Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grace of God


See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. Hebrews 12:15-16

As I studied this verse, something very alarming jumped out at me. Paul linked sexual immorality with Esau's disdain for his birthright.  Esau cared more about fulfilling his earthly, bodily desires than more important, lasting matters.  (Genesis 25:29-34)  For a second I thought the link might only be in my imagination, but then Paul linked the two again here:

“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both of them. The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

And below, he reminded us that all earthly things will pass away, including our appetites.  He encourages us to live in a manner that reflects our true citizenship in heaven.

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 3:17-20

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but this sounds like a very serious matter to me!  We know that we don't "work" for salvation, but it seems that God expects us to value our position as His dear children enough to choose to deny our old ways of satisfying our bodies however we used to see fit and instead to remember who we are and how much more valuable our inheritance is in heaven is than this short life here on earth. He said repeatedly that if we love Him, we will obey Him. (Luke 6:46, John 14:21)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:3-10

I fully intend to take the advice from God's word and not the world's advice, which does not lead to eternal life, but to destruction.  (Galatians 6:7-8)  Jesus paid such a high price for my freedom from sin.  (Romans 6:6-7)  Why would I want to dishonor Him and become enslaved to it again instead of to righteousness as He intended?  (Romans 6:17-18, Ephesians 4:22, Galatians 5:13, 2 Timothy 2:19)  Why would I want to disdain my inheritance in heaven and live as though I don't know I am a child of God or as though I don't know what pleases my Father?  Who or what do I love more?  If the answer is anyone or anything but God, then I have a serious problem!  If I love anyone or anything more than God, that is idolatry. What a horrifying thought.  Idolatry does not have to involve something made with human hands of wood, metal or stone--it can take many forms. I don't think anyone would argue that God hates idolatry and deserves better from His children.

Paul's letters were written to the Church. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) Unbelievers are enslaved to sin and follow the instincts of their bodies, because they're not born again--they live by the flesh and not the Spirit.  (Colossians 3:5-10, 2 Peter 2:17-19, 1 John 3:1-10)  But the children of God know better and care about pleasing God, not about blending in with the world and pleasing people. (Ephesians 5:1-3)  We have His Spirit inside of us enabling us to WANT to do His will as well as to DO His will.  (Philippians 2:13, Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 13:5) Being "enslaved to righteousness" is for believers, so needless to say, it occurs AFTER salvation.  We have been set free from trying to work for our salvation and from being in bondage to the desire to sin and from its penalty of death.  We could never earn, deserve or repay the debt that was satisfied on our behalf by Jesus.  For that very reason, we live in a manner worthy of and pleasing to Him in gratitude and respect for Him as our Lord and Savior.

In the following verse, prophecies do not only refer to “telling the future,” but in speaking out about what God has said (which often includes what He has told us in advance in the Bible). When it says “may God Himself” sanctify (cleanse, purify) us, I certainly hope no one thinks anything to the effect that they hope He can keep up with them? He gave us free will and if we choose to violate our minds and bodies with things He hates, then do we say He should have prevented us from doing it? He speaks to our hearts and He washes us clean (again and again, of anything): If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 There is a difference between deliberately practicing sin (living in it continually, premeditating it with no thought of pleasing God) and slipping or not knowing better. (1 John 5:18)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23

I can’t tell anyone what to do or make them want to do anything, but I pray that everyone I have had or will have any contact with whatsoever will be ready when the Lord returns. We have been cautioned repeatedly in the Bible to keep watch. (Matthew 24:42-44, Matthew 25:13, Matthew 26:41, Mark 13:33, Luke 12:35-40, Romans 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Peter 4:7, Revelation 3:2-3, Revelation 16:15) I pray that we all take God’s advice seriously, for our own sake and for the sake of His holy name. (2 Corinthians 12:21, Hebrews 10:26-31)

If we love God and put Him FIRST, ALL of the time, He will help us in every way we need to live in a way that honors and pleases Him. His Spirit convicts us of our sin and guides us, but only if we allow Him. (John 16:13-15) If we shield ourselves from the truth and immerse ourselves in everything but the Word, then He is grieved and quenched. I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want that. I NEED His help and am looking forward to being with God forever. There’s nothing here that could possibly compare, is there? Let’s not value a “pot of stew” over our birthright as born-again children of God. As always, if you know all of this and already strive to walk as closely with God as you are able (by His power), please shine your light on the darkness around us so we can all be ready! (Colossians 1:28-29, 1 John 5:16-17, Ephesians 5:8-13, 1 John 1:5-6) I hope with all my heart to see you all there!

kit: Lovely Vision and With Grace by Creative Victorian Designs