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3. We Don't Compromise Holiness (1 Peter 1:13-21)

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1 Peter: Suffering Precedes Glory (part three)

Many attempts have been made to define God's holiness. It has been variously described as His "absolute unapproachability," His "absolute overpoweringness," and His "aweful majesty." The elusive concept of God's holiness is impossible to define precisely. Definitions break down because we simply don't have the faculties to comprehend-nor the vocabulary to express-God's holiness. Still, we're instructed to be holy because God is holy. We are declared holy by the blood of Jesus, and yet we continue to approach sin with apathy, complacency, and indifference. We must do battle for our own holiness. We must value holiness over convenience. Instead of asking, "How much can I get away with?" we should be asking, "How holy do I want to be?"

Related Topics: Character of God, Discipleship, Glory

Lesson 56: Why Follow Jesus? (John 10:11-21)

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May 25, 2014

Have you ever felt like it’s not worth it to follow Jesus? Perhaps you were going through a severe trial and you wondered, “If Jesus is the Lord and He loves me, then why is He allowing me to go through this trial?” You thought, “Life was better before I believed in Christ. Then I didn’t have all the problems that I’ve had since I became a Christian.” Perhaps you struggle with disappointment because your Christian experience isn’t all that you thought it would be or all that others seem to experience. So you wonder, “Why should I follow Jesus?” Our text answers that question simply and forcefully:

Since Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep, you’d be crazy not to follow Him.

Jesus is still speaking to a mixed audience. The Pharisees were there, and Jesus’ teaching here will again result in a division among them (10:19-21; see 7:43-52; 9:16). Also, the man born blind, who Jesus healed, was there, along with other believers. Jesus’ words here were aimed at warning, instructing, and assuring them. He warns them about false shepherds so that they will not follow them. He instructs them about Himself as the good shepherd and what He provides for His flock. And He assures them of His sacrificial care for them and of the fact that He will accomplish His purpose with them. I will point out five truths here about Jesus, the good shepherd:

1. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, but the hired hand has no concern for the sheep (10:11-13).

Jesus contrasts Himself with these self-centered religious leaders:

A. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (10:11).

John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” This is Jesus’ fourth “I am” claim in John’s Gospel. “I am the bread of life” (6:35). “I am the Light of the world” (8:12). “I am the door of the sheep” (10:7). “I am the good shepherd” (10:11, 14). Four times in these verses Jesus repeats that He lays down His life (10:11, 15, 17, 18). In the first two He repeats that He lays down His life for His sheep. The last two times, He emphasizes that He lays down His life so that He may take it up again. I could spend the entire message here, but let me point out four things:

1) Jesus death was selfless.

While Jesus set His sights on the joy set before Him as He faced the cross (Heb. 12:2), at the same time His giving Himself for us as sinners was the greatest act of selfless love in the history of the world. As Paul says (Rom. 5:7-8), “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died voluntarily, in obedience to the will of the Father (John 10:18). He wants us to know and to feel His deep, selfless care for us. The word translated “good” has the nuance of excellence or beauty. The beauty of Jesus, the shepherd who gave Himself to rescue us from God’s judgment, should draw our hearts in love to Him.

2) Jesus’ death was sacrificial.

He laid down His life “for the sheep.” He died in our place. We should have faced God’s righteous eternal judgment because of all our sins. But Jesus intervened with His own blood to pay the debt on our behalf. Jesus is the only one who has ever lived who did not have any sins of His own to die for. So He alone was qualified to die for us who deserved to die. As Paul wrote (2 Cor. 5:21), “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God imputed our sins to Christ and Christ’s righteousness to us.

3) Jesus’ death was specific.

He laid down His life “for the sheep.” Paul expressed this in other terms (Eph. 5:25, emphasis added): “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” The sheep are those whom the Father gave to the Son (John 10:29), whose names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). In John 6:37, Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” He added (6:39), “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”

In 10:26, He tells the Pharisees, “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” He does not say, “You are not of My sheep because you do not believe,” but rather the reverse: “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The determinative factor is whether they were Jesus’ sheep, whom the Father gave to the Son. It was these that Jesus came to die to redeem. He did not fail in His mission!

This truth is often misunderstood and attacked because it is alleged that if Jesus died only for His sheep, then we can’t offer the gospel to all people. But that is a false allegation. Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus is the Savior of the world (John 4:42). The almost final verse of the Bible appeals (Rev. 22:17), “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” So this truth in no way limits the invitation to all people to be saved. God pleads with all to be saved.

Rather, this truth looks at the death of Christ from the standpoint of God’s intent or purpose. Jesus died actually to pay for all the sins of His sheep, whom the Father had given Him from all eternity. And He promises that He will not lose even one of them (John 6:39; 10:28). So this truth should assure us: If you believe in Christ, you’re one of His sheep for whom He died. And He promises to keep you unto eternity. His purpose will not fail (Eph. 1:11).

4) Jesus’ death was successful.

We just saw this (John 6:39), “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” It’s also in our text (10:17, 18) where Jesus repeats twice that He not only will lay down His life, but also that He will take it up again. Many may claim that they will lay down their lives, but Jesus is the only one who legitimately could claim that He would take it up again. His resurrection verifies that the Father accepted His sacrifice (Rom. 4:25). So as the good shepherd, Jesus lays down His life for the sheep.

B. The hired hand has no concern for the sheep, but abandons them to save his own life (10:12-13).

John 10:12-13: “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.”

Jesus is contrasting His own sacrificial love and care for His sheep with the false shepherds of Israel, whom He here calls “hired hands,” who only cared for themselves. The difference is that Jesus owns the sheep because He bought them with His blood. But when predators come, the hired hands are more concerned about saving their own lives than they are about saving the sheep. It’s no great loss to them if the sheep perish, as long as they escape with their lives.

The contrast means that if you follow the good shepherd, you can be assured that He cares for you more than for His own life. If you’re one of His sheep, He promises (10:28), “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

2. The good shepherd knows His sheep personally and they know Him (10:14-15).

John 10:14-15: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

We saw the same truth in 10:3-4, where Jesus said that He calls His own sheep by name and they follow Him because they know His voice. Each night as the sheep would re-enter the fold, the shepherd would examine each one, to see whether there were any injuries or problems that needed his care. He knew every sheep in an intimate, personal way, and the sheep knew the shepherd so well that they would not follow the voice of a stranger (10:5, 8).

Jesus does not mean that our relationship with Him is just as intimate as His relationship with the Father, which would be impossible. The Father and the Son know each other perfectly with no barriers between them. Jesus knows us perfectly, of course, but our finiteness and sin create barriers on our end to our knowledge of Him. So the comparison means that our relationship with our good shepherd is reciprocal, just as the relationship between the Father and the Son is reciprocal. Knowing God and His Son is the essence of eternal life (17:3). And the crucial matter on the day of judgment will be whether Jesus knows you (Matt. 7:23). He knows all people, of course, but He was talking about knowing you in a personal, intimate way.

The apostle Paul, who knew Christ more deeply than almost all other believers, made it clear that knowing Him is a lifelong quest (Phil. 3:8-14). As Hosea (6:3) exhorts, “Let us press on to know the Lord.” So each of us needs to ask, “Is that my quest? Am I seeking to know my good shepherd better each day?”

3. The good shepherd has other sheep that He must bring into His flock (10:16).

John 10:16: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

This is also a remarkable verse that we could spend an entire message on. Jesus was referring to the Gentiles, who were at that time outside the fold of Israel. He states the necessity (“must”) to bring them and the certainty that they will hear His voice and become one flock with one shepherd. This is the missionary mandate that Jesus later gave in the Great Commission to take the gospel to all nations (or people groups; Matt. 28:19; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). And, Jesus promises the success of the mission: “They will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

This ties in to what we saw in verse 11, “the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Jesus did not die in vain. He died to secure the salvation of His sheep and He strongly asserts that He will succeed. There is no uncertainty or desperation in His voice: “I hope that these other sheep will listen to My voice, because I really want them in My flock. But it’s up to them to decide.” No, it is certain: The Father gave them to Jesus, He died for them, and they will hear Him and they will come into His flock.

Sometimes those who deny the biblical truth of God’s sovereign election and effectual grace argue that this teaching will stifle evangelism and missions. They charge, “If all the elect will be saved, then why witness? Why send out missionaries?” The biblical answer is, “Because God ordained the means as well as the end.”

Paul was in Corinth and he was fearful. He was thinking about leaving when the Lord appeared to him in a vision and said (Acts 18:9-10), “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Paul didn’t yet know who the Lord’s “many people” were. But the Lord knew and He assured Paul that they would come to faith as Paul preached the gospel. Paul later said (2 Tim. 2:10), “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” They were chosen before the foundation of the world, but they obtained salvation when Paul endured hardship to preach the gospel to them.

