John 8:31-35 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
There is no doubt that Christ is the only one who can set us free from a life of sin. Here in John's gospel He lays out a simple formula for understanding how we have been set free. First we must abide in Christ, this means we "dwell, endure, are present, remain, stand, tarry," with the Lord. Freedom for a believer isn't won or worked for, rather it has been purchased through Christ work on the cross. The "abiding" is specific to the word of God, or the "logos" the divine expression of Christ, as living truth that does not cease but continues into eternity. This living word is what leads us into "truth" not worldly truth but rather divine or eternal truth that comes from the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the word (logos) of God. The freedom that comes from that divine truth is what makes us exempt from the penalty of sin that was upon us.
James 1:19-20So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
There are things that I need to be swift at, and things that I need to be slow at. James gives some clear parameters in order for me to produce the righteousness of God in my life. I need to be quick to focus my attention on what the Lord has to say. Making sure that I am not formulating my response while the Lord is still speaking. And by no means allowing wrath to become a controlling factor in my life.
I received an email today from someone who had taken exception to something I shared in a sermon. They reminded me that we should "...love God and hate sin." That's one of those phrases I call Christian ease. I think all of us may have used that term at one time or another. But on further thought I began to struggle with this individuals interpretation of it's usage. For them it became a license to hate the sinner as opposed to hating the sin that they might be engaged in.
I have no problem with the fact that God does hate sin for a variety of reasons, the Bible makes this clear; Psalms 5:4-5 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.
God hates sin because He is holy; holiness is the most exalted of all His attributes (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 6:8). His holiness totally saturates His being. His holiness epitomizes His moral perfection and His absolute freedom from blemish of any kind (Psalm 89:35; 92:15; Romans 9:14).
The Bible presents God’s attitude toward sin with strong feelings of hostility, disgust, and utter dislike. For example, sin is described as putrefying sores (Isaiah 1:6, NKJV), a heavy burden (Psalm 38:4), defiling filth (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1), a binding debt (Matthew 6:12-15), darkness (1 John 1:6) and a scarlet stain (Isaiah 1:18).
God hates sin for the simple reason that sin separates us from Him: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2; see also Isaiah 13:11; Jeremiah 5:25). It was sin that caused Adam and Eve to run away from God and hide “among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). Sin always brings separation, and the fact that God hates sin means that He hates being separated from us. His love demands restoration, which in turn demands holiness.
When we remove the grace, love, mercy, forgiveness and redemptive nature of God from the issue of sin we are only left with a hate for the sinner. Yes God hates sin, yet He was willing to provide the very means by which that sin could be removed, Jesus Christ. It was through that divine and selfless act that we all recognize that God hated sin enough to provide His Son to cleanse us from its stain and curse.
Let us have a love for the sinner, not their sin that would compel us to reach out to them with the same grace and salvation that was capable of cleansing us from ".....all unrighteousness."
2 Peter 1:5-9
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite portions of Scripture to read. It is a reminder of the blessings that come from God even in the midst of trials and tribulation. We are truly blessed to have a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ. In Luke chapter six we read Luke's account of that wonderful sermon. Though there are many examples that can be followed there is one verse that stood out to me. In verse forty five Jesus reminds us of the importance of guarding our heart in order to control our tongue;
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NKJV)
What is it that I treasure most in this life, is it family, fame, fortune or just having fun? None of those things are bad or evil, unless they begin to control God's intent for my life. Often times when I hear people speak it is more about them than about the Lord. Of course I am speaking about those who would refer to themselves as Christians. Those with out Christ will speak of themselves, because that is their point of reference. As a Christian I want my heart to be filled with the treasures of God's love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. if that is what I treasure then what comes out of my mouth will be a treasured blessing to those who hear me speak.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul reminds his readers in Corinth, that there are a number of spiritual gifts that we can be blessed with. Those spiritual endowments are essential to the ministry of the church. It is through the use of spiritual gifts that the body of Christ is ministered too, and built up in the unity of the faith. When The reader arrives at chapter thirteen we discover that it isn't enough to have spiritual gifts, but to make sure that they are exercised with love. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I become as sounding brass and a noisy cymbal." Modern interpretation; I am making a lot of noise, but not doing so with the love of Christ and deep concern for others. Isn't that what the love of God is all about, others?