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!

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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!

Unshakeable Confidence

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 3:3-6, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.” (CSB) This passage was written by David as he was fleeing his son, Absalom. Absalom wanted to take over David’s throne and become king. Despite being on the run and having those in Israel who were favorable toward Absalom come against him, David still had confidence in God.

God had him anointed and placed on the throne of Israel. David could rest and not be worried or concerned because he knew that God was in control of everything and God had his back.

Worry can be disabling. It can cause sleepless nights, physical ailments, and take away our peace. But when we have confidence that God has everything under His control, that He sees our path beginning to end, we can have peace, we can rest. I love how David says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.” (verse 5) He could sleep at night in peace. Absalom had an agenda and desired to take David out so that he could become king, and David kept his confidence that God would settle the matter in His own time and way. He even says he is not afraid of those who are coming against him! That is Unshakeable Confidence!

I am not necessarily a worrier, however; there are times I can become concerned or even worry a little bit about a situation. I try not to let it get me to the point of being overwhelmed with worry, but I can have that situation uppermost in my mind, and it can always be there in my thoughts. If I don’t stop and pray about the situation, give it to God, and then trust Him to work it out for my good, then I become miserable.

God gives us His promise that when we pray, He will listen and answer. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (NASB) When we pray, He will hear and answer! That is our confidence!

God also gives us confidence to step out in faith when He has given us direction into an area that is not in our comfort zone. Doing new things can be scary, but God is orchestrating things in our lives to make us more like Him, to become a vessel that He can use in bringing others to faith in Jesus. Knowing He is directing my steps gives me confidence that I can do what He is asking me to do. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) As Believers, we know this verse and quote it quite often, but we never really pay attention to that little word in the middle of the verse…all! There is nothing we can not do when we put our trust and confidence in Christ. Everything is possible through Jesus!

So, as we look at placing our confidence in God, step out in faith, rely on His leading, rest in peace that He knows what is best for us, and He will always walk with us!

 

God’s Grace Transforms Us

This past week has been very hard for me and my family. Saturday, we held the funeral for my nephew, and it’s been difficult to say the least. So, I’ve not been in any frame of mind to do journaling. The day before my husband and I left to go to the funeral I did my Bible journaling artwork, and Satan knew just how to get to me because my hubby and I had a big argument and I couldn’t even put my thoughts together to write my journaling blog. So, the artwork has just been sitting here and as I look at it and read the Scripture, I still am having a hard time knowing where to begin.

The verse comes from Titus 2:11-13, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (NASB) The first thing I see in this passage is that God’s grace brings us salvation. For that, I am eternally grateful! Without His grace toward me, I would have no hope, no joy, no peace.

The second thing I see is that God instructs us in how to live our lives. He guides us in godly living, and that guidance helps to transform us. When we allow Him to do that transforming work in our lives, we are changed. We are not the same people we were ten years ago, five years ago, a year ago, even a day ago! He is constantly molding us and changing us to be more like Him. As I think about how He has transformed me, I recognize that the transformation He must do in me can only come about if I allow Him to work in my life, allow Him to change me.

I still battle with anger issues, but He is working in me trying to help me gain control of my anger. It isn’t easy for me to not just lash out at whoever I’m angry with. I am a work in progress. I don’t know if I will ever gain control over this, but I know it can’t happen if I don’t allow Him to do what He needs to do in me to gain the victory over anger. He is still working, and I can see that the outbursts aren’t as frequent, but I still have a lot of work to do to be more like Him.

