Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Righteousness

Practicing Righteousness

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
– 1 John 2:29 (NASB)

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
– 1 John 3:7 (NASB)

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
– 1 John 3:10 (NASB)

I do believe in the doctrine of imputation.  I have read the works of some who disagree.  They hold that the Bible never says anywhere that we are “imputed with Christ’s righteousness.”  They hold that the Bible declares us to be righteous by virtue of being in Christ by faith but they hold that the Bible never says that the righteousness of Christ is ever imputed to us.  Even the passages that are appealed to for the doctrine of imputation such as 2 Corinthians 5:21 or Philippians 3:9 do not say that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.

However, to me this is simply semantics.  While the Bible never uses the phrase “imputed with Christ’s righteousness,” the doctrine is based on not just the New Testament but the Old Testament as well.  For example, in the famous story of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt in Exodus 12, the blood of the Passover lamb would serve as a substitute for God’s judgment against the Egyptians.  The Israelites were protected by the blood.  The blood served as a sin offering substitute by which the Israelites’ sins were imputed to the lamb and the lamb bore them on their behalf.  This looked forward to God’s perfect sacrifice of His own Lamb (John 1:29).  The Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world and would bear the sins of the people of God.  God’s Lamb would be our perfect sacrifice to take away our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:22-24).  Jesus’ blood now cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) and His blood is our defense before a holy God.

Hebrews 9:11-22 reads:

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Jesus then is our substitute before God.  He bore our sins on the cross.  His blood alone is able to cleanse us from sin (Romans 5:9).  Jesus’ blood not only cleanses us from all sin but He is our mediator before God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Jesus Christ is our salvation.  He is our everything before God.  We have nothing apart from Him (John 15:5).  He is our salvation, our redemption, our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).  Our boasting must be in Him alone (1 Corinthians 1:31)!  In Jesus we have “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

Just as the Old Testament sacrifices were imputed with the sins of the Israelites, so the New Testament saint had their sins imputed upon Christ our Lord and He bore our sins.  Thus all He accomplished for our forgiveness is now imputed toward us.

This, however, should not ignore the passages that speak of practicing righteousness.  To merely claim Christ’s righteousness apart from pursuing holiness is not biblical.  Full salvation looks to Christ alone for salvation but we also look to Christ alone to sanctify us.  We are holy in Christ but are also being made holy.  Hebrews 10:14 reads:

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

We look to Christ Jesus to help us not just to be forgiven of our sins but to be made holy before Him.  Jesus came to bear our sins and to give us complete victory over our sins (Matthew 1:21).  We don’t have to be slaves to sin (John 8:34-36).  Those who are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:1-4) are no longer slaves to sin but are now slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:5-23).  Through the Lord Jesus we are able to live a holy life (1 John 2:1-2).  We don’t have to live a life of defeat in sin.  We can be set free by His grace from sin and its domain (Titus 2:12-14).  Our hearts are cleansed by faith (Acts 15:9) and the Lord wants to continue that deep work of cleansing in us (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

My earnest prayer has been for the Lord to give disciples full victory that we have in Christ.  We don’t have to be slaves to sin.  We can be slaves of righteousness.  If we are not slaves of righteousness, John the Apostle says that we are not righteous at all.  The doctrine of Christ’s imputation should never be used as a basis for sinning.  If that is the heart of the person living in sin, they know nothing of the grace of God.  While I acknowledge that true saints of God can (and will) sin, this is not the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 John 2:1).  May our hearts be to live a life of holiness, pleasing to the Lord (Colossians 1:9-10).

How Much Sin Can I Get Away With?

We have such a low view of God’s holiness and His glory that we have given in to the spirit of this world and this age and have adopted a view that teaches us that we want to get away with as much sin as we can get away with and still claim to be disciples of Christ.  We claim we want the world to like us and we want to be “relevant” to them so we seek to be like them, to love what the world loves, to desire what the world desires, to watch and do what the world does.  We want our motto to be, “Hey, I may be a Christian but I am still just like you!”

