, trusting His guidance for your life as best?” I have to ask, “Do you truly know Christ,  our do you just know about Him?”

He is here to be found. He has not left us,  we have just turned away so often to chase after the world. Today, let’s seek His will – not begrudgingly as if following rules and regulations – but believing that Father truly does know best. Or if you do not believe that, if you still believe proudly that you are wiser and know better – then you are better off to admit that you are no Christian at all than to go into eternal damnation calling upon the name of a Jesus you neither know, nor love, nor are seeking.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.7.21-23.NKJV

We are called to be followers, disciples, children of God,  Christ’s body serving others in this earth doing His will. We are not called to learn about the narrow gate and then remain outside on the broad way -,we are called to not only enter the narrow gate but walk the narrow path, following His example as the one way,  the one truth,  the one life.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.7.13-14.NKJV

We are to walk in the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in us. If you do not know that Christ lives in you, lost seeker,  pray to your Heavenly Father that you receive this gift of His mercy,  His grace,  His redemption,  His guidance, and His correction that keeps you on the path so that you might stand before Him one day,  having run your race to the finish, to find salvation instead of judgement. 

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Luke 11:9-13 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.11.9-13.NKJV

And if you claim with your mouth that you have received this free but costly gift that was paid for by the sacrifice of our loving Lord and Savior – testify to your renewed heart and His presence as Lord of your life by trusting and following Him today. Open up all of the doors and compartments of your life and accept His redemption – as you gratefully follow His guidance and instructions,  as you obey in both your heart and your actions,  as you walk like Christ, whom you are being reconciled to be like, of whom we are His earthly ambassadors.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him  thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he  is  a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to  be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
II Corinthians 5:14-21 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/2co.5.14-21.NKJV

Deep Need, Great Mercy, Amazing Love

I have heard all about you, Lord .
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger, remember your mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2 NLT
http://bible.com/116/hab.3.2.NLT

We have heard about Him. In fact so many have heard the name of Jesus in today’s world where there are churches on so many corners. But how many of us are in awe of God when science offers us the answers of men in their attempt to understand and explain the wonders of creation and existence? How many of us recognize our deep need for Him and cry out to Him for help?

The Lord  is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord  is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
Psalms 145:17-19 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.145.17-19.NKJV

God is Holy and righteous. And those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ,  who believe and receive the cleansing and redeeming Blood of the Lamb of God are not only forgiven, but receive His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us His desires, His will, His purpose for our lives. Our old ways of slavery to sin and death are cast away and we are free to live a new life being reconciled to be more like Him. We are to be equipped and prepared for His Holy use. Yes, us who were once wretched and wicked and proud and lost and blind – we who were serving another master – are now offered a place in our living heavenly Father’s family.

I will exalt you, Lord ,
for you rescued me.
You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
O  Lord my God,
I cried to you for help,
and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O  Lord .
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
Sing to the Lord , all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalms 30:1-5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.30.1-5.NLT

We have so much to be thankful for. God has given us eternal life, life abundant, life filled with His ways, His Truth, His life. What can we offer in return for such an unmerited, undeserved gift?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.12.1-2.NLT

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.22.37-40.NLT

Clean hands, Pure heart

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. 
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psalm 32:1-2 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.32.1-2.ESV

We all have had dirty hands before. Did we just leave them dirty,  or did we wash them until they were clean? Did we just run some water over them but not scrub them clean? Or did we diligently wash them with soap and water,  getting all of the filth and grime off of them,  even from underneath or fingernails,  because we know that the filth and germs are not good for us?

Isn’t it the same with our hearts,  our Spirit,  our soul? Isn’t it clear to us that it needs to be washed by the blood of the Lamb,  by our faith and belief and following in Christ’s footsteps,  turning away from the filth and enticements and ways of this world to walk in a new way,  bearing the fruit of His Holy Spirit?

So we must encourage one another,  to not play around with empty religious practice by just running our flesh under the water but never really intending our lives to be delivered,  surrendered, washed clean – but to instead seek that fully surrendered, born again life that is renewed daily by the redeeming power of the blood, by the strength of Christ who lives in us,  by the renewing of our minds as we seek God’s will for our lives.  

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord ?
And who shall stand in his holy place? 
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully. 
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Psalm 24:3-6 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.24.3-6.ESV

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which  is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of  himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Romans 12:1-3 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/rom.12.1-3.NKJV

What is valuable?

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Philippians 3:7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.7.NLT

When we first read this verse alone,  we might think that when Paul says “I once thought these things were valuable” that the “things” he is speaking about are the things of this world. That’s a valid leap of logic when we’ve gained a basic understanding of the types of things that the Bible teaches us. However,  if we look at the context of this passage –

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Philippians 3:2-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.2-11.NLT

We can see that Paul is talking about worthless “things” like the following are, a wrong perspective:
– “pure-blooded citizen of Israel”
– “member of the tribe of Benjamin”
– “human effort”
– “strictest obedience to the Jewish law”
– “zealous”
– “obeyed the law without fault”

And He counts these things as worthless because of what Christ has done. He makes it clear that knowing Christ and having a relationship with Him is really what matters. He points out to us that it isn’t about “measuring up to Christ”, that it isn’t that we must be highly religious to be saved.