And the Lord still has people whom He purchased for God with His blood “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). But to gain eternal life the Lord’s people must go and tell them about Jesus. The truths of election and effectual calling assure us that our efforts will not be in vain.

John 10:16 also shows us the true unity and diversity of the church. We are one body in which there is no distinction between the races (Col. 3:11). Gentiles are now fellow-heirs with the Jews of the promise in Christ through the gospel (Eph. 3:6). The glory of the church is when those from diverse racial and social backgrounds join together in harmony to praise God for His great salvation. That’s part of the glory of heaven (Rev. 5:9)! Remember, in Jesus’ day the Jews hated the Gentiles, whom they viewed as unclean dogs. They couldn’t conceive of them as being on equal standing before God. Peter had to overcome his racial prejudice to go and give the gospel to the Gentile Cornelius and his guests (Acts 10). He later got called on the carpet by other Jewish Christians for doing so (Acts 11).

But God gets more glory when those who are enemies in the world become one flock in harmony in Christ. For that reason, we should labor to make this church as racially diverse as our city is. In 2005, Flagstaff was about 70% white, 16% Hispanic, 10% Native American, 1.8% black, and 1.2% Asian. My understanding is that unless there are language barriers, the church should not divide along racial lines. I’ve always felt great joy when I meet believers from other races and cultures and even in spite of our language and cultural differences, there is an instant bond of love in Christ. We are one flock with one shepherd!

One other truth in verse 16 is that the Christian life is not to be lived in isolation, but in community with other believers. Sheep aren’t independent creatures. To thrive, they must be part of a flock under the protection of a shepherd. Sheep that stray from the flock get eaten by the wolves. So even though you may not like some of the sheep that the Lord has brought into His flock, you need to work hard at harmonious relationships. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as much as you do in fact love yourself (Matt. 22:39). If you just come to church and leave, without getting to know well some of your fellow believers, you’re missing one of the main sources for growth and encouragement in your Christian life.

Thus the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. He knows them personally and they know Him. He brings all of His sheep from different races and backgrounds into one flock under His care.

4. The Father loves the good shepherd because He lays down His life so that He may take it again (10:17-18).

John 10:17-18: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

Verse 17 is difficult to understand, but Jesus did not mean that He earned the Father’s love by laying down His life. The Father and the Son always loved one another with infinite love (17:24). D. A. Carson (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 388) explains the thought this way:

It is not that the Father withholds his love until Jesus agrees to give up his life on the cross and rise again. Rather, the love of the Father for the Son is eternally linked with the unqualified obedience of the Son to the Father, his utter dependence upon him, culminating in this greatest act of obedience now just before him … [the cross].

There could also be the thought that Jesus’ willing sacrifice elicited the Father’s eternal love in a fresh way. For example, I have loved Marla for over 40 years now. But perhaps she does something that reflects her love for me and my love for her wells up in a fresh way so that I say, “I love you for doing that for me.” The love was there before her deed, but her deed called forth my love once more. (I’m indebted for this explanation to a message on valleybible.net.)

But the main point Jesus is making is that His death was not a tragic accident where He was a helpless victim. As Acts 4:27-28 puts it: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” The sinners who crucified Jesus were responsible for their sin, but at the same time, God used them to fulfill His purpose to save Jesus’ sheep from their sins.

5. Since the only options are that the good shepherd is either crazy or God, you’d be crazy not to follow Him (10:19-21).

Jesus’ teaching again caused a division. Some blasphemously argued that He had a demon and was insane (10:20; see, also, 7:20; 8:48, 52). Others countered (10:21), “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” They may not yet have come to saving faith, but they were moving in the right direction. They saw that Jesus could not be demonic or insane. The only other option is that He is the Christ, the Son of God (20:31). He is the eternal Word in human flesh (1:14).

Two things prove that Jesus could not have been crazy or demon-possessed: His words (“These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed”); and His works (“A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”). Study Jesus’ words and His works as recorded in the Gospels, with the prayer, “Lord, show me the truth about Jesus and I will obey You,” and He will answer. Jesus said (John 7:17), “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” But you can’t play games with God. The key factor is, are you willing to follow Jesus if the evidence reveals that He is of God? John is saying that since Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep, you’d be crazy not to follow Him.

Conclusion

To come back to the original question, “Why follow Jesus?” Following Him may result in more trials, maybe persecution, or even martyrdom. The author of Psalm 73 was honest about struggling with the same question. Since he had begun to follow God, he had experienced increased trials. He looked at the wicked who seemed to be prospering and thought (73:13a), “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure ….” His answer came when he went into the sanctuary of God and considered eternity. The wicked would come into judgment; but of himself he remembered (73:26), “My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

The abundant life that Jesus gives consists in having God Himself as our portion, both now and forever. That’s why you should follow Jesus as your good shepherd.

Application Questions

  1. In what sense does Jesus’ death apply to the whole world? In what sense does it apply only to His sheep? Support your answer with Scripture.
  2. Why is the doctrine of election the foundation for the truth of the eternal security of the believer?
  3. Why is it important for the local church to be multi-racial? What is lost if we build the church around people just like us?
  4. Why did Jesus emphasize (10:17, 18) that His death was voluntary? What applications does this have for us?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Christology, Predestination, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 57: Secure Forever (John 10:22-30)

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June 1, 2014

All people, but especially children, have the basic need of feeling secure and loved. Kids need to grow up in a family where the parents love one another and where the children feel safe and are assured that their parents love them no matter what they do. If the parents threaten to withhold their love as punishment for disobedience, the children will not feel secure and will strive to earn their parents’ love. That’s always tragic!

The same thing is true spiritually. God wants His spiritual children to know that He loves and accepts them through the death of Jesus Christ on their behalf, not because of their performance. He wants us to know that we are eternally secure in our salvation even when we fail and sin. As a loving Father, He will discipline us for our good, so that we may share His holiness (Heb. 12:10). But He will not withdraw His love or cast us off as His children. It’s important for our spiritual growth that we know and feel that our salvation is secure forever.

So it’s sad that many teach that Christians can lose their salvation if they sin. Granted, there are some difficult texts in the New Testament that seem to teach that, such as the warning passages in Hebrews (see my Hebrews sermons). But it’s much easier to explain those texts from the foundation of texts that give solid assurance of eternal security than vice versa. Concerning our text, A. W. Pink (online at monergism.com) says, “No stronger passage in all the Word of God can be found guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God.” Our text teaches …

Jesus’ sheep are eternally secure because the Father gave them to Jesus, Jesus gives them eternal life, and both the Father and Jesus keep them.

There is a two or three month gap between the discourse in 10:1-21 and that in our text, although the subject matter ties in with the theme of Jesus as the good shepherd of His sheep. The Feast of Tabernacles, which took place in the fall, was the setting for 7:1-10:21, but now it is winter, when the Feast of Dedication took place. This feast was not prescribed in the Old Testament, but rather it began when the temple was rededicated in 165 B.C., after the Maccabean revolt threw off the rule of the evil Antiochus Epiphanes. It is still celebrated today as Hanukkah.

John, who loves symbolism, may want us to see that Jesus fulfills all that this feast stands for. He is the new temple (2:19). Just as God delivered His people under the Maccabeans, so He delivers His people under Jesus. John’s mention that it was winter may also hint that for the Jewish leaders who were rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, it was spiritually winter.

In this context, as Jesus was walking in the temple, the Jewish leaders circled around Jesus and were saying to Him (10:24), “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” From Jesus’ reply we learn the first basis of our security as Jesus’ sheep:

1. Jesus’ sheep are secure because the Father gave them to Jesus.

At first you might wonder if the Jews’ request was sincere, but I don’t believe that it was. They were not coming to Jesus with the attitude, “We’re willing to bow before You as our Messiah, but could You just clear up a few questions?” Rather, they were blaming Jesus for their unbelief, saying in effect, “If You would just make Yourself clear, maybe we would believe in You. It’s Your fault that we don’t believe in You.”

Jesus, who knew the hearts of all people (2:24-25), knew that these men were not seeking answers to legitimate questions. So He replied (10:25-26), “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”

When had Jesus told them that He was the Messiah? The only time that He had clearly stated that was to was the Samaritan woman by the well (4:26). Because the Jewish leaders had a political idea of the Messiah as one who would free them from Rome, Jesus had not told them directly that He was the Messiah because they would have misunderstood.

