Blueprint for Life

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When I was young, I used to enjoy wandering through homes and apartments under construction. Back then, we could freely do so when the construction workers were gone for the day. There weren’t all of the legal issues of liability, theft, etc., that would prevent one from doing this like there are today. It was fun to try to figure out what each area was going to become (closet, bedroom, bathroom, etc.), as well as watching how the building was being constructed.

Even to this day, it still amazes me how all the elements of various construction work come together. Something as simple as building a wall frame with a space for a window somehow works out right each time.

While I’m not totally inept at carpentry or technical work, I can’t just pick up several pieces of wood and build a simple structure or frame in a single attempt. I seem to always cut something wrong (yes, I measure twice before cutting once!). This usually happens because my original design was incorrect, resulting in my measurement being wrong and my cut therefore being off. Now if I had sat down and contemplated what I was going to build first, and ultimately created a drawn plan, I probably would have had better results. On a larger-scale project, such as a house or other building, plans like this are usually called blueprints. Before computers were used to design a building, all work had to be drawn by hand. It was then transferred to a piece of light-sensitive paper that would ultimately turn blue, leaving the drawn design (floor plan) in white and eventually white paper with lines that became blue (hence a blueprint). Today, the blue paper and blue lines are gone, and the term blueprint (when used) is applied to almost any type of printed floor plan and drawing.

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It has always impressed me how detailed the specifications are when a blueprint or design is made. When the building where I was working was remodeled, I used to pore over the blueprints used during construction. Each element of construction had its own floor plan: electrical, plumbing, climate control, refrigeration, etc.

There were detailed instructions on where each item was to be moved, installed, relocated, or removed entirely—all the way down to the exact inch in many instances.

There was rarely any generalization, or ‘leave it to the contractor to decide.’ Of course, there must be exactness and precise instructions, or the electrical outlets would be in the wrong places, floors would be crooked, doors wouldn’t open or close, windows wouldn’t fit, heat or air conditioning would blow into walls, or into a closet, and water or sewer pipes might go through the room instead of inside the walls surrounding it!

Are you aware that God also has a blueprint for each of us? His blueprint is the Bible (or the “Word of God”). Its pages contain the instructions for life, your life. It tells us where we came from and what our future will ultimately be. It gives us wisdom and guidance as well. Of course, it is not written in common instructions like ‘open the left door for happiness’ or ‘close your eyes when looking at the sun to prevent blindness.’ Yet it is written in a way that anyone, at any point in time, whether in the past, the present day, or the future, could read and understand it. In order to read the Bible in this manner, naturally it is necessary for you to have a desire to understand it, especially the deeper truths and meanings within it.

If you were to pick up a blueprint for a complex high-rise building and try reading it straight through, you would have difficulty understanding everything it contained (unless you had prior instruction), or, more importantly, the desire to really understand it.

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God wants us to seek Him and ask Him how to really read and understand His Word. It is not a nice piece of literature to read like poetry, but rather, our moral and spiritual guide and direction from childhood to the grave. And God not only wants us to read His Word, He wants us to obey it.

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:22-24).

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Anyone can simply read the words of the Bible, but only God can open your eyes to understand it. He wants to know if you are serious about understanding His Word. A lot of individuals are not serious about His Word, and they readily pull verses out of context to try to prove that the Bible makes no sense. (Actually, many books appear nonsensical when sentences are pulled out of context.) Even a blueprint for a simple room will make no sense if someone begins to add or subtract lines, or change the measurements given for a particular wall. That’s why we must ask God for discernment and understanding when reading His Word, and the works of others that teach or explain His Word.

To really understand God’s Word, you need to know God Himself, and to have His Son Jesus working in your heart and abiding within you.

If you want to really know Him better and fully obey His commandments, it is necessary to surrender your life to Him. The Bible is a blueprint for the house God wants to build that will last for eternity. And that house (dwelling place) is you, if you will let Him do this. If you want this house that we have the blueprint for, then you have to let God the Master Builder do the work. If you remain in the house you are in now, it will eventually disintegrate and return to the earth it came from and be lost forever.

