Lamps and Baskets

 June 22

“People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, so it can give light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)

lamp under a basket

We have been talking about being the Light of the world. Jesus was. Now, we are. It is our task to be the Light just as He was the Light – living as vessels of measureless grace and always being “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1Peter 3:15)

The idea is to live in such a way (with such grace, joy, integrity, and hope) that people cannot help but ask why you are as you are.

When Jesus told His disciples that they were the Light of the world, He immediately gave them a picture to help them see what that meant. “A city on a hill” is a welcoming thing. It compels people to want to escape from the peril of darkness.

But He also offered another picture as a bit of a warning. He spoke to them of lamps and lighting dark houses.

Again, this doesn’t mean much to us (until our electricity goes out – then we are forced to go “old school” with “lamps” and flames [candles!]). But in those days, when it got dark, your only opportunity to alleviate the darkness was to use an oil lamp. It was lit and placed on a stand so it could illuminate the living space.

Lamp stand

Jesus’ lesson was to point out the problem of lighting a lamp and then placing it under a basket, where it would do no good. Covered lamps offer no light to take care of darkness. There is no point in lighting a lamp if you are going to make it ineffective in its purpose!

There are a couple of applications to Jesus’ point.

First, as “lamps,” our purpose is to bring Light. Jesus seems to be indicating that it is possible to BE a lamp and NOT be useful for your purpose. Unless we shine, unless we alleviate darkness, we are not useful in God’s purpose for us.

And we must shine in a way that illuminates all in the house. We must live with attention to our intention – to love as Jesus loved and to be prepared to speak truth as the opportunities arise. Being the Light is centered in being full of grace and truth (just as Jesus was!).

lamp grace truth

Secondly, our intention must be pure. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus points out something that should be really obvious to us… our “good works” should draw people to honor (and worship) God as God. It is easy (more than we often realize) to do things to draw attention to ourselves OR to gain the approval/recognition of people around us. When we are seeking to gain the praise of those around us, we have stopped being the Light and are simply “lamps under a basket.” We may think we are shining brightly – but our “light” extends only as far as our basket-covering allows.

mt 5 16

The safeguard to pure intentions is simply found in loving with Jesus’ kind of love (which IS already within us!). His love compelled Him NOT to be served but to serve — and NOT to be recognized for the wonderful Person He was (even though He deserved to be!), but to point all attention to the Father – to discover and know His immense love.

And to live in a way that deflected all praise to the One Who truly deserves the fullness of our worship.

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Posted in Being the Light, Daily devotional, God's Heart, God's provision, Grace and Truth, Love, True Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Drawn to the Light

June 21

drawn to the Light

Like most folks, we have a porch light by our front door – for guests or friends who arrive (or leave) after dark.

However, this time of year, we have a bunch of unwanted guests (various flying insects!) that flock to our doorway – whenever that light is beaming in the darkness. It’s like they can’t help themselves… they are drawn to the light.

This is at the core of Jesus’ approach to the darkness of His day.

His method was to shine the love of God so that people would be drawn to hear the word of God. It is the word of God that liberates from the chains of sin – and that illuminates people from the bondage of darkness.

Jesus spent His time being the Light… to draw, and open, darkened hearts.

Jesus was the living, breathing representation of the character and nature of God. And when He came, He loved and served people – because He knew that hearts had to be opened for the Light to break in – and to change people’s lives.

woman-taken-in-adultery

When Jesus healed… He was opening hearts. When Jesus refused to condemn… He was opening hearts. When Jesus cast out demons… He was opening hearts.

He did what the Light does… show forth the character and nature of God, so people could be drawn to the love of God… so the truth of God could get in.

Jesus gave His disciples another picture that solidified His approach for them. He told them they were “a city on a hill” that “cannot be hidden.”

For you and me, this analogy doesn’t mean too much. But for His disciples, it brought an immediate understanding.

In those days, when you traveled from town to town, you walked.

walking in New T times

It was arduous. It was slow. It was tiring. And when you were worn out from your journey there was nothing better than to look up and see a city on the next hill (where they were built in those days). It was especially wonderful if night was quickly approaching!

The city meant rest, food, drink, safety. Everything a traveler could need.

The city on a hill was a welcome sight. It lifted the spirits of weary travelers. It quickened their steps. It invitingly drew them – to provide what they really needed.

city on a hill 2

Jesus acquainted this “city on a hill” to being the Light. After He gave the disciples a new identity (“You ARE the Light of the world”) — He immediately gave them the picture of what this meant (“a city on a hill.”)

