Believer, you and I have been justified. Have you ever considered what that means? Justified means to be pronounced righteous and approved; to be conformed to an upright standard and to be shown as honorable. We have been found and declared innocent. We have received justice. We were not justified because we deserved it. We were justified because God gave us His grace. He chose to forgive our sin. His forgiveness is not like ours. My forgiveness removes my anger but the sin remains; God’s forgiveness not only takes away His wrath but it eradicates the sin. When He looks at us, our sin no longer exists. That is an amazing gift. It is a gift we could never deserve nor earn. It was given to us because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, God with us and we called on Him to save us.
Our justification, our salvation from the wrath of God and the wages or results of sin (which is death) has a purpose. We do not receive a gift as wonderful as life and just let it collect dust. We let God’s proclamation of our righteousness conform us to righteousness. Verses 1-5 read,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Peace with God is a relationship with Him. We are no longer at odds with Him, working against His desires for us and for the world. We are with Him, living in His will and working with Him for His will. What is His will? It is for our sanctification (being made more and more in Jesus’ image of righteousness) and purity, for all people to be saved, and for us to know Him and love Him. (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Peter 3:9, Hosea 6:6). Faith allows us to trust God and submit to Him and that changes the way we deal with life. Without faith when suffering comes our way, we fight alone to lift ourselves above it or we lament and worry and we look for solutions to end the distress. But with faith in God, we are not alone and we understand that He will change us through the suffering, we will develop the character of Christ. We rejoice for that reason and we rejoice because His love is so apparent. I know when I suffer, one thing that brings me through is faith and the hope that faith gives me. Hebrews 11:1-3 describes it this way,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
The hope of faith is not a wishy washy hope, it is an absolute certainty, a sure knowledge that God’s promises are true, that eternal life is mine, that my home is in Heaven with Jesus, and His home is here in me.
Christians use a vernacular that the world doesn’t fully understand and sometimes Christians don’t fully understand it either. We say things like born again, saved, and delivered and the lost do not know what we mean. Do we know what we are saved from? We are saved from God’s wrath, the consequences of sin which is death and eternal damnation (Revelation 14:17-20, Revelation 20:15). What are you born again to? You are born to a new identity and eternal life. Isaiah 62:1-5 describes it beautifully,
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
Eternal life is not only for the future, it is for now! We are not called Forsaken anymore; we are called Righteous, we are called My Delight is in Her! God’s delight is in us, consider that; God’s delight is in you, believer, you! You are no longer condemned to death. You have been given life, peace with God so much so that His delight is in you. Seeing you live makes God happy. Verses 6-11 read,
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Once you were God’s enemy, sure to experience His wrath but now you are alive in a relationship with God who loves you more profoundly than you can begin to fathom. It is Jesus’ sacrifice which freely and generously gave us life and reconciliation with Him. We can’t let that gift sit unused and unappreciated. Death exists in the world. It is rampant. But the gift of life is waiting for anyone willing to accept it. Verses 12-19 in The Message read,
12-14 You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
15-17 Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. (Or read it in the ESV here).
Adam’s sin brought death to the masses. Everyone was born with sin instilled in them after that and so everyone was born dead. But Jesus willingly gave up His life. He died and that brought life to anyone who will believe He is the Christ and that He died and resurrected. He took our death sentence from us by laying down His life. He took on our crimes, our sin and in doing so made us innocent as if we have never been sinners. When we chose to believe God, we were born again, but this time we were born to life and so we were born to live. What should that mean for us? Should we just sit on a swing and think happy thoughts about how good it is to be alive and how nice it will be in New Jerusalem (where we will spend eternity united with God after Judgement Day)? No! We are meant to live and by doing so let others know this wonderful gift is for them too. We are meant to live and snatch people away from the death that grips them. Verses 20-21 read,
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God is waiting. He wants to pour His grace and love out on everyone. He wants everyone to have eternal life, know Him, and be justified. Isaiah 30:18-19 says,
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
Let your life glorify God (reflect God and make Him known). Shine life to the people living in the darkness of death. Bring them to peace with Him though the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14-15 encourages us to live that way.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Leviticus Chapter 7 Verses 22-27
Because the peace offering resulted in a meal for Israel, and offerings such as the guilt offering resulted in meals for the priests, The Lord had to establish laws regarding those meals. We read yesterday that no unclean person could take part in the meal, it was a holy act. Eating the food of the offering was taking part with God in celebrating His relationship with the partakers. The word communion doesn’t really mean eating crackers and juice once a week. It means sharing unity with one another, celebrating the most intimate of relationships, a spiritual union. When we take the Lord’s Supper that is what we are doing, celebrating our spiritual oneness with God and with the body of Christ.