The blueprint for life is already made and the choice is yours: knowing God and having a home made for eternity, or continuing on with your own plans, and no home for eternity.

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On the Ledge


flickr photo shared by TrailVoice under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I can still remember a particularly beautiful Spring day when I was eight years old. The flowers had just begun to bloom around Sugarloaf Mountain, not far from Frederick, Maryland, near the Virginia state line. I remember sitting there high up on a mountain ledge. It reminded me of granite shepherds silently watching over the lowlands and local communities in the valley way below me.

I can also remember sensing the divine presence of the Lord God there. While I sat high on the ledge, observing the scene below in all its beauty from the height of the mountain, His sweet, still voice spoke to my heart, saying, “My son, what do you see?”

I responded to Him through my thoughts as I prayed. When I opened my eyes I said, “My heavenly Father, I can see that in the distance the area around Sugarloaf Mountain is still just as beautiful as it ever was.

I loved looking out at all the vast farmland below, divided only by jagged rows of wooden fences. I can still remember small clover blossoms of purple growing throughout all the green grassland where the farm animals grazed. The still waters of many small grassland ponds glistened. Little babbling brooks also branched off in many directions as they flowed through the farmland, restoring life wherever they went.

Then, once again, I sensed that same sweet voice from God saying to me, “My son, what do you really see around you?”

I responded, “My heavenly Father, I see my own fears: how rough and dangerous the jagged rocks seem to be, and how sheer the cliffs appear. The precipitous trails that lead down this mountain seem unstable. I can also see the fresh, trickling spring water flowing between the uneven ridges to the base of the mountain.”

Again the same sweet, still voice spoke to me and said, “My son, you observed well.”

Then I realized what He wanted me to recall to my mind while I sat on the mountain ledge:

 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23).

[This was my mother’s favorite psalm.]

 

Board Games and Jesus

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“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” Luke 9:23-25

When I was growing up, I was always open to playing a board game. But many times, when I couldn’t find a second player (since I am an only child) I would resort to my alternate lineup: me, myself and I! Trying to play objectively with myself (as a whole, not the specific player) as an imaginary player was interesting. Usually, the games came out about equal regarding which one of ‘me’ would win (although Scrabble was definitely not in my lineup as a solo game!). A fairly basic and typical pool of games was played in our home, consisting of: Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, Parcheesi, Payday, Easy Money, Mousetrap (one of my favorites), etc. Most of these are rather lengthy and involved, so they would often run late into the night. They therefore weren’t played as often as I’d have liked. Two games had a set of cards obtained individually either by a particular roll of the dice or a number spun on a wheel. Depending on the particular game, it could send you to a specific space on the board, require you to pay or collect a certain amount, or obligate a player to share half of the wealth gained or pay half of the loss acquired at a later time. The cards most prized exempted you from sharing your wealth or paying most fines, etc., for as long as you held the card.

Many people continue to carry the game-playing mentality into real life all through their lives, long after childhood ends. To them, Heaven becomes just a goal they are trying to win, and Jesus Christ becomes merely the means of obtaining their goal.

They feel that when they “get saved,” they are on the winning side and the game is almost finished.

Accepting Jesus is seen as their ‘get-into-Heaven-free’ card. As long as they keep out of ‘real’ trouble and do what they feel is right, when they die they can just hand their winning card as their entry pass to the angel at the gates of Heaven (or to Peter, as some have been taught). Then off they go to their magnificent mansion (or cloud) high above the sky.

The concept of surrender, sacrifice, and obedience never has entered their minds (or they did not want it to enter their minds). A growing movement believes that when you accept Jesus into your heart, God removes all sin from your life permanently. Some groups go to the level that even the whole concept of sin has been done away with.

“Sin is only in unbelievers. Jesus came and took care of all sin, and therefore when I gave my heart to Jesus I became free from sin forever” has become the general (but not literal) cry of this crowd. Even mention of the word ‘sin’ in a believer’s life is taboo, because they feel that this brings something back into existence that has been eliminated.