Being the Light of the world is so much more than being morally pure, or doing all the right things, or having a great deal of religious knowledge. Being the Light is the means by which we draw people to eagerly open their hearts to God.

The Light IS like the city on a hill – to welcome weary travelers who are seeking shelter and sustenance from the dangers of darkness.

What Jesus is telling us (and what His life of ministry has shown us) is that our Christian life is meant to be spent in drawing people to the shelter and sustenance of God. Our Christian “duty” is not religious rigor, or to be a moral magistrate, or even to right all the wrong in the world – our task is to love as Jesus loved.

Jesus love

And to prepare our minds and hearts to share the truth with those who are drawn to escape the perils of darkness…

Posted in Being the Light, Daily devotional, God's love for sinners', Grace and Truth, Identity, Just Like Jesus, our identity in Christ, True Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Jesus and the Light

June 20

in Him was Life Light

Jesus’ approach to the darkness of His day is quite illuminating!

Here we have the perfect Man, the perfect Son of God coming into a world that is horribly imperfect. We would think that the task of perfection would be to point out imperfection. OR that perfection would make imperfection feel unbelievably uncomfortable (to the point of avoidance!).

Yet everywhere Jesus went, a crowd followed. People wanted to be near Him. All the imperfection felt drawn to Perfection. And it was not just because Jesus was the “popular show” of the day. Even after the “show” was over, Jesus would be welcomed into the homes of people who were definitely more often affiliated with imperfection.

It is telling that Jesus was called a “friend to sinners.” Think about that. Sinners actually desired to “hang out” with Jesus – and Jesus actually desired to “hang out” with them. They could feel that. They knew that He genuinely cared about them.

Jesus-party

And because they were comfortable in His presence, they were wide open to what He had to say. And He often told them some “hard sayings.” He would speak God’s truth. But they listened. They heard what He had to say.

He had broken through the barrier to their darkened hearts and drawn them to the Light. He could speak into their lives because He had sowed into their lives.

Jesus came with the perfect approach to humanity. John tells us His secret: “We have seen His glory… as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…” (John 1:14, see v. 17 also) Jesus was the balance of the character of God and the nature of God. He was fully committed to what was true and right, from God’s point of view. But the truth was tempered by His commitment to love and mercy.

full of grace & truth

Jesus’ model was simple. Love on people. Show them compassion and mercy. Meet their needs. Refuse to condemn (even the guilty!), and do everything possible to let them know that they are precious in God’s Sight.

In that atmosphere of abundant grace, He was able to share the truth that shattered their misconceptions – and that pointed them to what was right and good.

They welcomed Jesus’ words because they were welcomed in His presence.

They felt the fullness of His grace before He unveiled the fullness of God’s truth.

There is no better example of this than that of the woman caught in adultery…

She was wrong. She was guilty. She was “caught in the very act.” She deserved the full punishment of God’s Law. She had merited the full brunt of unrelenting truth.

woman in adultery

But Jesus’ solution was to extend God’s unmerited favor – His infinite love… And after her accusers left her, Jesus gave the lesson we ALL need to hear…

“Neither do I condemn you (Grace!)… but from now on sin no more (Truth!).”

Do you think she got the message? Do you think her life was impacted and changed? Would yours be?

Adulterous woman & Jesus

Light is both grace and truth… but truth is only welcomed in the atmosphere of grace. When people know they are truly loved and unjudged, their hearts can be opened to receive the message that can liberate them from their chains of utter darkness.

Posted in Acceptance, Being the Light, Daily devotional, God's love for sinners', Grace and Truth, True Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Being the Light; Pt. 2

light_of_the_world

June19

“You are the Light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)

Jesus told His first disciples something essential to them: “You are the Light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) He wanted them to understand that they WERE of a different substance than that of the dark world all around them.

Notice, Jesus did not tell them that they would be the Light… or that they were becoming the Light (succeeding only after years of training and faithful service) — but that they WERE already the Light.

Because Jesus said so. The very One Who first spoke the words, “Let there BE light” (over the void of creation) spoke over His disciples. Because they had committed themselves to be faithful followers of Jesus (and to everything to which He was committed) they had a special designation, a special impartation – they WERE to BE as He is.

This means that the moment any of us says “Yes!” to the call of Jesus, we have a new identity: We ARE the Light. The apostle confirms this… “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8) And we: “share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness…” (from Col. 1:12-13). Jesus brought us out of darkness and into the Light… to BE what He is to our world.

