Resisting Our Temptation to Lie

God tells us not to lie. Telling the truth is one of the 10 Commandments, which places lying as a no-no right up there with murder or stealing your neighbor’s new car. Why is the truth so important to God? Could it be that our very salvation hinges on whether we can believe God’s promises to us? He takes great pains to impress upon our feeble minds that He is telling us the truth when He says our salvation depends on our believing in Him. To make that clear to us, He wants us to practice that same trait.

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. (Ephesians 4:25 NLT)

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. (Colossians 3:9 ESV)

Dishonest scales are detestable to the LORD, but an accurate weight is his delight. (Proverbs 11:1 CSB)

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Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.

Join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion.

“YOU SHALL NOT GIVE FALSE TESTIMONY AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR.”

That verse, from Exodus 20:16 (NIV), is the Ninth Commandment.

61. God-Writes-TenCommandmentsOne of the Big Ten that God gave to mankind through Moses. With His hand, He chiseled the words onto stone and told His people to obey each of the 10 commandments so they would be righteous before Him.

Were we to rephrase the Ninth Commandment, we might replace it with the more direct wording from Leviticus 19:11 (NIV): “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”

There it is, plain and clear: “Do not lie.”

Some of us might want to look for a caveat, starting with the word “except,” as in “except in certain circumstances,” or “when the truth will hurt someone,” or “when the truth implicates us.”

Well, those caveats don’t appear in Scripture.

What’s more, Jesus emphasized their importance when the rich young man asked Him what he must do to merit eternal life. Jesus 

told him to  obey the commandments. The man asked, “Which ones?”

Jesus replied, “All of them.”61. Rich-young-man

While Jesus didn’t list all of them, He did reference a few key ones. In the same breath as “never murder,” He said “never bear false testimony.” (Matthew 19:18 GW)

So, in God’s eyes, lying and killing convict us equally.

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OF COURSE, THE BIBLE IS VERY CLEAR that salvation is the free gift of God’s grace for those who believe in Him (Ephesians 2:8) and is not a reward for good behavior. That point is true simply because no man or woman is perfect when measured against God’s perfect standard (Romans 6:23).

However, in this discourse on the rich young man, Jesus’ focus was less on earning salvation — which we cannot do — than it was on being obedient to God’s commandments. Jesus also used the occasion to signal the importance of honest dealings with one another.

The commandment to be truthful — that is, not to deceive — is part of a package of commandments, including not to steal from another, not to covet another’s possessions, not to destroy another couple’s marital bonds, as well as not to kill someone.

The rule against deception undoubtedly refers back to Genesis 3, when  the serpent
deceived Eve into eating the “forbidden fruit,” which she then shared with Adam, her husband.

We easily can see the chain of malevolent events kicked off by that deception, from our forebears being kicked out of the Garden, to Adam tending soil that bears thistles as well as food, Eve suffering more in childbirth despite the joys of motherhood, and the frequent conflict between husband and wife caused by human sin.

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LYING IS A BIG DEAL TO GOD.

Most of us see lying as a bad thing, but certainly not the type of wrong we would equate with murder or armed robbery. Yet God is focused on lying like He was eradicating cancer.

61. Garden-of-Eden-EveIn one of the first books in the Old Testament, the LORD declares, “God is not a man, so he does not lie.” (Numbers 23:19 NLT)

In one of the latter books in the New Testament, the writer declares “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18 NIV)

Then, there’s this commandment from Paul to the church in Colossae. “Do not lie to one another,” he said, “since you have taken off the old self with  its practices.” (Colossians 3:9 BSB)

In other words, since your heart has been changed by the LORD through your salvation, you must act differently; you must be more Christ-like; you must not lie to one another.

Then there’s Paul’s strong condemnation of lying in his letter to the Roman church, when he said “God gave them over” to their sins, why? “because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Romans 1:25-26a NIV)

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WHY IS LYING SO IMPORTANT TO GOD?

Because our salvation depends on God’s faithfulness.

