“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!”
~ Romans 6:16
Those who would use the grace of God and the gift of eternal salvation as license to sin understand neither grace nor salvation. Though sadly, I fear many, practically, do just that. We rationalize our sin. We think to ourselves, “I’m saved, I go to church, I’m a basically good person – surely God won’t count this sin against me”. And yet once this kind of depraved thinking has crept into our hearts and minds, then just about anything is free game at that point.
Should we think because we have tasted the wonderful grace of God it’s ok to go back and drink the bitter waters of sinful living? The Scriptures are clear: Certainly not! Some translations render that phrase “God forbid!”. The grace of God is freedom, but it is freedom from sin and strength for holy living and faithfully serving the God and Christ of our salvation. Grace is license, not to sin, but to serve. What then? Will you use the grace of God to sin or to serve?
Prayer Life Pause: Father, help me to walk away from sin and to walk more in Your grace each and every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Thus says the Lord GOD: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” ~ Ezk. 14:6
There is no room in your heart for both God and idols. The Lord desires to sit on that throne and does not tolerate any idol competing for your love, devotion and affections. We cannot serve both God and mammon (idols). The call to all true believers is to turn away from every form of idolatry and to turn heart, soul and mind to God in Christ. It is the doubled-minded person who tries to serve God and keep secret sins, desires and idols tucked away in their heart. Let us be willing and eager to repent from these things. And turn in faith, hope and prayer to the Lord and God of our salvation.
“Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it is so necessary that if I should die in the pulpit, I would desire to die preaching repentance, and if out of the pulpit I would desire to die practicing it.”
~ Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
For Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.
~ Joshua 7:1 (NKJV)
The story of Achan is really a sad one. Here’s a man who was one of the Lord’s own people, who was experiencing the blessing and favor of God along with the rest of Israel in their inheriting the Promised Land and yet, he could not withstand temptation, succumbed to the sin of covetousness and brought ruin to himself and his whole household. Worse, he thought he could hide his sin from God.
We can’t hide our sin from God and we can’t escape the sometimes fatal consequences from our sin. Not only does sin often have earthly consequences that effects those around us, those we love, but has spiritual consequences as well. Sin separates us from God and the Lord Jesus. Unconfessed unrepentanted of sin, hidden sin, only brings trouble, hurt, sorrow, pain and guilt.
Yet, the Bible says if we will repent and confess our sins, that God will forgive us. God has forgiven us in Christ. We just need to acknowledge that. 1 John 1:9, states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. God sent Jesus to forgive us. And He desires for us to come to Him, sin and all, and allow Him to grant His touch of gracious spiritual healing and forgiveness.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
~ Romans 5:1 (NKJV)
The plan of salvation by Christ reveals God as willing to be reconciled. He is ready to pardon, and to be at peace. If the sinner repents and believes, God can now consistently forgive him, and admit him to favor. It is therefore a plan by which the mind of God and of the sinner can become reconciled, or united in feeling and in purpose. The obstacles on the part of God to reconciliation, arising from his justice and Law, have been removed, and he is now willing to be at peace. The obstacles on the part of man, arising from his sin, his rebellion, and his conscious guilt, may be taken away, and he can now regard God as his friend.
~ Albert Barnes, Notes on the Whole Bible
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ…~ Colossians 2:11 (NKJV)
Which [circumcision] is of the heart, in the spirit; every man… is uncircumcised in heart, until he is circumcised by Christ and his Spirit; which is done, when he is pricked to the heart, and thoroughly convinced of sin, and the exceeding sinfulness of it; when the callousness and hardness of his heart is taken off and removed, and the iniquity of it is laid open, the plague and corruption in it discerned, and all made naked and bare to the sinner’s view; when he is in pain on account of it, is broken and groans under a sense of it, and is filled with shame for it.
~ John Gill, Exposition of the Whole Bible
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ ~ John 3:7 (NKJV)
This proclamation from our Lord Jesus to Nicodemus in John chapter 3 still stand as the watershed declaration that separates true followers of Jesus Christ from the rest of the world. Jesus’ words sets Christianity apart from all else. To be Christ’s disciple, to be adopted into the family of the Lord, to be established in covenant with Jehovah God, you must be born again.
So what does it mean when the Bible says one must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven? Well, this is where knowing the original language can be helpful. The word translated here “again” means “from above”. The phrase could be literally translated “You must be born from above, or from a higher place”. The idea Jesus was conveying is that of a spiritual birth.
To be born again, that is, from above, means we are transformed in our very being, in our principles, our feelings, and our manner of life. The beginning of this new life is called the new birth, or regeneration. It is so called because in many respects it has a striking analogy to our natural birth. It is the beginning of spiritual life. It reveals the light of the Gospel. It is the moment when we really begin to live with any purpose. Being born again is the moment when God reveals Himself to us as our reconciled Father, and we as adopted sons and daughters.
Though this new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit, we realize this glorious regenerating grace through our own personal repentance and faith. That is, through turning away from sin and turning towards Christ. There is no other way to be reconciled to God. My prayer is, dear reader, that you already know, or come to know Jesus’ words as your own, “You must be born again”.