He points out that this right perspective is about :

– knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord
– worshipping Him (by walking in) the Spirit of God.
– relying on what Christ has done for us
– putting no confidence in human effort
– becoming righteous through faith
– trusting God’s way of making us right with himself
– experiencing the mighty power (of the Holy Spirit) that raised Him from the dead
– suffering with Him
– sharing in His death

You see, this new perspective is not just human,  outward compliance to the letter of the law. It isn’t just striving to work hard enough for a master to earn something in return. It is a process by which our hope and belief in His promises leads us to an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness for this amazing gift of grace – and it is in this humble place of receiving the undeserved,  unmerited gift of freedom that we have the opportunity to find love for God – to understand His love for us,  and to respond with a life loving Him in return, a life turned to Him in repentance and walking with Him faithfully because of the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us.

The results may look the same on the outside. Many people can act religious,  focusing on the outward obedience by striving on their own to imitate the walk of a born again Child of God. But if they don’t have His Holy Spirit inside powering their desires and motives,  their striving is worthless and useless because, I would have nothing.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.13.1-3.NLT

And yes,  if we have this love we will obey His commandments,  not just continue a life in sin. We will repent of our sinful ways, so I’m not saying that this Grace is a license to sin. I’m saying that Jesus set the bar a lot higher than just outward compliance that looks to human eyes the same as true obedience of the heart. God weighs our heart, and we cannot fool Him with silly religious sacrifices when He desires mercy. He set the bar at love – true Godly, righteous love – the very in-dwelling of God’s spirit and nature in our lives that produces the fruit against which there is no law.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.  When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
John 14:15-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.15-21.NLT

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you. Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Galatians 5:1-15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.1-15.NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:16-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.16-26.NLT

Love, Love, Love

It’s very easy for us to become critical of each other, noticing and pointing out flaws, maybe even talking about others behind their backs. But this is not love, nor is it letting Christ shine forth through our lives.

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Galatians 5:14-15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.14-15.NLT

Even if we see someone who is trapped in sin that the Word of God promises that they will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God and that will lead them to hell – do you realize that we are given warnings about not falling into the trap of spiritual pride when dealing with these situations? That we are meant to be acting in love towards one another with hopes not just to catch and expose imperfections,  but to help others overcome and be freed from the sin that binds them.

When we stop look for good in people and start examining them for faults,  we are bound to find them. And when we recognize sin in the lives of others, it is usually because we are familiar with that evil spirit ourselves. Whether we are looking in love, forgiveness,  and mercy, hoping to serve our neighbor – or whether we are looking with condemnation, accusation, and judgement,  hoping to catch our neighbor – it’s an important difference.

There is one that waits for the opportunity to devour people because of their sin – and his wolves are very good at biting and tearing at one another, weakening the prey and preparing them for death, slaughter, and destruction.  But there is another who heals,  who offers forgiveness, who reconciles us to be more like Himself – and His followers are very good at loving one another, and building each other up, and sharing one another’s burdens. And the difference between the two comes down to perspective. One’s followers look down on the others in pride,  while the followers of Christ look at others equally and in unity. These followers of Christ see neighbors and friends in need of the very same unmerited and undeserved grace that their own walk of faith is materializing and bearing witness to in their life of serving and loving others.

So we have to ask ourselves,  are we motivated by love towards others or do we enjoy the pride of being critical toward others? Are we aiming our examining eye inward at ourselves,  using the Word of God a surgical instrument or are we using it as a sword to slay our brothers and sisters? Do we know how to target the real enemy who is not flesh and blood, or have we comforted our thirst with the blood of the innocent instead of tasting of the living waters that fill our lives to overflowing?

It is easy for me to point out warnings and scriptures that identify those lost and trapped in sin and headed to destruction – and if all that I offer is a warning, is a statement of the impending danger, and I don’t offer the Good News of Jesus Christ that leads to Hope,  Faith,  and Love – can I say that I’ve shared Truth or just that I’ve lifted my stone in the air?

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.6.9-10.NLT

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.19-21.NLT

Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
Revelation 22:15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rev.22.15.NLT

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Ephesians 5:5-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.5.5-19.NLT

For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
1 Timothy 1:9-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1ti.1.9-11.NLT

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/heb.12.14.NLT

A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.
John 8:35 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.35.NLT

And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,  ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’
Mark 9:47-48 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mrk.9.47-48.NLT

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.  When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
Luke 13:23-27 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.23-27.NLT

For again I say, when righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and turn to evil, they will die.
Ezekiel 33:18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.18.NLT

No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Luke 13:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.5.NLT

Yes,  and these warnings are true because the Word of God does not lie.

I cry out warnings in love each day. I’m sowing the seed of this Good News that Jesus Christ can come into your life, and change you. But many are too wrapped up in the ways of this world and don’t really want their eyes to be opened yet. I know,  because that used to be me.

So I just keep sharing truth and hope and faith and love – trusting that those that are His will hear His voice before it is too late.

And some are lost and need hope (a turn to God – change of attitude).

And some are babes and need faith (a focus and dedication and ongoing growth in His will).

And some are among leaven and need love (a remembrance of His undeserved, unmerited mercy and grace as opposed to spiritual pride).

And many are headed for destruction and need truth (it is truly a narrow path with ditches on both sides – in misunderstood grace as a license to sin – and in misunderstood works as a stairway to heaven).

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.3.7-9.NLT

But if wicked people turn from their wickedness and do what is just and right, they will live.
Ezekiel 33:19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.19.NLT

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 ESV
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Ezekiel 18:21-23 ESV
But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

Acts 17:30 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

James 4:8-10 ESV
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.