Blessed in Our Doing

James 1:16-18 ESV

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

We hear a lot of talk these days about God’s grace, and how it is a free gift from him to us, which it is, and yet many people make up in their own minds about what that grace is and what it isn’t. But if it is from God, then it will conform to God and to his will and purpose for our lives (Tit 2:11-14).

For, God’s divine character and his divine will for us humans has not changed. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, we are taught that we must surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, and obey his commands, and leave our sinful lifestyles behind us.

There is no wiggle room under the New Covenant for continued deliberate sinning against God as a matter of life course or of practice (habit). God’s grace allows for the fact that we might sin (1 Jn 2:1-2), but it does not allow for habitual deliberate sinning against God (Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6).

For, when we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, and now by God’s Spirit we are to walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Eph 4:17-24).

We as Christians are to be an offering to God, a sacrifice, dedicated to the Lord and to his service, set apart for God and from the world, holy unto God. We are to give ourselves to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our acceptable worship of him (Rom 12:1-2).

James 1:19-21 ESV

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

There are many people talking about lots of different things, and there are many people teaching numerous variations of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But they aren’t all speaking the truth. They aren’t all teaching the pure word of God. Many of them are teaching a gospel which is altered and adulterated.

So, if we are to be quick to hear and slow to speak, then we need to make certain that what we are hearing, with regard to the Scriptures, is the truth, and that we aren’t listening to and receiving lies. We can be too quick to hear, in other words, if we don’t test what we hear against the truth.

On social media there are so many different messages, and probably most of them are not what we should be listening to, or else we need to be listening to them with discerning minds and hearts. Too many people are too quick to listen on there, and they are quickly accepting lies for truth.

So, it isn’t always a good idea to be quick to listen, for we may be too quick to accept lies for truth or to accept things into our minds and hearts that are not good for us. So, in these types of cases, we need to be slow and deliberate in our listening so that we don’t listen to the wrong things.

But the message here is that we should be good listeners. We should not be too quick to respond to people, especially if we are going to respond in anger. So, if we hear things we don’t like, we need to pray for the wisdom of God in how to respond so that we aren’t a bad witness for Christ, and so we don’t say things to hurt others. We need to think before we speak!

James 1:22-25 ESV

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Many people today in the Christian world are teaching that we are NOT to obey the word of God, for they call that “works-based” salvation. But they are interpreting the Scriptures wrongly because they are ignoring the bulk of the teaching on what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Probably most of you reading this have read other devotions the Lord has given me to write. One thing that has become abundantly clear to me as I have been writing these daily devotions is that it doesn’t matter if I am teaching from the Old Testament or the New, the message is consistent.

It doesn’t matter, as well, what book I am teaching from in the New Testament. The message is consistent. You can’t miss it unless you are pulling Scriptures out of their context and unless you are making up your own gospel based on those cherry-picked Scriptures out of their context.

For, the message throughout the Scriptures and throughout the New Testament is that we are to honor God as the holy God that he is, and that we do this by humbling ourselves before him, by repenting of our sins, and by turning away from sin to follow our Lord Jesus (God the Son) in obedience to his commands.

[Lu 9:23-26; Acts 26:18; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Tit 2:11-14; Col 1:21-23; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; etc.]

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to do what his word teaches us under the New Covenant, much of which comes from the teachings in the Old Testament, too. Thus, if we are not obeying him, as a matter of practice, we don’t know him, and we don’t have eternal life with him (1 Jn 2:3-6).

So, we are to put away from our lives the fruitless deeds of darkness, and we are to walk in the light of God’s truth and righteousness. We are to walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. And we are to persevere in our walks of obedience to the end, and we will be blessed in our doing, and we will be blessed with eternal life with God.

I Can See Clearly Now

By Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshinin’ day
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshinin’ day

Oh yes, I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshinin’ day

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