Say "no!"

Monday, July 29, 2013, 7:23 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with this song in mind:

Here I Am To Worship / Chris Tomlin

Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God…

Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!

Truth leading to godliness

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior…” ~ Titus 1:1-3 ESV

Paul began his letter to Titus by stating upfront what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. The faith we have in Jesus Christ - through which then God gives to us the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, by his grace - must be based upon the truths of scripture (upon Christ’s teachings and those of the apostles), and it must be in agreement with godliness.

So many people are being taught that they don’t have to turn from their sins (don’t have to repent), and they don’t have to obey God’s commands, and they can still be saved because they “believed.” Oh, how wrong, and how unbiblical! James said that even the demons believe, and they shudder. Humans say they “believe,” and don’t even shudder at all (don’t even have the fear of God). Yet, faith in Jesus Christ is not some intellectual assent to what he did for us in dying for our sins so we can spend eternity with God in heaven, nor is it some emotional decision or a prayer we prayed at an altar. Faith in Jesus Christ is a transformation by the Spirit of God away from our old lives of living for sin and self to having a new attitude of mind toward sin and toward God resulting in a change of life direction, activity, heart and behavior away from sin to walking in obedience to Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior (See Lu 9:23-25; Ro 6; Gal 2:20; Eph. 2:8-9; 4:17-24; 1 John; etc.).

It teaches us to say “NO!”

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” ~ Titus 2:11-14 NIV

So many people have been given a wrong (or faulty) picture of God’s grace. Some see God’s grace as a “get out of jail free card,” while others see it as a “carte blanche,” i.e. as “permission or authority given to somebody to act with freedom” (Encarta); or as “unrestricted power to act at one’s own discretion” (; or as “free license, free rein, blank check, or free hand” ( to do what one pleases or chooses. The Bible is very clear on this – God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin. If we continue in sin (in a lifestyle of willful sin), then we have no part with God (See 1 Jn).

A true understanding of God’s grace coincides with what Paul said in his opening statement about our faith in Jesus Christ – it is based in truth and is in agreement with godliness. Jesus Christ did not go through all that he went through on this earth and in his death and in taking upon himself the sins of the entire world (the worst of all suffering) just to give us a free ticket to his heaven. He died so we would be free from slavery to and the control of sin and Satan while we still live on the face of this earth, day by day. True grace teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Jesus Christ gave himself up for us to redeem us (buy us back) from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (right, godly, and true).

Rebirth and Renewal

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” ~ Titus 3:3-8 NIV

If we preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which calls for turning from sin and obedience to Christ and to his commands - via his grace and the working of his Spirit within us in rebirth and renewal, through faith (our cooperation with God’s work) - then we are often times accused of teaching works-based salvation and/or of being conceited and judgmental. Neither of these accusations holds any water realistically or scripturally, though it may be true that some do preach the gospel from impure motives.

For one, there is no one righteous. We have all at one time gone astray. All have sinned and come up short of attaining approval of God in our own flesh. Just because we teach the true gospel of salvation does not mean we think we are somehow superior or that we don’t realize the grace of God in our own lives in delivering us from bondage to sin and decay. I, for one, am very cognizant of my own sinful condition outside of God’s grace, and of my own ability to sin even underneath his grace, and I am so thankful that his love lifted me out of the slimy pit and put my feet upon the solid rock, and that he has given me a firm place to stand. And, I grieve over the sins of others, and I hope for their deliverance! That is one of the reasons I do what I do each day in sharing God’s word and his gospel.

A true understanding of God’s grace, as well, will dispel any rumors that teaching repentance and obedience to Christ as necessary components of true faith is teaching works-based salvation. We don’t do good works to get salvation. We don’t earn God’s grace or favor or salvation through anything we do of our own accord and in our own power and strength. It is not possible, because we will always come up short, because we, by nature, are sinners. That’s the reality of it all. That is why Jesus Christ, our perfect Lamb, had to die on the cross for our sins, so that our sins could be crucified with him, and so they could be conquered once and for all via Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. Only by God’s grace can we come to have hope in Jesus Christ both for this life and for eternity with God in glory.

Jesus Christ said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow) himself (his self-life) 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 sin, we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly give up our lives for Jesus Christ, i.e. if we die to self and sin, then we save our lives for eternity. Paul, in the Spirit, said that coming to Christ means that we put off (forsake) our old lives of living for self and sin, that we be transformed in heart and mind (of the Spirit of God), and that we put on our new selves, “created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness” (See Lu 9:23-25; Ep. 4:17-24).

Yet, we don’t do this to earn salvation, and we can’t do it in our own strength or willpower. We are saved by God’s grace, through faith, meaning we must cooperate with God in his work of grace in our hearts and lives by willingly yielding to the cross of Christ, dying to sin, and by allowing the Spirit of God to transform us and to give us new lives in Christ Jesus our Lord, free from the control of sin, and free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. It can’t be works-based salvation and obedience at the same time. Works-based salvation comprises our own human efforts to try to attain God’s approval and his grace, but there is no submission to the cross, and it is not based in obedience to Christ, because it is based in self-effort. Truly if we are obeying Christ, we can’t be doing what he said is wrong to do, can we? They are diametrically opposed to one another.

A true understanding of our salvation and what Jesus Christ did for us knows that to truly believe in what Christ did for us and to make it our own means we yield our lives to Christ and to his cross, and we choose to no longer walk in the flesh according to our worldly passions and desires, but we choose, instead, to follow our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives. Will we do it perfectly? No! But, this should never be an excuse for continued and willful sin. God knows the difference, and he is the one who will judge our hearts. So, make sure your faith is founded in the truth of Christ’s teachings and those of the apostles, and which is in agreement with godliness, and is not based in a lie that gives you a “carte blanche” idea of God’s grace. Your eternity depends upon it.

Here I am to Worship -