The Battle of Wills

“Our battles are first won or lost in the secret places of our will in God’s presence, never in full view of the world.”  − Oswald Chambers −

If our wills are to be conformed to God’s, it is critical that we come into His presence. Outside of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, our wills are never submissive to God’s. We love to have our own way. When God brings you to a major crossroad in your life, what will you do? We’re always left with a choice, a choice that will either move us closer to the Lord, or farther from Him. Have you spent time in the God’s presence today? Have you spoken to Him and allowed Him to speak to you? There’s no better place to be than in the presence of the Lord. And there is nothing that better prepares you in dealing with life’s issues and living for God’s glory.

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Truth: Telling It and Receiving It

As I was reading chapter four of Galatians, the apostle Paul’s words in verse sixteen just seemed to lift off the page, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth”. My thoughts went in two directions. First, I thought about the apostle Paul, who no matter the cost, proclaimed the truth of God, correcting error when it was needed. Secondly, I thought about the response of those whose error Paul was correcting. 

            Paul founded the churches in Southern Galatia during his first missionary journey. Galatians, the first of his thirteen letters recorded in Scripture was circulated among those churches. Paul’s purpose for writing was to address the issue of legalism or adding to the gospel (in this particular case, circumcision). He had preached the sufficiency of Christ alone for salvation, but after leaving false teachers came in and distorted that truth. Paul said this “different gospel” taught by these false teachers, was no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7). His letter also addressed the freedom one had in Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding believers as they battled against their sinful natures.

            There had been a time when those to whom Paul was writing felt differently about him. Many had come to saving faith as a result of his preaching. There was great joy in the salvation they had in Christ alone. Unfortunately, when Paul left, the truth about that salvation became compromised. I’m sure Paul would have much rather been able to write to commend the Galatians for their faithfulness to the true gospel, but such was not the case. This letter was not only difficult for Paul to write, but also difficult for its readers to read.    

            There are two thoughts for consideration as it relates to this text. First, is the Holy Spirit working in your life such that you will proclaim God’s truth in spite of the consequences? It’s difficult to tell someone a truth they may not believe or want to hear, but it is always right and God honoring to do so. The Holy Spirit will also guide you in the manner in which it should be done, always “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). A second thought related to this text is the manner in which we receive correction. Are there areas of your life that are out of step with God’s will, wrong beliefs that need of correcting? Is the Holy Spirit at work in you such that you will receive that truth in a spirit of humility?

            As Christians, our spirits will always be at war with our flesh. We often love to have our own way, believe what we like and do what makes us feel better and more in control. And rarely do we like to be corrected. God’s truth may be a hard thing to both tell and to receive. But God’s truth is the best thing. We have a God who loves us and who always has our best interest at heart. So much so that He gave us His Son. Salvation is in Christ alone. So seek Him and His truth, tell it, receive it and live by it. He will bless you for it, but more importantly, you will bring glory and honor to the name that is above every name, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  

Prayer

God, I want to seek Your face and seek Your will in Your Word each day. Thank You for Your revealed truth. Lord, I pray Your Spirit will be present in me so that in a direct, but gentle way I will express Your truth. But God, just as I ask for Your presence to express biblical truth, I also ask You give me a humble spirit to receive Your truth when I wander from it. Thank You for grace and forgiveness. And thank You for Your Son who paid for my sin. Help me to bring honor and glory to Him each day. Amen!

The Heart of Scripture

In his commentary on Romans, James Boice calls Romans 3:21-31 not only the heart of Romans, but also the heart of Scripture. One purpose of the Old Testament is to point us to the New Testament, specifically to the atoning work of Jesus Christ. There is perhaps no better summary of what Christ did to restore our broken relationship with God than what is found in these eleven verses. There are important theological truths taught in these verses; truths we should seek to understand. 

            But there is another truth we must also understand, the truth of the reality of sin and the wrath it deserves. The early chapters of Romans make this clear (Romans 1:18-3:20). Admittedly, these early chapters are tough to read, but if we are to truly know the extent of God’s love for us, we have to understand who we are and what we deserve apart from Him. But as true as it is about what Scripture says regarding sin, it’s equally true about what Scripture says God did about it. “But now…” (Romans 3:21). God has made a way for you and me, showing His love for us by giving us His Son, “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). That is the story of the Bible, the story of how God made a way for those who couldn’t find their way. That way is only through Christ.

            There is nothing more valuable than time spent in God’s Word each day. However, sometimes in our daily time with Him, instead of trying to read chapter after chapter, perhaps we should just read, re-read and reflect on passages like Romans 3:21-31, passages that speak so clearly of what Christ has done. We don’t have to work for what God has already done for us in Christ because there is no human way to achieve salvation. We simply need to rest in the truth that Jesus did it all.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”

The Greatest Freedom Ever Known

“It is finished” (John 19:30) 

I suppose in some ways it doesn’t seem right to elevate certain passages of Scripture above others, particularly when those words carry the special significance of being spoken by our Savior. A search through the gospels reveals seven statements Jesus made from the cross, each one having their own unique purpose. On the cross, Jesus made provisions for His mother, entrusting her care to the apostle John (John 19:26-27). On the cross, fulfilled His teaching to love one’s enemies by asking His Father to forgive those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). On the cross, Jesus demonstrated His saving grace to a thief who hung beside Him, expressed anguish at separation from His heavenly Father as He bore the wrath for the sins of His people, fulfilled Scripture saying, “I thirst”, and voluntarily gave up His human spirit that it might return to the presence of God (Luke 23:43; Matthew 27:46; John 19:28; Luke 23:46). All of these statements speak volumes as to who Christ is, and to what He has done for us. But of these seven statements, there is one that expresses a freedom like no other kind. So, the intent is not so much to elevate what Jesus said in John 19:30 relative to His other sayings on the cross as much as it is to emphasize the implication of His words, “It is finished.”

            It is easy in our Christian lives to think we can move beyond the cross. Too often we can be so much in search of the “abundant life” or that certain “experience” that we forget from which they flow, the cross. The cross is a symbol of Christ’ atoning work on our behalf; not only does it symbolize Jesus’ death for sin, but also His perfect life and victory over the grave by His resurrection. One of my favorite songs expresses the truth of John 19:30 with lyrics that say, “It is done will shout the cross, Christ has paid redemptions cost. While the empty tomb’s declaring Jesus saves.” The song is appropriately titled Jesus Saves.

            Jesus does save; He saves perfectly and completely, and because salvation is in Him alone, it is secure for all eternity. Now that’s real freedom, the kind that frees us from our past, present and future sins, and the kind we find only in Christ. That’s the kind of freedom leads to genuine worship. So, today and every day, walk in the freedom of the cross and Jesus’ three word declaration from it, “It is finished!” 

 Prayer

Father, thank You for the freedom You provide in Christ. Though that freedom will be experienced in full when we see You face to face, by Your grace we can experience it even now. Lord, help me to understand that You didn’t atone for my sin for me to remain in it, but instead, so I would respond to Your love by living a life that honors Your sacrifice and brings You glory. You are worthy of nothing less!