In the Old Covenant the Lord’s meal was one of meat and bread after a sacrifice had been made, and God had restrictions based on the sacredness of that meal. Verses 22-25 concern one of these rules.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. 24 The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. 25 For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the Lord shall be cut off from his people.”
The Lord didn’t restrict all fat, just eating the fat of the animals that were acceptable sacrifices, sheep, goats, oxen, or cattle. Although they could use the fat of those animals that were not killed by their hands for other uses, they couldn’t eat it. The fat of those animals was for The Lord’s pleasure, burning it in the offering was an aroma pleasing to Him.
Although fat in meat has been demonized as unhealthy, research shows that it is not bad for us. It is appropriate to choose lean meats if one needs to increase protein and decrease calories but other than that there is no health reason to cut saturated fat from the diet. In fact the fat in meat is good for us. It is categorized as Omega-7 fat and can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. That doesn’t mean go to town and eat all the steaks your heart desires. A healthy portion of meat is 3-4 oz about the size of the palm of your hand.
Fat adds flavor to meat. In general fat adds flavor to most foods. Fat is a necessary ingredient in many foods. When we buy a low-fat version of food, the fat taken out has been replaced with sugar or fake fats that are not good for the body. Are you asking yourself why did Donna just deviate into this strange lesson on fat? The answer is so you could understand that although we have demonized fat in today’s world it is a good and desirable component in our food (in moderation).
But The Lord restricted Israel’s fat from certain meats. Why? The meal from those meats was special, some like the peace offering meal were sacred. The fat from those meats were for Him. Denying oneself the richness that the fat offered honored The Lord and showed faith in Him to be the giver of joy, unity, provisions, and life.
God also said that no blood was to be eaten, ever. Not just the blood of sacrificial animals but all blood was off limits to His children. Blood is the life force of any animal or human. Blood gives life and carries with it the symbol of atonement and forgiveness. There is no forgiveness of sin without blood. During any sacrifice of an animal, the blood was splashed on the altar and door of the meeting place for atonement. Verses 26-27 say,
“Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. 27 Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
Later in Chapter 17 of Leviticus The Lord explains more about the prohibition of eating blood. Verses 11-12 of that chapter read,
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. 12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.”
The restriction against eating blood still stands today. Although the many rules that were meant to make following the law easier do not apply to Christians. Even the important symbols of the Old Covenant such as circumcision and kosher eating no longer pertain to us, eating blood, idolatry, and sexual immorality do. Acts 15:8-11 read,
“And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
And verses 19-20 read,
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”
From as far back as Noah before Moses and before Israel, eating blood was prohibited. We do not abstain from blood because it is part of the Law. We abstain from blood out of respect for life, out of respect for the Giver of Life, and out of respect for Jesus’ sacrifice of His life for which gave us new life.
We are already forgiven for sin. We don’t think of refraining from blood as a rule to follow, but as an act of loving The LORD and His creation. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength means that that love is manifested in tangible ways. Abstaining from blood is one of the ways we exhibit our love, and stand out from the world.
1 Peter Chapter 1 Verses 1-12
Peter wrote this letter to Christians scattered across Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, modern Turkey. He calls the believers elect exiles of the Dispersion. Just as in the days of the Old Covenant when Israel was exiled to places that were not the Promised Land, their home, today during the New Covenant believers are exiles because our Promised Land is Heaven, our home is New Jerusalem and we are exiles among the world. But we are not hopeless. We know where our home is, we know who our family and fellow pilgrims are, and we know who our Lord is. He keeps our citizenship for us. Verse 2 describes believers.
“according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
Our Father knew us and chose us from the beginning. The Spirit consecrates and purifies us. He makes it possible for us to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ who saved us by His blood. That is wonderful news. And because of that we have hope. Not some distant fantasy, but confidence we live in and with, in the everyday. Because God is with us. He loves us, sanctifies us, and saves us. That is a living hope.