But if they only had ears to hear, they could have recognized who Jesus was through John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Son of God (1:29-34). They could have heard it in Jesus’ astounding words in 5:19-47, where He claimed to have equal honor with the Father and to be able to give life to whomever He wished. He claimed that the Scriptures testified about Him and that if they came to Him, He would give them life (5:39-40). They should have heard it in Jesus’ claim to be the bread of life and in His promise to raise up all whom the Father had given Him on the last day (6:35, 39). They should have heard it in Jesus’ claim to be able to satisfy the thirst of all who believed in Him (7:37-38) and in His claim to be the Light of the world (8:12). They especially should have heard it in His claim (8:58), “Before Abraham was born, I am.”

They not only had Jesus’ words, but also His works that He did in the Father’s name (10:25). The Jewish leaders had seen and heard about many healings, including the lame man by the Pool of Bethesda (5:2-16) and the man born blind (9:1-34). He had miraculously turned the water into wine (2:1-11) and fed the 5,000 (6:1-14). But none of this resulted in their believing. Rather, they were becoming increasingly hardened in their rejection of Jesus to the point that when He raised Lazarus from the dead (11:1-53), they were even more determined to kill Jesus.

So, why, in spite of all this evidence, were the Jewish leaders so adamantly opposed to Jesus as their Messiah? Jesus tells them (10:26), “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” He did not say (as we might have expected), “You are not of My sheep because you do not believe.” Rather, He plainly tells these unbelieving Jews, “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” He was emphasizing their inability to believe.

We saw the same thing back in 6:43-44, where speaking to His unbelieving opponents Jesus said, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” In case they didn’t get it, He repeated (6:65), “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” We saw it again (8:43), “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” He further explained (8:47), “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

In each case, Jesus emphasized to unbelievers their inability to believe in Him. Why would He do that? As I explained when we studied 6:44, the main reason that Jesus told these unbelieving Jews that they lacked the ability to come to Him is that skeptics need to be stripped of their proud self-confidence. Skeptics are proud of their knowledge and mental abilities. They even think that they have the ability to believe when they choose: “Just tell us plainly if you’re the Messiah, Jesus, and then we’ll believe!” But if a skeptic were able to come to Christ through his intellect or by deciding to believe of his own free will, he would come in pride, which is opposed to gospel repentance. And so Jesus tells them again (10:26), “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”

You may be thinking, “Well, if unbelievers are not capable of believing and if God has not given them the ability to believe, then He can’t hold them responsible for their unbelief, can He?” Yes, He can! As D. A. Carson puts it (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 393), “That they are not Jesus’ sheep does not excuse them; it indicts them.”

R. C. Sproul (Chosen by God [Tyndale], pp. 97-98) gives a helpful illustration of why God can hold unbelievers accountable for their unbelief, even though they are incapable of believing. He pictures God saying to a man, “I want you to trim these bushes by 3 p.m. But be careful. There’s a large pit at the edge of the garden. If you fall into the pit, you won’t be able to get yourself out. So stay away from the pit.” As soon as God leaves the garden, the man runs over and jumps into the pit. At 3 p.m. God returns and finds the bushes untrimmed. He goes over to the pit and sees the man at the bottom. He can’t get out. God says to the man, “Why haven’t you trimmed the bushes?” The man replies angrily, “How do you expect me to trim these bushes when I’m trapped in this pit? If you hadn’t left this pit here, I wouldn’t be in this predicament!”

Sproul explains that Adam jumped into the pit and in Adam, we all jumped in with him. God imputed Adam’s sin to the entire human race. We’re helplessly incapacitated by our sin, but at the same time God holds us responsible to repent and believe.

Twice in these verses (10:25, 26) Jesus confronts the unbelief of these Jewish religious leaders. But at the same time, He tells them that the reason they don’t believe is that they were not of His sheep. In 10:29, He says that His Father gave the sheep to Him. He said the same thing in 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me….” It’s in 6:39: “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” In His high priestly prayer, Jesus repeatedly refers to those whom the Father gave Him (17:2, 6, 9, 24; also, 18:9).

So the point for us is that as Jesus’ sheep, we are secure because the Father gave us to Jesus before the foundation of the world. Our salvation is not our doing. We are not Jesus’ sheep because we decided to believe. We decided to believe because we were Jesus’ sheep. As the apostle Paul wrote (Eph. 1:4-5):

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

That’s the basis of our security: Our salvation, including our faith, is totally from God. We didn’t help Him out in the process!

2. Jesus’ sheep are secure because He gives eternal life to them.

Consider two things:

A. Eternal life is a gift that Jesus gives to His sheep.

John 10:28a: “And I give eternal life to them ….” First, note that this is a claim to deity. No one but God can give eternal life to anyone else. Also, the fact that it is a gift shows that it was not merited or earned. It’s an undeserved gift, not a wage in payment for good works (Rom. 4:4-5; Eph. 2:8-9). Because of our sins, we deserved His wrath, but He gave us eternal life. So, it’s important to answer the question, “How can we know if we have received this gift of eternal life?”

B. You can know that you have the gift of eternal life if you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you hear His voice, He knows you, and you follow Him as your shepherd.

Ask yourself three questions:

1) Do I believe in Jesus? Jesus’ sheep believe in Him.

I am inferring this from Jesus’ indictment of these Jewish leaders (10:26), “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The implication is that His sheep do believe in Him. To believe in Jesus means more than intellectually believing that He is who He claimed to be. The demons believe in Jesus in that sense, but they are not saved. To believe in Jesus means to commit your eternal destiny to what He did for you on the cross. Rather than trusting in your own good works (as these Pharisees were doing), you must see yourself as a guilty sinner and trust that Jesus’ death paid the penalty for your sins that you deserved.

2) Do I hear Jesus’ voice? Jesus’ sheep hear His voice.

John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice ….” Jesus was not referring to hearing an audible voice or to a mystical inner “voice.” He meant that the testimony by Him and about Him in the Bible rings true in your heart. When you read what the Word testifies about Jesus, you say, “Yes!” It means hearing in the sense of obeying. You desire to please the shepherd who gave His life to make you His sheep. You don’t just say, “Lord, Lord,” and then keep doing your own thing. You become obedient from the heart to His teaching (Rom. 6:17).

3) Does Jesus know me and do I follow Him? Jesus knows His sheep and they follow Him.

John 10:27: “I know them, and they follow Me.” As God, Jesus knows everyone, of course. But this refers to an intimate knowledge, to a personal relationship (see Matt. 7:23; 2 Tim. 2:19; Ps. 1:6; Exod. 33:12, 17; Amos 3:2). We saw this in 10:3, where Jesus says that the shepherd calls his own sheep by name. He repeated (10:14), “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.” Because the sheep are known by the shepherd and they know Him, they trust Him and follow Him wherever He leads.

So, do you have a close personal relationship with Jesus? Does He know you and do you seek to know Him better? Do you obey His Word? You can know that Jesus has given you eternal life if you have received it as a gift through faith in Him and if you obey His voice, have a relationship with Him, and follow Him.

So Jesus’ sheep are eternally secure because the Father gave them to Jesus and He gives them eternal life.

3. Jesus’ sheep are eternally secure because both the Father and Jesus keep them.

Note four things here:

A. By definition, eternal life is eternal.

Eternal life by its very description is not temporary life—it is eternal life. Jesus indicated that there are two and only two eternal destinies (Matt. 25:46): “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” If it is eternal life and if God gave it to us and Jesus says that we will never perish, then it is eternal life. If you could lose it, it wouldn’t be eternal.

B. Jesus promises to keep His sheep.

John 10:28: “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” If Jesus’ sheep could perish, it would mean that He failed in His mission not to lose any of those the Father gave to Him (6:37-40). Jesus indicates that some thieves and robbers will try to snatch sheep out of His hand. But as the omnipotent Savior, Jesus prevails. To use another biblical analogy, we are members of Christ’s body. No one is able to cut off a member of Christ’s body. Or, He has caused us to be born again. We can’t get unborn!

No doubt all of us know people who seemed to be Jesus’ sheep, but they fell away. In some cases, they now deny the Savior that they once professed to believe in. You may wonder, “Are they saved?” Only God knows their hearts, but we can know this: If they truly possess eternal life, they will be miserable in their sin and unbelief. If they can be comfortable in sin and be indifferent about denying Christ, they do not give evidence of being His sheep. We should not give assurance of salvation to people in that condition. If they’re miserable, then urge them to repent and receive God’s forgiveness. The minute they do, they can be assured that they are Christ’s sheep and that He will keep them unto eternity.

C. Jesus promises that the Father also will keep His sheep.

John 10:29: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Jesus’ sheep have double protection: Jesus has them in His hand and the Father has His hand around Jesus’ hand. So a thief would have to get through these two omnipotent layers of protection to steal Jesus’ sheep.

