We have been redeemed. We are no longer bound by sin. We in the practical sense however, live in a sinful world and still have a sinful nature until Christ returns. How do we repent and change?
~ Lisa Blair
It is comfortable to believe that we have been freed of all sin, but have we? Christ’s death freed us from the imprisonment of sin, we have been reclaimed, however, we live on a sinful earth with a sinful nature. Sin is all around us and in us. His death on the cross freed is from the imprisonment of sin and enabled us to repent and be forgiven, but woah, too many continue in their sin after repenting, thinking they got a pass. This is not a Monopoly game. This is our life in Christ. No passes, only forgiveness. This is the key, forgiveness brings responsibility, once forgiven it is our responsibility to stop the sinful practice. This may take time, however it must be done, otherwise we are still wallowing in the sin we were forgiven for committing.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23-24 NLT. bible.com
When we received Christ as our Lord and Savior the act established our faith in Christ. Through faith we can ask for and accept forgiveness. Our relationship rests on faith and builds on the foundation of faith.
When we are forgiven for our sin, it is an act of faith. Our faith is wed to our relationship with Christ. When we walk in faith, we are following God’s law. The law is His instruction about how we should live. It is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the instructions written in the Bible. “ The Lord blessed Abraham because he obeyed Him, because he had faith that God’s commands were good and trustworthy…obedience follows genuine faith.” (Life Principles Bible, notation, Edition 2, page 1885).
Through faith we become the bearer of His Word. The Holy Spirit is nestled in us and it directs us, warns us, and guides us. It is the still small voice that says, do not go this way or that, stop-breathe-reconsider, danger, danger. He also nudges us to help others that we do not know or sometimes places a thought about a person you do not know on your heart and it drives you to pray for them – that is the Holy Spirit working through you. When we ask for His forgiveness, we are saying we will set this practice aside and replace it with your Word, we will no longer repeat the practice. Forgiveness ushers in our need to obey. We obey because of who God is in our life, the act is not the work that God seeks, it is His obedience because we truly believe He is our Savior and Lord.. In Galatians 5, the scripture shares,
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-17, 19-22, 24-25 NKJV https://bible.com
So, what now? Now is the time to obey the Lord, claim faith as our operating practice, repent, receive and believe we are forgiven of our sins. The trick is to ignoreSatan’s doubts regarding our failures. They have been forgiven if we believe Christ is our Savior. Christ is the victor!
Surrendering is not an act of attrition, it is a deliberate act of contrition.
~ Lisa Blair
‘Looks like’ is a common idiom of our time. What does surrendering look like, you ask?
Surrendering is not a one-time event. It requires constant attention. “Until Jesus returns and takes His rightful place as the final authority and ruler overall, we have to make the decision over and over to surrender our minds, wills, and actions to Him (Romans 8:20–22; 12:1–2). Our first stage of surrender is the surrender of our lives to God when we are saved. www.compellingtruth.org/surrender-to-God.html
My thought for the day. There are many quotes of what people in the Bible have said when they surrendered their will to God’s will for their lives. The two that stand out to me today are:
The angel came to Mary to inform her that God was pleased with her and chose her to give birth to His son. Mary, a young girl of marrying age, was betrothed to Joseph. Wouldn’t you imagine her first thinking, I cannot become pregnant until I marry, what will people think of me in particular and Joseph if I carry a child before the ceremony ends. However, Mary responded to the angel saying, “I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.” ~ Luke 1:38 NIV
Jesus, the, was in deep prayer about the circumstances that would result in his death, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; this is the human condition, to ask God to remove the situation so we do not feel the pain. However, the second part of the prayer is one of submission – Jesus then prayed, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” ~ Luke 22:42 NIV
So, what does surrendering look like? Surrendering looks like the person who moves out of the way to submit to another’s wishes. In this case surrendering is looking to God for direction and following His path for our lives rather than forging ahead blindly satisfying our own urges and direction for our lives. If Mary had not accepted God’s will over her own, Jesus may not have been born to her and the story of Abraham may not have been written as we know it. Our decisions not only affect us but many others in our immediate and future sphere of influence. Our decisions affect our descendants. *
If Jesus, the man, chose to run from his purpose, again, the story would have differed, and the Son of God, Immanuel-the God with us, would have led to a different story. Thinking back, how many times has God instructed, or better said, invited you to do something His way, to follow Him, not turn to the left or the right, and you did just what you were instructed not to do, waiver to the left or right and not stay on the path He designed for us, how did that turn out for you? Ask yourself, what happened when you listened and surrendered to God? I am certain the latter set you on a path you couldn’t imagine you could ever attain.
