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nChrist
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« on: January 10, 2006, 09:38:04 AM »

January 10

The Inability of the Law to Justify

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ . . . But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith."  (Gal_2:16 and Gal_3:11)

Our great initial need before God is to be justified, to have God Himself declare us not guilty, to have the Lord pronounce us righteous in His sight. At first glance this appears to be an impossible situation for man. God, our Judge, is holy. Man is innately unholy. "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isa_64:6).

The consequences of such ungodliness are inevitably universal and appropriately severe. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom_3:23). "For the wages of sin is death." (Rom_6:23). The just sentence for all of humanity, in light of their sins against a pure and holy God, is death, everlasting separation from God.

The law of God offers no help and provides no hope of remedying this dire situation. People are "not justified by the works of the law." Trying one's best to measure up to the law never produces a verdict of not guilty. In all the history of humanity, not one person could ever perform sufficiently before God's law to achieve a declaration of being righteous. "No one is justified by the law in the sight of God."

Vows and pledges of personal improvement offer no hope. Asking others how to strive more earnestly provides no assistance. Only faith supplies the necessary remedy. "A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ." Trusting in our own best efforts leaves us guilty before God. Trusting in Christ's perfect work on the cross leaves us justified before God. "The just shall live by faith."

O Lord, my God, I praise You for Your glorious grace poured out upon me in justification. By Your grace alone You have declared me righteous in Your sight. I was totally guilty before Your holy law. I had no excuses and no hope of rescuing myself. Your law rightly condemned me, and I never could have reversed that verdict by my own performance. I trusted in Your Son, and You pronounced me just in Your sight. To You, my Lord, I give all honor, glory, adoration, and thanksgiving, through Christ Jesus, my Savior, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
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(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2006, 08:19:02 AM »

January 11

The Inability of the Law to Sanctify

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Gal_3:2-3)

The first question here in Galatians 3 again brings to mind issues of justification. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" We received the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in our lives when we were born again, when we became children of God. This is also when the Lord declared us justified, righteous in His sight.

How did the Spirit come to indwell us? Was it by our performance, attempting to live up to the law of God? No, it was "by the hearing of faith." We heard the good news that Christ died for our sins. We heard the truth that Jesus could forgive us of our unrighteousness.

Faith was stirred in our hearts as we considered that grand message. In simple, humble faith, we asked the Lord Jesus to come into our lives, to be our personal Savior. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (Joh_1:12).

The next two questions apply this same biblical reasoning to sanctification. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" To think that we can advance the process of sanctification (that is, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness) by our own human resources (that is, by the flesh) is spiritual foolishness.

What a staggering thought! Just as we could never secure justification by our own best efforts, so it is true that we can never increase personal sanctification by our own best efforts. Yes, "The just shall live by faith," initially and continually!

Dear Lord, I praise Your holy name for justifying me by faith in Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that such a blessing did not depend upon my personal ability or merit. My heart is both convicted and encouraged that sanctification is by faith as well. I am convicted, because I have often thought and acted as though I could effect more practical righteousness by my own resources. I am encouraged that there is a way that actually works, and it depends upon trusting in You. O Lord, please remind me of this glorious, gracious provision day by day, in Jesus name, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2006, 11:36:06 AM »

January 12

The General Ability of the Law

Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken . . . You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . . .  (Deu_9:10 and
Mat_5:27-28)

Although the law of God is unable to justify or sanctify, it does have some strategic ability in God's plan for man. These verses from the Torah and the Sermon on the Mount help us reflect upon this matter. These two profound sections of the Bible pertain to the law of God. Torah (Hebrew for law) refers to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. These books give an extensive explanation of the message of God's law. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) includes Jesus' clarification of man's understanding of the law.

When these portions of the Bible are read, studied, or taught, the general ability of the law is at work. In these passages the very character and will of God are revealed. The message related to those "two tablets of stone" spoke of God's character, "I the Lord, your God, am holy." The summary of this message expressed God's will for man, "be holy." The details of the message indicated what holiness would be like in conduct toward God and in relationships with others. Jesus' words would eventually extend this message of holiness even into attitudes of the heart.

The law of God is His standard for spiritual measurement. By His law, God measures holiness in people's lives by revealing His will, which is based upon His holy character. This is why all of us "fall short of the glory of God" (Rom_3:23). We don't measure up to God's holy standard.

