Thursday, April 28, 2016, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “I Do Not Seal My Lips.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 5:1-5 (ESV). Justified by Faith (v. 1) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be justified by faith? First of all, I believe we need to go back and look at Romans 3:23 where it says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When God created man (Adam), he placed him in a garden. He gave him so many good things to enjoy, but he told him that he could not eat of a specific tree. Then God created woman (Eve) out of man, because God said it was not good for man to be alone. Then Satan tempted Eve to sin against God by eating fruit from the forbidden tree. And, Eve gave to her husband of this fruit, and he, as well, ate the fruit and thus sinned against God. So, God put a curse on them, and he banished them from the garden (See: Gen. 2-3). Then, we read here in Romans 5:12 that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” And in v. 19a we read that “by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners.” And, then we read in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” What this is saying is that, because of Adam’s sin against God, sin came into the world, and thus we are all sinners. When we are born, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope, and destined for eternity in hell. We have all sinned, and we all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. Yet, we cannot be made acceptable to God through our own fleshly works. We cannot earn or deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough. So, Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us. When he died, our sins died, and they were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, hell and death. Amen! So, if we want to be justified (made righteous; acceptable to God), and cleared of all charges against us, so that we are no longer under a curse, but we are now free from condemnation, and free from the control of sin over our lives, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives. So, what does this faith look like? In Romans 6 it states that those who have been made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ have died to sin. Basically, when we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life (Ro. 6), “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). As well, Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). This “death to life” is the essence of the gospel of our salvation (cf. Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25). The peace we now have with God is not the kind the world talks about. They think of peace as absence of conflict among people where everyone agrees with one another, and where all people of all faiths join hands together in unity. Peace with God, though, means that we are no longer at enmity with God, but through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on a cross for our sins, and through faith in Jesus Christ, we are made right with God, and we are no longer his enemies. We are forgiven of our sins, and we now have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, peace with God is likely to produce conflict with those who don’t have such peace, for they may now hate us and persecute us for our faith in Jesus Christ. Access by Faith (v. 2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Through faith in Jesus Christ we gain access into God’s grace in which we stand. So, what does that mean? What is grace? It is God’s favor and kindness towards us. In other words, God owes us nothing. We are not deserving of his grace to us. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He didn’t die on a cross for us because of our goodness, but because of his love for us, and his desire to see us free from the control of sin, and free to now come under the control of his righteousness. His grace sent Jesus Christ to die on a cross. His grace offers eternal salvation to all who will believe on him. By his grace we are filled and empowered with his Spirit, too, so that we can live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. There are many people today, though, who are teaching God’s grace as though it is merely a “get-out-of-jail-free card,” and a “free ride” into heaven and nothing more. Yet, the Bible teaches us that God’s grace, which brings us salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). You see, his grace to us was not just to pardon our sins, to remove the curse of sin, and to give us eternal life with him. His grace to us is for the purpose of transforming our lives, to turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified (purified) through faith in Jesus Christ (Ac. 26:16-18). So, if we stand in this grace, it means we remain, endure, persist and continue in his grace. It is not that we use his grace as a free license to continue in sin, but that we remain in Christ and in his word, and we endure suffering and persecution for his name, and we persist and continue in submitting to his Lordship over our lives in living holy lives, pleasing to him, all in the power and working of his Spirit within us. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to our flesh, but who walk according to his Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Thus, his grace provides the way in which we can die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. By his stripes we are healed! Amen!! Rejoicing in Suffering (vv. 3-5) Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. When we truly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and we are born anew of the Spirit of God, and we have died with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ in newness of life, which is not like our old lives, we will be hated and persecuted for our faith in Jesus Christ. And, that persecution may come from those closest to us – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even church members. So, what should be our response to such treatment when it happens? For one, we are not to fear their threats, their rejection, or the persecution they will most certainly heap on us if we are truly walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. If we are still living like the world, the world will still love us, and I am talking about the worldly church, too. But, if we come out from the world, and we are separate, as God has called us to be, we are bound to upset some people, even within organized religion. We have to remember here that Jesus’ greatest opponents were the leaders in the temple. We are also to rejoice in our sufferings, because God has good purposes in mind for us through the things which we suffer. Suffering, thus, though hard and difficult, is for our good. If we respond to our sufferings in the right way, we learn endurance, we develop godly character, we have increased faith, and we grow in maturity. As well, through suffering our faith is tested to see if it is genuine (Jas. 1:2-4). In addition to all that, when we go through suffering, and God encourages us, we are able to comfort and admonish others who are going through similar suffering. Our afflictions, too, teach us to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Co. 1:3-11). And, that is a very good thing! I Do Not Seal My Lips / An Original Work / January 13, 2014 Based off Psalms 37, 40 Do not fear when evil man Has success in all their plans, For like grass they’ll wither soon. They’ll be cut off from the land. Trust in the Lord and He’ll give you peace. Find your delight in Him through all stress. All of your ways commit unto Him. All your desires from Him He’ll fulfill. Wait for the Lord; keep His way. Delight in His Word always. He’ll be with you to the end; Life eternal found in Him. I waited patiently for my Lord. He turned to me, and He heard my cry. He set my feet on the Solid Rock. He gave to me a firm place to stand. Blessed are we, who trust the Lord, Who do not turn to false gods. Our desire’s to do God’s will. His word is within our hearts. I will proclaim salvation to man. You put a new song now in my mouth. I’ll not withhold your love and your grace. I’ll speak forevermore of your truth.