Do we really know the truth about sin?

It is an interesting question.  As Christians we need to know the truth about sin and where it actually comes from and from whom.  If we continue to live a life of sin then how can we be a child of God?  It does not make any sense nor does it make it right.  God sees all things not matter what they are.  He knows what we will say and do before we even do it and He knows our thoughts.  We cannot hide anything from Him.  So why should we try?  By immediately confessing our sins God will immediately forgive us.  In today’s devotion Phil Ware ‘A Year With Jesus’ talks about ‘The Truth About Sin,’ when you stop and think about it that is what this world is all about.  Living in sin or life as they wish not realizing the consequences that they will face later when Christ returns.  To me that is a scary thought, one that I don’t want to be in.

Read today’s devotion and see if it does not touch your heart as it has done mine.

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

As God’s child, you need to know that some truth is very basic, very simple, and that the evil one — the“diabolical one” as John calls him — wants to confuse you by making things complicated or by lying to you about what’s important. You can tell those who are My disciples, God’s adopted children, My younger siblings by faith, because they live good moral lives full of good deeds. Those who don’t live this kind of life are not My disciples and are not God’s children.

You will not live life perfectly. None of the Father’s children, except for Me, ever have or ever will. You will slip into an occasional sin. However, My disciples do not, as John describes it, live “a life of habitual sin.” My disciples, the Father’s children, don’t “persist in sin”: sin is not their way of life and certainly not their desired way to live.

My disciples long to live as I did, dedicated to the Father and reflecting the Father’s character and compassion. When they do stumble and sin, they confess it instead of trying to hide it. My sacrifice on the cross cleanses them of their sin (1 John 1:5-10). While I don’t want you to sin even one sin because of its traps, damage, and consequences, I will forgive and cleanse you of these occasional sins. It’s the “habitual” nature of sin and the willingness to “persist” in that sin that ultimately reveals the disloyalty to the Father in a person’s heart.

If you are struggling alone with your sin, please remember John’s call for you to confess your sins (1 John 1:7-9). That doesn’t just mean that you confess them to Me or the Father, but you also get the help of another couple of brothers or sisters in the Father’s family to walk along side you and help strengthen you (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Confess your sins to these spiritual partners, these confidants in the faith, who can walk beside you, encourage you, challenge you to live the life you want to live in Me, and help you overcome the power of sin’s allure that seeks to destroy you (James 1:13-15).

No one should want the “moral anarchy” of sin and the damage it brings. As James said:

So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life.
(James 5:16).

Sin will not be your lifestyle, because you are God’s child — the Father’s spiritual DNA is alive in you through the Holy Spirit. You have been adopted into My family of grace. So let the true Spirit-transformed you shine through in your daily life!

Verses to Live

John’s words are simple and clear. Don’t let anyone switch the price tags on you when it comes to morality. While none of you is perfect, the fruit of a good person’s life ultimately shows through in good deeds and obedient and godly living. John makes that very clear in the following verses from his short letter of 1 John.

You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer — Jesus the Anointed, the righteous — arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there — He died for the sins of the whole world.

We know we have joined Him in an intimate relationship because we live out His commands. If someone claims, “I am in an intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and a stranger to the truth. But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him: anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk the path Jesus walked.
(1 John 2:1-6).

So now, my little children, live in Him, so that whenever He is revealed, we will have confidence and not have to hang our heads in shame before Him when He comes. If you know that He is just and faithful, then you also know that everyone who lives faithfully and acts justly has been born into a new life through Him.

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure.

Everyone who lives a life of habitual sin is living in moral anarchy. That’s what sin is. You realize that He came to eradicate sins, that there is not the slightest bit of sin in Him. The ones who live in an intimate relationship with Him do not persist in sin, but anyone who persists in sin has not seen and does not know the real Jesus.

Children, don’t let anyone pull one over on you. The one doing the right thing is just imitating Jesus, the Righteous One.

The one persisting in sin belongs to the diabolical one, who has been all about sin from the beginning. That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one.

