Justified by God’s Grace

Today as we continue to look at grace, we look at Romans 3:23-24, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) Remember, we said that grace was unmerited favor. Another word in our verse that many may not know the meaning of is justification. Another way to think of it is, “just as if I had never sinned.” When God looks at us through the blood of Jesus Christ, He doesn’t see our sin He sees Jesus’ sacrificial blood. He sees us as pure and holy before Him.

Sin has a penalty…death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Justification and God’s grace takes care of the penalty of sin for us when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and live inside of us. When I was younger, I was studying to be an LPN. I had a rotation in my schooling where I had to work on the floor of a psychiatric hospital. We had one patient who walked the floor mumbling the first part of Romans 6:23 over and over. She was obsessed with the idea that she had sinned and deserved death. Another student, who was also a Christian, and I tried to help her remember that there was a second part to that verse, that Jesus had paid the price for her sin. I firmly believe that our patient was a Believer, but Satan had distorted her mind so badly that all he let her remember was that she was a sinner and it completely destroyed her. She didn’t have the assurance that God’s grace had justified her and that she was a child of God.

Many walk this earth with that same fear. They know that they have sinned, and they don’t have the assurance of knowing that if they only would ask Jesus to save them that they would be justified in God’s eyes because of His grace over them. Satan takes advantage of that and he keeps people in bondage, gripped in fear that there is no hope for them.

Our current crisis is a case in point. People are running around in fear that they will die from this virus, and many most likely don’t have a relationship with God. They don’t know that God will grant favor upon them when they put their full faith and trust in Him. They don’t know that He will place a hedge of protection around them, they don’t know that He loves them so much that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 KJV) God’s grace is evident in the way He is so patient with us. He calls to us time and again, asking us to repent and turn back to Him. He beckons us lovingly desiring us to have a relationship with Him.

What happens when we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord? We are forgiven of our sins, past, present, and future. We are made a part of God’s family and we become heirs of God. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (KJV) We are children of God, and God extends His grace to us every single day. When we fall short and sin (and we will because we are human) and then confess our sins, He forgives us. (1 John 1:9) We are assured that God’s grace covers us daily. As we walk the pathway He has planned for us we find that we are changed, circumstances change, our outlook changes, all for the better. We are free from the fear of sin’s penalty and we can rest in the assurance that God’s grace holds us.

Our Identity – Debt Free

Today we are looking at Colossians 2:13 – 14, “And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.” (CSB) As we continue to look at our identity in Christ, I find it amazing that we are debt-free because of Jesus! Jesus paid the penalty for our sins! He looked at us with love and told the Father, “I’ll pay for it!”

Being debt-free is an amazing feeling. A few years ago, I experienced that when we were able to pay off the mortgage on our house because of an inheritance I received when my mother passed away! Having no house payments is awesome! I also have a car that is fully paid for…how cool is that? It’s nice not to have bills looming over our heads. It gives me a feeling of freedom!

Those of us who have asked Jesus to be our Lord and Master and accepted Him as our Savior, have that same feeling! We are debt-free! We owed a debt of sin that we could never pay, but Jesus stepped up and took our place and paid that debt. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV) Every person who has ever been born, or ever will be born, has been born into sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV) That means we are debt-free! We no longer have the penalty of death hanging over our heads.

Our sin separated us from God. But God loved us so much that He made a way to make a bridge between us and Him. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) Sometimes it is hard for me to understand that kind of love. Jesus gave up everything to come to earth and live a sinless life so that He could be the sacrifice for our sins. God poured out His grace upon us so that He could have a relationship with us. He loves us that much!

Jesus invites us to ask Him to take up residence in our hearts. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (KJV) He wants a relationship with us, and as we discovered in our last post, He wants to be our friend.

There is a song that we haven’t sung in our church for a long time that expresses how much we owe Him. The lyrics say, “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to take my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay!” Our identity is in Jesus paying the price for us, and we are debt-free!

