Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. It is the act of endowing unmerited favor. In God’s Grace, He gives us the gift we do deserve – heaven. If we are the light, then we must follow Christ and extend grace to those we feel don’t deserve it. That’s right, we should stop judging, that is not our job. None of us are deserving of grace because we are all sinners. Christ was crucified to save us. Given our model, we too must extend our love for others in much the same way. This is not to say we should allow others to walk all over us, definitely not, but we should be more forgiving. We should see through the eyes of God’s mercy. We should treat others as we would like and expect to be treated, see the Fruit of the Spirit For a list of Christ’s virtues (previous posts or go directly to Galatians 5:22-25. Before delving into mercy, let’s further look at the definitions of grace and mercy. In the Greek, grace is defined as charis, favor. The Greek word used for mercy is eleos which means pity, compassion. In short, we seek God’s favor and compassion.
Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve. He has compassion for us. God gives us mercy, which means He withholds the punishment we deserve. The punishment we sinner’s deserve is hell, which He holds back. But note, holding back does not negate disciplining us, which like parenting is an expression of love. God disciplines us to produce holiness which is kind and gracious regardless of how painful it may be in the moment. Luke 6:36 reads, “be merciful, just as our Father is merciful (to us).
We, like David call and cry out for God’s mercy often. How do we cry out? We demand that He answer us, praying He will respond in the way we cried out. Think about this, we live in the now, we do not know the future that God provided before we were born, we do not know the plans He has for us, we do not know the whole story, but yet and still, being human, we want what we want, and when we forge ahead without consulting God, it tends to backfire, takes us down an unforeseen path, often harms others, and can lead to less than desirable outcomes. At this point we cry out for God’s redemptive love. At it’s core, mercy is God’s forgiveness of our sins. Mercy is God’s steadfast loyalty. We should ask God for guidance and direction out of the goodness of His love.
Fortunately, God takes us to the path for forgiveness. David is the perfect example of God’s mercy. He lusted, killed, and fornicated. Abraham feared and lied. Sara was impatient and Jacob was a cheater and trickster. Rehab was a prostitute, and the Israelites rebelled against God, yet God forgave them, had compassion and used them to accomplish His purposes. Further, God converted Saul to become Paul, the author of much of the Bible, and Paul became the apostle of Christ. The Bible is filled with stories of God repeatedly forgiving sinful humans. He works in and through us for our own good and ultimately His glory. God’s unmerited mercy is new every morning, we are not consumed by our sin because His compassion never fails (Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV). Without His compassion, we are doomed to live in our sin and perish.
Matthew Schmalz, Associate Prof. Of Religion, College of the Holy Cross, wrote, “WHAT I learned is that mercy begins by opening oneself to those with whom one might strongly disagree,Mercy doesn’t end there, of course, but it begins with such small acts of understanding, which can lead to life-changing experiences of love.”
Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV; Psalms 51:1-2; Matthew 6:14; Psalms 40:11; 1Peter 1:3; James 2:13 ESV; Titus 3:5 ESV; Psalm 23:6 ESV; psalm 103:8 ESV
2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Corinthians 8:7; Ephesians 4:7; John 1:14; Hebrews 4:16; James 4:6; Isaiah 41:4 GNT
**Ways to Respond to God’s Grace and Mercy. Go to Christianity.com
Resources: Book – Strength For Today. What We Don’t Deserve, Aug. 3. Brenda Walsh; Christianity.com, What is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy? Philip Wijaya; The conversation.com, What is the True Meaning of Mercy? Matthew Schmalz; pure life ministries,org, A Biblical Definition of Mercy.
Images: LAB PHOTOS; Google images; Mercy Bible Verses; theconversation.com
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
The Holy Spirit lives in us and will not leave us or forsake us. His job is to fill us daily, direct our paths, guide us, and tell us what to say when sharing the Good News.
~ Lisa Blair
FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHO LIVES IN BELIEVER’S
In Acts 2:7 Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. “
Jesus also instructed his disciples to wait, not to begin witnessing until they received the Holy Spirit, why? Because we cannot interpret the Word without the Holy Spirit, only the Holy Spirit can provide the Words that will reach the hearts of the people, only the Holy Spirit knows the heart of man. Only the Holy Spirit has the authority and power to interpret God’s Word. We cannot become witnesses independent of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers believers to speak the truth. He commands and guides our thinking.
