Much has been written about the origin of sin: Where did sin come from? How did we get infected with it? What about Lucifer’s involvement in an insurrection against God? How was sin communicated from Adam to the rest of the human race?
The Holy Spirit wants to show us how to honestly deal with the evil that is right now present in us … our own sinful nature. Paul made a discovery that caused him to rejoice and say, “No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are ‘in’ Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principles of life ‘in’ Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, Phillips). He talks about new principles of life in Jesus that actually stopped the sin merry-go-round, yanked him off the endless ride, and freed him once and for all from its power.
One of the new principles Paul talked about is that believers are no longer slaves to sin. We have no obligation to our sensual nature (see Romans 8:12, Phillips). Abraham Lincoln is said to have “freed the slaves” with the Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1862. This legal document declared slavery dead … and slaves were set free!
It may sound too good to be true, but Christ emancipated all the slaves to sin at Calvary. All can throw down their load of sin, walk away from Satan’s dominion, and enter into a new life of freedom. The Bible says, “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:7-8). What that means is, since the matter of your slavery to sin is a dead issue, seeing that Christ has already declared you emancipated, you are now free to live as a new person in Christ — unchained.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). When the Bible says we are free from sin, there is no more argument. The matter is not negotiable! Walk in victory today knowing that you are free from sin and death because of Christ.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13).
If our only mission in life is to have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus, we will miss God’s larger objective. Jesus left us in a twisted, fallen world with another purpose in mind — to be lights in a darkened place and time. We may not desire to live in a sin-filled culture like America that rages more and more against God, but Jesus has a design for our lives. The reason we are here right now — the reason we exist — is for his glory! We are here to be his testimony, to make a difference, to be his living epistles to a world thirsting desperately for love.
Much of American culture has seeped into the church — including the exalted pursuit of happiness. We worship and behave as if God exists for us rather than the other way around. Our obedience to his Word is not to gain his favor and blessing but to grow in a relationship of love with him. We must not put the pursuit of material and fleshly satisfaction before a holy, loving God.
Paul said the Christians in Crete were “insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers … They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:10-11). In Crete, the church had become just as flesh-driven as the larger culture, and Paul had to confront the false doctrines that catered to people’s flesh.
Too often today the church seems more like the world than different from it. Determine in your heart to seek God’s face and have your life transformed by the gospel. You are here for a godly purpose: to hear from the Father and to reach out to others with Holy Spirit conviction and power. You are the salt of the earth!
Today’s families — both Christian and non-Christian — are under enormous pressure to conform to society’s views. Both parents and children are struggling beneath the strain of a world gone mad with sin and temptation. At times it seems we are in a war so one-sided we have to hold on, stay in the battle, fight for the integrity of the family — and fight for the souls of our children.
The greatest thing any parent can do for their kids is to lead them into a relationship with Jesus and then mentor them in their faith. Without Jesus, our children are left with no foundation to build on, no measure of right and wrong, no real purpose for their lives. They are forced to look to the world for their value system, and the world always comes up short.
There is an answer to the ills of our culture. There is a way to put an end to violence and hopelessness in every home, school, and neighborhood. We can do it by bringing families back together and introducing them to the power and person of Jesus — by calling on the power of God’s Holy Spirit to redeem our past and redefine our future.
Parents, you can train your children for service in the kingdom as soldiers in a war against spiritual poverty. Building on the foundation of Jesus instills a sense of hope and purpose within a family. When children fall in love with Jesus and allow him to instill in them a sense of passion and a resolve to live for him, they have no time for teen rebellion. They have a greater mission in life.
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
Are there times when you wonder if your prayers will ever be answered? Have you honestly done everything you know to do? The delayed answer to prayer is one of the most common experiences shared by even the saintliest of God’s children.
Ministers and teachers who preach faith stir us to expect miracles and answers to all our prayers — and that is a good thing. We desperately need to be reminded of the power of faith but our faith should not be afraid to investigate Bible passages that deal with God’s delays, his seasons of silence, and even his sovereignty — when he acts without giving man an explanation.
We see in the Word that at times God did not answer a request, no matter how many time it was asked of him or how great the faith. For instance, Paul was not delivered from the challenge that buffeted him, though he prayed diligently for an answer. “I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
Peter warned that faith should not stand alone when he said, “Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8). Faith without patience and virtue and self-control becomes self-centered and unbalanced.
Likewise, Paul prayed he wanted more than deliverance from his prickly thorn, more than success — he wanted Christ! Paul would rather suffer than try to overrule God and that is why he could shout, “I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me … For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
God wants to see the work of his grace completed in you as you seek more of him. He loves you more than you can imagine and nothing you endure can compare with the glory that awaits you!
You may be happy, healthy and on top of the world right now. If so, you probably do not need this message. But if you are feeling down for some reason, under a load of grief or pain, loneliness or suffering, this message is for you.
Very saintly Christians sometimes experience trials so heavy that they wonder if God is letting them hurt more than they can bear. Their heartbreak almost crushes them and they are on the brink of despair. Great men and women of faith have experienced dark and deep trials but God has brought them through to victory because they put their trust in him.
God still permits testing times, times during which the soul is permitted to go through a fiery trial which, according to God’s Word, is to try us. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange things happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). The prophet Jeremiah predicted that saints of God would be tried by fire: “Behold, I will refine them and try them” (Jeremiah 9:7).
Any spiritual growth that takes place in our life will always be accompanied by trials, for “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). While it is natural for us to want to shield ourselves from difficulties, it is an act of faith to entrust all our circumstances to our loving Father.
Avoid Christians who say to you, “If you were really standing on the promises of God and living by faith, you would always be happy and prosperous. You should be praising God and smiling and rejoicing. You must not have a negative mind.”
Not so! What you have is faith that God will never leave you or forsake you, even in your darkest hour. God is always God, He is still on the throne and he hears and answers your prayer. He cares about you and his promises will never fail you. Quietly wait on the Lord to bring you out into a safe place!