The Holiness of God – Psalm 101:1-4

God’s Love Is Tempered In Holiness

1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life-
when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

Just Judge

Almighty God is a loving God, full of mercy and grace.  He showers all of us – (unrepentant) sinners and saints alike – with mercies that renew every morning.  He shines the sun on all of us, and allows the rain to fall for all of us.  God woos us with His kindness, and declares His character through His creation.

God also is a holy judge.  He cannot stand sin in His presence.  He has been on task, calling all of us to repentance with His love.  But there comes a time when, after we have been continually wooed by His goodness and mercy, that He will instead give us His justice.

Clean Character

David greatly desired to know God’s character, and to participate in it.  He recognized the holiness of God – the complete and total absence of wrongdoing in God’s character – as something that was important to God, and important to him.  David recognized the need for personal holiness – a separation from sin and a separation to God.  David greatly desired to live a blameless life before God.  In the Psalms, many which were written by him, including Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, he declares:

1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

David recognizes that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  No one but Jesus Christ ever lived a perfect, sinless life on Earth.  David greatly desired to live in a way that shunned sin, and embraced holiness, in light of his fallen nature.

Insulated Inspection

David sought to shield his eyes from evil.  He did not desire to look upon anything vile.  The eyes, for most people, contribute a significant portion of all stimuli.  Men, in particular, are wired to react to what they see.  David purposed in his heart to keep his eyes from intentionally dwelling upon wickedness.

In Western culture today, the focus of advertising on television and the internet has a tendency to focus on sexual immorality.  And that is because sex sells.  The ironic aspect of this is that it is culture that both bombards men day in and day out with messages of promiscuity and satisfaction in lewdness and unfaithfulness and vilifies him if he consumes their product.  Once a man has taken the bait, and partakes of this “eye candy” and the forbidden fruit, the very culture that baits him with it are the very first people to turn on him, call him vile and degenerate, shun him, and destroy his good name.

David recognized this danger, and did his very best to keep his eyes from intentionally wandering towards that which would cause him difficulty.  It should be noted that the one time he failed, when he looked upon Bathsheba, he sinned mightily and paid a most dear price for it.

Despise Disloyalty

The desire for personal purity helped David to hate what faithless people do.  They wallow in their own sin, reject the law of Almighty God, and revel in their wanton disobedience to the One who created them and calls them back to Himself.  David does not hate the wicked, but hates what the wicked do.

It is important to make the distinction between hating someone and hating their actions.  It is especially important to make this distinction, for evil people will try to manipulate others by calling their own aversion to holiness and your disagreement with their thoughts, words and deeds as somehow being related to their personal identity and not to their personal ideology.  Unless we, as a culture, can separate what a person does from who a person is, we will be sucked into a violent maelstrom that threatens to pigeonhole everyone into accepting what is vile in order to avoid being perceived (and therefore accused in the public arena) as being racist, bigoted, and hateful people.

Somehow, people in their quest to be free from the responsibility that comes as a result of being created by God, even and especially to be His image-bearers, have lost their personal identity and replaced it with personal ideology.  In other words, you can no longer disagree with someone based on their thoughts and words without somehow casting an aspersion on their race or heritage.  The evil person tries to insist that the two are inextricably intertwined, thus forcing a person to accept their ideas in order to accept them as people, for to reject their ideas, in their mind, is to reject them and their value as human beings.

Purge Perfidy

David desires to have nothing to do with evil.  He goes to great lengths to prevent its influence and actions in his life.  He so greatly desires this removal from evil, he wants to place the perverseness of people as far as he can from his heart.  David loves people, and was called by God to be a shepherd over them as king by the prophet Samuel.  Yet David, in his role as king and judge, would not permit evil to flourish under his watch.