The whole point of God’s message to us is that we can trust Him.

        • When He tells us that Jesus so loved us that He gave His life to atone for our sins (John 3:16), He meant it.
        • When He tells us that salvation is found in Jesus and in Jesus only, that His is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12), He meant it.
        • When He tells us that all who call upon the name of the LORD will be saved (Romans 10:13), He meant it.

God went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate His faithfulness and veracity to us. He loves us and wants us to know that He will make good on His promises no matter how we respond.61. God-gave-them-over-Romans-1

The first covenant God made with mankind was with Abraham (called Abram, at the time), and it was one-sided. God ordered Abraham to dissect a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, and a three-year-old ram. Traditionally, both men entering the agreement walked between the split animals.

The Bible tells us when darkness came, Abram fell into a deep sleep, during which God — and God alone — walked between the two halves, signaling that God was bound to His side of the covenant regardless of Abraham’s obedience.

The Bible describes it this way: “After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals.” (Genesis 15:17 CEB)

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GOD’S GREATEST DISPLAY of love for mankind was in sending Jesus, His Son, to bear the punishment for our sin. To make that equation work, that exchange of the Sinless One sacrificed for the redemption of the sinful many, required complete trustworthiness.

Jesus emphasized that in His ministry. Recall these words:

        • “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37 ESV) (Jesus appearing  before Pontius Pilot), or these:
        • “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV), (Jesus teaching His disciples), or these:
        • “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17 BSB) (Jesus praying to the Father before His arrest and crucifixion).
        • “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (John 8:32 MSG) (Jesus talking to his followers).

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THE ‘TRUTH’ IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES GOD from other sources of enlightenment. God is not just trustworthy; He is the very epitome of Truth.61. Jesus-Truth

We base our salvation on this … on being able to trust the living God, the God of the Bible, for our very souls. Here are words of assurance that God purposed to include in His Word to us:

        • “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:81 NIV)
        • “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35 NLT)
        • “But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.” (Galatians 5:5 NLT)
        • “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NASB)
        • “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10 NKJV)
        • “Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NLV).

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WE CANNOT ESCAPE IT.

Our salvation is based on God’s faithfulness, and we must trust Him.

In turn, He demands that we be faithful and trustworthy in all our dealings.

Seems only fair.

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PRAYER:  LORD, our faithful redeemer. You have told us that You are Truth and that we 44. Cross_on_Biblemust be truthful in all our dealings with You and others. It is through Your truth that we know of our salvation, that we will be with You in Paradise. LORD, we pray for the strength and courage to be honest and faithful in all of our actions. We praise You, LORD, and give You all the glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

QUESTIONS:

  1. Does telling the truth as a commandment rank with refraining from committing murder, as you see it? Why do you suppose God equates the two sins? Is it to show us that breaking one commandment, regardless of how insignificant it might seem to us, violates God’s holy and righteous standard and renders us in need of a Savior?
  2. Can you see instances where you think shading the truth a bit is the wiser course of action for everyone involved? If so, are you as confident of that position now as you were when you began reading this meditation?
  3. Based on the Scripture shared in this meditation, how would you counsel a friend or young person who asks you for advice? Would you remind him/her of God’s commandment not to lie? Would you take your own advice? 

GIDEON: MIGHTY WARRIOR

God knows that each one of us is weak, yet He has chosen to work through us to reach broken humanity. We cannot do it on our own, but He does not expect us to. Instead, He will empower us through the Holy Spirit. In His Bible, He shows us how He can take a simple man like Gideon and turn him into a mighty warrior.

When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12 NIV)

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

Find blog posts at LoveAndGracetweets at Twitter.

Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.

GIDEON — YES, THAT GIDEON OF THE BIBLE — was not anyone’s idea of a gifted leader.

Yet, we read that an angel of the LORD appeared to him one day and called him “mighty warrior.”

62. Gideon_And_AngelWhen Gideon heard this word of affirmation, he replied with that famous battle cry: “Pardon me, my lord.” 