Everyone who has been born into God’s family avoids sin as a lifestyle because the genes of God’s children come from God Himself. Therefore, a child of God can’t live a life of persistent sin. So it is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one: those who lack right standing and those who don’t show love for one another do not belong to God.
(1 John 2:28-29; 1 John 3:1-10)

Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I want my life to display the character and compassion of Jesus. As Your child, I want My life to be full of the goodness, obedience, kindness, and moral character that my older brother Jesus displayed when He walked this earth. To be adopted into Your family, to be called Your child, to have Jesus as my brother as well as my Lord and Savior is such an incredible blessing. So may my life display my thanks for Your grace so richly poured out on me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Either we are going to walk, talk, and act like children of God or we are going to live in the world.  For me that is a no brainier.  I prefer to live like Christ no matter what comes my way and in all areas of my life.  How about you?

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Unjust suffering–Are we prepared to do it with Christ?

Today’s devotion say that we must be prepared to suffer unjustly.  Doing it humbly and respectfully towards those that accuse, blame, or deliberately hurt us.  This I know for me has not been an easy thing to do as I have been verbally abused most of my life and have taken it internally.  Phil Ware says in his devotion today “A year with Jesus” that we will be accused, verbally abused and disrespected.  That we need to do what Christ did and take it, showing others that if we have done no wrong than it will come out in the end.  I know waiting is a hard thing to do, but being justified in the end is so much better and fulfilling than lashing back in defense at someone for saying and being mean to us.  Read today’s devotion and let it sink deep into your heart as it has done for me

A Year with Jesus:

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Life sometimes is not fair. If you have any doubts about that, just remember what you celebrate when you take part in Communion: My body was pierced and abused and My blood was shed because I was condemned based on the lies, jealousy, and politics of evil men. I was sinless, yet crucified as a heinous criminal. So if you face unjust suffering — persecution, harassment, and abuse — because you wear My name, understand that I also faced unfair and unjust treatment.

If you suffer for doing what is wrong, you are only getting what you deserve. However, if you suffer unjustly and unfairly, people usually eventually notice. People of faith are empowered and emboldened. Unbelievers recognize your holy behavior. Except for the most hardened hearts under hell’s influence, your godly behavior in the face of injustice and unfairness appeals to hearts of those looking for truth. Don’t be discouraged. Your suffering will not be wasted or forgotten by the Father.

In the face of ridicule, harassment, and abuse, your righteous character and gracious compassion will win the hearts of those who witness your life. Some will even want to know what your reason for having hope in Me might be. So be ready to give an answer or offer your defense for your faith in Me. But remember, do this“humbly and respectfully” in a way consistent with your way of life as My disciple. Remember not only that your goal is to win your case or your freedom or your rights, but that your goal is also to win the hearts of the unbelievers before whom you give witness.

Verses to Live

These verses selected from 1 Peter chapters 2 and 3 in your Bibles are connected by the theme of righteous and compassionate behavior while facing unjust suffering. The principles Peter shares here show his maturity and mellowing. Peter has been transformed from the arrogant and impetuous apostle who seemed to always overstate everything into the loving shepherd who had faced tough times and wanted to equip those he led for their tough times. Whether you face persecution, ostracism, injustice, unfairness, or passive-aggressive hostility from those around you, these words need to grab your heart and mold your behavior so that you can be an effective witness for Me.

For the Lord’s sake, accept the decrees and laws of all the various human institutions, whether they come from the highest human ruler or agents he sends to punish those who do wrong and to reward those who do well. You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants. Respect everyone. Love the community of believers. Reverence God. Honor your ruler.
(1 Peter 2:13-17)

If you are a slave, submit yourself to the master who has authority over you, whether he is kind and gentle or harsh as he deals with you. For grace is clearly at work when a person accepts undeserved pain and suffering and does so because he is mindful of God. For what credit is there in enduring punishment you deserve? But if you do what is right and yet are punished and endure it patiently, God will be pleased with you. For you were called to this kind of life, as Isaiah said,

He did no wrong deed,
and no evil word came from His mouth.

