24 Day Wordless Book Devotional. Gold. Week #3

THE GOLD—AGAIN. Week #3. 24 Day Wordless Book Devotional

9/8. HOLY GOD

This week, we again go upward for the gold. As we do, we will more realize that God is the source and standard for all that is golden.

God is a self-existent, eternal, and optimally great being who exists by necessity. God is optimal. There could not be any greater being. God is necessary. Everything in the universe is created by God and is dependent upon God. Without God nothing would or could exist.

This God who is God is conscious and personal, subsisting as three persons who interrelate with one another. The Lord Jesus Christ himself is the ultimate revealer of this Triune nature of God.

We humans are created in the image of God. God has instilled attributes of personhood into us. Yet, God is not only uncreated and eternal, properties that we do not share. God also possesses these shared properties of personhood in an infinitely greater measure and manner. God is the source and standard for these attributes. For example, to a degree, humans can love somewhat reflecting God’s nature, but God is love. God not only loves, but is love. God’s nature is love.

God is true. God honestly reveals God’s own conscious and intentional nature through the creation and especially to humanity. We human beings are uniquely privileged to realize and personally experience God as God is.

Yes, God is true. God is the Creator and final Arbiter of reality—the ultimate revealer of “what is”.

All this is stated for us to again to proclaim, “God is God”, and realize we cannot mess with God. Thus, we proclaim with all of God’s creation, “God is Holy!”

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8 ESV God is Holy. Although God has many properties, God’s Holiness covers them all.

Biblically, God’s Holiness encompasses God’s separation, power, brilliance (ever present, pure, gracious), righteousness, love, and goodness. [See Allan Coppedge, Portraits of God, InterVarsity,2001]

God is Holy. God being and the created nature are separate and different. God is all-powerful. God is all knowing and ever-present. God is the pure standard for everything. God is gracious. God is righteous and just. God is love. God is good. These are statements about God’s nature–intransitive phrases. For example, God is love, but love is not God. This realization can deliver us from the temptation to push our notions of love onto God.

God is Holy! Yet, we need more than just more theology about God. We need God, The God Who is Holy! Moses needed more than theology. Moses was personally stuck in a spiritual shutdown. He and the people he led had experienced God’s power in the Egyptian plagues, Red Sea deliverance, provision in the desert, and on Mt. Sinai. They had experienced His presence in the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night and even more so in His voice to them at Mt. Sinai. After all of this revelation plus their Covenant to obey God’s stipulated standards, they rebelliously chose to shape their own notions and opinions of the divine into a golden calf. Completely ticked off, Moses tossed the tablets of the Ten Commandments at them. How could God take these people anywhere? How could he, Moses, ever lead such rebellious people anywhere?

Of course, Moses was shut down. He didn’t have anything left in himself. However, instead of believing that there was not enough of God to go any further, he went boldly to God and dangerously requested, “Show me Your glory.”

Graciously, God took Moses where Moses was at. God prepared him for a precariously edgy revelation so that Moses could and would trust God for the transformation of this people over the next 40 years. Moses faithfully prepared, and God intensely came at the appointed time and place,

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, Exodus 34:6-7 ESV

God had overwhelmed Moses without destroying him. God had surgically opened Moses’ heart and implanted the reality of God’s being and nature. God spoke God’s own attributes into Moses his heart. This was God! These were certainly more than just theological words. God was Holy enough to transform these rebellious people and their despondent leader to be holy as God is Holy and follow God forward.

This Holy enough God is so much more than what any theology can describe or contain… This God Who is God has you.

This week we will focus on two golden attributes of God without losing site of the others:

ON ONE HAND, GOD IS JUST, SO HE MUST PUNISH SIN. >>ON THE OTHER HAND, GOD IS LOVE, LOVES US, & WANTS US TO BE WITH HIM ETERNALLY IN HEAVEN. …In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10) …by no means clearing the guilty (Exodus 34:7b).

