But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13, NKJV)
Paul felt a moral obligation to always thank God for his brethren. His reasons for giving thanks for them gives us guidance for being thankful for one another. Paul was thankful for them because they were loved by the Lord. Let us be thankful for our brethren because they share in God’s love. Paul was thankful because his brethren were the recipients of God’s eternal purpose of salvation. God chose to save sinners in Christ before the world began (Ephesians 1:4). His plan of “sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” is fulfilled in each person who believes and obeys the gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 10:34-35). Because Christians share in salvation it fills our hearts with thankful prayers as we meditate on the rich blessings of God’s eternal love.
12 “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:12–14, NKJV)
Like Israel at the Red Sea, sometimes we have trouble waiting on the Lord and trusting His salvation. After witnessing God’s great judgments upon Egypt through the miraculous plagues, just days later Israel complained when the enemy’s army approached (Exodus 14:11-12). Moses told them to replace their fear with faith in the Lord’s power and presence, for He would fight for them. That day they would see the salvation of the Lord – and they did. God told Israel to “go forward,” and He protected them and delivered them as they did (v. 15-22, 29-30). Having been saved from our past sins in Christ, Christians are told to press forward in faith, not draw back in fear (Philippians 3:12-14; Hebrews 10:35-39; 12:1-2). Our enemy, the devil, will tempt us with sin and trials, trying to discourage and defeat us. Keep doing God’s will by trusting Him and the power of His word. Be faithful and go forward, never backwards, “for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20–23, NKJV)
I received an interesting question about sin recently: “Could you explain the difference between the noun sin and the verb sins?” The grammatical answer is a noun identifies the sin (its nature, content, etc.), while the verb describes the active practice of that sin. Covetousness, for instance, is a noun identified as greedy desire to have more. It resides in and springs from the heart, presenting itself in greedy, covetous conduct. For example, when Achan saw the spoils of Jericho he said, “I coveted them and took them” (Joshua 7:20-21). Sin exists in the heart, and it presents itself in our actions. We cannot only think of sin as something practiced. It is also something held in the heart. Jesus confirmed this when He said to look at a woman to lust after her is to commit adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Lust in the heart is sin, and lust that presents itself in the act of adultery is sin. Whether sin is identified as a noun, or its action is discussed as a verb, its wages is death (Romans 6:23). Salvation from sin, whether “noun” or “verb,” is through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17; Acts 2:37-41).
27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:27–28, NKJV)
Would you change your conduct if you knew an apostle was coming to see you? What if you knew he would hear about your conduct? Of course, God knows our conduct at all times. So, our lives must always be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Worthy conduct is defined here as “standing fast in one spirit,” as well as “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Conduct worthy of the gospel involves faithful steadfastness in the face of spiritual adversity. It also involves our united effort with fellow Christians in contending for the faith (Jude 3). When we are faithful to the gospel of Christ we are not terrified by the opponents of the faith. How can we be confident in the face of adversity? By trusting that God will execute righteous judgment upon every adversary of Christ and His church (Romans 2:5-6). Salvation is sure to those whose conduct is worthy of the gospel. Be sure that describes you today and every day.
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24–25, NKJV)
The law of which Paul speaks in today’s passage is the Law of Moses (Galatians 3:17-23). A fundamental purpose of the law given to Israel at Sinai was to tutor Israel to bring them to Christ. Just as a tutor was the guardian in a household who was responsible for the care and discipline of the children, the law was responsible for disciplining Israel about sin while emphasizing their need for redemption. However, the law of Moses could not save the lost (Hebrews 10:1-4). It was never designed to be man’s way of salvation (Galatians 3:21-22; Romans 3:20). When “faith” came, that is, when the gospel was preached, the need for the tutor – the Law of Moses – ended. No one is under the Law of Moses today. We are all under the gospel of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 1:1-2). Every attempt to bind any portion of the Law of Moses on folks today fails to respect the saving power of the gospel. The Law of Moses could never save sinners, and it still cannot do so. Only the gospel of Christ has the power to save the lost (Romans 1:16-17).
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1–3, NKJV)
God alone brings to life the sinner who is spiritually dead (Colossians 2:12-13). Before we were saved in Christ (“made alive”) we were “by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” How were “the others” children of wrath? To answer that question is to answer how we were also children of wrath. The answer given is this: The world walks in disobedience to God. Their nature, their habit and course of conduct, is living in sin. The world is under the sway of Satan and, because of its sin, under God’s wrath. Like them, we also conducted ourselves in fleshly lusts, fulfilling sinful desires. We chose to sin, and sin caused our spiritual death. We are not born sinners – we choose to walk “according to the course of this world.” We come under God’s wrath when we sin. Only the sacrifice of Jesus appeases God’s wrath and saves us from eternal death (1 John 2:2; 4:10). God makes us alive – gives us “newness of life” – when we are baptized with Christ and die to sin (Romans 6:4). This is when God makes dead sinners alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6).
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (Psalm 51:12, NKJV)
Joy is connected to salvation from sins. When the Ethiopian believed and was baptized “he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). The Philippian jailer and his household rejoiced after they believed and were baptized in obedience to the word of the Lord (Acts 16:31-34). God’s gracious forgiveness refreshes the soul with a joy that “no one can take from you” (John 16:22). How then could it be said that the joy of God’s salvation needed to be restored to David? Simply because David had separated himself from that salvation’s joy by his sins of adultery, deceit and murder (2 Samuel 11-12). His ability to rejoice in God’s salvation was restored because he acknowledged his sins and God washed him of his sins (Psalm 51:1-4, 7-9). We cannot sin and expect salvation and its joy to continue with us. Such would be a high-handed view of holiness that disrespects God and His justice (Psalm 51:4). Sin brings shame, sorrow and death. It does not perpetuate joy. Salvation brings joy because of the victory of faith we have in Jesus (1 John 5:4). Jesus gives His faithful disciples the joy of salvation, and exhorts all who follow Him to “be of good cheer” because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).