But in reality, these views are quite far from the truth. In his determination to keep us from following God, the Devil figures that if he can’t stop us from giving our lives to Christ, he will twist God’s word (the Bible) into something that sounds pleasing to our old self. If we listen, it will keep our new self from growing in the knowledge of God. Meanwhile, he creates the illusion (of which he is a master) that we are pleasing God all along. At the same time, he succeeds in keeping us out of a true relationship with Jesus (and ultimately out of Heaven). This paradox grows greater every day, especially as the Bible is forsaken for alternative teachings, or for what the latest bestselling author has to say, or for an ‘offend-no-one’ message in a church (or what once was called a church!). So much of the Bible has been taken out of context lately that it recently reached the list of banned books used as a guideline for schools, libraries, booksellers, etc.

The truth of the matter is, that when we give our hearts to Jesus, our old self, commonly known as ‘the flesh’ (the part of us that wants to live for the sinful pleasures of this world) has to give way to Jesus. The process is not optional, nor is it an easy one. Choruses are sung about “surrender” and “giving our all to Him,” about giving Him our lives and letting Him use them for His purpose, etc. Yet very few ever stop to ponder in their hearts what’s really being said or meant.

Jesus can’t be the Lord of our lives if we continue to be the lord. Our ‘self’ or ‘the flesh’ enjoys the idea of the joy, peace, and power He gives us when we accept Him. But it absolutely balks, almost in sheer rebellion, at having to yield totally to Jesus.

As a result, we have this determination and zeal to serve Him in our spirit, the opposite of our flesh, but the dominance of our flesh drives us to follow the sinful passions of this world.

God is a holy God, and He cannot allow any sin in His presence. So the Devil comes along and gladly offers to redefine sin for us! This satisfies our sinful flesh, and we no longer allow more of Jesus into our lives so we can become what God wants us to be. This begins our downfall as a believer in Christ.

The spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) within us cannot cohabit with our sinful flesh. Either the flesh goes, or He goes. He expects us to forsake our sinful ways, not accommodate them.

This world is no longer our true home; therefore, we should not continue to live our lives as if it is. God has a much, much better place for us. Nothing rots, decays or grows weary there. Due to sin, this present world is corrupt and dying, and never will provide true satisfaction. But as long as we continue to allow the world to dominate our flesh, we will never have real peace, and ultimately will die with it.

This doesn’t mean we have to allow ourselves to be tied up and left in a locked room, or abandoned in the middle of the desert with nothing to eat, and then cry out, “Jesus! I’m all yours now! Do whatever you want to me!” Instead, we need to stop trying in our own self or flesh to please Him, to do His work for Him as if we are going to win an extra turn or bonus points in the game. We need to allow Him the freedom to use us in the way He wants to. This doesn’t mean He’ll automatically send us to an unknown land where we don’t know the language or anyone at all, and they don’t know, or even want, us. Rather, it demonstrates to Him that we are open and willing to do His will, whatever it may be. If we refuse in one area, then He won’t use us in all areas. It’s like being in total control of a country, except for a small minority in the backside of the capital city that is holding out just in case something goes wrong. If that is the case, then you’re not in total control of that country. Ultimately, God wants us to surrender our authority over ourselves. When we “surrender all (as the popular chorus goes), all means 100 percent, not 50, not 85, or even 99 percent.

“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

I ask you now, how much of your life are you going to yield to God? Are you going to allow your old self to reign? Are you going to continue playing life as a game, living like you please, flaunting your get-into-Heaven-exemption-card when troubles arise? Are you going to continue singing “I surrender all” when you are not surrendering all (or even some)? Are you spending time reading and studying God’s Word and communing with Him in prayer?

Prayer is not just a time of presenting our needs and petitions to God, but rather a time to align ourselves with His will.

As we surrender and submit ourselves to Him, we’ll find that the sinful (and even non-sinful) pleasures and desires of this world are not so pleasurable, and are actually appalling.

Let the finished work of Christ by His death on the Cross be the target of your faith and belief, not the latest self-help book, or ‘Christian’ fad on the Internet. Jesus loves you and wants all of you, not just whatever portion you can easily or conveniently give up to Him.

