Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD— Your salvation according to Your word. (Psalm 119:41)
God is rich in mercy to all who call upon Him (Eph. 2:4; Rom. 10:12). Yet, we must not miss this crucial point: His merciful salvation comes to us according to His word. We cannot expect God to have mercy and save us when we refuse His word. It is “the gospel of the grace of God”, “the word of His grace”, by which we obtain and retain God’s mercy that delivers us from sin and evil (Acts 20:24, 32). Instead of claiming God’s mercy while resisting God’s word, allow God’s mercies to come to you by yielding in faithful obedience to His word. Truly, God’s word is “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13).
Whoever causes the upright to go astray in an evil way, He himself will fall into his own pit; But the blameless will inherit good. (Proverbs 28:10)
Even the upright can go astray into evil (1 Cor. 10:12; Gal. 5:7). Those who lead Christians into error are not guiltless before God. Jesus said the person who becomes a stumbling block , thereby causing a believer to sin, is better off being cast into the depth of the sea (Matt. 18:6-7). Even if one who teaches error is sincere, he still leads people away from truth. He not only endangers them, but himself; he will fall into the hole he dug. Being blameless, then, includes not hindering the spiritual life of others by giving them wrong advice, counsel and teaching. Be cautious where you lead God’s people so that you may inherit a blessing.
10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12)
Good things do not result from doing what is evil. While this may seem too obvious to state, many go right on doing evil things, blindly believing it will result in good for them. We are under obligation to do good things, like restraining our tongue from speaking hurtful, destructive and deceitful words. Deliberately turn away from evil, and just as resolutely pursue peace. God listens to the prayers of such a person. But, He opposes the person who does evil and expects good to result.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
The voluntary offering of Jesus Christ for our sins is the defining moment of God’s love for the whole world. Without reservation, Jesus laid down His life as “an offering for sin” in order to pluck us out of the evil of this present age (Isa. 53:10). Having totally given Himself to the will of the Father, Jesus totally gave Himself for us. How completely thankless it is, therefore, to refuse His love. How utterly insensitive it is to return to the vile sins of the world having once been delivered by the blood of the Lamb. Divine favor and peace is given those who honor the Father and the Son for this great deliverance from sin and death. If you will hear, believe and obey His gospel call you will be saved because of God’s great love for you in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
In contrast to perverted gospels that trouble souls by turning them away from the grace of Christ, the gospel preached by the apostle Paul was “not according to men” (Gal. 1:6, 11). Divine miracles certified the gospel he preached was from God (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4). The true gospel is not from a human source (“I neither received it from man”) nor did it come to him as the result of religious training (“nor was I taught it”). The apostolic gospel is the result of “revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 12). Elsewhere Paul wrote that by reading what he wrote we can understand his knowledge of the gospel (Eph. 3:3-5). Therefore, let us learn, trust and follow the gospel taught by the apostles. It has the power to turn sinners away from sin and to God’s gracious salvation in His Son. Every gospel that is different from the New Testament is from men and powerless to save.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. (Galatians 1:8-10)
There were many false gospels being preached in Paul’s day. There still are. What is preached as the gospel of Christ makes a different; it matters what you are taught and what you receive. For example, many tell you to “choose the church of your choice and glorify God”, but the Bible does not say that. We could just as well say, “choose the gospel of our choice and glorify God” (since the existence of different churches necessarily implies different gospels). But, the gospel of Christ speaks of only “one body”, one church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). Denominationalism is not the gospel preached by the apostles; it is the division of men (1 Cor. 1:12-13). It pleases men, but our goal is to please God by preaching what the apostles preached and by receiving what faithful Christians of the first-century received (vss. 8-9). Be sure you are a “bondservant of Christ” and not one who, by pleasing men, stands “accursed” of God.
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)
Not very long after the gospel of Christ spread from Jerusalem some began to trouble Christians with perversions of the gospel. You see, it does make a difference what we teach and what we believe. If what Christians teach is not important, then why was Paul amazed by them turning away so soon from Christ to “a different gospel”? A perverted gospel was turning Christians away from Christ and from His grace. One gospel went forth from Jerusalem, not many. One, and only one, calls us into the grace of Christ and secures our hope in Him. Do not settle for a perverted gospel that is developed by men and denies Christ.
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where ‘THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’ (Mark 9:47-48)
Jesus gave a clear warning of the possibility of being cast into hell. Many wish to deny the reality of hell and its never-ending punishment. Yet, Jesus warns of “hell fire” where agony does not diminish and where fire does not consume. In another place, Jesus described hell as a “furnace of fire” where “there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42). Sin will be punished – its wages is death – “but, the free gift of God is eternal life is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Thanks be to God who saves all who “call on the name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21, 37-41; Rom. 10:9-13). Accept God’s gift of eternal life like Saul: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Heaven is real and eternal; so is hell. Where will you spend eternity?
17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” (Mark 6:17-18)
Read that again. It is undeniable that some marriages are not lawful in the sight of God. Herod and Herodias had married each other, but it was “not lawful” before God. You see, when they first met they already had spouses. They met, fell in love, schemed to divorce their mates and marry each other, which they did (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII:V). John the baptizer condemned their adultery and eventually lost his head for it (Mk. 6:19-28). We must remember that God-ordained marriage is for life, and God does not hold guiltless those who separate what God joins together (Matt. 19:3-6). Honor marriage by honoring the will of Him who gave us marriage (Heb. 13:4).
22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:22-24)
My father taught my brother and me by his good example to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. For Christians, giving an honest day’s labor is a matter of faith. Although this passage speaks to those forced to labor at the will of another, the principle of genuine, God-fearing labor abides true. We serve the Lord Christ, therefore, all we do is to bring honor to Him, including working honestly and respectfully. We work hard, not to be seen by our boss, but because our Lord in heaven sees us.