Daily Devotional: The Conquering Love Of Christ
Message by Wil Pounds
The Conquering Love of Christ
Upon close examination there is only one way to explain the dramatic changes and resultant attitudes and motivations of the Jewish rabbi, Saul of Tarsus. He was a conquered man. He was in his own words, “a servant of Christ Jesus . . . and set apart for the gospel of God.” The most powerful, transforming force in his life was an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
He was in love with the risen Lord Jesus Christ whom he had met on the road to Damascus. He was a changed man. No longer was he striving to please God and earn salvation by striving to do good works. He was now resting in the finished saving work of God in Christ on the cross.
Paul wrote, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Martin Luther had no peace with God even though he desperately wanted to please God. The harder Martin worked at earning peace with God, the more elusive that sense of acceptance became for him. He actually came to the place where he hated God because of the impossible standards he thought God imposed on sinful depraved man.
One day while he was studying Romans 1:16-17, God spoke to him with the deep convicting truth of His Word. “The righteous person will live by faith.” God opened his eyes to the saving fact that the righteousness he so longed to have cannot be earned, merited, or gained by man’s virtue, but is a righteousness of God, freely given to all who will by faith receive it.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
We do not have any righteousness of our own to bring to God because we are bankrupt sinners. We receive God’s righteousness, not through any works of our own, but by faith alone in the finished work of Christ.
When we put our faith in Christ, we take God at His word and believe what He says about us and His saving grace in Christ.
Luther said, “I had no love for that holy and just God who punished sinners. I was filled with secret anger against Him. I hated Him. . . . But when I learned how the justification of the sinner proceeds from the free mercy of our Lord through faith, then I felt born again like anew man.”
Luther, like Paul, discovered that Christianity is Jesus Christ.
Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Does He occupy your thoughts? Is He the center of your attention? Do you speak often of Him?
Do you love Jesus? Do you love Him with all your heart? Do you love Him with all your being? There is nothing like being conquered by His love. It lifts you out of the “shallow and selfish, constantly shifting ebbs and flows of cultural sands” in our day. May our very person, like the “man in Christ,” be filled with more and more of Him “who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20) because “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).
Paul was in love with Christ, and that is the only way you can explain him. He had been conquered and captivated by the living Lord Jesus Christ. I believe with all my heart that when He has conquered our hearts, we will love Him the same way and then and only then will our contemporaries say of us, “There is a man, or there is a woman, or there is a young person in Christ.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: The Attitude of God Toward the Saved
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
The Attitude of God toward the Saved
Was the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross all-sufficient for God to save the sinner? Was His sacrifice sufficient for God to justly keep the sinner saved? Is God lacking in wisdom and power to fulfill His eternal purpose for the saved sinner?
Ultimately the question of eternal security is reduced to a question of the all-sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross.
If the person who has received eternal life by believing on Christ is ultimately lost then we must conclude that God is impotent and the sacrifice of Christ is not sufficient to save the depraved sinner. One would have to conclude that the Sovereign LORD God would have to submit to a power greater than Himself that He has created.
The eternal purpose of God for the sinner is that we be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:10; 1 Jn. 3:2). Could our great God and Savior be so careless as to what becomes of the person He has so loved and sent His Son to die for on the cross?
The apostle Paul argues the attitude and power of God will be “much more” for the person He has saved than His attitude of love for His enemies before He saved them. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).
God has demonstrated His love toward His enemies by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross (vv. 6, 8). Christ died on behalf of, or instead of the sinner. Paul argues from the greater problem to the less saying the greater thing is the justification “by His blood.” Since that was an awesome mystery of profound cost, keeping the sinner saved is less of a mystery. God gave His Son as a propitiation for our sins (Rom. 3:25; Col. 1:10; 1 John 2:20; 4:10). We have become reconciled to God by means of the death of His Son. Paul argues, “much more then” we shall be saved “by His life.” Christ is alive, seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, “since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Since God has gone to such great costs to save us, He will do “much more” if that is needed to keep us saved (Rom. 5:9-10). It is inconceivable that our Good Shepherd and Savior who has sacrificed so much to save us in giving His Son on the cross, would be careless to insure or secure such an investment.
How “much more” is His attitude of love to those whom He has cleansed in His blood, transformed by His power and saved. If God has gone to such lengths to save us then He will surely save us from His fiery wrath by that same blood of propitiation. He died in the place of the powerless, ungodly sinners who were His enemies. Certainly, his Savior will not forsake that “now-declared-righteous” person. Since the blood of Jesus has resolved the greater dilemma, certainly the justified sinner will be saved from God’s wrath. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The saved sinner will never be condemned to hell (Jn. 5:24).
The atoning sacrifice is totally the work of God, accomplished by the blood of Jesus. God has removed the enmity that stands between people and God. Since reconciliation was done “through the death of His Son,” while we were enemies, then His present resurrection life in heaven will insure the complete and final salvation of believers.
Paul’s argument is, “Before we were saved, God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us. Now that we are His children, without doubt He will love us more.” If God saved us while we were sinners, He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. The child of God will not experience the wrath of God. Since Christ accomplished our reconciliation in His death how “much more” will He do for us in His life of intercession for us in heaven. We are eternally saved because He lives (Heb. 7:23-25; Rom. 8:34). He is interceding for us even now.
Since God the Son died for us when we were sinners who hated Him, how much more will He save from the wrath of God those who are now in a righteous standing as is the Son is with the Father.
“Much more” having been now justified by His blood we shall be saved through Him from the wrath of God. “Much more” having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Do You Have Life’s Greatest Satisfaction?
Message by Wil Pounds
Do You Have Life’s Greatest Satisfaction?
One of the most delightful books I have read was Surprised by Joy in which the brilliant Cambridge scholar C. S. Lewis tells how the “Hound of Heaven” tracked him down and brought him to his knees to surrender to Jesus Christ.