The measuring instruments of man are a helpful illustration of the law. When a tape measure is used to evaluate the height of people, it measures growth or reveals the absence of it. It does not produce human growth. So it is with the law of God. The law describes and measures what God wants lives to look like. It does not cause such spiritual growth to appear. Only God's grace at work in our lives is the sufficient dynamic that produces spiritual growth.

O Lord, my Hope, I give You praise for Your holy character, revealed in Your holy law. I agree with Your will, desiring holiness in my life. I also agree with You that I fell far short of Your glorious standard. Thank You for cleansing me of all unrighteousness. Thank You for clothing me in the righteousness of Your dear Son. Now I place my hope in You for any and all progress in the path of righteousness. O Lord, have Your way in my life, working Your will, by Your grace, through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 07:55:30 AM »

January 13

The Law Producing Accountability for Sin

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God . . . For by the law is the knowledge of sin.  (Rom_3:19-20)

God's law speaks to those who are under the law. This would certainly include the Jews, for the law of God was given to them in writing (first engraved on stones by God, then written on parchment in the Holy Scriptures). Yet, the law speaks to the Gentiles as well, since they have it inscribed upon their consciences. "[The Gentiles] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Rom_2:15). Thus, every Jew and every Gentile begins life under the law.

Remember, when the law speaks, it is saying, "be holy, be loving, be perfect." The result of all people having received this message (either externally in writing, or internally upon the conscience) is that "every mouth [is] stopped."

What would we say if we stood before God, and He evaluated our lives  by His law? How could we answer if God said, "Here is your life; here is My law; now, give an account of yourself." Our "mouths [would be] stopped." We could provide no excuse, explanation, or justification.

The law produces accountability to God. And this accountability is universal. "All the world [is] guilty before God." There are no exceptions. Everyone in all the world is included. The law of God reveals to all humanity what sin really is.

Sin is not a cultural phenomenon. It is a divine revelation of what is absolutely unacceptable before God in light of His holy character. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Man would have no insight into this matter were it not for the law of God. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Rom_7:7). Murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting are all revealed to mankind by God's law. "For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (Rom_7:7). Through God's law we are all accountable to Him for our sins.

O Lord God of holiness and love and all that is perfect, Your holy law has stopped my mouth. I have no excuse for my spiritual failure before Your perfect standard. What I have read in Your word confirms the convictions of my heart. My life would stand forever guilty in Your sight, if it were not for Your forgiving, justifying grace. Thank You for providing forgiveness of my sins and justifying me, when I could offer no justifying words or deeds of my own. As I look at the world of humanity all around me, please remind me that they are guilty before You, until they come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This prayer I humbly offer in Jesus name, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2006, 02:16:11 AM »

January 14

The Law Convicting the Rebellious

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners . . . But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  (1Ti_1:8-9 and Gal_5:18)

Although the law has some God-given inabilities, it is nevertheless good. "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Rom_7:12). It does have certain abilities, "if one uses it lawfully." One unlawful application of the law would be using it to obtain justification, a declaration of being righteous in God's sight. If anyone ever infers that attempted obedience to the law of God could potentially secure an overall verdict of "not guilty," that would be biblically forbidden.

Another unlawful application of God's law would be using it to obtain sanctification, progressive spiritual growth in the Lord. If a person imagines that they could grow in godliness by their best attempts at living up to the law, that too would be prohibited by God's word.

The law is "for the lawless and insubordinate." The law of God is for those who are rebellious at heart against the will and the ways of God. This truth, in its basic interpretation, is directed toward unbelievers, "for the ungodly and for sinners." Herein we see that the law of God is able to convict unbelieving rebels of their defiance against a holy God.

However, by implication, there is an insight for believers here as well. As far as God is concerned, we are "not under law but under grace" (Rom_6:14). Yet, only those who walk according to the Spirit fully enjoy the daily blessings of that reality. "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." When followers of the Lord Jesus walk according to the flesh, they practically place themselves under a performance code. They put themselves under the law for practical day by day living.

The message of the law, which is for the rebellious, also has the capacity to expose this unacceptable condition within the life of a self-sufficient believer.

Dear God of all Grace, I confess that I  formerly lived in lawless rebellion against You. Lord, Your Holy Spirit convicted me of my self-righteous defiance against Your holy law. By Your grace You justified me, as I cried out in faith toward Your Son. Lord, now I earnestly ask You to convict me of those times when I attempt to live by the self-righteous resources of my own flesh. Lord, I need to be sanctified daily by Your grace, even as You previously justified me by Your grace. I praise You that such a work is abundantly available through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2006, 05:11:55 AM »

January 15

The Law Tutoring People to Christ

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  (Gal_3:24-25)

The ultimate ability of the law of God is its capacity to tutor people to Christ. "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ." It is the plan of God to use His law to inform us about our great need for Jesus Christ. Remember the summaries of the law of God: "be holy, be loving, be perfect."

