Our Duty to Personal Enemies; Rom. 12:17-21

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good, (12:17-21).

We will consider verse 17 today. In this last chapter section Paul brings into focus with laser-like precision one of the paramount functions and attributes of agape love, to overcome evil with good. In this twelfth chapter of his great epistle the apostle has continually challenged believers to think, speak, and act outside the box of normal human relations. By virtue of our new birth and the indwelling Holy Spirit and Word of God we are to relate to other people on a supernatural level with divine love flowing through and spilling out of us at every turn.

The climax to this new holy thinking comes in verses 17-21. It is one thing to truly love family, friends and even strangers. It is yet another to love our enemies with our thoughts and words and, practically, with our actions. But this is what the Lord calls us to do, because that is exactly what He did and how He lived.

First, we are to never, under any circumstances, no matter how deserving we think they may be, pay back evil for evil to anyone. This includes even our worst enemies, who may be hell-bent on our destruction. Scripture demands that we bless them and not curse them, and certainly never be moved to an act of revenge.

John MacArthur advises this: “The Old Testament law of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” (Ex. 21:24; cf. Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21) pertained to civil justice, not personal revenge. Not only that, but its major purpose was to prevent the severity of the offense. In other words, someone guilty of destroying another person’s eye could not be punished with any greater penalty than that of forfeiting one of his own eyes,” (Mac p. 201).

When we soon get into chapter 13 we will read Paul’s teaching that civil authority is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil, (Rom. 13:4).

Mac says further, “But that very authority, which not only is divinely permitted but divinely mandated for civil government, is divinely forbidden for personal purposes,” (p. 201). We will talk more of civil authority under God and the responsibility and obligation of citizens to uphold that authority when we study the next chapter. The subject is certainly profoundly relevant for our times in view of how disgracefully so many malcontents are treating our American president and our Constitution.

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to see that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men, (1 Thess. 5:15). Peter echoes the same truth with this: To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing, (1 Peter 3:8-9).

Always respect what is right (v. 17b).

We must cultivate a deep inner respect for what is right in the sight of all men. So many lost people only respect what is right to them alone. They have their own value system or no values at all! Morality has become in this fallen world very subjective and inward. But there is a code of ethics written on the heart of all men by God Himself. It is objective truth. We innately know right from wrong. It is our bad choices running contrary to this knowledge that illustrate our lost and wretched condition before salvation. God calls this out in Romans chapter one:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them…so that they are without excuse, (Rom. 1:18-20).

Therefore, we must cultivate respect for others as creations of God after His own image, as human beings with all the inalienable rights of life and liberty and justice, and as brothers and sisters in Christ for those who are members of His body. If we have this respect for others we are much less likely to be vindictive or seek revenge when we have been wronged.

Mac teaches, “Kalos (right) refers to that which is intrinsically good, proper, and honest. It also carries the idea of being visibly, obviously right, as emphasized in its being fitting and proper in the sight of all men. Paul is not speaking of hidden feelings but of outwardly expressed goodness. Our forgiving, gracious behavior toward our enemies should commend us to them and to others who witness that behavior. It will also adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect, (Titus 2:10).

Lord willing we will continue next time with our study of the believer’s response to personal enemies. Don’t be discouraged. The Lord is faithful and able to help us change inwardly toward even our most vicious detractors. And He is changing us for good every day: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit, (2 Corinthians 3:18)…blessings to all…mike.

 

Our Duty to All People, pt. three; Rom. 12:16

Do not be partial; avoid haughtiness and associate with the humble; do not be wise in your own eyes.

To be of the same mind toward one another is to give everyone equal value; it is to be impartial. In Romans 15:5 Paul says this, Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.

“We are to live in harmony with one another. It was Nelson who, after one of his great victories, sent back a dispatch in which he gave us the reason for it: ‘I had the happiness to command a band of brothers.’ It is a band of brothers that any Christian Church should be. Leighton once wrote: ‘The mode of Church government is unconstrained; but peace and concord, kindness and good will are indispensable.’ When strife enters into any Christian society, the hope of doing any good work is gone,” (William Barclay, commentary on Romans).

“Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits.

‘same mind’-() ‘Have equal regard for one another’ (NEB). Think the same thing, i.e. be in agreement, live in harmony (Arndt p. 866) ‘Enter into the mind or feeling of your brother, whether in joy or sorrow.’ (McGarvey p. 500) ‘It does not seem to refer to unity in gospel teaching (as other passages teach), but rather of sentiment, or disposition..each one to enter into the rejoicing and sorrows of the other. (Whiteside p. 253)

Christianity is not a place for ‘free-thinkers’, i.e. people free from the Mind of Christ. How do I want others to view me? As they honestly view themselves. Judge me and treat me in the way that you desire for yourself (Matthew 7:12),” (Mark Dunagan commentary on Romans).

James zeros in on this concept of no partiality here: My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poo’ man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?…But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors, (James 2:1-4,9).

MacArthur observes, “Speaking about honoring and correcting elders, Paul told Timothy, I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality, (1 Timothy: 5:21).

“If there is no partiality with God (Rom. 2:11; cf. Acts 10:34; 1 Peter 1:17), shouldn’t the same be true of us?” (Mac p. 199)

Avoid haughtiness and associate with the humble.

This is closely related to not showing partiality. We’re dealing with pride here. Hupsela phronountes from the Greek means minding high things. Not in the sense of high or lofty thoughts or ideals but in the meaning of self-seeking pride or arrogance. This mindset has no regard for or attempt to associate with the lowly.