9/9. GOD IS JUST. Part 1. Why Sin Matters to God

Human Sin violates the reality of God. Human Sin is a cancerous lie that God is not God. Lies pyramid on lies and demonic structures emerge. Inevitably, people are not treated as people, and God is not reverenced as God. As a result, God being God will be true to his being and nature and forcefully expose foundations of Sin, the props of sins and lies, and will topple the Evil pyramid schemes of delusional humans.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20 ESV

Yes, God is just. Thus, God’s wrath is the course of action for the benefit of humanity to God’s glory. God diagnoses and calls out the Sinful cancer for what it is and what it does. Such tumors of Evil and their underlying lies, Sin, and sins had to be exposed, removed, and destroyed for terminal humans to be freed and God to be God.

Experience this reality of human bondage to Sin as you imagine yourself as the people referred to in the following Bible passage:

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes. Romans 1:18-25 MSG

God’s justice matters when you are hit and harmed personally. The pain from their sins—sins that well up from Sin and pour down from Evil… the pain has devastatingly rushed into you and those close to you. As a result, especially in our present culture, you may be prone to believe that God cannot be just.

9/10. GOD IS JUST. Part 2. Justice Matters to You

Which of these lies have you believed in part or full? ▪ God doesn’t see or care about the bad things that have happened to me, or He would have done something about them. ▪ God knows about the bad things that have happened to me, but cannot do anything about them. If he could have done something, he would have already done it.

With such lies in our heads, we believe that God cannot be trusted to be just. Thus, we often conclude that God cannot be trusted at all. We depart from God and angrily demand a justice that is never just enough. We insatiably want revenge. We obsessively dream about vengefully punishing them.

Imagine yourself above a cross looking down. Those perpetrators who got away with it are boiling in your heart and head. As you look at the crucified body from the head down, you may think and growl: ▪ “And this should have been them!” ▪ “This is what they deserve for what they did to me!” ▪ “This is what all people who are evil deserve.” ▪ “Where is the justice!”

Perhaps you are beginning to realize that you are keeping God somewhat distant. Yes, you know how real and good He is, but you may wonder why you internally resist going further with Him?

Sometimes we cannot and will not trust God that much because of traumatic things that were too much –things done to us in the past.

We shout, “God where is the justice?” with such a shout, we have a choice. We can just shout at God and walk away, or we, like Job, can shout and stay—sensing in the silence after the shout that there is something more to life and God than this.

Still, if we stay with God, we have to ask: Do You really know what happened to me?

After your shout, picture yourself remaining with God in the silence. What does God’s Word say to you?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV

According to God’s Own self-revelation, God is all knowing. God knows what traumatically happened to you, exactly what was said and done. God knows how this affected everyone involved emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. God knows the real heart intentions of each person involved. So God knows and knew.

Now, if we are to stay with God, we will need to ask a further question: Since You know what happened to me, do You really care about it?

Sometimes we forget that Evil almost pummeled and slashed the earliest Church into oblivion. They were in great pain, and cried out for justice. The Holy Spirit spoke to them through the Apostle Paul. Remember the traumatic event, and imagine the Holy Spirit speaking to you personally through this Scripture.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

What will happen to them and you? The Holy Spirit continues to speak to you through Paul:

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

You can trust God to be just. God is God, and God is righteous and just. God’s justice is speaking to what you have suffered: ▪ God knows and will expose the right and wrong of every action and thought of the heart.
▪ God will weigh the responsibility of each person, and enact a just punishment. ▪ The Holy Spirit of God convicts people of their sin. The Holy Spirit challenges them to confess: ▪ exactly what they did, ▪ how it affected others, ▪ the wrongness of their actions and heart, ▪ and the right punishment for this. ▪ If a person does not take ownership of and responsibility for their actions and intentions, if they do not tell the truth about their sins, they will face the truth as a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ or as an unbeliever at the Great White Throne of God.