The law demands that we be holy. We are convicted that we are not holy. Thereby, the law is saying to us: "You need Jesus Christ." The law requires that we be loving. We realize that we are not loving. Thereby, the law is declaring to us: "You need Jesus Christ." The law insists that we be perfect. We know that we are not perfect. Thereby, the law is announcing to us: "You need Jesus Christ." In this process the law functions as tutor (schoolmaster or child-trainer) instructing people of their need for that which only Christ can provide through His grace.

Now that we have responded to the law's tutoring work, we are no longer under the tutor. Now that we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the law. "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."

Whereas we once were told by the law to be holy, now we look to Christ for all personal holiness. "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us . . .  righteousness and sanctification" (1Co_1:30).

Whereas we once were told by the law to be loving, now we look to the Spirit of Christ for all the love that our lives are to show forth. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love" (Gal_5:22).

Whereas we once were told by the law to be perfect, now we look to the Lord for
all of the perfecting process. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phi_1:6).

O Lord, my Redeemer, thank You for using Your law as a tutor to lead me to Jesus Christ. Your law was so correct regarding my desperate need of a Savior. Now I rejoice that I am no longer under that tutor. What a delight to relate to You by faith and not by performance. What a precious blessing to humbly hope in the Lord Jesus for righteousness and love and growth. How wonderful to look to a gracious, loving Person, the Lord Jesus, instead of to a perfect unyielding standard, the law. Lord Jesus, please complete in me the good work of Your grace that began when I first believed in You. In Your name, and for Your glory, I pray, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2006, 05:13:53 AM »

January 16

Jesus Fulfilling the Law

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  (Mat_5:17)

The standard of the law of God is infinitely high and lofty: "be holy, be loving, be perfect." This is because the law reflects the very character of God. In light of this we may wonder if there is any way that the law can be fulfilled. How could the righteous demands of the law ever be met in our lives? The answer to this vital question is contained in the truth that Jesus came to "to fulfill" the law.

Consider how comprehensive was Jesus' fulfillment of the law. He fulfilled the law in His life, becoming our example. As Jesus lived, He showed us what life would look like if one could always, in every way, live up to the heavenly standards of God. Jesus' testimony was "I always do those things that please Him" (Joh_8:29).

Further, He fulfilled the law in His death, becoming our substitutionary sacrifice. The law included a penalty for violation, and that penalty was death. "The soul who sins shall die" (Eze_18:4). "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). Jesus lovingly died in our place to pay that penalty which we owed. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom_5:8).

Additionally, He wants to fulfill the law now in our daily experience, by being our life. "Christ who is our life" (Col_3:4). The Lord Jesus wants to live in and through the lives of His disciples, as we daily put our faith in Him. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal_2:20).

Yes, Jesus fulfills the law comprehensively!

Dear Father of Glory, what marvelous grace - - what marvelous grace! Such a thorough provision is supplied by Your grace. Through the work of Jesus, my Lord, the law is fulfilled. Its holy demands are met on my behalf. My failure before Your law is fully covered by Your grace. Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the penalty for my sins. My desire to grow in the righteous life that You lived, and that the law describes, is fully available by Your grace. O Lord, this is grace upon grace. For this I praise You, and I rejoice with expectation. Lord Jesus, by faith I now look to You to be my life this day. Lord, inhabit my heart and shape my attitudes, my words, my relationships, and my deeds, I pray in Your mighty name, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2006, 05:15:40 AM »

January 17

Righteousness through Christ in Justification

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace  (Rom_3:21-24)

The basic manner in which Jesus fulfills the law of God for us is by justifying us "freely by His grace." He does this by offering us "the righteousness of God which is through faith."

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, "the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed." It is the same righteousness that is spoken of in the law, that is, "being witnessed by the Law." However, in the law righteousness is an impossible standard being imposed. In the gospel, it is a gracious gift being offered.

This gift of righteousness is available to all who believe, to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. This gift is, of course, free to the recipients. Yet, it was made available at great cost to the giver. This gift cost the Father His only begotten Son. This gift cost the Son His own life, as He paid the price of redemption to buy us back from the slave market of sin and death.