William Barclay sees it this way: “We are to avoid all pride and snobbishness. We have always to remember that the standards by which the world judges a man are not necessarily the standards by which God judges him. Saintliness has nothing to do with rank, or wealth, or birth. Dr. James Black in his own vivid way described a scene in an early Christian congregation. A notable convert has been made, and the great man comes to his first Church service. He enters the room where the service is being held. The Christian leader points to a place. “Will you sit there please?”

‘But,’ says the man, ‘I cannot sit there, for that would be to sit beside my slave.’ ‘Will you sit there please?’ repeats the leader. ‘But,’ says the man, ‘surely not beside my slave.’ ‘Will you sit there please?’ repeats the leader once again. And the man at last crosses the room, sits beside his slave, and gives him the kiss of peace.

“That is what Christianity did; and that is what it alone could do in the Roman Empire. The Christian Church was the only place where master and slave sat side by side. It is still the place where all earthly distinctions are gone, for with God there is no respect of persons.”

“The point is,” MacArthur adds, “there is no aristocracy in the church, no place for an elite upper crust,” (Mac p. 199).

In review of this point, Jesus said this: When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous, (Luke 14:12-14).

Jesus was not speaking necessarily of the act itself, but the motive behind it. God knows our hearts and the reasons we do things. If we are trying to exalt ourselves in any way then our motives are wrong, coming from self instead of sacrifice. If our motive is to be invited back and to hobnob with “equals,” the sin is compounded by “ignoring those who have no means of repaying us.” (Mac)

“…for nothing tends more to break that unity which has been mentioned, than when we elevate ourselves, and aspire to something higher, so that we may rise to a higher situation. I take the term humble in the neuter gender, to complete the antithesis.

“Here then is condemned all ambition and that elation of mind which insinuates itself under the name of magnanimity; for the chief virtue of the faithful is moderation, or rather lowliness of mind, which ever prefers to give honor to others, rather than to take it away from them.” (John Calvin commentary)

“set not your mind on high things-do not be haughty in mind (NASV), ‘Don’t become snobbish’ (Phi). Strive not after things that are (too high) be too ambitious (Arndt p. 850) ‘Avoid such things as lead one to flatter the great, to court the rich, and be servile to the mighty.” (McGarvey p. 501)

“Class distinctions, high positions, situations, social eminence, etc..are to be avoided as tending to sever your sympathies, interests and desires from your humble brethren.

“condescend-Associate with (NASV), Accommodate yourself to humble ways, or to people, associate with humble folk. (Arndt p. 784). “Accept humble tasks” (Gspd), “Take a real interest in ordinary people. (Phi)

“The word condescend, would suggest to many today, a patronizing attitude. But the word literally means, a yielding, or being carried away by, being guided or led in the thoughts, feelings, plans, by humble objects. (Whiteside p. 254)

“Some would even suggest, let the lowly take you by the hand (i.e. you can learn much from humble, ordinary folk.)” (Dunagan Commentary)

Do not be wise in your own eyes.

Puffed up, prideful, conceited, full of oneself, boastful, arrogant; these are all words to describe the antithesis of what it is to be Christian. “A conceited, self-promoting Christian is a serious contradiction. Every believer should be humbly submissive to the will of God found in the Word of God, having no confidence in himself or in his own wisdom and talent.” (Mac)

 

In God’s Church there can exist neither social nor intellectual aristocracy. No cults, no cliques, no divisions whatsoever. The poor are seated by the rich, black next to white, Jew worshipping his God with Gentile, simple with wise.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism, but welcomes those from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.…(Acts 10:34). God is no respecter of persons. Jew and Gentile became one at the cross: And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. It had been a curtain of separation, but the blood of Jesus struck it down! Every believer is of infinite value to the Lord and should be to each of us as well.

“A church that is seeking to faithfully serve Christ will pursue and eagerly accept all genuine believers into its fellowship and consider them all alike, regardless of superficial human distinctions. The only required common ground should be a saving relationship to Jesus Christ and unqualified submission to the Word of God,” (Mac p. 200).

Pride divides; humility embraces and pulls all believers together as one. Jesus prayed for such unity in His church in His high priestly prayer in John 17: I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me… (John 17:20-21).

Part of the reason that we are to show no partiality, avoid haughtiness and conceited self-promotion, and associate with the humble, is evangelistic: that the world may believe that You sent Me. This is so critically important to our witness and testimony of our changed life in Christ.

On the cross, Jesus’ arms were literally nailed open, but He would not have had it any other way—an open embrace, welcoming whosoever would come to Him. We can do no less for our brethren and for a dying world.

Until next time, peace be unto you in our Savior’s name…mike.

 

 

 

Our Duty to All People, part two; Rom. 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Continuing with Paul’s instructions in chapter 12, we see our close identification with one another in that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Our first reaction to this imperative could be, “Oh, I can do that. It’s got to be easier than blessing my enemies, right?”

Well, the rub comes when someone else, for example, gets the promotion at work we thought we had deserved. Would it be a snap to rejoice with someone who “took your place?” The flesh easily springs up in such circumstances.

“…when another person’s blessing and happiness is at our expense, or when their favorable circumstances or notable accomplishments make ours seem barren and dull, the flesh does not lead us to rejoice but tempts us to resent,” (John MacArthur commentary on Romans, vol. II, p. 197).

