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“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7 (Read 1 John 1:1 – 2:2)

Are you walking in the light or in the darkness? Sad to say, many, even among professing Christians, are walking in darkness; and each and every one of us would also choose to walk in darkness rather than coming to the light where our sinfulness and evil deeds are exposed (cf. John 3:19-20; John 1:1-14). But to continue on in darkness leads to death; to walk in the light leads to forgiveness and life everlasting.

While many would profess to have fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ, that is not possible if they are walking in darkness — if they are hiding and covering up their sins and sinfulness and pretending to be righteous of themselves. One cannot be a Christian and be continuing on in sin and willful disobedience, and one cannot have fellowship with the Father and be hiding and covering up sin (cf. Heb. 10:26ff.; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21).

If we pretend to be Christians and in fellowship with the Father and are impenitent, continuing on in our old sinful ways, we are deceiving ourselves and not practicing the truth. If we are hiding and covering up our sins rather than acknowledging them and seeking God’s forgiveness, we are lying and walking in darkness and unbelief (cf. Psalm 32:1ff.).

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. … If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7,9).

To walk in the light is to acknowledge our sins and sinfulness — literally to say the same thing as God about our sins (ομολογωμεν) — and He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that we are acquitted, declared innocent and justified in His sight.

And how can God be faithful and just in forgiving our sins? It is because “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2). Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sins and the sins of all. Our sin was punished in Jesus and atonement was made. God’s justice is satisfied. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness and life eternal!

Again, are you walking in the darkness or in the light? Jesus and His Word shine into the darkness of this world, exposing sin, error and disobedience but also offering forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Don’t hide from the light. Rather, walk in the light, confessing your sins and receiving God’s forgiveness and life for the sake of Jesus’ shed blood.

Shine upon us, Lord. Reveal our sinfulness but bring us to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association.
Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

Lord, to Thee I make confession

1 Lord, to Thee I make confession:
I have sinned and gone astray.
I have multiplied transgression,
Chosen for myself my way.
Led by Thee to see my errors,
Lord, I tremble at Thy terrors.

2 Yet, though conscience’ voice appal me,
Father, I will seek Thy face.
Tho’ Thy child I dare not call me,
Yet receive me to Thy grace.
Do not for my sins forsake me;
Do not let Thy wrath o’ertake me.

3 For Thy Son did suffer for me,
Gave Himself to rescue me,
Died to heal me and restore me,
Reconciled me unto Thee.
‘Tis alone His cross can vanquish
These dark fears and soothe this anguish.

4 Then on Him I cast my burden,
Sink it in the depths below.
Let me know Thy gracious pardon,
Wash me, make me white as snow.
Let Thy Spirit leave me never;
Make me only Thine forever. Amen.

Lord, to Thee I Make Confession
German Title: Herr, ich habe missgehandelt
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863, alt.)
Author: Johann Franck (1659, cento)
Tune Name: HERR, ICH HABE MISSGEHANDELT
Composer: Johann Crüger (1649)

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Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” John 9:39 (Read John 9:1-41)

Could it be that your own opinions and beliefs are keeping you from knowing and trusting in Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world? Do you turn from Him and reject His mighty work as your Savior because He, somehow, doesn’t fit into your religious views and ideas?

When Jesus healed a man born blind, the blind man came to know and believe that Jesus was indeed the promised Christ and the Son of God spoken of in the Scriptures (cf. Ps. 2:7). But the Pharisees, even though it was indisputable that Jesus had opened the eyes of the blind (cf. Isa. 42:7), refused to believe in Him and had even agreed that anyone who came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the Jewish synagogue. Because Jesus had made clay and healed this man on the sabbath, they said He was not of God and called Him a sinner.

Thus, a man born blind was given sight — both physical and spiritual — and came to know and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and his Savior from sin. The Pharisees, on the other hand, though they could see with their eyes and knew of Jesus’ mighty working, refused to see and believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world. Their own religious views and opinions blinded their eyes to the truth which was so clearly revealed to them. Thus, they forfeited the forgiveness and life Christ Jesus won for them.

But what about us? Do we let our own religious views and opinions keep us from coming to Christ Jesus in faith? Are we so convinced that God will accept us on the basis of our own religious works and righteousness that we do not see our utter sinfulness and the salvation Christ Jesus freely won for all when He fulfilled all righteousness for us and suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:15)? And if Jesus were to come to us today, would we reject Him if He did not observe our customs, or worship in the same way as we worship?

The clear and unmistakable truth revealed to us in the Bible is this: We are all sinners and have come short of what God requires of us; Jesus is the Christ, true God and true man; He fulfilled all righteousness for us; He suffered and died on the cross to pay for the sins of all and rose again; Through faith in Christ Jesus and for His sake, God is gracious and merciful to sinners and freely offers and gives them His pardon, forgiveness and life everlasting.

When God graciously opens our eyes and brings us to know and believe these truths and place our faith in Jesus, we have His pardon and forgiveness and everlasting life. When we shut our eyes to these truths and refuse to believe in Jesus, we die in our sins and will suffer the eternal torments of hell (cf. John 3:16,18,36; 8:24; Mark 16:15-16; 1 John 5:11-12).

Open my eyes, O Lord, and let me see Jesus for who He is and trust in Him for forgiveness, life and eternal salvation. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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While He was yet speaking, a crowd came. And he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48

“Do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” This is the question Jesus asked of Judas as he led Jesus’ enemies to Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and then kissed Jesus to point Him out to those who would arrest Him and lead Him away to crucify Him.

This was a fitting question for one who used a sign of friendship and affection to betray Jesus into the hands of those who would condemn Jesus to death and then turn Him over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified! But what about you and me? Are we also guilty of betraying Jesus with a kiss?

If asked today, “Do you love Jesus?” would not all of us say, “Yes, we love Jesus”? Indeed, we all profess our love and devotion to Jesus. But when it comes down to following Jesus in our daily lives, how often do we not betray Him with a kiss by saying that we love Him and then doing the opposite of what He would have us do?

We draw near to Jesus with our mouths and lips, but our hearts are far from Him, as Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 (cf. Isa. 29:13): “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

Jesus also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And we say that we love Jesus, but do we keep His commandments? Do we truly love Jesus and devote ourselves to Him? Do we continue in His Word as Jesus said in John 8:31-32: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’”

And, do we follow Jesus wherever He leads? Do we profess His name and the truth of His Word in this present adulterous and sinful generation? Jesus said: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-26).

We can be thankful that the love of our Lord Jesus for us goes far deeper than any outward sign of affection and friendship! Our Lord Jesus “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). “While we were yet weak, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Rarely for a righteous man will one die. Yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

Jesus did not betray us but, instead, went to the cross and paid in full the punishment due us for our sins and the sins of the whole world. “Jesus Christ the Righteous One … is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

Though we have oft betrayed Him, Jesus did not betray us! Rather, He gave Himself for us that we might have forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting through faith in Him!

Dear Jesus, forgive us for so often betraying you with a kiss — for saying we love You and then sinning against You. Thank you for so loving us that You gave Your life a ransom for us. Graciously keep us trusting in You alone for forgiveness and life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to him who works, wages are not given as a gift, but as a debt. But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:3-5

How was Abraham righteous in God’s eyes? Was it by his own works and devotion to God? Or was righteousness graciously credited to him by faith?

Many look at Old Testament saints like Abraham and draw the conclusion that they lived a righteous and holy life and, therefore, God loved and accepted them as His own. Yet, when we look at the life of Abraham, the Scriptures reveal flaws and mistrust.

He more than once called his wife Sarah his sister out of fear that he would be killed so that another might take her. He listened to Sarah when she gave him Hagar as a concubine to bear children rather than trust fully that God would do as he promised. Though Abraham was certainly a man of faith who sought to walk in the ways of the LORD, he was not perfect and without sin.

So, how was Abraham righteous before God? St. Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6: “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

The apostle Paul explains further: “Now to him who works, wages are not given as a gift, but as a debt. But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:4-5).

If Abraham were righteous by his own works, righteousness would not have been credited or imputed to him; it would have been earned by him and his own by right. But the Scriptures say that Abraham believed God’s promises and that righteousness was credited to him by God.

Notice, too, that David, in Psalm 32, speaks of the blessedness of the one who confesses his sins and receives in faith God’s mercy and forgiveness (Rom. 4:6-8). David, as well, speaks of God’s forgiveness and the imputation of righteousness as God’s gracious gift received through faith and not earned by our own works.

