[Biblical] doctrine is the framework of life – the skeleton of truth, to be clothed and rounded out by the living grace of a holy life.
~ Adoniram Gordon (1836-1895)
“You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God.”
~ Deuteronomy 17:1 (NKJV)
Why did the Lord God command Israel to only offer a sacrifice free from blemish or defect? Was God just be trivial and trying to make worship unnecessarily difficult for His people to perform? Of course not! The mandate to bring no blemished or defective animal before the Lord was to teach Israel a vital spiritual lesson – that God is most holy, perfect and pure -and therefore cannot accept anything less than perfection for Himself. Anything less is an affront to the nature and character of a righteous God.
Yet we know that these mere animals possess no real moral character and only symbolize and point to the one true sinless sacrifice that can claim moral purity and perfection – Christ Himself. Jesus alone fulfilled the Old Testament obligation and command to offer only that which was free of defect or blemish. He offered Himself in place of sinful imperfect man who are riddled with blemish and defect. Christ offered Himself that we, those who come to Him by His mercy and by our faith, are graciously no longer an abomination to the Lord.
Spiritually begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God. We never do this perfectly, but we must look to the living Christ to help us do it truly.~ Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984)
Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.~ Psalm 86:11-12 (NKJV)
There are many spiritual benefits to growing in grace. Here the Psalmist petitions Jehovah in this prayer to teach him in the way of the Lord. The Psalm’s author desires to learn, to grow, and be fed from the bounty of his Master’s table in the ways of God. The benefits and blessings of learning the Lord’s ways are manifold in these verses.
In this passage, the word “teach” in the original literally means “to point or shoot” in a particular direction. The Psalmist aspires to be nudged or even pushed in the direction of ways of the Lord that he might walk, or live, in God’s truth. He is seeking the blessings of the narrow path of God’s righteous ways that his words and deeds might align with that of his Lord’s will.
More in particular, David longs for a uniting or joining of his heart with the Lord that he might revere God’s name; that his heart would be inclined to worship, honor and obey the Lord. Through the Lord’s teaching of David, springs forth praise for God and ultimately the glorifying of the name of David’s covenant-keeping God.
Believers should not see their Christian education as merely a way to gain head-knowledge. God’s instruction to us is always moral in nature. It is intended to “push” the believer towards holy living, in being more Christ-like. David understood his prayer for God to teach him His ways as a means to an end. The end being to glorify God’s name forevermore.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”~ Galatians 5:25
When we hear the phrase “down and out” it usually carries with it negative connotations of someone who’s having a hard time, down on their luck, or needing a break to begin a fresh start. But in this brief devotion today, I want to make a play on this well-known phrase. It is my hope and prayer that you, dear reader, will be blessed with a refreshing look at your own faith this day as we consider this passage from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
As Christians, we are called to live by and walk in, the Spirit of God. Understanding these two important aspects of our faith is vital to growing in our relationship to Christ, and in meaningfully applying our faith to all of life. It is in this sense, I want us to think about living “down and out”. Believers live by the faith that comes down to us from the Spirit, and we walk in the Spirit by living out our faith as a witness for Jesus Christ for all the world to see.
Notice how Paul unites these two characteristics of faith together in this text. True believers who receive their faith through the Holy Spirit will assuredly walk by that self-same faith. The gift of faith that comes down from God will be lived out by the believing person. Godly faith is always attended by godly living. What comes down to us, the Lord intends to by lived out by us.
Yet, applying this principle isn’t always easy. The reality is Christians struggle to put “feet on our faith”. Believers need a continual receiving of the Spirit’s loving and nurturing presence in us to help us consistently live out our faith. So let us pray for divine power. Let us petition our Lord and beneficent Father for sufficient grace and strength to always be living down and out.
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.~ Thomas a’ Kempis