Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 5:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2 (ESV).
The Fear of the Lord (5:11-15)
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Do you know the fear of the Lord? This is all but lost in today’s modern Christian world. To fear God is to honor, value, esteem, respect and obey him. It is to believe his words, to take them seriously, and to follow them. It is to not take God and his grace for granted, but to allow his grace to transform our lives. It is to value the spiritual over the physical, the eternal over the temporal, and what is internal (the heart) over what is external. It is to desire God and his Word above all else, and to want nothing more than to serve him all of our lives, being his servants and witnesses. It is also to consider that our lives are no longer our own, because we were bought with the price of Jesus’ blood, so therefore we are to no longer live for ourselves but for Jesus Christ, God the Son, who gave his life up for us.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he who knew no sin became sin for us so that when he died our sins also died with him, and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be delivered from not only the penalty of sin, but we can be set free from the control of sin over our lives so that we no longer are under the power of sin, but we are now slaves of righteousness. For when we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (master-owner) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6).
In other words, God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. No! His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). We died with Christ to sin. How can we live in it any longer? We can’t, and be saved, too, for Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul said that if we walk in the flesh we will die (spiritually), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (eternally) with God (Ro. 8:1-14). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (live sinful lifestyles), we are liars and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).
Be Reconciled to God (5:16-21)
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Believing in Jesus Christ is not just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. It is not entry into a religious social club, called a church, either. It is not just so we can be forgiven of our sins. We believe in Jesus Christ because we no longer want to live a life given over to sin and self, but we want him to transform our lives and to conform us into the image of Christ. We also don’t believe in Jesus just so we can slightly clean up our old lives of sin at our own pace and according to our own will and purposes. Believing in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin so that we can live with Christ to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24). The old has gone, the new has come. We are now new creations in Christ Jesus, our Lord!
There are many people today within the institutional church who will try to convince you that if you forsake your old life of living for sin and self (if you repent), and if you choose to walk in obedience to Christ, believing that these are essential elements of believing faith, based on the teachings of scripture, that you are trying to earn your own salvation, but that is a lie. Not one of us can do anything to earn or to deserve our own salvation. It is by God’s grace, through faith, and not of ourselves that we are being saved. Yet, faith in Jesus Christ means that we die with him to sin and we live with him to righteousness, but not in our own self-will or power, but only because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, and only in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit now living within us. Even faith and repentance are gifts from God, but they are ones we must appropriate to our own lives.
After God created man and woman, they sinned against God. Thus, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope, and destined to spend eternity in eternal punishment. What Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins is that he made the way for us to be reconciled to (to be reunited with) God. All of us have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. So, through faith in Jesus Christ his righteousness is now credited to our accounts so that we now have our relationship with God restored. This is not automatically applied to all people, though. We must each individually accept God’s invitation to his great salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and each one of us must submit our lives to God in surrender to his will for our lives, forsaking our former lives of living for sin and self, and allowing the Spirit of God to give us new lives in Christ to be lived to righteousness now in the power of God’s Spirit within us.
When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, though, it does not mean that we are instantly perfect or that we never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). Yet, this is never to be used as an excuse for continued willful sin against God, for if we continue living in sin we do not have the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, when we do sin, it does not mean we lose our salvation. But, I do believe it breaks our fellowship with God, and that, although we have been reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus Christ, and we have the hope of eternal life with God, we need to daily die to sin and self, and daily we need to confess our sins and to choose to not walk in them (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). So, I believe this should not apply only to those who have never believed in Jesus, but also to those who have trusted in Christ, but who have strayed from their pure devotion to Christ, and who need to be reunited in faith with their Lord in their commitments to live crucified lives in Christ Jesus in the power of the Spirit within us as we yield to God.
The Day of Salvation (6:1-2)
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
If we receive something in vain, what does that look like? It means it is pointless, empty, worthless and/or unproductive. So, what would it mean to receive God’s grace in vain? I believe it means to accept, at least emotionally or intellectually, what Jesus did in dying on the cross for our sins so that we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God, but to never let his grace transform your life, and thus it is ineffective in your life. If there has been no heart transformation, there is no new birth of the Spirit, and thus you are not saved. If we do not cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives in putting sin to death so that we might live to righteousness, then we are not saved.
On the other hand, I believe there are people who are genuinely saved, who have been born anew of the Spirit of God, and whose lives began to be transformed of the Spirit of God, but who have since drifted away from their pure devotion to Christ, and they need to be brought back to the Lord in revival so that God’s grace in their lives is not without effect. So, in either case, God is making the appeal to seek him, and to follow him in surrender.
Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”