Surrendering looks like victory. It feels like love. Surrendering lifts the burdens of life off of your shoulders and places it on Christs’ shoulders. In Jeremiah 38:17-18, the scripture reads, Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” (Je 38.17-18)
Surrendering looks like victory. The writing is on the wall. God does not promise it will look like success, sometimes the direction is pain staking, but looking deeper we reflect that it was part of the path we must take to become more like Christ, when he said, but your will be done. Surrendering looks like, choosing the path of righteousness over the path of selfishness. Surrendering to God looks like and feels like love, a connection greater than anything this life could afford you.
Surrendering is the establishment of your lineage to God the Father, Christ the Son-our Savior, and the Holy Spirit. Surrendering is the act of no longer resisting God’s love and is the state of acceptance and no longer defiance. It looks like victory when we spread our arms over our head and jump up and down in joy, no longer relying on our own focus for our lives but rather God’s plan for our lives that is often unseen and unexpected. Surrendering is the act of faith. Surrendering looks like and feels like – Victory over our carnal state of being. It is the act of intentionally becoming part of God’s family.
* The Book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ. It is a look at the descendants of Jesus. In the Jewish faith and many others, the lineage is important, it defines who you belong to, it expresses your values and character.
Resources: Bible.com; the scripturesays.org; compellingtruth.org
Today is the day the Lord has made; stay focused, stay present, stay faithful.
God never promised that if you would follow Him, your life will be perfect. He never promised the sun would always shine or that you would never experience pain. The truth is, this journey on earth is difficult and challenging. There are so many twists and turns to life and is critically important to stay focused on Jesus.
The devil would like nothing better than to separate you from the only One who can save you, and he will stop at nothing to get your attention. He loves to plant seeds of doubt–especially when you are going through a crisis and are the most vulnerable. Satan loves to whisper his lies, encouraging you to blame God for your troubles. But Satan is the creator of sin and he gets all the credit for pain and heartache–not God!
Stay focused on your heavenly Father who loves you more than anyone else ever could! When you are in trouble–call upon Him for help. The Bible says in Psalm 34:17-19, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
You don’t have to be afraid of life’s challenges, heartache, and pain because you are never alone! Stay faithful–stay focused on the only one who can save you from all your trials, misery, and suffering–Jesus Christ, your Lord, and Savior.
Christ renamed several of His disciples to give them a new identity, demonstrating their new creature in Christ. While our names may not have changed, we, like Peter, battle the old man-the natural man, while maturing into the new man. The process is worth examining.
Christians, as with the case of most people today, question who we are. We know we are new creatures in Christ, but that does not magically eliminate our carnal or natural being. This is only the beginning of our evolution. Before being saved, our values are variables that change depending upon conditions and circumstances. We are comparable to chameleons.
This Post is a short study on the evolutionary growth of Peter, who was born Simon Peter, the natural man, and transformed into Peter, the new man. It highlights his struggles, weaknesses, strengths, as well as his growth. Examining Peter’s life should give any believer hope. Simon Peter evolved into Peter over time, it was not miraculous, or immediate, it was an expansive timeline. Our evolutionary process may take as long or longer than Peters took. The important things to note are: have hope, stay in prayer, and allow God to direct your path, always examining if it is the old man operating or the new man of God moving forward.
The Evolution of Simon Peter
Peter’s birth name was Simon Peter. He was outspoken, strong-willed, and impulsive. He was a husband, father of two, and a partner in a thriving fishery; he was a fisherman. It could be said, his life was full. He knew himself as Simon Peter, the man, was a practicing Jew and followed the Law of Moses. Was he content with his natural self? We do not know. Was he seeking his real self? Who knows. Did he innately know he would one day leave everything, to follow Christ, and become his real self, Simon Peter, probably not? Do we know who we really are in God’s eyes, or the plans He has for us, probably not?
Simon Peter didn’t stand out. He was an uneducated Jew, Acts 3:13. He was a Hebrew, a follower of The Mosaic Law, like most. However, despite his failings and his strengths, the Lord chose to mold Simon Peter into whom He created him to become – Peter, a member of Christ’s inner circle of disciples. As time progressed and Peter accepted Christ as His Lord, Peter walked, learned, and loved Christ. He was a witness to miracles and wonders. But, despite his first-hand knowledge and witness to these events, Simon Peter continued to resurface. The transformed Peter, (Christ, gave him the new name indicating he was a follower and believer), became a new man but remained brash and impulsive. He was the person that stepped out of the boat and onto the surface of the sea to walk to Jesus.
~It was Simon Peter, not Peter, who looked down as he was walking on water (a sign and wonder), lost faith, and began to sink, Matthew 14:28-30.
~It was Simon Peter who calls us to serve but stayed seated and did not join Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet, 1 Peter 5:2.
~It was Simon Peter that told the believers to stay clear-minded and have self-control at all times to pray, 1 Peter 4:7.
~It was Simon Peter who rebuked Christ for speaking of his death, Matthew 16:22.
~It was Simon Peter who fell asleep while Jesus was praying and sweating blood, 1 Peter 2:13.