A good example in Scripture of this type of resentment is Cain (Gen. 4:3-8), who resented God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering but rejection of his because of disobedience. His envy and jealousy drove him to commit the first murder, that of his own brother. The power of these emotions of jealousy and envy and hatred should be dealt with carefully, like nitro, and given over to the Lord!

The bond of tears,” comments William Barclay, “is the strongest of all. And yet it is much easier to weep with those who weep than it is to rejoice with those who rejoice. Long ago Chrysostom wrote on this passage: ‘It requires more of a high Christian temper to rejoice with them that do rejoice than to weep with them that weep. For this nature itself fulfils perfectly; and thee is none so hard-hearted as not to weep over him that is in calamity; but the other requires a very noble soul, so as not only to keep from envying, but even to feel pleasure with the person who is in esteem.’ It is, indeed, more difficult to congratulate another on his success, especially if his success involves disappointment to us, than it is to sympathize with his sorrow and his loss. It is only when self is dead that we can take as much joy in the success of others as in our own.” (Barclay Romans Commentary)

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, etc. A general truth is in the third place laid down — that the faithful, regarding each other with mutual affection, are to consider the condition of others as their own. He first specifies two particular things — that they were to ‘rejoice with the joyful, and to weep with the weeping.’ For such is the nature of true love, that one prefers to weep with his brother, rather than to look at a distance on his grief, and to live in pleasure or ease. What is meant then is — that we, as much as possible, ought to sympathize with one another, and that, whatever our lot may be, each should transfer to himself the feeling of another, whether of grief in adversity, or of joy in prosperity. And, doubtless, not to regard with joy the happiness of a brother is envy; and not to grieve for his misfortunes is inhumanity. Let there be such a sympathy among us as may at the same time adapt us to all kinds of feelings” (from Calvin’s Bible Commentary).

Alternately, we must not rejoice in another’s misfortune. Proverbs 17:5 directs: The person who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished. Rather, Mac comments, “It is distinctively Christian to rejoice in the blessings, honor, and welfare of others—especially fellow believers—no matter what may be our personal circumstances,” (p. 197).

“rejoice”-“Share the happiness of those who are happy” (Phi) The Christian should be able to share in both the sorrows and joys of others. Why is it that some Christians can never be happy and others can never be sad? (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

‘Is there anything more refreshing than the absence of jealousy in one who sees the good fortune of another? Our world is so full of envy and the grudging spirit. The world is so full of heartache, broken promises, failures and despairing people. Shouldn’t we be glad when someone wins? Don’t detract from the joy of the occasion by a cross face.’ (McGuiggan p. 372; Dunagan Commentary).

Weep with those who weep.

We believers have a responsibility to others, especially brethren, to be empathetic, sympathetic, and sensitive to their suffering. One of the tenants of the counselling profession is that we should be subjective enough to identify with another’s pain while remaining objective enough to help with the solution, if one is called for.

Many times, identification is the solution. Talk to them, listen to them, reassure them of God’s love for them. Don’t just observe stoically from the outside, but get into the sinking boat with him and bail water.

Mac observes, “Compassion has in the very word the idea of suffering with someone. God is called a compassionate God (Deut. 4:31; Neh. 9:17; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2).

“He is so compassionate, so tender toward His people, that His compassions never fail (Lam. 3:22). James speaks of Him as being full of compassion (James 5:11). We see this compassion, sympathy, and tenderheartedness of God in the tears of Jesus over the grave of Lazarus. He mingled His tears with those of Mary and Martha (John 11:35),” (Mac p. 197-198).

Paul directed, So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col. 3:12).

One of the sweetest verses of Scripture to illuminate this is Psalm 56:8: Put my tears in Thy bottle. God keeps our tears in a bottle, like treasures. “If we are to be like our Father and His Son, we, too, must enter into the sorrows of others,” (Mac p. 193).

One of the most poignant moments in Jesus’ ministry is when He wept over the holy city: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate.…, (Matt. 23:37). It is a call filled with pathos, lament, and almost unbearable pain for His people, who were about to be left desolate because of their unyielding sin.

We are to feel for and identify with the pain of others just that deeply. Filled with His Spirit, we can. We can also rejoice at the good benefit of another, no matter what it may cost us personally. This is what God equips us to do and what we must do.

Until next time, Lord willing, glad tidings to you of exceedingly great joy in the gospel of our God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…mike.

 

Our Duty to All People; part one; Romans 12:14

Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation, (12:14-16).

We will deal in this study with verse 14. We as believers, with the love of Jesus flowing through our spiritual veins, are to bless those who persecute [us]; bless and curse not. As a stone dropped into a still pool creates ever widening ripples, our influence of caring now widens even to the whole world (see John 3:16).

But to actually call down blessing on those who are actively persecuting us is a tall order, not prepared for the faint of heart or wobbling faith. We must be strong in the Lord and the power of His might if we are to have success here.

“The obedient Christian not only must resist hating and retaliating against those who harm him but is commanded to take the additional step of blessing them,” (John MacArthur commentary on Romans, vol. 2, p. 195).