Even a cursory reading of the New Testament gives us a different picture.  We are to be a holy people (1 Peter 2:9-11).  We are to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  We are to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).  We are to blameless in this world (Philippians 2:14-15; 3:14-16).  We are to not love this world not the things in the world (1 John 2:15-17).  We are to rather set our affections on things above and not the things here on the earth (Colossians 3:1-4).  Jesus didn’t promise that the world would love us if we are His disciples but He promised that the world would hate us (John 15:18-25).  The promise Jesus did give us is that in the world we would have trouble but He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

I have been praying that God would help me to be “that Christian” that others see and mock.  I want to be that Christian that others see and they despise me for my pursuit of holiness.  I am not meaning that I want people to despise me because of my attitude (some “holier than thou” approach) but because I am different, I am odd in comparison to the world.  I love Christ and I adore Him with all that is in me and I want others to see that and know that.  I want to be that Christian that speaks of Jesus in all things (Colossians 4:2-6).  I want to be that Christian that is passionate for prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  I want to be that Christian that is other world focused.  I want my mind to be filled with the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2).  I want my thoughts to be pure and pleasing to the Lord (Philippians 4:8).  I want my language to be full of God’s grace and mercy (Ephesians 4:29-30).  I want to be a man after God’s own heart.  I am so sick of this world, the things of the world.  I want to be desperate for the presence of God in my life on a daily basis.

I don’t want to be like those Christians that seek to love the things of the world in order to be like the world.  I know of people who claim Christ and they will sit on their computers for hours looking at Facebook, Pinterest, etc. but they don’t pray, don’t have a passion for Christ, don’t truly worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), don’t share their faith ever.  They claim to be justified through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and to be His sheep (John 10:27-29) but they love this world more than they love Christ.  They will sit and fill their eyes with worldly programs and listen to worldly music but they claim all the while that they are bound for heaven despite not even loving the One who has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3).  Oh how I long for the Lord to sanctify them!

It is my earnest prayer for a revival of holiness in our day.  I rejoice that the doctrine of salvation is being preached but oh for the people of God to preach and live holy lives.  I pray that we would be different (as God has called us to be) from this world.  Who cares if we have right standing with men if we have no standing with God!  This sinful world should not pull us down since we are dead to it (Romans 6:11-14).  People at our jobs should see the grace of God at work in us (Titus 2:12-14).  The world should see the power of God at work in us who believe, making us more like our Savior and our Lord (Ephesians 5:1-2).  Oh for the people of God to truly be the people of God!

Pray oh saints for holiness!  Pray for the worldly-minded people to be convicted of sin and to forsake this world (John 16:8-11).  Pray for the Lord to be exalted among His saints through holiness.  Rejoice in our salvation but pray also for our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Psalm 11 In Contrast to Psalm 10

Psalm 10:1-13 begins with the psalmist lamenting what I have lamented before myself, why do the wicked prosper while in their sins?  Why is it that the faithful slaves of Christ have to suffer while the sinners tend to live lives of carefree full of worldly joy?  Saints of God all over the world suffer for the name and cause of Christ while the wicked sit in places of honor and our culture glorifies the wicked and forsakes the righteous.  Our political leaders in the United States are corrupt while the righteous leaders are hard to find and often are hated by the media.

Why is this so?  I understand that people love the darkness instead of the light (John 3:19).  People do not love God.  People do not seek God.  People, in fact, hate God (Romans 3:10-18).  They have exchanged the truth of God for lies (Romans 1:25).  People do this wickedness for one reason:  because they love their sins (Romans 1:18).  Apart from the grace of God, none could be saved.  We would not want to be saved.  We would want to try to save ourselves, to earn our own righteousness (which is tainted by our selfishness).  We despise the Word of God.  We despise God’s sovereignty.  We despise His salvation.  We despise His Son.