Freedom to Choose

As we’ve looked at the subject of freedom in Christ, we have learned about justification, sanctification, and now we look at glorification. Our Bible Journaling Scripture for today is Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.” (CSB)

So far, we have learned that justification is “the act of being declared righteous in God’s sight.” We have learned that sanctification means “to be made holy”. This is a process; it is a life-long journey. Now we look at glorification, which is defined as, “God’s final removal of sin from the life of the saints (through salvation). When Jesus comes back to take the Believer to Heaven with Him, “we will be changed from mortal to holy immortal with direct access to God’s presence.” (taken from http://www.gotquestions.org)

God did not create us to be mere automatons. He gave us the ability to choose the path we want to go. We alone decide whether to accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, God provides the final removal of our sins because of what Jesus has done for us. Unlike the angels, who were created to worship God entirely, we have a choice. We choose to love Him; we choose to follow His will and His purpose for us. We have a choice!

My first husband was into robots. In fact, he was so enamored by them that he made a couple of them. The last one was almost 6 feet tall and it walked, talked, and moved its arms. We named him Ottomation. But Otto couldn’t do any of those things without my husband rigging up a control panel for him to move and by providing the voice for Otto. The robot couldn’t do anything unless my husband made it do what he wanted it to do. Otto was a robot and could only do what he was programmed to do. God did not want mindless robots who were programmed only to do His bidding. He wanted His people to have the free will to be able to choose whether they would love, honor, obey, and worship Him.

The first test of this was in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3) God had only one rule for Adam and Eve, they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They failed the test miserably, and because of that, sin entered the world and we have been dealing with it ever since. Because of Adam’s sin, each of us was born in sin. In order to restore the relationship between God and us, we must accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. (John 3:3, John 3:16-17, Acts 2:21, 4:12) God does not beat us over the head, demanding that we follow Jesus, but He lovingly offers us a way of escape from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23) through Christ’s death on the cross.

Once we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are promised eternal life with Him, free from all the hindrances we face now. God accepts our repentance, we receive His grace, and we can then live a life full of peace and joy and have the knowledge that God loves us and provides eternal life for us. We are promised that we will have a glorified body, like Jesus, and we will be in God’s presence face to face. The choice is ours. The question remains, “What will you do with Jesus?” I hope that if you haven’t asked Christ into your life, that today you will choose to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. It will be the best decision you will have ever made.

We Are No Longer Enslaved By Sin

We can so easily become enslaved to sin. It’s part of our human nature. 2 Peter 2:19 says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” (CSB) Peter was addressing the issue of false teachers in the early church. There were those who were teaching heresy to the early church and misleading new Christians away from the faith. Peter is warning them to beware of false teachers. There are those in our midst today that would lead Believers who are not mature in their faith away from the freedom found in Jesus. They deny who Jesus is, saying He was just a good teacher, or deny that He is the Son of God, or say it’s ok to do such and such and still be a Christian, even though Scripture plainly says it is sin. They cleverly manipulate Scripture to fit what they are teaching.

Peter points out that they are “slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” That seems to be the crux of the problem. Whatever happens to defeat us enslaves us. We all have things that are stumbling blocks, things that we just can’t seem to get victory over. The enemy has us enslaved, chained if you will, and he continues to keep us in bondage until we turn to the One who can break the chains that hold us.

Faith in Jesus Christ can give us power over those things we struggle with. When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, the Holy Spirit comes into us, and it is through Him that we receive power to be able to overcome the sin in our lives. We still must make a conscious decision to turn away from sin, but it is He who gives us the strength and power to be able to turn our back on it and walk in a way that is upright and pure.

The song, “Break Every Chain” is such a powerful song. It talks about having power in the name of Jesus. “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain!” God does not expect us to be able to defeat the sin in our lives on our own because He knows we are incapable of winning a fight with the Devil by ourselves. It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that we can stand up against the enemy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtyVdC7E6Wo&list=RDEtyVdC7E6Wo&start_radio=1

I love this song because it reinforces to me that I don’t have to be chained by the sin that trips me up. I can ask for God’s help to defeat the enemy and help me overcome those things in my life that I know are displeasing to Him and break the chains that hold me.

