Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

September 23

Taking the Offensive

"Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17).

God’s Word is your primary offensive spiritual weapon.

All the armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 is defensive, with one exception: the sword of the Spirit. That's your offensive weapon for defeating Satan.

We've seen that Roman soldiers carried two swords: the large broadsword and the small dagger. The Greek word translated "sword" in verse 17 refers to the dagger, which was anywhere from six to eighteen inches in length and was carried in a sheath or scabbard at the soldier's side.

The dagger was a common weapon. The Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane were each armed with one (Matt. 26:47). Peter used one to cut off the ear of the high priest's servant (Matt. 26:51). A dagger was used to kill James, the brother of John (Acts. 12:2). Hebrews 11:37 tells us that such a weapon was used against the heroes of the faith.

"The sword of the Spirit" isn't a direct reference to the Holy Spirit as such. The implications is that since our enemy is spiritual, our weapons also must be spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4). Our sword is spiritual because it is the Word given by the Holy Spirit. He inspired its writing and through it convicts and redeems sinners (John 16:8; Heb. 4:12-13). The Word abides in you and transforms you. It supplies everything you need for a godly, victorious life. It builds you up and produces holiness (Acts 20:32). And it equips you for good works by teaching, reproving, correcting, and training you in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Bible is a powerful and effective weapon. The question is, Do you know how to use it? Do you diligently study it and apply its principles to your life? Do you have a storehouse of biblical truth to draw from in the heat of battle?

The Roman dagger was a precision weapon aimed at a specific spot to produce a specific result. Similarly, the sword of the Spirit is most effective when you apply specific biblical principles to specific situations in your life. Do you do that?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase your desire to know His Word.
  • Ask for wisdom in applying what you already know to the decisions and situations you'll face today.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:22—2:3. How are believers to approach the Word?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

September 23

Guaranteed Heavenly Glory

“And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17).

The Holy Spirit confirms within our hearts the hope of eternal glory.

I believe people today instinctively know they are devoid of glory (see Rom. 1:18-21), but they explore all the wrong avenues in seeking to regain it. They look for personal glory by building successful careers, spending many hours in community service, being generous to charities, and so forth. But such efforts only lead to jealousy and pride. Unregenerate men and women simply cannot know the glory that was present before the Fall.

However, there is coming a day when believers will be transformed fully into Christ’s likeness, having a complete reflection of God’s glory. We will receive a perfect, radiant glory that is far better than the glory Adam and Eve knew in the Garden of Eden before they sinned.

Glorification completes the reality of salvation. From before the foundation of the world, the Lord planned to save those who believe and conform them to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). Therefore, every believer lives in the hope of future glory, a hope best summarized by the following two verses: “As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake” (Ps. 17:15). “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

The Holy Spirit guides us through different levels of glory while we are still on earth. As we consider the glory of the Lord, the Spirit gradually restores the honor we lost in the Fall. He encourages us by restoring our dignity. Salvation is the path to glory, and once we start down that path we will come to its final goal, which is being fully conformed to the image and glory of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would be content in allowing the Spirit to help you realize God’s glory.

For Further Study

Mark 9:1-8 contains an account of Christ’s transfiguration.

  • How was this event a preview of future glory?
  • How was it unlike anything the disciples had seen (v. 3)?
  • How did Peter reflect the other disciples’ amazement (vv. 5-6)?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

September 23

Reading for Today:

  • Isaiah 37:1–38:22
  • Psalm 109:14-20
  • Proverbs 26:1
  • Galatians 1:1-24

Notes:

Isaiah 37:29 hook in your nose…bridle in your lips. In judging Sennacherib, the Lord treated him as an obstinate animal with a ring in his nose and/or a bridle in his mouth. Some ancient sources indicate that captives were led before a king by a cord attached to a hook or ring through the upper lip and nose. Thus, he was to be brought back to his own country.

Isaiah 37:36 the angel of the LORD. This was Isaiah’s only use of a title that is frequent in the Old Testament, one referring to the Lord Himself. killed. Secular records also mention this massive slaughter of Assyrian troops, without noting its supernatural nature, of course.

Galatians 1:12 neither received it from man, nor was I taught it. In contrast to the Judaizers, who received their religious instruction from rabbinic tradition. Most Jews did not study the actual Scriptures; instead they used human interpretations of Scripture as their religious authority and guide. Many of their traditions not only were not taught in Scripture but also contradicted it (Mark 7:13). through the revelation. This refers to the unveiling of something previously kept secret—in this case, Jesus Christ. While he knew about Christ, Paul subsequently met Him personally on the road to Damascus and received the truth of the gospel from Him (Acts 9:1–16).

