Defeating Satan’s Deception

How can we defeat Satan’s deception?

Think back to all those magic shows we loved as kids. We would be spellbound, watching a man in a tuxedo tap his magic wand over a top hat and pull out a rabbit. Or how about those fascinating card tricks? And best of all was a woman sawn in two. All hoaxes, but we loved the thrill of being tricked.

But magic is evil. Think of a dark veil made up of lies and trickery that we wouldn’t—and couldn’t—see through. As Christians, though, aren’t we immune to deception?

In order to answer that question, let’s begin with a definition. According to Merriam-Webster, deception means:

the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid :  TRICK fooled by a scam artist’s clever deception

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deception

Where did deception originate? We would all point to Genesis. That old serpent, the devil, deceived Eve to believe a lie and commit an act of sinful disobedience. Let’s listen in on their conversation and pinpoint how Satan’s trickery worked.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Genesis 3:1-7 NKJV

Step 1: Twisting the truth

The first step involves questioning what God has said. (“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” ) Satan expected Eve to refute his question in order to engage her in a conversation to confuse her logic. But let’s review God’s exact words:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 NKJV

Now let’s backtrack. When God spoke this command to Adam, where was Eve? Apparently, not yet created. So if Adam had instructed her himself, it may explain Eve’s embellishment–that even touching the tree would result in death.

Step 2: Using Naivety Against Us

Satan knew that if he could deceive Eve about what God had said, he could win a battle against the Almighty. How? By dragging His trusting creation into the devil’s evil world of sin.

When Eve misquoted God’s command, the serpent used her mistake to his advantage. The serpent played upon Eve’s emotional naivety to convince her to bite the forbidden fruit. He dangled sparkling lies to convince her it wasn’t dangerous but would make her wise like God. He tricked her into trusting his words to be true.

Step 3: No Fear

Step 3: The serpent took away Eve’s fear of death. (“You will not surely die.” v.4) Remember, no one had ever died yet (her son Abel, not yet born, would be the first), so the concept of death was a great mystery. Satan’s false assurance must have given Eve comfort from her fears as she trusted the serpent’s words.

Step 4: Be Smart and Powerful

Step 4: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v.4). Here Satan claims to know God’s words, which he falsely twists. He tells Eve the end result of her potential disobedience, promising her that she will be equal to God Himself in power and knowledge. No longer will she take orders from God–she will be wise enough to make her own rules, to live her own way. The tantalizing promise of the knowledge of good and evil would be a glorious promotion to omniscience and omnipotence. And she fell for Satan’s bait–hook, line, and sinker.

Step 5: Justification of a lie

Step 5: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (v.6). Eve, no longer afraid to touch it, listened to Satan’s voice of justification. Who doesn’t want to be wise? Why not eat such beautiful fruit? Eve reached out to pluck the fruit and share it with Adam. At that moment, deception led to sin.

Like Adam and Eve, we can use our God-given free will to either obey or disobey. Our choice, yes, but also we must face the consequences.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

James 1:13-16 NKJV

How do we apply these truths to our lives today?

Lesson 1: Know God’s exact Word

Let’s make sure we know God’s exact Word so Satan can’t deceive us. He’s a master at serving up a glass of truth with a twist of lies. If the devil can confuse us about the truth, we drink it down, falling into deception and thus into sin. Memorizing and knowing the Word will cancel those plans.

When Satan tempted Jesus

Remember when Satan came to tempt Jesus after the Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness? Each time Satan tried to deceive Him, Jesus quoted Scripture to refute those lies mixed with truth. (Click HERE to read about it.)

Lesson 2: Naivety, our worst enemy

Satan deceives us to turn away from our beliefs at any age. Especially when we’re young, about to enter teen years, Satan uses our naivety to trick us into sin.

For example, kids will entice those who are inexperienced about the world, luring them with the promise of thrilling fun–drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. If they balk at first, the tempter will use other ploys, such as shaming them for not being cool, being a scaredy-cat, or threatening their inclusion in a group of friends. As innocent kids submit to rejecting their true beliefs in exchange for lies, their lives can be ruined, or in extreme cases, ended too soon.

Thankfully, Jesus provided forgiveness of our sins at the cross.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NKJV

Lesson 3: Living without fear of God

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:4 NKJV

Not too many years ago—back in the ’80s—kids used to wear tee-shirts emblazoned with No Fear. When the fear of authority and a living God are absent in the human heart and mind, falsely-enlightened people easily break rules and laws. No longer afraid of any repercussion or punishment, they have a cyclonic heyday, leaving behind a wake of destruction. Today we can especially witness the results of this deception in many crime-infested cities, failing schools, and corrupt governments around the world.