Hmm.

Not too commanding, was he?

“Pardon me, my lord” was the ancient world’s equivalent of our “Say what? You talkin’ to me?”

Let’s go back to the scene. Our hero, Gideon, is busy with the post-harvest chore of separating the wheat from the chaff. The best way the ancient world had for doing this was labor-intensive: the farmer stuck a pitchfork into the bale and threw it into the air, where the wind current would blow the lighter chaff away, thus separating it from the heavier wheat, which would fall into a heap.

Normally, this was done in a location where the wind currents were felt.

But Gideon was found in a winepress, which is a depression out of sight of those on the ground. The wind currents were not very strong there, but it afforded him sight protection from the enemy Midianites, who were prowling about.

If they saw Gideon, they probably would have run him through with a sword and taken the wheat.

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SO, HERE’S GIDEON HIDING from the Midianites, when an angel of the LORD comes down and sits under an oak tree. His greeting? “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”

At this point, Gideon chides the angel, reminding him that if the LORD were watching over Israel, if the LORD were doing His job the way Gideon thought He should, then why were the Israelites afraid for their lives. Heck, why was Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress.

Here’s the angel’s response: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Can you hold onto that question for a moment: “Am I not sending you?”

Where have we heard that one before?

Was it not Moses at the burning bush asking the LORD who should he say was sending him to free the Israelites from Egypt, and the LORD replied, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Ex. 3:14)

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GOD’S COMMANDS TO US ARE ACCOMPANIED BY GRACE.

He never sends us out without promising to be with us.

The LORD requires us to speak, think, and act according to His will. Our job, according to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), is to teach others that God has come into the world to save us from our rebellion, our hardness of heart, our human pride.

We are to take the message of redemption and forgiveness to a broken world.

All the while, He promises this: “Remember that I am always with you until the end of time.” (v. 20 GW)

62. RedemptionOften we fail. Some of us, quite often. Even when we do the right thing(s), our hearts might be looking for our glory, not His. So we repent, He forgives, He toughens us up, and we grow. Next time around, we do better. We’re stronger … until, again, we fail. The process repeats itself until we’re in glory with our LORD.

How comforting to hear our LORD’s promise to sustain us. He will not forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) nor leave us as orphans (John 14:18). He tells us not to be afraid because He will hold us up (Isaiah 41:13). When He has commanded us to do something, He says He will be with us while we do it (Joshua 1:9).

Our faith is essential to this process (Hebrews 11:1) for without faith, we cannot please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

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GOD CAN TAKE A WEAK MAN LIKE GIDEON and turn him into a mighty warrior, a warrior mighty in battle (Psalm 24:8). God’s will will prevail. His word goes out and accomplishes all that He has tasked it with. It will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).

Now, it becomes our turn to go, to be obedient, to share the Word of the LORD, to encourage others — in the name of Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit. When the LORD asks whom shall He send, let’s be like the prophet Isaiah, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8 ESV).

Well, Gideon was no Isaiah, so he didn’t quite say, “Okay, I’m your man.” Instead, he said, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh [one of 12 Israeli tribes], and I am the least in my family.”

That is where many of us stay. We know there’s Kingdom work to be done, but too often we feel we’re just not qualified to do it. The Lord certainly knows our limitations.

Most of us, if pressed, could readily point to someone else to take our place, someone else whom we think is much better equipped to handle the task the LORD has laid on our shoulders. In fact, we’re very eager to supply names, e-mail addresses, and mobile phone numbers — just to help out. We can be very helpful that way.

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WHEN WE LOOK TO THE BIBLE’S LIST of great leaders — Nehemiah, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul — we find that each one of them was prepared by the LORD to handle the task he was given before the task was assigned.

It’s not our position or title in a group that makes us a leader — not any more than expensive sneakers makes us an NBA star or nifty skates takes  us to the Stanley Cup.

