Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 3 October 18:
1. Isaiah 59:1, 2 — “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation, between you and your God.” Sin separates, gets in the way of a right relationship with The Holy God. If you are a Christian, you have been saved by faith in Jesus, your sins have been forgiven, “and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” (Acts 13:39) However, in salvation, you were called to sanctification – “because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (1 Timothy 4:10) Obedience to God isn’t the condition for salvation it is the fruit or evidence of salvation, not the path to salvation but the path of sanctification, being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and knowing Him more and more each day (John 17:2), that we would have the fullness of joy in Him (John 15:11). In our fellowship with God, the Bible says our sin can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesian 4:30), quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and cause us to get out of step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Do not let sin separate or get in the way of your fellowship with God.
– John 3:36 — “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
– Galatians 5:16-26 (Keep in Step with the Spirit) — But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
2. Isaiah 59:8-13 – “The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.”
– It is our own sin that denies us peace, blinds us, and separates us from God.
– “We hope for justice, but there is none.” A person or nation cannot expect blessings from God while remaining in disobedience.
– “For our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord.” When we sin, we are in essence denying the LORD at that moment.
3. Isaiah 59:15, 20 — ” The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. and turning back from following our God…. ‘And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,’ declares the Lord.” No one could save the world trapped in the guilt of sin but God Himself, Jesus, the One without sin. Jesus is the only Redeemer, the Redeemer to those “who turn from transgression” as the evidence of redemption. Those who habitually and willfully continue in sin do not know Jesus as revealed by their behavior. Christians still sin but continually bear the fruit of sanctification, not holy perfection but holy direction.
– Luke 6:43 — For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,
– Proverbs 20:11 — Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.
4. Isaiah 60:2 — “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.” Jesus is a bright light in a very dark world.
5. Isaiah 60:15 — “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, joy from age to age.” The age of persecution is temporary, followed by majesty in Jesus. Will you be worthy of majesty after persecution for the name of Jesus?
6. Proverbs 3:3-7 — “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” Simple and powerful words from today’s Proverbs. Ecclesiastes 7:29 states: “This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.” Our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, but we chase after folly so easily and cause so much unnecessary pain for ourselves and others. Today, recommit to being faithful with every moment, driven by love for the Lord rather than anything else. When you inevitably fall short, give thanks that you remain in a state of grace, get back up, try again, and grow in spiritual maturity (sanctification). Babies fall a lot before they learn to walk, and walking is simply controlling a continual fall forward. Learn more and more to walk with God.
7. James 2:1 — “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” Partiality is a sin because it involves viewing others from your selfish perspective rather than from God’s perspective. It is the first form of judging others wrongly.
8. James 2:10 – “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” Only by seeing lawlessness from God’s perspective can we get a true sense of how terrible sin is before a Holy God. Only by understanding how guilty we are and how hopeless our condition as sinners do we truly appreciate the Cross of Christ and the mercy that we have received. Only then are we inspired by grateful love to truly obey from the heart and to show grace and mercy to other hopeless sinners.
9. James 2:12, 13 — “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
– Many ‘Christians’ act like grace is freedom from the consequences of sin rather than acting like grace is the freedom not to sin. It is a much graver thing to be judged under the law of liberty rather than to be judged under the written law. What is left to be said of the person who accepts the sacrifice of the Son of God for their sins and then turns around and sins unremorsefully? The unsaved cannot help but sin and haven’t the power of the Spirit and of love, but the saved who live by faith also live by love which by default hates the sin that God hates. No one should be more horrified by sin than the Christian.
– “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God will treat you the way you treat others. Do you rely on mercy from God for your transgressions while demanding justice be imposed on those who have offended you?
10. James 2:19, 20 — “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
– Many who claim to be Christian don’t even have a demon-level of faith — they don’t even shudder. Believing in Jesus isn’t the same as having a saving faith in Jesus, trusting, following, and loving Jesus. The Great Commission does not call us to go into the world and make “believers”; it calls us to make “disciples”, disciplined, followers of Christ who obey Him out of love. Obedience is not the path to salvation but rather the evidence of salvation. “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” (Proverbs 20:11)
11. James 2:26 – “Faith apart from works is dead.” True faith is revealed by its fruit. We are saved by faith, not by works; but a faith without works is no faith at all. We are saved by faith alone, but not a faith that is alone.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 Oct 18: Today, focus on showing no partiality to anyone for any reason, whether it be status, personality, attractiveness, likeability, influence, etc. See everyone through the eyes of Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus equally, and you are His Ambassador. Don’t short change anyone the message of the Gospel for any reason. (James 2:1)