▪ The Holy Spirit of God convicts people of their sin. The Holy Spirit challenges them to confess: ▪ exactly what they did, ▪ how it affected others, ▪ the wrongness of their actions and heart, ▪ and the right punishment for this. ▪ If a person does not take ownership of and responsibility for their actions and intentions, if they do not tell the truth about their sins, they will face the truth as a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ or as an unbeliever at the Great White Throne of God.

9/11. GOD IS JUST. Part 3. Our Self-Justifying Ways

Apart from God, we human beings have a tendency towards self justification. We self-righteously excuse and cover our sins.

When Evil has harmed us and the perpetrators seem to go unpunished, we may have this selfjustifying thought: ▪ What I have gone through has atoned for any sins in my personal life. Anyway, God owes me because justice has not been served!

Do you remember looking down on that cross yesterday and thinking, “That’s what those people that did that to me and those I love deserve”.

Also, recall what God wants to do with them? God wants to bring them to repentance. Did this intention agitate you?

Yes, Repentance. This is where we often have a big problem with God, and can get stuck.

We know what God wants, but we may feel, “They are the devil. I want them to burn in Hell.”

This is where we often have a problem with God’s mercy and love. As we will soon more deeply realize, God is love.

God seeks their honest confession and true repentance–and mercifully forgives those who take such honest responsibility. In contrast, we are like the Old Testament prophet Jonah.

Jonah hated the Assyrians and what they had done to his people and him. They deserved God’s justice, full wrath, and total annihilation. God called Jonah to go to the Assyrian capitol, Nineveh, and serve as a prophet to these horrible people. They would get what they deserved!

Yet, when God beckoned him, Jonah ran in the other direction. He hated these people and knew enough about the God Who is God to sense that this God had something up God’s sleeve – grace, repentance, and more grace.

God turned Jonah around, physically but not spiritually, and Jonah entered Nineveh and preached damnation. Although very scary, this probably felt down deep very good to him.

And yes, God being God, guess what happened? The Assyrians realized their demonic attitude and behavior and the consequences. They repented.

Imagine yourself as Jonah shouting at God about the repentance of those who did horrible things to you personally:

Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at GOD, “GOD! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! So, GOD, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” Jonah 4:1-3 MSG

Like Jonah, sometimes we can get stuck in our hatred and away from God. Jesus asks you:

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:7-8

God is faithful. He will repay. Justice deferred is not justice denied. Yet, will you so fixate on getting justice and punishing the perpetrators that you become unfaithful?

In other words, will you only consider listening to God and following Him further only after He does what you want Him to do and when you want Him to do it?

Who ends up playing God here?

Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:19

Healing will only begin when you give yourself, the situation, and the perpetrators totally over to God. As you do, God will lead you to a decision necessary for your healing—to choose to forgive and let God settle you into this faithful decision. Only with God can you then be like God, to want and pray for their repentance. The other person(s) may not change, but expect healing in you.

Without God, filled with bitterness and hatred over what has been done to us, we become so tempted to excuse and self-justify our own sins. We end up giving the Devil a foothold. Consider these lies you may use to cover your sins:

▪ Compared to others, what I have done and do isn’t that bad, so I’m fine. ▪ God understands why I do what I do and have done. God is my big buddy and overlooks my “mistakes.”

Which of these do you typically utilize? For which of your sins have you used these as cover?

When we drift away from God, we enter the whirlpool of self-righteousness, self-justification, and Injustice towards others.

And God is just! This presupposes that God is righteous. How may we picture this?

As God has revealed, God subsists as three persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another, but not separate. In a human being, body, soul, and spirit are distinctions. If you separate these, the human is dead. Distinctions are permeable boundaries for the Persons of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit value and honor these distinctions and the Personhood of the Others. This right relationship among the Persons of the Trinity root God’s righteousness in God’s being. God is righteous and acts accordingly with human beings who are created as persons in the image of God. God is the powerful and pure standard for right relationships between humans.

Consequently, God is just with human beings and requires justice in all human interrelationships. Our injustice toward one another violates God.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

9/12. GOD IS LOVE. Part 1. Much More Than Emotional Mush

God is just. Without God, humans are insatiably addicted to Sin. Why doesn’t God just end us under the gavel?

