Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

September 20

Repelling Discouragement and Doubt

"Take the helmet of salvation" (Eph. 6:17).

Discouragement and doubt are deflected when you know you’re secure in Christ.

The Roman soldier's helmet was a crucial piece of armor designed to deflect blows to the head—especially the potentially lethal blow of a broadsword. Soldiers of that day carried a swift and precise dagger designed for close- quarter hand-to-hand combat. But they also carried a giant broadsword, which was a two-edged, three to four-foot long sword. It had a massive handle that, similar to a baseball bat, was held with both hands. With it they could take broad swipes from side to side or deliver a crushing blow to an opponent's skull.

To protect us from Satan's crushing blows, Paul tells us to "take the helmet of salvation." Now considering all he's been telling us so far, he was not saying, "Oh, by the way, go get saved." Paul was addressing believers. Unbelievers don't have to put on spiritual armor. They aren't even in the battle. Satan doesn't attack his own forces.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul describes the helmet of salvation as "the hope of salvation." That implies Satan's most fierce and powerful blows are directed at the believer's assurance and security. Therefore Paul was encouraging believers to have confidence in the salvation they already possess. He knew that doubting their security in Christ would render them ineffective in spiritual warfare—just as a blow to the head renders one's physical body incapable of defending itself.

As a believer, you should have the assurance that you are secure in Christ. If you don't, you haven't put your helmet on, and that makes you vulnerable to discouragement and doubt. Romans 8:29-30 assures us that all whom God justifies, He sanctifies and glorifies. No one is lost in the process.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28). That's a wonderful promise. So don't let your enemy rob you of the joy and assurance of knowing you belong to Christ, for the Lord will never let you go (Heb. 13:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for your eternal security in Christ!

For Further Study

Read John 6:37-40.

  • Who receives eternal life?
  • How does Christ respond to those who come to Him?
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 20

Fulfilling God's Law

“In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

If the Holy Spirit resides within us, we will be able to fulfill the demands of God’s law.

Augustine once said, “Grace was given, in order that the law might be fulfilled.” When God saves us He, by His Spirit, creates within us the ability to obey His perfect law. Because we now live “according to the Spirit”—walking by the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit—we are able to do the righteous things God’s law requires.

Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord no longer expects His law to be lived out only by means of an external code of ethics? Now holiness, righteousness, and obedience to the law are internal, the products of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see Ezek. 11:19-20).

God’s salvation is more than a spiritual transaction by which He imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. It is more than a forensic action by which He judicially declared us righteous. As great and vital as those doctrines are, they were not applied to us apart from God’s planting His Spirit within our hearts and enabling our lives to manifest the Spirit’s fruit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

We need to remind ourselves regularly that God’s purpose for us after He redeemed us was that we might live a holy life filled with good works (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14). Whenever you are disobedient to God’s will and purpose, you are quenching the Holy Spirit and fighting against yourself and what you know is right. Such disobedience makes about as much sense as the person who holds his breath for no reason and therefore makes his lungs resist their natural function. The believer who disobeys, especially one who persists in a sin, prevents the Spirit from naturally leading him along the path of holiness.

We are not perfect after our salvation—that won’t happen until glorification (1 John 3:2-3)—but the Holy Spirit will empower us to live in ways pleasing to God, which is the kind of righteousness that fulfills His law.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord that you don’t have to meet the demands of the law solely by your own strength.

For Further Study

Read Romans 6.

  • What happened to your old self at the time of your conversion?
  • How must that affect the way you live?
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 20

Reading for Today:

  • Isaiah 30:1–32:20
  • Psalm 108:7-13
  • Proverbs 25:23-24
  • 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Notes:

Isaiah 30:1 not of Me…not of My Spirit. Hezekiah’s advisers urged him to turn to the Egyptians, not to God, for help against the invading Assyrians. Isaiah denounced this reliance on Egypt rather than God, who had forbidden such alliances.

Isaiah 30:33 Tophet. Literally, a place of abomination. Idolatrous Israel had burned to death human victims in this valley just south of Jerusalem, an area sometimes called the Valley of Hinnom (2 Kin. 23:10; Jer. 19:6). Later it became known as Gehenna, the place of refuse for the city, with constantly burning fires, symbolizing hell. The defeat was to be so complete that the fire burns continually.

