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The Joy of Salvation

The Joy of Salvation

We’re continuing through our study of Paul’s letter to the Roman church. We’ve seen the love of God being manifest in us because of the work of righteousness. This is all initiated by our turning to the Lord in faith.

Paul continues this teaching.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

Romans 5:9-10

This verse brings us to the next great blessing of our salvation. Now that we’ve been made righteous and justified by His blood, we’ve also been saved from His wrath.

This word, saved or sozo in the Greek language, is huge in regard to our faith. Our salvation means more than just being saved from a future in hell.

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

Matthew 9:20-22

The word that’s translated healed in this verse is the word sozo. Our salvation also includes being saved from sickness.

Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.

Luke 8:36

Again, the word translated as cured, is the word sozo. Salvation also includes deliverance and protection from the enemy.

There’s so much that’s included in that word. Everything Christ purchased on the cross is all wrapped up in our salvation package.

So, when Scripture says that we’re saved from God’s wrath, it’s a powerful statement. I don’t ever have to be afraid that God’s mad at me. His love for me is unbreakable.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Thessalonians 5:9

As Paul continues his teaching, he shows us the foolishness is thinking that God is mad at us.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:10-11

Too many people, believers included, think that God is sitting in Heaven just waiting for us to slip up. They’re afraid that one little mistake will take away all the blessings that the Lord has for them.

Paul shows that this kind of thinking is foolish. If Christ treated us this way when we were His enemies – He died for us – how could He ever treat us worse now that we’re reconciled?

He’s looking to impart His life into us. That life brings the total package of salvation He wants us to receive.

Furthermore, it’s something to rejoice about. We should live in an attitude of rejoicing because we serve a God who only wants the best for us.

Question: What can you rejoice about in the salvation you’ve received from the Lord?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Self-Restraint

God’s Self-Restraint

As we continue in Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he’s laying out for us the righteousness that only comes through Christ.  It’s something that could never be obtained through our good works.

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:25-26

This one passage is absolutely jam-packed with truth.  We need to see it in all of its beauty.  It’s a wonderful description of God’s purpose in Christ Jesus.

The first thing Paul says is that God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement.  Some translations use the word, propitiation.  But just what does that mean to us?

In the Greek language that word literally means the atoning victim that brings satisfaction.  Something was done to displease God.  But a sacrifice was offered to do away with that displeasure.  Jesus Christ was this sacrifice.

It’s interesting to note that this word also had another use.  When the Jews translated the Old Testament into Greek, they used this word to indicate the Mercy Seat.  That was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.

The Mercy Seat was where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled each year to atone for the sins of Israel.  That makes Jesus Christ our “Mercy Seat”.  His blood now covers our sin.

The next sentence in the above verse is just as important.  It explains God’s reasoning behind the Lord’s sacrifice.

Paul tells us that God felt the need to demonstrate His justice.  That’s something that many people trip over in their spiritual walk.  It’s the old argument that “If God is good, why did He allow this thing to happen?”  “This thing”, being whatever evil thing the person is using for an example.

The above passage says that God used self-restraint so that He could ignore the sins that are committed.  Understand this – God wants to punish all sin.  However, He restrains Himself from following through with it immediately.

Why would God ever choose to do such a thing?  Paul gives us the reason.  God lets all of our sins go unpunished in the short term, so that He can place them on the perfect Sacrifice; Jesus Christ.

People get upset when they see what they consider to be huge sins.  Things like drug cartels destroying the lives of thousands of people.  They see dictators murdering those who oppose them.  They say that if God is so good, why does He allow this?  These murderers should be immediately judged.

What we don’t understand is that God is perfectly just.  If He judged these evil people immediately, then He would have had to judge me immediately the first time I disobeyed my parents.  Personally, I’m immensely grateful for God’s self-restraint.

God is giving everyone the opportunity to turn to Christ in repentance.  Then, through faith in His blood, allow the atoning work of Christ to give us a “not guilty” verdict.

Even though it was my sin that displeased God, it was the sacrifice of Christ that put me back into right relationship with Him.  What a beautiful picture of Jesus’ work on the cross.

We should be proclaiming this to all who will listen.

Question: How grateful are you for this atoning work of Christ Jesus?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2020 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Religious Problem

The Religious Problem

For the past few posts we’ve been looking at the advantage of religion.  That is, the advantage of having a basic knowledge of what the Bible says.  But is that enough?

