The Healing Power of Forgiven Sin

Sharing from Desiring God today.

The Healing Power of Forgiven Sin

Article by Greg Morse 
Content strategist, 
desiringGod.org

His body didn’t work.

How long had he been known as “the paralytic”? How long had his legs not obeyed? How long would he be held a prisoner in his own bed?

But the word on the street was that the Messiah was coming. When the paralytic heard of it, he couldn’t help the impulse to do what he had been scared to do for some time: hope.

Story after story testified that Jesus could heal him. He could raise a cripple from his bed, he could resurrect fallen limbs — but would he? These legs? Forsaking caution, the paralytic enlisted his friends to carry him to his only hope.

The house was full. They couldn’t get through the door — but going home was not an option. They climbed to the roof, bore through the ceiling, and his friends lowered him down through the roof. Though many pressed in on the miracle-worker, Jesus, delighting in their faith, called out to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son . . . ”

As the Messiah began to speak, rain began to fall upon the desert; the sun was cresting the horizon; hope, his estranged friend, drew near again. Unknown to even his closest of friends, the years had worn on him. His spirit lay nearly as limp as his legs. But Jesus commanded him to take heart. He knew. In the crowded room, the Messiah himself called him “my son.” Certainly, the healing was about to come.

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2). Then came the pause that felt like an eternity to a man with no use of his legs.

Imagine yourself standing there. You just made a way through a roof for your paralyzed friend to get to Jesus. As the Pharisees balk about his authority to forgive sins, you might wonder, “Does he not see him lying here on the bed? Does he not know our purpose for coming all of this way? Is he unable to heal? Would our friend not ‘take heart’ and feel more like ‘his son’ if Jesus healed his broken body as well as forgave his sins? What’s forgiveness when your legs don’t work?”

How often, in our own pain, have we been tempted to wonder the same thing?

Read the rest here.

Seven Symptoms of a Prideful Heart

This is another excellent article from UnlockingTheBible.org.

Seven Symptoms of a Prideful Heart

Pride is universal—something we all deal with, as ancient as Adam and as relevant as the morning news. Yet we don’t always see our own pride, which weaves like weeds around our lives.

Oh, we see it in the obvious ways, but we can be blind to its deceptive, subversive way in our hearts. We know the disease, but we don’t recognize the symptoms. And that’s why we need the insight of our spiritual Great Physician to reveal symptoms of pride and rescue us from it.

Seven Symptoms of a Prideful Heart

Here are seven symptoms of pride I’ve been seeing in God’s Word as his Spirit works in my own life:

1. Fear

Pride is at the root of fear and anxiety, when we refuse to humbly rest in God’s sovereign care. Fear simultaneously reveals our lack of trust and our poisonous self-reliance. We fear because we don’t have faith in the Lord, we are enormously preoccupied with ourselves, and we don’t have control.

When Peter stepped out on the stormy sea to come to Jesus, he was walking in humble faith. But when his gaze shifted to his circumstances and self-preservation, he trusted in himself, became afraid, and began to sink. It was Jesus who saved him, while admonishing him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

2. Entitlement

Self-sacrifice stems from a humble heart. Entitlement is rooted in a prideful heart. The core of the gospel is that we are not entitled to anything, except just punishment for our sins (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Yet we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re better than we are, so we deserve better than we have. We think we deserve God’s mercy. We think we deserve people’s praise. We think we deserve love, success, comfort, accolades. We certainly don’t think we deserve suffering, heartbreak, or discipline.

But when we do experience these things, we grow bitter, frustrated, and disturbed because we believe we’re entitled to more. We forget that apart from Jesus Christ we are sinners who deserve condemnation.

The disciples wrestled with entitlement many times. On one occasion, they were arguing about who was the greatest. They selfishly thought they deserved honor and glory. But Jesus’ response to them was a rebuke: “Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Luke 22:26).

Read the rest here.

The Light Shines in the Darkness

This is a truly pertinent article from the January 2018 issue of Decision Magazine.

The Light Shines in the Darkness

By 

The darkness is spreading—rapidly.

Every day, it seems like yet another menacing cloud has spread its dark shadow across the land.