Peter describes that hope beautifully in verses 3-5.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Jesus is alive! His life gives us life. Peter describes eternal life as an inheritance, the legacy or bequest we receive from our Father. Normally to leave an inheritance the father would die, but in this case God rose from the dead and it is through His life that we live and receive eternal life. We died to our previous life, to sin and eternal death and live as new creations, sons of God eternally. Romans 6:8-11 reads,
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Our salvation, our eternal life is kept safe for us by God. Peter describes it as imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. Imperishable means permanent, eternal, and enduring. It cannot be destroyed. Undefiled means pure spotless and unpolluted. It remains perfect. It can’t be corrupted. And unfading means it can’t even lose a little of its richness or vibrancy. And it is being kept in Heaven for us. Not far from us, not for one day but for us now, since we live in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is protected and will remain safe until Jesus is fully revealed in us on The Day when we are in New Jerusalem face to face with Jesus.
That awesome hope, our eternal life, which we live now and it is guarded and protected by The Lord Almighty is what gives us reason to rejoice. Life is messy, hard, and difficult. Tragedy and calamity happen. But because we have Jesus Christ our hope, we can celebrate and be glad though all of it.
Do you realize that the precious treasure of eternal life can actually become more pure, more vibrant, and stronger? It does. It does when we go through the fires of life clinging to our Hope, rejoicing in our Peace, and remaining faithful to our Lord. Can you imagine what the world sees when you go through some awful experience and rather than break and curse God, rather than grumble and whine, you praise the Lord and allow the Spirit to build you, strengthen you, and make you more like Jesus? They see Jesus revealed in you. They hear about the awesome power of God’s Spirit. They see the proof of El Shaddai. And so do you. He becomes more concrete to you. Verses 6-9 say it this way,
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Think about what an awesome gift salvation is. There is no earning it. There is no buying it. The only way to get it is by the grace of our Father, the blood of Jesus, and the power of the Spirit. It is eternal, guaranteed, and perfect. Eternal life is a wonderful legacy. It is ours now. It can only get better, stronger, and bigger. It is an inheritance that we receive not through our Father’s death but because Jesus lives and brings us out of death. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Bless the Lord! Praise Him forever. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. He is keeping it safe for us with Him, imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
Ezekiel Chapter 37
The Lord showed Ezekiel a valley bones. The valley was filled with dry bones completely clean of any flesh. Verses 3-6 read,
“And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
When God spoke to Ezekiel and said, “Can these bones live?” the obvious answer for most people would have been a resounding “No!” But Ezekiel trusted God. He knew there was a purpose for the vision, and he knew that God is God and all things are possible with God. Ezekiel saw a valley filled with skeletons but God saw more. God saw what could be and what would be. So Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God, you know.” The Lord’s response was to tell Ezekiel to prophesy, to deliver His word and will to the bones. Ezekiel obeyed even though it seemed hopeless to expect a valley of bones to receive that word. Verses 7-10 describe what happened next.
“So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”
When the Lord has a word, a will, it will be done. Even the impossible becomes possible. God gave the very dead remains life again. They were so dead, there was nothing left of them, not a single shred of flesh, just very dry bones. But the Word of God restored flesh and blood to the bones, and the Spirit gave them breath and life and they stood and became a great army.
God used Ezekiel to speak His word and command life to the bones. He uses you and me to speak His word to the dead today so that they can be restored to life. When Jesus becomes Lord of someone’s life, they are brought out of death to new life. They are made whole, healed, and given the new promise of eternal life. They are given the Holy Spirit and sealed eternally. People may have lost all hope of life. They may think their sin is too grievous and that there is no way to have a relationship with God. Even others looking at them may see them as doomed but the Lord doesn’t. The Lord knows there is possibility and if He tells us to give His word to someone we must reply, “O Lord God, you know.” Verses 11-14 read,
“Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
Not only can everyone experience spiritual resurrection but there will be a physical one as well. Believers have been called out of their spiritual graves, no longer headed for Hell and now headed for New Jerusalem. One day we will be called out of our physical graves and gathered together in New Jerusalem with Jesus as our King forever. That resurrection is the perfection of the new life we receive now on earth. We were once dead in sin, destined for eternal Hell. Now we are alive in Christ living eternal life with Him. One day we will raise out of our graves and be completely transformed and completed whole and holy.
At the time of Ezekiel’s prophecy Israel was two nations, Israel and Judah. But the Lord had promised to restore them and He meant absolutely. He said He would unite the divided nation to be the one nation they were meant to be. He even had Ezekiel perform a miracle of taking two sticks and making them one stick. Verses 21-22 read,
“then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.”
