“Dead Works” ( Hebrews 9: 14, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

What are these “dead works” the author of Hebrews mentions? I want to travel back to Job, and suggest that the good things Job did in his life are “dead works.” “All our good deeds are as filthy rags” to the Lord God.

“Only in the Lord, it shall be said of Me, are righteousness and strength.” (Isaiah 45:24) “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I Am God, and there is no other; I Am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all My purpose.” (Isaiah 46:8-10)

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’ ” (Isaiah 45:9-10)

Do not argue with your Creator. Don’t be fooled into believing that if you do this and don’t do that, if you strive with all your might to be good, you somehow please Him. Believe instead that Christ “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12) Believe that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)

As we have been delivered from “dead works,” we are now free “to serve the living God.”

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“God Himself Keeping You Sound And Blameless” ( 1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

 

What a comforting thought Paul presents to us here, assuring us that God Himself sanctifies us “completely” — not partially. God is not halfhearted in the performance of His plan to make us holy. God also keeps our “spirits, souls, and bodies” “sound and blameless” in anticipation of the return of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul drives home this glorious truth by reminding us that God “who calls [us] is faithful.” Because God is faithful, He “will do it.”

 

“May [we] be strengthened with all power, according to [God’s] glorious might.” (Colossians 1:11) With God’s strength — His mighty power — we will walk according to His will, to the praise of His glory.

 

Jesus says, “You can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:5) And, He also commands,”Produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8)

“Your Mind Remade” ( Romans 12: 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed. Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.”

 

To know God’s will, writes Paul, you must allow “your mind [to] be remade.” As your mind is “remade,” “your whole nature [is] thus transformed.” A transformation occurs; the old nature is progressively destroyed as your thinking is altered. Simultaneously, the new nature is progressively “put on.” You take off the old, and put on the new.

 

The power to achieve this transformation is given to you by God’s own Holy Spirit. Rather than adjusting to “this present world,” Paul implores you to “offer your very self to [God]: a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart.” (Romans 12: 1)

 

“So come to Him, our living Stone — the stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God. Come, and let yourself be built, as [a] living stone, into a spiritual temple; become a holy priest, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 4-6)

 

“You are now [one of] the people of God, who once was not His [own]; outside His mercy once, you have now received His mercy.” (1 Peter 2: 10)

 

God is building you — transforming you from a person of “this present world” into “a living sacrifice,” “a spiritual temple,” “a holy priest.” Allow your mind to be remade.

“He Himself Is The Remedy” ( 1 John 2: 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“My children, in writing thus to you my purpose is that you should not commit sin. But should anyone commit a sin, we have one to plead our cause with the Father, Jesus Christ, and He is just. He is Himself the remedy for the defilement of our sins, not only our sins only but for the sins of all the world.” (1 John 2: 1 – 2)

Yes, we sin. And, sin defiles us. But, a greater truth exists: Jesus is the remedy for our sin and defilement. Both are destroyed on the Cross.

“God’s act of grace is all out of proportion to Adam’s wrongdoing,” writes Paul. “For the judicial action, following upon the one offense, issues a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issues a verdict of acquittal.” (Romans 5: 15, 16)

Acquittal, a verdict of not-guilty, is the gift of Jesus Christ to those who believe.

“The conclusion of the matter is this: there is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus, for in Christ Jesus the life-giving law of the Spirit sets you free from the law of sin and death. What the law can never do, because our lower nature robs it of all potency, God does: by sending His own Son in a form like that of our own sinful nature, and as a sacrifice for sin, He passes judgment against sin within that very nature, so that the commandment of the law finds fulfillment in us, whose conduct, no longer under the control of our lower nature, is directed by the Spirit.” (Romans 8: 1 – 4)

God’s Spirit within us directs us. “Thanks be to God! In a word, then, I myself, subject to God’s law as a rational being, am yet, in my unspiritual nature, a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7: 25)

The only rescue, the final remedy is Jesus.

“If we claim to be sinless, we are self-deceived and strangers to the truth. If we confess our sins, He is just, and may be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every kind of wrong; but if we say we have committed no sin, we make Him out to be a liar, and then His Word has no place in us.” (1 John 1: 8 – 10)

“Alive To God” (Romans 6: 21, HCSB) by Carley Evans


What fruit? asks Paul. What sort of fruit did you produce “when you were slaves of sin?” (Romans 6: 20) You produced the fruit of death is his answer. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6: 23) This fruit of sin and death is fruit of which you are now ashamed. And, “just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.” (Romans 6: 19) After all, says Paul, “you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God” so that now “your fruit…results in sanctification — and the end is eternal life.” (Romans 6: 22)

So what fruit are you producing? Jesus says a tree is known by its fruit — a bad tree is incapable of producing good fruit.

I may misunderstand fruit trees, but I believe a good tree is capable of producing fruit which goes bad — fruit on a good tree does occasionally rot and fall to the ground unfit for eating. But as a good tree grows stronger and more rooted in its soil, its fruit is more and more often good for eating.

As Paul exhorts, give your “allegiance to righteousness.” (Romans 6: 20) “Walk in a new way of life. For if we are joined with [Christ] in the likeness of His death, we are certainly also in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Romans 6: 4 – 5) Therefore “consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6: 11)

“Without Cost, Yet Utterly Priceless” (Isaiah 55: 8 – 9) by Carley Evans


God tells us that His thoughts are not like ours; His ways are also not like ours. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours just as the heaven is higher than the earth.

God calls us to Himself, saying, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55: 1 – 2) God Himself tells us that His water, His wine, His food, His milk is free — without cost, yet utterly priceless.

God desires to make “an everlasting covenant” with us. (Isaiah 55: 3) He wishes to show us compassion, pardon us abundantly, and glorify us. (Isaiah 55: 7, 5)

And, He promises that His Word — which proceeds from His own mouth — does not “return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I send it.” (Isaiah 55: 11)

The Word is made flesh, and dwells among us. The Word “makes a Name for the Lord” and is “an everlasting sign that is not cut off.” (Isaiah 55: 13) The Word asks us to “seek the Lord while He may be found; [to] call upon Him while He is near.” The Word calls us to “return to the Lord, that He may have compassion.” (Isaiah 55: 7)

“Come, buy without money and without price… what is good… that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55: 1, 2, 3)

“Not An External Act” (John 17: 17, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.”

The Word transforms. Knowing the Word, knowing truth is not an intellectual undertaking — rather knowing the Word is a day to day transformation. We are being made holy by the Word of God as we remain in the presence of God via His Word. God’s Word gives us access to the truth of God — who He is, what He plans, how He accomplishes His goal to unite all things under one authority, Jesus Christ.

Holiness or sanctification is not an external act. Rather, becoming sacred is a setting aside. God sets us aside; He calls us His own. He reveals Himself fully in His Word. His Word is truth. Jesus is the truth.

Jesus proclaims, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me…I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14: 1, 6)

Take off your shoes; this ground is sacred — set aside, made holy by the presence of the Lord God Almighty.