Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy New Year

New Year’s Day

Note: The following is not a full manuscript. It is a basic study outline.

The First Day of the First Month

Introduction

New Year’s day was a big even in the Old Testament. It is said in many accounts something like this; “On the first day of the first month…etc.” That’s the equivalent to New Year’s day. I will show you a number of Old Testament examples within the context it was said. Later in this study we will consider how the New Testament (apart from the four gospels) speak of a New Day.

Old Testament examples of New Year language.

Our first passage speaks of new beginnings. Genesis 8:13 where we see Noah about to step forth onto a newly renovated earth.

In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.

The next passage appears to establish a calendar system for the people of Israel. Exodus 12:1-2

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.

That was important for Israel to mark their calendars for the express purpose of their partaking of the yearly Passover. Now let’s read the larger context of Exodus 12:1-14.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers ‘houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Not only was the Passover determined by Israel’s calendar, worship in general was forever changed. See Exodus 40:1-2; 17ff

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.

…17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. 19 And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 20 He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. 21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 22 He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, 23 and arranged the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 24 He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, 25 and set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 26 He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 28 He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 29 And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 30 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31 with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32 When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the Lord commanded Moses. 33 And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.

Later after the nation drifted from the Lord, God raised up king Hezekiah. At the age of 25 Hezekiah began to reign. It was a new beginning of worship and cleansing. A re-dedication. See 2 Chronicles 29:3-6, 17ff.

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east 5 and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place. 6 For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord and turned their backs.

They began to consecrate on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord. Then for eight days they consecrated the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. 18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king and said, “We have cleansed all the house of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the showbread and all its utensils. 19 All the utensils that King Ahaz discarded in his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and consecrated, and behold, they are before the altar of the Lord.

When in captivity in Babylon Ezra led a return to Jerusalem. This was a revival of sorts. You could call this as Ezra’s new year’s resolution. See Ezra 7:9-10.

For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

But there is more. God had much to say of the first day of the first month. We have at least two more passages from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel that need to be considered. The first is from Ezekiel 29:17-21.

17 In the twenty- seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me:18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre. Every head was made bald, and every shoulder was rubbed bare, yet neither he nor his army got anything from Tyre to pay for the labor that he had performed against her. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. 20 I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because they worked for me, declares the Lord God.

21 “On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel, and I will open your lips among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

In verse 21 we read the words, “On that day… I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel.” Compare this prophetic statement with Psalm 132:17 and Luke 1:69.

Psalm 132:17

17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.

18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.

Luke 1:69ff

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people

69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,

70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;

72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,

73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us

74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,

75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days

After we read the next reference from Ezekiel 45:18-21 we will feel as though we’ve gone full circle.

18 “Thus says the Lord God:In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a bull from the herd without blemish, and purify the sanctuary. 19 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and the posts of the gate of the inner court. 20 You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple.

21 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten.

Here we are at the end of the Old Testament references that speak of the importance of the first day on the first month and I doubt we have exhausted the Old Testament on this subject. We have seen how Israel’s New Year’s day pointed to another day in the future. We did see that pictured in the Passover, the method of worship, the sacrifices and the prophetic language as we have seen it in Psalm 132:17 and Luke’s gospel.

The New Testament

Now we are going to consider the use of New Year’s day in the New Covenant. But there is a big problem. There is no mention of specific first day on the first month. No not one. Why is this? Well there are passages that will clue us in on something bigger and better. Days are mentioned but they must be considered in their larger context.

Matthew 6:11; 34 Give us this day our daily bread…

Luke 4:16-21 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 24:1-2 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb

John 4:19-24 The (Samaritan) woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Acts 2:38-41 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:46-47 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Galatians 4:8-11 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Hebrews 7:26-28 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Application:

Can we sing together “The Stedfast Love” #34 in the Blue

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
Your mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning,
new every morning:
great is your faithfulness, O Lord,
great is your faithfulness!