The relentless reporting of widespread sexual harassment has dominated the news cycle for months. Television hosts, congressmen, Hollywood elites, journalists and businessmen have all confessed to grievous acts of sexual harassment. The repercussions have been enormous, as women across the country have accused employers and co-workers of inappropriate behavior.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Online pornography use is at an all-time high. Gay and transgender characters are now a common sight on television, even in programs for small children. Atheists are hell-bent on eradicating any mention of God in town halls, schools and sporting events. Drug addiction, especially to new opioid painkillers, is an epidemic in many parts of the country, particularly in rural areas with high joblessness.

Mass shootings are no longer a rare occurrence, and they happen in once-sacred places like churches and historically safe spaces like schools and public venues. The weapons of terrorists are no longer just homemade bombs but also cars and trucks, which can run down citizens in broad daylight on busy city thoroughfares.

Abroad, the darkness is just as widespread.

Christians across the Middle East suffer intense persecution from Islamic terrorists and oppressive governments. In so many parts of the world, it’s never been a more dangerous time to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read the rest here.

Are All Our Sins Forgiven?

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

Are All Our Sins Forgiven?

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

I’ve received a number of questions about a recent series of online articles disputing the idea that Jesus died for all our sins, past, present, and future on the cross. The articles make the claim that the Bible teaches no such thing. So let’s find out. Does the Bible teach that all the sins of our life were forgiven at the cross or doesn’t it?

Colossians 2:13-14 reads as follows, When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

The Greek word translated all in this passage is pas. It means each, every, any, all, the whole, all things, everything. This would seem to support the claim that all sins past present and future were forgiven at the cross. It also supports Paul’s statement that at the moment of belief the Holy Spirit was sealed within us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.

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, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory (Ephes. 1:13-14).

Taken literally, this means the Holy spirit is the down payment that guarantees the redemption of the acquired possession (us). This guarantee went into effect when we first believed. (By the way, for those of you who only speak King James-ese, all translation interpretations on this site are from the Greek text that brought forth the King James Version.)

Read the rest here.

Complex Creativity

Pitcher Plant

Complex Creativity

By Patricia Knight

All our enemies have gloated over us;
panic and pitfall have come upon us…
—Lamentations 3:46-47

 Lest we fail to recognize that all of God’s creations are spectacular, consider the amazing complexity of the pitcher plant.  It is so named to reflect the modified leaves rolled to resemble a receptacle such as a pitcher. Indigenous to marshy forests of the American continent, the pitcher plant is carnivorous, possessing a mechanism called a pitfall trap. The trap is a deep pit filled with digestive fluid. Insects are attracted to the plant’s cavity by visual lures or by its sweet-smelling nectar. The rim of the pitcher plant is wet and slippery, causing prey to fall into the trap. The one-way insidious pit is aided by downward growing hairs, waxy scales, or guard cells on the interior of the plant to ensure prey have no means of escape. Liquid inside the pitcher plant drowns and dissolves the insects, converting them into nutrients and minerals.

How many pitcher plants have we encountered in our personal lives? Disappointment, disillusionment, and discouragement are all capable of entrapping us. If we aren’t diligent, those same lures are capable of engulfing us with negative attitudes that, over time, drown our hope and dissolve our faith, leaving us no escape from danger or strife.

Satan is a spiritual pitcher plant. Like the insects that are attracted by fragrance and color, Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), though in reality he is the prince of evil and darkness. Satan isn’t the red-horned monster wielding a pitchfork as frequently depicted in cartoons. However, he always appears as something pleasing and captivating, making temptation attractive and irresistible. If Satan were to visibly appear to us, he would be stunningly beautiful and charming.

It is Satan’s purpose to rob us of joy and fellowship with our heavenly Father. He exploits God’s gifts to us by misrepresenting them. Reflect on his cunning methods of manipulating Eve in the Garden of Eden, misquoting God’s words to suit his purposes.

Satan is the epitome of sin and darkness. He is evil to the core, not possessing one good intention. The only way we are able to protect ourselves from his evil intrusion into our lives is to surround ourselves internally and externally with the overpowering love of God.

Don’t be a victim to Satan’s manipulative gimmicks. Claim the victory Almighty God offers:

James4-7-8--AMP

“Submit yourselves, then to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-8).

God is a gentleman; He never cajoles or begs. He waits patiently for us to call upon His name. Immediately our Lord responds with forgiveness of any wrongdoing and surrounds us with His love and grace. We need only accept His free gift of salvation as He releases our bondage of sin.