“I was going up Headington Hill on top of a bus. Without words and (I think) almost without images, a fact about myself was somehow presented to me. I became aware that I was holding something at bay, or shifting shutting something out. Or, if you like, that I was wearing some stiff clothing, like corsets, or even a suit of armor, as if I were a lobster. I felt myself being there and then given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armor or keep it on. Neither choice was presented as a duty; no threat or promise was attached to either, though I knew that to open the door or to take off the corset meant the incalculable. The choice appeared to be momentous but I was also strangely unemotional. I was moved by no desire or fears. In a sense I was not moved by anything. I chose to open, to unbuckle, to loosen the rein. I say, ‘I chose, yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite.’’
A short time later in his room at Magdalene College in Cambridge, England, he made a final personal commitment to Jesus Christ. “In the Trinity Term of 1929, I gave in and admitted that God was God and knelt and prayed: perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England” (Surprised by Joy, pp. 224, 228-29).
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
Jesus used a strong word for “satisfied” meaning “completely satisfied,” like when feeding cattle are satisfied after grazing in a beautiful lush meadow.
Do you have that satisfaction that comes from an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
It is the result of a spiritual hunger and thirst that only God can satisfy when we submit to Him.
Do you carry a heavy burden that weighs you down? Have you grown weary fighting with God? He is ready to give you His perfect rest if you will come to Him and yoke up with Him. When you submit to Jesus Christ you find rest for your soul as Lewis did.
Are you weighed down by a heavy load of anxiety? Christ invites you to humble yourself “under the mighty hand of God . . . casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
There is no greater spiritual satisfaction, inner peace and joy than that which is found in an intimate, personal love relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Have you entered into that personal relationship with Him? Admit to Him your need and ask Him to be your Savior. “Lord, I confess to you my need for you to be my Savior. I am a rebel at heart and want you to forgive me of my wandering sinful ways and unbelief. I ask you to forgive me and cleanse me of all my sins. I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose from the dead, and I want Him to be my Savior and Lord today.”
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:17). Will you come today and drink freely of the water of life and be satisfied?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Christianity is Christ
Message by Wil Pounds
Christianity is Christ
There is no other way to say it. Christianity is Christ.
Christianity is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. If the focus is on anything else it is not Christianity. That great truth is stated throughout the New Testament. In fact, everything in the Old Testament leads up to that great truth regarding His person and work.
The apostle Peter was one of the first individuals to accept that great fact. Jesus asked the question, who do the people say that I am? (Matthew 16:13). The disciples had been with the people and they told Jesus what they had heard. Some said He was John the Baptist risen from the dead, others that He was the prophet Elijah, some said He was the prophet Jeremiah.
Then Jesus asked the real question. “Who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). Peter spoke up for the whole group saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).
That is what makes Jesus Christ so unique. He is not just a prophet, or a good moral teacher, but He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one who will reign forever on the throne of His great ancestor King David (2 Sam. 7:13, 16; Lk. 1:33; Rev. 22:16; Rom. 1:3; Jn. 7:42; Matt. 1:1). The eternal King is the Messiah. Jesus is God’s Anointed One who was sent to do God’s specific will. He is the one promised in the Old Testament.
Jesus is divine. He is “the Son of the living God.” It is an exalted view of Jesus. Peter could not have ascribed a higher place to Him. He declared in his confession that Jesus is God Himself who came to save His people from their sins.
In the original language the statement is even stronger than in English. “You are the Christ, the Son of the God, the living One.” This is a most comprehensive statement of the essential being of our Lord.
This truth is so important for us to understand that Jesus responded to Peter saying, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by the Father in heaven” (v. 17). It is important that we keep in mind that Peter did not gain this understanding by human intelligence or profound spiritual insight. God revealed that truth to Peter; it was received by divine revelation.
We too must understand and accept this important truth in order to be saved. Jesus Christ is “very God of very God.”
One of the disciples of Jesus, Thomas, saw Jesus alive after the resurrection and declared, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
Everything that Jesus did in dying as our sacrifice for sin depends on who He is. If Jesus were not God, His death would be like yours and mine; He would only be dying for His own sins. If He were not God His death could not atone for anyone’s sins. However, because He is “very God of very God” His death on the cross has infinite value to take away our sins as the chosen Lamb of God.
If you believe this great spiritual truth it is because God has revealed it to you by the Holy Spirit. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the Son of the living God. He is the sinner’s Savior. In fact, He is the sinners only possible Savior. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as you shall be saved.” To trust in anyone else is to spend eternity in hell. There is no other way, not because I say so, but because God said it. The Bible says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: All Things for and Through God
Message by Wil Pounds
Old Bishop John Ryle said truthfully: “It is not open sin, or open unbelief, which robs Christ of His professing servants, so much as the love of the world, the fear of the world, the cares of the world, the business of the world, the money of the world, the pleasures of the world, and the desire to keep in touch with the world. This is the great rock on which thousands of young people are continually making shipwreck. They do not object to any article of the Christian faith. They do not deliberately choose evil and openly rebel against God. They hope somehow to get to heaven at last, and they think it proper to have some religion. But they cannot give up their idol: they must have the world. And so after running well and bidding fair for heaven while boys and girls, they turn aside when they become men and women and go down the broad way which leads to destruction. They begin with Abraham and Moses and end with Demas and Lot’s wife.”
What a contrast with the life of Christ who lived to please the Father alone. Man was created to bring “glory, honor and power” to the LORD God. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Hebrews 2:10 reads, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” God created you and me for the purpose of showing forth His glory. God is the cause of every object in nature and its only reason for existence is that the grace and power of God may be seen through it. Everything finds its reason and justification in its relationship to Him. He is the final and efficient Cause of all things. It is for His sake that the whole universe exists. All things in the universe exists for God’s glory.
Instead of all things being “for Him” and “through Him” man rebelled against the Creator and chose to reign for self and through self. History has demonstrated that this self-centered life ends in vanity for the individual and dishonor to God’s eternal purpose.
Jesus Christ came to redeem man from his self-centered life, and to bring us back to a right relationship with God that we may serve Him “for whom are all things and through whom are all things.” The Creator is also the Redeemer. God’s plan was to bring “many sons to glory,” i.e., to bring many to a saving relationship with Himself through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ who is the Leader in bringing “many sons” to God.