We too are to rid ourselves of the perverse things that so easily entangles us in sin.  There should be an active desire, fueled by the Holy Spirit, and guided by the word of the Living God, to separate ourselves from what is evil in the sight of God and separate ourselves to what is good in the sight of God.  Until we do this, we are, in effect, actively courting that which is offensive to a holy, sinless, and perfect God.  For people who claim to know God and claim to be His friends, this should never happen.  What true friend actively goes out of their way to cause others intentional pain and trouble apart from trying to strain the relationship?  But thanks be to God, for He is full of grace, mercy, and love!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  While seeking the grace and mercy of God, do I also in the same measure seek His holiness in personal practice?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a holy and just God.  You cannot look upon sin, yet You continually shower Your goodness and provision upon all who live.  Father, please help me to understand the depths of Your holiness, so that I can better understand why You hate sin so much.  Give me a hatred of my own sin, and help me to see it as You do.  Prepare my heart to do whatever is necessary to honor You, and to throw off the stench of my sin.  Help me to see it as I would rotting, decaying garbage.  I praise You, O God, for you have taken my sin from me and cloaked me with the righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to keep His cloak of righteousness from being stained by my moral failings.  Help me to bear up under Your trials as my sanctification prepares me to walk in holiness before You.  Help me to remember that You are a just judge, and that You will not tolerate willful sin from me anymore.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Holiness of God – Isaiah 1:16-17

Wash And Make Yourself Clean

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

Washed White

During times of thanksgiving and remembering the birth of our Savior, we must not forget why He came – we have need to be cleansed from our sins.  God has washed our sins in the lifeblood of His Son, whom He sent two thousand years ago, to cleanse us of unrighteousness and place upon our shoulders His positional righteousness in place of our sins.  The Great Exchange permits us to approach God in His throne room as children and heirs to the kingdom. When we give gifts and feast on food without remembering why the Savior was born, we do Him a great injustice, turning the remembrance of the holy day of His birth into a commercialized endeavor to feel good about ourselves.

Stop Sinning

God implores us to stop sinning.  Acknowledgement of wrongdoing without a change of heart is merely being sorry we were caught.  True repentance calls for two actions above and beyond the mere acknowledgement of wrongdoing – a turning away from the behavior that we now claim is abhorrent to us, and a turning towards the One who has redeemed us from our wickedness.

Learn Lawfulness

The Son of God never once sinned.  In everything He did, He honored God the Father and did His will perfectly.  We too are challenged to learn the will and ways of God so that we may learn to do good.  If we don’t know what is good, how can we do it?  The law merely points out that we are sinners.  But it also provides insight into the attitudes of the heart and shows us the expectations of a loving God eager to see us walk in righteousness before Him.

Judge Justly

God has repeatedly stated in His word that we are to seek justice.  We are to ensure that all who come before the courts of law are to be treated with the utmost of respect, and to receive what God would have happen – that justice would occur.  Justice is meted out with mercy and grace where appropriate so that it does not become the blunt object of abject horror that merely seeks the letter of the law and ignores the spirit of the law.

Defend the Distressed

Is justice served when those who are oppressed are ignored?  God greatly desires that the oppressed be helped as well.  Whether being harangued by people or governments, we are to intercede when people are oppressed.  Justice demands that each person be permitted to live their lives without oppression or the threat thereof.  When this is not done, we risk the wrath of the One who will take up the cause of the oppressed and ensure that the ones responsible are brought to justice.  And justice will be done, if not in this life, then at the great white throne seat of judgment.

Help the Helpless

In remembering the Son, we are to remember that He championed the cause of those who had no representation.  The people who were helpless before the law and courts in the day of the prophet Isaiah, as well as our Savior, were widows and orphans.  With no one to help them, they were often ignored – or worse – taken advantage of by ruthless people.  We are to take up their cause, for if we do not, God will take up their cause at our great peril:

49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

In this season of joy, let us remember the reason for the season, and bow down before the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who rightly deserves all glory, honor, power, dominion, and worship.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What steps am I taking to ensure that justice is being done?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a just judge, and cannot allow evil in Your sight.  Forgive me for my sins, and help me to see what I can do to ensure that justice is being done for the oppressed and the helpless.  I earnestly ask that You intercede in the affairs of my country’s government and instill within the people who have been placed in authority over us a proper sense of justice, that they would honor and glorify Your name as Your representatives in authority of Your people, for everything and everyone in the universe is Yours to do with as You will.  Bring about the change of heart needed in government so that You would be honored in the manner in which they conduct themselves.  Purge us of the evil that has infiltrated and obscured the workings of justice, and shine forth Your perfect light in such a way that those who shroud themselves in darkness would tremble and flee before the perfect light of Truth.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Holiness of God – Matthew 21:12-13

Do Not Profane What Is Holy

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”

Righteous Rebuke

Jesus was not a wimp.  He was gentle and humble of heart.  But when He saw that His Father’s temple courtyard was being used in a manner that was disrespectful and counter to its intended purpose – to provide a space where the people could come to worship His Father, He reacted.  He overturned the money tables and benches of people who changed a place of worship into a place of profit.

