Saved By Grace
Luke 10:28-29 “And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?”
Just as with this lawyer, pride causes many people to resist the truth of justification by faith in the grace of God. This lawyer loved himself and the public recognition his “holy acts” gave him. He was not willing to love God first and his fellow man ahead of himself. His was not a sincere question but rather an evasive question to shun responsibility. This man was seeking to be justified in the sight of God through his actions. He knew he had not loved everyone as he loved himself, so he is tried to interpret the scripture, Leviticus 19:18, in a way that would conform to his actions. He wanted to define “neighbor” as just his close friends whom he had treated well.
Self-justification always produces excuses, while repentance and faith toward God produces obedience.
The basis of our salvation is grace – that is, God’s undeserved, unmerited favor toward us as expressed in providing redemption through Christ Jesus.
The means of God saving us is through faith. Through faith we accept God’s free gift of salvation, which was provided by grace. So we are saved “by grace … through faith. “Notice that we are not saved by grace alone. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith grants us admission to God’s grace. Without faith, God’s grace is wasted, and without grace, faith is powerless. Faith in God’s grace has to be released to receive what God has provided through Christ.
Just as sodium and chloride are poisonous by themselves, so grace or faith used independently of each other are deadly. But when you mix sodium and chloride together in the proper way, you get salt, which you must have to live. Likewise, putting faith in what God has already provided by grace is the key to victorious Christian living.
Focus On Jesus
Luke 10:20 “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
We were never instructed to have a Ph.D. in demonology. However, some justify focusing on Satan and his activity to an inordinate degree. This will actually encourage demonic activity and become a device that Satan can use against us.
As Paul said, we should not be “ignorant” of Satan’s devices. We certainly need to know that the devil and demons exist, and we need to recognize when we are facing demonic activity. But we need to keep our focus on the Lord.
Some people who are excessive in “spiritual warfare” actually spend more time talking to the devil each day than they do talking to God. That’s not right.
The best defense against the devil is to be so “God-centered” that we give no place to Satan. People who are very sensitive to the devil’s presence usually do so at the expense of being sensitive to the Lord’s presence. David said, “If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there”, Psalm 139:8. Any time Satan’s oppression is there, God’s presence is present too, Hebrews 13:5! It’s just a matter of which one we focus on. Focusing on the devil is a trick of the devil.
Our total ability in the Christian life is found in Christ. It is not our ability that makes us strong, but our availability to Christ that enables us.
Paul said, “For when I am weak, then am I strong”, 2 Corinthians 12:10. He was saying that when he recognized his inability and, therefore, relied on the Lord, then the Lord’s strength flowed through him. We can do all things THROUGH CHRIST.
Power In The Name Of Jesus
Luke 10:17 “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
It was the power in the name of Jesus plus the disciples’ faith in that power that made the demons subject unto them. This can clearly be seen in Acts 19:13-17 where certain Jews called on the name of Jesus in an effort to cast demons out of a man. They used the name of Jesus, but it didn’t work because they had not put faith in that name.
These Jews were itinerants who used incantations to effect deliverance for people who were demon possessed. The first-century historian, Josephus, wrote of an exorcism that he witnessed in the presence of Vespasian and many of his soldiers. The exorcist supposedly followed a ritual passed down from King Solomon to effect the deliverance. There is no doubt that men throughout all history have tried to resist demonic spirits, but as this example proves, only Jesus and those who have received His life are successful.
Those who relegate demonic spirits to the realm of superstition do not believe in the entire Word of God. The Gospels alone contain over 90 references to the devil or devils (demons). The Apostle Paul said when writing to these people in Ephesus, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”, Ephesians 6:12. The devil and demons do exist, but all believers in Jesus share in His total victory over them.
The name of Jesus is not magic. It does not work like a charm. As Peter said, “His name, through faith in his name”, Acts 3:16, is what brings results.
Sharing God’s Love
Luke 10:2 – “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
It is commonly thought that an evangelist is someone who has a passion to lead people to the Lord. But every believer should have a passion for souls. When presenting the Gospel, we are not just presenting a theory about God but the factual account of God’s dealings with man as revealed through His Word, with the ultimate witness being the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Our personal witness of the reality of Jesus being alive in our lives brings Christ from theory to reality.
The early Christians had experienced the love of Christ in an intimate and life-transforming way. This motivated them to reach their known world with the Gospel of Christ more than any generation of Christians has done since. They didn’t have the benefits of our modern technology, but they did have the benefit of being full of the love of Christ. Experiencing the love of Christ causes us to be filled with the fullness of God, Ephesians 3:19 and makes us a witness that the world cannot resist, John 13:35.
Today, much of the emphasis of the church is placed on techniques of evangelism or spiritual warfare. We motivate people to witness through feelings of guilt or punishment if they don’t. Much of our evangelism has become as dead and non-productive as that of the cults who knock on doors and argue people into their way of thinking. The early Christians had a much greater impact on their world because they were full of, and motivated by, the love of God. The church today needs a revival of our personal relationship with the Lord. When we can say with Paul that the love of Christ constrains us, then we will impact our world for the Lord too. You can’t give away what you don’t possess. We need to personally know the love of Christ in an experiential way before we try to share it with others.