“Bless them which persecute you,…. It is the lot of God’s people in this world to be persecuted by the men of it, in some shape or another, either by words or deeds; either by reviling and reproaching them, and speaking all manner of evil of them; or by hindering them the free exercise of religious worship, by confiscation of their goods, imprisonment of their persons, by violently torturing their bodies, and taking away their lives; under all which circumstances they are taught to bless them; that is, to pray for them, that God would show them their evil, give repentance to them, and the remission of their sins; which is the order Christ gave to his disciples, Matthew 5:44; and encouraged to an observance of, by his own example, Luke 23:34; and has been followed herein by his disciples and apostles, Acts 7:60 1 Corinthians 4:12. Moreover, by “blessing” may be meant, giving them good words, mild and soft answers, “not rendering evil for evil, railing for railing”, 1 Peter 3:9; but, on the contrary, blessing in imitation of Christ, who, “when he was reviled, reviled not again”, 1 Peter 2:23, “bless”,

“and curse not: to have a mouth full of cursing and bitterness, Romans 3:14, is the character of an unregenerate man, and what by no means suits one who names the name of Christ; for blessing and cursing to proceed out of the same mouth, is as absurd and unnatural, as if it should be supposed that a fountain should send forth sweet water and bitter, or salt and fresh, James 3:10. The imprecations upon wicked men, used by David and other good men, are no contradictions to this rule; since they were made under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and were predictions of God’s vengeance, which in righteous judgment should fall on them, and are not to be drawn into an example by us,” (Gill commentary on Romans).

Of course, this is the very commandment of the Lord: I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you, (Luke 6:27-28; cf. Matt. 5:44). This is agape love, the quality of devotion Paul describes in verse 9.

Jesus gives His people further direction in Luke 6:29-30: Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone wo asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back, (Luke 6:29-30).

Jesus goes on with His challenge: If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same, (vv. 32-33).

“This level of loving is impossible for any who are not “all in” for Christ. Call down blessings on your persecutors–blessings, not curses” (NEB) (Luke 6:28; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60). “To curse does not mean to use ordinary profanity; it is a call for calamity to befall a person.” (Whiteside p. 253) Pray for their salvation, instead of their damnation! We don”t need to “call down curses” upon the enemies of Christ, for their own sins already condemn them. Evil is coming upon our persecutors, there is no need to call it down. (Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Our desire should be for the salvation of all. (1 Timothy 2:4; Acts 26:29)

“bless”-i.e. pray for them (Matthew 5:44)

“Don’t tell me we can’t live that way. Tell me we don’t; tell me we won’t; but don’t tell me we can’t…Rees cuts to the bone when he parodies: ‘I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep..just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don”t want enough of him to make me love a black man…I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God please.’” (McGuiggan p. 371) (Mark Dunagan, Commentary on the Bible).

William Barclay notes the following: “Paul offers a series of rules and principles wherewith to govern our relationships with our fellow men.

“(i) The Christian must meet persecution with a prayer for those who persecute him. Long ago Plato had said that the good man will choose rather to suffer evil than to do evil; and it is always evil to hate. When the Christian is hurt, and insulted, and maltreated, he has the example of his Master before him, for He, upon his Cross, prayed for forgiveness for those who were killing him.

“There has been no greater force to move men into Christianity than this serene forgiveness which the martyrs in every age have showed. Stephen died praying for forgiveness for those who stoned him to death (Acts 7:60). Among those who killed him was a young man named Saul, who afterwards became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and the slave of Christ. There can be no doubt that the death scene of Stephen was one of the things that turned Paul to Christ. As Augustine said: “The Church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen. Many a persecutor has become a follower of the faith he once sought to destroy, because he has seen how a Christian can forgive,” (Barclay Commentary on Romans).

Our supreme example of blessing our persecutors is, as noted above, Jesus Christ Himself. As He lay dying in horrible torment on a cruel wooden cross His thoughts and concerns, as always, were for others. He prayed blessings on the very men who were murdering Him! Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing, (Luke 23:34). Incredible! Agape love in its purest form.

For you have been called for this purpose, Peter wrote many years later, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously, (1 Peter 2:21-23).

The key is there; do you see it? We are to [keep] entrusting [ourselves] to Him who judges righteously. One day God will judge and punish the guilty and work justice for his sons and daughters. If we firmly resolve in our minds and hearts that He will set everything right, our faith not shaken, we can and will follow our Lord’s example, even when surrounded by enemies out for our blood! For us this is not the end, but just the beginning.

Bless and do not curse them.

In 14b Paul wants to make sure we are clear that “true blessing of those who persecute us is comprehensive and permanent. Not only are we to bless them, we are not at all or ever to curse them,” (Mac). MacArthur continues with these observations:

“Because of the general tone of religious freedom in modern western society, physical or political persecution for one’s Christian faith is rare. Our temptations to curse are more likely to be in reaction to hostility that does no life-threatening harm but causes us inconvenience or embarrassment. Some studies have indicated that much high blood pressure and other anxiety-related disease is caused not by serious, long-term problems and life-threatening pressures but by persistent attitudes of resentment and hostility that eat at people who habitually react negatively to unpleasant situations and people. It is often a host of ‘little foxes’ that do the most damage in our spiritual and emotional ‘vineyards’ (Song of Sol. 2:15),” (Mac p. 196-197).

Until next time, blessings to all in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, who is the Christ…mike.

 

 

The Resurrection: Our Assurance!

1 Peter 1:”18-19– …knowing  that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Taken from Charles Stanley’s In touch Dailey Devotions, April 16, is the following:

“Despite appearances, it had been no ordinary crucifixion. Passersby may have thought three men were simply paying the penalty for their crimes, but events of cosmic import were taking place: Sin was judged and Satan was defeated. Yet that wasn’t all– the cross was also the scene of the greatest purchase in history. It was there that Jesus Christ shed His blood to pay for the salvation of all mankind.

“This transaction occurred at great cost to the purchaser and great benefit to the purchased– you and me. But you might ask, How can I know God the Father accepted Christ’s blood as an atoning sacrifice for my sin? In other words, How can I be sure that the Savior’s death fully paid the debt I owed?

