Living and Dying

Psalm 103:11-14 ESV

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

We are all sinners by nature. We have all sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval and his righteousness. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation. For, we are but flesh. No amount of good works, on our part, will ever gain us God’s divine approval. And, this is why Jesus, God the Son, came to earth, took on human form, and died on a cross for our sins, and was resurrected back to life from the dead.

For, in Jesus’ death on that cross he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when he died, our sins died with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, on our behalf. And, the whole reason he did this was that we might be able to die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness, because he paid the price for our sins with his blood so that we could be reconciled to God.

Thus, it is only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, that any of us can have our sins forgiven – that we can be delivered out of our slavery to sin. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can any of us die with Christ to sin and live with him to righteousness, too, and have eternal life with God.

But, we need to understand what it means to believe in Jesus Christ and what God’s grace to us looks like, too. For, not one of us can even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to Christ. And, even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God. And, the word “faith,” literally means to be persuaded, i.e. to be persuaded by God as to his righteousness and holiness and of our need to walk righteously in holy living.

So, if God draws us to Christ, and he persuades us as to his holiness, and he gifts us with the faith to believe, then this kind of faith is going to submit to the Lordship of Christ, and it is going to forsake sin to follow Jesus.

Also, God’s grace to us is not just forgiveness of our sins so we can go to heaven one day. It is also not free license to continue in sinful practices without guilt or remorse, either. God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (fleshly lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. God’s grace to us paid the price for our sin so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin and so we could live holy lives.

And, this is why this Old Testament passage, and New Testament passages, as well, stress the fact that God’s love and his forgiveness and his compassion are toward those who fear the Lord, who respect, revere, honor and obey him. For, to come to faith in Jesus Christ we must die to our old lives of living to sin and self, and be reborn of the Spirit of God. And now, empowered by the Spirit of God, we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God.

Thus, we need to understand that when the Lord removes our sins from us, this is not just him forgiving our sins, but it is him delivering us out of our addiction to sin, and it is him putting sin to death in our lives that we might no longer walk in (live in) sin, but that we would now walk in his holiness and righteousness. And, this is granted to those of us who fear him, to those of us who have humbled ourselves before God in repentance and have turned to Jesus to walk with him now in his ways and in his truth.

Psalm 103:15-16 ESV

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.

This is the destiny of all who have not trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. True, all of us are going to die physically one day unless we are still here when Jesus returns for us, his bride, and he takes us to be with him forever, without us having to die a physical death first. But, we are not all going to die spiritually. Some of us will live on with Christ forever.

For those of us who are following Jesus Christ with our lives, our lives on this earth have meaning. They have purpose. They have direction. And, they have empowerment from on high to walk righteously and to surrender to Christ and to obey him in doing what he commands us to do. And, so our time on this earth is productive and fruit bearing for God’s eternal kingdom.

So, even though all flesh is going to die one day, and not one of us knows how long we are going to be on this earth, we don’t all have to live with this sense that we are just here for a time and then one day we will be gone, and that’s the end of it all. That all sounds so utterly hopeless. We can live with purpose and even die with purpose, and we can live on even after death, with our Lord for eternity, and that is hope!

Psalm 103:17-19 ESV

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

So, even though, as flesh, we are going to die one day, and our flesh will be no more, yet because of God’s love to us, to us who fear him, we can live on forever, not in flesh bodies, but one day in glorified bodies. And, this is a promise from God to all who walk in the fear of the Lord, and who live to please him, and who walk in obedience to his commands, in his strength.

And, this is not just Old Testament teaching, either. This is what the New Testament teaches us, too. We must walk according to the Spirit if we want to have eternal life with God. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we are going to die in our sins, and not have life everlasting with our Lord. If we make sin our practice, we will die without Christ for eternity.

This is not saying we must live in sinless perfection, for if we could, Jesus would not have had to die. But, this is saying that either our lifestyles are given over to following Jesus Christ with our lives or they are given over to following the flesh. Either we practice sin or we practice righteousness. This is not saying we will never sin, but that sin should no longer have dominion over our lives, but now we should be servants of Christ’s righteousness.

So, if you want to be assured that you have eternal life with God, then you need to humble yourself before the Lord, surrender your life to him, submit to his Lordship over your life and, empowered of the Spirit of God, now walk with him in obedience to his commands, and follow his leading in your life. For, this is what it means to believe in Jesus. This is what God’s grace does. It transforms us away from living to sin to living to righteousness.

Faith in Jesus Christ means our lives are no longer our own to be lived the way that we want. For, faith in Jesus Christ means we now belong to God, because Jesus bought us back for God with his blood so that we might now honor God with our lives. And, it means Jesus is now Lord (owner-master) of our lives and that we are to now submit to him and do what he says. For, there is no better life, and there is no other life on this earth that we are to live, for we were made for this purpose, to give God glory through our lives.

May Christ Be Seen in Me

Lyrics by Lois DeHoff
Music by Percy Crawford

…Then closely walking by Thy side, may love flow out thro’ me,
That those whom Thou shalt lead my way may, too, find life in Thee.

May Christ be seen in me, O Lord,
Hear Thou my earnest plea;
O take me, fill me, use me, Lord,
Till Christ be seen in me.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

[See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Co. 6:20]

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