Psalm 10:14-18 promises us that God does know.  God does notice.  He is not blind to the wicked.  He sees their sins.  It is by His mercy that the wicked are not dead now.  God, in His mercy, lets the wicked go forth in their sins.  God lets the wicked eat, sleep, breath His air, and enjoy His earth.  A time of judgment is coming but for now, God is merciful and is waiting for them to repent of their sins (2 Peter 3:9).

Psalm 11 is a contrast to Psalm 10.  Psalm 11 exalts the fact that God will judge.  The righteous need to trust in the LORD for He will judge in His perfect timing.  We can easily become defeated as we look around at the sin in our world, the fact that people love darkness instead of light.  We can lament that people are not seeking God.  We can lament that Romans 1:32 is true of our world.  We live in a wicked, evil, God-hating age.

But God will judge.  His judgment will come (Psalm 11:6).  God sees what is taking place in our wicked age (Psalm 11:4).  God surely hates the wicked (Psalm 11:5) but He loves the righteous (Psalm 11:7).  We who love Jesus Christ, who fear Him (Proverbs 16:6), we are loved by God!  We who love Jesus know that we are not righteous in our own good works (Ephesians 2:8-9) but we know that we righteous because of Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:21).  We are righteous in Him (Romans 10:4) and we are living righteously because of Him (Titus 2:11-12; 1 John 3:7).  We understand that we love God because He has loved us first (1 John 4:10).

Now our pursuit, the righteous man’s pursuit, is to know Christ and to love Him more.  We prove this by obeying His commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-3).  Those who claim to love God but love their sins prove they are not His children (1 John 3:6-10).  Those who claim to love God prove their love by obedience to His Lordship (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49; 1 John 2:3-6).  We understand that our salvation, our righteousness is based on the Lord Jesus and our holiness comes from Him (Romans 6:11-14).  Because of what He has done for us, we strive for holiness (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

Psalm 11 gives the righteous the promise of judgment of the wicked to come.  We can trust that God will be just in His justice and He is merciful toward the wicked to bring them to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Jesus came to save the sinful (Luke 19:10) and we must admit that we too were once sinful as the wicked around us (Titus 3:1-7).  Thankfully the Lord was merciful toward us and He brought us to salvation by His grace.  Bless His name forever!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/22/2013 at 4:47 PM

Our Doctrine Must Destroy Sin

Our doctrine must not be a doctrine that allows for people to continue without repentance in a life of sin.  This is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8).  When we live in sin, we are showing that we are slaves to sin (John 8:34).  By being slaves of sin, we show that we are in turn children of the devil (John 8:44; Ephesians 2:3).  We are then to avoid sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  We are to not walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do (Ephesians 4:17-20).  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:34 that the Corinthians were not to go on sinning.  When we do sin, we have the assurance of 1 John 1:9, that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us because of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who died for our sins (Galatians 1:4).

Any doctrine then that takes the sacrifice of Christ who came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and teaches that we can continue in sin is not biblical (Hebrews 10:19-39).  Jude 4 reminds that we are not to teach God’s grace for continued sinning:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yet God’s true grace enables us to overcome sin as we read in Titus 2:11-12:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

Notice what the grace of God does for the disciple: trains.  God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and not indulge in it further the grace of God helps us live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.  The grace of God does not allow for continued sinning (Romans 6:1-4).