To be clear, it is not that Jesus was against people making a profit with their labor.  It was the use of something holy in a profane way that was so egregious to Him.  They had taken a place that was meant for worship and defiled it by selling their wares.  God was to be glorified in this place, and yet the sellers of merchandise dared to use what was dedicated to God to line their own pockets.  God is genuinely jealous of what is His.  He will not allow us to prostitute ourselves to sin when we have been dedicated to His purpose.

Practice Prayer

Jesus had informed the ones who had defiled His Father’s house that they had maligned what God had declared was holy – set apart to him and set apart from the world.  The merchants did not care that the temple was to be used for prayer – for holy communication between man and God.  They only saw the opportunity to make some money providing the service of the easy availability of sacrificial animals to those who would come and worship.

We would do well to remember that we are now the temple of God.  And we are not just the temple courtyard; our bodies are the naos of God – the holy of holies.  God has declared us to be holy through the righteousness of Christ.  It behooves us to use our bodies in a manner that befits its station and purpose.  Otherwise, we will be responsible for defiling what God has made holy.

Design Destroyed

Not only were the merchants impeding the worship of God by their very presence with their wares, they were taking what was holy and making it worldly through their practices.  They had no regard for the things of God nor His holiness.  In making the temple courts their marketplace, they turned what was to be honoring God into profit.  Not only that, they would often have dishonest scales, robbing the people, and charging prices that were absurd for goods.  Rather than even offer their merchandise at a fair price, they sold their items at great cost.  The cost of convenience was steep.

We should be wary of those who seek to profit by using what God has declared as holy to line their own pockets.  And while the workman is worthy of his wages, it is not right to peddle the word of God for the purpose of profit.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I using my body as a temple of God or for some other purpose?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You delight in Your children, and greatly desire for us to seek You in prayer.  Help me to separate myself from the world, and draw close to You.  Keep me from the desires that would use my body in such a way that it would profane Your name.  Guard me against the desires of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that I would reflect Your glory for all to behold.  Watch over me this day, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Holiness of God – 1 John 1:5-7

There Is No Darkness In Pure Light

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin.

Glorious Glow

God is perfect.  His light is without defect.  It is when we look through the lens of our own version of morality that we ascribe any wrongdoing to God.  When confronted with the facts, most people object to God based on morality, for God provides us with overwhelming proof of Himself and His Righteousness.

We cannot begin to understand God until we come to the realization that God is perfect.  It is only in the lens of perfection that God is able to be seen clearly.  John tells us that there is no darkness in Him at all.  Any perceived darkness that we think we see in God is our own darkness clouding the truth about God’s light.  God allows this to occur for many reasons:

Darkness of Deception

The bane of the church are those who claim to know Christ, and claim the title of Christian, yet refuse to live in the light.  When we walk in darkness, we cannot claim fellowship with the light.  It is like water and oil.  The two are immiscible – they won’t mix properly.  Shake them as together as much as you want, but the oil immediately separates from the water and floats on top.

We cannot claim to be light and hide the very thing that we claim to be.  When we obscure the light of God, we suppress the truth with wickedness.  This is like a person camping and trying to start a fire by pouring water over the dry wood.  Any sane person would be horrified at the results, and counsel the person to stop sabotaging their efforts.  Sin effectively sabotages our witness for it extinguishes any claim to light that we have.

There are wheat and chaff.  The wheat falls to the ground during the threshing, and the chaff blows away in the wind.  We experience trials to perfect our faith and endurance, so that as the mighty winds of difficulty come upon us, we will fall to the ground as kernels of grain rather than be blown away by the pressures of our trials.  And it is during persecution that there is a great separation of the wheat from the chaff.

The world watches us in hopeful expectation.  Some watch in the hopes that we will fail. When we do, they feel justified in their own sinful behavior.  Others watch in the hopes that what we say is true so that they can believe that it is really true and embrace the truth.  The way in which we conduct ourselves will impact many others.  Walking in darkness is guaranteed to have negative results, not only for us, but also for those who watch us.