Let there be Light

Just as Jesus was the Light of His day (John 8:12)… so we are the Light to ours.

As in all things, in the New Covenant, everything begins with an understanding of what we ARE because of Jesus (and His work on our behalf). We are not becoming the Light. We ARE the Light. All (and only) because of Jesus.

But what does it mean to BE the Light?

First, we need to understand what it doesn’t mean.

We all understand that Light dispels darkness. Where Light is… darkness isn’t.

light overcomes darkness

But what we so often miss is that peoples’ darkness is “cased” inside their darkened hearts. There is a barrier over the hearts of those in darkness – that keeps the light out. Also, the more time you spend in darkness, the more comfortable it becomes (you can actually become fond of it! [see John 3:19!]). Because of this, instantaneous light is repulsive to darkness.

blinding lightIf you have ever been in a dark room and someone turns on the light, it immediately “burns” your eyes and causes you to shut them until your eyes can adjust (OR you just shut off the light and go back to your “comfort” in the darkness).

Light that is not welcome… is light that is repelled.

We understand that everything that is of God’s Nature and Character is Light (1John 1:5). Because this is true, there is no doubt that truth is part of Light. But if we use the truth to bludgeon people out of their darkness we will certainly meet stubborn resistance.

When it comes to darkened human hearts, truth is a blinding light that causes them to reject our “truth” in favor of the comfort and familiarity of their darkness (see John 3:20).

in the darkness

Christians tend to see our “witness” as setting people straight – as convincing them how wrong they are, so they can get right. We equate this to being the light.

But here’s the thing… people in darkness don’t think they are wrong. They have grown accustomed to their condition, and are often quite resistant to those who would criticize their thinking or their actions.

Jesus did not make us the Light to repel darkness – He made us the Light to invite those in darkness to seek something better (see John 3:21).

We are called to the better. Tomorrow we will look at Jesus’ approach to the darkness in His day…

Posted in Being the Light, Daily devotional, Light, Light of the world, our identity in Christ, True Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BEing the Light

light_of_the_world

June 18

“You are the Light of the world…” (Jesus to His disciples; Matthew 5:14)

As a Christian, it is getting more and more difficult to read the headlines and not be angry at what is happening in our culture. As God, and a Biblical worldview, fades from the mindset of so many, these days, we cannot but help be anxious about where it is all headed. We SEE the “writing on the wall” – and as the godless militantly push their agenda we are left with only a frustrated and helpless feeling. Our dark world seems to get darker every day – and we openly wonder how there will be any hope left for our country or our world.

As Christ-followers will really only have two choices…

1) Rail away at the darkness OR 2)…

 Be-The-Light

I don’t think that I have to tell you what Jesus would recommend. He got straight to the point, even in the early days of working with His disciples, He told them their task… and He spent His earthly days of ministry helping them to understand what that means.

Jesus came as THE Light of the world, but what is so noticeable is that He spent precious little time trying to change the darkness (in the government or the culture). He had every opportunity to effect massive worldwide changes to the political and societal structures and (it seems) it never even crossed His Mind. He HAD the power to set up His rulership on this earth and force everyone to comply with His rules – yet He never did. He emphatically reminded us: that “His Kingdom was NOT of this world.” He never tried to make it be.

NOT of this world

This tells us more than we realize. IF the Master, THE Light of the world, came into the darkness of His day and never tried to change the culture… maybe His was the wisest path. Maybe we should do more to emulate His approach. Maybe when He told His disciples that THEY were the Light of the world – He meant for them to adopt His Own approach. And maybe WE should, as well.

The temptation for most Christians is to try and set the world straight. Take an adamant stand for the truth of God and let the world know how wrong they are in their current course.

confrontation

Truth be told… this is Option One (that we mentioned earlier).

And all this gains us is the perception that Christians are just anti-everything. We’re against this. We’re opposed to that. This is wrong, and people who do wrong things will get God’s wrath in the end (and maybe deserve some now, as well!).

That perception is quickly becoming how Christians are defined in our culture.

Haters. Judgmental. Critical. Sour. Better than.

Everything Jesus was not.

The culture in the time of Jesus was no pristine state. Immorality was everywhere (often openly displayed in the streets). Religion was no better. Judaism had become the poster child for “shape up or ship out.”

pharisees1

People were hungry for something real, angry, depressed, confused – and without much hope that their tomorrows would be any better than their todays.

Sound familiar? It describes our culture as well.