2 Corinthians 7:1 is a wonderful promise given to disciples:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The grace of God enables the disciple to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and to avoid sin.  The grace of God trains us and it doesn’t give us a free license to live in sin.  We are now slaves of Christ and not slaves of sin (Romans 6:20-23).  We have been bought with a price and are to glorify God with our bodies which is His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

There is a subtle way in which the enemy takes the truth of God’s grace given in Christ for sinners and he turns it so that people start to believe that since Jesus died for our sins, we can indulge in sin.  A person is taught that they can live in sin because they are “once saved, always saved” despite no repentance over sins.  Another person is taught that since they died with Christ and are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4), God does not see their sins anymore so even when they sin, God only sees the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by a one time act of faith.  They ignore 1 John 3:7:

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

According to 1 John 3:7, a person who is practicing righteousness is righteous.  There is nothing mentioned here about imputation but about practical living.  A person can claim all day that they are imputed with Christ’s righteousness but 1 John 3:7 tells us that if we are truly righteous through Christ, we will live righteously.  Those who do not live a righteous life by the grace of God will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:7-8).  We are to repent of our sins and turn to Christ alone to help us overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Christ shed His blood for our sins and He delivers us from the power, penalty, and pleasure of sin.

Do you hate sin?  I do.  I despise sin.  I am not perfect but I long to be like Jesus in every way (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 2:6).  I praise God for the sacrifice of Christ for my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7).  I praise God that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sins (Hebrews 10:14).  1 John 1:7 is a wonderful passage of Scripture that speaks of the cure for dirty feet:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

This passage is all in the continued present tense of the Greek.  In other words, as we walk in the light (present tense), the blood of Jesus cleanses (present active tense) us from all sin.  The cure for our sins is not found in the laws of men.  It is not found in morality.  The cure for overcoming sin and its power is the precious blood of Jesus as we walk in the light (Galatians 5:16-17).  We have a faithful high priest who was tempted as we are but without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Thus through Christ we are able to approach the throne of God and receive help in our time of trouble (Hebrews 4:16).

Praise God for our merciful and faithful high priest who lives to pray for us (Hebrews 7:25)!  He is able to deliver us and help us to be holy by His gospel that sets us free and empowers us to be holy as He is holy.

Striving for Holiness While Falling Short

We tend to not embrace the center of biblical tension.  We tend to go to extremes on various issues.  This is especially true of holiness.  On the one side are those who either teach the antinomian view that says that we can live in sin and it not affect us to the other side where we teach that a believer can obtain sinless perfection in this life.  We fail to find the center of biblical tension.

The truth of the gospel opens our eyes to our sins.  1 Timothy 1:8-11 is clear that the law of God exposes our sins and shows us that we are guilty before God (Romans 7:7).  The law, however, does not save.  The law merely shows us our guilt before a holy and just God whose law we have violated (1 John 3:4).  As David expressed in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”  Sin is against God and it is His laws that we have broken (James 2:10).  Paul tells us in Galatians 2:21 that if the law could produce the absolute righteousness that God requires, Christ died needlessly.  However, the gospel is the truth that Christ died for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and it is through faith in Jesus that our sins are forgiven and washed away (Ephesians 1:7) so that we are declared righteous before God through faith in Christ (Romans 3:22-27; 10:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:16; 3:14; 1 Peter 3:18).

The gospel consistently reminds us of God’s grace toward us sinners (Romans 5:8-9).  The gospel reminds me that I can’t save myself, cannot earn God’s salvation, am not saved by my good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7) and the gospel reminds me that apart from Christ, I have no hope (John 15:1-11; 1 Peter 1:18-19).  The gospel reminds me that my standing before God is based on Christ alone and not my works nor am I kept in the faith by my works but by faith in Christ alone (2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:5).  The gospel is faithful to show me that my salvation is all of God’s grace (Acts 15:11) and not my works.

The gospel then is my focus for holiness.  Because of my salvation in Christ and because I have the Holy Spirit abiding within, I can live a life of holiness.  Holiness is not obtained by law.  Holiness is not obtained by human efforts.  Holiness comes from the gospel being applied to my life.  As I walk with Christ and abide in Him by faith, the Spirit of God helps me to be holy and He helps me to apply the gospel to all of my life.  God does not want me to be holy only when it come to being around other disciples but He wants me to be holy in all my conduct (1 Peter 1:15-16).  This cannot be produced by my power.  It is not in me to be holy (Romans 3:10-18; cf. Proverbs 20:9).  Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are wicked and sick.  Our only hope for holiness is Jesus Christ and His saving work being applied to the entirety of my life.  It is out of the gospel that I can be holy (Colossians 3:1-4).  It is out of my understanding that just as I cannot be saved apart from Christ, so I cannot be holy apart from Christ.  Christ is my salvation and He is also my holiness (Hebrews 10:10, 14).