Relationship in Radiance

When we walk in the light, we experience fellowship with each other and with God.  God intended for us to be with Him from the very beginning.  It wasn’t until Adam sinned that there was a separation between God and man.  Walking in the light is to enjoy the character and company of those who are like us and in the presence of God.

When we walk in the light, we are sanctified.  The light exposes our deeds of darkness, and gives us the opportunity to turn from darkness and turn towards the light.  The more we turn towards the light, the sweeter the fellowship is between us, God, and the ones who choose the light.  The blood of Christ is able to wash away our sins.  We can only do that when we turn from darkness and head towards the light.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we allowing the light of God to penetrate and expose any darkness in our ways?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are pure light, and there is no darkness within You.  You are perfect, and do not change like shifting shadows.  In all things, You are holy and righteous.  My ways are not Your ways, and my thoughts are not Your thoughts.  Help me, Father, to align my heart to Yours, that I would better understand Your ways and Your thoughts.  Purify me of all darkness that is within me.  Cleanse me of my unrighteousness.  Peel back the layers of darkness and deception that have infiltrated my life through the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Father, help me to turn to You at all times.  Guard and guide me so that I may walk in the way everlasting.  Help me to be a beacon of light on a hill, that it would lead others to You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Wolves Among The Sheep – Jude 3-4

Beware Of Those Who Are Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Foundational Faith

As God’s people, we should rejoice and hold sacred the charge that has been given to us – the message of salvation from sin and reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ our Savior.  We are told to contend for the faith, and also to have an answer for anyone who would ask why we believe what we believe.

And while we don’t have the full picture, we should still learn and grow in our faith through the doctrines that have been laid out for us in Scripture.  Just as a soldier without a gun will be caught off-guard when faced by their opponent in war, so are Christians who don’t pick up their Bible, read it, learn it, and live it.

The sad part about the introduction to this short letter by Jude is that the invasion by the enemy into the people of Christ had begun just a few short years after Jesus was among them.  Although the apostles and the primitive church started in near spiritual purity, opportunity was seen by those whose father is the devil, and they promoted (and even to this day promote) themselves as beacons of light.  Paul had praised the Bereans for their trust-but-verify attitude, and they checked EVERYTHING that Paul said against scripture to see if it was true.  Regardless of who we listen to, we should do the same.  The enemy is planting tares in with the wheat.

Troublesome Tares

Tares are a plant that, when first sprouting, appear identical to wheat in appearance.  It is only after they begin to mature that the difference is noticeable.  Tares in the Church have an interesting appearance.  Although they look right at first, there are subtle differences.  When the church service is over, and during the week, their actions and words in public do not seem to match up with their profession of faith.  Great caution should be taken as they are evaluated, because the babes in Christ will act the same way as they are throwing off their grave-clothes.

But tares are different.  When confronted, they will say things like: “I’m just a babe in Christ” (even though they have been “walking with God” for more than a few years); “Don’t judge me – you aren’t the Holy Spirit”; “I’m working on that” (when they have been working on it for 20+ years, and there is no indication that they are even trying to address the particular issue).

Tares will also become proud, especially if they have successfully conned the sheep of God into believing that they are one of them and believe that the sheep can trust them.  Watch for such things as belligerence and turning on the people who approach them with a proper Biblical viewpoint.  “Attack your attackers” is a common way tares shut down people who come too close to unveiling them.  By turning the attention to the other person (and almost always in public, even if they were confronted in private), they try to place peer pressure on the one who confronted them.  But the person who confronts must be strong, even if the person is powerful enough and influential enough to have the person who confronted them removed the them from any office they hold in the church, or are asked to leave the church.

Penetrating Perversion

The tares desire to change the views of the sheep to their way of thinking and away from Biblical ways of thinking.  In just one specific example, within the Protestant churches there is a movement to allow the attitude of sexually desiring people of the same chromosomal pairings to be accepted not only as normal in the church, but also to promote them into leadership positions.  They have successfully moved the sheep away from the Word of God, even though there are multiple scriptures that refute this position:

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.  26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

When the people of God agree that the current cultural position on any subject is more relevant than God’s position, they have strayed from the faith, and should be brought back with the Word of the Living God.  If they refuse (see Matthew 18:15-20), then no longer treat them as fellow brothers or sisters in Christ until they have repented.