Sometimes we forget that darkness is the natural state of this world. Darkened people do dark things. What is more, people in darkness just can’t help themselves. So all they have left is to try and justify their darkness. Turn wrong into what is right. Make darkness seem “enlightened.”

And the dark enemy of God is there to help them every step of the way.

eve-in-the-garden

There is no way to beat the darkness out of anyone. Darkness is immune to our rants and our public outcries.

There is only one thing that darkness succumbs to… and that is Light.

All this week, let’s talk about what that really means… and how to BE what God tells us we are…

Posted in culture, Daily devotional, discipleship, Light, Light of the world, True Christianity, Wickedness | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Psalm Reflections… Our Father God

1PS

June 17

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling… As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 68:5; 103:13)

fathersDay_HD

On this Father’s Day, it is good for us to stop and reflect on the God Who is our Father. Fatherhood has its foundation (and definition) in the One Who created us – the One Who loves us with an everlasting love.

Though the idea of God as our Father is more of a New Covenant concept, the idea is not foreign to God’s Old Covenant people.

David brings us to focus on the Heart of God as He looks to care for those who are orphaned or widowed (in 68:5). In the culture of that day, being an orphan or widow was one of the worst circumstance you could experience. It meant that there was no one to take care of you – and you were at the mercy of strangers… often just to survive.

widows and orphans

David reminds us that God has a Father’s Heart for the weak, downtrodden, lonely, and distressed – for those whose circumstances make every day a tiresome chore. He seeks to care for those whose lives are without the support system they need. God’s Heart reaches out to them. God seeks to meet their needs. He seeks to father the fatherless and defend the defenseless.

This is exactly what we saw in Jesus when He came to minister to the people of His day…

had compassion

Jesus openly displayed the Father’s Heart for all the people who were very much like the fatherless and the widows of David’s day.

It is this same Heart that reaches out to each of us in our lowest moments…

Because… God has the compassionate Heart of a Father for His children (103:13).

It is interesting that this verse is sandwiched in between two more famous verses. Verse 12 talks about how, in forgiving us, God “removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.” And verse 14 tells us that “He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” God knows our condition (12). He also knows how weak we are (14). Yet, what drives Him and motivates Him is NOT His Mind… but His Heart.

It is His Father’s Heart that causes Him to meet our sinful condition with the price of payment for our sins – and whose Heart compels Him to cast our sins away from us… in an infinite line.

Psalm-103-12

It is His Father’s Heart that knows how frail and weak we are – how prone to selfishness and failure – how we are very much NOT like Him.

Yet, knowing all this… He only longs to draw us close and love on us – as a caring and compassionate Father surely does.

Truly, the whole idea of “Father” has many applications – but David takes the time to remind us of two of the most prominent features that God longs for us to experience in our own lives.

God-Our-Father

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Time + Change = Evolution

Speed of Particles

June 16

Charles Darwin said it himself…

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”1

What he means by this, is that evolution is founded on the idea that every organism began as a single, simple, living cell – and through eons of time, and gradual changes (improvements), became all the living things that we see today.

cell to evolve

Time + Change = the evolutionary process – taught as fact in our public education structures and supported by many in every field of science.

And why not? It actually seems so logical. Why wouldn’t it be possible (even plausible) for all living things to gradually become better and better through time?

We all know that adaptability means change (i.e. natural selection) and all things adapt and change – so why would it be unimaginable for everything to evolve from the simplest of things… into vastly complex structures?

cerebros

This is what Darwin thought. This is what many, in science today, also think.

But not all.

As we mentioned, last week, biochemist Michael Behe did the research to answer the one burning question: Is it possible for everything to evolve through “numerous successive, slight modifications” – or is Darwin’s great caveat (first paragraph) much closer to the truth.

What Behe found when he looked at the amazing tiny factories (known as cells) in all living things, he made an astounding discovery. “These (biological) systems have a number of very specifically matched components that do not lend themselves to a gradualistic explanation.”2

In short, even the simplest of cells is complex beyond our comprehension – and all of the cell’s individual parts had to be there, and working together, from the very beginning.

cell 2

Evolutionists tend to see the evolutionary process like building a computer (for example). Put all the necessary pieces together meticulously, piece by piece, and soon you will have a working computer. Simple. Built gradually through time…

Yet, there’s a few problems…

First of all you need to know which pieces are necessary – and where to find them (or how to manufacture them). Then you have to know where each of the pieces must go – and how they need to work with one another to do what a computer is supposed to do.

building-gaming-computer

And that’s another thing, how do you know what a computer is supposed to do (IF you have never made one before)? You may have something in mind, but how do you make everything work to accomplish your goal? And how will you know when you have accomplished what you set out to do?