These verses refer to the spilt nation of Israel, and they refer to the Jews and the gentiles united in Christ. In unity it no longer mattered if the Jew were from Judah or Ephraim, he was from Israel. In Christ it doesn’t matter if we were Hebrew or Greek, we are belong to Christ. Verses 26-28 read,
“I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
Jesus is God with us forever. He is our sanctuary. We are the temple of God and His Spirit is within us and with us forever. Nothing can take us out of God’s hand. Nothing can separate us from Him. That is His awesome promise. Once we were dead. We were a pile of dry brittle condemned bones. Now we are fully alive, filled with the Spirit of the Living God, living with Jesus as our King forever. We are united with God, inseparable from Him.
You have the power to speak that life to the dead. God didn’t show Ezekiel the valley of bones and say ‘What a pity for them’ He showed Ezekiel the valley of bones and said, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord… you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” I encourage you today, to listen to the Lord, obey His Spirit and prophesy to those He calls you to. Give the hopeless the hope of Jesus. Show them they can be united with God. He will be their God and they will be His people.
1 John Chapter 5 Verses 16-17
Today’s passage is a complex and perplexing one. It is controversial, with people on both sides of some doctrinal argument using it to defend their discord with the church. I want you to remember I am a lay person. I have no training in theology. But I do have the Spirit of God and I do trust His teaching.
Verses 16-17 read,
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.”
Okay, I get that, we are to pray for our brothers and sisters when we see them sinning and God will give them life. But if they are already our brothers and sisters aren’t they already saved? Yes. So what does John mean that God will give him life? If we back up a few verses we read about Jesus giving us eternal life and about overcoming the world and living as a testimony to Him. Eternal life not only as living eternally one day in Heaven, but living for Jesus now filled with the Spirit. It is Jesus who gives us life. He is eternal life. Eternal life is lived differently than the temporary earthly life. Eternal life is the relationship we enjoy with God. 1 John 1:1-4 explains it this way.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
John 5:23-24 says,
“that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
So in my understanding, if we see a brother sinning in a way that does not lead to death, and we ask, God will give him life. God will restore Him and bring him back to a place where he is living victoriously as a witness to the awesome power and love of God. Revelation 2:5 reads,
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
Of course that brings up the next question. What is sin that leads to death and sin that doesn’t lead to death? Living victoriously, walking in the light or following Jesus means we have to confess our sins and repent. Repent doesn’t mean feel bad and keep sinning. It means recognizing, stopping and no longer doing it. It was when the church in Ephesus repented that they could glorify Christ the way they did when they first believed. John didn’t write to them to hide their sins, he said repent. We are not supposed to go around pretending to be perfect. We aren’t. Jesus doesn’t need to restore perfect people. We are to confess our sins to one another. 1 John 1:6-10 reads,
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
If someone can’t admit to their sin, they can’t repent. If someone wants to keep practicing sin then it is leading to death. They are living like a dead person, and they may very well be. But while they claim to be a believer the life they lead is not a testimony to the greatness of God which will bring people to life in His kingdom. It is a witness to a lie and will cause people to stay away from Jesus and keep down the path of death.
If someone can’t admit to their sin, our prayers won’t restore them because until they repent, they can’t have life. Life with fellow believers means we will know one another and love one another. It means we are going to be aware of sins. That means bringing them to light. When that happens we have choices. Shame and guilt hide sin. Godly conviction leads to repentance.
In 2 Corinthians Paul wrote to the church and mentioned a letter he had written regarding terrible sin that had been practiced by some of them. He knew it would cause them sorrow but he understood how they needed that sin brought out into the light so they could respond to it. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 reads,
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
When they repented God restored them to life. He had already forgiven them but now The Spirit worked through their repentance and caused them to mature and glorify God even more. But for those who let guilt keep them from repentance they couldn’t enjoy that discipline and restoration.
So sin that leads to death is unrepentant sin. Today, examine your heart and life. Ask the Spirit to reveal to you the practices you may have been hiding from yourself. Listen to your brothers and sisters without defensiveness and if any sin is shown to you, repent.
All sin prior to salvation leads to death. If you see someone sinning without godly remorse, if they don’t think it is wrong, then don’t point it out to them, don’t pray for their forgiveness. It may seem harsh. But John says not to ask God for them. Let God be God and do what He will with them. You keep being Jesus and walking in Him. When they reach a point of repentance, God will give them life.