Jesus lived His life on this earth absolutely and entirely for His Father in heaven. He says to us, “All things are for My Father.” His commitment was absolute. His blessedness and everlasting glory are found in living wholly for the Father.
“Through whom are all things” was also true of Jesus. He declared that He could do nothing of Himself because He did only that which the Father showed Him and said to Him. “But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ . . . Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. . . I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me’” (John 5:17, 19, 30). Jesus counted it all joy to do everything in total dependence upon His Father. It was “all things through God.” He did not do anything of Himself, but in continual dependence waiting on the Father working in Him.
The great truth of the Christian life is “all for God,” and “all through God.” The more intimate is our daily walk with the Father, the more we will love and please Him.
“All for God” without exception for a moment, a thought, a word, a promise, a person, a passion, or a possession is the goal of believer. This is the manner in which we please Him perfectly.
“All through God” is the only way we can live a life pleasing to Him. The clearer we focus on doing everything for God the greater is our sense of utter frustration and impotence because you and I cannot do it in our own strength. Only Jesus Christ can live such a life. I cannot in my sinful nature which is prone to please self. But what I cannot do, God can do. God the Holy Spirit works in us to do God’s perfect will. Because it is “all of God” the Holy Spirit does it “all through God.”
As we make ourselves available to Him, He does in and through us all that pleases Him. What is demanded of us is a life of union with Jesus Christ. “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). To live in that oneness is to do “all for God” and “all through God.” The only way to please God is to make ourselves available to Jesus Christ living in us.
The disciple of Jesus Christ no longer lives to please himself. He lives for the Kingdom of God. Whatever happens to him is unimportant; “all for God” is all-important to the disciple. In place of all selfish attainment, however noble, must be a desire, in deed a passion that demands “all for God.” If it is “all for God” then He will be honored and glorified throughout all eternity. To God alone be the glory!
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Clothed with Fig Leaves or Righteousness?
Message by Wil Pounds
Clothed with Fig Leaves or Righteousness?
There are no secrets with God. Adam and Eve learned that the hard way. The apostle Paul reminds us, “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:16). The writer of Hebrews says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
God in His infinite wisdom and grace gave Adam and Eve a grand opportunity to have dominion over all of His creation (Genesis 2:15). And in love He “commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat from it you shall surely die” (vv. 16-17).
We are all too familiar with the tragic events that followed. The God who sees and knows all things visited the Garden of Eden shortly after Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:8-10).
Adam and Eve hid themselves thinking they could hide themselves from God. The effect of sin made them aware that they had disobeyed God and they were ashamed. Before they sinned they were delighted to see God, but after they sinned they did not want anything to do with Him. Sin causes us to want to hide from God physically, emotionally and spiritually because we know we are guilty.
Like Adam and we try a lot of “fig leaves” to cover up our shame and guilty conscience (v. 7). A friend of mine said, “The oldest profession is not what people think; it is the clothing industry.” We are constantly trying to cover up.
The psychological exposure caused by our sins is intolerable, and we try innumerable ways to cover it up. The end result of these modern “fig leaves” in our pagan world culture is even greater exposure and guilt. Drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, lust of the eyes, the world, the flesh, etc. do not relieve the stress of guilt; they only increase it. Evasion and excuses increase our guilt before God.
Man has never been able to make a “fig leaf” that will cover his sin. We try “fig leaves” of good religious works, church membership, baptism, confirmation, tithing, the sacraments, religious philosophy, new age movements, philanthropy, etc. But we still cannot escape our guilt.
All outward acts of religion without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins are withered “fig leaves.”
There is only one remedy for sin. “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
God told them before they sinned, “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). “The person who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:20). Adam and Eve died spiritually the moment they sinned. In time, they died physically.
Can you imagine the shock in the mind and heart of Adam and Eve when they saw two dead animals, probably lambs, lying dead before their eyes? God killed the animals and made from their skins garments and clothed Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21).
“The wages of sin is death.” But the immediate death that occurred was not their death, though they were guilty and deserved the death penalty; it was the death of two innocent animals. In His mercy God killed those animals for Adam and Eve. They were guilty and deserved death, but God chose two innocent animals to die as their substitutes. They pointed to another Substitute who in time would give Himself as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The only death that can possibly deal with sin is His death. Only His blood can cleanse us from all sin (Heb. 9:22; 1 John 1:7, 9). There is no other detergent that will wipe away our guilt (1 Peter 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).
God’s perfect covering for sin is the blood of the Lamb of God. Fig leaves will never do what God alone can do. God’s perfect provision and covering is through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Don’t try coming to God with your “fig leaves.” They may be in fashion, but they are inadequate. God will not accept them; they can never please God because no death has taken place. The penalty for sin must be paid (Ezek. 18:4). You will pay it, or your divine Substitute must pay it. God has dealt with our guilt in the death of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:13;Rom. 3:24-25; 4:25). Christ died for our sin as our substitute. The penalty for our sin has been paid in full (Rom. 5:6, 8; 1 Jn. 3:5; 4:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:24).
Today, God fully clothes every individual who believes in Christ with the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 61:10).
The nakedness of your sin must be covered. Are you covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Are you dressed in His robes of righteousness alone?
Either you will stand before your eternal Judge in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, or you will stand naked in your sins.
Daily Devotional: Either We Die or He Dies
Message by Wil Pounds
Either We Die or He Dies
“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Scriptures are very clear that the wrath of God is visited upon sinners or else that the Son of God dies for them. Either sinners are punished for their sins or else there takes place a substitution. Either the sinner dies or the substitute dies.
When Jesus Christ became “a curse for us” according to Galatians 3:13-14, He bore the full consequences of our sin. When God made Him sin that we might become “the righteousness of God,” then in some way He took upon Himself our sin and we bear it no more (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God made Jesus die as our substitute that death which is the wages of sin.
Christ died for us; He died that death of ours which is the wages of sin. In the death of Christ, God condemned our sins once and for all. All of God’s condemnation fell in one fatal blow upon Christ. It was a divine sentence executed by God upon all sin.