Paul wrote, in Romans, that we are given life through His Spirit, God’s Spirit, who dwells in us. He takes controls when He takes residence in us. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of our conversion, until the day of Redemption, Ephesians 4:30 NKJV:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The seal equips us to live a Godly life. We become convicted after we repent and receive the Spirit. We are convicted to live a holy, Godly life. He ushers in our desire to live a Christ-like life, to share the Word with others, and to demonstrate our faith through our actions and deeds. Our priorities change and are no longer focused exclusively on ourselves, we are transformed and renewed. We become dependent upon the Lord to lead us and direct us. We yield to His promptings. We want to live moment-by-moment in the will of God. We are willing to give up our liberty in exchange for dependence upon our Father, our Lord. We learn to become sensitive to His initial prompting as He guides, leads us, empowers us as we walk in victory spreading His Word.
BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE TIME EVENT
We are baptized once with the Holy Spirit, who will never leave us or forsake us. When we repent of our sins and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit.
If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you are saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7) [unitedbiblesocieties.org. 10 Bible verses about accepting Christ. Oct 9, 2017]
ONE BAPTISM, MANY FILLINGS—TIME TO GO TO WORK
When we are baptized, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our human fears are replaced by to the power of the Lord. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we relinquish control of our thoughts and emotions. We don’t lose control, we surrender all to God. We relinquish our independence and become dependent upon the Him; we go where the spirit leads. Our mind is set on the things of God, no longer consumed with doubt or fear, but rather a spirit of power and a controlled mind.
The scripture says, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but we are being filled by the Holy Spirit daily. Christ resides in us through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit directs our daily living. We are being continually being filled, we are saturated, and under His influence, much like wine.
Ephesians 5:18 NLT instructs us, not to be drunk with wine, because that will ruin our lives. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
After we receive the Holy Spirit, it is time to go to work, the waiting is over. The baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers us to do God’s work. God does the filling when we ask Him. Yes, we must ask to be filled. It is an action. “He is in us, and we are completely permeated with the Spirit, we are inviting something to happen to us” (James McDonald).
WHAT HINDERS US FROM BEING FILLED?
Acts 7:51 NLT, explains that resisting the Holy Spirit is the most obvious way of hindering being filled. In this chapter, Stephen addressed the high priests and recognized they we not receptive and he was speaking to deaf ears.and told them,
“You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth.”
The sad truth is that not all believers are responsive to God’s commands. We (Christians) often openly resist obeying what God instructs us to do. Our flesh is rebellious and disobedient. Being filled is ascribing to God’s way and not our own. It is acquiring and taking on the characteristics of Christ identified in the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5. We hinder/forfeit being filled when we place ourselves first, focusing on our carnal needs and not on our spiritual relationship with our Lord. We hinder being filled when we do not listen to the Holy Spirit or do as we are commanded. How often do we hear his quiet voice instruct us to do one thing and we do another; far to often. Being filled requires action on our part, the Word is acted out through us. We are His ambassadors spreading the Good News through our actions and deeds.
WE ARE SAVED ONCE. WE ARE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT ONCE. BUT, WE ARE BEING FILLED UNTIL REDEMPTION.
How to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Pastor James McDonald. Https://youtu.be/xllbEPKHV1o
Walking with the Holy Spirit. Dr. Charles Stanley. In Touch Ministries, Life Principle 2.
How can I be Filled with the Holy Spirit? GotQuestions.org
For many years I felt the Lord was a punishing God. Words such as sorrow suggested that we were a hurt people. The truth is we are a hurt people, we are a sinful people who must come to a place where our sins are no longer acceptable as our guiding truth. Satan uses sin to capture and control us, to lead us to a hellish death. When we become remorseful and recognize the sorrow we have weighed down upon ourselves, and the God who loves and protects us, we enter into a state of Godly sorrow.
Godly Sorrow is only Mentioned Once in the Bible
Godly sorrow is only mentioned once in the Bible, in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. Paul uses this term to explain to the Corinthians that they once lived a sinful life that would lead to worldly death, hell, upon departing this earth but had successfully turned away in earnestness to overcome their sin and repent.