1 John Chapter 3 Verses 10-24
How do you tell the children of God, the followers of Christ apart from the rest of the world? You see the fruition of the God’s Spirit in us through our actions. We are not saved by works, we are recognized by them. Verse 10 reads,
“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.”
So what is it to practice righteousness? Practicing or regularly applying and living out righteousness is done through loving one another. Verse 11 reads,
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
Earlier in this letter John had said he was writing to the Believers, not about a new commandment but one they had from the beginning but it had been made new because of Jesus. That commandment was to walk as Jesus walked. (1 John 2:6-8). John brought up the commandment again but this time he worded it to love one another. Certainly Jesus gave this commandment several times during His ministry. (John 13:34-35, John 15:12, 17). It is new because in loving one another we are loving as Jesus, with His Spirit, glorifying the Father and showing people to the kingdom of God. But is the same message given from the beginning, God wants a relationship with people. God wants us to love Him and love others. He never changed His message. He never changed His commandments. Love God, love others, and love one another. That is practicing righteousness.
No matter how well you exemplify Jesus and love people, the world will hate you for it. In fact the more you love, the more they will hate you. You don’t find self-worth in what others think of you, your true value is in the fact that God created you, loves you, gave up His Son for you, died for you, and lives for you. God Almighty became Abba to you by adopting you. Don’t look to the world for your value. Their hate is brought about by resentment and jealousy. They might not know they want God or need Him, but deep down they do want that relationship with God and your behavior and acceptance from God makes them hate you. Verses 12-15 read,
“We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
The world is living dead and they need the life Jesus offers. If we love as Jesus loves, we care. We care even though they hate us and persecute us. We don’t want to leave them to death. That is tantamount to murder. That is what hate brings. The world wants us to die along with them. God wants them to live alongside us with Him.
That is a grandiose idea how do we make it practical and real? How do we love them in everyday life? Jesus laid down His life for us, we have to do the same for others. That might not mean we have to take a bullet for them (though it might). It does mean we have to be willing to sacrifice ourselves, our desires, even our needs to help others. John gave us an example of how to love another. Verses 16-18 reads,
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
If you see your brother in need and you have what he needs, you give it to him. If you choose not to care, then can God really be in you? His needs could be food, a job, clothes, encouragement, or prayer. If we move the scope out from your brothers to others, then how can we close our hearts to the world’s need of Jesus? How can we ignore that they are lost, dead in sin, and headed for destruction?
When you do the right thing, when you actually love people as Jesus loved you, you don’t have to fight with guilt, regret, or condemnation. Psalm 85:10 says,
“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
And when your heart denounces and convicts you, when you realize that you haven’t loved and that God doesn’t abide in you, you can turn to God and ask Jesus into your life. God forgives sin. He will take it all away and He will not condemn you if you are in Christ. People have to reach the point of their heart convicting them if they are to ask God to make them righteous. Verses 19-20 put it this way,
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
When you live out your life in Christ, you know that He is in you and you don’t have to worry about sin keeping you from God. You know you are forgiven and God Almighty is also your Father. You can approach God and talk to Him about anything. He will give you everything you need and He will make it possible for you to live out your salvation by loving one another. Verses 21-22 read,
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
How do you know? How do you have confidence in your salvation when you still wrestle with your flesh? You know the same way others know because you keep His commandments. You are not saved by works, your salvation shows in your walk and actions. And what are God’s commandments? Verse 23 tells us.
“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
Yep, that is it. Believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love another, just as He commanded us. If you do that, you have no worries. You have no condemnation. You have confidence that you rest in God, and He lives in you. He gives you His Spirit. His awesome wonderful Spirit, His life, His nature, His love. Verse 24 says it like this,
“Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
So fellow believers, be encouraged. Sure the world hates you, but you have the Spirit of the Living God within you and He makes it possible for you to love them. It pleases Him when you love them. He gives you all you need to love them. You have Almighty God as your Papa, Daddy, Abba, your Father.
1 John Chapter 1 Verses 5-10
1 John 1:5 describes God this way,
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
God is light. Light or phós in this verse is defined as light especially in terms of its results, illumination, source of light, and radiance. (Help's Ministries Inc, 2011). God is light. What does light do? It elucidates. It takes out the shadows, the darkness and reveals the truth. Light is the source of life. Without light there could be no life. Light is a beacon. It illuminates the way to safety and life.