“The answer lies in the resurrection. Jesus had repeatedly said He would rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21; John 2:19; 10:18), and fulfilling such a prophecy is no small accomplishment. Imagine the reaction of all those who witnessed His cruel death– and then saw Him alive.

“Christ’s return to life was the Father’s way of showing He accepted the offering made on our behalf. It was God’s proclamation to the world that the sin debt has been paid in full– and all who trust in His Son are free forever from the power and penalty of sin. What’s more, the resurrection is our assurance that every promise God has made can be trusted.

“Easter is wonderful news: God has broken the power of sin and death, and all who place faith in Christ will enjoy the Lord’s presence throughout eternity. Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

What a Savior indeed! If He is not yours, claim Him now by faith in His awesome finished work on our behalf…mike.

 

 

Supernatural Living; Duty to the Family, part 2; Romans 12:12-13

Be devoted to prayer…

One of the surest ways God’s people are driven to pray is when we realize how much we need Him actively working in our lives. Clarity on this issue can become very murky very quickly if we are not devoted to prayer as a matter of holy habit.

MacArthur comments, “The believer who has the strength to persevere in trials, afflictions, adversity, and misfortune- sometimes even deprivation and destitution- will pray more than occasionally,” (Mac commentary p. 192). The Lord will often put these trials in our lives to strengthen and purify us.

Consistent communion with our Lord will give us the strength and fortitude and patience to come through any trial successfully. But we are to rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Proskartereo, devoted, means to be strong toward something, as Mac relates, and it also carries the ideas of being steadfast and unwavering. We are to be committed to prayer, which is our intimate communion with the Almighty.

The early Christians are a pattern to follow here. Both before and after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the early church fully devoted themselves, especially the leaders, to prayer, and to the ministry of the word, (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4).

“We are to persevere in prayer. Is it not the case that there are times in life when we let day add itself to day and week to week, and we never speak to God? When a man ceases to pray, he despoils himself of the strength of Almighty God. No man should be surprised when life collapses if he insists on living it alone,” (William Barclay, Romans Commentary).

“When we find ourselves going to God less frequently in prayer, it means that we are becoming too self-sufficient and independent. We have lost sight of the fact that we will fail miserably without Him!” (Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible).

Mac notes that prayer should be as much a natural part of our spiritual life as breathing is our physical life. “The victorious Christian prays with the spirit and…with the mind (1 Cor. 14:15). As he prays with his own spirit, he also prays in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20; cf. Eph. 6:18). He prays without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Paul therefore admonishes Timothy to have the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands (1 Tim. 2:8),” (Mac p. 192-193).

Contribute to the needs of the saints…

“take an interest in, share-give or contribute a share (Arndt p. 438). “This is more than talk of “giving”; it involves feeling their need..and doing something about it.” (McGuiggan p. 369) Paul was already in the process of such a “contributing” when this letter was written. (Romans 15:25-28) (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17).

This is a quality that our Lord so beautifully exhibited in His own life and ministry. As He said of Himself, He came to serve, not to be served. Paul showed us this in his life also. One doesn’t need to read far in his letters to realize that his whole existence was about glorifying God and serving people.

“The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward, and meeting the needs of fellow believers is more important than meeting our own,” (Mac p. 193).

Contributing has its root meaning from the Greek word, koinoneo, often translated “fellowship,” which means to share in or share with. The essence of community is to share in common goals, interests, dreams, aspirations.

Mac states further, “The basic meaning is that of commonality or partnership, which involves mutual sharing…believers after Pentecost were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer…And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common [koina] (Acts 2:42, 44; cf. 4:32. Peter used that term in speaking of our sharing [koinoneo] in the sufferings of Christ, (1 Peter 4:13),” (Mac p. 193).

The emphasis here is on the “giving” side of sharing. Society, especially in this “me” generation of selfies and lavish self-indulgence, would tell us to constantly claim our rights of ownership on virtually everything. But the gospel tells believers that we really own nothing- it is all God’s. We are but servants, stewards, taking what the Master has given us and using it responsibly in His service and under His direction. And one of our most important stewardship responsibilities is to faithfully contribute to the needs of the saints.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made clear that we have a responsibility, to the best of our ability, to help anyone in need whom we encounter. But we have a still greater responsibility to serve  fellow Christians. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith (Gal. 6:10),” (Mac p. 193).

Just yesterday my wife and I were at the doctor’s office. It was pouring rain outside. My wife told me there was a lady trying to start her car, but she needed help. She had volunteered me to go outside and help the woman, which I gladly did. We jump started her car with cables, but it didn’t start right away. We both got soaked and she thanked me profusely when her car finally started. I came away wet but with a smile that I could help someone out. That’s the way we should be as Christians, always ready to help in things big or small.

Practice hospitality…

“given to hospitality”-“Practicing” (NASV). “The idea is that Christ”s disciple is not to passively wait till hospitality is unavoidable, but he is to be aggressively hospitable, seeking the opportunities.” (McGarvey p. 498) (Hebrews 13:2; Matthew 25:35; Luke 14:12-13). “Make a practice of hospitality” (Mof).

“But hospitality is more than bringing someone home and feeding them. It springs from a heart which cares for others. One which renounces reclusive ways and opens itself toward people. There are few things more painful than lost opportunities. So many are lonely and need to be reached for.” (McGuiggan p. 370).