Every person ever created needs this redemption price paid for them. "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Now, for all who believe in the Lord Jesus, the righteousness of God is imputed to them, that is, credited as a gift to their heavenly account. Thereby, the Lord God justifies us "freely by His grace." The Lord declares us righteous is in sight by giving to us "the righteousness of God which is through faith."

Dear Lord, I am so grateful that Your message of righteousness did not come through the law alone. Otherwise, Lord, I would have stood condemned before You forever. Thank You for speaking to us of righteousness through Your glorious gospel of grace. I exult in You that I am now  righteous in Your sight, through faith in Your beloved Son. Lord, I am learning that the righteousness I need for daily sanctification must also come from Jesus, by that same grace, through that same kind of trust. What good, good news is Your grand gospel! I magnify and praise You through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2006, 06:39:29 PM »

January 18

Righteousness through Christ in Sanctification

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  (Rom_8:3-4)

How wonderful it is to be "justified freely by His grace" (Rom_3:24). Yet, what disappointment and discouragement awaits us, if we do not learn that God desires to sanctify us freely by His grace as well. This plan of God, as we should expect, hinges upon the work of Jesus Christ.

In matters of justification, as well as sanctification, the law has a weakness. This weakness is that natural human resources, the flesh of man, cannot live up to the standards of God. Thus, to accomplish what the law could never accomplish the Father sent his Son. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son."

Jesus came as a man and died on the cross to eradicate the consequences of sin. This death of Christ certainly provided justification for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Yet, the next verse reveals that through His sacrificial death on the cross progressive, practical sanctification is available day by day through faith in the Lord. "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

The word "walk" makes Rom_8:4 a verse on sanctification, not justification. Justification takes place with the first moment of faith in Christ. Sanctification continues step by step, day by day, throughout the life of a believer.

Think of this grand truth. God's grace provides a way "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." Remember, that heavenly demand is "be holy," be like Christ. This transformation of life takes place daily in the life of any believer who does "not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." If we renounce the natural resources of man and trust in the Lord Jesus step by step through life, His Holy Spirit accomplishes His sanctifying work in us by the grace of God.

O Lord of compassion and generosity, what bountiful grace You offer to us, grace that justifies and grace that sanctifies. How foolish and unnecessary have been my futile attempts to fulfill the lofty requirements of Your holy law by my own feeble efforts. Father, how thrilling and encouraging to see that You have provided a gracious and effective way for me to grow in Christlikeness. This day I place my hope for godly progress in the irreplaceable work of Your Holy Spirit in me, in Jesus name, Amen.

____________________

Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
(Courtesy of Bob Hoekstra and Living in Christ Ministries)

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 07:04:00 AM »

January 19

Law and Grace, Old Covenant and New Covenant

The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant . . . For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ . . . This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  (Deu_9:11; Joh_1:17; and Luk_22:20)

In our meditations upon law and grace, we have also been considering (though not yet mentioning) the principal characteristics of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. When the Lord wrote the message of His law upon stone tablets for Moses, He was prescribing the terms of the Old Covenant. "The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant." When Jesus came into the world to die on the cross, the Lord was establishing a New Covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."

These two covenants of law and grace present one of the major contrasting themes in the word of God. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ..." Understanding the differences between these two covenants is of utmost importance for living the Christian life as God intends. God's law tells us that He desires holiness to characterize the way we live.

Only God's grace can provide such righteousness in our lives. God's law tells us that He wants Christlike love to permeate our attitudes and relationships. Only God's grace can develop such love in us. God's law tells us that He desires the perfections of the Father to be growing in us.  Only God's grace is sufficient to carry out such a process of transformation.

The law of God is the what; the grace of God is the how. The law of God reveals sin; the grace of God forgives sin. The law of God indicates man's problem; the grace of God provides God's remedy. The law of God demands performance by man; the grace of God offers provision from God.

The law of God is the standard; the grace of God is the means. The law of God is the spiritual measuring rod that evaluates lives; the grace of God is the nurturing resource that produces spiritual life. The law of God tells us of the character of God; the grace of God reproduces that character in us. The law of God is the effect God wants to see; the grace of God is the cause that brings forth that effect.

