No Excuses

1 Peter 224 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 1:18–23 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 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. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul writes that there is only one way for any person to be saved. Salvation is by grace through faith. In our reading today, he tells us why salvation can only come in this way: all people are under the wrath of God because of sin. Every single person, whether religious or not, is guilty because God has revealed himself to us in the created order and what can be plainly known about him has been rejected by every one of us. No one will be able to claim “I did not know!” Mankind has exchanged the one true God for other gods.

We have a sin problem. It is our greatest problem and causes all of our troubles in this world. And there is nothing we can do in our own power to fix our problem. The good news is that God has done something for us. Jesus Christ came into the world to live the sinless life none of us could. Then he went to the cross to die in our place. He took the wrath that we deserve to pay our debt. If we will turn from our sin and turn to Jesus in faith, God promises to forgive us and give us eternal life. This is amazing grace!

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Clothed in Righteousness

Zechariah 34 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Zechariah 3:1–5 (ESV)

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The name Satan means “the accuser”. In today’s passage, we see him standing before God to accuse Joshua the high priest. Joshua was standing before the Lord in “filthy garments”, indicative of his sin and unworthiness. Satan was there to make sure that God did not miss this. However, even before Satan could make his arguments, God stopped him and declared that the Lord had plucked Joshua from the fire. God had given Joshua grace and demanded that he be clothed in clean garments, a sign of forgiveness and righteousness.

The picture of forgiveness and cleansing from sin is exactly what the Lord does for each and every believer. We come before him in our guilt and sin. We have no argument to make or gift to offer for our salvation. Satan stands ready to accuse, but God extends forgiveness and grace to all who repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins. In return, we are clothed in his righteousness. It is a wondrous exchange. So, go before the Lord and call out for forgiveness in faith. He promises grace to all who will.

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Desire Gives Birth to Sin

photo of tombstones on grass field

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Reading the Word

James 1:12–15 (ESV)

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Desire gives birth to sin and when sin is fully grown, it brings forth death. Sin is a serious problem. In fact, it is our greatest problem. It is why Jesus came into this world and died on a cross. He came to give us freedom from our sin and its end result, death.

So, if sin is such a huge problem, why do we treat it as such a small thing? We even put a positive spin on it when we mention that our dessert was “sinfully delicious”. The truth is we like to sin. We desire to sin, which is why James tells us our desires lure and entice us to sin. We must be aware and resist these constant temptations. We must ground ourselves in the word of God and ask him through prayer to help us to desire the things he desires. And mostly, we must repent of our sin and place our trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to save us from ourselves. It is through his death and resurrection that death is defeated and that we receive eternal life.

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Now Is the Time to Repent

Mark 115 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 4:12–17 (ESV)

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ ministry was focused on moving throughout Israel and preaching. He often attracted large crowds because he was known as a miracle worker and the people wanted to see what he was all about. His message was quite controversial and caused great conflict with many, especially those from the religious establishment. What was his message that was so controversial? It was the message of repentance.

Jesus proclaimed to the masses that they all needed to repent of their sins because God’s kingdom was breaking into the world. Anyone who wanted to be a part of that kingdom needed to repent or they would be judged. Many were offended at such a message because they felt they were already righteous and accepted by God. Others were offended because they believed their ancestry was all they need to be a part of God’s kingdom. After all, they were Jews and descendants of Abraham! Jesus’ message was that only repentance and belief in the Son would save.

Jesus’ message is the same to us today. We too must repent and turn to Jesus to save us from our sins. When we do that, he promises forgiveness and an eternal future in the kingdom of God. This message still offends today, but it also still saves. Will you hear the words of Jesus and turn to him?

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Who Will You Serve?

Romans 617–18 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 6:15–19 (ESV)

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Should Christians go on sinning? After all, we are saved by grace and not by keeping the law, right? Paul answers this question with “By no means!” It is true that we are saved by grace and not through keeping the law, but how we live reveals who, or what, we serve. If we continue to sin, we prove that we are still slaves to sin. If we live lives of righteousness, we show that we serve righteousness. And Christ died so that we did not have to remain slaves of sin.