Beware of NO FEAR deception in the church. Have you wondered why Seeker-Friendly churches never display a cross or mention sin and its consequences? Their weekly talk is only positive, laced with the serpent’s classic cunning found in Genesis 3:1: “Has God indeed said,” and verse 4: “You will not surely die.” But a one-sided or twisted gospel is a deceptive gospel, smearing the truth of salvation and sanctification to afford sinners comfort and acceptance to remain as they are. And it’s another way Satan’s kingdom grows.

Churches must preach the truth of the whole gospel, which convicts sinners and brings them to the altar of repentance and saving grace.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23 NKJV

Lesson 4: Not little gods

Satan also promises to give us God’s power and knowledge to make us equal to God. His false reasoning convinces us that we won’t need God anymore. We can be our own little gods, following our own false wisdom.

This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

James 3:15-17 NKJV

Lesson 5: Don’t buy the lie

Where do we find this principle? Advertising, for example. Companies pay a fortune for an ad or video to convince consumers they can’t live happy, complete lives without their product. That’s the lie. They play on our emotions and our five senses to make us crave it, rather like Eve: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3:6)

Satan is waiting to deceive each one of us with his lies: good is evil and evil is good. He tempts us through sight, arousing our desire. He reasons falsely that we will benefit in some way–beauty, wealth, comfort, or status.

Here’s a description of Satan in Jesus’s words:

‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’

John 8:44b NKJV

Are Christians exempt?

No. Satan comes to everyone with his deception—even Christians. The difference is that the Holy Spirit provides us with the gift of discernment to know the truth so we don’t fall for Satan’s lies.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: …to another discerning of spirits, …

1 Corinthians 12: 7, 10b NKJV

Let’s discern the spirit of truth by reading and memorizing God’s Word. His Word is truth–our sword of the Spirit that divides truth from lies. With the Word in our mouths, Satan can never deceive us with his false trickery.

Let’s always be prayerful that God will give us His truth and wisdom to discern Satan’s clever deception.

Let’s conclude in agreement with Paul’s prayer:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Amen.

Philippians 1:9-11 KJV

How have you been victorious in using God’s Word to destroy Satan’s deceptive lies?

A Musical Christmas Lesson

Wishing you a belated Happy New Year!

I’ve missed posting on my blog since December, but these weeks have been reserved for resting and recuperating from the flu. The good news is that I was finally on the upswing and feeling back to normal, just in time for tying on my apron and heading to the kitchen for Christmas dinner. And although Christmas is many weeks behind us, it’s still a good memory. I want to share a story with you about what the Lord taught me during that season.

Early in December—before the flu—our family had planned a special holiday outing. I had purchased tickets for a concert in a nearby town where the venue was described as a charming theater in an old courthouse building. A relaxing evening with a symphonic jazz band and featured singers sounded like a good way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Upon our arrival, what a surprising sight greeted us inside. We had stepped back in time to creaking wooden floors, cement walls painted gunmetal grey covered with old posters of bygone days, narrow staircases with steel handrails, and groaning elevators designed more for carrying janitorial equipment rather than people.

After locating the second-floor theater, we settled into well-worn seats of red plush velveteen. The stale air roared with voices. Bobbing heads of every shade and style exchanged merry greetings with passersby searching for their ticketed rows of seats. On stage, high-heels and oxford dress shoes rushed across the floor on a time-sensitive mission. Violas and bass violins stood straight, and violins found their perches under tucked chins. Sequined dresses swept the floor, shimmering in bright stage lights. At one end, drums rat-a-tat-tatted and piano keys tinkled. A complete cacophony of dissonance.

Eventually a quiet swept over the stage, and its contagion gripped the audience into a hushed silence. The conductor walked solemnly to the front of a platform and bowed, signaling our applause. Clapping exploded like a bomb into the room’s acoustics, then subsided. One piano key sang out, and every instrument slid collectively into tune.

What good can come out of this?

My eyes roamed around the room. What kind of inspiring music could come out of such a musty, ancient place? I already regretted not traveling the extra miles to a downtown state-of-the-art venue featuring famous professionals. As I mourned over my mistake, beautiful string music began and sweetly beckoned a finger at the door of my heart.

My rising yawns cut off as the upbeat music carried me into its rhapsody. It didn’t take long before I was hooked. My soul stirred with delight and appreciation as each new song swelled from the stage and swept through the auditorium. Songs about Christ’s birth and the miracle of God coming down to earth in the form of a perfect, holy newborn. Angels trumpeting horns, proclaiming His birth as they led choruses of rejoicing. From jazz band to cultured symphony to rich-throated singers, I acknowledged my grateful surprise of this unexpected gift: deep love from the heart and soul of every stage performer’s instrument lavished itself upon the audience.

What must that holy night have been like?

