Devotional Thought of the Day:
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:22-25 (NLT)
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Romans 6:1-2 (NLT)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
Another of the elders said: When the eyes of an ox or mule are covered then he goes round and round, turning the mill wheel But if is eyes are uncovered he will not around the circle of the mill wheel. So too, the devil if he manages to covered the eyes of a man can humiliate im in every sin. But if that man’s eyes are not closed, he can easily escape the devil. (From Celtic Prayer Book,, 6/18, Aiden Readings)
355 Sooner or later, those who do not wish to understand that the faith demands service to the Church and to souls, invert the terms, and end up by having the Church and souls serving their own personal ends. (Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1642-1644). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.)
For centuries, the church has argued about what role we play in our lives as God’s people. TO be honest, I find the arguments tiresome, and most of them end up with their own distortion of the truth. Some would pit Paul against James, some, but looking at the above passages, there doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference. Some get it wrong by saying there is no work at all involved in faith, and they misquote passages like those that say all work is like filthy rags, or that all have fallen short of the glory of God. In doing so, they forget the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. They forget the transforming work of God in our lives. On the other side of the pendulum swing, there are those that say we must work to earn our salvation – that unless we work alongside of God we aren’t saved.
Within the sphere of Lutheran Theology – some would deny that there is a “third use” of the law – that there is a line that we should adhere to, as those who trust in Jesus Christ. They would say this is a violation of our understanding of the proper tension between law and gospel, forgetting that we don’t preach the uses, it is the work of the Holy Spirit that not only applies the uses, but as He transforms us, equips us with the charis to be used in service to others.
In this I really like the words from my devotional this morning, and our being portrayed as a bunch of stubborn oxen or jackasses. (which we pretty much are) We just plod along, focused on what is before our eyes. If we are focused on Christ, we work, we do what we are led to do, we walk in faith and do that which God calls and chooses us to do. We are led – and we do the things that we do… focused on Christ. (see 2 Cor. 3:16ff, Titus 3 etc) Our service is about what we need, it isn’t about our glory, it isn’t about what others do, it is just what God calls us to do. Heck, we might not even know it.
The other option is to remove the focus on Christ, to be overwhelmed by all the options for sin, to have the eyes blinded to Christ, but open to everything else. Then man believes everything is about his, about His pleasure, about His life. Church becomes what is pleasure for him, rather than what is best. That’s why we see pressure being put on the church to turn a blind eye to certain sins, like sex outside of marriage, or gossip, or any other self-centeredness and self idolatry.
But if our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the sin which ensnares us loses its grip – and we find ourselves being transformed by the Spirit. This results in works which please God – a necessary by-product of faith. Works don’t save us, they don’t produce faith or faithfulness, they are simply evidence of our trust in God.
So when the world is tempting you, when you are overwhelmed, remember your focus on Christ, encourage others to keep their eyes on Christ as well.