Now here is where we tend to go astray.  We read all that truth about the gospel and how God has made us righteous in Christ but then we tend to avoid the obligation to be holy.  We know that we are positionally holy because of Christ but we fail to see that God also calls us to be practically holy.  1 John 3:4-10 is clear that we are righteous if we practice righteousness.  This righteous living flows from the gospel.  Righteousness flows in my life from the Holy Spirit who is working to help me to be more like Jesus.  The balance of grace is that I am to strive for holiness (Hebrews 12:14) while also trusting in the gospel alone to produce holiness in my life.  This passionate pursuit of holiness never ends.  It is the cry of the disciple of Christ their entire days to be holy as He is holy (Ephesians 5:1-2).

I pray that you and I would not fall into the performance trap and think that our salvation comes through faith in Christ but our standing before God is based on our performance.  None of us would have much standing before a perfect and holy God.  Yet the other equal truth is that we are called to be holy.  Sin is not to have dominion over us because we are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14).  The gospel not only forgives us of our sins through Christ but the gospel also helps us to slay sin in our lives (Colossians 3:5).  All of our lives in Christ flows from the grace of God given to us in His Son (Titus 2:11-12 NIV).

May we be holy as Jesus is holy through the power of the gospel that is at work in our lives.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/04/2013 at 9:45 PM

The One Who Practices Righteousness Is Righteous

1 John 3:4-10 are powerful verses aimed at those who would teach that we can abide in sin and claim Christ.  These verses are not about whether those who don’t remain faithful are saved or not.  1 John 3:4-10 are simple, clear calls to holiness, to forsake sin, and to be righteous.  1 John 3:7 is clear: the one who practices righteousness is righteous.  Let us not be fooled by those who claim Christ but do not practice righteousness.  There are countless people around us who would claim heaven as their own, would claim Jesus saved them, but they are not saved from sin.  Their lives show that Christ has not mastered them but they are their own masters (2 Peter 2:10).  Their lives are marked by sin, ruled by sin, controlled by sin, and their wages from their sin will be death (Romans 6:23; James 1:12-15).  True disciples, however, are marked by the rule of Christ over their lives (Luke 6:46-49) and holiness (Romans 6:1-4; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Peter 2:11-12).  True disciples exalt the grace of God which saves us from sin (Titus 2:11-12) and avoid abusing His grace to allow for our own willful rebellion against a holy God (Jude 4).

Let us read 1 John 3:4-10 and be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/12/2013 at 9:39 AM

Kept by Grace Through Faith

This year marks my 20th year as a disciple of Jesus.  My life as a disciple has been marked by many ups and downs.  The one steady thing that I see in my life is the faithfulness of God.  God has been good to me despite me and sometimes in spite of me.  I would love to write that in my 20 years, I have never sinned or that I have been faithful all the time or that I have not had seasons of apathy but I can’t.  I can only write that in my 20 years, I know that God is faithful.  Why Jesus loves me is beyond me.  What He sees in me is beyond me.

I look back and I can see so many of my friends come and go.  Some of them today are not disciples at all.  A couple of them have embraced liberal theology.  Most of them have settled for American Christianity (that we use to detest with a passion) where they go to church, are involved with their church, but they never pray, never seek God, never truly study the Word of God, and are living a typical, normal, lukewarm life in the American Church.  I rejoice that they have not abandoned the Lord but they are not passionate about Him like they were when I use to know them.