I could envision through the music the rustic stable where Mary gave birth to Messiah. Almost smelling the animals’ earthy scent which enveloped the holy couple, I could imagine their clouded breath in the air as they snorted questions about who these intruders might be. The rough, wooden trough filled with straw would not feed them this night but would instead cradle the swaddled baby. Sweet peace must have filled the air and quieted the animal audience into reverent submission from their front-row seats as they witnessed the greatest story that would ever be told.

Have you ever wondered why God chose for His Son to make His earthly entrance into such poor circumstances? Humble, common parents in the midst of traveling for the census. Not even a decent indoor retreat for Mary’s labor and delivery. Yet, God provided and created a celebration fit for a king. The angels announced His birth—not to the world’s wealthy and royal—but to the lowliest class of people at that time–shepherds tending their sheep on nearby hills, drawn to that stable as human witnesses. Such a wonderful miracle, yet such a great mystery.

We can fully understand God’s symbolism as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He was placed in a manger, a trough from which animals eat, because He is our Bread of Life.

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ ”

Matthew 26:26 NKJV

Prophecy also described Him as the Good Shepherd, which made us, His followers, His sheep. We can likely recite Psalm 23, but here is another reference:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel. ”

Matthew 2:6 NKJV

The comparison between this humble concert venue and Jesus’s humble birth meshed with clarity. From this simple stage on a chilly December night came something more than wonderful: the message of God’s divine, perfect love poured from a blend of harmonious instruments and voices, just as the angels sang and played for the shepherds and all of heaven on the night of Christ’s birth, set in a simple stable.

This message isn’t just for Christmas–it’s for today and every day of the year.

Finally, the Lord showed me these concerns for 2020. Are you feeling inadequate or discouraged about your life? Have you recently lost a loved one and feel as though you don’t know how to continue? Are you unsure about your financial future? Seeking a godly mate? Trying to find God’s purpose to chart your future? Seeking physical healing and health?

God takes our commonplace lives and works miracles for His glory, just like He did on the night Jesus was born. Something very special can come out of a humbled life. He can take our lives and make them into something wonderful, but we must first lay down our selfish god of SELF on God’s holy altar. We all must die to SELF.

“ ‘But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’ “

Isaiah 66:2 NKJV

Have you been born again?

Have you surrendered your life to Jesus and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? You can do that now by praying a simple prayer, confessing your sins, turning away from them, and asking Jesus into your heart.

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ ”

Romans 10:9-11 NKJV

It’s what God does best–making us new creations in Christ Jesus, cleansing us from sin by His blood, and filling us with His Holy Spirit. Writing our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life and the Book of Remembrance. Making our lives a clean slate with a new story to write. Giving us the assurance of eternity in heaven where we will dwell in His presence forever.

May this be your best year yet as you serve the Lord. May He transform you and play His beautiful music through your life to bless others.

Wishing you all a blessed and prosperous 2020!

What do you need the Lord to do for you in 2020? Leave your prayer request in the comments and I will pray with you and for you. May God bless you richly.

Rejoicing in Christ’s Holy Birth

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas! God bless you as we celebrate the holy birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus. May His everlasting love and salvation be born in your hearts today. Please join me prayerfully in the lyrics of a familiar Christmas hymn.

It came upon the midnight clear,
    That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
    To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
    From heaven’s all-gracious King” –
The world in solemn stillness lay
    To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
    With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
    O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
    They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel-sounds
    The blessed angels sing.

But with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love song which they bring; –
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
    And hear the angels sing!

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
    Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
    With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
    Come swiftly on the wing; –
Oh, rest beside the weary road
    And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on
    By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever circling years
    Shall come the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth,
    Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song,
    Which now the angels sing.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Also seen occasionally as “It Came Upon A
 Midnight Clear”
 Erik Routley, University Carol Book (Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961)

Words: 
Edmund Hamilton Sears, in the Christian Register (Boston, Massachusetts: December 29, 1849), Vol. 28, #52, p. 206.
Afterwards published in Sermons and Songs, 1875, 5 stanzas of 8 lines.
Source: Edmund H. Sears, Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life (Boston: Noyes, Holmes, and Company, 1875), pp. 17-18.
©KarenJurgens All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 41: Conclusion

Welcome to the final chapter of our year-long study. What a wonderful time we’ve had studying God’s Word together! It’s been my honor to host you here and also on the Heart”wings” Ministry Facebook Page. Let’s take one last look at what we’ve learned this year about growing in the Fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Let’s take a look back and enjoy what we studied this year. All of our former posts will be linked under each heading for you to access here.

