What Grace Means for You

Daily Devotion|Day 258

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12, NKJV).

The grace of God is teacher. It is the love and power of God in us enabling us to live lives worthy of our calling (see Ephesians 4:1). Grace is for our life here on this earth. God wants us to reign over sin, the world and temptation (see Romans 5:17). And He has not left us helpless. Grace supplies everything we need to be conformed to the image of the Son of God.

In today’s Bible passage, Paul tells us that the grace of God has appeared to all people. This means grace is available to all. God has not kept His mercies in Christ a secret. Grace has been revealed for the salvation of all who will obey (see Hebrews 5:8-9).

According to the passage, grace teaches us two things. Firstly, the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodly and world lusts. The Christian life is about saying ‘Yes’ to righteousness and saying ‘No’ to sin and unrighteousnessGod has always been a God of grace. He didn’t suddenly become a God of grace when Jesus came into the world. From the beginning of human life, it has been God’s character to teach his children to deny ungodliness and sinful lusts which can lead us to separation from God and eternal perdition (see Isaiah 59:1-2).

God’s plan has always been for His children to rule over sin.

God taught Adam and Eve to deny sinful lusts. When Cain was tempted to harm his brother, Abel, God revealed Himself to Him and taught Him to say ‘No’ to the temptation. That was the grace of God at work. He warned him, “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). 

Secondly, grace teaches us how to live: soberly, righteously and godly. Grace is not only about what we are against. It is also about what we stand for: righteousness and holiness. Grace teaches us to be spiritually vigilant. It teaches us practical ways of living right with God and neighbor. It teaches us to walk with God, and like God (see Genesis 17:1). God is holy and righteous. If we want to walk with Him, we cannot walk in sin. 

The only acceptable life of the believer is a life of holiness, godliness and righteousness.

We are saints called and set apart to live for God’s glory. As the passage tells us, we are to live saintly, godly and righteous life in this present age, not when we get to heaven.The grace of God has appeared to you. Grace refers to everything God has revealed in Christ Jesus for our salvation (for this present life and the world to come when Christ returns).

Let grace find a home in you. The grace of God wants to teach you. Be a disciple of grace and you will bear fruit of holiness, righteousness and godliness.

BlessingMay the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Amen.

For further studyEphesians 4:11-32

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of ‘MARY thy God’ in Vain?

God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. In one of these commandments, the Lord commanded:

 “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11, KJV). Whose name is God commanding us to take not in vain? Answer: God’s own name. Every Christian will understand that this commandment is speaking of God’s name, not a human being’s name.

Shockingly, the Roman Catholic Church distorts this commandment. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hereafter, CCC), the Roman Catholic Church teaches, “The second commandment [what some Christians regard as the third commandment] forbids the abuse of God’s name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints” (CCC, paragraph 2146, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7I.HTM, emphasis added).

As you can clearly see from the quoted text, the Roman Catholic Church is contradicting God’s Word. It teaches that, the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain,” does not refer to God’s name only; it refers also to the names of the Virgin Mary and all the saints. What the Roman Catholic Church does here amounts to blasphemy against God. If you believe what the Roman Catholic Church is teaching here, it will lead you into idolatry.

Jesus is Lord and God. And His name is far above all names. God’s Word testifies to the exalted name of Jesus. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10, emphasis added; cf. Acts 4:12 and Ephesians 1:21).

 After an evil spirit overpowered the seven sons of Sceva for attempting to cast it out in the name of Jesus, the Word of God says, “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17, emphasis added).

God wants us to honor all people, including our parents, the elderly, our church leaders, civil authorities, etc. (cf. Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13-17). But it is blasphemous to render unto human beings what belongs to God alone, which is what the Roman Catholic Church has done by applying Exodus 20:7 to Mary and the saints. And, this is not the only time it does that. On several matters of doctrine or dogma, the Roman Catholic Church has a sinful and dangerous habit of elevating Mary to the status of God; and, in the process, they mangle the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures.

Let’s test the truth (or falsity) of what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in CCC, paragraph 2146, by inserting the name of Mary and some saints in God’s commandment:

  1. “Thou shalt not take the name of MARY thy God in vain.” True or False?
  2. “Thou shalt not take the name of JOHN thy God in vain.” True or False?
  3. “Thou shalt not take the name of MARY MAGDALENE thy God in vain.” True or False?
  4. “Thou shalt not take the name of PETER thy God in vain.” True or False.

If you are a Christian, you cannot answer “True” to any of the above questions. Yet, sadly, according to the Roman Catholic Church, the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain,” “forbids the abuse of God’s name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.”

No one knows if the Roman Catholic Church as an institution will ever repent of all her teachings and practices which contradict God’s Word. But if you are a Catholic reading this, my appeal to you is this: Your eternal salvation is at stake. What you believe can make a difference between going to heaven or going to hell. Pray to God for light. Study the Scriptures for yourself. And may the Lord open your eyes and grant you the courage to depart from deception when you see truth. Amen. 