Some argue that a believer can remove himself from Jesus’ or the Father’s hand. But that subverts Jesus’ promise here, “They will never perish.” Surely He knew that our greatest enemy is ourselves. If believers could lose their salvation by sinning, then every believer who has ever lived would be lost, because we all have sinned after coming to faith in Christ. That would leave a gaping hole in the promise of salvation. Rather, Jesus’ point here is that if the Father gave us to Jesus before the foundation of the world and Jesus gave eternal life to us as a free gift, apart from anything in us, and if He and the Father promise to keep us from every enemy, then our salvation is secure. It doesn’t depend on our performance, but rather on His promise and on His and the Father’s power.

When Jesus says, “The Father is greater than all,” He means that there is no power in the universe more powerful than the Father, including our stubborn flesh. Satan and his demonic forces are powerful, but they are no match for the Father. Jesus was not denying His own deity by stating that the Father is greater than all. There is a hierarchy in the trinity, where the Father commands, the Son obeys (10:18), and the Holy Spirit carries out the divine plan (16:13-15). But Jesus’ point is that His sheep are secure because both He and the Father keep them.

D. Jesus asserts that He and the Father are one.

John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.” Some commentators (including even Calvin!) say that Jesus only means that He and the Father are united in their resolve to keep all the sheep. But that view doesn’t take into account the Jews’ reaction (10:31-33) of trying to stone Jesus because, as they charge (10:33), “You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” They got the point: Jesus was claiming to be one with the Father in His divine essence. As John began (1:1), “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This strengthens the last point, namely, that if both the Father and the Son promise to keep Jesus’ sheep, then our salvation is eternally secure.

Conclusion

So here’s the deal: If your salvation was based on anything in you, then you can undo it. If you sin or lose your faith, you lose your salvation. But if your salvation rests on the fact that the Father gave you to Jesus before the foundation of the world, and that Jesus freely gave you eternal life apart from anything that you can do, and if Jesus and the Father are guarding you and promise that you never will perish, then your salvation is secure forever.

Some say that if we are eternally secure, it will result in Christians living in sin. C. H. Spurgeon (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 35:695-696) replies to that charge:

Shall I come … to your house, and tell your children that, if they do wrong, you will cut their heads off; or that, if they disobey you, they will cease to be your children? If I were to propound that doctrine, your children would grow angry at such a slander upon their father. They would say, “No, we know better than that!” Far rather would I say to them, “My dear children, your father loves you; he will love you without end, therefore do not grieve him.” Under such doctrine true children will say, “We love our ever-loving father. We will not disobey him. We will endeavor to walk in his ways.”

Understanding the biblical doctrine of eternal security will lead to a holy life. Stand firm in it!

Application Questions

  1. Some argue that all people have the ability to believe in Christ by their own free will. What Scriptures refute this? Why is it important to refute it?
  2. If unbelievers can’t believe by their free will, should we appeal to them to believe? Is this contradictory? Why/why not?
  3. When is it right and when is it wrong to give assurance of salvation to a believer who has sinned badly?
  4. Some argue that a person can believe, then later become an atheist and deny Christ, yet still be saved. He just loses rewards. What Scriptures refute this?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Assurance, Character of God, Soteriology (Salvation)

4. We Don't Abandon Love (1 Peter 1:22 - 2:10)

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While writing to persecuted Christians, Peter reminds them that they are not alone in this journey. They don't have to suffer in isolation. That's the good news. The bad news is that when Christians face hardships, they can misdirect their anger toward those they're called to love-other believers. Peter reminds us that love should define our relationships within the covenant community. He also helps us understand what that love should look like. This is particularly helpful in our culture that tends to have a shallow, emotional, conditional definition of love. Instead, love means living righteously toward one another. Does that describe your relationship with other members of the body of Christ?

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5. We Don't Impose Our Will (1 Peter 2:11-25)

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After describing how believers should love one another, Peter now instructs these persecuted Christians in how they should relate to those outside of the church. The groups he describes constitute those who are responsible for the hardships his readers are facing. They are the persecutors. What tactic does Peter prescribe so that persecuted believers can still enjoy their happy freedoms while getting what they deserve in this life? Brace yourself. Peter's radical approach is especially counter-cultural to an American's ears. When you are mistreated by nonbelievers: do good, suffer unjustly, and endure mistreatment.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

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Vivendo em amor: Os Segredos dos Casamentos Bíblicos

Viver em Amor originalmente foi publicado em 1978 por Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. sob o título "Casais Famosos da Biblia" (Famous Couples in the Bible). O livro foi escaneado e é usado com permissão.

Tradução: Mariza Regina de Souza de Inglés.

1. A Lua de Mel Acabou— A História de Adão e Eva

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A lua de mel é uma época deliciosa. A própria palavra transborda a novidade e o entusiasmo do amor dos jovens. O termo parece ter sido cunhado para transmitir a ideia de que a primeira lua ou o primeiro mês do casamento é o mais doce e o mais feliz de todos. Mas não é assim que deveria ser. Deus Se agradaria se os nossos casamentos ficassem melhores com o passar do tempo. Cada novo mês deveria ser mais doce e mais prazeroso que o anterior. Infelizmente, alguns casamentos acabam se tornando exatamente o que a palavra lua de mel sugere — o primeiro mês é o melhor, e depois tudo vai por água abaixo. Talvez possamos ajudar a reverter esta tendência examinando a Palavra de Deus.

A Escritura não fala exatamente isso, mas tenho a impressão de que a lua de mel de Adão e Eva durou bem mais de um mês.

Só Deus sabe quantos meses ou anos de puro êxtase se passaram entre os capítulos dois e três de Gênesis. Mas nenhum relacionamento humano jamais superou o deles naqueles primeiros dias de pura alegria e incrível deleite. Aquele casamento era, sem dúvida alguma, um casamento perfeito.

Pense nisso por um instante. Se já houve algum casamento feito nos céus, esse casamento foi o deles. Ele foi planejado e realizado com perfeição por um Deus perfeito. Primeiro, Deus esculpiu Adão (Gênesis 2:7). Modelado pelo Mestre da Criação, Adão, sem dúvida, tinha um belo corpo, atlético e sem defeito. E ele foi feito à imagem e semelhança do próprio Deus (Gênesis 1:27). Isso significa que tinha personalidade parecida com a de Deus — tudo perfeito: intelecto, emoções e vontade. Ele possuía uma mente brilhante, ainda não afetada pelo pecado. Suas emoções eram impecáveis, inclusive o amor, terno e totalmente abnegado, o amor do próprio Deus. E ele tinha uma vontade que estava em total sintonia com os propósitos do Seu Criador. Mulheres, quem de vocês não gostaria de um homem assim? Perfeito em tudo! No físico, na mente, nas emoções e no espírito.

Mas deixe-me falar sobre Eva. “Então, o SENHOR Deus fez cair pesado sono sobre o homem, e este adormeceu; tomou uma das suas costelas e fechou o lugar com carne. E a costela que o SENHOR Deus tomara ao homem, transformou-a numa mulher e lha trouxe” (Gênesis 2:21-22). Adão deve ter olhado para Eva com admiração e apreço. Ela era o melhor do gênio criativo de Deus; graça e beleza imaculada, rosto e corpo puros e belos. Moldada pela mão do próprio Deus, Eva devia ser a criatura mais extraordinária que já andou pela face da terra. E, como Adão, ela também foi feita à imagem de Deus. Sua mente, suas emoções e sua vontade ainda não tinham sido afetadas pelo pecado. Que homem não gostaria de ter uma mulher assim?

Adão imediatamente reconheceu a semelhança de Eva consigo mesmo. E disse: “Esta, afinal, é osso dos meus ossos e carne da minha carne; chamar-se-á varoa, porquanto do varão foi tomada” (Gênesis 2:23). Parece que, sem nenhuma revelação especial de Deus, Adão instintivamente soube que Eva fora feita dele; ela era parte dele; era sua igual; era sua companheira e contraparte. Ele a chamou de mulher, “varoa”. Ele a tomou para si com ternura. Ela acabou com a terrível solidão dele e encheu sua vida de felicidade. Ela era exatamente o que ele precisava. E nada deu a ela maior satisfação do que a garantia de que seu marido precisava muito dela. Que prazer intenso e indescritível eles encontraram na companhia um do outro! Como eles se amaram!

A casa deles ficava no Éden, o lugar perfeito (Gênesis 2:8). A palavra Éden significa “deleite”, e deleitoso ele era. Bem regado pela nascente de quatro rios, o Éden era um paraíso verdejante, recoberto com todo tipo de plantas belas e comestíveis (Gênesis 2:9-10). Eles cultivavam a terra, mas como não havia espinhos ou ervas daninhas para atrapalhar, seu trabalho era muito leve e agradável. Lado a lado, eles viviam e trabalhavam em perfeita harmonia, compartilhando um sentimento de interdependência mútua, desfrutando a liberdade de comunhão e comunicação, tendo uma afeição profunda que os unia em espírito. Eles eram inseparáveis.