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Spiritual Renewal for the New Year / Exercise Your Faith / Born-Again Salvation / Fighting Spiritual Battles

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV

Intercessory Prayer / Servanthood / Bearing Fruit for the Kingdom / The Perfect Sacrifice

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV

Finding JOY in the midst of trials / Lost and Found / The Bride of Christ / The Joy of Resurrection

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. “
Matthew 28:6 NKJV

The Alabaster Jar / Palm Sunday / The Last Supper / The Passion of Christ / The Resurrection

“Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
Mark 9:50 NKJV

Peace with God / Finding God’s Peace in Relationships / Finding God’s Peace in the Sabbath / Finding God’s Peace in Conflicts

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
James 1:4 NKJV

Patience in Trials / The Patience of Job / The Parable of the Sower / Waiting on the Lord

“Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
2 Peter 1:5b-7 NKJV

The Woman at the Well / The Good Samaritan / David and Mephibosheth / Ruth and Boaz

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
Psalm 23:6 NKJV

God’s Goodness / God’s Good Creation / Christ’s Goodness / God’s Good Promises

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Defining Faith / Faith and Works / God’s Faithfulness / Our Covenant-Keeping God

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Philippians 4:5 NKJV

Meekness is Not Weakness / Strength in Gentleness

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
Romans 7:15 NKJV

Our Dual Natures

I trust you have grown in the fruit of the Spirit along with me this year. The fascinating thing about the Christian walk is that we are always in the process of growth. No matter how many times we may read a particular Scripture or study a specific topic, the Lord always teaches us something new.

We’ve reached the end of our journey, and bidding you farewell is bittersweet. I have been very blessed to walk with you down life’s path this year. May you be blessed each day as you continue to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

Please continue to follow me here on my blog, Touched By Him, for future posts where I’ll be sharing some thoughts for Christmas. I plan to continue posting as usual in January, as the Lord leads.

Dear Lord, thank you for this past year of growth in the fruit of the Spirit. Bless Your Word richly in each person, and water the seeds to grow up into mature plants. May we be known by our fruit, that we are Your disciples. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 40: Self-Control

Welcome to our study on the last Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL. Just because self-control is last doesn’t make it least important. On the contrary, it is the strongest one, holding the other eight fruits in place. Without the discipline of self-control, the other fruits of the Spirit would spiral wildly out of control. Let’s see how increasing self-control accelerates our spiritual growth and gives us victory in our lives. This week we’ll look at our struggle against the flesh.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

Romans 7:15 NKJV

The Legend about Two Dogs…

Have you ever heard the legend about two dogs living inside us? One is disobedient and selfish, the other gentle and loving. They constantly fight, like an eternal tug-of-war.

The Apostle Paul decried this human condition. As Christians, we try to quash our former rebellious nature (our iniquities) and walk in obedience to please God. When we accept Jesus as Savior, our sin nature dies but never goes away in this life. Hence, our two natures continuously struggle.

How do we win the struggle?

We win the struggle through self-control and sanctification–by studying the Word and communing with God through Jesus in prayer. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to control how we react to temptations that enter our lives. Without Him, we would have no hope. With Him, we always have the victory. As Paul gratefully proclaims, “It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (Romans 7:25 TLB).

The flesh and self-control…

The flesh certainly has its specific appetites, doesn’t it? We all have our own particular battles to fight. Check off which ones apply to your life:

  • The mouth-gate:
    • what we eat and drink
    • words we speak
    • oral addictions
  • The ear-gate:
    • The message we receive through music or the spoken word
  • The eye-gate:
    • What we watch on television, the computer, or at the theater
    • What we read
  • The feet-gate:
    • The places we allow ourselves to go
  • The hand-gate:
    • What we allow ourselves to do, hold, or touch

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

Back to the legend…which dog wins the fight? The one we feed the most. As we grow in sanctification, the struggle lessens. God gives us the power to overcome and be victorious through the fruit of self-control. Although we never “arrive” at perfection in this life, our blessed hope is that we will attain it in heaven through our Savior’s perfection.

How are you overcoming your struggles against fleshly desires? How are you developing self-control in areas of weakness?

Dear Lord, thank you for understanding our temptations and giving us the power to overcome them. It’s through Your Holy Spirit that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we live in victory as we grow in the fruit of self-control. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 39: Gentleness

Welcome to the second part of our study on GENTLENESS. This week we’ll look at James’s teaching as he defines meekness in greater detail. We’ll conclude with examples of strength founded in humble meekness that we can model from the lives of Moses and our Lord Jesus.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James 4:10 NKJV

How do gentleness and wisdom fit together? Click HERE to read James 3:13-18.

According to James, worldly wisdom is…

Unspiritual, earthly, and demonic, a kind of wisdom that has no substance of goodness. When others get ahead or attain success, bitter envy and jealousy rear their green heads. In competition, its red-hot ambition is not for the good of others–it’s purely selfish. James declares that envy and selfish ambition yield disorder and every kind of evil practice.