Verse 6 reads,
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
John often makes these statements that t first appear frightening. This one seems to imply that if we sin, we are lying about our relationship with God. But that isn’t what it says. Walking in darkness, is living under the lie of the world instead of the truth of God. Verse 7 reads,
“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.”
Walking in the light is not walking without sinning, it is walking in the truth of Christ, cleansed from our sin. God shines His light into our hearts and reveals to us, the darkness there, the sin that kept us away from a relationship with Him. Jesus’ blood cleans us and purifies us, so that we are given new life and are able to fellowship with God. Having all those sins forgiven is not a license to keep sinning no matter that we are pardoned. Walking in the light means we no longer want to sin. We walk in God’s nature with His will and truth. We do not want to sin anymore. We want to shine for Him and glorify Him. We become light too. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.;”
Walking in the light means you are manifesting, demonstrating and making it clear who God is. You reveal God. Your life becomes a revelation of Christ. Revealing Christ in your life, doesn’t mean hiding yourself, lying, or putting on a mask of perfection. The Holy Spirit is transforming you. Jesus’ power is magnified by your flaws and weaknesses as He forgives, overcomes, heals, and works through them. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 puts it this way,
“And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
And 2 Corinthians 12:9 says it like this,
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
We do not want to hide our sin when God’s light has revealed it. We would need darkness to cover them up. We do not want to keep on sinning either. We have to admit to the sin and let Jesus forgive us. Walking in the light means we live transparently in the Father’s love, Jesus’ grace and the Holy Spirit’s transformative power. Verses 8-9 of 1 John chapter 1 continue,
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
You just can’t be a believer and a child of the Living God if you profess you don’t sin. You have to admit you are in a sinner to receive the forgiveness of Christ and have a relationship with God. To say, you haven’t sinned makes God a liar. Jesus, the Word of God the Truth, The Life, and The Way can’t be in you if you say you don’t need Him, if you refuse to acknowledge you have sinned. Everyone has sinned. Everyone has missed the mark of God’s perfection. (Romans 3:23).
Are you living in the truth of God’s power and love? Or are you living under your own power with a mask of goodness which hides the truth. Do you have a false light ready to reveal everyone else’s sin but your own? I exhort you today to examine yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of your condition to you and live in the light. Live transparently letting God’s awesome might, perfect love, and splendid light shine in your life. The truth is liberating. Take of the mask and let Jesus stand out.
Help's Ministries Inc. (2011). 5457. phós. Retrieved from Biblehub; Strong's exhaustive concordance: http://biblehub.com/greek/5457.htm
 All life requires energy. Humans and animals get energy from food, animals and plants. Plants require light to make food and live. So without light, there could be no life.
1 John 1 1 4
John began this letter talking about himself as an eyewitness to Jesus. He refers to Jesus with lyrical, illustrative and illustrious words. He refers to himself as a witness to the reality of Jesus. He saw and touched Him, He testifies and proclaims Jesus. That is what a witness does, he receives a message and he tells it to others. Verse 1 reads,
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life”
Jesus, and the plan of salvation existed from the beginning. He was not created. He was not a last ditch effort. He was there from the beginning and John got to see and touch Him. He was real. He was flesh and blood. He had a message and a purpose. Jesus came concerning the word of life. The Greek word for word is logos, the expression of an idea. (Help's Ministries Inc, 2011). Jesus is the Word, the expression of the Father. Here Jesus’ message is the word of life. Life is translated from the Greek word zóé. Zóé is defined as physical and spiritual life, coming from and sustained by God’s self-existent life. (Help's Ministries Inc, 2011).
