Thursday, July 23, 2015, 3:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Gives Purpose.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NASB).
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
To those who reside as aliens
The Christians to whom Peter addressed these thoughts were literally living in countries which were foreign to them. Yet, in a metaphorical sense, all of us who are born of the Spirit of God live here as strangers on this earth. This world is not our home. We are just passing through on our way to heaven. We should not fit into (belong to) this world, although God has placed us here for a reason. So, the more we “come out from among them” and are separate, in that we don’t partake of the delicacies of this sinful world, the more we realize just how much we are strangers here, and that this world is not our home.
The sad reality to all of this, though, is that when we do come out from the world, and we are separate from (unlike) the world, because we are becoming like Jesus, which is what it means to be holy, we then live as strangers even within the institutional church and among many of those who call themselves followers of Christ. This is the case because today so much of the church has become one with the world, and so they think and act much like the people of this sinful world to where there is not much of a distinction between the church and the world anymore. If you do live as a stranger here on this earth, then you are considered “strange” even by others who call themselves Christians. Thus, we can be in a room full of professing Christians and feel completely alone. And, that is very sad indeed.
Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father
We, who are in Christ, by faith in Jesus Christ, are chosen by the foreknowledge of God the Father. Our God is all knowing, so this foreknowledge certainly indicates that he knew in advance who would accept his invitation to his great salvation, and who would not, yet this foreknowledge is greater than just God knowing in advance who would receive him as Lord and Savior of their lives. This foreknowledge also means: predetermined or prearranged. It has to do with his divine will and purpose; his providence. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:11-12).
By the sanctifying work of the Spirit
How are we chosen? – By the sanctifying work of the Spirit. This sanctification means: “The process of making or becoming holy, set apart – the believer being progressively transformed by the Lord into His likeness” (biblehub.com). The Spirit of God is the one through whom we come to know Christ, i.e. we are born of the Spirit of God, and he is the one through whom we are being made holy, and through whom we are being transformed into Christ’s likeness. When we believe in Jesus Christ, and we are born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit now indwells our lives. We now have God/Jesus, in the person of the Spirit, living within us. And, we are now his body, his temple. The Spirit was given to us to teach us all things, to remind us of all that Christ taught when he walked the face of this earth, and to counsel, lead, guide, encourage, strengthen and empower us in our faith and ministry.
This process of sanctification in which we are set apart from (unlike) the world, and in which we are being transformed into Christ’s likeness, involves our cooperation with the Spirit’s work. In other words, we can’t be immersing (engaging and occupying) ourselves in today’s culture (philosophy, values, and beliefs) and expect to have the Spirit of God work his process of sanctification in our lives. The two are contrary, one to the other. We have to come out from the world and be separate. This means we need to evaluate what we are taking into our minds each day, what types of activities we are involved in, and what types of close associations we have, and we need to examine these in light of the teachings of scripture on holiness, and ask the Spirit of God to show us what things in our lives are in conflict to his divine Word, purpose, and will for our lives. And then, by the Spirit, we need to put to death the deeds of the flesh, so that we can walk in the Spirit, in his holiness.
To obey Jesus Christ
What are we chosen to? – To obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. Some people today will tell you that the only obedience God requires of us is to “believe” in Jesus Christ, yet most of them also do not explain what it means biblically to believe in Jesus. Their belief sounds more like intellectual assent. Yet, is that what scripture teaches?
Jesus Christ said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self (his self-life), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus. How can you follow someone if you don’t do what that person says? He also said that if we hold on to our lives (of sin) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). He said his sheep listen to his voice, they know his voice and they follow (obey) him, and these are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands (See: Jn. 10:27-30). Yet, some people will tell you that Jesus’ words don’t apply to us today, even though Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which the church is built, and he is the chief cornerstone of God’s building, the church, and he is the one who died on the cross for our sins, and he is God. Yet, just for the sake of discussion, even if that were true, and even if the gospels do not apply to Christians today, what did the apostles teach?
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8:3-8; cf. Eph. 4:17-24).
What are the righteous requirements of the law? The law demands perfection, yet none of us are perfect. Not one of us can keep the entire law, because we still live in flesh bodies. We all fall short of God’s approval. So, the law can’t save us. So, God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, and to take our punishment for us, so that through faith in Jesus Christ, Christ’s righteousness is credited to our accounts. Yet, this doesn’t say that the righteous requirements of the law will be fulfilled in us who believe, but in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, what can we conclude from this? We can conclude that believing in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins means we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives by submitting ourselves to the cross of Christ in our lives via death to sin and living to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24), yet all in the power and working of His Spirit within us, and not of our own fleshly works. True faith in Jesus Christ is humble, respectful, honoring of God, submissive, repentant and obedient (See: Jn. 8:51; Ac. 26:16-18; Tit. 2:11-14; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 2:3-6; 3:24).
And be sprinkled with His blood
This “sprinkling” means “purification” (biblehub.com). To purify means to cleanse, refine, decontaminate, and to make pure. “And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:21-22). “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:7, 9). “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Co. 7:1; cf. Tit. 2:14; Jas. 4:8; 1 Jn. 3:3).
Notice with me the order in which these introductory remarks were given. We are chosen and sanctified for obedience and sprinkling (purification) by his blood. This “sprinkling” with his blood is not just the purification which takes place when we initially believe in Jesus Christ and are forgiven of our sins, but this is a daily (present tense) purifying us as we daily confess sin, draw near to God in full assurance of faith, and as we walk (conduct our lives) in the Light (truth, righteousness, holiness of God). We have a part in this daily cleansing, for we must daily die to sin and self, and daily put to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit of God. We are not purified from all unrighteousness, then live our lives to please ourselves, and then go to heaven one day, as many people would have you believe. This purifying is daily, and we have an active part in it by daily rejecting the temptation to sin, and by confessing and repenting when we do sin, and by submitting ourselves to obedience to Jesus Christ and to his will and purposes for our lives.
Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. If we conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. This is true faith. And, this is God’s grace, not just to free us from hell and promise us heaven when we die, but to deliver us out of slavery (bondage) to sin, and to empower us to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. If someone is telling you differently from this, then they are telling you a lie. Don’t believe me, just because I said it, though, but believe the Word of God. And, do what it says to do. Your life depends on it.
He Gives Purpose / An Original Work / June 9, 2012
“Listen to Me when I’m calling to you.
Obey freely My word.
Follow Me in all of My ways.
Do all that I say.
Hear Me gently whisper to you
My will for your life and future.
Give all of your life and heart to
Follow Me always.”
Repent of your sins and worship Jesus.
He’s your Lord and Master.
He died for your sins so you could
Live with Him today.
He has a plan for your life and
He gives purpose and direction.
He gives meaning to your life,
So follow Him today.
“I love you so much I gave My life for
You to walk in My ways,
Living for Me each day as you
Bow to Me and pray.
Witness for Me of your love for Me and
Of My grace and mercy,
How I died to save you of your
Sins now and always.”