The last thing I see in this passage is that because of His transforming work in our lives, we have something to look forward to…”the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We are expectantly waiting for His return, the Glorious Appearing! As I look at events in today’s world, I know His return is very close. There are days I say, “OK, God, You can come anytime, I’ve had enough!” We have a future to look forward to! We can be assured that He will keep His promise to come and take us home with Him. We also can have that assurance that He won’t call us home until we are transformed into who are to become…a transformed child of God who is the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

No More Pain

Today I am remembering my nephew, Brian. He passed away on April 3, 2019. My heart is so broken. He is my sister’s first-born, and he was such a joy to have around. Although life dealt him some painful blows, he tried to survive the hits but unfortunately, his way of dealing with it was drug addiction. My sister and I tried to help him, and he seemed to really be trying, going into drug rehab at the local rescue mission a couple of months before he died. He tried to kick the drugs and was going to the chapel services and studies that are part of the therapy there. He thanked me for sending my blog posts for encouragement to him, and my sister took him to her church once when he was able to go. It seemed like he was finally on the right road.

I find comfort in God’s Word during times like this. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (NASB) God is there helping us through times of sorrow. His arms are lovingly wrapped around us drawing us to Himself. Broken hearts are His specialty! Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NASB) Right now, my family is feeling that crushing of the spirit. My life verse is Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (NASB) When I think of this verse, I see God sitting in an overstuffed chair, not a cold, austere throne, and He is saying, “Come my daughter,” as He pats His leg for me to crawl up in His lap and let Him wrap His arms around me and lets me pour out my heart to Him.
He is my Abba Father, my Heavenly Daddy. When my heart is so full of hurt, He applies the salve to my heart to bring healing. As the salve flows over the hurt and the pain, I feel His love for me healing my heart.

As I was journaling my remembrance page for Brian, I found a sticker that says, “You are worth dying for – Jesus Christ” and that is what I hope Brian finally discovered before he died. I hope through the last couple of months that he found that God loves him despite what he has done. No one comes to Jesus being perfect, we all come to Him in a mess of our own making. In fact, He doesn’t want us to try and clean ourselves up before we come to Him. We couldn’t anyway. Nothing we can do can make up for all the sin in our lives. Only Jesus’ precious blood can cleanse our sin away. Only Jesus can forgive our sins and bring us salvation.

My heart’s cry is that Brian found the way to salvation and accepted Jesus in to his life. That is also my desire for my readers, that each one has come to the realization that there is nothing any of us can do to be acceptable in the sight of God. Only by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, asking forgiveness for our sins, and promising to follow Him and live a life worthy of Him, can we find salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) I am a whosoever, you are a whosoever, and He loves us so much that the only payment for our sins had to be paid by His Son, Jesus, on the cross. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (NASB) Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (NASB) Death is the penalty for our sin, and only a perfect blood sacrifice could pay for our sins. But God showed His love and grace toward us by sending His Son to die on a cross for our sins, so that we would not have to pay the penalty. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (KJV) God’s grace is poured out on us when we ask Jesus to save us and be Lord and Master. God invites us to accept Him, all we need to do is ask. 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) If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, Jesus is lovingly knocking on your heart’s door asking to be invited in. He will not push His way in, He is a gentleman. But He longs to have a relationship with you. He desires for you to decide today. II Corinthians 6:2 says, “…Now is the day of salvation.” My prayer for all of my readers is that they make that decision to follow Christ and find out that a life of surrender to Him can bring peace and joy.

My Hope is in God

Today I’m working on two passages as we continue our look at choosing hope. The first Scripture comes from II Corinthians 1:10, “Who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.” (NASB) The second verse is from Psalm 146: 5, “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (NASB) As I was thinking about these verses, the song, “The Solid Rock” came to mind. This is an old hymn that I’ve sung since I was a little girl.

The first stanza of the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” The chorus continues in a declaration, “On Christ, the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.” Jesus not only is a rock for us to stand upon, but He is also our hope! Psalm 146 echoes this…our hope is in God! It is He in whom we can depend, it is from Him that all good things come, it is Jesus who delivers us, it is His great love that holds us together.

When I think of hope in God, it brings to me feelings of peace, a quiet confidence in knowing that there is nothing I can’t bring to Him, there is nothing that can happen to me of which He is unaware. He holds me in the palm of His hand, and I am engraved into His hand. (Isaiah 49:16)

The second stanza of the song says, “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In ev’ry high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” He is our rock, our anchor. He is our shelter in the midst of storms. That is also part of our hope…knowing that He will keep us sheltered through the greatest difficulties of our lives. Psalm 146 tells us that God is our help. He brings us salvation, encouragement, strength, peace, and life everlasting.