The Anointed One suffered for us and left us His example so that we could follow in His steps. When He was verbally abused, He didn’t return the abuse; when He suffered, He didn’t make threats to cause suffering in return; instead, He trusted that all would be put right by the One who is just when He judges.
(1 Peter 2:18-23)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded and show sympathy, love, compassion, and humility to and for each other — not paying back evil with evil or insult with insult, but repaying the bad with a blessing. It was this you were called to do, so that you might inherit a blessing.
(1 Peter 3:8-9)

Why would anyone harm you if you eagerly do good? Even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you will receive a blessing. Don’t let them frighten you. Don’t be intimidated, but exalt Him as Lord in your heart. Always be ready to offer a defense, humbly and respectfully, when someone asks why you live in hope. Keep your conscience clear so that those who ridicule your good conduct in the Anointed and say bad things about you will be put to shame.

For if it is the will of God that you suffer, then it is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time — the righteous suffering for the unrighteous — so that He might bring us to God.
(1 Peter 3:13-18)

Response in Prayer

Holy and gracious Father, give me strength to be gracious and faithful in the face of injustice, unfairness, ostracism, and intolerance. I need Your help to faithfully demonstrate Your righteous character and Your gracious compassion. So I ask to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit as I offer myself to You as Your willing servant and witness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I don’t know about you, but the next time someone wrongs me: I am going to react differently and more like Jesus did.

What about you?  Will you join me?  Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.  What do you think?

Where does your faith lie?

I was reading in my devotions to day from Phil Ware about how we can abandon and allow ourselves to be turned away from our faith in Jesus.  This to me is a disturbing thought.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to turn away from my faith and face the devastation of being eternally lost from God.  That is a frightening thing to think about.  I want to be living with Jesus my Lord, brother, friend, and Savior for all eternity.

Here is what the devotion says for today by Phil Ware coming from the perspective of Christ:

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Vibrant faith is precious. Yet time, troubles, trials, and temptations can act like the devil’s acids to eat away at your faith until the passion of vibrant faith is eroded. Before long, vibrant faith can become neglected faith and then ignored faith. One day you look up and your faith has slipped away from you. My writer of Hebrews first gently warned his readers about this problem with these words — I have emphasized the slipping away of faith in bold:

That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking so that we will never drift away from it. For if the words of instruction and inspiration brought by heaven’s messengers were valid, and if we live in a universe where sin and disobedience receive their just rewards, then how will we escape destruction if we ignore this great salvation.
(Hebrews 2:1-3)

Later he followed this original warning to “pay even closer attention” with a second warning to “pay close attention”:

Brothers and sisters, pay close attention so you won’t develop an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God. Encourage each other every day — for as long as we can still say “today” — so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. For we have become partners with the Anointed One — if we can just hold on to our confidence until the end.
(Hebrews 3:12-14)

This second warning is a little stronger and speaks of the process of developing “an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God”. Notice the progression that can lead to total erosion of faith:

  1. The deceitfulness of sin.
  2. Hardening of the heart.
  3. Developing an evil and unbelieving heart.
  4. Abandoning the living God.

Importantly, in these first two warnings, the writer of Hebrews reminds you that there are faith agents that can help neutralize the devil’s efforts to erode your faith. The four following faith agents are themes that run through the whole “word of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:22) you call the book of Hebrews:

  1. Pay close attention to your faith, the promises of God, the great work I did in saving you, and the great salvation you have received.
  2. Involve yourself in a family of believers where you can encourage each other daily.
  3. Remember you are partners with Me in the great work of redemption and in the coming glory.
  4. Intentionally hold on to your confidence in Me, in your faith in Me, in the promises you have in Me, and in your victory assured by My victory over sin, death, and hell.

Verses to Live

In the following verses, My writer of Hebrews shares two more warnings — strong, shocking warnings that are the culmination of the two previous warnings. They talk about the results of what happens when people actually reach the point when they “abandon the living God”! Yet as harsh as these warnings are, I want you to notice that in both of these warnings, the writer of Hebrews emphasizes his confidence that the disciples who hear his message will not come to such a bitter and destructive disaster with their faith — I have emphasized these in bold in the verses below. My writer of Hebrews gave the warnings to wake up My disciples from their lethargy, and he was confident that these warnings would work and that My disciples would respond. I am confident that the warnings will have the same effect on you, dear disciple, and that you will not let Satan’s acids eat away the vibrancy of your faith. Instead, the warnings will stir your heart and call you to fully trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to rekindle the vibrancy and passion of your faith and your promise of “such a great salvation”!

