Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Slave to Sin

Everyone who practices sin (on an ongoing basis/living indulgently and habitually in sin) is a slave to sin. Only Jesus Christ, the Truth, can set us all free from sin's bondage. Sinners cannot break free from spiritual slavery by their own strength. The committing of sin puts us in the position of being the bondservant of sin. When we surrender our lives to Jesus and trust Him as our Lord & Savior, He shatters the shackles of our sin and now we are free to live in Him and for Him. This is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin!

Obedience to Jesus and His Word keeps us from sinning. "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Romans 6:16) We must vigilantly guard our heart, mind, and soul from being enslaved by evil passions and desires of the flesh. Who reigns over you? King Jesus (who leads you on the paths of righteousness and holiness) or Master Self (which leads you to all sorts of sin and destruction)? "For we know that our old self was crucified with Him (Christ) so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been set free from sin." (Romans 6:6-7) The key here is to die to self daily and "count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11) What controls you? Sin or righteousness? "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness." (Romans 6:20)

"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me from my sins, for forgiving me, and for giving me the gift of freedom! I am no longer a slave to sin. Please help me hide Your Word in my heart so that I might not sin against You. Please enable me to die to self daily and live a life of wholehearted devotion & obedience to You. I want others to see all of You and none of me. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Remember the Way We Were

"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12)

Before salvation, we were:
- separate from Christ (verse 12)
- without hope (verse 12)
- without God (verse 12)

- excluded from the covenants of the promise (verse 12)
- dead in our transgressions and sins (verse 1)
- following the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (verse 2)
- gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts (verse 3)

- deserving wrath (and eternal damnation in Hell) (verse 3).

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)
Without verse 13, verse 12 is depressing. Without verse 12, verse 13 is not as meaningful.

Once we're saved, we are in Christ. In Christ, we are forgiven and free, cleansed by His precious blood. Therefore, the redeemed shall rejoice with the glad hallelujahs from grateful, humble hearts.
It's always good and important to remember what we were and what we have become by the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lest we forget and take our salvation for granted! The better we understand the extent of our wretchedness, the more we appreciate the magnitude of God's grace and forgiveness! When was the last time we pondered our former state of utter depravity and desperation outside of Christ? Now is a good time for us to pause and remember how marvelous our redemption is and how blessed we are because of Christ. "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me!" (John Newton)

Benefits of reflecting upon the contrast between our former condition without Christ and our current condition in Christ:

- It deepens our humility and increases our godly sorrow for sin
- It evokes in us immense gratitude for God's incredible love, grace, and mercy for us

- It renews the joy of our salvation and gives us peace for we're eternally safe & secure
- It inspires us to love God more and trust Him more
- It motivates us to obey, please, honor, & glorify God
- It energizes us to serve God with greater zeal
- It encourages us to share the Good News with others who are now what we once were
- It reminds us to give grace and to forgive others as Jesus has graciously forgiven us
- It strengthens our faith and hope (confident assurance) even in the midst of trials and sufferings.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am forever grateful for Your deliverance! Help me to always remember what a difference You have made in my life. You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into Your kingdom of light. Thank You for the forgiveness of sins! I love You and I am resolved to live for You! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sins Separate Us from God

Our sins/iniquities separate us from God! God is holy; sins break off our relationship with Him. The only way to be reconciled to God is through Jesus Christ's shed blood on the cross for us. His ultimate sacrifice made atonement for us sinners once for all, reestablishing a right relationship with God. When we place our faith in Christ and His finished work of redemption at the cross, we have an assurance that all our sins (past, present, and future) are completely forgiven! Only Jesus Christ is able to make repentant sinners inwardly clean/justified/ cleared of guilt & shame. Because of Christ's payment for our sins, we are granted a direct access to God, allowing us to communicate with Him (through prayers). Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22) 

Sin seriously stinks!  Christ's followers still struggle with sin every single day on earth. "We have been saved from the penalty of sin. We are being saved from the power of sin. We shall be saved from the presence of sin." (Bishop Westcott) We must not abuse God's grace and forgiveness by minimizing the serious effect of sin and/or justifying our sin. We Christians are called to live a life of holiness. On the other hand, we must not underestimate the power of God's grace and forgiveness by beating ourselves up and dwelling in guilt & shame. Our guilt and shame over our past will prevent us from intimacy with God, as well as other believers in the Body of Christ. What are we to do when we sin (whether in actions, words, or attitudes)? Confess and repent immediately; then know/believe that we're forgiven! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) Verse 20 in this same chapter (Isaiah 59) says, "'The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,' declares the Lord." Don't delay. Our sin damages/severs our communion with God and hinders our prayers. "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does His will." (John 9:31) God withdraws His presence and favor ("hidden His face") from unrepentant sinners. It's not that God cannot hear, but because of sin, He will not listen and will not answer. Sin builds barriers between us and God. Once we confess our sins to God and ask forgiveness for them, our communion with Him is restored. Love God; hate sin!

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for loving us so much that You sent Jesus to die on the cross for us while we were still sinners! Search me, God, and see if there is any offensive way in me. Please reveal any sin any wrong motives and help me be quick to confess and repent. Thank You for Your inexhaustible grace and forgiveness! Empower me to boldly & lovingly share with others Your message of reconciliation. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

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