Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bad news, Good news!



So far, the devotional material I’m reading is about foundational truths. What it says often lines up with the material in two books I’m reading and the Bible study I attend. This seems mysterious until I realize that foundational truths are just that — they join hands and form a strong wall around my heart.

The Bible study is about prayer and the need for spiritual armor. Without God’s protection, I will fail — not only in praying but in living for Christ.

One of the books is about ‘respectable sins’ — those things that Christians, myself included, so easily do without thinking and without condemnation. Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I will fall into these and they will pull me deeper and deeper — and I will fail to live for Christ.

The other book is called “Listening to the Voice of God” written by a pastor who shares his struggles to pray. He appeared successful to others, but was often on the brink of disaster because of pride and other problems. I cannot relate to his job description, but I can relate to his problems. As God sets him free, my prayers are for the same deliverance lest I also get dragged down and fail to live for Christ.

Today’s devotional material sets my heart singing. This passage is rich, a favorite that calms my anxiety and concerns about being a total failure . . .  

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28–39)

Without Jesus, I would be condemned already because of my sin. With Jesus, there is no possibility for condemnation. The Scriptures encourage me with verses like these . . .

“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:19–20)

God knows that I am called, justified, and will eventually be like Jesus. He knows that Jesus died for me, that all my sin is covered. No one can accuse me or condemn me before Him because He hears the intercessory prayers of His Son.

As for the trials of life, nothing can separate me from the love of God, and He even uses all of what threatens me for my good, to aid in the process of transforming me into the image of His Son.

Not only that, God is the only one with the power and authority to condemn anyone (woe to me for doing any so-called respectable sin), but since my sin has been put on Christ, there is no condemnation. I am pardoned and every sin forgiven.

Jesus, the odd thing about this wonderful salvation is that a true understanding of it does not make me assume that I can sin and it doesn’t matter. Rather, knowing what You have done puts a deep desire in my heart to never sin again. While that is not going to happen in this life, You declare that in eternity, I shall have that desire fulfilled. Praise Your name!

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