Ah, havia uma ordem de autoridade no seu relacionamento. Adão foi feito primeiro, depois Eva, como o apóstolo Paulo teve o cuidado de mencionar (1 Timóteo 2:13). E Eva foi feita para Adão, não Adão para Eva, como Paulo demonstrou (1 Coríntios 11:9). Mas ela era sua auxiliadora (Gênesis 2:18) e, para ser uma auxiliadora idônea, ela tinha de compartilhar todas as coisas da vida com ele. Ela estava com ele quando Deus lhes deu a ordem para subjugar e dominar a terra; por isso, ela dividia igualmente essa tremenda responsabilidade com seu marido (Gênesis 1:28). Ela fazia tudo o que uma auxiliadora devia fazer. Ela o ajudava, incentivava, aconselhava e inspirava, e fazia tudo isso com um doce espírito de submissão. Adão nunca se ressentia da sua ajuda, nem mesmo dos seus conselhos. Afinal de contas, foi por isso que Deus a deu a ele. E nem ela se ressentia da sua liderança. A atitude dele nunca era maculada pela superioridade ou pela exploração. Como poderia? O amor dele era perfeito. Ela era alguém muito especial para ele e ele a tratava como tal.

Ele não poderia dar de si o suficiente para expressar sua gratidão a ela, e nunca tinha um pensamento sequer sobre o que recebia em troca. Não havia como ela se ressentir de uma liderança como essa.

A Palavra de Deus diz: “Ora, um e outro, o homem e sua mulher, estavam nus e não se envergonhavam” (Gênesis 2:25). Eles tinham uma relação de perfeita pureza e inocência. Não havia pecado neles. Não havia brigas entre eles. Eles estavam em paz com Deus, em paz consigo mesmo e em paz um com o outro. Aquele era verdadeiramente um casamento perfeito. Era o paraíso. Como gostaríamos que tivesse durado, que pudéssemos experimentar o mesmo grau de felicidade conjugal que eles desfrutaram naqueles dias gloriosos. Mas algo aconteceu.

A narrativa bíblica nos leva, em seguida, para a entrada do pecado. Não há dúvida de que o sutil tentador que se aproximou de Eva neste episódio foi Satanás usando o corpo de uma serpente (cf. Apocalipse 12:9). Sua primeira abordagem foi colocar em cheque a Palavra de Deus: “É assim que Deus disse: Não comereis de toda árvore do jardim?” (Gênesis 3:1). Depois de ter colocado em dúvida a Palavra de Deus, ele a negou categoricamente: “É certo que não morrereis.” (Gênesis 3:4). Finalmente, ele escarneceu de Deus e descaradamente distorceu Sua Palavra: “Porque Deus sabe que no dia em que dele comerdes se vos abrirão os olhos e, como Deus, sereis conhecedores do bem e do mal” (Gênesis 3:5). Tudo bem, eles conheceriam o mal, mas não seriam como Deus. Aliás, seriam exatamente o contrário. A semelhança com Deus de que desfrutavam seria manchada e estragada. Os métodos de Satanás não mudaram muito ao longo dos séculos. Sabemos muito bem disso — as dúvidas, as distorções, as negações. Nós também somos vítimas disso tudo. Podemos nos identificar com Eva em seu momento de fraqueza. Sabemos o que é ceder à tentação.

Satanás usou a árvore do conhecimento do bem e do mal para realizar seu trabalho sinistro. Deus havia colocado a árvore no jardim para ser símbolo da submissão de Adão e Eva a Ele (Gênesis 2:17), mas Satanás às vezes usa até mesmo coisas boas para nos afastar da vontade de Deus. “Vendo a mulher que a árvore era boa para se comer, agradável aos olhos e árvore desejável para dar entendimento, tomou-lhe do fruto e comeu e deu também ao marido, e ele comeu” (Gênesis 3:6). Já reparou que Eva foi tentada nas três áreas principais relacionadas em 1 João 2:16? 1) A concupiscência da carne — “boa para se comer”; 2) A concupiscência dos olhos — “agradável aos olhos”; 3) A soberba da vida — “para dar entendimento”. Estas são as mesmas áreas usadas por Satanás para nos deixar mal com Deus e com os outros — desejo de satisfazer nossos apetites físicos, desejo por coisas materiais e desejo de impressionar os outros com nossa importância.

Em vez de fugir da tentação, como mais tarde a Escritura nos exorta a fazer, Eva flertou com ela. Ela tinha tudo o que alguém poderia desejar, mas ficou ali e permitiu que sua mente pensasse na única coisa que ela não tinha, até que isso se tornou uma obsessão e fez sua alegre lua de mel chegar a um final infeliz. Desde então, esse mesmo tipo de desejo incontrolável tem acabado com a lua de mel de muitas pessoas. Maridos às vezes desperdiçam o dinheiro do supermercado com materiais de lazer, passatempos, carros e roupas. Esposas às vezes levam o marido a ganhar mais dinheiro para poderem ter coisas maiores, melhores e mais caras. E os bens materiais deste mundo acabam causando a separação entre eles. Quando permitimos que a nossa mente cobice coisas materiais, Deus chama isso de idolatria (Colossenses 3:5). E Ele nos exorta a fugir dela: “Portanto, meus amados, fugi da idolatria” (1 Coríntios 10:14).

Eva não fugiu. Ela “tomou-lhe do fruto e comeu” (Gn. 3:6). O texto não é claro, mas as palavras “deu também ao marido” talvez impliquem em que Adão a observava. Não temos ideia do por que ele não tentou impedi-la ou por que não se recusou a segui-la em seu pecado. Mas o que sabemos é que ele falhou lamentavelmente com ela nessa ocasião. Ele negligenciou a liderança espiritual que Deus queria que ele tivesse e, em vez disso, ele deixou Eva conduzi-lo ao pecado. Que influência poderosa tem uma mulher sobre seu marido! Ela pode usar sua influência para desafiá-lo a novos patamares de realizações espirituais ou para arrastá-lo às profundezas da vergonha. Deus deu Eva a Adão para ela ser sua auxiliadora, mas seu coração ansioso o destruiu.

Juntos, eles esperaram pelas novas delícias da sabedoria divina prometidas por Satanás. Em vez disso, uma sensação horrorosa de culpa e vergonha tomou conta deles. Seu espírito morreu no mesmo instante (Gênesis 2:17), e seu corpo físico começou um lento processo de degeneração que estragaria a bela obra-prima de Deus e, no final, acabaria na morte física. Era sobre isso que Paulo falava quando disse: “Portanto, assim como por um só homem entrou o pecado no mundo, e pelo pecado, a morte, assim também a morte passou a todos os homens, porque todos pecaram” (Romanos 5:12). Esse é o jeito do pecado. Promete demais e entrega de menos. O pecado promete liberdade, sabedoria e prazer, mas gera escravidão, culpa, vergonha e morte.

De repente, a nudez deles se tornou símbolo do seu pecado (Gênesis 3:17). Ela os expôs abertamente aos olhos penetrantes do Deus Santíssimo. Eles tentaram se cobrir com folhas de figueira, mas isso não era aceitável. Mais tarde Deus revelaria que a única cobertura adequada para o pecado envolveria o derramamento de sangue (Gênesis 3:21; Levítico 17:11; Hebreus 9:22).

Isso nos leva, finalmente, ao doloroso desfecho. O pecado vem acompanhado de consequências desastrosas, estejamos ou não dispostos a admitir nossa culpa. Adão jogou a culpa pela sua parte na tragédia sobre Eva e Deus: “A mulher que me deste por esposa, ela me deu da árvore, e eu comi” (Gênesis 3:12). Eva disse que foi enganada pela serpente (Gênesis 3:13). Quase da mesma forma, sempre tentamos jogar a culpa pelos nossos problemas conjugais em outra pessoa. “Se ela parasse de me encher a paciência, eu poderia…”; “Se ele me desse mais atenção, eu poderia…” Mas Deus responsabilizou os dois pelo que aconteceu, da mesma forma que Ele também nos responsabiliza pela nossa parte. E, geralmente, os dois lados são culpados. Deus quer que enfrentemos as consequências com honestidade, sem fazer rodeios.