Stanza three says, “His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” He keeps His oath and covenant to us through the blood He shed on the cross, and He supports us and is our hope!

The last stanza of the song says, “When he shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.” This to me, is the greatest hope we have in Jesus. We who have asked Jesus to save us from our sins, live in our hearts and are endeavoring to live for Him, have a future! We have the hope of seeing Him one day. We have the hope of being called to meet Him in the air in one great rapture of the church. We have the hope of eternal life with Him, and to reign with Him during the Millennial Reign. We have a bright future with Jesus!

Psalm 146:5 says that we are blessed. “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (NASB) Blessing follows those who hope in Christ. Where is your hope placed? Is it in the things of this world, the “sinking sand” if you will, or is your hope placed in God, who is your rock, your firm foundation, and your anchor?

Guard Your Mind

I’m going to break off today from the Journaling on love for this month. Sunday, our pastor gave a message called, “Guard Your Mind.” This is an area where, I think, most of us, Believer and non-believer alike, are having problems. Satan’s sole purpose is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) and he will use any means he can find to accomplish his purpose. We are looking at II Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (KJV)

Satan knows one fact; the battlefield is our minds! He wants to take control of our minds, what we think on and how we look at the world. As Believers, we have an advantage, God has given us the ability and power to control our minds. We can decide whether we will dwell on negative thoughts or positive thoughts or on sinful thoughts or holy thoughts. Satan’s desire is to corrupt our thought life. He plants temptation through our minds, and it is up to us whether we will dwell on those thoughts, leading us to temptation and sin. We can rationalize and say, “Well, no one else knows what I’m thinking, how bad can this be?” However, we forget there is One who knows our thoughts, God! He knows exactly what we are thinking. He calls us to think pure, honorable, right, and lovely thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)

Satan has a strategy to draw us away from those good and lovely thoughts. The Bible says he is a deceiver. (Revelation 12:9) One of his tactics is to bring doubt into our minds. We see this in the Garden of Eden. The serpent (Satan) deceived Eve by causing her to doubt what God had said about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He said they were not to eat from it, and Satan asks Eve, “…hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” When Eve tells him what God said about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that if they ate from it they would die, Satan tells her, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day that ye eat thereof; then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5 KJV) He put doubt into her mind, causing her to think that God was withholding something good from her. When she and Adam ate from the tree, death did come, not physical, but spiritual. Satan had won that bout, he caused her to fall.

Another strategy Satan uses is perversion. In today’s world, it’s hard not to see some pretty awful things. It seems that everywhere we turn we are faced with things that are unholy, whether it’s TV programs or song lyrics. We live in a depraved world and it is hard for a Christian to maintain pure thoughts when we are constantly bombarded from every side. II Corinthians 4:4 tells us that he blinds the minds of unbelievers. Because they have no advocate to help them, they end up succumbing to the temptations of their minds. He also tries to blind us, but we have God to help us. Whether it’s sexually explicit material or other things, Satan plants those thoughts into our minds, and it is up to us fight against it. Matthew 16:19 says that we can bind Satan and loose the power of God.

The door Satan uses is our unconfessed or hidden sin. When we don’t deal with our sin, it gives him an opportunity to enter and plant his deception. But we can defeat the enemy by doing three things, repent of sin, resist him, and renew our minds. Repentance closes the door on Satan, resisting his attempts is our action of fighting against him, and renewing our minds is done through getting into God’s Word, committing every day to God, and praying for God’s help. The battlefield is definitely in our minds. We must be diligent in keeping our thought life pure. Applying Philippians 4:8 daily by thinking on “these things” …what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, anything of virtue, anything of praise. When we do this, we can then guard our minds, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5)