Lord God of Truth, help me to rightly divide Your truth. Enlighten my spiritual understanding that I might increasingly grasp the differences between law and grace. Show me the full implications of the old covenant and the new covenant.Your word impresses me with the enormous significance of these issues. Thank You for Your patience concerning my negligence or confusion on these matters. O Lord, I earnestly desire to live a righteous and holy life. Teach me the path of humble dependence upon Your glorious grace, through Jesus, my Lord and my life, Amen.

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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2006, 07:02:10 AM »

January 20

The Promise of a New Covenant

"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel . . . I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people . . . they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," says the LORD. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."  (Jer_31:31, Jer_31:33-34)

Long ago God promised a new covenant of grace for His people Israel. "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel." Some day the Israelites will turn to Messiah as a group and enter into this promised covenant of grace. "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins" (Rom_11:26-27). This will take place when the Lord Jesus returns to this earth. "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn" (Zec_12:10).

Meanwhile, the church of the Lord Jesus, comprised of all Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ, already has the new covenant instituted for her. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luk_22:20).

Note the astounding three-fold provisions this new covenant offers by faith to all believers today. First, there is the forgiveness of sins. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Second, there is the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with God. "They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." Third, there is the internal working of the Lord God Almighty enabling and changing people's lives from the inner core of their being. "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts."

Almighty God, the provisions of Your new covenant of grace are staggering in their richness! Forgiveness of sins by You, intimacy with You, and inner transformation from You - - all of this is mine through faith in Your Son, my Savior. O Lord, what bountiful grace You make available to us in Christ! I fully and desperately need all three of these wondrous workings that You alone can provide. I praise You for the gift of forgiveness of sins. I seek You for increased intimacy with You. I look to You to be shaping my life according to Your will, from the inside out, all through the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2006, 01:21:43 PM »

January 21

The New Covenant Inaugurated for the Church

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises . . . And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us . . . This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts . . . Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us.  (Heb_8:6; Heb_10:15-16, Heb_10:19-20)

This new covenant of grace that is promised to Israel eventually has already been inaugurated for the church now. The book of Hebrews documents this fact repeatedly. "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." Here in chapter 8, verse 6, the new covenant is referred to as "a better covenant." Then, the instituting of this new covenant is described in the past tense, "was established." It is already put into operation for the church.

In Heb_10:16, the promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 is quoted. "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts." In the previous verse, we are told that this quote from Jeremiah includes a message from the Holy Spirit to us, the church of Jesus Christ. "And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us."

Furthermore, in Heb_10:19-20, the new covenant is applied to the access of the "brethren" (the church, God's children) to their holy God and Father.

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us." Through His death on the cross, Jesus consecrated (that is, inaugurated, instituted, established, put into operation) the new covenant for us today!

Of course, this all fits perfectly with the application of the new covenant to the church celebrating the Lord's Supper. "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood' " (1Co_11:25).

Dear Lord of Glory, I rejoice with great gladness that Your new covenant of grace is the wondrous manner in which I am invited to relate to You. In this rich covenant I have found forgiveness of all my sins. Praise be to Your name! In this bountiful arrangement I can grow in intimacy with You. Blessed be Your name! In this generous provision I anticipate being changed and enabled by You from deep within my heart. Glory be to Your name forevermore! Amen.

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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2006, 01:24:20 PM »

January 22

The New and Living Way

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us.  (Heb_10:19-20)

Here, life under the new covenant of grace is described as the "new and living way." This could be contrasted with the "old and dying way" of attempting to live under the old covenant of law. The "newness" of grace is not really a matter of time sequence, because the grace of God actually precedes the law in man's history with God. The "tree of life" in the garden of Eden was God's provision of grace for Adam and Eve. The promises of God to Abraham, given hundreds of years before the law, depended upon the faithful grace of God, not the legal performance of Abraham.

The "newness" of grace is its every day freshness and vitality. Day by day, by the grace of God, fresh measures of life are abundantly available to those who look to the Lord as their supply. This makes life with God fresh and new every day.

Under the old covenant, only one person, the High Priest, could enter into the intimate presence of God, the Holy of Holies. Furthermore, this was only allowed one day a year. Such limited access would certainly "get old" in the hearts of all who hungered after the living God.

Now, under the new covenant of grace, every believer in Jesus, our great High Priest, can confidently approach the Lord personally any moment of every day. "Having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus." Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which forgives all of our sins, we can speak to the Lord and enjoy His presence in our lives continually.

Jeremiah gave some early insight into this kind of fresh and vital relationship with God. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him! '" (Lam_3:22-24).