Life Of God
John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
The Greek word translated “life” here is “zoe” and it means life in the absolute sense or life as God has it. Everyone who is breathing has life in the sense of physical existence, but only those who receive Jesus can experience life as God intended it to be. Jesus came to not only save us from the torment of eternal hell, but also to give us this “zoe” or God-kind of life in abundance. The life of God is not awaiting us in heaven, but is presently possessed by every born-again person in his spirit. We can release this “zoe” life and enjoy it now by losing our natural life and finding this supernatural life. The way we lose our life is to deny any thoughts, emotions, or actions that are contrary to the Word of God, which is life (“zoe” in John 6:63). When we line our thoughts, emotions, and actions up with the instructions of God’s Word, then we will find this “zoe” life manifest in our bodies and souls as well.
The Word is spiritual and must be understood through the spirit,1 Corinthians 2:14. The Bible is simply a physical representation of Jesus and spiritual truth. It is inspired of God and therefore, totally accurate and reliable, and yet, until we receive the spirit that these words express, the Bible will not profit us, Hebrews 4:2.
If we want to know what spiritual truth is, we must believe the Bible, for it is spirit and life. If we want to be led by the Spirit, then we must follow God’s Word. If we want to hear from the Spirit of God, then we must listen to what God says in His Word. The Spirit (Holy Spirit) and the Word (Jesus – John 1:1) are one, 1 John 5:7.
The Cost Of Living For Christ
Luke 9:58 “And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
This verse has often been used to support the misconception that Jesus and His disciples lived in poverty. However, in this instance, the fact that Jesus had nowhere to lay His head was because of persecution. The Samaritans, because of a religious prejudice, had just refused Him hospitality and a place to stay as He journeyed to Jerusalem. Persecution is part of the cost of living a Christian life. Jesus was communicating to this man that not having a place to stay at times was part of that cost.
There are many forms of persecution. Having your life threatened because of your faith in Jesus is one way you can be persecuted, but it is not the most damaging. History shows that the Church has always flourished under persecution with increased numbers and zeal. During intense, life-threatening persecution, people’s priorities get straightened out and the Lord assumes His rightful place. This always works for our good, regardless of what our outward circumstances might be.
A far more deadly form of persecution is men simply speaking evil of you or separating you from their company. It’s more deadly because it’s more subtle.
Many who would never directly deny the Lord will fall into self-pity or strife because of someone’s criticism. This will render one just as ineffective as a negative reaction to having one’s life threatened would.
It helps to recognize that it is not you that they are persecuting, but rather Christ in you. You are actually becoming a partaker of His sufferings and will share Hisrewards. With this in mind, we can actually shout and leap for joy in persecution!
It’s Who You Know
John 9:30 “The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.”
The “acid test” of whether or not someone is of God is by his actions. Jesus’ actions were so miraculous and overwhelmingly consistent with God’s Word that any reservations about whether or not He was of God should have been set aside. But, as in Mark 7:13, they had exalted their own traditions above God’s Word, thereby making the Word of God of no effect in their own lives. Just as in this instance nearly two thousand years ago, theologians today are sometimes the last to accept a move of God if it violates their traditional beliefs. “… the common people heard him gladly.”, Mark 12:37. “… Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”, 1 Corinthians 8:1.
In spiritual matters, a person can educate himself in theology to the degree that it does more harm than good. It is possible to win a theological battle and yet lose the war for a person’s heart. Arguments over points of theology often distract from the more important issues. There is no premium on ignorance, but love is infinitely superior to knowledge. We should learn all we can, but we must make our knowledge a servant to love. “… the greatest of these is charity.”, 1 Corinthians 13:13.
If anyone’s quest for knowledge leads them away from knowing God, then it would have been preferable for them to stay ignorant. What we know is not as important as who we know (speaking of the Lord). Our most important goal in life must be to love God and be known of Him.
The Old Man Is Gone
John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
All of us were born in sin and were therefore “by nature” the children of the devil. That’s the reason we sinned. Our sins don’t corrupt our nature, but our corrupt nature makes us sin. That’s why we must be “born again” and become new creatures (or a new creation) in Christ.
The scriptures teach that everyone was born with a sin nature or old man. For the Christian, the old man is dead. We do not have a nature that is driving us to sin. If that is the case, then why do we seem so bound to sin even after we experience the new birth? The reason is that our old man left behind what Romans 6:6 calls a body. Just as a person’s spirit and soul leave behind a physical body at death, so our old man left behind habits and strongholds in our thoughts and emotions. The reason a Christian tends to sin is because of an unrenewed mind, not because of a sin nature.
Our old man ruled our thinking before we were born again. He taught us such things as selfishness, hatred, and fear and he placed within us the desire for sin. The old man is now gone, but these negative parts of his body remain. Until renewed, our minds continue to lead us on the course that our old man charted.
To experience the resurrection life of Jesus, we have to know that our old man is dead. Then, through the renewing of our minds, we destroy the body that the old man left behind. The end result is that we will not serve sin any longer.