These are just a few of the encouraging truths found in Proverbs 15. I pray they will be a blessing to you today.
Truth One: God is Sovereign
In your times of trouble, remember these encouraging words:
Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the LORD are in every place (He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and so much more), keeping watch (beholding, guarding as from a high tower) on the evil and the good.
After all, He is sovereign. And nothing catches Him by surprise. As someone once said, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?” Rest in this truth today.
Truth Two: Actions Matter
How important is prayer and a life of striving to live righteously before Him? It’s the key to becoming the beloved and delight of the Lord. Consider the following:
Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice (offering) of the wicked is an abomination (disgusting, unclean, wicked, horrendously offensive) to the LORD, but (by contrast) the prayer of the upright (straight, just, pleasing, in a moral and ethical sense) is His delight (pleasure, will, deemed acceptable).
It gets more intriguing.
Proverbs 15:9 – The way (path, journey, manner of life) of the wicked is an abomination (disgusting, unclean, wicked, horrendously offensive) to the LORD, but (by contrast) He loves him who follows (to chase, run after, pursues) righteousness (blameless in conduct, integrity).
Note the distinction. The difference between becoming His delight or being horrendously offensive to the Lord is the condition of your heart. Wickedness brings pain and rejection. Living upright, holy and righteous, as He is upright, holy, and righteous, bring His pleasure and delight. And He loves the one who pursues, in both actions and attitude, His righteousness. You see, actions do matter.
And just in case you’re not yet convinced your actions and attitudes have eternal consequences, look at who gets their prayers heard:
Proverbs 15:29 – The LORD is far (distant, remote, far away) from the wicked, but (by contrast) He hears (to listen, have regard for) the prayer of the righteous (just, those blameless in conduct both morally and ethically).
God hears the prayers of those who live like Him. But for the wicked? He’s moved on, out of town, not interested. That’s scary.
Truth Three: We Don’t Have All Day
Looks like it’s a choice we make to determine which team we want to play on: the righteous or the wicked. I don’t know about you, but my desire is to live righteously for Him and to become His delight. Is that your desire also? Are you chasing after Him in hot pursuit? Then let’s get to it. We don’t have all day.
Maybe this will give you something to shoot for this week. After all, nothing else really matters, does it?
How Can Grace Become Sin?
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this verse, Jude tells us four things about these “certain men who have crept in unnoticed” in the church: (1) their condemnation or judgment was determined long ago, (2) they are ungodly, (3) they turn the grace offered by our God into a license to sin, and (4) they deny the Lord Jesus Christ.1
This is the inevitable outcome of someone who only sees one side of God’s character— grace. When we only believe the nature of God is grace alone, we tend to see Him as an all-forgiving Father who puts up with the sins of His children and is either too afraid, weak or insecure to confront their behavior. He becomes nothing more than a Get Out of Jail Free card whose only purpose is to clean up our mess, pay for any damages, and continue to give us access to His unlimited American Express to fund our carefree lifestyle.
He becomes, in effect, a bad parent by showing only grace to the willing sins of His children and not demanding repentance, accountability, responsibility, and retribution.
But God is anything but a bad parent.
When Jesus confronted the woman caught in the act of adultery, He first offered her grace, then repentance.
John 8:10-11 – “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, (grace) “Neither do I condemn you; (repentance) go and sin no more.”
Grace is only one side of the character of Christ. The other side has to do with the consequences of rejecting grace.
Wrath of the Lamb
There is a chilling verse in the Revelation that should strike fear in those who take the grace of God for granted and use it as an excuse to sin. This verse shows a different side of Jesus. There’s no more “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild” as the children’s song goes. Jesus, referred to as the Lamb of God, now comes with something we’d never expect from a lamb— wrath.
Revelation 6:15-16 – And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
Did you catch that? Those under condemnation for the sin and rejection of the truth were trying to hide from the wrath of the Lamb, the wrath of Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
Jesus, with His judgment, also brings wrath.
And He brings His wrath explicitly on those who take His marvelous, undeserved grace and turn it into lewdness. The word for lewdness is asélgeia and means “debauchery, sexual excess, the absence of restraint, perversion, having an insatiable desire for pleasure.”2 It speaks of unrestrained vice, the very worst of sins.3
Jude was compelled to warn us to watch out for those who will embed themselves in the church, under the cloak of darkness, like a satanic sleeper cell, to turn the church away from the purity of holiness and run after lust, sexual sin, and deviance. And the bait is a perversion of the grace of God. It goes something like this:
“You can do anything you want because God loves you and must forgive you if you ask Him. You can go and sin to your heart’s desire just as long as you remember to say your prayers when you go to bed and ask God to forgive you for what you did today. As soon as you say ‘I’m sorry’ BAM!— your sins are forgiven and your slate wiped clean. Then go and sin all you want tomorrow and say ‘I’m sorry’ and you’re forgiven. You can do it again the next day. And the day after that. As long as you say, ‘I’m sorry’ you can do anything you want. It’s all grace, grace, grace from a pushover God.”
This perversion of grace now becomes our motivation to sin— which is the very thing that nailed Jesus to the cross.
Grace offers us the blessings of forgiveness. And for forgiveness to take place, there must be repentance. True repentance always, without exception, involves a change of behavior. In other words, if there’s no definite change in action and attitude, there is no true repentance. The grace we’ve been given to have our sins forgiven, when we repent, must include righteous living. Otherwise, it’s just mere words. Verbal garbage. Smoke and mirrors.
But it gets worse.
Those who turn the grace of our Lord into an excuse to sin also “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). They mock His sacrifice, pain and suffering He endured to bestow grace to us. Because of Christ, we have unearned, undeserved and unmerited favor with God who gave us His only Son to die in our place. And then to twist this grace into an excuse to partake of the vilest of sexual sins is the reason Jude calls them “ungodly men” (Jude 1:4). In fact, the term denotes a moral outrage against God and not just disbelief.4 We see more of them in vs. 15 where Jude uses the word “ungodly” four times to describe their shameless deeds and again in vs. 18 where he speaks of their “ungodly lusts.”5
Please understand, if Jude was warning the church in his day of this danger, he is also warning the church today. There are these same ungodly men who have slipped in under the radar of your church and, by their actions and words, are attempting to amplify the lust in each of us to draw us away from the holiness of God and tempt us to do what we deem right in our own eyes (Jud. 17:6).
Be aware. Guard your heart (Prov. 4:23).
And as “He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
1. Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 437). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (p. 270). Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
3. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (p. 161). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
4. Davids, P. H. (2006). The letters of 2 Peter and Jude (p. 44). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.
5. Green, M. (1987). 2 Peter and Jude: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 18, p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Mercy, Peace, Love and Multiplied
Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
It looks like this verse presents us with a few more Greek words to define. First, there’s the three-word salutation Jude employs: mercy, peace, and love. In Paul’s general epistles, his opening salutation usually only involves grace and peace.1 In the pastoral epistles and 2 John, mercy is added to the mix.2 Now, in Jude, love replaces grace. We then find the Holy Spirit choosing to amplify the blessings of mercy, peace, and love by using the word multiplied instead of given or added— which is breathtaking in its implications. Let’s take a look at each of these.
The word mercy (éleos) refers to “compassion, kindness or goodwill towards the miserable and afflicted; it’s a state of active pity, accompanied by a sense of piety and innate goodness.”3 It’s not getting what we deserve, which is pretty much the opposite of justice.
Some teach that mercy is just another word for grace. But that’s not true. There’s a gulf of difference between these two words. Mercy is when God chooses not to punish us for what our sins rightly deserve (Rom. 6:23). We are spared the chastisement we’ve earned. And grace, on the other hand, is when God chooses to go a step further and bless us in spite of our sins. One is the removal of just punishment, and the other is the pouring out of undeserved blessings.
Next, the Greek word for peace (eirḗnē) means “to be in a state of tranquility, harmony, and accord; it’s the opposite of war and dissension and arises from the reconciliation with God and a sense of divine favor.”4 Psalm 7:11 says “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” But not with us. We are at peace with God due to the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf.
But Jesus spoke about another peace. Jesus promised us this peace when He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace (eirḗnē) I give to you” (John 14:27). Note, it’s His peace. It’s the very peace He experienced in the midst of His pain and suffering, that He now gives to us.
A few chapters later Jesus said the only peace that can overcome the tribulation of the world is found in Him (John 16:33). And this is just a taste of our inheritance as children of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
Then we have agápē, the Greek word for love. Agápē is the love God has for each of us and is not based on performance or perfection. It’s a type of love that doesn’t come naturally, but is imputed to us by the source of that love, which is God. The word means “love, goodwill, and benevolence; it’s God’s willful direction toward man.”5 It’s the highest, most unselfish, and graciously giving form of love imaginable. Especially when compared to érōs (erotic or sexual love) or philéō (brotherly love or friendship).
And just think, Jude begins his letter by praying this trifecta of blessings on each of us, his brethren: “mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you” (Jude 1:2).
Which brings us to the last, and the most encouraging, truth in this short verse. It’s the word multiplied. Not added. Not combined. But multiplied— in greater, ever-increasing proportions. The word multiplied (plēthúnō) means to “make full, increase, to have much or too much, to abound exceedingly.”6 The implication is that mercy, peace, and love will come upon the believer in waves of ever increasing blessings. They will be multiplied upon each other, like compound interest on steroids, and grow to exceedingly abound. It’s a hint of what Jesus meant when He said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The word for abundantly refers to “more than enough, over and above, surpassing, super-abounding, much more than all.”7
The Father doesn’t say: “Here’s one for you. Oh, let me give you another one. And another one, which makes three.” Instead, He says, “Here is one for you. Then two more. And then four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four”— and on the numbers go!
Jude’s prayer for the children of God is that they would find His blessings multiplied to them, in ever-increasing, super-abounding portions, regardless of what turmoil they may be suffering. And the blessings of God are found in His mercy, His peace, and His love— which are all revealed through His Son and lavishly imparted to us by the Spirit.
How Much Does the Father Love Us?
This is where it gets so exciting it’s hard to grasp, let alone believe. But it’s truth, nonetheless. Jesus, in His last prayer for His disciples, prayed for unity among all believers (John 17:21-22). He then concluded His prayer by saying:
John 17:23 – “I in them, and You in Me (unity); that they may be made perfect in one (unity), and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
Did you catch the last part of His prayer? Jesus wants the world to know that God the Father loves us, His children, as much as He loves His own Son. Let that sink in for a moment.
How much does the Father love you? As much as He loves His own Son? What can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus? According to Romans 8:38-39, pretty much nothing. And when you come to grips with the reality of God’s love, in all its magnitude, intensity, and mercy, it gives you what nothing else can, peace. It’s the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). This amazing peace can belong to you. All you have to do is ask.
Rest today in His mercy, peace, and love for you.
1. See Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes, 1:2.
2. See 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4; 2 John 1:3.
3. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 564-565). Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
4. Ibid., 519-521.
5. Ibid., 66-67.
6. Ibid., 1175.
7. Ibid., 1151-1152.
How are we Sanctified and Preserved in Christ?
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
There are two key words we are going to look at today. The first is sanctified and the second is preserved. Let’s look at what they both mean before we go any further.
The word sanctified (hagiázō) means “to render holy, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God, to purify, consecrate, devote, or set apart from common to sacred use.”1 It’s the condition of a believer after regeneration takes place, after their salvation. Some Bible translators replace sanctified with the word beloved, and that is unfortunate. It would then read, “to those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept (preserved) for Jesus Christ” (NASB). Although it is true, we are beloved in Him and by Him, the essence of what Jude is saying about his intended audience is that they have been set apart by God the Father for a holy and righteous purpose. They have been, past tense, sanctified. Their sanctification came by way of the Holy Spirit who now lives in them and their salvation is now “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13).
Most of the modern Bible translations remove the word sanctified and replace it with beloved. In essence, they make the verse more about us and what we receive from God and less about who we become by God. That seems to be the way we go today, living in the land of self-indulgence and having our narcissistic attention focused solely on us. But to be sanctified is to be changed into something that reflects the nature of our God. And that nature is holiness. It was the single attribute both Isaiah (Isa. 6:3) and John (Rev. 4:8) heard the angels proclaim when they were allowed to see the throne of God.
But we are not only changed; we are changed for a purpose. We are “set aside for a holy purpose” in much the same way the Old Testament priests would take gold and silver utensils and remove them from everyday use and set them aside to be used exclusively in the temple of God. There was a change in their purpose and their audience. We are to be sanctified, like God, and reflect His glory and His holiness, just like His Son. To change that into “beloved” is to lessen our responsibility and our calling. Are we also loved and cherished in God the Father? Yes, without question. But we are also created for a purpose. And that purpose is not for our self-gratification, but to be used by the One who gave us eternal life. We are to be like the One who saved us. Sanctified. Set apart. Holy, because He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
Note also that the person of the Godhead who came to reside in those sanctified by God the Father is the Holy Spirit. Note His name, attribute, and description: Holy Spirit. Not loving, or forgiving, or gracious Spirit (which He is also). But Holy Spirit. His nature is holy. And it’s this Holy Spirit that now lives in us to do His will through us, His bondslaves. Again, are we beloved? Absolutely. But more so, we are called to a deeper purpose. We are set apart for something much more important. We have the privilege of allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His life through us.
The second word is preserved. This word (tēréō) means to “keep an eye on, to take care of, to attend carefully, to guard like a warden watches over those prisoners under his care.”2 It implies watching closely, like a doting mother or a protective father does their young child. It’s the same Greek word used in verse 21 where the believer is to “keep (tēréō) yourself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” The implication is to not only “watch” or “carefully guard” but to also remain secure through obedience.
This promise is reflected in the prayer of Jesus in John 17:12 where He prays: “While I was in the world, I kept (tēréō) them in Your name.” And now, with Christ seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 1:20), He keeps us in Him through the Holy Spirit who now resides in each of us.
By the Father, in Jesus Christ
One last point that involves two small words, by and in. The passage reads we are “sanctified by the Father” and “preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1). Sanctification is something done for us “by the Father” and our being kept or preserved is accomplished by our position “in Jesus Christ.” Both are gifts and blessings from our God who loves us as His beloved. Yet, one comes as a part of our salvation and the other is the promise because of our salvation.
We are sanctified and set apart by the sovereign act of the Father. Our sanctification is what makes us a child of His. It’s now part of our nature. It’s in our DNA. And we are guaranteed not to fall or lose our salvation, our sonship, because we are found in Christ. We belong to Him and are “joint heirs” with Him (Rom. 8:17). Plus, we are now seated “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). How? Because we are “in” Christ. Where He is, so are we.
And because of this— our being sanctified, beloved, and secure in Him, we can rejoice at the promise given to all who belong to Him:
Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rest and abide in this truth today. You are truly loved by Him who “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).
1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 69-70). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2. Ibid., 1380-1381.
When we have the desire to know more about the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility in exercising those gifts, we are faced with a couple of questions. Especially when we see that the purpose of those gifts is to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to manifest or express Himself to others. Consider the following:
1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression) of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
How does the Holy Spirit manifest or express Himself in the world today?
Does the Holy Spirit give His gifts to everyone that belongs to Christ?
Does that include you?
What gift or gifts has He given you?
And why did He give you His gifts?
So He could express Himself to others through each of us.
Do you realize the reason the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts is to manifest Himself to others through us? Let that sink in for a moment.
According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, all the gifts that follow (word of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and tongues) are all given so He can use these gifts to express Himself through us to others.
Do you know what that means? Can you see the implications of that verse and what it means for you and me and the church today? If not, then keep listening.
The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9.
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