Is all that true of me as well?  I pray it is not.  I get tired like others do.  I find that it is a struggle to pray at times.  But I burn with a zeal for Christ and His kingdom and that only comes from God.  If left to my flesh, I know that I would deny the Lord and turn away from Him.  My flesh is wicked (Romans 8:9).  My flesh would like to boast in what it has done for the Lord but it has done nothing that would truly honor Him as King (Isaiah 64:6).  My flesh is clearly seen in Romans 3:10-18.  This is why, as a disciple, it is vital that I submit to the Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit alone can help me to overcome my flesh and seek Jesus (Galatians 5:16-17).  The Holy Spirit empowers me toward godliness (Romans 8:12-13).  The Holy Spirit reminds me that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and He prays for me (Romans 8:26-27).  No wonder Paul the Apostle would rebuke the Galatians for beginning in the Spirit and then turning away to the flesh (Galatians 3:1-5)!  Without the Holy Spirit, I would not continue to be a disciple of Jesus.  I too would either settle for lukewarmness or would turn away.  I know that my flesh doesn’t want to please God and it’s one desire is to please myself.

What has kept me during these 20 years as a disciple?  It’s not me.  It’s not my power.  My flesh perhaps would like to boast that I have kept myself saved but that would be a lie.  The only answer I can give is this: Jesus has kept me saved.  Jesus saved me by grace through faith (John 6:29; Ephesians 2:8-9).  In Jesus alone have I found forgiveness of my sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 13:38-39; 22:16; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9-10).  In Jesus alone have I found saving righteousness (Romans 3:22; 4:24-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).  In Jesus alone have I found true security (Romans 8:38-39).  In Jesus alone have I found my mediator before God so that when I have sinned, He prays for me to stand strong and to help me overcome sin (1 John 2:1-2).  Jesus has kept me saved (1 Peter 1:5).

And this all goes back to the faithfulness of God.  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13 NASB).  God remains faithful even when we are not.  This verse should not be misunderstood to teach that God will not deny us if we are faithless.  We are saved by faith and kept by faith.  We must continue in our faith until the end (Matthew 24:13; Romans 11:20-22).  However, no matter what may come, God is faithful.  He never changes.  He remains steadfast and secure.  He lovingly convicts us of sin and disciplines us back toward holiness (John 16:8-11; Hebrews 12:4-11).  While we may fall into various sins at times, God remains faithful in His character and He is faithful to call us to repentance and His Spirit pleads with us to repent and return to our first love.  The Old Testament prophets of God show us this side of God perfectly.  The Israelites often forsook the Lord but He was faithful to call them, through His prophets, to repent and come back to Him.  Over and over and over again in the Prophets we hear the Lord calling His people to repentance.  He continues to do this today through His Word.  His Word continues to convict us and call us to repent and follow Jesus with all our hearts.

As I close, I am burdened this morning by those who have forsaken the Lord.  I have a friend even now who is slowly turning away from the Lord.  He once was a man of prayer, a man who loved God and His Word, a man who shared his faith.  He is slowly falling in love with the flesh and the world and is turning away from Jesus.  He finds the things of God now boring and prayer is a distant memory.  I am sure he has not shared his faith in years.  He is a shell of the man of God that he use to be.  I fear for this man (2 Peter 2:20-22).  My prayer is that he would repent.  I have been praying for the Holy Spirit to bring him under a strong conviction and restore his first love.  I have been praying Revelation 2:5 over this man.

I know the only reason I am still a disciple of Jesus is because of Jesus (John 6:37; 10:27-29).  It is not because of me.  I did have to respond to the conviction of the Spirit but praise God that the Lord was faithful to convict me and sometimes He convicted me over and over again until I repented.  I praise God that whom the Lord loves, He disciplines (Revelation 3:19).  I continue to say that I am growing more and more comfortable with the Holy Spirit exposing my sins.  I want Him to do that.  I want Him to cut them out of me and destroy sin in me.  I want to burn with a holy zeal for my God.

Do you?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/19/2012 at 7:08 AM

%d bloggers like this: