Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

October 21

Obeying God's Commands

"The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Ps. 19:8).

Obedience to the Word is the hallmark of a true believer.

It isn't popular these days to speak of God's Word as a book of commandments. Commands imply law and we're accustomed to grace. But the fact is, both the Old and New Testaments contain many commandments that all God's people are to obey.

The apostle John said, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected" (1 John 2:3-5). John equated the commandments of God with the Word of God.

Jesus Himself said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15) and "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father" (v. 21). If you truly love Christ, your life will be characterized by a pattern of obedience to His Word.

Every commandment of God is "pure", the psalmist said (Ps. 19:8). Its effect is "enlightening the eyes." God's Word brings spiritual truth into clear focus. Not every passage of Scripture is easy to understand, but taken as a whole, the message of the Bible is clear to the regenerate mind.

But as clear as the Bible is to believers, unredeemed people can't understand it. To them it's foolishness because their minds are unenlightened (1 Cor. 2:14). In their spiritual blindness they choose humanistic philosophical speculations over God's Word. But as a believer, you are continually being enlightened by the truths of God's Word as the Holy Spirit enables you to understand and apply them to your life.

Your ability to understand the Word is a priceless gift. Take advantage of it daily by expanding your Bible knowledge and increasing your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for opening your mind to the truths of His Word.
  • Commit yourself to discovering at least one additional truth from Scripture each day.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. What comparison did Paul make between the natural (unregenerate) man and the spiritual (regenerate) man?

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.

October 21

Paying Sin's Price

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Christ paid a debt He did not owe to free us from a debt we could not pay.

In the scientific realm there are universal laws, such as the law of gravity. These laws are built into the creation by its all-wise Creator and keep it functioning normally.

Just as God has made inexorable laws to govern the physical dimension, so also has He decreed universal spiritual principles. The most significant of those spiritual laws is that sin demands death; death is the wages sin pays. The Greek word translated “wages” was commonly used to speak of giving compensation for service rendered. When God sentences sinners to Hell, He is merely giving them the compensation that they have earned and that His justice demands.

In sharp contrast to the inexorable law of sin and death is the gracious “free gift of God”—“eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eternal life is not a wage but a gift, and hence it can’t be earned. Good works, church attendance, or religious rituals will not entitle anyone to it. After recounting his religious credentials—credentials unsurpassed in first-century Judaism (Gal. 1:14)—Paul dismissed them as “loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

The free gift of eternal life comes only through “Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Acts 4:12 Peter declared that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” And in John 14:6 Jesus said simply, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)!

Suggestions for Prayer

Have you lost touch with the reality that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2)? If so, spend some time in prayer today, thanking God for giving you eternal life.

For Further Study

What do the following passages teach about the possibility of earning eternal life: Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; 3:11; Philippians 3:9; Titus 3:5?

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.

October 21

Reading for Today:

  • Jeremiah 27:1–28:17
  • Psalm 119:33-40
  • Proverbs 27:18
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Notes:

Jeremiah 27:8 yoke of…Babylon. The point of the object lesson is simple. Any nation that will serve Babylon willingly may stay in their own land, but nations that will not submit voluntarily to Babylon will suffer destruction. Consequently, Judah should submit and not be removed from the land (vv. 9–18).

Jeremiah 28:2, 3 I have broken the yoke. The false prophet, of the kind Jeremiah warned of in 27:14–16, boldly predicted victory over Babylon and the return of the temple vessels within two years. In actuality, Babylon achieved its third and final step in conquering Judah 11 years later (586 B.C.) as in chapters 39, 40, and 52.

Psalm 119:39 good. The very attributes of God (v. 68) become the characteristics of Scripture: 1) trustworthy (v. 42); 2) true (vv. 43, 142, 151, 160); 3) faithful (v. 86); 4) unchangeable (v. 89); 5) eternal (vv. 90, 152); 6) light (v. 105); and 7) pure (v. 140).

