46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:46-48)
God, by the Holy Spirit, bore miraculous witness that Gentiles “should hear the word of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7-8). The hearts of Gentiles, just like Jews, would be purified by faith (Acts 15:9). Therefore, no one could justly forbid water from Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:47). Since God accepts whoever “fears Him and works righteousness”, Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:35, 48). Sinners are saved when they fear God and obey His commands to repent and be baptized (Acts 17:30; 10:48). Anyone who says repentance is commanded to be saved while not commanding baptism for the same purpose is not teaching the whole counsel of God. Who are we to forbid baptism for salvation when God and Christ’s apostles commanded it for that very purpose? Who are we to withstand God? (cf. Acts 11:17)
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)
God is longsuffering and just. His character demands that He righteously judge and punish sin – God does not ignore sin. His character compels Him to offer merciful forgiveness by commanding all sinners everywhere to repent and thereby escape His wrath against sinners. So, rather than immediately intercede with punishment against sin, God commands repentance while assuring us there will be a day of judgment, and the Man God raised from the dead will be that judge; Jesus. If you want to escape divine punishment for your sins then you must obey God and repent. Do it now. One day God’s longsuffering will end and His judgment will begin (2 Pet. 3:9-10).
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10:34-35)
Unlike humans, God does not form judgments based on outward appearances. Things like race, ethnicity, gender, social status, accent or physical features do not form God’s impression of us – or anyone else. His impartiality implies His just treatment of each person. With impartiality God places the same conditions on all who seek His acceptance. Peter clearly announced whom God accepts: “whoever fears Him and works righteousness”. Reverent, obedient faith is essential to please to God. These in no way earn His approval, but they do demonstrate your faithful trust that God will indeed accept you when you fear Him and do His will. Fear God and work the righteousness He commands you in His word, and with impartiality and justice He will receive you.
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:8–11)
The devil offered Jesus the world and its glory if only He would worship him. He still uses that line on people today. Those who yearn for what they see with their eyes yield to his temptation. They fall down before the devil and pay homage to him by fulfilling sinful lusts. But, Jesus’ daily purpose and deliberate decision was to only and always worship and serve only the Lord God. In due time the Lord God would bless Jesus with glory, honor and power (see Jno. 17:1-5; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11). Set your eyes on eternity, not on worldly attractions. Walk by faith, worshiping and serving the God of heaven and earth, and He will sustain you unto the day of eternity.
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” (Matthew 4:5–7)
The devil is a master manipulator. Appealing to pride, he tempted Jesus to put God to the test to see if He would keep His word. But, Jesus refused his enticement. The devil quoted Scripture, but he left out an important part of the passage (Psa. 91:11-12). Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and God did indeed promise His protective care. But Satan left out a statement that would have exposed his temptation: “To keep you in all your ways” (Psa. 91:11). Jesus knew God would protect Him as He did the Father’s will, but, not if His way was against God’s way. So, Jesus exposed Satan’s unholy use of God’s word and refused to put God to the test. As Jesus quotes Scripture here he teaches us an important lesson: God’s word harmonizes. The devil twists the Scriptures. You can resist sin’s temptation by knowing the Scriptures and by handling them carefully.
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:2–4)
The devil tempted Jesus to set fleshly desires as His priority when he urged Jesus to use His power to feed Himself. After all, the Son of God had not eaten in forty days. And, He certainly had the power to command food into existence (as He did when He fed the multitude, Matt. 14:13-21). But, the flesh was not Jesus’ priority; doing the will of God was what sustained Him. He would live by every word of God, and since God did not approve such a selfish use of His power, He would not yield. He refused to choose the flesh over the Father’s will. Likewise, the devil tempts us to live for the flesh. The tempter says, “The desires of the flesh are natural, so why deprive yourself of satisfaction?” But, God says to feed on His word and not upon fleshly lust. To yield is to make the flesh your priority instead of God. Children of God must love the Father, not the flesh. Resist the temptations of the flesh and live by faith (1 Jno. 2:15-17).
A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)
This adage is easily understood. Just as it takes only a small amount of leaven to affect an entire loaf of bread, a little sin has a saturating influence on one’s life. The encroachment of sin may begin almost imperceptibly, yet its mark is always left. Do not be deceived into believing that “a little sin will not hurt”; Sin always hurts. Even a little sin endangers your soul and opens the door to still more sin. Left unchecked, sin’s influence permeates your heart and your life – hardening you and destroying you as it goes. Be on guard and do not be deceived by sin’s deadly influence. Give sin no safe haven in your heart, for if you do, its destructive influence will be swift and complete. Choose instead to be influenced by the truth of God (Phil. 4:8).