Jesus had a message and He lived His life as that statement. Jesus is the message, the word. He passed that word on to the Apostles and they in turn gave it to us. It is important, it is life or death. Verse 2 says it this way,
“the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—“
Jesus is the Word, and He is also the Life. He was made manifest. He was made flesh, real, plain, seeable, and discernable. He doesn’t have a hidden secret message that only some are given illumination to receive. The life born of and borne by the Father is made available and tangible through Jesus. He is the expression and embodiment of that life. You and I are the expression and embodiment of Jesus. The Father sent Jesus to be our salvation and give us eternal life. John 3:14-17 describes it like this.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Eternal life isn’t just living eternally. Eternal life is life from God, with God, through God. It is inclusion with Him. Jesus is the word of life, and He gave it to us, so that we too would be the expression and representation of life. It isn’t for nothing that you have this awesome gift. You are not meant to keep it to yourself. Messages are meant to be shared, words are supposed to be declared. This word, the Word is meant to be expressed through the living of your life. We, like God desire for all to be saved and have eternal life. Verses 3-4 read,
“that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
God longs for fellowship, partnership and communion with us. He loves us so much. He wants that intimate relationship with the world. Someone made Jesus known to you. Now you have eternal supernatural awesome God-life. You are meant to share it, shout it, and live it so that the lost can get the message too. In doing that, your joy is made complete or perfected. Doing that is living out the purpose for your gift. It is what gives meaning to everything. Bringing more people into God’s open arms makes the life higher and greater, the love deeper, and the joy unadulterated.
You cannot live the life given to you by God, if you do not make Him obvious, seen, clear, and plain in your living. Your joy, your celebration and delight will not be perfected until your fellowship is enlarged. Including more people in your relationship with God and giving them the gift of life and fellowship with Him doesn’t detract from your communion with Him in deepens it. Because in do so, you become more like Him, you are endowed with more of His nature. You have even more of the life that He has given, because you express it more.
John 20:24-31 Thomas went from Dogged Unbelief of the Truth to Intense Proclamation of the Truth. Jesus is Lord and God.
John Chapter 20 Verses 24-31
Poor Thomas gets a bad rap from the world. He’s is better known to us, even people who haven’t read the scriptures as Doubting Thomas. Yet, him isn’t the gospels that named it that, He is known as Thomas Didymus, or Thomas the Twin. He was one of the more vocal of the Twelve, and showed curiosity and exuberance for Jesus during His ministry. Thomas wanted answers and wasn’t afraid to ask questions or be honest. But Thomas most famous act is declaring that he wouldn’t believe the ther disciples had seen Jesus in the flesh unless he could not only touch Jesus’ wounds but stick his hand into them. Verses 24-29 tell the story.
“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas isn’t so much different than most of us, or even the rest of the disciples. The others didn’t believe until Jesus revealed Himself to them. They asked for proof too. (Luke 24:39-43). But Thomas wasn’t with them, then. He wanted the same proof they said they had. How many in the world can’t believe the Gospel? How many want scientific proof in order to have faith? Even when they are presented with the science, they can’t believe.
But Thomas had a different reaction when Jesus showed Himself to Him. He answered “My Lord and my God!” I get the impression Thomas didn’t touch Jesus wounds. He saw Jesus and immediately proclaimed Him to be his Lord and God. Thomas made Jesus his Master and announced Him to be God, His God. He wrapped up salvation in his declaration. His answer was personal, profound, and a 180º from his previous dramatic statement that he wouldn’t believe unless he got to touch and put his hand Jesus wounds.
For Thomas, seeing was believing and believing led to seeing the whole truth at once. But Jesus pronounced a beatitude for us, who were not among the more than 500 people who got to see the Risen Lord during the forty days after the Resurrection. He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Believer, He is referring to you and me! We are blessed. We can rejoice and be envied. We are gifted and it is special that we believe in Jesus Christ without the benefit of seeing Him the flesh. Peter described that joy and blessing in 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
We have been given this special time, our circumstances, our lives and we can use all that to share the awesome news with others. God saved you, shapes you, and put you where you are at the time you are there, coming in contact with the specific people you do as a gift. You have the hope of your own resurrection and eternity. You are blessed because you believe and you can share that blessing with others. Jesus wants you to too. (John 20:21).
Your salvation and sharing that joy with others is the reason John wrote the gospel. Verses 30-31 read,
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
You weren’t given the gift of belief so you could hide, keep it to yourself, or be stagnant. You were given the gift so you could have life! You are meant to live. You are meant to grow. Jesus made it possible for Thomas to grow from asserting his stubborn unbelief to pronouncing the truth. He changed eleven men with shaky faith into the Church, the Bride of Christ. He changed Saul from a man zealous against Jesus to Paul a missionary zealous for Him. Jesus did everything He did for you, so that you could live and live freely, generously, and richly. He came so you could live out loud with enthusiasm, spirit, and cheerfulness. John 10:9-10 reads,
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
As I read the Bible every day, I take what God teaches me, what He says, and write it out. I then share that with you. It gives me a deeper understanding of the Word and I hope that it will encourage you as it does me, to put your love and faith into action.