62. Hockey skatesWhat makes a leader is character, and character is developed over time, usually starting with a vision, then denting that vision with adversity, then wrapping the result around perseverance. (Romans 5:3-5) (James 1:2-4)

Other examples of “leaders” were of lesser stuff. We think immediately of Barak, who would lead Israel into battle only if the female judge Deborah accompanied him.

Then, of course, there’s Gideon.

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THE BIBLE’S ACCOUNT OF GIDEON’S TRANSFORMATION is an interesting story.

First, Gideon places God’s messenger under a variety of tests or “proofs” that he is, indeed, sent from God. Of course, the angel passes every test with ease.

Then the LORD tells Gideon to assemble an army. He adds a caveat that if Gideon wants further proof that he was anointed by God, he could sneak up on the Midianites’ compound. When Gideon does — with a companion, of course — he hears the Midianites proclaiming their fear of Gideon and his army!

Yes, there’s also the winnowing down of Gideon’s troops from 30,000 to 300 because God said He wanted Gideon and the Israelites to know that it was He, the God of the Israelites, that delivered the enemy over, not the might of the Israelite army. (Judges 7:2)

First, God let every man afraid to go into battle to leave — that dropped the total by two-thirds — then He wanted only the men who lapped water by scooping it up in their hands instead of sticking their faces in the drink — that whittled most of the rest of them.

With 300 men, Gideon was fodder for a slaughter … except that the LORD’s mighty sword was raised on behalf of His people. They “won” the skirmish without fighting. The Midianites slaughtered one another.

After the battle, the Israelites wanted to crown Gideon their king, but he would have none of it. Not only would he not rule over them, he said, but neither would his son. “The Lord will rule over you,” he said. (Judges 8:23 NIV)

That often happens, too, with leadership.

Once you take the reigns for a time or two, the job is yours forever. People are quite content to let someone else handle the chores.

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EACH ONE OF US CAN BE A LEADER. To do that, we need to take ownership of our jobs. Of who we are and what we can do.

So, what is leadership?60. Faith

Leadership is character. It is not about being the boss or having one’s way. Sometimes, leadership is nothing more than looking around and seeing what needs to be done … and then offering to do it.

A leader — or one who aspires to be a leader — must dig into areas of character, priorities, attitude, and vision.

A leader has to discipline himself not only to set the agenda but sometimes to set the table for others to succeed.

Leadership is not just about our own enhancement or our position or our glory. It is not about attaining our will. It’s about sacrificial service.

Remember our LORD at the Last Supper when he got up from the table, wrapped his cloak around his waist, filled the wash basin, and kneeled down to wash the feet of His disciples — including, we presume, the feet of the man who, within hours, would betray Him.

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WHAT IS THE CALL IN OUR LIVES?

Where is the LORD’s cry in your life?

Has He been laying on your heart a task you think is too big for you, has He given you a word of encouragement that you’ve been hesitant to deliver, has He prepared you for a role in your life that He’s starting to unveil to you?

What does it take for you, for us, to take that first step of obedience?

John C. Maxwell, author of the book, Developing the Leader Within You 2.0, tells us this:

62. Bible_Leaders1. There are never enough leaders.

2. Every leader needs development.

>Moses spent 40 years being educated in the Pharoah’s house, plus 40 years of tending sheep in the desert;

>Joseph spent years in servitude to the Egyptian hierarchy and many years in prison;

>Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the Babylonian king;

>Paul was trained as a Pharisee before he was knocked to the ground by a bolt of light; and

>Jesus was … well, He had spent forever in the Trinity and then 40 days and nights being tempted by Satan.

Every leader needs encouragement, training, prayer, support. Are we giving each other that kind of encouragement? Are we coming alongside each of our brothers in prayer?

If we heed these lessons well, no one will end 2018 asking: Where have all the good leaders gone?

Instead, they’ll ask: Where have all these good leaders come from, and how can I become one of them?

