1 Timothy 1.8-11 – What to Focus On

Today Paul expands on the idea that those who do not understand the law should not teach the law (vv.6-7). 

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Paul says right away that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, and this seems to be the problem; whether it is used well.

Those who desired to be teachers of the law but had no understanding of the law were actually using God’s very vehicle for salvation as a barrier to it.

So, rather than the law being used to show us that we are sinners, that we will never work our way to God, that we can never earn His approval and justification, and instead we need to come to Him by faith in the substitute that He provides, these wanna-be teachers are condemning people for not living up to the holy and righteous standards that only One can live up to. 

Paul gives an overview of the kinds of ways we have fallen short of the glory of God (vv.9-10), and finishes by saying that, along with the examples given, whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God is what the law came to expose. 

However, for you and for me living today, and for the people in Paul and Timothy’s day too, grace and righteousness and salvation is not actually found in the law, is it. The grace of God, the righteousness of God, the salvation He offers, none of these are to be found by adhering to law, they are to be found by being in right relationship with God by having faith in Jesus. 

Let us focus on that today, not trying to earn our way to God through our good conduct, rather, focusing on being a follower and disciple of Jesus, relying on His good conduct and His finished work on the cross, and the acceptance, justification, and salvation He offers. 

Amos 5.21-24 – The heart of the matter

Yesterday we saw that what we claim to be living, we must be living. If you missed yesterday’s devotional, you can read it here.

The main point was that if we claim Christ, we must live for Christ. If we call ourselves Christians, we must carry that name with honour, and live a life worthy of the name we carry. If not, when we do and say Christian things from a place of non-total commitment, we run the risk of being found out…

Today, Amos continues and the Lord lays down some fundamental principles about priorities;

21 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them;

and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.

23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;

to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

If we are going through the motions and simply doing what we think we ought to be doing, with no real heart commitment, the Lord knows.

Remember, whereas we have a natural tendency to look at and judge the outside, the Lord always looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16.7). We look at the what, God looks at the why.

Well, I go to church.” Why…

I read the Bible.” Why…

I did that good thing for that person.Why…

If we just go along to church, sit, maybe sing a little, listen a little, then leave, is that good enough?

I take no delight in your solemn assemblies – God would say no.

If we offer worship through music but our heart is not in it, is that good enough?

Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. – God would say no.

What does the Lord want from us then? To let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

See, the point of a real relationship with the risen Jesus is that it changes us from the inside out.

We are given a new mind, new priorities, a new way of looking at life, new desires, new ambitions, a new focus, simply, we are made new, born again.

Part of this is how we interact with and treat other people, and God cares a lot about how we treat other people. When our heart is right, we will treat others right, and God cares a great deal about this. Rather than go through the Christian motions, God wants us to live a righteous life, to pour out righteousness from our lives, to let justice roll down like waters, to love one another as He loves us (John 13.34-35)

Today, rather than going through some Christian motions because we think it’s the right thing to do, let’s get right with one another first (Matthew 5.23-24). Let’s make sure we are right with one another before we try go get right with God.

God’s priority is that we are right in heart and right with each other, because when we have a real relationship with the risen Jesus, these are the telltale signs.

22.04.19 – Romans 6.12-14 – Instruments for righteousness

In the fourteenth century two brothers fought for the right to rule over a dukedom in what is now Belgium. The elder brother’s name was Raynald, but he was commonly called “Crassus,”a Latin nickname meaning “fat”.

After a heated battle, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him and assumed the title of Duke over his lands. But instead of killing Raynald, Edward devised a sneaky solution. He had a room in the castle built around Crassus, a room with only one door. The door was not locked, the windows were not barred, and Edward promised Raynald that he could regain his land and his title any time that he wanted to. All he would have to do is leave the room. The obstacle to freedom was not in the doors or the windows, but with Raynald himself. Being grossly overweight, he could not fit through the door, even though it was of near-normal size. All Raynald needed to do was slim down to a smaller size, then walk out a free man, with all he had had before his defeat. However, his younger brother kept sending him an assortment of tasty treats, and Raynald’s desire to be free never beat his desire to eat (adapted from EnduringWord).

Today Paul writes on how we should use our bodies (your members) to please God,

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Paul has previously written that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin (6.11) in such a way that as the ways of the world have no influence over someone who has passed away, the ways of sin are to have no influence over us. Rather, Paul writes to the Romans, we are to present our bodies, our whole selves, to God as those who have been brought from death to life. 

Isn’t that what we celebrated yesterday? Being brought from death to life?

Isn’t that what Paul wrote about in 6.4-5? 

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

See, the Easter story isn’t self-contained and separate from the rest of God’s Word to us. It is one wonderful, seminal, foundational, and formative part, for sure, but the interconnectivity and interconnectedness of God’s Word is mind-blowing. 

Sin now has no dominion over us, death has no power over us, for we are not under law but under grace. We truly have been raised to a new life to walk in newness of life. 

All this considered, considering that sin no longer reigns over us, that we have a choice to not obey its passions, we have the power in us to make this choice, the logical question is how are we presenting our bodies?, and to what are we presenting them?

Point to ponder – Am I presenting my body to sin’s passions, or as a living sacrifice to God?

Prayer – Father, we thank you for the world-changing, paradigm-shifting events that took place on that first Easter weekend all those years ago. We thank you that one consequence of that is the fact that we can now present our bodies to you as instruments of righteousness, and that you have broken sin’s hold over us. Amen.