But heavenly wisdom…

The yield of heavenly wisdom is good deeds rooted in humility. Peacemakers sow seeds of peace and reap a crop of righteousness. Godly wisdom overflows with purity, peace, consideration for others, submissiveness, mercy, good fruit, impartiality, and sincerity.

May we always pray to receive God’s heavenly wisdom that allows us to grow in humble meekness.

Moses…

“(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)”

Numbers 12:3 NKJV

This passage of Scripture describes Moses as the meekest and most humble of all men. Bearing these powerful credentials of spiritual strength, God chose him to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land–a gargantuan task. He faced problems no one man has ever encountered, but God brought him through each one with success. Here are a few of God’s miraculous provisions: water in the barren desert pouring from rocks; daily manna from heaven; clothes and shoes that lasted forty years; a dry path through the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians; speaking face-to-face with Moses on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments on stone tablets; and God’s guiding presence in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

One story shows Moses’s humble gentleness toward his siblings, Aaron and Miriam. Apparently these two became upset after Moses had married a Cushite woman, and they began to criticize their brother’s leadership. “’Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). The Lord heard their words and became angry, dressing them down in front of the tent of meeting and dealing out retribution by making Miriam leprous. Aaron repented, and Moses pled with the Lord to take away Miriam’s punishment. (Click HERE to find out the rest of the story.)

Jesus…

Jesus shows His strength like a lion and His humble meekness like a lamb. From the Gospels through Revelation, He is depicted as the strong Lion of Judah as well as the humble Lamb of God. He embraced the little children to bless them (Matthew 19:13-14), and He treated women with respect and forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50).

The Scriptures about Jesus’s road to Calvary reveal the most about His gentle humility and controlled strength. Here are a few examples:

  • When Peter cut off the slave’s ear during Jesus’s arrest, Jesus rebuked Peter and performed a healing miracle (Luke 22:49-51).
  • Later when Peter denied knowing Him, Jesus sadly looked over at His disciple without a word (Luke 22:54-62).
  • He remained silent at the lying accusations of a mock trial and submitted to their physical torture (Mark 15:1-20)
  • When Pilate threatened Jesus that he held the power to either release or crucify Him, Jesus responded that God alone was in control of His fate (John 19:10-11).
  • Even as He was dying on the cross, Jesus forgave His enemies and voiced His will concerning His mother, Mary (John 19:25-27).
  • He forgave the sins of the thief on the cross next to Him (Luke 23:39-43).

Like Moses, have you ever struggled with humble gentleness as a leader of obstinate people? Have you ever forgiven an undeserving sibling or family member?

Like Jesus, have you forgiven your enemies–even in the face of the threat of death? Have you extended grace to them? Held your tongue when rejected or wrongly accused?

Whatever our trials, may we count them all joy because through them we will be made perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4) Our triumph and victory glorify our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we follow the humblest, gentlest and meekest man, the Son of God, and emulate His example.

Dear Father, thank you for teaching us about spiritual strength found within humble meekness. May we follow Your example and grow to be like You as we study Your Word and commune with You in prayer. May Your controlled strength shine through our lives as we humbly submit to You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 38: Gentleness

Welcome to our final month of study. During the next two weeks, we’ll define GENTLENESS and examine what meekness looks like through Scriptural examples. Our goal is to understand how to do our part so God can grow seeds of gentleness in our hearts and lives.

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:5 NKJV

Psalm 37

Let’s begin by defining GENTLENESS, also commonly called MEEKNESS. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being gentle, especiallymildness of manners or disposition.”

We’re weaned as children to understand meekness as someone who’s a wimp. Do you remember the cartoon, Popeye? One of the characters was a rotund man, even named Wimpy, who constantly ate hamburgers. Another example is hen-pecked Dagwood Bumstead in the cartoon, Blondie, who made the Dagwood sandwich an American cultural fixture. Even from childhood, we’ve been indoctrinated into the world’s definition: meekness equals weakness.

πράγματα / prágmata

But the Bible’s definition is the complete opposite. The Greek word written above is “prautes,” a challenging word to define in English. Picture a wild horse that’s broken and now under the control of a bridle. R.C. Trench in his classic work “Synonyms of the New Testament” says that “Prautes does not consist in a person’s outward behaviour only, nor yet in his relations to his fellow man…rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.  It is that temper of spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.”

Meekness means we have surrendered and entrusted our soul and spirit to God’s good control without argument or resistance. Therefore, gentleness implies great strength under control. It’s courage, not mousey fear; true humility, not false modesty; “a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense while being free from any desire for revenge or retribution.” (John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary)

How do we personally measure up to these standards? Let’s explore this divine strength in the Scripture by reading Psalm 37.

We see how Matthew 5:5 relates directly to Psalm 37:11. It says, “The meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” So, what does meekness mean in this Psalm and what does it have to do with God? Let’s read verses 5-8:

“Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.”