How then are we righteous and acceptable in God’s eyes? By our own works? Or, by faith?

Though many assume the way to be righteous before God is by our works and our obedience to God’s commandments, the Bible teaches us that we have all come short and that even our best righteousnesses are like defiled, unclean rags in God’s eyes (cf. Rom. 3:9ff.; Isa. 64:6).

The only way for sinners like you and me to be righteous before God is through faith in Christ Jesus. When we believe the Word of God which tells us that Christ fulfilled all righteousness for us and then was sacrificed for us to make full atonement for all our sins, God credits it to us for righteousness. He forgives all our sins for the sake of Jesus’ blood, shed upon the cross, and He imputes and credits to us the perfect righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21-28; 1 John 1:7 — 2:2).

It is as the Bible says: “But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (v. 5); “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law” (Rom. 3:28; cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:6ff.; 3:26-29; Phil. 3:8-9).

Grant that I cease attempting to be counted righteous in Your eyes by my own works, O LORD, and place my faith in Christ’s perfect righteousness and in His atoning sacrifice on the cross for my sins that I may be counted righteous and holy in Your sight through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“Pray that you may not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:40

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13a

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus directed His disciples: “Pray that you may not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40). And, yet, His disciples did not pray (cf. v. 46).

What about us? Do we pray that we would not enter into temptation? Remember that “our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

Either, like Simon Peter, we are so self-confident in the powers of our flesh that we will not fall into temptation and do not see the danger and need to pray, or the temptation appeals to us in such a way that we do not really desire to resist it.

One place in which we do pray that we not fall into temptation or be overcome by evil is in the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us to pray, the Lord’s Prayer. Though our hearts may not always be in it, we at least say with our lips: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13a).

The Bible clearly tells us: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed” (James 1:13-14). Therefore, we are not, in this petition of the prayer which the Lord Jesus has taught us, asking God not to tempt us; for He “cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone.”

Rather, since we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own sinful longings and desires, we ask our Father in heaven to lead us in such a way through our daily lives that we are not tempted — to be led on such a path where we are kept safe and protected from our own sinful longings as well as from the enticements which the devil and the world put before us.

The Bible also assures us: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). The question is: Do we seek to escape it? Do we look to Scripture to reject it, as Jesus did when He was tempted (Luke 4:1ff.)?

Though God does not send temptation to evil, He does permit temptations to come. Yet, He limits the temptations and provides us a way out so that we may be able to endure and overcome them. Thus, we ask our heavenly Father to lead us in such a way that, when temptation does come, He would lead us safely through it and give us the victory.

Connected with this petition to our heavenly Father is the prayer that He would also deliver us from evil.

Again, the Bible tells us that we are to “be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him firmly in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

The devil — or Satan — is the father of lies and the deceiver. He seeks to keep us from God and His truth (cf. John 8:44).

Like the roaring lion who stalks his prey and seeks out one that is weak or straying, so the devil watches for our weaknesses and attacks us when and where we are most vulnerable to his ploys. He seeks to keep us from God our Father and life everlasting through faith in Christ Jesus by causing us to doubt God’s Word and by leading us into a life of disobedience and sin.

And, again, remember St. Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6:10-18: “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your waist girded with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, having your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace, and above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

Therefore, we are in constant need of the protection and deliverance of our Father in heaven; and we humbly pray: “but deliver us from evil.”

And included in this petition, we pray that, when we do fall into sin and disobedience, God would graciously, for Christ’s sake, deliver us from the grasp of the devil and bring us back to repentance. We pray that we would acknowledge our sin and disobedience and turn to the LORD God for His mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead.

The Bible says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

When we repent of our sin and turn to the LORD for His mercy and forgiveness in Messiah Jesus, He delivers us from the grip of the evil one and brings us back into His eternal kingdom for Jesus’ sake.

And, as believers, we take heart in the words of St. Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:18): “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me for His heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Dear Father in heaven, lead me through life in such a way that I do not fall into temptation and sin; and deliver me from the attacks of the evil one upon my soul and upon my salvation in Your Son, Jesus Christ. And, Father, when I do fall, mercifully bring me to sincere repentance and faith, and preserve me for Your eternal kingdom. I ask this for the sake of Jesus’ blood shed for me. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

Go to dark Gethsemane

Author: James Montgomery

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.

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