God is love. We declare and graffiti this everywhere. What does this truly mean?

Everyone has their personal opinion, and these certainly are not all correct. Consequently, let’s awaken to some dead wrong understandings about God’s love. Which of the following lies or parts of them do you believe? ▪ God’s love is a ruse. God is really out to expose and shame me. ▪ If I do enough good things, these good things will cover the bad things, and I will become more lovable to God. ▪ It doesn’t matter what I do. God loves me anyway.

Our relational history as well as our culture affects our approach to God. If love language was utilized to manipulate your affections and control you, then you may be suspicious of God’s “love” motive. If positive attention and affection were given in your family for performance, then you may expect God’s love to be performance-based. If you come from an affectionate but permissive family with little accountability, then God’s love can be the pain to sign off on any accountability for a libertine lifestyle. We do our own thing, the consequences bite us, and we feel violated. We feel that God’s love hasn’t come through for us.

Consider your own family of origin. How does your upbringing affect your understanding of God’s love?

In contrast, God is love (See 1 John 4:16b). God is the source and standard for love. We may picture this in the relationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As mutually respecting and distinct persons, they give themselves totally over to one another in love and inseparably think and operate as one–as love. The Gospel of John especially reveals this love relationship that shines forth into a dark, Sinful world

Yes, God is love. As a result, God is more than just merciful with Sinful humans. God is gracious with us. You know the Christian placard by heart:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

But notice what substantiates this well known verse:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17 ESV

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:19 ESV

Sinful Humanity deserves the gavel, but gets the Son. God is love.

Although love involves affection, God’s love is primarily a verb signifying a choice. God takes the initiative, choosing to love Sinful us. Place yourself personally in the following passages and experience the depth of God’s love for undeserving you.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 ESV

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:9-12 ESV

Thank God that God is love!

9/13. GOD IS LOVE. Part 2. God’s Love in Truth

God is Love. As a result, God speaks and enacts the Truth in Love. God’s core value for the Body of Christ is Truth telling and living in Love (Ephesians 4:15-16). Just as without truth, there will not be justice, so without truth, there will not be love. Concurrently, truth without love is not True. The Devil knows your sins, but seeks to use these facts to destroy you.

God loves humans so much that He tells us the truth.

Sinful people had stuck God in a box and went off and did their own thing. Yet, they used this “Box o God” as a magic amulet to protect them from harm. God love them enough to expose the lie and point the way out – repentance and a new direction.

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Jeremiah 7:3–8 ESV

The Lord Jesus spoke the truth in love to a superficially powerful man trapped in an Evil structure:

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 19:37–38 ESV

For pilot, truth was whatever unified power could get away with.

God loves you enough to tell you the truth. Ask God what God is trying to show you that you are presently choosing not to see.

God loves humans so much not to let us to get away with lies.

God does not gleefully swat at Sinful humans with a gavel. Rather, God is often pain with the necessary consequences. God worked with many of his prophets so that they realized the necessity of the consequences and the depth of his pain and love for the people. He transformed these profits into people who saw and felt like God.

The Lord Jesus lamented the destruction that would come upon Jerusalem just a few decades after his death and resurrection. He loved these people, and did not desire their destruction. He had spoken the truth to them about their sins and need for Him as Savior, but they were so stuck in their delusion:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37–38 ESV

God loves you enough not to let you get away with the lies that you believe. Ask God to reveal stubborn lie that you are believing about God, yourself, others, or life. Then, go to God and God’s word to realize the truth. Renounce the lie. Receive the truth. Keep declaring the truth each day thereafter.

God loves humans so much not to leave us stuck and damned.

Instead of the gavel, God gave us a Person of God’s Own nature—the Son. Experience the unmerited love of God’s unmerited love in the following Old Testament passages:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 ESV

God did not give up on Humanity. God did not give up on you. God made a new way for impossibly stuck you through the sacrificially punished body of the Son. Then, God gave you the resurrected Son as a new lead for faithful, truly righteous living. Through the Holy Spirit implanted in you, God gives you the lead in power to fully live.

Now. You are ready to experience the loving depths of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Place yourself as the second person singular in the following passage {the “you”}:

…the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23–25 ESV

Thank God that God is Love!

9/14. FAITHFULLY HANDLING JUSTICE & LOVE

What do we do with all of this? It’s very overwhelming! People have done things to those we love and us. We ourselves have done more stuff than we are perhaps willing to acknowledge. On one hand, it’s rather refreshing to know that God is just and doesn’t just overlook those horrendous things done to people in this Sinful world, including those we know, and us. On the other hand, you may be distressed that our just and loving God did not just blink through our sinful stuff, but will confront us with the truth regarding our own sins and participation in Evil.

So, what is Holy God’s moral standard for us as human beings? What are we to do? What does God’s word say to you?

You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. 1 Peter 1:15

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 ESV

If this does not feel over the top, then you are probably not breathing. Let’s slow things down. Now experience each of these phrases as addressed to you personally in their original contexts:

For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45 ESV

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,… 1 Peter 1:14-18 ESV

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 ESV

Did you notice? God expects us to be holy as God is Holy and perfect as God is perfect. You already know the problem with this. This is impossible! You cannot be holy as God is Holy and perfect as God is perfect. Multiplying consternation, these are commands, and not just suggestions for improvement. So, is God baiting us to try, keep trying, then burn out as “never good enough” perfectionists? Why even try?

Stop! Right now switch from a should, ought, gotta attitude to the God Who is God can and will reality! Begin this switch by pondering the following Bible passage:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Is this some guilt producing punishment because we chronically fail to perfectly love God and neighbor? No, this is an invitation for you! Imagine this verse in its context as personally addressed to you:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us 1 John 4:16-19 ESV

God is love and takes the initiative to love you and cast out Sin, sin sins, and their old accomplice “fear” out of you. By His perfect love, God perfects you as a lover!

If you have decisively put the weight of your trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then you are like a branch on the Lord Jesus’ Vine. As you allow the Vine to love and fill you more and more, you love God and neighbor, stranger, and enemy more and more. Empowered with His love, as you increasingly respect and love these people as God loved people, your love for God grows. Thus, you grow in respect and love as you are loved and love.

You grow as the Lord Jesus loves out of you those old “My way” patterns of Sin and hew ways of righteous loving. Those old familiar sins and their dead to you Sin master are now in your new being loved and loving way. You want them gone! The Lord Jesus cleanses them out!

In light of this great news about God’s initiating and perfecting love, ponder this invitation from Jesus:

“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Now, imagine yourself in this scene. You are the rich young man. You have strived to study and obey God’s law, and almost everyone in your circles has applauded. You also are feeling good about your moral performance, but something keeps nagging at you. You become drawn to this poor, uneducated country preacher. For some strange, unknown reason, you want his affirmation of your moral performance: And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16–22 ESV

Yes, the Rich Young Man was possessed by his possessions and loved the stuff more than God. Yet, more than this, what held him back from receiving the love of God and following the Lord Jesus into a faithful life of love? What did these riches represent? What did they do for him? How did his riches uphold his moral self-justification? What prompted him to turn around and walk away with sorrow?

Would you have walked away? Would you have in sorrowful? Why?

Early on in this interaction, what did Jesus say? Only God is Good—and only God is Holy and perfect. Only God can perfect us by his love into his love for people and make us holy.

And let’s honestly remember where Sinful us are coming from: In wanting to be You, to be God—we, I, nailed you to the cross. Unforgiveable!

As we fall from our moral high ground: Have mercy on us…on me.

And in the dust at the foot of the Cross we weep: My arrogant pride. A pride birthed through what I have suffered, what I have gone through. A pride fed by the applause of others. A Sinful pride justified by me.

And so we are humbled in the dust at the foot of the cross.

Only God…

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-25 ESV

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