Psalm 37:5-8 NKJV

A portrait of meekness…

  • COMMIT: We commit everything to the Lord–our business, relationships, finances, health, fears–because we realize we are insufficient to deal with all the complexities of life. God is willing and able to sustain, guide, and protect us. (Verse 5a)
  • TRUST: We confidently place our trust in the Lord because we know God is on the side of the righteous. He will defend and vindicate us whenever the enemy attacks. (Verse 5b)
  • WAIT: This is perhaps the most difficult for us to do. Meekness means we are still and patiently wait for the Lord to bring His will to pass in our lives. In the middle of life’s storms, we are still and calm, trusting in God’s control and His willingness to work things out for our good. (Verse 7a)
  • DON’T FRET: Another challenge for sure! When the wicked go on their merry way in prosperity, it’s hard not to be upset or angry. Yes, it may feel very unjust and unfair. But since we trust God completely, it’s possible to rest in Him when we encounter opposition or setbacks. (Verse 7b-8)

If we have ever previously regarded gentleness as weakness, we now have a clear picture of its powerful, controlled strength. As Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, the meek will inherit the earth. What an amazing blessing awaits us as we understand how important it is to cultivate this strong fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Next week we’ll look at how the Book of James defines meekness and also how we see it reflected in the lives of Moses and especially our Lord Jesus.

How is God growing seeds of gentleness in your soul and spirit?

Dear Father, thank you for teaching us that meekness is strength under control. It takes divine strength to answer with a soft word or to turn the other cheek. Help us to commit, trust, wait patiently, and not fret as You work out Your good will in our lives. May we grow in Your sweet gentleness each day. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 37: Faithfulness

Welcome to our fourth study about FAITHFULNESS. This week will wrap up our study on this fruit of the Spirit. Let’s examine God’s faithfulness by continuing to look at the last four covenants. There is one that is very special to us Christians–do you know which one?

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV)

Various Scriptures will be included in today’s lesson.

The Mosaic Covenant…

This covenant between God and Israel was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God’s finger wrote out the Ten Commandments on tablets, and He also spelled out 613 laws for the Jews to live by. Breaking even one commandment made them guilty of all. The only path to forgiveness was the shedding of animal blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.

Leviticus 17:11 NKJV

The Law contained blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Signed and sealed by the Shechinah Glory in Exodus 24:1-11, this covenant was rendered conditional. (If you would like to read the 613 commandments, click HERE.)

The Land Covenant…

Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be you a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you will I curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

The Land Covenant, an unconditional covenant, is still very much in effect. It is an expansion of the original Abrahamic Covenant and emphasizes the promise of the Land to God’s earthly Jewish people in spite of their unbelief. The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership for the Land is unconditional. The Land Covenant, however, teaches that the enjoyment of the Land is conditional on obedience. (Read some provisions of the Land Covenant HERE.)

The Davidic Covenant…

The unconditional Davidic Covenant was between God and King David. You can read two accounts: the first emphasizes Solomon (click HERE) and the second emphasizes the Messiah (click HERE).

In summary, God made David four eternal promises: an eternal House or dynasty, an eternal Throne, an eternal Kingdom, and an eternal Descendant. This guarantees the eternal covenant since the Seed of David produces One who is Himself eternal: the Messianic God-Man, Jesus Christ.

The New Covenant and The Law of Messiah…

In relationship to the Church, the New Covenant is the basis of the Dispensation of Grace. In relationship to Israel, the New Covenant is the basis for the Dispensation of the Kingdom. The New Covenant itself is an unconditional covenant and therefore eternally in effect.

Behold, the days come,” says Jehovah, “that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them,” says Jehovah. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says Jehovah: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” says Jehovah: “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 NKJV

This unconditional covenant is between God and the entire nation of Israel. (Please note that this covenant is not Replacement Theology. It applies to the Church but is not made with the Church.) Further, it is now a replacement of the Mosaic Covenant, considered broken. It promises the blessings of salvation and the regeneration of the nation of Israel. It provides for the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and material blessings as well as the rebuilding of the Temple during the Millenial Age.

The New Covenant also contains the Law of Messiah: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), and “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Although the Law of Messiah has some of the same commandments as the Law of Moses, it is different in many respects. We now have no Sabbath law (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16) and no dietary code (Mark. 7:19; Romans 14:20).

Here is another difference. The Law of Moses said: “Love your neighbor as yourself “(Leviticus 19:18), making man the standard. The Law of the Messiah said: “Love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 15:12), making Messiah, who died for mankind, the standard.

Last, the Law of the Messiah provides a new motivation. Instead of the Law of Moses teaching, “Do, in order to be blessed,” the Law of the Messiah teaches, “You have been and are blessed, therefore, do.”