As consequências foram quase maiores do que Adão e Eva poderiam suportar. Para Eva, a dor do parto seria um lembrete constante do seu pecado. Além disso, ela iria experimentar o desejo insaciável por seu marido, um desejo agudo de estar com ele, de ter sua atenção, sua afeição e sua segurança. Sua carência seria tão grande que seu marido pecador raramente estaria disposto a atendê-la.

E, finalmente, a autoridade que Adão tinha sobre ela desde a criação foi reforçada com a regra: “e ele te governará” (Gn. 3:16). Nas mãos de um homem pecador, essa regra às vezes resultaria num domínio cruel e impiedoso sobre ela — desrespeito pelos seus sentimentos e desprezo pelas suas opiniões. Eva, sem dúvida, aguçada pelo pecado, devia se encher de rancor quando Adão se afastava dela, lhe dava menos atenção e ficava mais ocupado com outras coisas. Amargura, ressentimento e rebelião começaram a tomar conta da sua alma.

Para Adão, cultivar o solo tornou-se uma tarefa interminável e tediosa. A ansiedade tomou conta da sua capacidade de prover o sustento da sua família, deixando-o agitado e irritado, e menos atencioso às necessidades de sua esposa. Como resultado, o conflito entrou em seu lar. O pecado sempre traz tensão, briga e conflito. E isso nunca foi tão dolorosamente evidente para Adão e Eva do que quando eles estavam ao lado do primeiro túmulo da história da raça humana. Seu segundo filho perdera a vida numa terrível briga de família. A lua de mel tinha acabado!

Esta seria a história mais triste que já se contou, não fossem os raios gloriosos de esperança com os quais Deus iluminou as trevas. Dirigindo-se a Satanás, ele disse: “Porei inimizade entre ti e a mulher, entre a tua descendência e o seu descendente. Este te ferirá a cabeça, e tu lhe ferirás o calcanhar” (Gênesis 3:15). Deus prometeu que o descendente da mulher, uma criança nascida na raça humana, destruiria as obras do diabo, inclusive o caos que ele tinha causado no lar. Esta é a primeira profecia bíblica a respeito da vinda do Redentor. E Ele já veio! Ele morreu pelos pecados do mundo. Seu sangue perfeito é a cobertura satisfatória para os pecados de cada ser humano que nEle crê. Ele nos dá o Seu perdão gratuitamente e nos restaura pelo Seu favor. E Ele nos concede a Sua força para nos ajudar a vencer o nosso pecado.

Ele pode até nos ajudar a superar as consequências do pecado em nossos relacionamentos conjugais. Ele pode dar aos maridos o mesmo amor terno e a mesma consideração abnegada que Adão teve por Eva antes de eles pecarem. Ele pode dar às esposas a mesma solicitude encorajadora e a mesma submissão afetuosa que Eva tinha para com Adão antes da queda. Em outras palavras, a lua de mel pode recomeçar. Mas, primeiro, é preciso receber Jesus Cristo como Salvador. Não há esperança de um relacionamento conjugal se tornar tudo o que pode sem que ambos, marido e esposa, recebam a garantia do perdão e da aceitação de Deus. Esta garantia só pode ser experimentada quando reconhecemos o nosso pecado e colocamos a nossa confiança no sacrifício perfeito de Jesus Cristo na cruz do Calvário, o qual nos libertou da condenação eterna merecida pelo nosso pecado.

Se você tem alguma dúvida, acabe com ela agora. Com toda sinceridade e franqueza, ore assim: “Senhor, reconheço meu pecado diante de Ti. Creio que Jesus Cristo morreu para me livrar da culpa do meu pecado, da pena pelo meu pecado e do controle do pecado em minha vida. Eis-me aqui, agora ponho minha confiança nEle como meu Salvador pessoal e O recebo em minha vida. Graças Te dou, Senhor Jesus, pois entraste na minha vida e perdoaste o meu pecado”. Quando você toma esta decisão, o caminho fica livre para Deus encher o seu coração da Sua ternura e do Seu amor, tirar o seu egoísmo e a sua teimosia, e lhe dar uma preocupação abnegada pelas necessidades do seu cônjuge. E você ainda pode desfrutar um pouquinho do paraíso.

Vamos conversar sobre isso

  1. A questão da salvação eterna está bem resolvida na sua cabeça? Se não, existe alguma razão para você não resolvê-la agora?
  2. Quais ingredientes que fizeram do casamento de Adão e Eva uma “lua de mel” podem ajudar no seu casamento?
  3. De que forma Satanás pode usar o desejo de satisfazer as necessidades físicas para afetar o relacionamento entre marido e mulher atualmente? E o desejo por coisas materiais? E o desejo de ser reconhecido pelos outros?
  4. De que forma uma esposa pode desafiar o marido a objetivos mais elevados? De que maneira uma esposa pode enfraquecer ou destruir seu marido?
  5. O que maridos e esposas podem fazer para não jogar a culpa de seus problemas um no outro?
  6. O que o marido pode fazer para satisfazer a tremenda carência de atenção e carinho de sua esposa?

Tradução: Mariza Regina de Souza

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage

Think Again

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The Thinking process has stimulated many remarks concerning the thought process and the value and limitations of the mind. Although many commend and are committed to time spent in thought, Henry Ford once remarked, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.” Some have pointed out certain dangers involved in the thinking process such as too much self esteem. Thus Spinoza observed, “Pride is therefore pleasure arising from a man’s thinking too highly of himself.”1 As speech devoid of thinking,

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thought never to heaven go.2

Nevertheless, we need to be reminded of the necessity of sound thinking. Thus Sir Thomas Vaux declared,

When all is done and said,

In the end this shall you find:

He most of all doth bathe in bliss

That hath a quiet mind;

And, clear from worldly cares,

To deem can be content

The sweetest time in all his life

In thinking to be spent.3

Such is particularly the case in times when a person may be experiencing difficulties in his life. N. V. Peale therefore encouraged people to exercise sound thinking by dismissing negative thoughts: “To overcome troubles you must use the good mind God gave you. Think through and understand them. And you cannot think clearheadedly while seething with a sense of outrage, hating other people or life or even God for some harsh experience that has befallen you. Neither can you weep and wail about it—and at the same time think.”4

Paul’s admonition concerning the necessity and value of properly using one’s God-given mind is particularly apropos for believers. In what follows we shall note several scriptural passages concerning the dangers of faulty thinking and the need for exercising the sound mind that the Lord has entrusted to us.

Improper Thinking

It should be noted at the outset that the Scriptures plainly teach that man’s thinking and thoughts are too often incorrect. They are at times guided by such things as: incorrect or insufficient data, or misguided opinions and conclusions, or hasty decisions (cf. Prov. 21:5; 29:20). As the old saying expressed it: “haste makes waste,” whether in thinking or actions. This is especially true with regard to spiritual matters. Even the conclusions of many gifted teachers, philosophers or even religious leaders are ultimately simply finite observations. Indeed, man’s natural thinking is tied to “earthly things” (Phil. 3:19), hence too easily leads to unrighteous thoughts, which generate selfish attitudes and actions. Underlying all of this, of course, is that which led to man’s original sin—pride. Therefore, man recreates his god in terms of earthly values or things.

Rather than doing so, as God’s “offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill or imagination” (Acts 17:29).5 The same may be said of man too often conceiving of God in ways which are self pleasing and satisfying. The mindset of the natural man is thus fleshly and in strict contrast to that of a true, yielded believer in the Lord. The Apostle Paul declares, “Those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5). The contrast is a pronounced one, for Paul goes on to add, “The outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you” (vv. 7-9). The warning and admonition in the ancient proverb still rings loud and true:

Pride goes before destruction
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be lowly in spirit with the afflicted
than to share the spoils with the proud. (Prov. 16:18-19)

Man’s sense of self worth or pride is often mentioned or portrayed in the Bible. It is linked with many improper areas of thinking that lead to unholy attitudes or actions such as: “perverse utterances” (Prov. 8:13), “boastings” (Jer. 48:30), lack of concern for those in need such as the poor (Ezek. 16:49), and at the root of it all, indifference to or a mindset against “The Holy One of Israel” (Jer. 50:29). Indeed, “The biblical images of pride add up to such a repulsive figure that they would lead one to abhor it, yet the frequency with which it appears in the Bible suggests something of its perennial appeal to the sinful heart.”6 How understandable, then, is Paul’s admonition to the Roman Christians that they should not “think too highly of yourself than you ought to think” Rom. 12:3). As we shall see below, rather than being prideful, people should follow Jesus’ own example of humility (cf. Matt. 11:29; Phil. 2:6-8).