Jesus breaks the power that sin has over us. We can then walk in freedom, knowing that when we come to a bump in the road, trip, and fall, we can get right back up with the help of Jesus and walk on the pathway He has set before us. Now, it may not be easy winning a battle over something we struggle with, but we are not alone. Jesus walks with us and He promises to always be with us. (Hebrews 13:5) We know the enemy would like nothing better than to see us fall and remain defeated. We must look to Jesus to help us to overcome our failings and the sin that “so easily besets us” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV) It is only through Jesus that we can be free from the power that sin has over us!

We are Free from the Power of Sin

As we continue to look at the subject of freedom, today we learn that we are free from the power that sin has over us. Romans 6:22-23 says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASB) We are all born in sin, every single one of us. As babies we have the selfish desires of being the center of everything, our needs and wants are top priority over everything else. As we grow older, hopefully, we learn not to be so self-centered, but there is still that within us that wants what it wants when it wants it. That attitude is ingrained in us from birth…and as such, it is the sinful part that was handed down to us from Adam.

The Apostle Paul tells us in our Scripture today that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, He frees us from our sins, and we are sanctified. I looked up the definition of sanctification in Dictionary.com. and sanctification is defined as “to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate; to purify or free from sin.” When we become Believers, we are set apart for God’s glory and to be used by Him to be an example of what God has done in us. Our attitude, our actions, our speech, everything about us is to reflect Jesus Christ living in us. Does that mean that after we become Christians we never sin? No, of course not! We are still human and fallible. However, Jesus made a way for us to be reinstated when we fall. His death on the cross and His shed blood covers us when we come to Him and repent of our sins. Does that mean we can just keep on sinning because we can continue to ask forgiveness? No! We are not to make a habit of sinning. We are to live lives that are set apart, holy, and consecrated to God.

The Christians in Rome dealt with this very problem. Paul tells them in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (NASB) It is true, God’s grace covers us when we sin, but we are not to abuse His grace toward us. Because Jesus paid for the penalty of sin, God has declared that we are sinless and perfect in His eyes, and it is He who gives you the power to overcome sin. God has sanctified us, made us holy, and because of this, we must live our lives in a way to give honor and glory to Him.

We can’t overcome sin on our own, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us defeat those things in us that would lead us into areas of sin. Temptation is not sin, however; succumbing to it is. When we delve into sinful attitudes and actions, not desiring to repent but continue, we can find ourselves in trouble. We can put ourselves into situations where we easily fall prey to the traps of the enemy. Each one of us has areas in our lives that we battle with daily. It is then that we must turn to Jesus, ask for His help and hold onto His hand, allowing Him to guide us in the pathway we are to go.

For me, I struggle with my weight, like a lot of us I suppose. I find that my “I want what I want when I want it” voice pops up more times than I like to admit. I fight that every single day. I’m not much on exercise either. My motto has always been, “Exercise will kill ya!” (LOL) My overindulgence in eating and not exercising is, for me, sin. I need to overcome my selfishness and seek God’s power to overcome in this area of my life. I have moments where I am successful, but then there comes a time when I’m tired of being good on my diet and I’m back where I started. Living a sanctified life isn’t always easy, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s leading, we can be successful. We then can experience the freedom that comes in relenting to Jesus and turning our back on those things that lead us into sin.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can put our rebellion behind us and be free from the power and penalty of sin. We can rejoice, knowing that through Him we are free!