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Cross Over BiblePRAYER: LORD, Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth and all creation, we give You all the honor and praise; O LORD, we take joy in worshipping You. Forgive us weaknesses, Father God; forgive us our hesitation to spread the Gospel of redemption; forgive us when we fail to honor You with our words and our deeds … knowing, O Father God, that at the root of this is our failure to honor You in our hearts. Equip us, O LORD, to be mighty warriors for the Kingdom, knowing that You’ll part the waters for us, that You’ll give us the words to say, and that You’ll hold our hands through every task, every abuse, every questions, every prayer request, every plea for understanding and help. LORD, love on us so mightily that we will love on those you place in our way. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen

QUESTIONS: 

  1. Do you feel God’s calling you to some task right now, something that seems just too big for you to handle? Are you thinking you’d like to recommend someone else for the job? Why do you suppose He chose you?
  2. What would it take for you to step out in faith and say, as Isaiah did, “Here I am, LORD, send me?” instead of what Gideon said, “Pardon me, my lord.”
  3. Who can you turn to for pray support and help in this matter? How can you pray for God’s will to be done on earth, this time through you?

Today Is … Loving Others as Christ Loves Us

The Bible tells us as followers of Christ to live lives that are worthy of respect so that we will reflect well on the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts. We’re also to be ready to testify to the life-changing power of Jesus’ love.

“My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring.” — 1 John 3:18 (NCV)

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” — 1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

God calls us to witness for Him 24/7/365. We are to live out the Gospel in how we act, think, and talk. While this includes sharing a word of encouragement with a brother or Cross Over Biblesister, and looking for opportunities to do so, it’s also about putting God’s Word to use in how we live our lives.

Then, when someone asks about the joy we feel, we should be ready to explain how Jesus Christ has changed our hearts. That’s when we share the Word in personal testimony.

QUESTION: Are you ready to share with someone — a family member, co-worker, neighbor, or even a stranger — your faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Whether you answered “yes” or “no,” could you take a moment and pray along with me and other readers of this post the following prayer for God’s guidance?

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PRAYER: O Gracious LORD, our Heavenly Father, we thank You for being a God of love and a God of mercy. Work on our hearts, O LORD, to turn them from stone to flesh, from hard hearts that are self-centered and prideful into hearts of love, hearts of mercy, hearts of service, hearts of encouragement, hearts of teaching, hearts of testimony. Lead us to serve You, for Your glory. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Galatians 2: “Crucified With Christ”

Grace is God’s free gift to mankind. It is a gift that was bought with the lifeblood of Jesus Christ, a man without sin who bore God’s wrath against all of our sins so the Father could reclaim us — those who believe in Him — to share an eternity in Paradise. We cannot earn salvation through our own efforts, but we are given the gift of salvation from God’s grace when we believe. It’s that simple; yet, for most of mankind, it’s that difficult.

This is Part 2 of a 6-part meditation on Galatians. Part 1, “No Other Gospel,” is available at Galatians 1.

Missed a blog post? Find prior posts at LoveAndGrace and tweets at Twitter.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20a ESV)

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ … because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16 ESV)

49.ChristCrucifiedForMeGRACE IS GOD’S FREE GIFT TO MANKIND.

It is a gift that was not chiefly bought nor casually given. In fact, the apostle Paul says our very bodies are temples in which the Holy Spirit lives. “You are not your own,” he writes. “You were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20 BSB).

What boggles the mind is this: Considering the stakes at hand — our eternal, everlasting, without-end destiny — you might think mankind would rush into the open arms of Jesus Christ, thanking Him profusely with tears and hugs for providing God’s grace through His sacrifice on the Cross for us.

You would be wrong.

Most people appear to be stuck on the words “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” and that’s where they stop. They don’t want any part of it, no shifting of controls from me to Him. It’s my life, and I’ll live it the way I want to. Stay back, Jesus.

Unless I need Your help, then I’ll let You know.

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DOES THAT BOTHER YOU?

It bothers me.