Ungodly pride can lead to selfish greed. Such was pointed out long ago by David:

Yes, the wicked man boasts because he gets what he wants;
the one who robs others curses and rejects the LORD.
The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks,
“God won’t hold me accountable, he doesn’t care.”
He is secure at all times.
He has no regard for your commands. (Ps. 10:3-5a)

Indeed, all too easily a person’s prideful greed can lead to the disregard of or the taking advantage of others. Moreover, from their arrogance arises not only a disdain for the standards of God but even a disdain for the Lord himself. As Van Gemeren remarks, “These greedy have no regard for God or his commandments.… Their goal in life is a purposeful avoidance of God.... They are not atheists but instead have conveniently chosen to live without God.… Worship of the creator-covenantal God has been exchanged for worship of themselves.”7 Such a prideful, arrogant thinking individual is an example of someone who is self-deceived. In his preoccupation with himself he mistakenly imagines that he is the master of his own little world and that he is the only one that matters. As Paul warned the Galatian believers, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). In their preoccupation with themselves, some may on the one hand even consider themselves and their desires to be supremely important in life and yet on the other hand, think themselves to be maintaining a religious course of life (cf. Col. 1:20-23). Such, however, follow a false religiosity and are gravely in error. James warns with regard to someone who goes through the motions of religion yet is not profited spiritually by it to such an extent that that he even disdains or disparages others:

If someone thinks he is religious, yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:26-27)

Is what a person thinks or desires all that matters? Think again! The Scriptures are quite clear in pointing out that improper thinking such as selfish desires and greed leads too readily to improper or fleshly attitudes and actions. As Paul writes to the Galatians:

For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other so that you cannot do what you want…. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I have warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:17, 19-21; cf. Col. 3:5-10)

Accordingly, it is essential for all people, not only unbelievers but believers as well, to develop and pursue proper thinking—thinking that is in accordance with God’s thoughts.

Proper Thinking

God and Thinking. Basic to understanding the relation between God’s thoughts and man’s is the realization that the Lord is omniscient (Isa. 40:28). Therefore, he has a depth of wisdom, knowledge, and thinking that is beyond the grasp of human intelligence (Ps. 139:6; cf. Ps 92:5). Thus the Lord spoke through Isaiah saying,

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.
This is the LORD’s declaration.
For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9; NASB)

Commenting on God’s declaration, Edward Young says, “The ways and thoughts of God are incomprehensible to man. Even though God reveal them to man, he cannot fully understand them; to him they are incomprehensible.”8 Smith adds: “Surely there are few similarities between God and the wicked, but there are some similarities between the righteous believer who reads or hears about thoughts and ways and attempts to live a life consistent with God’s instructions. Nevertheless, even with these few similarities with the righteous, it is not hard to accept the idea that God’s plans and purposes are exceedingly higher than anything the smartest righteous person has ever thought or imagined.” 9 All too often people may think that God does not see, know, or care about what they are doing. To the contrary, they should be aware of the fact that the Lord is so fully aware of them and their deeds that he even knows their thoughts and their motives (Ps: 94: 3-11). For example, Isaiah reports the Lord as saying,

“As for those who consecrate and ritually purify themselves so they can follow their leader and worship in the sacred orchards, those who eat the flesh of pigs and other disgusting creatures, like mice—they will all be destroyed together,” says the LORD. “I hate their deeds and thoughts.” (Isa. 66:17-18)

Indeed, the Lord knows the thoughts and motives all people—not just the wicked. Accordingly, when David was turning the kingdom over to his son Solomon, he admonished him:

“And you, Solomon my son, obey the God of your fathers and serve him with a submissive attitude and a willing spirit, for the LORD examines all minds and understands every motive of one’s thoughts. If you seek him, he will let you find him, but if you abandon him, he will reject you permanently.” (1 Chron. 28:9)

Although David’s charge to Solomon, his son and successor, was aimed at the necessity for Solomon to follow the Lord’s intentions and directions for building the temple, the principle that lay behind David’s words is true and exceedingly applicable. God does indeed have an intricate knowledge of man’s thoughts, motives, attitudes, and desires. As David pleads with the Lord elsewhere,

May the evil deeds of the wicked come to an end!
But make the innocent (the godly) secure,
O righteous God,
you who examines the inner thoughts and motives. (Ps. 7:9; cf. Jer. 11:20)

In harmony with all of this, David begins Psalm 139 by openly acknowledging that the Lord knows him thoroughly, including his every thought and action:

O LORD, you examine me and know.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
even when far away you understand my motives.
You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest,
you are aware of everything I do.
Certainly my tongue does not frame a word
without you, O LORD, being thoroughly aware of it.

Appropriately, Leupold observes, “Before the thought has taken shape to the point where it can be cast into the appropriate word, God knows what it is going to be. This is knowledge superlative.”10 David admits that such awareness is “beyond my comprehension” (v.6). “How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God! How vast is their sum total!” (v.17). Yet because David knows that God’s omniscience means that the Lord understands David better than does David himself, he goes on to plead with the Lord to examine his thoughts so that David might be led to living a thoroughly righteous life before the Lord.

Examine me and probe my thoughts!
Test me, and know my concerns!
See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me!
and lead me in the reliable ancient path! (vv. 23-24)

David’s prayerful thoughts are reflected in the familiar hymn by J. Edwin Orr:

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free.

….

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine;
Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within.
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord—in me abide.11

Applying David’s desires to Christian believers, Futato remarks,

“I want the Lord to know me, so that I can know myself better. I want the Lord to know me, so that he can ‘lead me along the path of everlasting life’ (139:24) and that path is walked in a humble and loyal relationship with the God who knows me (139:1-6), who is always present with me (139:7-12), and who cares for me (139:13-18)—all because of his love for me in the Lord Jesus Christ.”12

God’s thoughts toward people carry a genuine concern for them. Thus in his concern for peoples’ spiritual health and true welfare, God continues to reveal his thoughts and standards to them (Amos 4:13). Therefore, people should gladly and willingly submit to the Lord, not only for God’s glory but for their own good. The psalmist’s words, though designed specifically for his people Israel, doubtless have application for all believers:

How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O LORD,
the one whom you teach from your law.
Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people. (Ps. 94: 13-14a)

It is likewise simply the case also that the old proverb in God’s everlasting Word remains pertinent:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
Acknowledge him in all you ways,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own estimation;
fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
This will bring healing to your body
and refreshment to your inner self. (Prov. 3:5-8)

As Buzzell rightly observes, “This means more than guidance; it means God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life, or perhaps better, bringing one to the appointed goal.”13

Man and Thinking. The Scriptures do invite people to participate in active, even deep, thinking (cf. Prov. 22:17). Indeed, many human examples of such a process (e.g., Einstein) could be cited. On a time-honored popular level the example of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes remains a classic standard. One is reminded of Holmes’ famous maxim: “When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”14 Put another way, one might say, “When you have eliminated the seemingly impossible, and exhausted all seemingly possible conclusions, then something of the seemingly impossible, however improbable, must be possible.” It is a maxim that atheists, agnostics, and skeptics could well heed. Indeed, as the Scriptures point out, people may even profit by listening to wise counsel (cf. Prov. 1-9), especially when it is clothed with godly wisdom (e.g., Prov. 2:1-6).

Quite obviously, as we have noted above, the thinking capacity even of a redeemed, believing person, however well educated and informed, can never equal or even approximate the thinking of the omniscient God (cf. Pss. 40:5; 139:17; Eph. 3:20). Left to themselves, the wisest people, even believers, may at times be foolish in their thinking (cf. Ps. 73: 21-22). For example, even though some may find this difficult to understand, as not only an omniscient God, but as a loving Lord he is concerned for people’s welfare. Some may think, “If God really did exist, he would be too great and too occupied with cosmic affairs to examine men’s minds, much less guide his thinking or be concerned for their situation.” Thus the psalmist asks:

O LORD, of what importance is the human race,
that you should notice them?
Of what importance is mankind,
that you should be concerned about them? (Ps. 144:3).

Upon reviewing God’s essential power and goodness, however, he eagerly concludes, “How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD” (Ps. 144:15b). Thus by allowing God to control the thought processes, foolish thinking can be reversed, so as to allow a person to be guided by the Lord’s counsel (Ps 73: 24; cf. Ps. 7:9b). When he realizes this fully, he will desire and consistently seek God’s mind and will for his life. For he will have come to understand that God’s will is not only the best for him, but as a concerned God, “The Lord is near!” (Phil. 4:5; cf. Ps 34:18-20) to help and care for him.

