As I was praying about what the Lord Jesus would have me write this evening, for I knew he was giving me another devotional to write, he put in my mind this passage of scripture found in Proverbs 6:6 (KJV):
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”
“A sluggard is a habitually lazy person; a slacker, loafer; a person who shirks work or obligation” (M-W Dict.).
But, this is not speaking merely of being lazy about work on a job or at home or at school. This is speaking, too, of being lazy about our relationships with Jesus Christ; being slothful, apathetic, and unconcerned about holiness, righteousness and purity.
So many people who call themselves followers of Christ are living not much different from the world, adopting worldly attitudes and behaviors, and seemingly caring little about how their actions impact the world around them. They are focused on self and on doing what pleases self. And, many of them are consumed with entertainment and the media to the point of addiction to it. They are sold out to these idols as slaves, and most of them don’t even realize it, because they have become so desensitized to the things of God, because they are so consumed with the world.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Eph. 4:25-28 NIV
But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to holiness, purity, truthfulness, integrity, and loving others with Jesus love. We are called to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. Not one of us should be among those who make sin our practice, for Jesus Christ set us free from sin and death. He delivered us out of slavery to sin, and he gave us new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness.
Nonetheless, many who profess the name of Jesus Christ have forgotten this, that Jesus gave his life up for them so that they could go free from their addictions to sin. So, they continue to walk in them while using God’s grace as a cover-up for continuing in willful sin against God. They have gotten lazy about their spiritual walks and have slipped back into sin, and many of them have lost all sense of conscience, too, about their sin.
We give the devil a foothold in our lives when we are negligent about our walks of faith with Christ and we begin to make compromises with the world, one at a time, until pretty soon we are living like we were never saved from our sins at all. This should never be! Jesus did not save us from our sins just so we escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.
So, we need to humble ourselves before God, repent of our sins, and turn (or return) to walk in humble obedience to our Lord. We need to follow the example of the ant in her diligence, perseverance and hard work. We need to be laborers for our Lord Jesus, in his service, under his command, doing what he says to do, day in and day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We must spend much time in His Word, listening to him speak, and then doing what he says.
But, if we are to walk in holiness and righteousness, then we also need to cut out of our lives that which is sinful, and that which hinders our walks of faith. This involves getting rid of those things which lead us into sin, and that which puts within our minds the wrong values, morals, attitudes and behaviors, and all that is evil, wicked, impure and unholy. We should not be entertained by such things as these. And, then we need to fill our minds with what is of God – what is pure, good, kind, decent and honorable.
Grieving the Spirit
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:29-32 NIV
I have learned that we cannot do these things in our own flesh. We can’t just make a list of those things to put off and those things to put on, and then make a concerted effort to train ourselves to change our old habits. At the root of most of these things which we must forsake, and replace with what is godly, are heart issues. The Bible speaks about how out of our hearts our mouths speak. So, we need the Holy Spirit to clean out of our hearts those things which are contributors to sinful behaviors.
If we have unwholesome things coming out of our mouths, it is most likely because we are taking unwholesome things into our minds and we are adopting them into our hearts. Or, it could be because we have not forgiven someone and so a bitter root has developed, and so what comes out is hateful and angry because we need to first forgive and let go of the pain, and trust the Lord with the people in our lives and with our circumstances.
And, a lot of these sinful habits, too, could be the result of grieving the Holy Spirit of God through continual refusal to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and choosing to go our own way, instead. And, so we need to repent of our sins, and turn to follow the Lord again, and start listening to him and doing what he says and yielding to the Lord and allowing the Holy Spirit to live the life of Christ through us.
When we are yielded to God, daily dying to sin and self, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are walking according the Spirit, and we are being led by the Spirit, then the character of God will begin to naturally flow out through us and we will love people with God’s love, and we will be compassionate towards those who are hurting, because Jesus Christ is living in us, and his life is being lived out through us.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph. 5:1-2 NIV
The Solid Rock
Edward Mote / William Bradbury
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 9:32 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. May we all take this to heart and follow you in all ways.