Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” (John 18:18, NKJV)
During the Passover meal before He was arrested and put to death, Jesus told Peter he would deny knowing Him three times before daybreak. Peter vehemently objected, and all the disciples joined in refusing to believe such a thing (Mk. 14:27-31). Later that night Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest to be examined. Peter warmed himself by the fire in the courtyard of the high priest (Jno. 18:15-16). Peter put himself into a situation in which he was influenced by unbelievers to deny the Lord. He could have rationalized why he was there. He was in the courtyard because he cared about Jesus and wanted to see what would happen next. He was by the fire because it was cold. Nevertheless, his decision to be there put him in a compromising (and ultimately sinful) situation. Learn from Peter to be wise and to choose carefully where you go and the people you will be around. They will have an influence on you. Will they influence you to honor Christ? Or, will they tempt you to deny the Lord?
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8, NKJV)
God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous (1 Pet. 3:12). So, why didn’t the Father answer Christ’s prayers to escape the torturous death by crucifixion that was awaiting Him? In fact, the Father did answer them. Jesus prayed, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will”, and God’s will was that He endure the cross (Matt. 26:39). He accepted this answer with complete obedience to the Father’s will. We tend to think that if our prayers are not answered in the way we prefer, then God has not answered our prayer at all. But, when we pray with a heart that defers to the will of God, every prayer is not only heard but also answered according to God’s good will. Let us follow the example of Jesus when we pray, and continue to obey the Father fully, whatever His answer is.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10–11, NKJV)
Peter urges Christians to be eager to insure the certainty of our calling and election. Clearly, there is something the Christian must do in order to verify his or her entrance into heaven (the everlasting kingdom). God has called us through the gospel into fellowship with His Son. He has chosen to save us in His Son. Christians are forgiven of past sins in Christ, but we must diligently mature in Christ or risk stumbling and becoming “useless” and “barren” (2 Pet. 1:5-9). No one stumbles into heaven.
And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” (Joshua 7:20–21, NKJV)
Achan did not make an excuse. He had sinned, and then tried to hide his sin. He knew what he had done was against the will of God (Josh. 6:18). With his sin now exposed, he acknowledged it, including how it happened and what he did. Do not wait for God to expose your sin against Him. If you wait until the Day of Judgment it will be too late to confess your sin and seek God’s mercy. Do not make excuses for your sin. Face up to it and come to Jesus for cleansing. Do not try to hide your sin; you will not succeed. God already knows if there is sin in your life. As Christians we are assured that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jno. 1:9).
He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22, NKJV)
Who you find to marry makes a huge difference in your life. God arranged marriage for one man and one woman for life (Gen. 2:18-25). By it, loneliness is averted through a companionship that unites two into “one flesh”. While millions minimize marriage, sinning against God by living together, marriage continues to be “honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Marriage is intended to bring joy and fulfillment to life, not painful complaint, criticism and cynicism. A good wife (or husband) is a great blessing from the Lord. So, choose your mate wisely and live in the Lord’s favor. If you are already married, then make it your aim to be the kind of wife or husband who brings your spouse joy and gladness.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5, NKJV)
God has always called His people to holiness: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16). Sanctification is a state of purity, set apart from defilement and dedicated to God and His service. This includes keeping our bodies from fornication (sexual immorality). To do that, the Lord calls on us to refuse the “passion of lust” that generates sexual sins (Matt. 5:28; Mk. 7:21). God expects us to “possess” (gain control over) our bodies by renewing our minds (Rom. 12:2). By doing so we can use our bodies in holy ways that honor God. On the other hand, those who do not know God live to satisfy their fleshly lusts. By doing so, they dishonor themselves and God. But, Christians are called out of sin’s defilement to be holy and pure in mind and body.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21, NKJV)
Have you ever thought about how God knows that you love Him? And, for that matter, how you know that you love God? You may be inclined to say, “God knows my heart – He knows I love Him.” Yes, God knows your heart. Yet, here Jesus said He knows a person loves Him when that person keeps His commandments. Saying we love God is not enough. The confidence of salvation in Christ and fellowship with the Father and the Son belongs to those who actually keep His commandments. With this information you can answer your own questions. Does God know that you love Him? And, how do you know you love God? We hope your answers are “yes” and “by keeping His commandments”. “Blessed are those who do His commandments” (Rev. 22:14).
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. (Acts 8:4–5, NKJV)
Some say we should “preach Christ but not the church”. Others say, “preach the gospel but not doctrine”. Such man-made distinctions and divisions of God’s word do not exist in the Scriptures. To “preach Christ” is to preach “the word” that belongs to Christ. His word contains the apostolic doctrine (teaching) concerning who Jesus is and what He has done for mankind. It includes “things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” and also baptism (Acts 8:12). When one claims to “preach Christ” be sure he preaches “the whole counsel of God” and not just bits and pieces of it (Acts 20:27).
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV)
I know very few children who desire the pain that discipline causes. Yet, when it is applied according to God’s word, the child is better for it. The objective of instructive and corrective discipline is training in righteous living. Parents discipline their children because they love them, and God disciplines His children, too (Heb. 12:3-7). Times of trial and “striving against sin” train us to trust the Lord more completely. Remember, discipline is an action of love, so accept its training and bear its good fruit in your life. Only the devil and those who serve his purposes will try to convince you to despise the Lord’s discipline.
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14, NKJV)
Being under the Law of Moses only magnified the guilt of Israel’s sin (Rom. 3:19-20). Without God’s grace, sin rules and produces spiritual death. God’s grace in Christ provides escape from sin’s dominion (Rom. 6:11-13). While today’s verse magnifies the superiority of grace over sin, but it does not teach that Christians are free from living under law. We cannot do as we please because we are “not under law but under grace”. If no divine law exists to which we are accountable, then sin itself does not exist, “for where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). Sin, by definition, is the transgression of the law of God (1 Jno. 3:4). Furthermore, it is notable that sinners are justified “by the law of faith” (Rom. 3:27). On another occasion, the apostle clearly said we are “under law to Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21). The truth is, grace does not ignore Christ’s law. We stand in grace when we live by faith, trusting and obeying the law of Christ (Rom. 5:2; Heb. 5:8-9).