“This is more than ‘entertaining, open house or paying someone back’. Literally, the word means ‘a love of strangers’. We are to open up our homes to more than just our family or relatives.” (Mark Dunagan Commentary on Romans)

“The Christian is to be given to hospitality. Over and over again the New Testament insists on this duty of the open door (Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9). Tyndale used a magnificent word when he translated it that the Christian should have a harborous disposition. A home can never be happy when it is selfish. Christianity is the religion of the open hand, the open heart, and the open door,” (William Barclay).

Taking again from Mac’s writing, the literal meaning is “pursuing the love of strangers.” In other words, we are not to simply wait for circumstances to place someone in need of hospitality in our laps, but we are to go out and find the need, to look for opportunities to help. Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.’ (Luke 14:23) Love must be active, moving, ever searching for the lost sheep to invite them into the Father’s house. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it, (Hebrews 13:2).

Paul here is speaking to all believers while pointing out that leaders are to set an example. Elders are to be hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, (Titus 1:8). This is to be done without hypocrisy, Mac continues.

Jesus gave this counsel: When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:12-14).

In ancient times there were not many inns or other places to stay for people who were travelling. And the few that did exist could be dangerous places. Many itinerant preachers and other Christians would need a safe place to stay as they travelled. So the need was great for loving believers to open their hearts and homes to these sojourners.

John commended Gaius for doing just this. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they bear witness of your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers with the truth (3 John 5-8).

Our attitude should be one of happy service, not heavy drudgery when ministering to the saints, for God is much pleased with this. Peter said, …be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Peter 4:9). Onesiphorus is a beautiful example of this when he ministered to Paul in prison: He often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me, and found me- the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day- and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus (2 Tim. 1:16-18).

Until next time, love to you all in Christ’s name; enjoy the memory of His Passion and Resurrection. Have a blessed Easter…mike.

 

 

 

 

Supernatural Living; Duty to the Family of God pt. 2; Rom. 12:10-13

Be devoted to one another…fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation…(12:12).

“Whereas diligence pertains mainly to action, being fervent in spirit pertains to attitude.” (Mac p. 190)

It’s not so much the idea of boiling over, out of control, but rather, like a well-maintained steam engine- slow, steady, powerful, persistent- chugging reliably to the desired end. It is “having sufficient heat to produce the energy necessary to get the work done,” (Mac).

“We must keep our spirit at boiling point. The one man whom the Risen Christ could not stand was the man who was neither hot nor cold (Revelation 3:15-16). Today people are apt to look askance upon enthusiasm: the modern battle-cry is ‘I couldn’t care less.’ But the Christian is a man desperately in earnest; he is aflame for Christ,” (William Barclay, Romans Commentary).

Indifference and lack of enthusiasm are responsible, it seems, for more unfinished worthy goals and tasks than anything else. “I just don’t care,” is a common mantra for much of today’s societal ills. “Fervency requires resolve and persistence, not mere good intention. Let us not lose heart in doing good, Paul admonishes, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary, (Gal. 6:9),” (Mac p. 190-191).

“Do nothing at any time but what is to the glory of God, and do everything as unto him; and in everything let your hearts be engaged. Be always in earnest, and let your heart ever accompany your hand,” (Barnes Notes on Romans).

No one in the early church more personified being fervent in spirit than the Apostle Paul. He said this of himself: Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim, I box in such a way, as not beating the air, (1 Cor. 9:26). Paul didn’t waste a second of his reborn life making excuses or procrastinating. God gave him a commission and Paul fulfilled it to the max! So can we!

Have solid, godly goals, and persist with zeal in meeting them. That will change both you and others for great good!

Serve the Lord…

This also has to do with perspective and priority. “Everything we do should, first of all, be consistent with God’s Word and, second, be truly in His service and for His glory. Strict devotion to the Lord would eliminate a great deal of fruitless church activity,” (Mac p. 191)

“Paul was saying to his people, ‘Seize your opportunities as they come.’ Life presents us with all kinds of opportunities–the opportunity to learn something new or to cut out something wrong; the opportunity to speak a word of encouragement or of warning; the opportunity to help or to comfort. One of the tragedies of life is that we so often fail to grasp these opportunities when they come. ‘There are three things which come not back–the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity,'” (Barclay).

Barnes states: “Ever considering that his eye is upon you, and that you are accountable to him for all that you do, and that you should do everything so as to please him. In order to do this there must be simplicity in the Intention, and purity in the Affections.”

We all have a foundational mission; Paul never lost sight of his. It was to serve God in [his] spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, (Rom. 1:9). We must not lose sight of ours either. We, the church, are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (Matt. 28:19).

“In Romans 12, Paul uses three different words to describe Christian service. In verse 1 he uses latreia, which is translated, ‘service of worship,’ and emphasizes reverential awe. The second word is diakonia, which pertains to practical service. In verse 11 he uses douleuo, which refers to the service of a bond-slave, whose very reason for existence is to do his master’s will,” (Mac commentary p. 191).

Serving the Lord with everything he had was Paul’s passion. But even one as gifted as Paul knew that the source of the power to serve God came from God as well. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me, (Col. 1:29).

Rejoice in hope…

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Here is the essence of hope realized. Jesus was able to endure all the shame, all the pain and torture, and even death itself, because His hope rested in His Father.

“Without hope we could never survive,” (Mac). For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; (Rom. 8:24). Hope then also needs faith to anchor it in the object hoped for. We Christians have faith that God will one day fulfill all our hopes, which rest in Him and His promises to us.