Credits: All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version of the Bible. (Crossway)

__________________________

Our Author
Presently our brother serves as the lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship located just north of Concord, NH. Ordained in 1988 he served fourteen years as senior pastor for Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Salem, New Hampshire. Over the years he has ministered at conferences and speaking engagements in New England and several church conferences held in the Caribbean including Trinidad and Tobago, St Maarten, St Johns, St Thomas. Moe is married to Karan. They have five grown children and ten grandchildren. On the Internet Moe is considered an online pioneer for Christian ministries. In 2005 he established PipersNotes.com which served as the online library for Dr. John Piper’s sermons. He has also served Dr D.A. Carson’s ChristWay Media and several additional ministries.
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First Peter with Andy Murray

To Obtain A Blessing

The Logic of Blessing

Andrew Murray

Introduction

We have come to 3:8-12. In some ways these verses are a kind of summary of what Peter has been saying over the past few weeks. But these verses also also add a great deal to our understanding of God’s work to save sinners such as us and what our lives in this world are intended to look like as a result.

Now, I am not sure if you caught it, but this passage really challenges some common misunderstandings about God’s work of salvation and what is required to obtain eternal life. So what I’d like to do first is to walk through this passage to understand each part, but especially to highlight the logic of what Peter is saying.

Now, I am going to highlight the logic because if we were to ask some professing Christians, “what is required to obtain salvation?” I fear we might hear answers that don’t square with this passage. If I were to sit down with you and ask you, “what is required to obtain salvation?” how would you answer?

Scripture 1 Peter 3:8-12

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“Whoever desires to love life and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

There is no more pressing question than this and it is in all of our interest that we keep coming back to the Scriptures to conform our thinking to the Word from God – because it will be before Him that we will all stand and before whom we will each give an account. Let us remember with soberness that not everyone who says to Jesus Christ, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of the Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

So, I want walk through this text and look at the answer Peter gives in these verses to the question, what is required to obtain eternal life.

Called To

Look with me at what Peter says here in verses 8 and 9.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless…”

Peter is describing for us what the character of the people of God should be like, as they relate to one another and as they relate to the unbelieving world.

Inside

Now, if you look at the structure of how Peter lays out the character qualities we are t have within the community of faith, in verse 8, what you’ll see is an intentional pattern where harmony and humility are parallel and sympathy and compassion are parallel and brotherly love is highlighted as the central and most important of these character qualities.

So, in Peter’s mind the community of faith is to be made up of people who feel compassion and are sympathetic to the difficulties, hardships, and pains of one another. In this way we are to be a people inclined to bear one another’s burdens, to walk with one another through trials, and to seek to help build one another up.

What Peter describes is also a community that is made up of people who are humble and lowly, people who do not think too highly of themselves, but consider others as more important than themselves. And this humility leads to harmony. The community of faith should not be characterized by discord, strife, feuding, and power grabs. Instead it should be characterized by harmony, peace, unity, solidarity, and service.

But most of all it ought to be characterized by brotherly love. It is very significant that those of the household of faith will be those we spend eternity with. We are those who have been born again into the very family of God, a family that will never perish. There ought to be a bond among believers that nothing in this world can shake. We are brothers and sisters who are waiting to enter the heavenly country. We ought to love one another as God has loved us.

Outside

But the community of faith is also to have certain character qualities as we interact with the unsaved world. We are not to repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling. We are to be just like our King Jesus who walked humbly and peacefully to Calvary to heal our wounds (2:21-24). So instead of cursing our enemies, instead of avenging ourselves and making sure people know we won’t be taken advantage of, we are to be like Jesus: blessing even those who revile and do evil against us.

If we were to try to summarize Peter’s instruction here we might say, “Peter is instructing the believers to be holy and Christlike in this world.”

Good. But Peter goes on,

“…for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing…”

So Peter is giving a reason that Christians ought to take his instruction seriously. “Why, Peter? Why should we be holy and Christ-like in this world?” Answer, “because you were called to holiness and Christlikeness so that you may obtain a blessing.”