I have a lot more to say about this [blessing of having Jesus as your great High Priest], but it may be hard for you to follow since you’ve become dull in your understanding. By this time, you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet I feel like you want me to reteach you the most basic things that God wants you to know. It’s almost like you’re a baby again, coddled at your mother’s breast, nursing, not ready for solid food. No one who lives on milk alone can know the ins and outs of what it means to be righteous and pursue justice; that’s because he is only a baby. But solid food is for those who have come of age, for those who have learned through practice to distinguish good from evil.

So let’s push on toward a more perfect understanding and move beyond just the basic teachings of the Anointed One. There’s no reason to rehash the fundamentals: repenting from what you loved in your old dead lives, believing in God as our Creator and Redeemer, teaching about baptism, setting aside those called to service through the ritual laying on of hands, the coming resurrection of those who have died, and God’s final judgment of all people for all time. No, we will move on toward perfection, if God wills it.

It is impossible to restore the changed heart of the one who has fallen from faith — who has already been enlightened, has tasted the gift of new life from God, has shared in the power of the Holy Spirit, and has known the goodness of God’s revelation and the powers of the coming age. If such a person falls away, it’s as though that one were crucifying the Son of God all over again and holding Him up to ridicule. You see, God blesses the ground that drinks of the rain and then produces a bountiful crop for those who cultivate it. But land that produces nothing but thorns and brambles? That land is worthless and in danger of being cursed, burned to the bare earth.

But listen, my friends — we don’t mean to discourage you completely with such talk. We are convinced that you are made for better things, the things of salvation, because God is not unjust or unfair. He won’t overlook the work you have done or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work, as you are still doing. We want you all to continue working until the end so that you’ll realize the certainty that comes with hope and not grow lazy. We want you to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who came before you, from whom you can learn to be steadfast in pursuing the promises of God.
(Hebrews 5:11-14; Hebrews 6:1-12)

Now if we willfully persist in sin after receiving such knowledge of the truth, then there is no sacrifice left for those sins — only the fearful prospect of judgment and a fierce fire that will consume God’s adversaries. Remember that those who depart from the law of Moses are put to death without mercy based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much more severe the punishment will be for those who have turned their backs on the Son of God, trampled on the blood of the covenant by which He made them holy, and outraged the Spirit of grace with their contempt. For we know the God who said, “Vengeance belongs to Me — I will repay,” also said, “The Eternal One will judge His people.” It is truly a frightening thing to be on the wrong side of the living God.

Instead, think back to the days after you were first enlightened and understood who Jesus was: when you endured all sorts of suffering in the name of the Lord, when people held you up for public scorn and ridicule, or when they abused your partners and companions in the faith. Remember how you had compassion for those in prison and how you cheerfully accepted the seizure of your possessions, knowing that you have a far greater and more enduring possession. Remember this, and do not abandon your confidence, which will lead to rich rewards. Simply endure, for when you have done as God requires of you, you will receive the promise.
(Hebrews 10:26-36)

Response in Prayer

Relight the fire of vibrant faith in my heart, O Father, for I want to live a passionate life of service for You in confident trust in my future with You. Rekindle my passion through Your Holy Spirit as I focus my attention on Jesus, the perfecter of my faith and the One in Whom I have placed my confidence and hope. I pray this in His name, Jesus the Anointed One, my Savior and Lord. Amen.

I am not going to allow myself to be swayed and turned away from my faith.  What about you?  Will you join me in this.  We need to stand firm in today’s world of what is happening and get not only closer to God but also live our lives as Christ wants us to, telling others about Him, and bringing the lost to Him through our faith in Him.   Join me as I not only improve in my life, but I want to gain the lost souls as well.

What are your thoughts?