Doctrinal Destruction

In doing these things, they say that God is love and grace.  Since all of our sins are moved as far as the East is from the West, they promote that God surely understands our circumstances and will surely give us grace as we engage in sin.  We just need to work on other areas of life first, and if we don’t get to that one before we die, we’ll be just fine.

We will be judged by what we know, and what we did with what we know.  We can either choose to accept that all scripture is God breathed, or not.  When we love our sin more than our Savior, we are in big trouble.  When our spiritual leaders say it’s OK to sin, and that God will forgive us because grace abounds, people flock to the message because they no longer have to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus.  This is a great abuse of grace.   People begin to lose their sense of the Holiness of God when they choose to openly sin, refuse to be obedient, and rely on the grace of God.  God views that as insolence.  And human parents tolerate that about as well as God does.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we carefully vetting what we hear from everyone to ensure that it is scripturally sound?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are full of mercy and grace. Your mercies renew every morning.  Father, please help me to be obedient to what I have been shown by You in scripture, and grant me mercy and grace when I fail.  Father, show me any areas where I am falling short, and help me to have the strength to overcome them.  Give me a sense of urgency in addressing sin in my life, regardless of the outcome, for I know that You are sovereign, and that I can trust You in all things.  Help me to have proper discernment when others tell me what You have shown them, so that I will not be misled into bondage or sin.  Guard my heart against the unrighteousness of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that the enemy has planted as tares among the wheat.  Protect me from them that I may honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Law of God – Psalm 119:17-20

We Should Meditate Upon God’s Law Day and Night

17 Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
19 I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.

Following Faithfully

The psalmist recognizes that it is much easier to obey God’s law when we are experiencing the goodness of God.  When we are in the midst of trials, being tormented by our enemies, and trying to deal with our emotions, it takes a significant amount of concentration, control, and effort to react appropriately.  It is especially difficult when we are being tested, and the awareness of the presence of God about us seems to have disappeared.  God has not forsaken us, but is showing us what is really within us as He watches at a short distance, just like a teacher who is observing the student take a test.

There is nothing wrong with asking God to reveal His presence and peace to us during trials.  But in order to grow, God must take the training wheels off of our bicycle, and we need to put more effort into it to learn our lessons.  It is especially difficult when God does the opposite of what you request as you seek to honor and glorify His name.

Precious Perceptions

Sin clouds our perceptions and judgments.  We need God to remove the blinders from us so that we can see clearly.  When our blinders are removed, God can show us wonderful new things in His law.  As we are more obedient to the revealed truth of God, He entrusts us with more of Himself.

We will be judged not for how much we know, but for what we did with the truth that was revealed to us and that we understood.  As we are faithful in observing God’s laws and statutes, the blinders of sin will begin to fall away.  The psalmist greatly desires to know more of God’s character and insight.  We should do the same.

Concealed Concerns

The Earth is not our home.  We need God to reveal Himself and His truth to us so that we can live faithfully for Him.  We cannot live faithfully for God if He conceals His truth from us.  The psalmist knows that if God hides His face from him, he will not know the truth.  And since we are not yet with Him in Heaven, we need Him to show Himself to us as we patiently await the glorious day when His Son, Jesus Christ, returns in Glory, and we will know Him as we are fully known.

Delightful Desires

As we are yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He will put an ever-increasing desire to know God’s character and to live it out within us.  The desire to live righteously and to see righteousness be done will increase greatly.  We will become so driven that the desire to live righteously will consume us.  We will long for it as the pants for the water.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Is the desire to live righteously for God a consuming desire in our heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your love for me is amazing.  You greatly desire that I be consumed with You.  As the desire of my heart is increasing for You, You have said that You will give me the desire of my heart.  Please do not hide Your face from me, but rather, help me to know Your holy character and live it out in faith.  Strengthen me as I am being tested, and keep me from stumbling.  Father, place such a great desire in my heart to know You and to live righteously that I will be consumed with it.  For Your Son has said that if we love You we will obey Your commands.  Reveal them to me, and help me to be faithful in following all of them, regardless of my circumstances.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Justice of God – Psalm 112:5

We Are To Be Just Like Him

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Holiness Hampered

We are told many times to conduct ourselves with justice:

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.”  Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

Arise, Lord, in your anger;
    rise up against the rage of my enemies.
    Awake, my God; decree justice.