Blessing

Let’s make sure we understand what the stakes are. Before we go any further we need to define what this “blessing” is that is obtained through holiness and Christlikeness. Is Peter talking about an earthly blessing? Long life in this world, and prosperity in this world, comfort in this world? Is Peter saying when you are holy and Christlike you will obtain earthly rewards? No.

If you are familiar with the rest of 1 Peter you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Peter does not have earthly blessing in mind. To begin with, from the first verses Peter has been pointing us away from this world. The very language of exile is used to remind us that in this world we are not at home here. We are told in verses 3 and 4 that we have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. No where in Peter’s letter does Peter direct us to earthly blessings, but to heavenly ones.

And when are these non earthly blessings to be expected? According to verse 5 of chapter 1, the inheritance is being kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in last time. Peter points us forward to the last time.

And in the very next verse, verse 6, we are told that now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of our faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor (when?) at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Peter consistently throughout this letter points the believers away from this world and away from this time to the heavenly country and the last time when Christ appears and His reward is with Him.

1 Peter 4:12-13

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

And in our passage, it is without doubt that Peter is speaking about the blessing of eternal life in glory when Christ appears.

So back to the logic of verse 9 of chapter 3. Christians ought to be holy and Christlike in this world because holiness and Christlikeness are what we have been called to so that we may obtain the blessing of eternal life in glory when Christ appears.

Necessary Holiness

Now, if you are paying attention at this point this may sound strange to you. Is Peter saying that in order to obtain the blessing of eternal life in glory when Christ appears that holiness and Christlikeness are somehow required? That is exactly what he is saying. Let me read it to you again to make sure you are hearing this:

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing…”

So when you here the question, “what is required to obtain eternal life?” does holiness and Christlikeness in your life now come to mind?

There are some people, whose understanding of salvation has no place for holiness and Christlikeness. For these people holiness and Christlikeness in this world are utterly separated from eternal life.

They reason that if salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone than that must mean that our holiness is not necessary in any way. According to this way of thinking one might believe upon Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and then turn right around and go on in sin and rebellion and wickedness. According to this view once someone makes a profession of faith it does not matter what the rest of their life looks like in this world. They are saved.

But Peter disagrees.

“…do not repay evil for evil or reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing…”

There will be no obtaining of the blessing of eternal life if holiness and Christlikeness are absent from your life.

The Sufficiency of Faith

But, just as there are those who fall of the horse by abandoning holiness and Christlikeness as unnecessary for the obtaining of the final blessing, so there are those who fall of the horse on the other side by making personal holiness and Christlikeness the basis and foundation of our justification, our being declared right with God.

The apostle Paul is clear in Romans 3:28 that, “…one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Salvation is indeed by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone – apart from our works.

But as Luther said, the faith that saves is never alone. What exactly is the relationship of holiness and Christlikeness to the final blessing of salvation in Jesus Christ? How does this work?

Called

I think the answer to that question will begin to emerge if we consider the meaning of Peter’s phrase, “…for to this you were called…” What does Peter mean when he says we were called to holiness and Christlikeness?

Sometime we, and the Scriptures, use the word called to refer to what someone does when they invite or command someone else to do something. For example,

Acts 20:17

Now from Miletus he [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.

I think we are pretty familiar with this use of the word called. We might say, “The paster called us to repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, there is an understanding as we use the word this way that the elders of the church and we can either comply to this call or not. The Ephesian elders might have said, na, not today Paul, and you might say, no, pastor I will not repent and believe. This is one legitimate way to use the word called. But is this the way Peter is using the word called here when he says that we have been called to holiness and Christlikeness?

I am sure many of you are aware that the Scriptures use the word called in another very significant way. For example,

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Here Paul sandwiches God’s call between His work of Predestination and His work of Justification. This is amazing. Everyone foreknew, that is set His love on before, he also predestines to be conformed to Jesus, and everyone God predestines, He calls. And everyone He calls He justifies, that is declares righteous. And everyone He justifies He also glorifies. There are no drop outs in this chain of redemption. If God has set His love on you, He sees to it that you make it to glory. And right in the middle of this unbreakable chain is a call of God.