One New Man…

Here is a mystery: Gentiles have been grafted into this Jewish heritage and share in the blessings of this New Covenant. Two passages clearly explain it. The first is Ephesians 2:11-16: 

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Ephesians 2:11-16 NKJV

Romans 11:17 also describes the concept of partaking:

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, the Gentile believers.”

Romans 11:17 NKJV

The Olive Tree represents the place of spiritual blessings of the Jewish Covenants. The two types of branches partaking of the blessings are the natural branches, which are the Jewish believers, and wild olive branches, which are the Gentile believers.

However, the Blessing aspect, as highlighted by the New Covenant, included the Gentiles. The Church enjoys the spiritual blessings of these covenants, but not the material and physical benefits. The physical promises still belong to Israel and will be fulfilled exclusively with Israel, especially those involving the Land. However, the Church now also shares all spiritual benefits.

The blood of the Messiah shed at the Cross is the basis of salvation in the New Covenant. The blood of the Messiah ratified, signed, and sealed the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:1-10:18). The Church has become a partaker of Jewish spiritual blessings, but the Church is not a replacement for the Jewish people.

The Mosaic Covenant’s purpose…

An important purpose of the Mosaic Covenant jumps out at us. Is it possible for Man to keep all 613 commandments without breaking one of them? Of course not. Its purpose is to point out our sins and our need for a Savior.

Only Jesus lived a perfect life on earth without breaking one commandment. As God and Man, Jesus alone can identify with our human struggles, yet without sin. He is the Promise of God sent to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it.

The Land Covenant’s importance…

The special importance of the Land Covenant is that it reaffirms the title deed to the Land as belonging to Israel. Although she would prove unfaithful and disobedient, the right to the Land would never be taken from her. Furthermore, it shows that the conditional Mosaic Covenant did not lay aside the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant. It might be interpreted by some that the Mosaic Covenant displaced the Abrahamic Covenant, but the Land Covenant shows that this is not true.

The Impact of the Davidic Covenant…

The impact of the Davidic Covenant is its magnification of the Seed aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. According to the prophecy, Messiah would come from the Seed of Abraham, the Tribe of Judah, the family or house of David.

The Benefits of the New Covenant…

Our gift of salvation comes through Jesus’s death and resurrection. He died for all mankind. Although the majority of Jews don’t believe in Jesus as Messiah now, they will believe in the future. In Romans 11, Paul taught that the Gentiles share in spiritual blessings, but these are Jewish spiritual blessings attained through the Jewish covenants.

As believers in Messiah, all spiritual blessings are available to us, whether we’re Jews or Gentiles. Through Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins, believers reap spiritual benefits that would never be ours otherwise. The eight covenants of the Bible pinpoint exact provisions, which are valuable for a full understanding of Scripture.

Thanks for joining me this month for a fascinating study about faithfulness. Not only are we to be faithful to God and to one another, but God shows His faithfulness to us through His covenants. I’ve learned a lot from studying God’s eight covenants–I hope you did too.

Next month I’ll be combining each of our last two fruits of the Spirit, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL, into two-week studies. I’m looking forward to concluding our year-long Bible study and hope you’ll join me in November.

Which covenant of God’s faithfulness means the most to you?

Dear Father God, we give You thanks for teaching us about Your holy covenants with Israel. As Christians, we also enjoy the blessings and benefits of them, especially the New Covenant. Thank You for Your faithfulness to us. We praise and glorify Your Name throughout all the earth. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 36: Faithfulness

Welcome to our third study on faithfulness. This week we’ll explore how God shows His faithfulness to us and how we experience it in our personal lives. Just as in a marriage ceremony, God makes a covenant to be a faithful husband to us. Let’s relish every moment with this covenant-keeping God who never breaks a promise and who vows to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV

Today’s Scriptures are linked below in our study.

God’s Old Testament Covenants…

In the Holy Scriptures, God proves His faithfulness and the truth of His Word. Hebrews 6:18 states that God is not a liar, nor is He a promise-breaker of an unconditional promise He vows to fulfill. He keeps every covenant, every promise or foretelling that has or will come true. The Bible is full of one testimony after another of God’s faithfulness, which people still testify to today.

Did you know that the Bible mentions covenants between God and His people about 277 times? Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV).

Conditional versus unconditional...

A conditional covenant means God will fulfill His promise if Man is obedient to do his part first. Man’s failure to do so results in some type of punishment, but his obedience results in God’s blessings. The Edenic and the Mosaic Covenants are both conditional.

The Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Palestinian or Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant are unconditional. These are dependant on God Himself and are a sovereign act of God to bring blessings to His people.

How are these covenants meaningful to us? Today we’ll discuss four: the Edenic, Adamic, Abrahamic, and Noahic. As we progress, be thinking about how each one affects your life.

The Edenic Covenant…

God first made a conditional covenant with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and spelled out the rules for a blessed life. However, they had to first obey God’s direction.

