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Sunday, February 19, 2017, 11:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1:1-5 (ESV).

For Obedience (vv. 1-2)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

This letter is addressed to the “elect” of God. So, who are the elect? They are those chosen by God for salvation and for holiness before the world was created. We were predestined by God to be conformed to the image of his Son (Ro. 8:29). All the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before any of them came into being (See: Ps. 139).

Before we can even come to faith in Jesus Christ, the Father must first draw us to Jesus (Jn. 6:44). Then, he gives us the faith to believe in him, i.e. God divinely persuades us as to his will for our lives, i.e. he convinces us or he moves us to action; to change (Eph. 2:8-10). As well, God grants us repentance, leading us to a knowledge of the truth, so that we might realize the futility of our fleshly lives, and our need of Jesus to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and so we might call on him to save us (Acts 2:21; Acts 5:30,31; Acts 11:17; Ro. 10:13; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).

Then, when we accept this God-given faith in Jesus Christ to be applied to our lives, and he turns our hearts away from sin and to God, to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will, we are then born again (spiritually) of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit comes within us to live, and then he teaches, encourages, empowers and strengthens us to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God.

Yet, we are not puppets on a string. We are not possessed of the Spirit of God in the same way someone is demon possessed. One characteristic trait of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. God does not just zap certain people and instantly they are his puppets and they no longer have control over their own minds, will and bodies. This could not be more obvious when we read the books of the New Testament. We do have a choice to believe in him or to not, i.e. to accept or to not accept this gift of faith and to appropriate it to our own lives via submission to Jesus Christ, to the cross of Christ, and to his Word (See: Jn. 3:11; Mk. 4:20; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

Born Again (vv. 3-5)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Not one of us can be saved of our sins by our own merit. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. It was while we were yet sinners that Jesus Christ died for us. When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. Only by God’s grace, in giving up his Son (himself) to die on a cross for our sins, can any of us be saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, we must accept this free gift of salvation, by accepting this free gift of faith, by yielding control of our lives over to God, and via surrendering our lives to his will (See: Ac. 3:19; 26:16-18; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, why did Jesus die on a cross? He died to take upon himself our sin and our punishment for sin so that, by faith in him, we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, no longer condemned to die in our sin, and so we might have eternal life with God beginning now and forevermore. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, and that we might no longer walk (live our lives) according to our sinful flesh but according to the Spirit of God who is at work in our lives in purifying us and in making us holy (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14). If we have believed in Jesus with God-given faith, “our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

Not only were we delivered out of slavery to sin, but we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness, free from the control of sin over our lives. That is a “living hope!” It is not living hope if all his grace does for us is frees us from eternity in hell and promises us eternity in heaven when we die. That still leaves us in bondage to sin. So, the real hope is that we have been set free, and we no longer are under the control of Satan or sin, but now we are slaves of Christ’s righteousness. We can walk in freedom! We are not destined to live our lives fighting for survival, regularly feeling defeated by sin, and thus giving in because we feel powerless to say “No.” God’s grace, which brings 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 (Tit. 2:11-14).

By God’s power we can resist Satan, flee temptation to sin, i.e. flee sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. This does not mean we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it means we should no longer be enslaved to sin or feel as though we are powerless to defeat sin in our lives, because Jesus already won this one for us! He already conquered Satan and defeated sin on our behalf, and he has given and will give us all we need to put off the deeds of the flesh daily and to put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. He empowers us to live for him, but we have to appropriate (put into practice) what he gives us.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!