Are you a better person in God’s eyes by being religious?

What shall we conclude then?  Are we any better?  Not at all!  We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.  As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

Romans 3:9-11

Here’s the problem.  Even though a religious person may appear to be better on the outside, without a relationship with Christ, they’re still lost.  Unfortunately, because they’re doing good things, they think that everything’s okay.

The fact remains that even though they may read the Bible, they have no understanding of God’s plan of salvation.  They’ve never laid hold of Christ’s forgiveness.  They think they’re headed in the right direction, but they’re outside the family of God.

Paul has some strong words for these people.

All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:12-18

In my experience, I’ve found that religious people are the hardest ones to witness to.  They see all of their good works and think that’s enough to save them.

What they fail to understand is that sin is not an external problem.  It needs to be dealt with on the inside of all of us.

When we stand before God’s Judgment Seat, there’s no set of scales.  He will not see if our good works outweigh our evil deeds.  The only question at that time will be; did you bow your knees to Christ as Lord and Savior?

That being said, there’s another thing that we need to realize.  Not all religious people are unsaved.  I know this may come as a shock to some Christians.

There are many believers in so called religious denominations.  Yes, I’m talking about Roman Catholic and Orthodox type denominations.

Those of us in less religious groups should spend more time talking with them instead of judging them.  I have personally shared with hundreds in these religions.  I’ve found that many have the same precious faith that I do.

Please understand, they don’t have the same religious vocabulary that I have.  In spite of that, I’ve found that during their lives, they’ve prayed for Jesus Christ to enter their lives and change them.  They pray, in Jesus’ name, for God’s blessing upon their lives.

No, they may not use terms like “sinner’s prayer”, “born again”, or “getting saved.”  But I could tell by their heart-felt words that they have a deep rooted faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

We can’t just assume that because someone doesn’t worship like us, they’re not saved.  We need to evangelize those who are truly lost, without Christ.

Question: How did you first come to know about Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2020 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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A Call for Repentance

A Call for Repentance

We’ve been looking at Paul’s “open letter” to the unsaved society around us.  That’s how he starts his letter to the Roman church.

He warns that without Christ, judging each other is pointless.  Of course he gets to the heart of the matter.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Romans 2:4

That’s the real question that those in the world need to be asked.  It’s our job as believers to show them the kindness, tolerance, and patience of the Lord.  All the while we should be leading them towards repentance.

The problem is that many times we do the first part while ignoring the second half of this verse.  We love and accept the unsaved just as they are.  However, if we never show them the way of salvation, they’ll be lost for eternity.

Too often we stay silent because we fear rejection.  But they’re refusal of the Gospel is not on us.  It’s a choice that they might make.

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”

Romans 2:5-6

Remember, Paul is speaking as if to the unsaved.  As believers, we don’t need to worry about God’s wrath.  There’s no wrath in Christ.  (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)

Most of us don’t like to think about this truth.  Yet, I believe it’s something we need to ponder.  If I, as a Christian, don’t understand what’s at stake, I’ll be very uncaring about the lives within my sphere of influence.

We have a responsibility to warn the ones we love about this future event that everyone needs to prepare for.  The apostle shows us the clear choice.  It all hinges on what a person is seeking in life.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism.

Romans 2:7-11

This passage is actually a great guideline for checking someone’s readiness to receive the Gospel.  You can tell by their works what they’re seeking in life.  The words, glory, honor, and immortality, have more than just a religious meaning.

It’s talking about an unsaved person who consistently shows certain qualities.  They try to do things that raise dignity, add value to life, and produce long-lasting effects.  These are the ones who are ripe for the Gospel message.

Those who are self-serving and only accept what they want to believe need to be interceded for.  They need a change of heart by the work of the Holy Spirit first.  Then they’ll be ready for that saving Word.

But the bottom line is, no one is outside of God’s love or His grace.  Everyone has the potential to receive the forgiveness and salvation of Christ.

Question: Who needs to hear the Gospel in your sphere of influence?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2020 in Faith, Ministry, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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Ministry Qualities Part 4 – The Word of Truth

I’m continuing my look at the qualities Paul describes to the church at Corinth.

…in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…
2 Corinthians 6:7

As I was studying for this installment, this verse caught me totally off guard.  The phrase, in truthful speech, is not what Paul wrote.  He literally said, in the Word of truth.

