13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:13–15)
Liberty in Christ is not freedom to sin without eternal consequences. The apostle had just warned Christians against falling from grace (Gal. 5:4). Now, imagine if it were impossible to fall from grace as many believe and teach. Christians could then “bite and devour one another” and claim liberty in Christ as their exemption from eternal punishment. Even though such conduct is the sinful fulfilling of the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). What a harmful and deceptive view of sin! Backbiting, gossip and maligning others consumes brotherly relations while destroying the loving service that adorns our relationship in the family of God. Such works of the flesh condemn the soul (Gal. 5:16-21). Love your neighbor as yourself. Your liberty in Christ frees you to serve others in love, not to be a bondservant of sin.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:6-9, ESV)
Faith works through love. The inspired apostle Paul affirms what many today will not admit; faith works, and a working faith counts for something in God’s sight. God-approved faith is active. “Faith working through love” in verse 6 is synonymous with “obeying the truth” in verse 7. Jesus does not persuade Christians to think they can stop having an obedient faith and still be crowned victorious in the last day. The runner who stops running does not win the race. The Christian who stops obeying the truth will not receive an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Be cautious and do not fall from the grace you have in Christ (Gal. 5:4). Be obedient in your faith to love the Savior and do His will. Otherwise, the leaven of sinful neglect and complacency will damage and destroy your faith and rob you of your reward.
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.'” (Isaiah 44:6)
You might as well choose the God of your choice as to choose the church of your choice. There is only one true God who redeems and rules. Similarly, there is only one true church, built by Jesus, it’s head. Since Jesus said, “I will build my church” (not churches), why are folks so eager to encourage people to join the church of their choice (Matt. 16:18)? Should we not want to be added by the Lord to His church (the church He built)? His church is composed of the saved (not churches) according to Acts 2:47: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Are you among that number?
30 As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. 31 For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? (Psalm 18:30-31)
God’s way is perfect, complete and sufficient for your salvation. His word is tested, tried and proven to be accurate. It is the perfect law of liberty into which you must look and then do (Jas. 1:23-25). The overriding reason that God’s way is perfect is because He is the only eternal, self-existing God. He alone is our strength and refuge – our rock against all adversity. The god of Islam is not such a god. The millions of gods of Hinduism are all impotent to save. The god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not Jehovah of the Bible. The god of Mormonism was once a man – not the eternal I AM. Only the God who reveals Himself in the Bible (and by His Son, Jesus, Jno. 1:18) is Lord; He alone can save you and protect you from sin and its eternal death. The gospel of His Son Jesus tells you how to be saved. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” and is the only way to the Father (Jno. 14:6). Trust God to save you and protect you by coming to Jesus and following Him – the perfect way to the Father.
9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (2 Corinthians 1:9–11)
Paul’s life had been threatened while he was on a preaching trip (see Acts 19:21-41). Although he was prepared to die for the Lord, the Lord delivered him. Paul’s trust in God was unflappable, and his example helps us remain strong when our faith is put to the test. Paul refused to rely on himself; He would trust in God who has power over death. Remember, whatever people say or do to you because of your faith in Jesus, they cannot kill your soul (Matt. 10:28). So, be faithful to Christ and receive eternal life when God raises you from the dead. Whatever your trial of faith, do not be discouraged. God delivers all who trust in Him.
15 “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:15-16)
The heart is the spring well from which comes all things both good or evil. Israel was commanded to observe food restrictions under the Law of Moses (Lev. 11). But, what Jesus Christ taught on this occasion made all food pure (Mk. 7:19). The food that goes into a person’s body does not defile that person before God. It is the “evil things” coming out of the heart (in the form of thoughts, words and actions) that defile a person (Mk. 7:23). Jesus urges us to listen carefully to what He says. We cannot let evil things proceed from our heart and think we are pure before God: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22). Put away evil. Cleanse your heart through Christ and His gospel (Eph. 4:20-24).
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:36-37)
Jesus is king today, exalted at the right hand of God, ruling over His kingdom. This is the gospel preached from the day of Pentecost to this very moment (Acts 2:30-36). All who expect Jesus to return to reign from Jerusalem will continue to wait in vain. His kingdom is not “of this world”. They have failed to accept Jesus’ prediction of the kingdom coming “with power” during the lifetime of those who heard Jesus preach (Mk. 9:1; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). From Pentecost onward the kingdom is regarded as in existence, in which Christians participate (Col. 1:13; Heb. 1:3-4, 8; Rev. 1:9). Jesus was born to be a king. He reigns now as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Will you bow your knee to the king?
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The marriage of grace and truth is complete in Jesus Christ; the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. We need God’s grace and God’s truth; Jesus provides both (Jno. 1:17). God’s grace (unmerited, undeserved favor) offers salvation to every sinner through the cross of Jesus (Titus 2:11). The “word of the truth of the gospel” announces salvation that is obtained “by grace…through faith” (Col. 1:5; Eph. 2:8-9). Like David we cry out, “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me” (Psa. 40:11). God answered by sending His Son (the Word) to be the Savior of the world and to give us “grace and truth” (Jno. 1:17). Christians stand in the grace of God in Christ because they believe and obey His truth (Rom. 5:1-2). Grace and truth come together in Jesus. You need both to be saved. We all do. That’s why we need Jesus.
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:21-22, ESV)
Although many reject water baptism as having anything to do with being saved, Peter’s statement remains very clear: “Baptism…now saves you” (v. 21). Who gave water baptism the power to save? Not the church. Not a creed. Not the one being baptized. Not the preacher. Not the water. It is none other than the resurrected Christ who empowers water baptism to save you from sin’s death. The blood of Christ cleanses the conscience from the works of sin when the sinner is baptized into His death (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 6:3). To conclude that water baptism has no power to save is in direct conflict with the word of God and the power of Him who is in heaven “at the right hand of God” (v. 22). Instead of opposing the word of God, appeal to God for a good conscience. Be baptized to be saved – not by your own merit – but “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6)
We can easily become enamored with our intelligence and mental prowess. Pride seizes the heart, convincing us we are the beginning and end of all things wise and good (Job 12:2). How foolish indeed! It is the word of God, the inspired Scripture, that sets the parameters of truth, wisdom and knowledge (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Learn to be content following the Scriptures, not your own will and wisdom. Be careful not to think beyond what is written, presumptuously supposing God will accept whatever you decide to offer Him. Such arrogance perpetuates sin and strife. Instead, endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” by carefully following the Scriptures (Eph. 4:3). Abide in the word of Christ and be His true disciple (Jno. 8:31).