Aren’t you totally bummed to realize that most of the smiling faces you’ll encounter today are not remotely interested in receiving the grace offered by their Savior, nor are they willing to let Him take the controls of their earthly lives, even though the payoff is eternal life instead of eternal punishment.

Even the introductory clause of having been “crucified with Christ” is a meaningless  49.ChristDiedForMemess of words for most people, who have no idea what that means.

Really, for most people who have ever lived, the Cross was just a tragic end a long time ago in a primitive culture for a man who might well have been a gifted teacher and, possibly, an extraordinary healer, but it was nothing more than that.

Those who lived before the Cross ignored the law and the prophets.

For those of us who believe, however, it is the most incredible act of love and self-sacrifice the world has ever witnessed — at least, that part of the world that’s paying attention.

Paul, again, tells us that “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NET). The apostle Peter called the crucifixion the shedding of “the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:19 NLT).

But what is that to an unbelieving world?

Paul, again, states it this way: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV).

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SO, WE’VE SEEN THAT MOST PEOPLE do not want to cede control over their lives to the One who can give them life, and life abundantly (John 10:10), but what about that second part, about being “justified” by works or by faith? What’s up with that?

“Justification” is just a big word that means a person has been made “righteous in the sight of God.”

49.ImputationDiagramPaul says it this way: “not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness (Philippians 3:9 NET, emphasis mine).

In other words, Jesus lived a sinless life, and God credits His righteousness to my account — blotting out my sin-stained life — the moment I accept His Son as my Lord and Savior.

That transfer of Christ’s righteousness for my unrighteousness is my Ticket to Paradise!

The really big deal with that is that the alternative way to earn God’s favor is for me to live a sinless life — and I lost that one a long time ago.

“There is none righteous, no, not one,” Paul writes. “There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. … There is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12 NKJV).

The prophet Isaiah was just as blunt, saying that in God’s eyes, “All of us [that includes you and me] have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV).

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Most of us probably figure we’re on the good side of the Bell Curve. We haven’t killed anyone, or cheated on our spouse, or stolen our neighbor’s car, so we’re good.

Not so fast. Not in God’s eyes.

See, God is perfect; we are sinful.

James, the half-brother of Jesus (they shared a mother), tells us this: “If someone obeys all of God’s laws except one, that person is guilty of breaking all of them” (James 2:10 GW).

49.FocusOnJesusAll of them. Murder. Rape. Adultery. Theft. Slander. Lying.

Lest we think somehow God only keeps a record of what we do, no, He also keeps a record of what we say and what we think, as well.

Try this from Jesus’ own lips: “But what comes out of the mouth [our words] comes from the heart, and this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:18 HCSB).

And what about thoughts? “Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:4 NIV).

How about this one from Jesus: “You have heard that it was said to our people long ago, ‘You must not murder anyone. Anyone who murders another will be judged. But I tell you, if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be judged’” (Matthew 5:21-22a NCV, emphasis mine).

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THERE’S JUST NO WAY AROUND IT.

What we do, God sees as “filthy rags”; what we say, God sees as “defiling” us; and what we think, God sees as “evil.”

So, we are totally dependent for our salvation on Jesus Christ.

Considering how we don’t measure up in God’s eyes, those words from Scripture that we quoted earlier now sound beautiful and reassuring. I have been crucified with Jesus Christ. Christ lives in me. We are justified not by our good works but through faith in the Christ.

Paul said it clearly in Ephesians 2:8 NLT: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

Amen, brother.

Now, that’s Grace!

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PRAYER: Holy Father, Lord God Almighty, we are so unworthy to approach the throne with our petitions except through the blood of Jesus Christ. Would You forgive us for our lack of faith? Would You soften the hearts of our family members, friends, and neighbors who do not know You or care to learn about You? Would You just grab us in Your loving arms and never let go, even when we act, talk, and think viciously evil, self-defiling filth? God be praised with all power, honor, and glory forever. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your amazing sacrifice for us. Thank You, eternally, Lord Jesus, for claiming us as Your own. Amen