That made a big difference to me.  That’s especially the case because we’re talking about the earmarks of true ministry.  One of the defining qualities of ministry is that it proclaims the Word of truth.

That phrase is found throughout the New Testament.  So I felt led to devote this whole article to it.  The question is; how do I know if someone or some group is declaring the Word of truth?

Here’s what to look for.  Keep in mind that even though you may not like the methods of some ministry, that doesn’t mean that they’re not walking in the truth.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…
Ephesians 1:13

This is an important point.  The Word of truth is synonymous with the Gospel of your salvation.  Simply put, the Word of truth gets people saved.

The Word of truth releases the Holy Spirit to convict the unsaved and draw them to Christ.  So the first thing to look for is the saving work of the Spirit.  Are people receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior through this ministry?

But there’s more to it than that.  Jesus prayed for His disciples as He was preparing them for His departure.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

Not only does the Word of truth bring salvation, but it sanctifies us as well.  As we continue to receive this Word, our lives are changed.  Most of us can look back to who we were when we were first saved and we don’t even recognize that person.

The Word of truth is anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It does continual work in us.  As we submit to the Lord’s presence, we find that change is an ongoing process.

We can ask, are lives being changed through this ministry?

In writing to the Colossian church, Paul comments about their faith and love…

…the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Colossians 1:5-6

This is the power of the Word of truth.  It should be a part of every Christian ministry.

Question: How have you seen this demonstrated in a Gospel ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Righteous Exchange

In my last post, I talked about how Christ reconciled us to God.  I explained that the Greek word deals with the concept of exchange.

We know that when God removes something, He always replaces it with something else. Jesus Christ bore my sin to the cross.  What’s the opposite of sin?

It’s clear from Scripture that the opposite of sin is righteousness. You can read all of Romans, chapters 5-6, and see how God replaced sin with His righteousness.

The fact is that I can’t be righteous on my own – it had to be a work of God’s power.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

This verse is the essence of our salvation.  He took my sin and now gives me His righteousness.  It’s beyond anything we could have hoped for as human beings.

What is our salvation all about?  There are many believers who don’t really understand what happened to them when they bowed their knees to Christ.

To some, it simply means that they decided to be good. To others, it means that they’re going to try and follow the teachings of Jesus. That is NOT Christianity.

It all starts with an understanding of our condition without Christ.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Romans 3:23

Our problem is sin. You probably already know that the word sin, in both the Greek and Hebrew, means to miss the mark. That means that we’re all deficient, inferior to, God’s glory. Even though we were created in the image of God, in Adam we’ve fallen from that high position.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were born, or how good you are. In Adam, the whole human race is guilty of sin – missing the mark. But as bad as that is, it gets worse.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…
Romans 5:12

It turns out that sin brought a friend with him – death – separation from God. Who is under the penalty of death? EVERYONE! Death is the penalty for not living up to the glory of God.

You can look at it this way; every human being ever born was born onto the path that leads to death. There’s no reversing it, no exits, and it leads straight to hell. But, praise God, that’s not the end of the story.

Christ came to the earth as a man, God made flesh. He took on humanity but lived a life totally without sin.

Because it was He who created us, only He had the power to take our place. That’s the concept of substitution. He took our place on the cross in the penalty for our sin.

Now we come along, thousands of years later, on this path that leads to death. We can’t leave it or even turn around. We hear the Gospel of Christ. We decide to accept what Christ did for us by faith.

That’s when everything changed. The Lord freely gives us His righteousness.  It’s the basis for a new life in Christ.

Question: What were the events that led to your salvation?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2020 in Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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God’s Armor – Using the Helmet of Salvation

In my last post, we saw that the Helmet of Salvation speaks of the authority we’re given in Christ.  If you remember, all of the armor is put on by my choice.  This piece is received once I’m trained in its use.

Think about when Jesus entered the Temple courts and overturned the tables of the money-changers.  At that point, the priests asked Him, “Who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)

That’s because authority is like a chain.  Each link is connected.  Authority must be given and received.

So how does salvation enter into all of this?

Salvation means that we’re safe and defended.  When I say that I’m saved, I mean that I’m safe in Christ.  However, there are three distinct works that the word, salvation, refers to.