Click here to read about what St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori says about the name of Mary (starting from Chapter X).

 

 

How Jesus’ Wife Makes Herself Ready

Daily Devotional: Day 164

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8, KJV).

At the beginning of Revelation 19, John saw a vision of the end. In the vision, the host of heaven rejoiced over the fact that God had judged Babylon, the whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication and shed the blood of God’s servants. Then follows a call to rejoice and give honor to God. Why? Because the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready. The Lamb here is referring to Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29). This tells us that Jesus has chosen a bride for Himself and heaven is getting ready for the great celebration of the marriage of the Lamb. Jesus’ bride is the Church which He purchased with His precious blood.

Notice that according to what John saw, Jesus’ wife had made herself ready. The wife of Jesus is not a single individual. ‘She’ refers to the worldwide group of believers who make up the Body of Christ. These people are together known as the saints. How will Jesus’ wife make herself ready for the marriage? The Bible tells us: Jesus’s wife will be clothed in fine linen, clean and white. Then, the Bible explains what the fine linen means. The fine linen is the righteousness of saints. This is an important detail.

The righteousness of saints referring to the righteous deeds of all who are born again, including those who have died in the Lord. Collectively, our righteous acts will be like a fine line, clean and spotless, with which we shall be clothed (see Revelation 3:1-6). Living a righteous and pure life is how we (Jesus’ wife) make ourselves ready for the marriage of the Lamb. Let no one think that he is righteous even if he sins and produces unrighteous fruit. The Lord sanctified us and made us righteous through the new creation (cf. Ephesians 4:22-24). Producing fruit of righteousness shows that we are indeed from a righteous tree. Only righteous people shall be in heaven at the marriage of the Lamb. As you live a righteous life in Christ, that is the fine linen you’ll be wearing in heaven. In heaven, there will be no magical white robe to cover our unrighteousness. 

Jesus is pure and spotless. He is the Lamb without blemish (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19). He, therefore, will marry only a spotless bride, clean and pure. This explains why Ephesians 5:25-27, says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious churchnot having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (emphasis added). Jesus went through all this trouble to make us pure because we are the Bride He loves. Consequently, He wants us to walk in purity and holiness. 

Jesus is coming back for a spotless Church. Anyone living in sin will not be at the marriage of the Lamb. Let no one deceive you that it is impossible to be holy and spotless. If it weren’t possible to be holy, Jesus wouldn’t entertain that expectation upon His return. We have all the divine grace we need to keep ourselves pure. Walking in purity and holiness is our only valid option. The good news is, we can do all things through Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s together make ourselves ready for Him who loved us and has set us apart as His Bride.

May the Lord bless you and preserve you from all harm. Amen.

For further study: 1 John 3:1-9

Live the Citizen Life

Daily Devotional: Day 65

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20, NKJV).

If you’ve traveled outside your native land, you’re probably familiar with what it means to be a stranger or foreigner. If you’re new in a country or different territory, you’re likely to be at the mercy of people. Fitting in doesn’t come easily. One must adjust to the weather, the food, the people, perhaps the language, the social life, the laws, and at times stereotype. If you don’t have proper documentation in the new country, that’s even worse. In many countries as in past civilizations, people are classified based on their legal status. What has this “stranger” experience got to do with our relationship with God? Well, everything. I mean, everything. In Bible times, especially before the advent of Jesus Christ, anyone who wasn’t a Jew or Israelite was considered “unclean,” a foreigner, an outsider.

But Jesus made all the difference. By his Cross, he has removed the barrier between Jews and non-Jews. This means you’re no longer an alien or an outsider. Jesus’ blood has made you a fellow citizen with God’s saints. You’re a member (note this carefully!) of God’s household. You possess full rights and privileges as a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. In this kingdom, there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free; all are one. So, you belong. You’re home. Sadly, due to false doctrines, there are Christians who still have a distorted image of God and of themselves. They approach God and pray to him as if they’re beggars and strangers. In many ways they exhibit a low self-esteem when dealing with God. This must end; else Jesus has died in vain. No matter  where you’ve been in the past or what you’ve done, it’s not too late. Jesus wants you to start enjoy the blessings of heavenly citizenship now. Why live as a stranger when Jesus is offering you citizenship?

Confess with me:

By the grace of God, Jesus has made me a fellow citizen with the saints. I will no longer approach God like a stranger. My citizen life in Christ has begun. To God be the glory now and forever. Amen!

For further study: Ephesians 2:1-22

Understanding 1 Peter (1:13-25)

God is holy. So are we – his children. Our “sinner” identity was buried with Christ when we got saved by grace through faith in Christ. God no longer calls us sinners. We are his saints. That is our true identity. Let us, therefore, live like saints.