Sunday, November 9, 2014

There, but for the grace of God, go I

Galatians 5:19-21The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Our Friday night small group Bible study is continuing through an in-depth examination into the godly virtue of “Forgiveness”. An easy subject, when we are talking about God forgiving us for our sins of commission (the thoughts, words and actions that we did) and sins of omission (the thoughts, words, and actions that we should have done, but didn’t). Today’s problem is that “easy believism” pretty much ignores the sinful desires and acts of the fallen flesh, and the consequences of that lifestyle which is contrary to the Word, Will and Way of our Almighty Creator Lord God, which is judged and set aside for the righteous wrath of God in true justice of unrepented and, therefore, unforgiven sin. The "from" in the term "saved from".

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

In the final analysis, when we clearly see and understand the devastating affects of sin and the just penalty to pay, only then can we realize, comprehend and appreciate the unmerited mercy of our Heavenly Father in sending Jesus Christ to pay that price on the Cross in our place and, thereby have our sins forgiven and inherit the kingdom of God. The "to" in the term "saved to". But, what did we pay in this? What was our cost? This is not a debt paid by us, but a debt of ours forgiven. Paid by Jesus, our Redeemer, Savior and Lord.

Ephesians 5:3-6 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.”

Ephesians 2:1-5, 8-9 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

“In which you once walked” is the key phrase. In accepting the free gift of salvation and eternal life in heaven through Christ’s atoning death for us on the cross, by the grace that flows out of God’s mercy, we are forgiven. There is a choice to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, and a change from unbelief to true faith. In that exchange from death in sin to life in Christ, there is a new nature from a new heart in the new birth from above that regenerates our spirit. Because we are set apart from the god-rejecting world system, we belong completely to God. That is what these Bible verses are saying.

Colossians 3:1-15 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,  impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Remember Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.” - Matthew 6:12. Realize that forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. In reality, when we forgive another person, we’re just one sinner forgiving another. As English Reformer and Martyr John Bradford stated: “There but for the grace of God go I”. Jesus is our example and set the standard for forgiveness. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Be forgiving.

In Christ, Brian

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