The Christian method of justification is one that is substitutionary. It is based on the substitutionary aspect of the atonement. The sinner is acquitted through the substituted bloodshedding of Christ. He suffers what God does to sin. Jesus’ death makes visible what happens when man has God against him. Christ bore our condemnation so that we bear it no more. We are justified by a substitutionary process.
Our salvation depends completely on what God has done in Christ. Redemption points us to a price paid (1 Peter 1:18-19). Substitution tells us how much was paid and by whom and for whom it was paid. It was purchased at great cost, at the price of His own blood. Christ paid the price that bought our salvation. The Son of God died once for all for the sinner and thus put away his sin. There is therefore no room for human activity.
As our substitute Jesus Christ made Himself one with those for whom He suffered. He stands in the closest relationship with those for whom He died. Moreover, since the wages of sin was borne by our Substitute our salvation reaches its consummation only when the sinner has become one with his Substitute, and views his sin and Christ’s righteousness with the same mind as his Substitute.
That is why the Scriptures demand a personal response of faith in the finished atoning work of Christ.
Our salvation is totally dependent upon our divine substitute who took our place on the cross. Jesus Christ bore what we should have borne; He is our substitute. Christ paid the price of our redemption. “Christ died for our sins.”
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 15b). “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
The Bible insists that we put our faith and trust in that finished work of Christ on the cross in order to be justified before God. “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Justification means that God declares the believing sinner righteous in His sight, which is a declaration of peace, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross (Rom. 5:1). No sinner can merit that right relationship with God. It cannot be earned by our virtue because we are sinners. The love of God is “poured out into our hearts” (literal translation). Before we were saved, God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us.
Have you responded by faith to God’s divine Substitute who died for you? Either He dies, or you will die. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Why Try To Become Perfect?
Message by Wil Pounds
Why Try to Become Perfect?
Jesus declared the highest possible standard for His followers: they must be “perfect.” “You be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The righteousness that Jesus demanded is nothing less than complete conformity to God’s perfect law in everything a person is and does (22:34-40). Jesus is concerned, not only with our behavior, but with the righteousness of the heart, also. The scribes and Pharisees considered only the outward compliance (5:20). With Jesus’ standard who would ever claim to have reached it?
The very nature of the kingdom of God as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount drives us to despair of ourselves in living this kind of life so that we will turn in faith to Jesus Christ and find new life in Him to live as He lived.
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of life in the believer as we make ourselves available to His indwelling presence. God produces in us by His power what we cannot do ourselves. It is the product of the new life of Christ in us (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13). This way only God can possibly get the glory because we can live it only by His power.
This righteousness is God given. But Jesus also went a step further and declared; “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The statement is in the form of a command; “You shall therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Does this mean Jesus was teaching holiness perfection in the sense that men could reach sinlessness in this life on earth before death? What does the Bible teach when we let Scripture interpret Scripture we have the correct interpretation (Rom. 7:7-26; Gal. 5:16-24; Jas. 3:2; 1 John 1:8; Phil. 3:12-16)?
You may be asking, “Then why even try to become perfect?”
The main reason is because that is what God commands of us, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The word “perfect” (teleioi) in the context of this verse means, “having attained the end or aim,” “brought to completion, full-grown, mature, lacking in nothing.” We should not be satisfied with halfway obedience to Christ.
To be perfect is to reach the goal for which a person was designed. Jesus calls His disciples to become mature, reaching the high standard God has for them. We are to be constantly pressing on toward attaining that goal (Phil. 3:16-18; Col. 1:28).
Another reason is because with the new life of Christ in us we want to become like Christ. We are a new creation, and all things have been made new. The apostle Paul longed to become like Jesus (Phil. 3:7-16).We have received as a gift from God an imputed righteousness that was purchased for us by Jesus Christ on the cross (2 Cor 5:21). It is impossible for us to be saved without this righteousness that God alone provides for the believing sinner.
The only way we can be completely conformed to the law this side of eternity is by this imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). No human being can earn this righteous standing before God. There is nothing we can possibly do that will atone for our sins (Isa. 64:6). There is no human detergent that can cleanse the guilty conscience and make a person right with God. Nothing can wash away our sin but the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus poured out His blood on our behalf (2 Cor. 8:9; Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; Isa. 53:5-6).
The Holy Spirit sanctifies those for whom Christ died. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we obtain a righteousness of inner condition and outward conduct. We become pure in heart by the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit.
Do we become sinlessly perfect so that we never sin again in this life? No. We will sin and God has provided a cleansing that works and restores our fellowship with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” will be satisfied one day when we enter into glory with Christ Jesus in heaven. It will be realized in us when we see Jesus face to face in glory. It will be perfectly fulfilled when we see Jesus and not before then (Phil. 1:6; 3:12; 2 Thess. 4:7, 8; Rev. 21:27).
Jesus demanded the sincere devotion of the heart to God. We must love Him with all our mind, heart and personal being. If we truly love Him we will keep His commandments.
In the Christian life we always have before us something for which to strive. No matter how far we have progressed in our spiritual life there is still more to conquer. We must bring every thought, every attitude and every behavior into subjection to Christ.
Though we will never be perfect in this life, we are to aim and strive at Christ-like character. By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit we are to move toward that goal every day of our life.
Our goal in ministry is that “we may present every man complete (perfect, teleioi) in Christ” (Col. 1:28; cf. Eph. 4:13).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Do the Impossible
Jesus saw a thirty-eight year old man lying on his mat at the pool of water at Bethesda and approached him asking, “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:5-6).
Christ told the man to do the impossible. “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
The apostle John tells us “And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk” (v. 9).
This man could not help himself. Only the divine power of Jesus Christ enabled the man to rise and walk. It was a miracle that Jesus performed at the pool of Bethesda.
This miracle is a remarkable illustration of the spiritual condition of every individual. You and I cannot help ourselves spiritually; our salvation depends upon the grace of God alone. Just as this physically lame man could not help himself we are utterly helpless in our sinful condition to influence our salvation in any way.
Those disabled individuals lying at the pool were without strength to help themselves. John describes them as blind, lame and paralyzed. The poor man said to Jesus, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me” (v. 7). How sad is the man who knows only man.
This is a vivid and valid description of our human depravity without Jesus Christ. Spiritually, we are sick, blind, lame and withered.
Like the lame man we are weak, helpless, powerless as described in Romans 5:6. “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” “Helpless.” The Greek lexicon says, “infirm, feeble, unable to achieve anything great, destitute of power among men, sluggish in doing right.”
When Jesus arrived at the pool no one rose to greet Him because they were powerless. No one reached out his hand to greet Jesus because they were paralyzed. However, we do see Jesus moving among them and healing the most helpless and lame sinner.
The Bible makes it emphatically clear that God does not help those who help themselves. He helps the helpless. He provides for the powerless.
We are powerless to stop sinning without the work of the Holy Spirit indwelling us (2 Pet. 12-16). We are lame spiritually without the saving grace of God.
God demonstrated His love toward us at Calvary when we were altogether unlovely. Christ died for us when we were utterly helpless. When it was impossible for us to do anything for ourselves Christ came and died for us on the cross. There is nothing we can do for ourselves to satisfy a righteous God.
In Mark 2:1-5 we have a helpless man who could not come on his own. His friends tore open the roof and lowered him to the feet of Jesus. He needed for someone to bring him to Jesus.
What a powerful commentary on our human depravity when Jesus explained, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).
Men and women without the illumination of the Holy Spirit cannot understand the truth of God (1 Cor. 2:14). The word of God, and salvation by grace alone by faith alone in the death of Christ, are foolishness to the spiritually blind. They are spiritually blind to the truth of God in Christ.
Moreover, we are spiritually deaf until the Spirit of God enables us to hear the truth of God. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (John 8:43).
Jesus told a great Jewish religious leader, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The kingdom of God is a spiritual realm. It cannot be seen with the physical eyes. But to the spiritually regenerated He gives sight.
On another occasion Jesus healed a man who had been born blind and then explained to the hostile religious leaders that they were spiritually blind to spiritual things as evidenced by their refusal to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (John 9:39-41). The healed blind man saw Jesus, believed and worshipped Him (vv. 37-38).
How can we walk in the narrow spiritual path of righteousness if we are blind? And if our friend is spiritually blind we both fall into the ditch. Spiritually blind people are following every form of blind spiritual guides who disguise themselves and angels of light.
Men are spiritually blind until the Holy Spirit opens their eyes. The blind could not see Him moving among them until He touched them.
We are spiritually lame because we are spiritually blind.
Moreover, there is a spiritual paralysis that takes hold of a person who has never come to Christ. We know to do right, but find ourselves feeling paralyzed, and it impossible to do what we know to be the right thing to do (Rom. 7:18). We know to be like Christ in our behavior, emotions and actions, but are powerless until Christ releases us from our bondage. It is like someone or something has a strange hold over us.
What is the solution to such a terrible disease? Christ came to bring healing to the blind, lame and paralyzed spiritually.
God’s sovereign saving grace saves sinners who are blind, powerless and paralyzed. If our eternal salvation depended upon us who could ever be saved? Surely not I. What I need is His saving grace. We do not have strength to pull ourselves up. We cannot save ourselves. Instead of waiting for us to rise and come to Him for salvation He comes to us, opens our eyes, releases us from the hold Satan has over us, and raises us up together to be with Him (Eph. 2:5-7). The “Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
I thank God every day that Jesus came to seek me out because I was blind, lame and paralyzed. It would be an insult to God for me now that His grace has intervened in my life to stand and brag about what I have done. The spiritually sufficient will never be saved. You and I can never change our spiritual condition, but God in Christ can.
My sins have been dealt with in the blood of Jesus Christ, and He has graciously given me new life through faith in Him. Has Jesus Christ done the impossible in your life?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: The Day I Died
Message By Wil Pounds
God takes sin seriously. Sin is a terrible thing in the Christian’s life. That is why God did not overlook sin, but dealt with it in one complete stroke of judgment by sending Christ to die for us on the cross.
Now that we have been saved by grace can we live any way we so please? Can we sin it up now that our fire insurance has been paid in full?
The apostle Paul responded to that arrogant attitude saying, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).
We died to sin. “Died” is in aorist past tense, indicating a once for all death in a judicial sense. We legally died (vv. 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 18). It refers to a single action that has taken place and has been completed in the past.
The idea of our death to sin is basic in this great chapter, and is essential to the sanctification of all believers.
“We died to sin.” When did you die?
The apostle Paul does not say we are going to die to sin, or we are presently dying to sin. He does not say we are continually to die to sin. The apostle has in mind a completed past action.
We “have died” to sin is already true of us if we have entered into a vital union with Christ. Charles Hodge notes, “it refers to a specific act in our past history.”
The apostle Paul tells us there is a watershed, a before Christ and after he came into our lives. Before Christ describes the old man, the old self, what I was like before my conversion. The after Christ came in describes the new man, the new self, what my life has been like after I was made a new creation in Christ. The before Christ ended with the judicial death of the old self. I was a sinner. I deserved to die. I did die. I received my righteousness in my Substitute with whom I have become one. It describes my resurrection. My old life is finished, and a new life to God has begun.
Our continuing in sin is unthinkable says Paul because God by His grace took us from the position of being in Adam and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ. It is something God has already done. It is not something we do, or have done, but something God has done to us. We have been joined to Jesus Christ. The old life ended in that transaction, and a new life has begun at the same time.
In Romans 6:1-11 the apostle Paul compares our dying to sin to how Christ died to sin. Although He had never experienced personal sin, He died to sin by suffering its penalty on the cross. “The wages of sin is death.” He died as our substitute. He was punished for our sin in our place once for all on the cross. Jesus died to sin once for all. His relationship to sin is finished forever. By dying in our place on the cross He put an end to its claim upon us once for all. Jesus died. That will never happen again. It will never be repeated. It is a completed action in the past. Paul makes this emphatically clear in verses 9-10, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”
Moreover, Paul tells us that our old life of sin in Adam is over. We died. Just as Christ can never go back and die again, we can never go back to the old life in Adam. That part of our lives died. The result of our vital union with Christ in His death and resurrection is that our old life in Adam is past, over with, and we now have a new life in Christ.
Our life is divided into two parts at the point in which we believed on Christ and were born again. At a specific act in past history we accepted Christ as our Savior and we became new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Can you point to a time in your life and see the change before and after Christ separated by the new birth? When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior and were born again the old self died through union with Christ and was buried. The penalty of our sins was paid in full by Christ’s atoning death. At the same time the believer rose again from death, a new person, to live a new life in Christ. We were crucified with Christ and rose with Him to new life.
We died to the life of sin. God counts the utterly perfect righteousness of the risen Christ as ours. He sees us risen in Him. We live a new life in Christ. The old one died, and it was buried.
Does your life have a dividing line marked Christ?
“O for a thousand tongues to sing. . .” the triumph of His grace in a thousand different languages!
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Forgiveness According to the Riches of God’s Grace
Message by Wil Pounds
Forgiveness According to the Riches of God’s Grace
The greatest peace and joy in all the world is knowing all my sins have been forgiven according to the riches of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ. We are trophies of His grace both now and throughout eternity.
There is nothing like the free, full, sovereign, unconditional, eternal grace of God that deals with all our sins. The apostle sang “the praise of the glory of God’s grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6-7).
There is no boundary to God’s omniscience. There is no limit to His understanding, or of His grace. Just as He has knowledge of all our sins, so does His infinite grace comprehend all our sins.
How can a holy and just God forgive us of all our sins in one all encompassing declaration of acquittal? It is because the believing sinner is blood-bought. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” The apostle John wrote, “To Him who loves us, and [once and for all] released us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5).
“When God forgives He draws the mark through every sin which the believer ever has committed, or ever will commit,” observed C. H. Spurgeon. “However many, however heinous, your sins may have been the moment you believe, they are every one of them blotted out. In the Book of God there is not a single sin against any man in this place whose trust is in Christ, not a single one, not even the shadow of one, not a spot, or the remnant of a sin remaining; all is gone . . . and when God’s love covers the big sins it covers the little ones, and they are all gone at once! When God forgives, He not only forgives all, but once for all. . . . By one sacrifice there is a full remission of all sin that ever was against a believer, or that ever will be against him . . . not a single sin shall ever stand against you, nor shall you ever be punished for a single sin; for every sin is forgiven, fully forgiven, so that not even part of the punishment shall be executed against you” (Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, vol. Vii, pp. 72-73).
Our redemption is full and complete through Christ’s blood. The moment the sinner believes his pardon is at once received. All of your sins are forgiven and gone forever! All that God requires is for you to cast yourself, simply on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. “He that believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.”
You are saved the moment you believe. The believer is no more in the sight of God received as a sinner because Jesus Christ was punished for him. The believing sinner is accepted in the beloved because he is wrapped about by the righteousness of Christ.
How much grace do you consume each day? How much of God’s grace do you require? An infinite amount! The LORD God supplies the need of every saint every day of our lives out of His unlimited riches of grace, and His well never runs out. His unbounded grace covers every believer throughout time and eternity.
Moreover, God has clothed us in the seamless robes of His righteousness. Jesus Christ spent His life weaving my robe of righteousness. Our robe is divine, complete and made clean by His own blood. God clothes His children in the most expensive clothes by means of the riches of His grace.
There is no greater peace than knowing and enjoying the fact that our sins are forgiven now. In His grace we enjoy access into the presence of a holy God. We are invited to come to Him anytime and on all occasions. We have no fear of hell because God has atoned for all our sins in the blood of Jesus. But not only do we enjoy His presence now, we anticipate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for us any moment.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Waiting On The Lord
Message by Wil Pounds
Waiting on the Lord
God works for those who love Him and wait upon Him. When we make ourselves available to Him, we are marveled by the things He does in and through us.
The apostle Paul saw that great truth put into practice in His life and ministry. “But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
The apostle is quoting Isaiah 64:4. God is at work all about us. What do you see Him doing today in your community, the school you attend, your family, and in your life?
When God is at work, it is so magnificent that you can see it only as the Holy Spirit makes it known. It is so obvious that only God can do it. God’s works are so wonderful that they can be understood only by the interpretation of the Holy Spirit.
God prepares marvelous things for those who are occupied with Him. He does this for those who wait on Him because they love Him. How tragic when we try to do His work without Him. “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Are you patiently waiting for Him to invite you to come and join Him in what He is doing? Until then He is busy working within us preparing us for that work. Are you adjusting your attitudes, thinking, and behavior to the truth you know concerning Him and His relationship with you? When we wait upon the Lord, we are busy putting our life in order making sure we are in a right relationship with Him. In proportion as we love Him, we are waiting on Him. It means we will love Him as we have never loved Him before.
Waiting on God is not laziness or indifference. Waiting means I am ready to obey His command. Waiting on Him means I have so ordered the command center of my life that nothing will conflict with the will of God when He speaks or directs. Waiting means the Christian is alert, listening, dressed, and ready to obey His Master. We wait while God works. One of the areas where He works is deep within us. It takes time for Him to teach us patience in waiting. He has made us to become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
He is busy at work. What is He doing? “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:4-8).
God cannot and will not invite us to join Him in what He is doing until He has us ready. Terrible things happen when we run ahead of Him to do His work. Our works, without His working, falls to the ground prematurely and rots!
God is busy preparing something for those who love Him and wait upon Him that eyes have never seen and ear has not heard, things that have never entered into the hearts or imaginations which only the Spirit of God can do.
Are you patiently waiting upon Him? When His call comes, we can only stand back and say, “I saw God do it!”
Are you willing to wait until He speaks? Are you making yourself available to Him? God works with, in, and through those who wait on Him. Are you available? That is all He asks of you and me right now.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Secure Shelter in the Storms of Life
Message by Wil Pounds
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
The Psalmist invites us to abide in the Father’s shadow where we see only the face of the Almighty. The veil of the temple was torn in two making it possible for every believer to go into the presence of the LORD God anytime he desires. In deed, as the Psalmist said we can abide in His presence all the time.
The “shelter of the Almighty” implies His holy presence. In the “shadow of the Almighty” we find strength to live a holy life.
Has the Most High become your dwelling presence? The believer finds refuge and a secure place in the strong fortress of Yahweh. The LORD is “My refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust” (v. 2). Whoever trusts in the Most High finds security and protection in God’s holy presence.
Two interesting titles of God are found in verses one and two. The infinite power and sovereign rule of God are expressed in “the Most High” and “the Almighty.” We worship “the Most High” God. Elyôn suggests the exaltedness and overwhelming majesty of God, signifying the supremacy of the deity. This divine name reflects the ideas of omnipotence (Ps 18:13; Lam. 3:38), universality (Ps 83:18), and constancy (Ps 21:7). He is the place of protection and shelter for Israel (Ps 9:2; 91:1, 9), and for her king (Ps 21:7). Elyôn seems to have a special concern for Zion (Ps 46:4; 87:5) even though He is Lord of all heaven and earth. Psalm 73:11 tells us it is impossible to hide from the all-knowing God.
The LORD appeared to Abraham when he was ninety-nine years old and revealed Himself by the great name El Shaddai saying, “I am the Almighty God. Obey Me and always do what is right” (Genesis 17:1). The Almighty is all-powerful. As El Shaddai God manifested himself to the patriarchs (Ex 6:3) Abraham (Gen 17:1; to Isaac, Gen 28:3), and to Jacob (Gen 35:11, 43:14; 48:3). The context for most of these references is the covenant, and the responsibility for obedience and faithfulness on the part of the patriarch and the promise of progeny by God. It is not to the hills that these men of faith looked for confidence, but to the Lord of these hills, the Lord of the mountain (Ps 121:1–2).
In addition, the images “shelter” and “the shadow” suggest a secure hiding place from the storms of life. We have a secure refuge in His hiding place. We have safety in the presence of the LORD.
How often we ago looking for security and safety in that which offers only a false security. The LORD God removes our false securities one by one until we trust in Him alone.
Is He your hiding place? Have you learned how to find refuge in trusting in the abiding presence of the most powerful God?
The all-powerful God is our eternal refuge. The Almighty God is our protection.
The “secure place” is in the presence of the Most Holy One in the Most Holy Place, and it is where He covers us with His “wings.” There He guards us and gives us victory over the enemy, answers our prayers, and strengthens us and satisfies our hearts.
The Psalmist in 27:5 said, “In times of trouble He will shelter me; He will keep me safe in His Temple and make me secure on a high rock.” In 32:7, David testified, “You are my hiding place; You will save me from trouble; You do surround me with songs of deliverance.” As we claim the promises in God’s Word we can also declare, “You are my defender and protector; I put my hope in your promise” (19:14). He is our refuge and shelter in a secure hiding place.
Have you learned to hide as a baby chicken does under the mother hen’s wing? The LORD “will cover you with His wings, you will be safe in His care; His faithfulness will protect and defend you” (91:4).
Have you learned to trust in God’s great providence for the believer? It will be amazing in heaven when the Lord pulls us aside and says, “You remember when . . . . I was there. I protected and watched over you during those events.” He is our refuge in time of trouble. He is our refuge, fortress and security.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (KJV).
Have you learned how to abide in the secret place of the Almighty? He teaches us in secret how to abide. The highest privilege we have as Christians is to commune with God. Walking with God is the source of our strength. The intimate walk with Christ involves pulling down every proud obstacle that raises up against the knowledge of God. In our thought life, “we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The difference between success and failure in the Christian life and service is going into God’s secret place and then coming out from His presence to serve. Jesus set the example for the servants when He spent the whole night in prayer before He called His disciples (Luke 6:12-13).
The shadow of the Almighty is over the saint who dwells in the secret place of the Most High. Encourage your faith in the omnipotence of God. Since God is for you who can possibly be against you? God has the answer for our needs. Insignificant means are sufficient for Him. “The LORD will provide” has been the testimony of faithful believers down through history.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Christ Our Refuge
Message by Wil Pounds
Christ Our Refuge
The Bible is very clear in its declaration that individuals who are not “in Christ” are lost and under condemnation. If you are not “in Christ Jesus” you have not escaped the condemnation and the wrath of God.
The apostle John wrote, “He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not judged” (John 3:18a). Paul wrote “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). John goes on to say, “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 18b). The person who does not believe is already condemned and that condemnation of unbelievers is now in the present time.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
The sole basis of this justification and declaration of “no condemnation” is the assurance found in the words “in Christ Jesus.” We were all condemned in Adam, but in the second Adam there is no condemnation.
Christians do sin and fail to bring glory to God, and we do suffer the natural consequences of our sins. However, we do not suffer condemnation because Christ was condemned in our stead.
The legalist tries desperately to please God by obeying the law in his own strength, however it is impossible. On the other hand, the Christian who is under the control of the Holy Spirit experiences the sanctifying work of the Spirit in his daily life.
By an act of simple dependence upon Jesus Christ the believer realizes his position in Christ. “By nature I am in myself, and in sin and I am, therefore, condemned; but when the grace of God awakens me up to know my ruined state, then I fly to Christ. I trust alone in His blood and righteousness, and He becomes to me the cleft of the rock, whereas I hide myself from the storm of vengeance justly due to me for my many offences. The Lord Jesus is typified by the city of refuge,” writes C. H. Spurgeon.
Is your righteousness one which you have worked out yourself, or is the righteousness of Christ imputed to you? Do you look for salvation by self, or for salvation by Christ? “If you can truly say, ‘I hide in Christ,’ then this text warbles sweeter music than ever fell from angel’s lips.” “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Spurgeon added, “Inasmuch as you have believed in Him, you are in Him.”
The promise holds true because the believer is “in Him who can never be condemned. . . If you are in Christ, there is for that very reason no condemnation to you.”
Christ fulfilled the law for you, and since you believed on Him you are justified in Him. “By Christ’s righteous life and substitutionary death, justification has come upon all who are in Him.”
“We are accepted in the beloved,” says the apostle Paul. “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
“Will the Lord condemn those whom He has made righteous?” Will He condemn those for whom He has covered with His own perfect righteousness?”
God has placed the believer in a living vital union in Christ. We have been made one with Christ through a living relationship.
Since we died in Christ and rose with Him, how then shall we be put to death again for the sin for which we have already died in Him? We who are in Christ are justified because Christ is justified by His rising from the dead, and by His taking the position of honor and glory at the right hand of God. “He is our representative and we are one with Him, and what He is that we are. Our union is inseparable, and therefore our condemnation is impossible.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Daily Devotional: Search Me, O God
Message by Wil Pounds
Search Me, O God
What shall be our response to the LORD God who knows everything about us all the time? How should we respond to His abiding presence that never leaves us? Because He is all-powerful, how then should we live our lives? Knowing that God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent should make us want to please Him in everything we do.
The Psalmist David did not want to be influenced by evil persons. He did not love the sinner’s life-style. “O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies” (Psalm 139:19-22).
Those are strong words. Do I want to be done with sin? What sins would I ask God to kill in my life? What spiritual enemies in my life need to go? Do you have some intimate friends you need to give up for your spiritual good? Are you willing to give up those relationships that make you and open target for temptation to do evil? That was David’s attitude in verses 19-22.
Moreover, David went a step further and prayed that God would enable him to continue to grow in righteousness. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).
David used the word “search” meaning to explore, dig, probe, examine, and investigate.
Jeremiah was told, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:10).
He searches and He knows the secrets of our hearts (Ps. 44:21). “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
David pleads for God to search him out and lead him in “the everlasting way” (v.24).
We have so many blind spots that we need the diligent probing of the Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts. We need Him to search “and know my heart,” “know my anxious thoughts,” and reveal what is the cause of pain to God. See if there is any hurtful way in me.”
How do I cause the Holy Spirit to grieve? “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).
The context tells us how we cause pain to our Lord. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice must be put away and replaced with kindness toward one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Eph. 4:31-32).
The greatest encouragement for the believer in Christ Jesus is to enter into the presence of an all-seeing, all-knowing God who knows us intimately. Because we have been justified by grace though faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the Holy Spirit indwells us, we can stand in His light and be examined by His holy presence. We can allow Him to examine our thoughts, attitudes and heart’s desires and then “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
David models this desire for us. There is willingness to put away anything which is grievous to God and to His Spirit and to be led in the way everlasting. When we find sin in our hearts there is a spiritual bar of soap that cleanses of every sin (1 John 1:8-9).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Message by Wil Pounds
Daily devotional: How to Discern Cults and Sects
H. A. Ironside used to say, “Where there is light there are bugs!”
He was referring to the cults and sects that take a truth and go to the extreme or form their own exclusive groups.
The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). We are not to believe every spirit-controlled teacher! However, we know the Spirit of God is illuminating the teacher when they “confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” “and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (vv. 2-3).
I am convinced that the greatest need we have in our day is the gift of discernment. Many cults and sects claim to be biblically based Christian organizations. They will even use the historic Biblical Christian language, and even call themselves “the Church of Jesus Christ,” or “the Church of Christ,” but deny or redefine essential Christian doctrines to fit their eccentric teachings.
John said, “stop believing” because some of his readers were clearly carried away by the spirit of error. The spiritually gullible fall victims of the latest religious fads.
On Abide in Christ we clearly state that we believe in the great evangelical, Biblical convictions, and teachings of historic Christianity.
Cults and sects all teach that their religious group is the only one proclaiming the true message of salvation today. All other Christians are corrupt and their “inspired” leader is equal to Jesus Christ in authority. These groups claim to be the only correct church in the world, and salvation can be found only by being a member of their organization or following their teachings.
They usually have their founder or living “prophet, seer and revelator” who has received direct revelation from God as opposed to historic Biblical revelation that ended with the writing of the last book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation about A.D. 85. Every true born again Christian needs to question any group that claims they possess new and inspired written scriptures that supplements or supersedes the true inspired and inerrant Word of God permanently recorded in the Bible.
When you come in contact with these false teachers of the antichrist ask some hard questions and demand that you get the right answers before you join up. The apostle John said to put them to the “acid test of truth as a metallurgist does his metals.”
1. Do you rely upon the Bible alone for your doctrine and practice? What is your source of authority? Do you add some other books or human authority that equals or supersedes the authority of the Old and New Testament? Do you claim to possess new and inspired direct revelation from God that is just as authoritative as the Bible? Do you depend upon a certain person to interpret the Bible for you?
2. Does the group accept the basic historic teaching of Biblical Christianity? What do they teach about the Triune God, the person and work of Jesus Christ (especially His deity, incarnation, and atoning substitutionary death for the sinner)? Ask for their specific teaching about the person and work of Jesus Christ. How do you know if it is of the Spirit of God? “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
3. What do you teach regarding salvation? What would you say if you died today and stood before the Lord God and He asked you, “Why should I let you into My heaven”? Listen carefully to the response. Does the group teach salvation by grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone? Do they add or detract anything from, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”? Do they teach justification by faith alone? Do they add the requirement that you be baptized by one of their clergy in their church or temple? Do they add good works, church membership, tithing, etc. as a requirement for salvation? How can salvation be by God’s grace alone if baptism in their church is necessary for salvation? By their teaching it is no longer of God’s grace, but by the works of “obedience.” Do they teach that salvation depends on membership in their particular organization?
4. What is the attitude of their group toward other Bible-believing Christians? Do they permit their followers to fellowship with other Christians? Do they consider themselves exclusive and think that only they have the true and correct teaching and authority of God? Do they suppress or respect other Bible-believing Christians regardless of the nametag they wear such as: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies, Independent, Bible, etc.? Is the group teaching, “I or we alone are all right and everyone else is wrong? Only we have the truth, and we are the only people God uses.”
Learn to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” They are so deceptive they even use the glorious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to accomplish their evil and destroy God’s eternal purpose.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006