Evolution declares loud and long that every living thing came together by blind, unintelligent, chance occurrences. No purpose. No idea in mind. No end in mind either. Just time and change. And every living thing turned out amazingly functional.

Didn’t it?

But did you notice how many times in our computer building scenario we were referring to intelligent processes? Knowledge, conceptualization, manufacturing, and design are essential in building functional systems (and those are all intentional and intelligent processes!).

EVERY functional machine we see today tells us this.

ct-scanner.jpg

Yet, when it comes to the most sophisticated “machine” of the living cell – evolution tells us that it must have happened by some blind, unintelligent, unguided, random means.

Does that even seem rational?

Behe observes: “Complex biological systems have yet to be explained by naturalistic means. That’s a fact. Even Darwinists admit that in their candid moments.”2

Behe is not some theologian talking theological dogma… He is a scientist who took Darwin’s challenge to heart, and did the science to produce the data. And he has demonstrated Darwin’s greatest fear… biological systems could not have been created by numerous, successive, slight modifications through ages of time.

Next week we will explore some examples of what Behe discovered…

 

1 The Origin of Species, 1859, p. 158

2 Interview with Michael Behe in The Case for a Creator, by Lee Strobel.

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You Must Consider Yourselves…

 June 15

Romans 6 11

We have been talking about the FACT that, because of the work of Jesus, we are “dead to sin and alive to God.” Properly understood, we are wholly and completely dead to sin and at the same time wholly and completely alive to God. It is a simultaneous truth… because of what Jesus has done for us. This is God’s provision (and gift!) to us in salvation.

But this is NOT automatic. As with all of God’s provisions, we must apply His work to our lives. This is our part in God’s plan – apply, by our faith, the gracious provision He has supplied (in fullness) to us.

The first step is understanding what we have. The apostle teaches us that we have died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, and we were raised with Christ – not to live the same old life with the same old patterns and the same old results.

We are new. We have new life. We have a new way of doing things. And we have completely new results.

Everything about your old life died with Christ. Everything about your old life was buried with Christ. But in His resurrection… everything came out new.

Alive With Him

Now we have to apply the new. It is not just a one-time thing – but a continual practice. We have to align our thinking with what God has done. We must make all our decisions based on all of God’s provisions.

This is why the apostle admonishes that we “must consider ourselves…”

First, “to consider” is an accounting term. It means to take stock (a reckoning) of what you have – so you will know how to proceed. When we balance our checkbooks (does anyone do this anymore?) we are taking stock of our resources to know how to make our financial decisions.

Check Register

When we take stock of what we have in Christ – we have the infinite riches of His handiwork. In salvation (as we saw a couple of weeks ago) we have the full provision of God for everything we need for life and godliness (see 2Peter 1:3). That means every possible thing that we will ever need to live, just as God wants us to live (every day), is already ours. It is God’s provision to us. We do not have to ask for it… we do not have to seek for God to give it to us. It is ours… NOW. “To consider ourselves…” means that we have “checked our inventory” and found that we are graciously and fully supplied.

Second, In this passage, “you must consider yourselves” is a command. An imperative in our lives. If we don’t do this part, God’s provision will remain ineffective in our lives. To have the work of God working in, and through, us… we must choose to apply it. This is always by our faith.

Romans 1 17

Faith is not something we work up. Faith is when we completely rest in what God has done. It is to actively become passive – to willfully willingly receive what God offers us. It is taking God at His word (or, in this case, taking Him at His work) – and living by it.

But we have to do it. We must bring our minds to the mindset that God has fully provided for us to live as He desires… “Dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Theo Epp Dead to sin quote

Posted in Completed Work of Christ, Daily devotional, Free from sin, Freedom in Christ, God's provision, renewing our minds, the new you, True Christianity | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

But Christ Lives in Me…

June 14

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

christ in me

What God is seeking for each of us is NOT just that sin would be rendered powerless over us (this is good!) – but that HE could do His amazing work through us (way better!).

Sin has always been the great barrier to God’s work… even in Christians.

If the goal for each of us is to love and please God, then it begins with the simple understanding that we are “dead to sin and alive to God.”

Until we apply this truth to our lives (by faith) we will always struggle to be what God wants us to be (and our struggles are the source of our frustration and consternation at our own failures). The solution is never to work harder to become better Christians… the solution is to live in what God’s work has accomplished for us. Faith isn’t working up righteousness… faith is living in the righteousness that God has already provided to us. It’s that simple.

