Since trusting in Jesus is the basis for our hope of eternal life, how can we know that we really trust Him? The short answer is: we look for evidences that the trust we have in Him is changing us. Genuine saving belief never leaves you the same. We gradually become less like the world and more like Jesus as we follow Him in faith. Trusting Him leads to ongoing and loving… Repentance, because we believe what He offers is better than sin. Obedience, because we believe His ways are always good and right. Confidence, because we believe what He has promised us will happen. We believe. We change. That’s how we know.
One of the evidences that you have received God’s pardon for your sin is that you are relying on God’s power to fight against your sin. Forgiveness and freedom are two inseparable aspects of grace. You don’t get one without the other. Spiritual growth will vary by person and season, but one thing every genuine Christian has in common is this: sin no longer holds the same appeal or power as it once did. We go from loving sin to hating it and from choosing sin to fighting it. Though we will not be sinless, we will sin less because of this… Our relationship with sin changes because of our relationship with Jesus.
There is a daily tug-of-war for control of your thoughts, feelings, motives, attitudes, words and actions, pulling you in the opposing directions of what sin entices you into and what God invites you into. Look to Jesus for help and look for His help to arrive in your time of temptation as a way to leave it, the power to say “no” to it, a divine removal of it, the arrival of someone to help you through it, and / or a promise of something worth waiting for that is better than it. He is bigger than your biggest need! Take heart… You are never helpless against temptation as long as there is a throne of grace for you to run to for help.
Grace is not cruise control. Ours is not a set it and forget it relationship in which God does all the work, and we do none of it. He does all of the things that only He can do and enables us to do all of the things that He purposes for us to do. How do we respond to grace? We. Work. Hard. We work hard to be who God called us to be and do what God has called us to do in Christ, relying on His power and provision every step of the way. Grace isn’t opposed to effort; it’s opposed to trying to earn what we’ve been freely given. We don’t work hard to receive God’s grace; we work hard because we have already received it.
When we receive God’s grace, every sin we have committed, are committing and will commit are all forgiven. Fully. Freely. Forever. That doesn’t mean we can knowingly and willfully continue sinning with no remorse or repentance. True grace is not “All is forgiven, now you can freely wallow in sin.” True grace is, “All is forgiven, now you can firmly withstand sin.” Jesus did not pick us up just so we would run back to the same thing that knocked us down. He supplies both pardon for sin and power not to sin. So… We rely on His grace as we strive for holiness, and we rest in His grace when we need forgiveness.
It may not be the easy way. It may not be the popular way. It may not be the crowded way. But following Jesus is always the right way. As it has been said, when the whole world is running towards the cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind. But he is actually the only one in his right mind headed the right way no matter how hard, unaccepted or lonely it may be. So, let us follow Jesus confident that He will always lead us to the right place at the right time. We’ll often be heading in the opposite direction of the crowd, but we’ll always be headed right to where we need to be.
People who love Jesus repent by making war against their sin instead of making excuses for it. Because His pardon is given to us, and His power is with us, and His presence is in us, we can be honest about our sin, and we can be victorious over it. We have been forgiven. We are free. We can be faithful. Therefore, let us strive for holy living while resting in the grace of God, remembering and rejoicing over this truth: what Jesus has done for us on the cross is sufficient to both cleanse and correct our transgressions. Because of grace we don’t give up in our fight against our sinfulness; by grace we get up and fight on.
Loving others includes being happy that they are happy … unless the source of their happiness is sin. People can find happiness in things ranging from cheating on a test to cheating on a spouse, hurting themselves through addictions to hurting others through mistreatment, and ignoring family needs to ignoring God. This is not the time to be happy for them; it is the time to help them. We should support: Godly ambitions, but not selfish ones. Godly affections, but not sinful ones. Godly actions, but not senseless ones. Let us encourage each other to be happy in ways that will not be regretted in the end.
The world wants us to make small things big and big things small. It wants small fears to rule our hearts, petty disagreements to sabotage our relationships, and trivial matters to dominate our schedules. It wants the seriousness of sin to be downplayed, the importance of living for eternity to be minimized, and the amazing availability and role of God’s grace in our everyday lives to be underestimated. But, praise God, we don’t have to live like that! Jesus has redeemed us from a life of smallness and sinfulness so we can live for bigger and better things. Today, by grace, let us keep big things big and small things small.
There are two basic kinds of help. First, there is help for things I can do without you. Second, there is help for things I cannot do without you. I can lift a cumbersome box by myself, but your help would make it easier. I cannot lift a couch by myself, so your help would make it possible. As branches to the vine, we only receive the second kind of help from Jesus. He helps us do things that we could not do apart from Him (John 15:5): bear fruit, do good, live rightly, have faith, glorify God, persevere, experience His joy, everything. His help doesn’t just make these things easier. His help makes these things possible.
Many people strive to look stylish, look good and look fit. And while the Bible emphasizes modesty and simplicity for believers, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t value our outward appearance as well. However, it is important that we value who we are more than what we look like. We should focus more attention on our hearts than our hair, our minds than our makeup, our character than our clothes, and our personhood than our physiques. By grace, let us pursue becoming who we were made to be, knowing… Godly character is in style within us. Morals look good on us. Christlikeness is a nice fit for us.