1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ever-Increasing Wickedness, or Holiness?

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Pocket Devotions

Romans 6:19
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

Thoughts for Today:

In the Roman Empire, slavery was a very common practice. In fact, history tells us that in Paul's day over one half of the population were slaves. I think it is one of the reasons why Paul says: "I put this in human terms..." Rather, in words his audience can relate to.

Many Americans have difficulty understanding what it means to be a slave. In our society it has become a foreign concept. We place an incredibly high value on freedom and independence. In John 8:31-34, Jesus spoke to the Jews who had believed him. He said: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They responded, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Sounds a little bit like Americans, doesn't it? Prideful in their freedom, yet not realizing how sin has placed us all in bondage.

A slave doesn't have much difficulty understanding what it means to serve the master's will -- freemen sometimes do. A freeman thinks every decision he makes is of his own will; he foolishly discounts the effect of the sinful nature. Or as Paul puts it: "you are weak in your natural selves". So it doesn't matter if we are free men in our society or not -- we are still slaves. The choice is: Are we slaves to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, or to righteousness which leads to holiness?

Questions to Ponder:

Do you truly seek freedom?
Jesus told us: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Jesus is truth and only He can set us free from slavery to sin.
Will you accept His freedom today?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Justification, Not a One-Time Event !

Pocket Devotions

Romans 3:24a
...and are justified...

Thoughts for Today:

A long time ago I was taught an easy way to remember the meaning and concept of justification: "Just as if I hadn't sinned."

I was speaking with a young man recently who was concerned about his salvation because he had fallen back into some of his old sinful ways. He couldn't imagine why or how God would forgive him once again. I explained we are all susceptible to sin no matter how hard we try. Justification ("just as if I hadn't sinned") is not a one-time event -- it's an action which happens continually -- as long as we desire and pursue a relationship with the Lord through repentance: turning away from our sin while asking to be forgiven.

I think perhaps the King James translation of our passage today provides a clearer understanding: "Being justified..." Which means: Justification didn't take place only the day we were saved or baptized -- it's taking place at this very moment -- we are right now "being justified".

Sin can often make us feel as if we have forfeited the access and right to be in God's Holy presence. Not so. Justification is a continuous cleansing process -- a declaration of righteousness which God provides through faith and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Questions to Ponder:

Has sin made you feel a little dirty today?
Do you feel unworthy --
feel like you need to clean up your act before the next time you pray?
Paul tells us we are being justified right now --
the work has been done -- our sin paid for --
not just the past, but the present and future as well.
Isn't that Good News ! ?
Will you accept;
friendship, reconciliation, and forgiveness God offers through Jesus?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Shall We Continue to Live in Sin?

Pocket Devotions

Romans 6:1-2
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Thoughts for Today:

In our passage today is God's answer to whether or not we should continue to live in sin once we are saved: "By no means!" "Of course not!" "God forbid!" Or -- "You've got to be kidding!"

There are two concepts in the Bible that many of us have difficulty understanding: they are related to justification and sanctification. It is the difference between just being saved and being made into the kind of people we should be because we are set apart by God. "You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." (Leviticus 20:26)

Justification is an act; sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit. Justification happened for us the day we accepted and trusted Jesus -- we were declared righteous and our guilty verdict was over-turned. Then God began a work in us that continues to this day. Justification is instant; however sanctification is a lifelong process. Justification is the means; sanctification is the end. Justification declares the sinner righteous; sanctification makes the sinner righteous. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin; sanctification removes the growth and power of sin.

Many Christians try to fight sin by preaching what I call the "don'ts" -- don't do this and don't do that. However, Paul's method was something Bible scholars call "positional sanctification." In other words, know where you stand in Jesus -- your new identity (verses 3-5); know you have liberty by the cross of Jesus (verses 6-15); and know some things about Jesus' own heart and what's important to Him (verses 16-23).

Questions to Ponder:

Paul states: "We died to sin,"
then asks: "How can we live in it any longer?"
What sin are you keeping around?
What areas of your life can still use some work?
We know sanctification is a lifelong process --
has it continued or have you stopped growing in Christ?