–James Pangburn

The Key That Fits

Ever heard of the promotions where a brand-new car will be given away free? Many keys are handed out, but only one key is the right one that fits the lock of the free car. 2,000 keys might be given out, and then presented at the car dealership and tried in the lock. 1,999 of those keys will not work. Out of all those keys, there is only one key made that will fit the lock. The person holding it will be the only one to win a free car.

“The Cross” is a term used to represent the place where Jesus Christ gave up His human life to save us from sin and bondage to the devil.

If there could have possibly been another ‘key’ that could have saved us and set us free, then Jesus would not have had to hang on the Cross and die in our place. God the Father is all-knowing. He would not have overlooked any possibility of another way to set man free.

Even Jesus Himself asked His Heavenly Father, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, if there could possibly be some other way besides going to the Cross and taking the sins of all mankind upon Himself to set men free. The Heavenly Father replied, “There is no other way. You will have to personally go through with death on the Cross to set man free.” Surely, in His immense love for His beloved only Son born of a human woman, God the Father would have found another way to spare Him, if any existed. But it had been decided before man was ever created that this would have to be the way to set man free, after he believed the lie of the devil and turned from God to follow sin.

We try many ways to get free from situations that enslave us, but none of the ways we try have the right key. We can try every way under the sun, and maybe get relief for a little while, but nothing will ultimately work except the right key—the Cross.

The Heavenly Father made this opportunity to be set free from sin available to everyone. It is not just for ‘good’ people, or the rich, or for a certain special group. It is not just for the people of a certain century, and then the offer expired. God has handed out billions of keys, and in this ‘promotion’, they all fit! They all fit because they are the same key being turned in the same lock. The Cross is the ‘key’ that fits the ‘lock’ to free us from bondage. It is the only key that will work. But the good news is that we can all have one! Bring yours in and try it!

–Alana Pangburn

Dirty Laundry

Ever had a piece of clothing you were wearing get a stain on it that you couldn’t wash out? Doesn’t it usually happen with your favorite piece of clothing? It’s like, of all of the things you could be wearing, it had to happen to this particular outfit—right? I’ve worn clothes that are true stain-magnets, especially white or very light-colored ones. I usually can’t wear a light-colored shirt or shorts for more than one day, if that long, without getting some noticeable spot or stain on it. Even stain-resistant clothing wears out to the point that it becomes ‘stain attractant’ clothing! There seems to always be that one stain that never comes out regardless of the treatment used to remove it. I used to be one to try all kinds of stain removal methods: baking soda, dish soap, vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, shampoo, stain removal sticks and liquids, etc. Some worked sometimes, but most did not. As a result, a favorite item of clothing was usually downgraded to either sleep clothes, or more often, a rag.

Did you know that dirty rags are mentioned in the Bible? Look in chapter 64 in the book of Isaiah, verse 6, and you’ll see the following:

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

Notice that it says “our righteousnesses” [meaning trying to be righteous our own way] are as filthy rags. God is saying here that, no matter what method we use to try to make ourselves right or clean before Him, we will always be dirty or “filthy.” There is no way that we can make our self right enough to come before a holy God. We can read the Bible or any holy book from cover to cover. We can go to a church or some other religious institution numerous times a week. We can abstain from certain foods or even fast for extensive periods. We can pray a prescribed prayer, or chant words over and over again. We can make pilgrimages to distant lands and shrines.

We can volunteer or do some kind of humanitarian effort. We can give infinite amounts of money to charities, etc., all over the world. Yet none of these will make us more righteous before God; we will still be as “filthy rags.”

Why is this? Because we were tainted from the very beginning of our lives. We were born in sin. From the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden, up to the present time, we have been separated from God due to sin. There is nothing that we can do on our own that will erase the sin or filthiness from our lives and be able to come into God’s holy presence.

At this point the situation seems hopeless—and it is hopeless—unless God provides a solution. Thankfully, He did do just that, through His Son Jesus. Through the death of Jesus, and by His blood that was shed on the cross, we now have a way to be made clean. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 22, we read, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [taking away of sin].” Only the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross over 2000 years ago can cleanse us of our sins and make us right before God.

We must accept and believe in faith in what Jesus did for us at the cross, or we will remain as “filthy rags” forever.

