Becoming Perfect through Obedience

DEVOTION: DAY 209

“Though he [Jesus] were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9, KJV).

As the eternal Son of God, Jesus didn’t need to ‘learn’ anything. But upon taking on flesh as a man, He had to learn many things – the most important of which was obedience. Jesus learned obedience, not for His own sake, but for our sake – to show us how to become blameless (perfect) in our walk with God. God has not changedwe have. From the beginning, God’s purpose has been for His children to be blameless in character. God, for example, said to Abram (later, Abraham): “I am the Almighty God; walk before meand be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1). Jesus demonstrated to us the way of perfection. If we walk in His steps – through obedience – we shall be like Him.

Today’s Scripture passage says Jesus learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Jesus was not exempt from suffering. Neither are weObeying God is very rewarding, but it comes with a price. To obey God, you need to endure suffering and give up certain pleasures, habits, desires, attitudes, relationships, conversations, lifestyle, social settings, and even certain religious views and practices which are contrary to God’s Word.

Notice that Jesus learned obedience, not by the miracles he performed, but by the things He suffered. He learned obedience the hard way: the temptations He endured, the opposition to His message, the threats from people, the persecution and hate, the pain of seeing loved ones suffer, the limitations of the human condition, etc. On the Cross, Jesus reached the height of obedience and perfection when He made the ultimate sacrifice – to redeem us.

The Bible continues by stating that Jesus became the author (i.e. the source or the cause) of eternal salvation for those who obey Him. Notice that there is a specific group of people for whom Jesus becomes the author of salvation: those who obey Jesus. In the original New Testament Greek, the word “obey” in this passage is rendered in the present tense and in the active voice. The implication is, Jesus is the cause of eternal salvation for those who currently (actively) obey Him, not those who obeyed in the past but have since stopped obeying Jesus.

Ongoing obedience to Jesus ensures, therefore, that we are connected to the source of eternal salvation. It further ensures that we grow in perfection: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). If you obey Jesus, it means you are abiding in Him. And if you are abiding in Him, you will manifest the Jesus-life.

Without obedience, there is no perfection. And there is no obedience without some measure of suffering. In Christ, and by the power of His Holy Spirit in us, we can walk in obedience like Jesus and become God’s blameless children in this world (cf. Philippians 2:14-15).

May the Lord bless you and keep you from all danger today. Amen.

For further study: Philippians 2:5-16

The Call and the Walk

Daily Devotional: Day 194

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1, NKJV).

As a Christian, your primary and fundamental calling is not to be a Pastor, an Elder, a Deacon, Music Director, a Prophet, an Apostle, etc. Your most fundamental calling is to live a holy life. The call to holiness, therefore, is the foundation on which all other callings in the Church stand. If you are living a holy life, then you are fulfilling your call. Everyone is called to be holy and righteous, but not everyone is called to be an Apostle or Pastor or Deacon.

No matter the church titles you have, if you are not walking in holiness, your title can’t help you when you stand before the Son of God. Remember, Judas had a title, too. He was an Apostle, one of the 12; yet he was lost because he failed in holiness and did not repent. He was an Apostle, but he was also a deceiver, a thief and a traitor (cf. Luke 22:1-6John 12:6). His ministry of Apostleship did not save him. So the point is, it’s not your ministry position that matters, but your walk in holiness.

In today’s passage, Paul is writing to the Christians in Ephesus. He urges them to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. This is important because our walk must match our calling. The “calling” he is referring to is the call to live a holy life, i.e. to live as saints. At the beginning of his letter, Paul points out the purpose for which God chose us. God, he says, “chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

As Christians, God has washed us in the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5) and made us holy (i.e. sanctified us). But it doesn’t end there. The way we live and the choices we make must match who we are as God’s holy people. That is what Paul means when he says we must walk in a manner worthy of our calling. The only life worthy of our calling is a holy life. A sinful life is beneath who we are and who are called to be. Without holiness, the Christian life has no credibility. Therefore, in chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul breaks down the practical (moral) specifics of living a holy life. He continues in chapter 5 and finishes around chapter 6:9.

In sum, no matter your position in church, family or society, you need the name “holy” as an adjective in front of your name or position. If you are a parent, be a holy parent; if you are a husband, be a holy husband; if you are a wife, be a holy wife; if you are a child, be a holy child; if you are unmarried, be a holy unmarried person; if you are a pastor, be a holy pastor; if you are a Sunday school teacher, be a holy Sunday school teacher; if you are a politician, be a holy politician; if you are a cop, be a holy cop; if you are an accountant, be a holy accountant; if you are a doctor, be a holy doctor, etc. Whatever your status is in life, be holy.

May the Holy Father bless you and your family today, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Ephesians 4:17-32

Bible Prophecy about Self-Love in the Last Days

Daily Devotional: Day 160

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, NASB).

We’ve been living in the last days since Jesus ushered in a new generation with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:14-21). The last days is a long period stretching from Pentecost to the Last Day when Jesus shall return to judge the living and the dead. During this ‘last days’ period, the Bible gives us prophecies regarding specific events that will occur. Some of these events have happened; others are happening now; and still others are yet to happen.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul predicts nineteen (19) specific moral traits that will be characteristic of people during the last days. At the end of the list, Paul cautions Timothy to avoid such people. Today, we will focus solely on the first trait: “men will be lovers of self.” Before we continue, let’s note that before Jesus came, people were showing these traits. However, Paul’s prophecy is signaling that these traits will become so pronounced, prevalent and so obvious that it will be impossible to miss or deny; not only that, the context also suggests that this trend is not expected to improve until Jesus returns.

Paul’s prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes with breathtaking accuracy. We are ‘officially’ in the age of self-love and self-worship. We have a new religion, and the god of this religion is SELF (me). The temple is me; the high priest of the religion is also me. Membership in the religion is restricted to one person, me. You’ll find this self-worship in nearly all facets of life.

Social media has become the ideal platform for self-glorification and vanity. Moreover, the emergence of SELFIE is a much welcome technology for lovers of self. With it, it’s easier now for people to pose from anywhere and flaunt their flesh for the world to admire, like and praise their looks. Adults and young people alike are caught up in it. Adults are behaving like kids, and kids are behaving like adults. Desperate for affirmation, some social media users, for example, will like their own post or post things like, “I love me,” “Happy Birthday to me,” etc. Self-centered worship has even crept into our churches. Our preaching is becoming more about self-improvement and self-realization; how to unleash the best you. Prayers and songs are tailored to fit this line of messaging with an emphasis on positive “I am” declarations.

We are even seeing a trend toward sologamy, i.e. self-marriage. Yes, people are marrying solo. It’s not legally recognized, yet. But make no mistake; the legalization of every lifestyle begins with the first step. If you’d like to find out more about this phenomenon, click here to see a news report about it.

We can understand why Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Bible prophecies are meant to instruct, warn and encourage us, so that we can watch and pray, and not be overcome by the snares of satan. A major obstacle between us and Jesus is our self. Let’s die to self and embrace the freedom in living for the glory of Christ alone.

The grace of our Lord be with you today. Amen.

For further study: Galatians 2:20