When we read this passage, or others like it, we must keep in mind that the Bible is not speaking of perfect sinlessness. Scripture is clear that even the saved still sin, though there should be a continued growth in holiness over a lifetime. One day we will be completely free from sin and its consequences, but that day is still future. For now, we live in obedience to our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us while humbly admitting that we often fail and seeking to remove sin from our lives rather than letting it grow. Through our righteous living we prove that we are no longer slaves to sin and that we now serve righteousness.

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Relief from Your Sin

Psalm 325 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Sin robs us of so much. It destroys our relationship with our Creator. It destroys our relationships with other people. And it destroys us from the inside out. The psalmist tells us that his sin weighed heavy on his soul. It made him feel as though his bones were wasting away as he groaned all day long. He felt that the Lord’s hand was heavy upon him due to guilt and shame and his strength was sapped from him as a hot summer day drains us. This is what sin does. It robs us of all that life could be.

There is a solution to sin. God is a forgiving God. When the psalmist opened up in honesty about his sin and called out to God for forgiveness, the Lord was gracious and forgave. He promises to do the same for all who will repent and call out to him. Are you feeling the weight of unconfessed sin? Is your guilt draining you? Call out to the Lord and find relief for your soul through the grace and forgiveness that he offers to all.

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Fellow Heirs with Christ

Romans 816–17 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Romans 8:12–17 (ESV)

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Putting Sin to Death

left fist

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Reading the Word

Colossians 3:5–11 (ESV)

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Christian life is one of constant warfare. We war against the ongoing struggle and temptations of sin. Colossians tells us that we must put the sin in our lives to death. It has no proper place for the people of God.

Why do we often treat sin as if it is no big deal? We certainly do not talk about the presence of sin in our lives using the imagery of war. Those who take sin seriously today are quickly dismissed and labeled as “legalists”, but I think we have become too soft on this issue and have forgotten that we are called to be holy as God’s people. We must go to war against the presence of sin in our lives. We must kill it. We must not allow it to continue to exist in our midst because it pulls us away from God and keeps us from the lives we are meant to live. We cannot honor our Savior or each other if we are living with sin. Are you ready for the fight?

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Believe in the Lord Jesus

Acts 1630–31 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Acts 16:25–31 (ESV)

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the jailer asked what he must to to be saved, Paul and Silas told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” That is the message of the gospel.

The Bible teaches us that we are all sinners before our holy God, our Creator. We have rebelled and disobeyed. As a result, we are rightfully condemned and there is nothing that we can do on or own to make things right with God. We have nothing to offer. However, God has done something for us. He has given his Son, Jesus Christ, who came willingly into the world to die for sinners. If we will repent of our sins and trust in Jesus’ sacrificial death, we will be forgiven. That is the gospel and the central theme of the entire Bible. Will you believe in Jesus Christ and be saved?

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With His Wounds We Are Healed

Isaiah 535 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 53:1–6 (ESV)

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 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.
6 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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Son of God came into the world to save mankind from our sin. Who would have imagined the way such a salvation would come? The King of kings and Lord of lords came as a humble servant to serve us. He gave up his high position and glory to become nothing for us. And as he came to show such great love for us, we rejected him and nailed him to a cross to crucify him.

When we look at the cross, we must never lose our sense of awe over what our Savior did for us. Such an amazing act of love! Jesus Christ gave his body to be beaten and torn until he died an agonizing death. As he hung on that cross, he bore our sins and took the punishment each one of us deserve. Through his suffering and death, those who repent and call out to him in faith, receive the healing we desperately need: freedom from sin and the gift of eternal life. So, as we look to the cross, let us celebrate our salvation, but let us not forget the great sacrifice that our salvation required.

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