Indeed, all people need to come to grips with the fact that (as we have seen) God does know their thoughts and desires. This is especially true for believers. As redeemed by Christ, believers can and should utilize godly thinking in their lives. As Paul admonishes the Colossians, believers need to overcome their preoccupation with self and everyday matters and, “keep thinking about things above, not on things earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:2-3; cf. Rom 8:5). As Bruce remarks,

“Don’t let your ambitions be earthbound, set on transitory and inferior objects. Don’t look at life and the universe from the standpoint of these lower planes; look at them from Christ’s exalted standpoint. Judge everything by the standards of that new creation to which you now belong, not by those of the old order to which you have said a final farewell.”15

There is indeed, then, such a thing as proper thinking. Believers have the greatest example of proper thinking in the Lord Jesus himself. Among Jesus’ departing words to his disciples was the declaration “I am doing just what the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). In his farewell prayer to the Father he points out that he had “glorified the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4) and adds further, “Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you and they believe that you sent me” (vv. 7-8). Thus Jesus demonstrates to his disciples that his thoughts and resulting actions were because he was reproducing the Fathers thoughts and will.

Still further, Jesus revealed that after his departure, he would send the Holy Spirit who will, “Guide you into all truth,” and will, “receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you” (John 16: 13, 15). As Tenney points out, “Through the Holy Spirit every Christian can be provided with individual authoritative instruction.”16 Thus as Jesus reproduced the Father’s thoughts and will, so the Holy Spirit delivers the thoughts and instructions of Christ and the Father to believers in order that they may think and act in accordance with the divine perspective.

As those united to Christ, then, believers are enabled through the Holy Spirit’s guidance to think and act in accordance with Jesus’ example. As did the Apostle Paul, believers should “take every thought captive to make it obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). In so doing their very lives will be transformed. As Paul admonished the Roman Christians, if believers are to grow in their spiritual walk, they must,

Present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to the present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12:1-2)

Thus Cranfield wisely remarks, a believer should “allow himself to be transformed continually, remoulded, remade, so that his life here and now may more and more clearly exhibit signs and tokens of the coming order of God—that order which has already come—in Christ.”17 Such can indeed be accomplished by freely yielding to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and instruction.

In this regard, an examination of the word “transformed” is most helpful. The Grreek background of the verb rendered “transformed,-- metamoprhoomai informs us that this word was used in a variety of ways. Meaning basically to change into another form, that transformation could involve not only an outward change easily perceived by the senses, but on occasion, an inward spiritual one as well. The root idea is appropriately used in a number of fields of knowledge. Geologists apply it to rocks whose structure is so completely altered that their original form is no longer seen, calling them “metamorphic” rocks. Biologists use it to designate changes in the natural world by which creatures adapt to a new environment or way of living, such as tadpoles becoming frogs, and term it metamorphosis. Certain linguists speak of processes whereby meanings in the deep structure are transformed into the resultant words of the surface structure of the sentence.

The verb appears only three times in the New Testament but is especially instructive for Christian living in each case. Paul reminds the believer that, having presented himself as a living sacrifice, the whole person, inside out, is to “go on being transformed” in realizing the will of God (Rom.12:1-2). There is a metamorphic process that is to take place in ourselves, to conform us to “the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), that involves an attitude of full surrender to Christ, But, granted this truth, how can that metamorphic, sanctifying process be fully realized? The two other contexts in which this verb is employed suggest two other avenues whereby the Christian can grow in grace.

In the first instance (Matt. 17:1-2) metamorphoomai is used of Christ’s transfiguration. Matthew reports that on that occasion Christ’s essential inner excellence shone out so brightly that not only was his intrinsic glory seen but his very clothing glistened with dazzling brightness. The parallel account in Luke 9:29 makes it clear that Jesus transformation took place as he prayed, This suggests that one means for the believers growth in grace is through prayer. Time spent in daily communion with God to know his mind and will allows the structure of our beings, already dramatically changed at conversion, to be further transformed. By knowing God better, we learn to think his thoughts after him and so to be like him.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul reports that the Holy Spirit also brings to the believer full liberty to behold the glory of the Lord in the Scriptures and thereby to be “changed, into the same image from glory to glory.” Thus, beholding the living Word in the written Word and submitting to its precepts brings such a transformational change in the depths of our beings that it must surface in the activities of our daily lives. Believers are programmed for holy living in a new, changed life situation (2 Cor. 5:17). The word metamorphoomai reminds us of the means that we have for allowing the sanctifying work, the metamorphic process of the Holy Spirit, to be effective: (a godly mind and attitude of full commitment to Christ, (2) an effective prayer life, and (3) the consistent study of Gods Word.

Paul goes on in Romans 12:3 to point out some of the results of the transformational process: (1) it will enable believers to think “with sober discernment.”; (2) it will perfect their faith; (3) It will produce genuine humility –a humility that reflects Jesus’ own humbling of himself to the Father’s will (cf. Matt 11:29). Paul also reflects this in his advice to the Philippians by saying, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others, as well” (Phil. 2:3-4). As Phil Comfort remarks:

A humble mind is the key to cooperative unity. Humility is the realization that we are creatures who are totally dependent on God, the Creator. If we are really humble before God, we are totally relying on God. This affects our attitude toward others, for as equally dependent creatures, we cannot take pride in ourselves.18

Paul then goes on to point to Christ as the ultimate example of humility and concern for others (Phil 2:5-7). Despite being fully divine, he was willing to assimilate human nature to his being and truly be concerned for the human beings, while submitting to the Father’s will in order to accomplish man’s redemption. This he did at the cost of his own life: “He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8). As Comfort goes on to say, “Christ is put forth as the ultimate example of someone who cooperated with the divine will of his Father by exhibiting humility to the utmost.”19

By following Jesus’ example of true humility, believers will be enabled to live their redeemed life “with awe and reverence” (Phil. 2:12). And as they do so, even the thought of Jesus their redeemer and hope becomes very precious.

Jesus the very thought of Thee,
With sweetness fills my breast;
But greater far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.20

The believer’s life becomes one where his thoughts and desires are to follow the Lord in full dependence on his leading. Such will become evident in the believer’s everyday life and conduct. Full submission to the Lord will involve a life of prayer in order to know and follow God’s will. As Paul admonishes the Philippians,

Be not anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

The believer will also understand more clearly the will of God as revealed in the Word of God and motivate him to share that Word with others. As Paul tells the Colossians:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:16-17)

Thus Paul could serve as an example to the Philippian believers saying,

What ever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things; and what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9)

James also points to the fruit of exercising godly wisdom declaring,

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)

Such peace involves a total well-being of person, a full, healthy personal relationship with others, and above all, a complete and perfect identity in heart and mind with the Lord.

May we as believers always seek the mind of the Lord so as to do that which is proper and well-pleasing to him. As Kate Wilkinson expressed it,

May the mind of Christ my Savior
Live in me from day to day.
By His love and pow’r controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His pow’r.21

Ah, then, you who claim, “I am all that really matters.” Think again! Rather than living for self, by having the mind of the Lord and living for him, a person’s life will be of far greater value both now and eternally.

May we truly be able to say,

All that I am and have—Thy gifts so free—
In joy, in grief, thru life, dear Lord for Thee!
And when Thy face I see, my ransomed soul shall be,
Thru all eternity, something for Thee.22


1 Benedict [Baruch] Spinoza, Ethics, III, proposition 2, note as cited in John Bartlett, Bartletts Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan, 16th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992), 278.

2 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene iii, line 97, as cited in Bartlett, 197.

3 Sir Thomas Vaux, as cited in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison (New York: Harper, 1948), 440.

4 Norman Vincent Peale, as cited in Lloyd Cory, Quotable Quotations (Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1989), 399. Cory (ibid.) also quotes C. Neil Strait as saying, “Negative thoughts poison the mind. What a mind poisoned with negative thoughts contributes, then, to life is not progress, but problems.”

5 Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural citations are taken from the NET Bible.

6 “Pride,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 662.

7 Willem A. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2008) 5: 156.

8 Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 3:383.

9 Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 40-66, New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville; Broadman and Holman, 2009), 510.

10 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 944.

11 J. Edwin Orr, Cleanse Me (verses1,3).

12 Mark D. Futato, “Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009)16:140.

13 Sid S. Buzzell, “Proverbs,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, Scripture Press, 1985), 911. See also, Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) 243-47.

14 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet,” in The Complete Sherlock Holmes (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), 315. See also this maxim in “The Sign of the Four,” ibid., 111.

15 F. F. Bruce, “Colossians,” in The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1984), 134.

16 Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief (Grand rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 238.

17 C. E B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary, 2.vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1979) 2: 608.

18 Phil W. Comfort, “Philippians,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2008) 16:168.

19 Comfort, ibid., 173.

20 Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. Edward Caswell, “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee.”

21 Kate B. Wilkinson, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.”

22 Sylvanus D. Phelps, “Something for Thee.”

Related Topics: Bible Literacy, Christian Education, Christian Life, Discipleship

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