The first took place when I bowed my knee to Christ and prayed for Him to save me.  I was saved.  I was taken out of the world’s trash heap and placed in God’s house for His use.

Now, in God’s kingdom, I’m experiencing an ongoing cleaning process.  All that “stuff” from the world that stuck to me is being removed – sin, sickness, poverty, anxiety, depression, bitterness, etc.  I’m in the process of renewal.  I am being saved.

Then, someday Christ will return to take physical possession of the earth.  At that point, I’ll receive my new resurrected body.  I will be saved from decay and death.

The question is; which of these works does the helmet speak of?

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8

If you read this verse in the original, you’ll see that it’s not saying that we’re hoping for salvation.  Instead, it’s the hope, literally the expectation, that comes from our salvation.  So it speaks of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

If I submit to the process of salvation, I am being saved.  It’s this ongoing work that protects my authority in Christ.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

This verse makes it clear that salvation requires power.  That’s important because, like I said in my last post, authority is the permission to use power.  Submitting to this cleaning process allows God’s power to flow through me.

Please understand what I’m saying.  You don’t have to be absolutely clean and perfect to walk in God’s power.  But you do have to be submitted to the process.

How then do I receive and put on this helmet?

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:12-13

It’s obedience to God that works out this salvation in us.  The reason Paul tells us to use such respect – fear and trembling – is because it’s the God of the universe who’s working in us.  Simply put, obedience is the acceptance of His process at work within us.

I put on the Helmet of Salvation as I submit myself to God’s ongoing work in me.  That brings an expectation of the good things to come as a result of this.

Question: How well do you see yourself submitting to God’s process of renewal in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Gospel in a Nutshell

As we go through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul now begins speaking about a new subject.  It deals with the truth of the resurrection of Christ.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Paul gives us a wonderful view of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s not a matter of simply repeating a prayer and all of our troubles vanishing.  There’s more to it than that.

We have to understand that the Gospel Paul is talking about is more than just “believe in Jesus and you’ll be on your way to heaven.”  The sinner’s prayer is definitely our entrance into God’s salvation.  But the Gospel of Christ doesn’t end there.

According to Paul, these people heard what he preached, and then they responded.  Not only did they receive it, but they took their stand on it – they began to establish their lives on this Good News.

The key phrase in all of this is, by this Gospel you are saved.  Paul is talking to a group of established Christians.  This tells me that salvation is an ongoing process in their lives.

That’s because the Greek word for save is full of meaning.  It doesn’t just mean that we’re freed from our sin.  Scripturally, saved means to be delivered and safe from any harm or loss.  It includes healing, protection, provision, and a whole host of other things as well.

Then again, that’s why there’s an “if” in this passage.  The initial believing and confessing of Christ place us firmly into God’s kingdom.  But there’s more that the Lord wants for us.

Our salvation is the ongoing process of the grace of God renewing every aspect of our lives.  In order for this to happen, I have to hold firmly to the Word.  That means that I need to hold fast to it, memorize it, and retain it.

In short, I need to build myself up in the Word of God.  Otherwise, my faith will be too weak to allow God’s work to be manifest in my life.

I think that part of our problem in the modern church is our stubborn refusal to allow God to continue His work of change in our lives.  We’re happy that our sins were forgiven.  We look forward with joy to our home in Heaven.  But right now there are so many things that we want to do and experience in the world.  The thought of God disrupting those plans for His purpose doesn’t sit well with us.

We need to see change as the natural outgrowth of our walk with God.  His ongoing plan of salvation in us should never stagnate.  There’s always something new to look forward to.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ in a nutshell.  The Lord came to earth, died for us, was buried, and three days later He rose from the dead.  The resurrection was confirmed by hundreds of qualified witnesses.

Because of what Christ has done, our lives can be changed by the power of God.  Allow the Holy Spirit to continue the work.  Hold firmly to the Word of God that you’re receiving.

Question: How have you changed since bowing your knees to Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Work of the Cross

As believers, most of us know that the goal is to walk in maturity.  What I’ve found is that in order to understand the road to maturity, we must first understand the significance of the cross.

Usually when we think about Christ, and all that He accomplished for us, we mention the cross but immediately focus on the resurrection.  Don’t get me wrong, the resurrection of Christ was the most important event in all of history.  It sealed our redemption.  Without the risen Lord, we would still be dead in our sins.