This is the lesson of the apostle in his powerful declaration to the Galatians.

two great-factsHe spells it all out for us… 1) The old self (everything I used to be [both good and bad]) died with Jesus; 2) By dying, I am now able to live a new kind of life; 3) that new life is Christ actually living in me, and working through me, to do what Christ is able to do; and 4) everything depends on trusting in Jesus (applying what He has done) because of His immense love for me.

Now, most of us will nod our heads at this verse. “Cool story, Paul… sure wish it could apply to me.”

But this is the whole point. Paul is not describing something that is only available to the “specially-called” or the “super-spiritual…” He is telling all the Galatians (and us) what is available to each of us through the work of Jesus.

Paul’s experience can be our experience. Because the same Jesus that brought salvation to his soul is also the same Jesus that brings the same salvation to our souls.

Saved by Jesus

The focus is NOT Paul. The focus is Jesus. And what He has done applies to anyone who believes in Him!”

This is the wonder of the Christian faith. The only limits to our experience of God are in the limitations we place on it.

IF we do not believe that we are freed from the power and influence of sin – we have limited the work of God in us (and we will always struggle with sin).*

IF we do not believe that we have died with Christ, then we are not buried or raised with Him either.

And if we do not believe that the old self is dead and gone (because of Christ’s work) then the new life cannot fully come.

And IF the new life does not fully come… Christianity is really no different from all the other religions of this world – powerless to break us free from our own failures and limitations (except by unlimited human effort and relentless will power).

shackles

If you have struggled with sin, I have tremendous news for you… God’s mercies are new every morning. He is the God of new starts, and new beginnings.

Today, is day one. Your new launching point. Your new opportunity to truly take stock of what you have because of Jesus’ work – and to truly experience the power and glory of being resurrected to new life in Christ.

 

*This is the real meaning behind Romans 7:14-25!

Posted in Completed Work of Christ, Daily devotional, Dead to Sin, Free from sin, Freedom in Christ, God's provision, the Gift of Jesus, True Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dead Men (and Women) Don’t Sin

June 13

“Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7)

If you have ever been to a funeral (or visitation), you know that awkward moment when you have to walk up and look down into that casket to “pay your respects” to the departed.

casket

There’s a lot to think about in moments like those, but one of the most obvious things is that the person you are looking down at is incapable of doing anything. They can’t acknowledge you, or your words (if you say something), they can’t smile at you, or wink at you, or ask your forgiveness, or tell you “thanks for coming.”

Nothing. The dead are dead. Totally unable of a single action (even if they wanted to!)

It is this picture, of a dead person, that the apostle draws upon to help us see what God has done for each of us through the redemptive work of Jesus.

He has found an amazing way to make us dead… yet, still live.

In fact, one could make the case that we can’t really live for God until we embrace our own death (see Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23…).

In Paul’s mind, the thing with dead people is that they no longer struggle with sin – they are incapable of sinning… BECAUSE they are dead.

Cadaver

The serial killer in the casket can no longer kill at will… because he is dead. The chronic liar can no longer tell lies… because he is dead. The drug dealer can no longer deal drugs… because he is dead. Place any temptation before a dead person and you get ZERO response. It is simply impossible for the dead to sin… because they are dead.

Yesterday, we talked about the command to “take stock” of what God has done for us so we can know how to live. All God is asking us to do is to know what we have (what He has given us) and apply His provision to our daily lives.

Part of His provision (through Jesus’ work) is our death – so the power of sin will be totally rendered powerless. “We have died with Christ…” (Romans 6:8; see Gal. 2:20) At every moment that we apply God’s provision (for our death) to our lives – it is impossible for us to sin! For the simple fact that the dead do not sin.

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But in the moment that we choose NOT to apply God’s provision (for our death) we are fully capable of doing all the things that every sinner does. This is the source of our frustration and our “powerlessness” to avoid sinning (even as Christians). Our victory (as fully provided through Jesus) is only as good as how we apply what God has done. Christ’s work is fully completed. The work is fully effective. But we have to do our part – and apply our faith to the fullness of Christ’s completed work for us.

The goal of all this “dying” is to get us to the point where God can really live in us and through us. He doesn’t just want us dead to sin… He wants us alive to Him.

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He has made provision for both. But we must willingly choose to live in all that God has done for us.

Posted in Completed Work of Christ, Dead to Sin, Free from sin, God's provision, our identity in Christ, the new you, True Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment