Redefined in Christ

“Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, NLT

Devotional from the Life Recovery Bible

Our addictions may be so ingrained in us that we define our identity by them. We may even begin to feel that we are predisposed to behave as we do. We may grow discouraged as we are condemned for behaviors that seem beyond our control. How can we escape this self-perception that defines us in terms of the addictions that dominate our lives?

One passage in Scripture seems to identify people by their behavior: “Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). This doesn’t seem fair. We feel like we will never be able to escape our addictive nature. But the
passage continues: “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (6:11). “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God doesn’t just erase our sinful behaviors. When we identify ourselves
with Christ, he gives us a new identity. We will always remember what we were and realize that our sinful nature and our body may always be predisposed to a particular addiction. We may even still slip up at times, but we need no longer define ourselves by our addictions. In Christ we are all the forgiven, cleansed, and holy children of God.

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The Tabernacle

“…he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the Lord. Then he will take two handfuls of fragrant powdered incense and will carry the burner and the incense behind the inner curtain.” Leviticus 16:12, NLT

Holy Land Tour article from the Swindoll Study Bible

The Tabernacle had barriers that stood between a sinful people and a holy God. Inside the courtyard, a brazen altar stood where the majority of sacrifices occurred on a daily basis. Just past the altar for burnt offerings was the bronze washbasin where the priests would scrub up in preparation for making offerings. Entering the Holy Place was something only priests could do. Inside on the right, the table for the Bread of the Presence, with its twelve loaves, represented Israel’s twelve tribes. The menorah on the left offered lighting to the space, and the incense altar stood in the back before the small room called the Most Holy Place, where only the high priest would enter once a year.

Leviticus 16 describes the events that occurred annually on the Day of Atonement. The high priest would offer a bull on the altar for burnt offerings for the sins of the priests. Then he would take a fire pan of coals from the altar and enter the Holy Place with incense and the blood of a goat. As the high priest entered behind the veil into the Most Holy Place—something only he could do once per year—he would sprinkle the blood of the bull and one of the goats on and in front of the atonement cover—the top of the Ark of the Covenant. These rituals made the impossible possible. By one man cleansing the sanctuary, the holy God continued to dwell among an unholy people.

The New Testament reveals what these rituals ultimately represented. There is one Mediator between God and humanity who offers the blood of a substitute who died on behalf of everyone. When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil that separated God from humanity was removed by Jesus’ death. Because of His sacrifice, anyone may enter God’s presence by faith in Jesus (Heb. 10:19-23).

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Grow Up

“Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, NLT

Notes from the Every Man’s Bible

Part of becoming mature is realizing that following our own desires only leads down a dead- end street. We remain “infants” as long as we demand our own way and are always divisive. We should examine our lives to see if this characterizes our relationships. If so, we need to confess our sin and ask God to help us grow up.

Each person has a part to play in accomplishing God’s work on earth. No one person is all- important, and no one is unimportant. We must beware of elevating some of God’s workers while tearing down others. Our focus should be to elevate God and show respect for all those who do his work. We, too, should do our part, whether it is planting, watering, or harvesting, to accomplish God’s overall plan.

It is possible for our intelligence to get in the way of our spiritual progress. As we analyze what God calls us to do, we may find it somewhat foolish or demeaning. Sometimes following God’s plan will not make perfect sense to us. We might even find it embarrassing at times. Regardless of how well we
understand or how comfortable we feel, God’s way is best. It’s fine to try to understand, but we must do so with the intention of following God’s will even if it doesn’t make perfect sense to us.

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So Many Questions

“‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’ The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.’ Gideon replied, “’f you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 1Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.'” Judges 6:15-18, NLT

Article from the Africa Study Bible

The Israelites were suffering, so God sent an angel to Gideon to say that he was to be Israel’s saviour. From the moment the angel started speaking, Gideon asked one question after another. God patiently responded to each of his questions with a powerful sign. Even after seeing all the signs, Gideon still had some doubts. But God patiently nurtured Gideon’s faith to maturity, and Gideon was victorious.

A wise pidgin proverb from Cameroon says, Pikin we e so so send hi hand for man hi mob, di so because hi no hear hot for teet, meaning “The child who kept sending his hand inside the mouth did so because he never felt the bite of the teeth.” Like Gideon, many of us keep asking God questions.
We want him to give us a sign. God is patient with us because he wants to nurture and increase our faith.

When those younger than us ask question after question or do silly things, we must remember how patient God is with us and how he responds in the same way. Let children ask questions and make mistakes. Your patience will bring them closer to you and will help you nurture them to be better adults.

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Anger and Vengeance in the Psalms

Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God! Do not ignore the helpless! Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, ‘God will never call us to account.’ But you see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them. The helpless put their trust in you. You defend the orphans.” Psalm 10:12-14, NLT

Article from the Life Application Study Bible

Several psalms shock those familiar with New Testament teachings. The psalmists didn’t hesitate to demand God’s justice and make vivid suggestions on how he might carry it out. Apparently, no subject was unsuitable for discussion with God, but our tendency is to avoid the subjects of anger and vengeance in the book of Psalms.

To understand the psalm writers’ words of anger and vengeance, we need to understand several things:

(1) The judgments asked for were to be carried out by God and were written out of intense personal and national suffering. The people were unable or unwilling to take revenge themselves and were asking God to intervene. Because few of us have suffered intense cruelty on a personal or national level, we find it difficult to grasp these outbursts.

(2) These writers were intimately aware of God’s justice. Some of their words were efforts to vividly imagine what God might allow to happen to those who had harmed his people.

(3) If we dared to write down our thoughts while being unjustly attacked or suffering cruelty, we might be shocked at our own bold desire for vengeance. We would be surprised at how much we have in common with these writers of old. The psalmists did not have Jesus’ command to pray for one’s enemies, but they did point to the right place to start. We are challenged to pay back good for evil, but until we respond to this challenge, we will not know how much we need God’s help in order to forgive others.

(4) There is a helpful parallel between the psalms of anger and the psalms of vengeance. The “angry” psalms are intense and graphic, but they are directed at God. He is boldly told how disappointing it is when he turns his back on his people or acts too slowly. But while these thoughts and feelings were sincerely expressed, we know from the psalms themselves that these passing feelings were followed by renewed confidence in God’s faithfulness. It is reasonable to expect the same of the “vengeance” psalms. We read, for example, David’s angry outburst against Saul’s pursuit in Psalm 59, yet we know that David never took personal revenge on Saul. The psalmists freely spoke their minds to God, having confidence that he could sort out what was meant and what was felt. Pray with that same confidence—God can be trusted with your heart.

Selected psalms that emphasize these themes are 10, 28, 35, 59, 69, 109, 137, 139, and 140.

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