Are you willing to let Jesus cleanse you of your sins (your wrongdoings against God)? God is holy and cannot accept you as His child unless you repent (turn away completely from your sins and go in the opposite direction) of that which is unholy, and let Him cleanse you of all of your unrighteousness through Jesus’ precious shed blood. Don’t keep trying on your own to make your “filthy rags” clean; there is no stain remover on this earth that can remove the filthiness in your heart. Give your heart to Jesus and let Him cleanse you once and for all.

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The Bee and the Birdbath

 

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“He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:16-19

In my travels, I visited a small butterfly garden that was part of a larger botanical garden. The butterfly garden consisted of a pathway lined mostly with flowering plants and shrubs and with an occasional decorative accessory, such as a bench or a birdbath. While passing one of the birdbaths, I noticed an insect floating on the small amount of water that had accumulated in it. On closer inspection, I determined that it was a small honeybee. The poor thing had somehow become stuck upside-down on the water and was barely moving. I watched as what appeared to be its final minutes were running out. If others had passed by then, they probably would not have noticed or cared about the helpless bee. But I could not bear to just let it die in such a sad, helpless state. So I picked up a nearby leaf, carefully scooped up the straggler, and gently placed it right-side-up on a raised area of the bath. I figured that it could at least have a short time in a dry, sunny place before its demise. When I returned about thirty minutes later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that its weary self had apparently not only dried out, but also recovered enough to fly away!

This incident may seem insignificant, but God, throughout history, has done this innumerable times with each of us.

Just when we thought our life was about at an end, He reached down, picked us up, and placed us on dry land. He cares for us so much that He is willing to reach down and pick us up from our lowest moments in life, if we will let Him.

Yet, even in such a desperate moment as this, we often refuse because of pride, and even curse God for trying to help us. We believe we can make it on our own. We think, “I don’t need anyone’s help; I am on the verge of reviving” (while actually moments away from drowning). But God sees the big picture, and He desires to rescue us. In fact, He sent His beloved only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us.

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Because of our sins (our wrongdoings against God), God’s law was broken. It therefore demanded that the penalty be paid: death. And it was not just to be death and the grave here on Earth, but death eternally in Hell (a place of perpetual torment).

According to God’s law, the only way out of this was through the sacrifice of an animal as our substitute. An innocent, spotless lamb was required to be sacrificed in our place. But this was only a temporary means; there was no way that we could ever pay the price ourselves to be saved from eternal death.

It’s like trying to rise up to a great height by lifting ourselves up with only our bare hands. That’s why God sent His Son, who willingly came down as a human being, to be the perfect, innocent, and sinless sacrifice for all of our sins. This fact was witnessed in the book of John, chapter 1, verse 29: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. That includes sins from the first sin of Adam to the sins of a future generation not even born yet!

Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of God’s law (but did not eliminate it) through His sacrifice on the cross. When He died, He broke the chains of eternal death and our sentence to Hell forever.

And He set free all of those, prior to His death, who had offered up the temporary covering of the blood of the sacrificed lamb.

Our sin has ultimately left us like that bee in the birdbath, hopelessly struggling to live on borrowed time, or even dying. To say that you have more time, or that everything is fine, or that it will all work out all right in the end, is like saying that, because today is sunny and clear, every day is going to be sunny and clear from now on—when actually an inevitable and deadly storm is on its way straight toward you. You are not able see the big picture that God sees. All God wants you to do is to admit that you have sinned against Him, and believe that Jesus died for your sins on the Cross, which paid the tremendous price that you owed. Ask for His forgiveness now, and let Him work inside of you. Let Him reach down and pick you up!

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Jesus is Not a Washing Machine

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21

I recently visited a historical village near where I was living. It had a nice arrangement of a house, church, courthouse, schoolhouse, boat-building barn, blacksmith building, and a general store, as well as a handful of additional accessory buildings, all located on a 6-8 acre plot of land. In each building, care had been taken to try to include period furnishings where possible. In the house, there were many objects connected to each representative member of a family of that day. It is amazing to think that this house and its contents were all that were needed to live in that time. They didn’t need an elaborate kitchen with granite countertops, track lighting, and stainless-steel appliances. No climate-control systems that can be monitored and regulated by a phone on another continent were needed. In fact, in the time of this village, phones were almost nonexistent. Yet everyone managed to get along somehow, through lean times or plenty.