Our problem is that we usually don’t give the cross a second glance.  We sometimes downplay the cross.  We’ve become too familiar with it.  We see crosses everywhere.  It’s become the most recognized symbol of Christianity.

But do we really understand its significance in our growth process?  As Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he’s trying to get across to them its importance.  I think that our generation of the church needs this same understanding.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18

In my last post, I talked about this a little.  When I meditate upon what Paul is saying in this passage, it causes me to take a step back.  Paul said that Christ did not make me an apostle to baptize.  This statement should capture our attention.

The apostle was not sent out to make converts.  That wasn’t his goal and it shouldn’t be ours.  In some circles, this needs to be emphasized.

We’re not in the Kingdom of God to “get people saved.”  We’re simply here to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.  How people respond to the message is up to them.  The only thing I’ll be judged on is how accurately I gave that message, not on how many believed it.  I think this distinction is lost on many believers.

However, there’s a deeper truth here than just to preach the Gospel.  We must preach this Good News without emptying the cross of its power.  By expressing the Gospel through my human wisdom and reasoning, I lose the power that’s resident in the cross.  That’s why I need to hear a Word from God and preach that Word.

The Word of the cross has the power to save.  But it’s how we understand this statement that makes all the difference.  Remember, being saved is not a one-time thing.  It’s an on-going process.  That’s why the Word of the cross is for those who are being saved.

I need the saving power of God on a daily basis. This is the power that saves me from my sinful actions, sickness, poverty, depression, and a whole host of other issues I have to deal with in my old nature.  The message of the cross speaks to all of these and brings victory.  It’s because we’ve watered down the message of the cross, that we have such a battered down church in our generation.

When we give the Word of the cross a back seat, we miss out on the victory that God has made available to us.  We need to understand what Paul is saying to us about the cross.  My hope is that it will help us in becoming more like the Lord.

Question: What do you see as significant about the cross?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Have You Seen the Red Flag?

There’s something interesting that happens when you’re watching football.  Have you ever noticed that everything stops when the announcer says, “There’s a flag on the field.”

That means that something happened that shouldn’t have.  Now we’re waiting to find out what happened…and what needs to be done about it.  Did you know that we have that same type of experience in our Christian walk?

Listen to how Paul explains it to the Galatian church.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21

Paul has just told the Galatians that if they cultivate their walk in the spirit, then the flesh will not be an issue.  Now he goes on to tell them that the work of the flesh shines its light through the following list.

Some of these things we classify as really bad.  Things like sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, drunkenness, and orgies.  But the interesting thing is the list of sins that we barely even think about as sin.  Paul sandwiches them right in the middle of all the “big” ones.  In God’s eyes, they’re all the same.

First of all, I want to talk about what this list is NOT.  This isn’t a checklist for judging whether someone’s a Christian or not.  The phrase, those who live like this, literally means those who perform these things repeatedly or habitually.  He’s not talking about a one-time failure.

Also, he’s not saying that Christians who live like this are not saved.  There’s a difference between our salvation and our inheritance.  We do not inherit salvation.  Salvation is our supernatural birth into God’s family.

Our inheritance is our reward for being a contributing member of the family.  As a matter of fact, if you believe he’s talking about losing your salvation here, then according to this list, most churches in America are unsaved.

If you’re habitually involved in one or more of these activities, then there’s something you’re not doing that you could receive a reward for.  The things on this list can rob you of your inheritance in Christ.  Paul makes it clear that you can be saved and yet have absolutely no rewards (1 Corinthians 2:10-15).

We need to understand what this list is really all about.  Paul says that it’s the shining light of the flesh.  These things are warning signals to us.  It should be like a flag the referee throws down on the field of our life.

These were not given so that I could judge you.  I have this list so that I can assess my own walk with the Lord.

My goal is to cultivate my walk in the spirit.  These behaviors are a sign that some area of my life is off track.  In my relationship with God, I need more interaction with the Holy Spirit.

So the bottom line is that Paul isn’t telling the Galatians a list of activities to keep away from.  He’s giving them a group of signals that will point them back to Christ.  They show our need for a deeper walk in the spirit.

Don’t get caught up in guilt and condemnation.  If you see these things appear, there’s a simple solution.  Go immediately before God and admit your fault in humility and repentance.  Receive His forgiveness.  Then use this experience to propel you forward into a deeper fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen your life change as your relationship with the Lord grows?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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