Godly Sorrow is an Acute Sense of Sadness
Godly sorrow is an acute sense of sadness we experience when we sin. We feel sadness because we know we have committed sins. We know we have saddened the Lord, just as the Corinthians knew after Paul taught them that God is the Way and the Light. Palm chastised the Corinthians for their dissentions against the church. He intended to cause them to think and having accomplished this task caused them to repent. Paul knew they were remorseful and regretful for their actions of falling back into disbelief, but he also knew that neither would lead to salvation without true repentance and restitution. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation.
Godly Sorrow is a Kind of Wretchedness
“Godly sorrow is a kind of wretchedness that can bring the repentant sinner to tears of grief. Godly sorrow results from a heartfelt conviction that we have offended God by our sin.” Our spirit grieves, and when Godly sorrow has its way, we resolve to stop repeating the sins, turn away from our carnal nature and pick up the cross and do good. We cleanse ourselves through prayer.
Results of Godly Sorrow
Doing good, is the result of Godly sorrow. It is through Godly sorrow that we can release the guilt and shame for our sin nature and actions, and repent asking for forgiveness and vowing to never return to them. Repentance is not an emotion, it is our decision to change. We have to make the decision to turn around and change our lives to truly repent. We repent and believe through faith. Faith comes after repenting and surrendering our life to the Lord. It is through God’s grace that we are forgiven and given new life to move forward. It is through God’s grace that we receive salvation.
God Sorrow, Repentance, and Salvation are Ours
Not all of 1 Corinthians 7 is intended for us. Some of it is intended for the Corinthians. However, repentance and salvation are for everyone who calls out to God to save them from their sins and believes that Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to join God in heaven. God restored the discipline of the church of Corinth and sin, and He restores us. We sin through our (own) actions and complicitous approval of those sinning in our scope of influence. The church was complicit by not addressing incestuous behavior. We are complicit when we do not speak out against sin and do not address the offender.
Sorrow Cannot Merely Be Guilt through Discovery
“We must be very careful that our sorrow for sin is not merely sorrow that has been found out, but sorrow which, seeing the evil of the sinful thing is determined never to do it again and has dedicated the rest of its life to atone, by God’s grace, for what was done.” (Barclay)
Godly Sorrow, Apology and the Holy Spirit, Intercession on Our Behalf
When we pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes and helps us apologize to God and repent. This is accomplished through confessing our sins, not by denying them or defending them because neither is true confession.
Godly Sorrow is the Lining of Our Repentance
While Godly sorrow is only mentioned once in scripture, it is the lining of our repentance. Repentance separates godly sorrow from worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow produces true repentance. Worldly sorrow is not really sorrow, it is the only resentment that has been found out (William Barclay). If we do not feel Godly sorrow for our sinful actions, we are not able to truly repent and turn away from them with God’s help. Without godly sorrow, we would repeat the offense, given a chance to do it again. Godly sorrow not only hates the act, but it also hates the nature of the act itself. Without godly sorrow, we are bound by our sin nature and remain in the camp of the evil one.
God Separates Us From Our Sin Through Our Decision to Change
Like the Church at Corinth, we are growing (maturing) when we repent and turn away from sin. God can separate us from our sins and place them as far away as the east is from the west, but He is only able to do so when we are cleansed and convicted to the point of wholehearted confession and repentance. It is through God’s grace that we are saved.
Images – YouVersion/Bible.com; Google Images-Knowing Jesus.com
References – What is Godly sorrow? Gotquestions.org; Studylight.org: 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, Commentaries – Charles Barclay, Albert Barnes, Coffman, John Gill; Nelson’s Quick Reference by Warren Wiersbe; Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary by W.E. Vine; KJV Word Study; Youtube:2Corinthians_BrettVarner; 2 Corinthians_JasonJack
Our God is a good and forgiving God. Like any loving parent, He waits patiently for us to acknowledge our wrong doing and ask for forgiveness.~ LISA BLAIR
Requests from the heart asking for God’s forgiveness are always met. All we have to do is ask God to forgive us and He will. Our challenge is not to repeat the sin or sins over and over again, and replace them with our adopted Christ-like character.