The Apostle Paul wrote profoundly concerning such "newness."  "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom_7:6). This the "new and living way."  This will never "get old."

O Lord of Life, my heart yearns for this new and living way. O, how I long to dwell in Your presence day by day! Lord, I must confess that every attempt to base intimacy with You on my best performance has always become so old and dying, so stale and lifeless. My soul is stirred with hope in You that You have provided this better way. O Lord, teach me to walk by this new and living way, in the name of Jesus, my great High Priest, Amen.

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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2006, 10:11:31 PM »

January 23

Living as Servants of the New Covenant

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  (2Co_3:5-6)

We who follow the Lord Jesus Christ are "ministers of the new covenant." The term "minister" means servant. The phrase "new covenant" speaks of relating to God by grace. Thus, we are those who serve God by the resources of His grace. Our day by day lives, lived in service of the Lord God Almighty, are to be developed by the grace of God at work in us. What is involved in this biblical, heavenly approach to life here on earth?

The first issue pertains to our own inadequacy. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves."  So often we overlook our personal insufficiency or try to convince ourselves that we can become sufficient, with just a little more time, effort, or preparation. This approach is in direct disagreement with the Lord. God wants us to agree with Him.

Even when we begin to face our spiritual inability to produce the kind of life God is looking for, we easily underestimate the extent of our deficiency. We may think that we are just not able to produce as much as God desires to see in our lives. The Lord has a more radical viewpoint. He says that we are not able to supply "anything"  that He wants to see. Again, God wants us to agree with Him.

The second issue pertains to God's adequacy. "Our sufficiency is from God." The sufficient resources for living the Christian life are to be found in God alone. We are to be the recipients of God's grace, that is, His fully adequate supply. We are not to think we are the manufacturers of that grace. God is our source of all that is needed for godly living. Once more, God wants us to agree with Him.

The difference between living by God's supply or by our own resources is a "life and death" matter. "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Living the Christian life by our own capabilities will spiritually kill us. It will eventually leave us exhausted, discouraged, condemned. Whereas, depending upon the Spirit of God to supply the abundant grace of God leaves us strengthened, encouraged, and comforted.

Lord God of all Grace, I humbly admit that I have often held a perspective so different from You on this subject of sufficiency. I have repeatedly behaved as though the Christian life depended upon what I thought I could do from my own resources, and, Lord, as You have declared, it has brought forth spiritual deadness. Please teach me to trust in Your Holy Spirit to bring forth into my experience the full sufficiency of Your immeasurable grace, in Jesus name, Amen.

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« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2006, 10:13:19 PM »

January 24

Other Descriptions of New Covenant Living

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me . . . be filled with the Spirit . . . I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  (Luk_9:23; Eph_5:18; and Joh_10:10)

Living as servants of the new covenant is not some exclusive, esoteric religious concept, available only to an initiated few. Rather, it is just another way to speak of the life that is to be, and can be, lived by all who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The difference is that the language used is unfamiliar to many Christians.

Some familiar terminology that speaks of the same biblical reality would be "Christian discipleship." A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. In Luke 9:23, Jesus explained what was involved in following Him as a disciple. "Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me'." In order to follow the Lord, a person must be willing to renounce the self-life, which is produced by one's own sufficiency. Then, that person must agree that such a self-produced life deserves to be judged and separated from God. Finally, everything that is needed for godly living must be found by pursuing a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some other terminology that describes the essence of new covenant living would be "the Spirit-filled life." "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." The Lord calls His people away from earthly influences that can dominate and diminish lives and urges us to live by the fullness of His Spirit. When Christians answer this call, they are willing to live by God's powerful, unlimited resources, instead of by man's feeble, finite means.

One other familiar phrase that depicts the same reality as life in the new covenant is "the abundant life." "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." When Jesus came into this world, His mission was not only to rescue us from the consequences of our sins but also to provide us with "abundant life,"  a spiritually enriched life that only He could produce in us.

New covenant living it is the same reality as "Christian discipleship," "the Spirit-filled life," and "the abundant life."

Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for speaking of life in Christ in diverse terminologies. I want to be your true disciple. I want to be Spirit-filled. I want to live the abundant life. Each perspective offers beautiful insights and necessary confirmations. Lord, help me also to understand and embrace the refreshing language of the new covenant of grace. Dear Savior, I need all of the life-giving insights that Your rich vocabulary is designed to unfold, in Your name, Amen.

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Day-By-Day By Grace by Pastor Bob Hoekstra
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