A Life That Will Please

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

The Leper #8

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

In Leviticus 14:1-3, the Levitical priest sought out the leper in the day of his cleansing; the leper did nothing because he could do nothing. If the plague was truly cured, it was God’s work, and the man was to be subsequently ceremonially purified: “[4] Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet [string, lace, yarn, thread], and hyssop [sprig or twig of a scraggly desert plant, used to sprinkle]: [5] And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: [6] As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: [7] And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.”

With a completed Bible, we understand this more fully than even Moses did. These two birds symbolize Jesus Christ’s heavenly connection; the slain bird is His blood shed on Calvary’s cross; the living bird is His life; the earthen vessel is His humanity; the running water is His resurrection. The bird freed represents post-resurrection life, a being living in light of the other being who died. “Without shedding of blood [there] is no remission [forgiveness]” (Hebrews 9:22). “Purge me [a sinner] with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).

Indeed, this is all a beautiful picture of eternal salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ….

The Leper #7

Monday, October 3, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

Contrary to popular belief, Christ’s earthly ministry was not “New Testament Christianity” but rather “Old Testament Judaism.” Today’s Scripture indicates how the Lord ordered the leper, “…go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Obviously, this is a Levitical priest and “the gift that Moses commanded” is an animal sacrifice as prescribed in the Law of Moses. This is Judaism, definitely not our “Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Romans 6:14,15; Ephesians 3:1,2)!

Moses, God’s spokesman to Israel, devoted over 100 verses to leprosy—Leviticus chapters 13–14. Chapter 14: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: [3] And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; [4] Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: [5] And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: [6] As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: [7] And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.”

Here is Calvary’s cross pictured….

The Leper #6

Sunday, October 2, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

Leprosy is an excellent type (picture, portrait, illustration, representation, symbol) of sin for at least five reasons. Both leprosy and sin are: (1) inherent, in the blood, passed down to descendants; (2) destructive and decomposing; (3) unsightly or ugly, invisible yet manifested outwardly via horrific symptoms; (4) man cannot cure; and (5) contagious and worsening. Also, note how both are associated with “the flesh.” When Miriam, Moses’ sister, was stricken with leprosy, the LORD showed how He alone, not man, could heal it (Numbers 12:10-16). Recall Moses’ God-given ability to cure leprosy in Exodus 4:6,7 was the LORD’S word to Israel as to how He would treat her leprosy.

Yet, the most famous leper in Scripture is Naaman, a Gentile or Syrian military leader, as described in 2 Kings 5:1-15. His heathen idols cannot help him. Nevertheless, his wife has a little Jewish servant girl, and this Jewess (a woman of faith) recommends he go down to see the LORD’S prophet Elisha (verses 1-4). Naaman’s king sends him to unbelieving King Jehoram of Israel who reacts most foolishly to the request (verses 5-7). The Prophet Elisha, hearing of Jehoram’s tantrum and Naaman’s infirmity, is willing to meet the leper as God’s representative (verse 8). Naaman is given some strange instructions—wash in the Jordan River seven times—which he reluctantly but eventually obeys and is recovered from leprosy (verses 9-14). He professes his faith in verse 15: “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Israel’s God (notice verse 7) will cleanse even the Gentiles of their spiritual leprosy!

Let us now consider “the gift that Moses commanded….”

The Leper #5

Saturday, October 1, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

One of the three signs or miraculous demonstrations the LORD God gave Moses to authenticate or verify his ministry was the ability to heal leprosy: “And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh” (Exodus 4:6,7). This served to communicate to Israel not only that Moses was God’s spokesman to them, but also how God would ultimately heal them of spiritual leprosy (that is, free them from bondage to sin). Snake-handling, overcoming Satan, was another pertinent miracle and body of truth (see verses 1-5).

During His earthly ministry, Christ healed at least one specific leper (today’s Scripture; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15)—although Matthew 11:5 and Luke 7:22 suggest He treated countless other lepers. In fact, toward the end of His ministry, He cured 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3) was apparently another person Jesus healed. Moreover, Christ commissioned His 12 Apostles to “cleanse the lepers” and validate their Gospel message (Matthew 10:8). Had the nation Israel been mindful of Moses’ ministry, preserved in their Hebrew Bible, they would have connected Jesus and His Apostles to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This goes beyond simply Exodus chapter 4. It reinforces and expands upon what the Mosaic Law had already stated in Leviticus chapters 13 and 14….

Our latest Bible Q&As: “What is the significance of The Parable of the Good Samaritan?” and “Can you explain ‘impotent?’

The Leper #4

Friday, September 30, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

Christ’s earthly ministry can be summarized most succinctly with two simple passages from Matthew’s Gospel Record. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:23,24). “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35).

The Gospel of the Kingdom—“The kingdom of heaven is at hand [near]” (Matthew 4:17)—is the Good News (Glad Tidings) that Israel’s Messiah-King has visited her. John the Baptist preached this (Matthew 3:2), as did Jesus Himself (Matthew 4:17), and even the 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:7). Israel can finally become God’s kingdom of priests in the Earth, a blessing to all the world (Gentiles or nations), the goal of the Abrahamic Covenant finally reached (Genesis 12:1-3). At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Israel has existed for 2,000 years. For the last 1,500 years, they have had the Law of Moses—which they have repeatedly violated, corrupting it and themselves with false religion.

If Israel the leper is to become God’s kingdom of priests, able to live up to rigorous principles of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), the Lord can and will cure her spiritual leprosy (today’s Scripture)….

The Leper #3

Thursday, September 29, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

Through the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 1, the LORD God issues a remarkable reprimand: “[1] The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. [2] Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. [3] The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass [donkey] his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

“[4] Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. [5] Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. [6] From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying [rotting, decaying, necrotic] sores: they have not been closed [healed], neither bound up [bandaged], neither mollified [softened, soothed] with ointment.

Sin has so thoroughly infected God’s people that the imagery is stunning. The Jews carry evil on their backs and sag under the immense weight. From the bottom of their feet all the way up to their head, “there is no soundness [health] in it.” They are covered with wounds or lesions, a most unsightly or disfiguring condition still untreated! Their horrendous affliction is spiritual leprosy, and it is decomposing them just like physical skin disease destroys fleshly tissue….

The Leper #2

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV).

Why is this part of the Holy Scriptures?

The Bible’s term “leprosy” refers to various infectious skin diseases caused by bacteria. While modern medicine knows of “Hansen’s disease” (something similar), it should not be confused with the condition in the Scripture. Leprosy was such a significant topic in ancient Israel that the Holy Spirit devoted 116 verses (!) to it in the Law of Moses (Leviticus chapters 13–14). If you study these lengthy, repulsive instructions, you will learn the complicated health laws God had implemented so as to diagnose, isolate, and treat lepers amongst the Jewish people. (We will return to Leviticus later.)

Having just delivered His monumental Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5–7), the principles or constitution of His coming kingdom, the Lord Jesus descends the mountain with large crowds trailing (today’s Scripture). A leper approaches Him, worships Him, and announces to Him: “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” In medical doctor Luke’s account (5:12), the man is “full of leprosy”—completely covered with sores, a truly hopeless case if there ever was one! Observe: it is notIf the Lord can heal” but “If the Lord is willing to heal.” Jesus’ power is unlimited, but has He chosen to exercise that infinite power to cure this leper’s infirm body? Today’s Scripture answers: “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

The leper’s healing is not just a story for “little old ladies and children” to learn in Sunday School. Neither is it in the Holy Bible to “fill up space.” Nor is it present to authorize us to be silly in our religious fervor to perform “miracles, signs, and wonders.” Let us keep searching the Scriptures for light….

Our latest Bible Q&As: “Who are the ‘Samaritans?’” and “Why did Peter and John need to lay hands on the Samaritans for them to receive the Holy Ghost?

Saved or Lost? #25

Sunday, September 25, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

They were really saved people, just thinking and acting like lost people. Such is still true of millions! Had God’s Word rightly divided actually been received and believed in the heart, we the Church the Body of Christ would be walking in God’s power and will: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

While the number of genuine Christians has always been low, the percentage of confused Christians has always been high. It is not that “Satan is so powerful,” but rather they have allowed his evil world system to place them into a mold of silly thoughts and unsightly deeds. The Holy Spirit wishes true believers in Christ heed His advice in Romans 12:1,2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren [Christians!!!], by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world [it can happen!!!]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We close with the following true story. Several years ago, I tried to prevent it but nevertheless witnessed it come to pass. It was the fall of my spiritual mentor, someone under whose ministry I trained for over a decade and whom I still love dearly in the Lord. The entire controversy was painful and devastating beyond words, but, lest I fall with that grace Christian leader, I had to separate from him because of his apostasy (willful doctrinal error and unapologetic dishonesty and treachery). Indeed, we will meet in Heaven and only then will we be restored to fellowship, two saved men whose ministries Satan’s evil world system targeted—one destroyed and the other still not immune from ruin!

-FINIS!-

Saved or Lost? #24

Saturday, September 24, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

The Apostle Paul’s last epistle (2 Timothy) communicates in chapter 4: “[1] I charge [instruct, order] thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant [ready, prepared] in season [convenient times], out of season [inconvenient times]; reprove [cause them to see], rebuke [criticize them], exhort [encourage, urge them] with all longsuffering [patience, put up with it, suffer it a long time!] and doctrine [teaching worth trusting].” Why?“[3] For the time will come when they will not endure [bear/tolerate/stomach] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Timothy was (we are) to keep on with ministry (sound Bible teaching, Pauline, grace-oriented information), despite the prevalent doctrinal perversion and apostasy (forsaking the truth, whether in or out of churches). Saints, we should be willing to do what we can to reach confused Christians and confused non-Christians alike—and, yes, they are usually nearly impossible to distinguish from each other. I know it is easier to throw up our hands and give in, exclaiming, “This is just not worth it! No one wants to listen! We live in a hopelessly chaotic world! Let them all go to Hell in their ignorance!” Yet, the fact remains we have in sound Bible doctrine all the answers they need—and, if we escaped their errors, they can too… those few who want it. We should make special effort to be a light to them, if at all possible, particularly those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe.

Let us (finally) conclude this devotionals arc….