~It was Simon Peter who slipped back into the Law and suggested they erect three tabernacles, one for each—Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, clustering Jesus with the Old Testament prophets, Matthew 17:4.
~It was Simon Peter who grew angry drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest, John 18:10.
~It was Simon Peter who swore that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did, and you know the story, he denied Christ three times when he was arrested, Matthew 26:70-74.
~It was Simon Peter who fled when Christ was hung on the cross and hid in fear, 1 Peter 5:1.
How often do we capitulate under challenging times and employ our old values and behavior like Peter? Usually, the conversion is so indistinct we are there before we were aware of slipping. At that moment, we become blind to who we are in Christ, we regress to our old man. Thank God for redemption because we can repent and once again take on the behaviors of Christ who knows our true selves and is molding us to become more like Him.
Despite Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus continued to affirm Peter as the “Rock,” Matthew 16:18-19 and promised him that he, Peter, would become instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church. After Christs’ resurrection, he named Peter as the one who needed to hear the good news, Matthew 16:7. Jesus made a point of forgiving and restoring Simon Peter to accept and regain his new name, Peter, and recommissioned him as Christ’s’ Apostle, and high priest, John 21,6, 15-17; Hebrews 3:1.
Even after being restored, Peter, who preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit, Acts 8, and was summoned to the home of Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, initially resisted following the instructions to go to Cornelius’ home. Simon Peter struggled with the transformation of his old man to the new man – Peter. We are no different, there is a raging battle between our old man and new.
Peter, the new man, who was not wrought with doubt and fear, ultimately obeyed and went to Cornelius’ home. If Peter had not gone to his home, we might not have witnessed Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, Acts 10. Only God knows why he is directing our path. Seemingly at this point, the new man, Peter, should be steadfast. However, that is not the case.
When Peter, the new man, went to Antioch to fellowship with the Gentiles, all was good until the Jews appeared. However, when the legalistic Jews, of which he was as Simon Peter, arrived, he sought to appease them and separated himself from the believing Gentiles, Galatians 2:11-14. Paul admonished him for being a hypocrite. None of us can merge our old man and the new man. We are either one or the other. The battle will continue through this life, but when the old man surfaces, we must repent and pick up our cross in the new man.
Jesus forgives our unfaithfulness. He sees us as He intends us to be, not who we may currently be or were in our pre-redemptive life. Jesus knows our birth/carnal name and receives us as his own, the new man. In today’s times, He may not actually rename us, but he does give us a new life.
Jesus was patient with Peter through his disobedience, arrogance, fear, and denial. Peter was a fisherman and became a fisher of men, who matured into one of the Lord’s most dedicated apostles. He is known as one of the most well-known disciples and was instrumental in establishing the church in Samaria, Act 8. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10-11. He preached the sermon at Pentecost, where three thousand believers received the Holy Spirit, Acts 3.
The point is, God is patient and will wait until he can change you. If He does not give up on us, neither should we give up on ourselves. He created us to do His work. To paraphrase the scripture, God has plans for us that will prosper us and not destroy us. God, is patient and monitors us as we evolve into the person He envisioned. God knows our challenges, our setbacks, and our victories.
As we mature in the Word and obey God, our story will unfold just as Peters did. Was Peter perfect? No, absolutely not. Were there moments when the natural man won out? Yes. We were born into sin, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect; only Jesus is perfect. God could have created us as automatons. He chose to create us in His likeness and instilled us with his own will and desires. Why, because God wants a relationship with us. He sacrificed His only Son to save us from sin. He knows we are a work in progress, He created us to desire His will and not our own, and that is all God requires that we surrender, depend on Him and be obedient to the Word. He wants us to evolve from our natural man to our new man.
The Bible is replete with sinners who received salvation after leading destructive lives. I also find it interesting that these examples clearly exemplify God’s expectations for all believers. No excuses, God laid the foundation demonstrated in Peter’s character study. Now it is time to become who we really are; we are His workmanship, ever-changing in His likeness. This leads back to – only God knows the real you and through prayer and obedience we will learn who we are in Christ.
Images – Google Images. LAB Photos
Resources – Who is Peter in the Bible? GotQuestions.org; Bible.com; Peter: A Case Study in Character, KenBoa.org; Peter, studyandobey.com
Jesus humbled himself to the point of death to give us life. We should be able and willing to humble ourselves and, honestly, repent for our sins (stating what they are or were) and start anew (fresh). It is never too late, God forgives us when we repent, allowing us to move-on shackle free. Christ gave us the opportunity to rise above who we (presently) are. It is time to change our home location, we are in this world, but not of this world.
Go to a quiet place and speak to God, ask Him to forgive you. You choose the place. It could be in the midst of a train station, bar, standing on the corner in busy traffic. Just still yourself and pray. He will receive you wherever you are at the moment.