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
    and upholds the cause of the needy.

There are many more passages, but this should be sufficient.  But time and time again, we see where man has failed in this aspect of the character of God:

But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.

The way of peace they do not know;
    there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
    no one who walks along them will know peace.

Even today, we see justice hampered due to personal gain, politics, or the judge’s mindset.  People are deprived of their rights to own and use the land they have purchased; the law is applied differently to those who have political influence versus those who don’t have money, power or friends with access to one or both; the illegal alien has more rights and access to opportunity than does the citizen, etc.  In all of this, God’s holiness is not being displayed by the very people He has chosen to be in authority over us.

Lawfully Lenient

But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, who died upon the cross for the sins of all.  In this tragic but very necessary act, Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of God’s perfect, holy law so that we can be spared from His righteous wrath.  And even though this free gift is available to all, most choose not to accept it.

Permanent Punishment

The end result of this is that those who do not choose to believe God are justly sentenced to eternity in the lake of fire.  Since God is perfect, He cannot allow sin to occur without being punished.  And since God is perfect, His justice is perfect, and His judgements are perfect.  And since God’s judgements are perfect, the sentences He pronounces are perfect as well.  And His proscribed sentence for refusing to acknowledging that God is righteous and we are not is eternal separation from God in his jail – the lake of fire.  This was not originally designed for humans, but for the demons and the devil who, being in the presence of God, rebelled against His authority.

Justice means nothing unless the law is enforced, and the sentence matches the crime.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross allows God, during life, to show us mercy and grace.  Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, God’s wrath would still be upon us, and we would face eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I showing God’s mercy and grace in justice as I interact with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown Yourself to be full of mercy and grace, in that You give us life and reconciliation through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us to be ever mindful of Your desire for us to show Your justice when we are in a position to do so.  Grant us wisdom and discernment that in all things we would act in justice, for that is who You are.  Provide us with the desire and ability to show the world Your justice, that the righteous will rejoice, and those who do wrong will tremble with terror.  Let not the oppressed be overwhelmed by the wicked, and may we see the removal of unjust judges in our court systems.  I pray, Father, that you would reconcile the lost to Yourself, that You would be praised and glorified.  This I ask in the precious and powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Saved by God – Joel 2:32

And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.

For those who have questions:

What is being saved?

Being saved is a spiritual state where God has legally declared you righteous because of your acceptance of the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross as payment for your sins, as the final and only payment acceptable to God, and you have chosen to repent of those sins.  For it is by faith and faith alone, that we declare with our mouths that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead for our sins.  Because of this, God restores to us a spirit of life, for we are spiritually dead because of our sin nature.

What about works?

James says that faith without works is dead.  So what place does works have in our walk with God?  Works are the outpouring of our lives in gratitude for what God has done and is doing inside of us.  It is a visible manifestation of the change of heart we have towards God and sin.  Works do not make us any more acceptable to God than we already are – for it is Jesus’ righteousness that makes us acceptable.   God has prepared works in advance from before the foundation of the world for us to do in order to glorify His name, not to earn our way into Heaven.

Who can be saved? 

ANYONE who calls upon the name of the Lord.  And His name is The Lord Jesus Christ.  For all who would come to the Father must go through the Son.  Jesus said that if He was lifted up, He would draw ALL men to Him.  The Greek word translated “all” means exactly that – “ALL.”  Just because you are drawn doesn’t mean you have arrived.  If you are drawn to go to the Superbowl, but instead go bowling, it doesn’t matter how much you wanted to go; YOU WEREN’T THERE.  God says that He does not want anyone to perish.  But the wages of sin is death, so respond if you feel God tugging at your heart today.  For God so loved the world, He sent His one and only Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

What does it cost to be saved?