2 Corinthians 11:19–21 These verses contain some of the most scathing sarcasm Paul ever penned, demonstrating the seriousness of the situation at Corinth and revealing the jealous concern of a godly pastor. Paul did not view his disagreement with the false apostles as a mere academic debate; the souls of the Corinthians and the purity of the gospel were at stake.

2 Corinthians 11:20 brings you into bondage. The Greek verb translated by this phrase appears elsewhere in the New Testament only in Galatians 2:4, where it speaks of the Galatians’ enslavement by the Judaizers. The false apostles had robbed the Corinthians of their freedom in Christ (Gal. 5:1). devours you. Or “preys upon you.” This probably refers to the false teachers’ demands for financial support (the same verb appears in Luke 20:47 where Jesus denounces the Pharisees for devouring widows’ houses). takes from you. Better translated “takes advantage of you.” The false apostles were attempting to catch the Corinthians like fish in a net (Luke 5:5, 6). exalts himself. This refers to one who is presumptuous, puts on airs, acts arrogantly, or lords it over people (1 Pet. 5:3). strikes you on the face. The false apostles may have physically abused the Corinthians, but the phrase is more likely used in a metaphorical sense (1 Cor. 9:27) to speak of the false teachers’ humiliation of the Corinthians. To strike someone on the face was a sign of disrespect and contempt (1 Kin. 22:24; Luke 22:64; Acts 23:2).


DAY 20: What had being a minister of Christ cost the apostle Paul?

Contrasting his ministry to the false apostles in 2 Corinthians 11:23, Paul spoke of “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.” This is a general summation of Paul’s sufferings for the gospel. The next few verses give specific examples, many of which are not found in Acts.

“Forty stripes minus one” (v. 24). Deuteronomy 25:1–3 set 40 as the maximum number that could legally be administered. In Paul’s day the Jews reduced that number by one to avoid accidentally going over the maximum. Jesus warned that His followers would receive such beatings (Matt. 10:17).

“Beaten with rods” (v. 25). Refers to Roman beatings with flexible sticks tied together (Acts 16:22, 23). “Once I was stoned”—at Lystra (Acts 14:19,20). “Three times I was shipwrecked.” Not including the shipwreck on his journey as a prisoner to Rome (Acts 27), which had not yet taken place. Paul had been on several sea voyages up to this time, giving ample opportunity for the 3 shipwrecks to have occurred. “A night and a day I have been in the deep.” At least one of the shipwrecks was so severe that Paul spent an entire day floating on the wreckage, waiting to be rescued.

“In perils” (v. 26). Those connected with his frequent travels. “Waters” (rivers) and “robbers” posed a serious danger to travelers in the ancient world. Paul’s journey from Perga to Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14), for example, required him to travel through the robber-infested Taurus Mountains and to cross two dangerous, flood-prone rivers. Paul was frequently in danger from his “own countrymen” (Acts 9:23, 29; 13:45; 14:2, 19; 17:5; 18:6, 12–16; 20:3, 19; 21:27–32) and, less often, from “Gentiles” (Acts 16:16–40; 19:23–20:1). “False brethren.” Those who appeared to be Christians, but were not, such as the false apostles (v. 13) and the Judaizers (Gal. 2:4).

And far worse than the occasional physical suffering Paul endured—weariness and toil, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, fastings, and cold—was the constant, daily burden of concern for the churches that he felt (v. 28). Those who were “weak” (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 8) in faith or were “made to stumble” into sin caused him intense emotional pain.

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 20 - Sign of the Resurrection

“The Jews then said to Him, ‘What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:18–22).

The Jewish authorities completely missed the point of Jesus’ statement, incorrectly applying it to the Herodian temple. But as John points out, Jesus “was speaking of the temple of His body.”

The sign He would give was His own resurrection, which even His disciples did not immediately understand (cf. 12:16). It was not until “He was raised from the dead [that] His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” His death as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb would render the Jerusalem temple obsolete (cf. 4:21); and His resurrection as the triumphant Lord would lay the foundation for a new, spiritual temple in its place—namely the church (1 Cor. 3:16–17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19–22).

It was not until after the resurrection that everything came into focus for the disciples. Only then did they recognize Jesus’ power of resurrection as convincing proof of His deity.

Ask Yourself

Have you been confused recently by a section of Scripture that puzzles you with its mystery, or seems to scrape against other things you’ve been taught in the past? If your heart is set on learning and obeying, rather than arguing or resisting, be sure that the Holy Spirit will reveal truth as you seek Him for it.

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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