The devil is the enemy of every believer. Each Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare against Satan and his minions. Our Lord doesn’t expect us to fight against Satan, for our strength is inadequate, but God’s power is undefeatable. We are urged to stand firmly as our Lord defends us. “Be prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon” (Ephesians 6:15-17, The Message).

In spiritual battles, God has provided two weapons for our defense: the Word of God and prayer with God. Jesus quoted the living Word of God as His defense against Satan’s methods when He was tempted in the wilderness. The Word of God is also referred to as the sword of the Spirit. “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Hebrews 4:12-13, The Message).

As we immerse our thoughts in the Word of God, He guides our actions. God opens our hearts to understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. His Word is filled with assurances of love and grace, which He delights in lavishing upon us. When we spend quality time in sincere, secret prayer, Jesus intercedes for us to the heavenly Father.

Our second weapon of defense against Satan is prayer. If on earth we desire to know people more fully, we spend time communicating with them. The same holds true with God. Not only do we talk, but we also listen, as God directs us into His paths of righteousness.

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice as the perfect Lamb when He offered His one holy life to redeem the sins of those who believe in Him. Due to Christ’s grace, God now looks at us through Jesus’ righteousness. We still face temptation, as Jesus did when He walked this earth. But temptation only leads to sin when we yield to Satan’s lures.

The consequence of slipping away from God’s care is that Satan allures us with his devious, nefarious purposes. Like the pitcher plant, Satan’s methods are slippery. Before we realize it, we have succumbed to his wily ways, drowning in bitterness and anger, dissolved in hate, and digested in evil.

“Now that we know what we have—
Jesus, this Great high Priest with ready access to God—
let’s not let it slip through our fingers.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing,
experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him
and get what he is so ready to give.
Take the mercy, accept the help”
(Hebrews 4:14-16, The Message).

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 2

This is the last part of this series from GraceThruFaith.

 

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Why Do Bad Things Happen

Job’s problem explained.

Last time I said that this is the first and most frequently asked question when people experience serious trouble, whether they’re believers or not. There appear to be at least three answers to this age-old question. The first and by far the most common is found by looking in a mirror. The second has to do with the consequences of sin in the world (we covered these last time) And the third concerns our own sin nature. I’ll share a story to tie the first two together and then use a brief summary of the Book of Job for answer number three.

Tell me a Story

I’ve altered certain facts to disguise this believer’s identity, but his story is true. To most he seems like a friendly guy who takes life pretty much in stride, but behind closed doors he’s way different. Family tales of his temper tantrums are the stuff of legends. Some years ago he suffered a heart attack that required a bypass operation. While recovering in the hospital he learned of a minor accident that had left a small scratch on his car. The next time his family came to visit, he blew up and threw them out. He ignored the doctor’s advice on changing his eating habits to combat his cholesterol problem. I witnessed his temper once in a retail business when he didn’t get the service he wanted. He recently had another heart attack, and the day after getting out of the hospital sent his wife out for a fast food sandwich with fries and a coke. He claims that God sent his heart attacks and refuses to heal him.

Who’s in Charge Here?

This is a great example of our unwillingness to recognize the effect of sin in our world and then accept responsibility for our own behavior.

Read the rest here.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 1

This is the first part of a two part series from GraceThruFaith

 

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Part 1

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Biblical answers for this age old question.

This has been the topic of several popular books over the years. One author’s conclusion was that either God cares for us but can’t help or else He can help us but doesn’t care. Isn’t that encouraging?

But this is the first and most frequently asked question when people are experiencing serious trouble, whether they’re believers or not. The answers seem to have eluded mankind since the incident between Cain and Able. I say answers because there appear to be at least three. The first and by far the most common is found by looking in a mirror. The second has to do with the consequences of sin in the world. And the third concerns our own sin nature. Let’s take them in order.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

First, when I say look in the mirror, I mean that most of us do more in a day to diminish our physical and mental wellbeing than to enhance it. Just look at our eating and exercise habits, the stress we create and endure in the work place, the way we enslave ourselves to materialism, the enormous load of debt and responsibility we carry, and the way we suffer and cause suffering in our relationships.

Read the rest here.