Galatians 1:17 Jerusalem…Arabia,…Damascus. Rather than immediately travel to Jerusalem to be instructed by the apostles, Paul instead went to Nabatean Arabia, a wilderness desert that stretched east of Damascus down to the Sinai peninsula. After being prepared for ministry by the Lord, he returned to minister in nearby Damascus.

Galatians 1:18 three years. The approximate time from Paul’s conversion to his first journey to Jerusalem. During those years he made a visit to Damascus and resided in Arabia, under the instruction of the Lord. This visit is discussed in Acts 9:26–30. up to Jerusalem. Travelers in Israel always speak of going up to Jerusalem because of its higher elevation. see. Better translated, “to become acquainted with.” Peter. The apostle who was the personal companion of the Lord and the most powerful spokesman in the early years of the Jerusalem church (Acts 1–12).


DAY 23: What was so shocking to Paul about the Galatians?

That the Galatians were “turning away” (1:6). This is better translated “deserting.” The Greek word was used of military desertion, which was punishable by death. The form of this Greek verb indicates that the Galatian believers were voluntarily deserting grace to pursue the legalism taught by the false teachers. “So soon.” This Greek word can mean either “easily” or “quickly” and sometimes both. No doubt both senses characterized the Galatians’ response to the false teachers’ heretical doctrines. “Called you.” This could be translated, “Who called you once and for all” (2 Thess. 2:13, 14; 2 Tim. 1:8, 9; 1 Pet. 1:15), and refers to God’s effectual call to salvation. “Grace of Christ.” God’s free and sovereign act of mercy in granting salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ, totally apart from any human work or merit. “Different gospel.” The Judaizers’ perversion of the true gospel. They added the requirements, ceremonies, and standards of the Old Covenant as necessary prerequisites to salvation.

“Some who trouble you” (v. 7). The Greek word could be translated “disturb” and means “to shake back and forth,” meaning to agitate or stir up. Here, it refers to the deep emotional disturbance the Galatian believers experienced. “Pervert.” To turn something into its opposite. By adding law to the gospel of Christ, the false teachers were effectively destroying grace, turning the message of God’s undeserved favor toward sinners into a message of earned and merited favor. “The gospel of Christ.” The good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Throughout history God has devoted certain objects, individuals, and groups of people to destruction or to be “accursed” (Josh. 6:17, 18; 7:1, 25, 26). Here the Judaizers are identified as members of this infamous company. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven” (v. 8). Paul’s point is hypothetical, calling on the most unlikely examples for false teaching—himself and holy angels. The Galatians should receive no messenger, regardless of how impeccable his credentials, if his doctrine of salvation differs in the slightest degree from God’s truth revealed through Christ and the apostles. “Accursed.” The translation of the familiar Greek word anathama, which refers to devoting someone to destruction in eternal hell (Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

September 23 - Jesus Challenges Nicodemus: New Birth

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’” (John 3:3–4).

Jesus’ shocking statement was far more than Nicodemus had expected. Incredulous, Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Nicodemus did not misinterpret Jesus’ words; he replied in the context of the Lord’s analogy. How could he start all over, go back to the beginning? Jesus was telling him that entrance to God’s salvation was not a matter of adding something to all his efforts but rather cancelling everything and starting all over again.

At the same time, Nicodemus clearly could not grasp the full meaning of what this meant. Jesus was making entrance into the kingdom contingent on something that could not be obtained through human effort. If spiritual rebirth, like physical rebirth, was impossible from human effort, then where did that leave this self-righteous Pharisee, since the system in which he had placed his hope was powerless to save?

Far from minimizing the demands of the gospel, Jesus challenged this most religious Jew to admit his spiritual bankruptcy and abandon everything he was trusting in for salvation.

Be sure as you proclaim the gospel that you challenge your listeners to give up what they think will get them to heaven.

Ask Yourself

On one hand, adherence to the law (as Nicodemus saw it) seems like a long-forgotten pursuit. But there are plenty of folks down the street or within the sound of your voice who are clinging to the hopes of their good works. How does this show itself? How can you counteract it as you witness to them?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Del libro La Verdad para Hoy de John MacArthur DERECHOS DE AUTOR © 2001 Utilizado con permiso de Editorial Portavoz, www.portavoz.com
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