But there was one aspect open for innovation and improvement—the washday. It was an all-day event and nobody really enjoyed it. It was, without a doubt, hard work. This house had the classic wash-bin, washboard, and wringer. An iron kettle of water had to be heated over an open fire. Each article had to be scrubbed clean on a washboard. Then everything had to be run through the wringer (watch your fingers!), rinsed, and back it went through the wringer. Next, they hung everything on the line to dry. And finally, they had to iron most of the items with an iron weighing almost as much as half of a bundle of clothes itself! As a result, the advent of the washing machine was generally a welcome sight.

How does Jesus fit in with all of this?

When we accept Jesus into our hearts and He cleanses us of our sins through His blood shed on the Cross, we are not given a blank check to start a life of wrongdoing all over again.

His sacrifice at the Cross atoned (made complete payment) for all of the sins of mankind (past, present and future). When we accept Him into our hearts, we are baptized with Him in His death. Our old sin-destined self dies with Him in the tomb, and our new self is born in connection with His resurrection. Therefore, old sinful self is now dead. To begin again right where we were before Christ set us free essentially makes us a dead person walking. You can’t be completely dead and completely alive at the same time! We can’t go back and live in sin again, and then take all of our sin-soiled garments to the ‘Heavenly Laundromat,’ and throw them into the ‘Jesus washing machine’ expecting Him to make us spotless all over again. You might ask, “Doesn’t God forgive us each time we sin and make us clean and whole inside?” Yes, He does, when we ask Him to. But He also expects us to repent of these sins (all of our sins, actually). That means we are to turn and go in the opposite direction, and not regularly continue to do them.

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Many stand firmly on the ground that Jesus completely fulfilled the Law of God set forth in the early part of the Bible, and we are now free of the requirement to obey it. Therefore, we can now do what we want to, essentially meaning we can freely sin, because His grace will carry us through. In fact, today the whole concept of sin is even considered to have been eliminated through His sacrifice on the Cross. Sadly, this is where we give the Devil his ‘wiggle’ room. When Jesus fulfilled the Law, He did not abolish it.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17).

His fulfillment of it made it possible for us to now fulfill the Law through Him. But it was (and is) impossible for us to fulfill the entire Law, which is what we would have to do in order to be right with God. Christ never eliminated the ability to sin or the penalty of our sin. This same group that stands firmly on fulfillment also believes that God’s grace enables us to freely sin, because His grace is always greater. Once again, the Devil uses this as leverage to keep us in bondage. God’s grace has to be greater than all of our sins, otherwise God would not be God, and the work Jesus did on the Cross would be nullified.

If even the tiniest fraction of sin could be greater than God’s grace, He would no longer be omnipotent (all-powerful) and holy. As a result, the Devil would win.

As the prince of this world, the Devil is definitely a tough taskmaster, but if he could be god of all, the horrible result would be totally unthinkable!

Our ultimate goal should be to stop thinking that Jesus Christ is our ticket to do whatever we want. We may think, “Hey, it’s okay. I might look dirty now, but I’ll just drop these dirty clothes in the ‘Jesus washing machine’ and everything will be all right!” Acting this way means that we don’t want to let go of our sins, that self is still in charge, not Jesus. We want all of the benefits of being in Christ’s care, and at the same time, all of the pleasures of being in the world, or in the Devil’s care.

The only way to have all of the benefits of being in Christ and to stay there is to place our faith totally in Jesus and the work He did on the Cross.

When we do that, our interests in the pleasures of this world will automatically begin to fade. What was ‘fun’ before will be appalling, and the things of God that seemed ‘boring’ before we’ll find enjoyable. When a couple gets married, they cannot then go their own separate ways as if they had never married, and expect their relationship to prosper. The same is applicable when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts. We must yield to Him in our relationship with Him if we want complete victory and happiness.