This call is different from Paul’s call to the Ephesian elders or a pastor’s call. This call of God is effective. This call is like the call Jesus gave to Lazarus: “Lazarus, Come forth! (John 11:43)” And the dead man rose. Lazarus could not have refused to be made alive. When Jesus calls you this way, you are made alive.

And I believe it is this call that Peter is here speaking of. When Peter says, “…for to this you were called…” He is speaking about the call that those who are predestined to be conformed to Jesus  receive. God determines that you will be conformed to the image of Jesus, then He calls you, and like Lazarus you are made alive, born again (1 Peter 1:3), and everyone who is called this way is justified and then glorified.

So Peter is here letting us in on a crucial purpose of God. The message of the gospel is not simply an offer of forgiveness of sins, leaving us to go on in sin and death. As Peter says those who receive the blessing of the eternal inheritance have been called effectually to Spiritual life – so that they may obtain the blessing.

The logic here is that God has called us to holiness and Christlikeness so that we may obtain the blessing of the everlasting inheritance. So, without holiness and Christlikeness, without spiritual life, there is no blessing.

Let me say this as clearly as I can. Your own holiness and Christlikeness is not what makes you right with God. We are declared right with God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But those declared right with God are made alive – made to be like Christ. They are truly born again.

What Peter is doing is very similar to what he did in 2:2 where he said,

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Peter is saying you need new spiritual taste buds. You need to have tasted that the Lord is good if you are going to long for the pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up into salvation. You need to have been born again.

If you are a corpse this morning and have not been born again, you will not have a Christlike heart beat, you will not long to be holy or Christlike and you will not pursue love and humility and compassion and so you will not obtain the blessing.

But if you have been born again, you do have the heart beat of the Spirit of Christ and so pursue unity of mind, sympathy, and brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Necessity of New Life

Peter makes things explicit in the next verses as He quotes Psalm 34,

For “Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Pastoral Plea

The stakes are very high. Holiness and Christlikeness are not optional in the Christian life. They are part and parcel of the Christian life, without which we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

So, I can imagine there are some here who know that they are living in sin. They have not kept their tongues from evil or their lips from speaking deceit. They are not now turning away from evil. Right now their consciences are bearing witness against them that they are not walking with integrity and uprightness. If this is you, I say to you repent. You will not enter the kingdom of heaven if you do not turn away from evil – no matter how often you confess that you are a Christian.

Ah, yes, it is true that it is only by grace that we are saved through faith. There is nothing you can do to merit God’s favor and so this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. And we cannot boast because Christians are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Even as salvation is all of grace through faith in Christ it is designed by God to produce Christlike people.

But, I can also imagine that there are others in this room who are truly born again, but who are struggling with remaining sin in their life. And these hear that holiness and Christlikeness are not optional and so you are fearful because you see in yourself so much sin. Well, there is nothing in this passage that would contradict or negate the clear New Testament teaching that Christians do indeed have the sinful flesh still clinging to them. Yes we do. But that is not who we are. And as Paul, so eloquently details in Romans 8 – Christians do not live in harmony with that flesh; we make war with it. We pursue after holiness and purity and brotherly love and humility and we seek to turn away from the passions of the flesh. And we confess and repent quickly when we fail.

We are not to set our hope on our performance; until Christ comes it will be war for every believer.

We are to set our hope fully on the Lord Jesus Christ and put our confidence in him.

But it is when we all our hope is in Christ that we will be more and more united, sympathetic, loving, tenderhearted, and humble. We will be able to turn the other cheek, no more than that, even bless, those who wrong and hurt us.

When our hearts are fixed upon Christ and God’s good intentions toward us we will become more and more like Him in our conduct.

The Spirit’s point is this: there can be no eternal blessing when Christ appears for those who have not been called out of darkness and into light; But all of you who have been called, you have been called to holiness and Christlikeness that you may obtain that glorious blessing, so all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless.

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.
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