Freedom from the Fear of Death

Death is not something most of us don’t want to even think about. As Believers, we don’t have to fear death because Jesus has conquered it. Today’s Bible Journaling Scripture is taken from Hebrews 2:14-15, “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

Why do we fear death? I think for some it is fear of the process of death. What will we feel? will we be aware that we are dying? will there be pain? … all of these can be sources of our fear. For those especially who do not know Jesus as Savior, it is fear of what happens to us after we die. The Bible tells us that there is life after death, the question is where will we spend that life? The Bible says that life after death is eternal. John 5:28-29 says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (NIV) Now some may say, “Well, all I have to do is be a good person and I will live in Heaven.” But that isn’t what the Bible says. Sin separates us from fellowship with God. We all are born in sin because of Adam’s sin in the Garden and that destined us all to death. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (CSB)

But when we put our full trust and belief in Jesus Christ, accept His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and live for Him, we can then look forward to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to salvation and life eternal. (John 14:6) God set out a plan to save us from our sin at the very beginning. (Genesis 3:15) Jeremiah 21:8 says, “But tell this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.’” (CSB) He sent Jesus to die for our sins because of His great love for us. (John 3:16) Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.’” Therefore, we have no need to fear death. The Bible says that Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! Revelation 1:18 tells us, “And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” We have nothing to fear, Jesus has the keys and He has locked the door, never to unlock it again!

For those who fear the process, the Bible talks about death, saying that we sleep. (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 9:24, John 11:12-13, I Corinthians 15:51) It says we fall asleep here and wake up in eternity. Whether we wake in Heaven or in Hell depends on what we have decided about Jesus. We can rest in the knowledge that Jesus has conquered death and we know that He loves us and wants to take away all our fear. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we can rest, without fear of what is to come, knowing we have a Savior who loves us and has given His life for us, and has prepared the way for us. (John 14:1-3)

We are Free from the Penalty of Sin

As we continue talking about our freedom in Christ, we understand that the most important freedom we have is our freedom from the penalty of our sin. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (CSB) Jesus has paid the penalty for us!

In J. Vernon McGee’s Commentary on Romans, he writes that verse one should literally read, “Therefore now, not one condemnation.” Isn’t that an amazing thought? There is nothing for which God condemns us. We don’t need to worry about being condemned because Jesus took care of our penalty for sin on the cross. As Believers, we do at times, fall into sin. But we don’t have to stay there, and when we repent and ask forgiveness, God forgives, and we are free. He does not condemn us. If we feel any condemnation, it comes from the enemy. It is Satan who sits on our shoulder pointing out our faults and failures, condemning us, telling us we are not good enough to be a Christian, telling us that God couldn’t possibly love us and that because we failed we have lost our place in God’s family. The Apostle Paul tells us, “not one condemnation”, is placed upon us! We are justified. Justification can be defined as, “Just as if I hadn’t sinned.” The dictionary defines justification as, “the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.” That is just what Jesus did for us on the cross. His death on the cross paid for the penalty of our sins. He took our sins upon Himself.

Our verse tells us also that “the law of the Spirit of Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” In J. Vernon McGee’s commentary, he states, ‘“The law of the Spirit’ means not only a principle of law, but also the authority which is exercised by the Spirit. ‘The Spirit of life’ means the Holy Spirit who brings life because He essentially is life. He is the Spirit of life. ‘In Christ Jesus’ means that the Holy Spirit is in complete union with Christ Jesus. Because the believer shares the life of Christ, He liberates the believers.” Isn’t that amazing? Because we share Jesus’ life, we are freed because of what He did for us.

So, how do we go about sharing in the life of Christ so that we may be liberated? We must believe that Jesus is God’s Son, was born of a virgin, lived on earth to preach and teach about who God is, was beaten, tortured, and crucified to pay the penalty of our sins, was buried for three days, resurrected, and ascended to Heaven to reign with His Father. We must repent (ask forgiveness) of all our sins, ask Him to live within us, change us, and endeavor to live for Him, and then thank Him for His grace to us. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (CSB) Once we have accepted Jesus as Savior, we can receive freedom from our sins.

If you are looking for that freedom, take that step forward. Ask Jesus to save you from your sins and live inside of you. Don’t put it off. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “…now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! You will find that it will be the best decision you have ever made. Then you will experience that freedom from the penalty of sin and death, and you will find that you are living with peace and joy in your heart.