We are to rejoice in hope, keeping steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, [knowing] our toil is not in vain, (1 Cor. 15:58). Then, in hope rejoicing, we can look forward to our Lord one day saying to us, Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord, (Matt. 25:21).

Also, in the future there is laid up for [us] the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to [us] on that day; and…to all who have loved His appearing, (2 Tim. 4:8).

Persevere in Tribulation…

The fact that we can rejoice in hope actually fuels our ability to persevere, even in tribulation and suffering. We know that there is an end of pain and that our God will heal every wound, Faith and hope in God’s love for us and our ultimate deliverance produces perseverance, divine patience in the midst of suffering.

This is why Paul, who suffered so much for Christ, could confidently proclaim, we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us, (Rom. 5:2-5).

Until next time, may we appreciate how God lavishes His love on us through Christ Jesus our Lord!…mike.

 

Supernatural Living: Duty to the Family of God; Rom.12:10-13

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 

This second phase of supernatural living makes a wider sweep, being comprised of our relationship to Christ’s church wherever we may encounter it. Paul lists ten “family” obligations beginning with this:

Be devoted in brotherly love (12:10a).

Be devoted and brotherly love, as John MacArthur points out, are synonymous ideas. “Devoted translates philostorgos, a compound of philos (friend, friendly, friendship love) and storge, (natural family love, which is not based on personal attraction or desirability). Brotherly love translates philidelphia, another compound- phileo (to have tender affection) and adelphos (brother). We are to have a loving filial affection for one another in the family of God,” (Mac commentary p. 188).

William Barclay reads the passage as, We must be “affectionate (a familial rendering) toward one another…because we are members of one family…[and] because we have the one [common] Father, God,” (William Barclay commentary on Romans).

Barnes Notes tells us this: “The word used here occurs no where else in the New Testament. It properly denotes tender affection, such as what subsists between parents and children; and it means that Christians should have similar feelings toward each other, as belonging to the same family, and as united in the same principles and interests. The Syriac renders this, “Love your brethren, and love one another;” compare 1 Peter 2:17.”

Being devoted to one another in brotherly love and affection is one of the prime ways the world will know that we belong to Christ, and it will also witness the indisputable power of transformed lives! By this, Jesus said, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another, (John 13:35). This love, as Mac relates, is not optional; it is required of all saints: …whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him, (1 John 5:1). Jesus asked the Pharisees how they could claim to love the Father when they hated the Son?

John carries the truth further when he states this: If someone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen, (1 John 4:20). Regarding generosity, John writes, But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, (1 John 3:10, 17-19).

Prefer one another in honor (12:10b)

This should naturally follow as a direct result of being devoted with brotherly love. The virtue of humility, spoken of earlier in 12:3 would lead us to give preference to others, being willing to sacrifice our own wants and needs to promote those of others. This is how Jesus lived His life, who came not to be served, but to serve, (Matt. 20:28).

Proegeomai (give preference) carries the basic idea of going before or leading by example. Again, Jesus is our light post here. After He had washed the disciples’ feet during the Last Supper, an act of lowly servitude, He said this to them: Do you understand what I have done for you? …Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you, (John 13:12-15).

“To honor is not to flatter, to give hypocritical praise in hope of having the compliment returned or of gaining favor with the one honored. Again, the very opposite is in mind. To honor is to show genuine appreciation and admiration for one another in the family of God,” (Mac commentary on Romans, p. 189).

“More than half the trouble that arises in Churches concerns rights and privileges and prestige. Someone has not been given his or her place; someone has been neglected or un-thanked. The mark of the truly Christian man has always been humility,” (William Barclay Rom. Comm).

Do not lag in diligence (12:11a).

This could be rendered, as Mac has it, “not lazy in zeal and intensity.” There is nothing easier to do than to be lazy in the work of the Lord. After all, no one’s here making us do anything, and who’s going to notice? And Jesus is so forgiving, right? Of course these are sorry excuses, and there are thousands of them.

But all slackers should remember what Jesus said: I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other. So because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of My mouth! (Rev. 3:16)

“Whatever is worth doing in the Lord’s service,” states Mac, “is worth doing with enthusiasm and care. Jesus told His disciples that He must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work, (John 9:4). Paul advised the Galatian churches, So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith, (Gal. 6:10; cf. 2 Thess. 3:13).

“We must not be sluggish in zeal,” admonishes William Barclay. “There is a certain intensity in the Christian life; there is no room for lethargy in it. The Christian cannot take things in an easy-going way, for the world is always a battleground between good and evil, the time is short, and life is a preparation for eternity. The Christian may burn out, but he must not rust out,” (Barclay commentary on Romans).  

“Not slothful – The word rendered “slothful” refers to those who are slow, idle, destitute of promptness of mind and activity; compare Matthew 25:16.” (from Barnes Notes on the Bible)

“There is no room for sloth and indolence in the Lord’s work. Whatever your hands find to do, Solomon counseled, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [the grave], (Eccles. 9:10). Slothfulness in Christian living not only prevents good from being done but allows evil to prosper,” (Mac p. 190). “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” (Edmund Burke).

Hebrews 6:10-12 provides a beautiful promise to those who serve the Lord with diligence and zeal: God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Until next time, God bless all in the Beloved…mike.

 

 

Supernatural Living, part three; Romans 12:9

Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

The use of the term agape love was very rare in the cultures of Paul’s day. This type of love- giving, generous, self-sacrificing- was even viewed by many if not most as a sign of weakness. But in the New Testament, as MacArthur comments, it was regarded as the supreme virtue.