“And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:15-17 NK

The Adamic Covenant…

This unconditional covenant came about after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Throughout the ages, mankind has been affected by this covenant, causing us all to be born in sin. God pronounced judgment on Adam, Eve, and the serpent as follows:


“And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’

Unto the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.’

And unto Adam he said, Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.'”

Genesis 3:14-19

The Abrahamic Covenant…

God made several promises to Abraham, specifically to multiply his seed into a great nation. The token of this covenant is the male child’s circumcision on the eighth day after birth. This unconditional covenant is very lengthy, so I will quote one and link more Scriptures for deeper study.

“And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, ‘By myself have I sworn, says Jehovah, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.'”

Genesis 22:15-18; Genesis 12:11-3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21; Genesis 17:1-21 NKJV

The Noahic Covenant…

God wiped out His creation of Man due to their rampant wickedness. However, He saved righteous Noah and his family along with pairs of all the birds and animals. The token promise of this unconditional covenant is the rainbow. Do you remember God’s promise every time you see a colorful bow in the sky?

“… I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.’ And God said unto Noah, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'”

Genesis 9:1-17 NKJV

Our God demonstrates His faithfulness to us through His covenant-making and covenant-keeping. What impact do these promises have on your life? How has God personally shown you His faithfulness?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your covenants. They prove Your love and eternal faithfulness to us, Your people. We bless Your Name, O God, for You are worthy of worship and praise. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 35: Faithfulness

Welcome back to our second study on faithfulness. This week we’ll be focusing on how faith comes alive through works. Although works alone don’t save us, they are important in relation to our faith. Let’s explore this important teaching by studying what James tells us in the New Testament.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

James 2:26 NKJV

James 2:14-26

A review…

First, let’s review last week’s definition of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).

We know that faith isn’t wishful thinking. In fact, faith is probably the most practical possession we possess in our Christian walk. Do you realize that faith is a living thing, just like our physical bodies? Just as our bodies are dead without our spirits, our faith is also dead unless it shows action, proving it is alive.

James explains it by giving an example in James 2:15-16: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” 

Helping others in need is a basic Christian work. All missionary and charity work flow out of our faith’s love for Jesus. We are all commissioned as believers to spread the gospel to those in our sphere. These noble works spark tangible life into our spirits, assuring us that the Lord is well pleased.

Faith versus works…

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14 NKJV).

James may come across as controversial with this question. In the Greek language, this question demands a negative answer. However, according to the Scriptures, we know that faith alone does indeed save us. But we need to realize that James is speaking to a specific group of Jews who, before Jesus died on the cross, only believed in salvation through works. His argument is an effort to base salvation on faith first, but second, to also show that works have an important place in the Christian walk. Christian belief can only motivate us one way–to do good works as part of our worship and love for our Lord and Savior.

Justification by faith alone…

Paul teaches that salvation is graciously extended to the Gentile as well as the Jew. He clearly tells us in Scripture that David and Abraham both agreed that salvation is through faith, not works:

“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works.”

Romans 4:5-6 NKJV

“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’”

Romans 4:3 NKJV

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Romans 5:1-2 NKJV

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also…” 

Romans 3:27-29 NKJV

Saving Faith versus professing faith…

James is examining salvation is a different light. He sees it as a two-sided coin–as saving faith versus professing faith. For James, justification is by a faith that works—by a genuine faith that manifests itself in post-conversion works.

James explains that although a person may believe in God’s existence, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is saved. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19 NKJV). We must first have a conversion experience by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Afterward, our faith grows and comes alive through good works.

John Calvin said, “Faith alone saves, but a faith that saves is never alone.” Thus, James’s question is not simply “Can faith save?” but as the Greek text may suggest, “Can that faith save him?”

Works’ benefits…

“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Romans 14:10 NKJV

Although good works don’t produce salvation, they are going to matter after we get to heaven. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers’ works will be judged by fire, and each one will receive rewards based on them. However, if a Saint has no works or if all his works are burned up, that person will still be saved.

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NKJV

Abraham’s justification…

James refers to Abraham’s justification, citing his willingness to sacrifice his son on the altar as his work to prove his faith.

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

James 2:21-24 NKJV

I hope James’s teaching has inspired us to put our faith to work! Although works cannot save, we are commissioned by the Lord to go forth doing good and helping others as we are enabled. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our lost and dying world, spreading the gospel of the Good News. Let’s remember Jesus’s promise to us to reward every good work:

“‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.'”

Revelation 22:12 NKJV

How do good works prove your faith?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us that we all need to breathe life into our faith by doing good works. May we be inspired to serve You more by sharing our faith and ministering to one another. May we have acceptable, pleasing works to lay at Your feet at the judgment seat of Christ. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved