Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.—Romans 12:17-18; 21
We must confess unrighteous anger as sin and then begin to deal with it immediately. Anger is often a response to hurt and care must be taken not to excuse or defend it in the name of justice. Even when someone has sinned against you, it’s important to realize that holding onto anger in response is also a sin. Scripture tells us to overcome evil with good, not to repay it.
Some people want to hang on to ill feelings, but nursing a resentful attitude isn’t sustainable; anger must be put aside. If we retain our “right” to hold grudges, we can’t expect to live in the new nature Christ has created for us.
The place where we will find strength is in our new Christlike personality. Our responsibility is to put it on. He invites us to cooperate with Him in the process of transformation. With each step of obedience, the peace of Christ will increase and anger will diminish.
“I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me”—Philippians 4:13
How do you respond when you sense the Lord is calling you to a task that seems beyond your abilities? Do you list all the reasons why you can’t possibly do it? God already knows everything about you and the situation. He’s not asking your permission to proceed; rather, He is calling you to move forward with faith in Him. You can refuse, but you risk missing out on the blessings of a life lived in obedience to Him.
The Lord will equip you for whatever He calls you to do. And because the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, we have everything we need to fulfill our divine mission. Instead of allowing inadequacy to deter you from obeying, let it drive you to your knees so you can depend on God’s insight and power.
Jericho was the first city the Israelites needed to conquer in their quest for the land of Canaan. When sending a pair of spies to check it out, Joshua probably didn’t realize that he would receive a glimpse of the Lord’s impressive behind-the-scenes activity.
We must remember to look at every obstacle through the lens of God’s unlimited strength and resources. Anything that appears to block His plans is an opportunity for Him to demonstrate His sovereign power. Just because we don’t see anything happening, that doesn’t mean He’s inactive. God is at work on the other side of our obstacles, arranging the details and bringing His plans to fruition.
When the spies returned to Joshua, they reported that the people of Jericho were scared to death. Having heard about the Jews’ deliverance from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, they were gripped by fear of the Lord. The stage was set for the conquest, though by that point, Joshua hadn’t done a thing. Sometimes we think we need to be involved in the solution to our problem, but God is not limited with regard to whom or what He can use to accomplish His will. In this case, He worked in the hearts of the opposition by instilling demoralizing fear.
For the Christian, great obstacles need not be reasons for discouragement. Although much of the Lord’s activity is silent and invisible, we can be sure He is dynamically working out His will for our life. When the pieces of His plan are in place, He will move us on to victory.
5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.—1 John 1:5-7
One of the main reasons Christians doubt their salvation is the presence of sin in their life. According to 1 John 1:6, people who profess faith while continuing in a sinful lifestyle are deceiving themselves and walking in darkness. Verse 7, however, offers reassurance to those who are truly saved: Though they’ll still sin at times, this doesn’t mean they’ve lost their salvation. Today’s passage explains how believers are to deal with sin when it occurs in their life:
Confess your sins (1 John 1:9). Confession should be our first response when we stumble and fall. It means acknowledging to God that we’ve acted in a manner inconsistent with His character and standards and are in need of His promised forgiveness and cleansing.
Know that Christ is your Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1-2). It’s never God’s will that we sin, but when we do, Jesus is our Defender in God’s courtroom. His sacrifice fully atoned for our sin and satisfied divine justice. When we repented and believed that Christ died for our sins, we were justified and declared righteous before God.
Know that sin is not a continuing practice in the life of a true believer (1 John 3:9). Since we’re born of God and the Holy Spirit abides in us, we cannot continue in sin. Although there may be brief periods of transgression, God’s Spirit works in us to change our desires and practices.
A believer’s disobedience brings the Lord’s discipline, not loss of salvation. However, as God’s children, we should never excuse our disobedience or abuse God’s grace by living in sin. Instead, we’re to pursue obedience and holiness.
(Presented with permission | © In Touch Ministries)
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself”—2 Timothy 2:13
Have you ever doubted God? At some point in life, every one of us could probably answer yes. Doubts come when our expectations are not met—for example, when we believe that God will act a certain way, but He doesn’t. Then we start to question His love and wonder whether He truly has our best interest at heart.
The most famous doubter in the Bible is Thomas. He wasn’t with the other disciples when the resurrected Jesus appeared to them. Later, when they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, he refused to believe. He’d left everything to follow Jesus, but the crucifixion had dashed his expectations of a glorious messianic kingdom. In his doubting state, Thomas demanded proof before he would believe.
Have you ever considered how bold Thomas’s ultimatum was? No human being has the right to demand anything of the Son of God. Yet the following week, the Lord appeared to the doubting disciple and graciously offered the proof Thomas wanted. Jesus knew this wasn’t a case of rebellious unbelief, because Thomas belonged to Him (John 18:9).
When we are the Lord’s, we never have to fear that He will cut us off. Remember Scripture’s words of assurance: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Our doubts should be a reminder that we have much more to learn about God. So let’s think of them as a challenge to dig deeply into His Word to discover why our expectations have led us astray. The more we grow in our knowledge of our Lord, the more we’ll trust Him.
Do you not know that to whomever you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to whomever you obey, whether sin, leading to death, or obedience, leading to righteousness?—Romans 6:16
The issue of the lordship of Christ is never presented as an optional addendum to believing faith. It is an essential and functional necessity of it. Billy Graham believed in salvation by faith in Christ alone and walked in obedience to the lordship of Christ simply because Christ alone is Lord and King. Mr. Graham’s deep humility before man was the hallmark of his spiritual humility and obedience to God. As a result, he was endowed with an abundance of the grace of God (see James 4:6).
In the Bible, the call to obey God is first seen in the call of Abram (Genesis 12:1-4). When invited to join God in all He promised, Abram immediately followed God in total obedience. Abram, in fact, did not even know where he was going. He just obeyed and went.
Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary suggests Biblical obedience is “to hear God’s Word and act accordingly.” In human terms, this carries the idea of submitting to a higher authority. In Biblical terms, obedience simply means doing what God says!
In short, if we believe in Him, then we obey Him. He alone is God.
When the sentence for a crime is not speedily executed, the hearts of men become fully set on doing evil.—Eccl 8:11
Have you ever ignored a nagging sense of conviction in your heart? Maybe you rationalized wrongdoing with the thought that if God were really upset, He’d put a stop to things by disciplining you. Psalm 50:21 reminds us that the silence of heaven does not mean approval. Remaining in sin is an abuse of the Lord’s patience.
When God seems slow to react, we might hope He’s overlooking our transgressions—we’d like to continue in sin because the momentary pleasure is more appealing than obedience. But thankfully, the Father knows our weaknesses, our innate carnality, and the state of our spiritual growth, and He therefore measures His response. Motivated by love and a desire to gently restore His children to righteousness, God refrains from instantly doling out punishment. Instead, He waits for the Holy Spirit’s prodding to impact the believer’s heart. The weight of conviction is actually an invitation to turn from wrongdoing and return to godliness.
However, we’re a stubborn people. There are times when we persist in sin because the sentence against an evil deed isn’t executed quickly (Eccl. 8:11). In this dangerous situation, it’s possible to immerse ourselves in sin and harden our heart against the Lord. Then the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance falls on spiritual ears rapidly going deaf.
As we learn and understand more about God and His ways, we are increasingly responsible to live righteously. Our heavenly Father is not slow; He’s patient. But don’t abuse that patience with callous disregard for His statutes. Repent and be holy in the sight of the Lord.