EVERYTHING!  It is like a drug addict on the verge of overdose coming to a methadone clinic.  They want to be healed.  But the only way to do so is to GIVE UP THEIR WAY OF LIFE FOR A NEW ONE.  If the drug user gets clean but refuses to stay clean, what good was it to them?  God cleanses us of our unrighteousness, and give us the righteousness of Christ.  We can then, with the power and help of the Holy Spirit (think AA with a multi-billionaire as your sponsor) you are able to live a life free from being enslaved to sin.  Sin is a drug – once it gets its claws into you, it is very hard to break free of its grasp.  And what you thought you could control, now controls YOU.  But God is merciful and full of grace, and is faithful and just to forgive us when we sin if we repent.

The good news is, just like the drug addict, when you come to God, He gets rid of your addiction, and then gives you His wealth and strength to crawl out of the hole you dug for yourself.  God says He owns all the gold and all the silver.  And He is more than able to give you what you need, for He created everything, and can create some more if He wants.  Not only that, He gives you Himself.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in you to empower you, encourage you, direct you, and keep you clean and sober from sin. But because the world is like Bourbon Street, with bars lining both sides, it is hard to not walk in and have a drink.  When we do, the Holy Spirit becomes our advocate, and urges us to get sober, and gives us the strength to do so – no matter how embarrased we feel for falling off the wagon.  And as God helps us to grow in strength, it gets easier to say no to sin.  Whatever you feed inside you will grow.  Make sure you don’t intentially feed the monster by sinning…

When you come to God in intial repentance, you are basically saying that you are morally bankrupt.  God then fills your account with Christ’s righteousness until it is astronomically large (for you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing).  Who cares if you come to the table with 23 cents in your pocket?  God owns all the banks!  What’s 23 cents compared to immeasurable riches?  Change is never easy, is it?

How do I become saved?

Click here for more information.

Am I saved? 

Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead as payment for your sin by faith and faith alone?  Then you are saved!  Read the Bible.  Pray to God.  Beg God to help you to live righteously for Him and to get rid of all the things in your life that are displeasing to Him.  God is faithful and will joyfully answer those kind of prayers!  Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  Having put on the helmet of salvation, (experentially) know that you are saved!

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show us in Your word how good You are.  For You are a just God, and must punish sin; yet being filled with mercy and grace, have given us a way to be reconciled to You.  Father, forgive me for my sins.  I deserve to go to Hell, but you have given me a way to be with You instead.  Help me to live this life in obedience to You.  Carry me when I cannot walk.  Strengthen me for the battles ahead.  Provide all that I need physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, that I may be equipped to do Your will.  Guide me in the way I should go.  This I ask in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

The Holiness of God – 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

God takes things very seriously. When Moses struck the rock twice to bring forth water after God had told him to speak to the rock, it cost him a blessing – going into the Promised Land. But God still held Moses in high regard – Moses appeared with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Do we take the things of God as seriously as He does?  Notice the observation by Paul that some of the believers were weak and sick and had fallen asleep (their bodies died) because they were taking communion without discerning the body of Christ.  If you believe this to be the case for you, read James 5:14-16 and be obedient to the Word of God to resolve the issue.

God calls Himself Holy in His Word time and time again.  Here are three instances:

The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (carm.org) defines Holiness as:

Holiness is a quality of perfection, sinlessness, and inability to sin that is possessed by God alone. As Christians, we are called to be holy (1 Pet. 1:16). But this does not refer to our nature. Instead, it is a command of our practice and thought. We are to be holy in obedience (1 Pet. 1:15). God has made us holy through His Son Jesus (Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet. 2:9).

Holiness is being set apart FROM sin, and set apart TO God.  So, let us take some time today to set ourselves apart to God.  When we do that, we will be setting ourselves apart from sin.  Let us take some time before we take communion to discern whether we are in the faith.  Cry out to God to show you any sin in your life; acknowledge what He shows you (if anything) and repent.  Then, with clean hands and a pure heart, we can confidently take communion in joyful celebration!

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are Most Holy.  We fail to even begin to recognize how Holy You are.  You have told us in Your word that if we saw Your face, we would perish.  Help us to grasp the extent of Your Holiness, so that we can rightly discern ourselves as the Body of Christ.  Prepare our hearts for holy communion.  Forgive us our sins.  Cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Instill within us such a sense of Your presence that we are better able to humble our hearts before You.  You take this so very seriously; please help us to do the same.  Please do not discipline us in Your anger, but renew your mercy, for we are in desperate need of it.  Thank You, Lord God, for Your faithfulness in all things.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?