God Himself is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him, (1 John 4:16). Evil is the exact opposite of this supreme love, and, therefore, the opposite of and against the Lord God. Thus, believers are to abhor what is evil.

 Any Christian who genuinely loves God and people will also hate evil. Thus, the Psalmist exhorts, Hate evil, you who love the Lord, (Psalm 97:10). In Psalm 101:4, David intends that a perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. Evil is that which aligns itself against the Almighty. It desires its own selfish will rather than God’s, and is fully intent on doing all that is unrighteous and ungodly.

Even Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, struggled with sin. We covered these struggles in Romans chapter 7. Sense his mighty inner battle here: I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good, (Rom. 7:14-15, 19-21).

Jude warns us that we can get sucked into the sins of others if we are not extremely careful: But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh, (Jude 20-21, 23).

It has been said that the only security against sin is to be shocked by it. It is very hard to be shocked by anything in our generation. Our senses are constantly bombarded “through TV, newspapers, magazines, movies, and books, not to mention the internet and social media, with immoralities,” (Mac), perversions, violence, hatred, and on and on.

The danger is in rationalizing that all this evil somehow doesn’t affect us, that because we belong to Jesus we are immune. It just isn’t true! To think so and to be careless with our purity is to court evil. Sin lieth at the door, (Genesis 4:7).

MacArthur quotes Alexander Pope:

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

Paul warned the Corinthian church, who by all standards resided in “sin city,” to flee sexual immorality and idolatry, which were so rampant there. Evil is never to be accepted, condoned, reasoned with. Don’t try to convert it or change it. Flee from it into the protective arms of God as righteous Lot fled from the destruction of Sodom. His wife, who, for an instant, looked back, was turned into a pillar of salt, (Genesis 19:26).

Paul counsels his son in the faith, Timothy, to Flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart, (2 Tim. 2:22).

MacArthur teaches, “It is impossible to pursue righteousness while we tolerate evil,” (Commentary p. 187). Mac tells the story of how to boil a frog. Put the frog in a pan of cool water. Turn the flame on low. As the heat slowly rises in the water, the frog adjusts, tolerating the changing norm. By the time the water reaches boiling the frog realizes too late that he is in big trouble. That slow burn will ultimately destroy! Tolerating evil works the same way!

“Greater exposure to evil should invoke greater resistance to it, no matter how often or how intensely we are confronted by it. We must examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good [and] abstain from every form of evil, (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Because we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), we must, like Him, love righteousness and hate sin (Heb. 1:9). We are to love what He loves and hate what He hates,” (Mac p. 187).

We believers are to also cling to what is good. This is the third personal duty. The verb, kallao, Mac notes, means to cling. It is from the root, kolla, which means glue. It could be used of any bond-spiritual, emotional, physical- and, in this context tells us that we are to bind ourselves like glue (a permanent bond) to what is good (agathos), that which is inherently right and worthy.

Have you ever watched a young child walking hand and hand with his parent? The child may wriggle and squirm, using his whole body in motion to try to dislodge his hand from his guardian’s grasp, to gain his “freedom.” We must not be so. The Lord has us firmly in His loving grip. Don’t squirm to get away; it is the safest place we could possibly be.

So how would we define what is good? …whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on [or cling to] these things, (Phil. 4:8).

All of this takes discernment, godly judgment based on careful evaluation of everything so that we know what to reject and what to cling to, (Mac). As we reject the world and its values our minds become transformed by being renewed, so that we may cling to that which is good and acceptable and perfect, (Rom. 12:1-2).

“As we separate ourselves from the things of the world and saturate ourselves with the Word of God, the things that are good will more and more replace the things that are evil” (Mac p. 188).

Until next time, by God’s profound grace, may the Lord bless you as you live out your faith by holding fast to His holy hand…mike.

 

What Does It Mean to Be “Saved”?

This short devotion by Charles Stanley on salvation was too good to not pass along. Please read Psalm 25 so that what he says below will make sense to you. In this psalm David pours his heart out to God, as a child to his loving Father. Only one truly connected to God, having a real relationship with Him, could write this way.

Dr. Stanley asks: “How does a person become acceptable to God? The path to redemption begins not with the decision to live a better life or to stop doing something wrong, but with the realization that we cannot correct our sinful nature.

“To find favor with the Lord, we must grasp that it is impossible to make ourselves righteous. Instead, we need to depend on the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. When we trust in Christ as our Savior, God the Father applies the benefit of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice to our sin debt, thereby making us saved- that is, acceptable in His eyes.

“Your good works and righteous acts are of absolutely no value in the mind of God. Compared to others’ actions, your generosity and good works might seem like enough to bring favor with the Lord, but Scripture tells us salvation is not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:9). When you stand before God, the only way you can be forgiven of your sins is through Christ and His sacrificial, substitutionary, atoning death at Calvary. The Savior came to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

“Jesus crucifixion was a public demonstration of God’s hatred for sin and immense love for mankind. He who was blameless bore the penalty for all in order that wicked, corrupt people could be made righteous.

“No matter what you have done, you can be cleansed of the stain left by sin. Confess any known transgressions to the Lord and turn from them. Then Jesus will forgive you and write your name in the Lamb’s book of life (1 John 1:9; Rev. 21:27). By trusting in Him, you are assured of eternity in His presence.” From Charles Stanley’s In Touch Daily Readings, March 19th.

Jesus said, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me, (John 12:32).

At the very end of Scripture there is this poignant invitation: And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:17, 20-21).

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.