2 Thessalonians 3:1 pray for us. Paul frequently enlisted prayer support from the churches for his ministry (Rom. 15:30–32; Eph. 6:18, 19; Col. 4:2, 3; 1 Thess. 5:25; Philem.22). In particular, he asked them to pray that the word of God would continue to spread rapidly as it had been already (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:44–49) and be received with the honor it deserved.


DAY 21: How does Paul’s teaching on church discipline in 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15 fit with other major biblical passages on this subject?

Paul addressed a particular issue of church discipline with the Thessalonians in 3:6–15. Helpful parallel passages that should be consulted in studying this one include Matthew 18:15–20, 1 Corinthians 5:1–13, Galatians 6:1–5, and 1 Timothy 5:19, 20.

This passage (3:6–15) gives specific direction on the nature of the church’s response to someone who deliberately refuses to follow God’s Word, expecting to benefit from fellowship with God’s people while being unwilling to participate in a meaningful way. Paul’s directions were not mere suggestions, but rather they carried the weight and authority of a judge’s court order which the apostle delivered and enforced (vv. 4, 6, 10, 12). In Paul’s words, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (3:10). These were fellow believers acting in a parasitic way, sapping the generosity of other believers. Paul had already addressed this pattern in his first letter (1 Thess. 4:11). If there were any questions, Paul called them to imitate him (v. 7; 1 Thess. 1:6) because he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1).

This passage offers an emphatic command, a personal confrontation, and a compassionate caution. First, vv. 6 and 14 instruct the rest of the church to “withdraw” and “not keep company” with such a person. In other words, Paul was commanding the church to disfellowship blatantly disobedient Christians in order to produce shame (v. 14) and, hopefully, repentance. Second, Paul was giving the sluggards a direct command to “work in quietness and eat their own bread” (v. 12), removing any excuse that they had not been warned about discipline. Third, Paul added two crucial words of caution. He reminded the believers that genuinely needy people deserved help. He urged them, “Do not grow weary in doing good” (v. 13). He also cautioned them to limit their disciplinary withdrawal. “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (v. 15).While an unrepentant pattern of sin should be handled decisively, they should continually remember that the person being disciplined is a brother or sister in the Lord. All further warnings to this person about his or her sin should be done with love and concern, praying for this fellow believer’s restoration.

The goal for any prescription for church discipline must be the restoration of the sinning person. If successful, Jesus said that “you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). The idea is not merely to punish the offender or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and henceforth to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than a brother. Ultimately, the sin for which he is excommunicated is a hardhearted impenitence.

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.

October 21 - Who Receives Spiritual Resurrection?

“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’” (John 5:25).

Jesus begins this emphatic, unarguable declaration with the seemingly paradoxical statement “an hour is coming and now is.” The hour of the believers’ resurrection “now is” in the sense that when they “were dead in [their] trespasses and sins . . . [God] made [them] alive together with Christ, and raised [them] up with Him” (Eph. 2:1, 5–6). Yet the hour is still “coming” in the sense that the resurrection of their physical bodies is yet future (1 Cor. 15:35–54; Phil. 3:20–21).

This “already/not yet” sense of the phrase may be understood in another way. When Christ was present, He offered spiritual life to all who would heed His Word (6:37; Matt. 7:24–27). Yet the full expression of the new era He inaugurated would not come until the day of Pentecost (14:17). Both during Christ’s earthly ministry and in the fullness of the Spirit’s ministry after Pentecost, the spiritually dead who heard “the voice of the Son of God” would live.

Scripture frequently describes unbelievers as spiritually dead. To be spiritually dead is to be insensitive to the things of God and totally unable to respond to Him. Paul vividly described it as living “in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and [being] by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

Rejoice in the amazing grace of God for making you alive together with Christ.

Ask Yourself

Try to define the ways you’re experiencing the first rays of eternal life even while bound in this time and place. How would your life be different if you were still spiritually dead, removed from the grace of God?

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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