Authority

Authority

Many years ago, I was a member of the New York City Police Department’s Auxiliary Police force. Auxiliary Police are unarmed volunteers who patrol on foot, in police cars, or on bicycles with the goal of increasing the perception of police presence throughout the city. They wear basically the same uniform as regular officers, carry a straight wood baton, police radio, handcuffs, and other standard police equipment. Since they are not regular police officers, their authority is limited. But, as registered peace officers, they have the authority to make arrests for crimes that occur in their presence or, in the instance of crimes not occurring in their presence, by the direct order of a police dispatcher or regular police officer.

Authority is jurisdiction or control over people or places. All of us have someone or something to whose authority we must submit. Authority is also a power or a right that is given or delegated to people to carry out tasks that they don’t possess the authority to do on their own. The Bible tells us that all authority on earth is given by the ultimate Authority. It is given and established by God (Romans 13:1). When Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, for questioning and did not speak, Pilate asked if Jesus understood that he had the authority to release Him or to crucify Him. Jesus pointed out that Pilate had no authority except what was given to him by God (John 19:10-11). All things were created through Jesus, including those who are in authority over others (Colossians 1:16), and so, all authority, both in heaven and on earth, comes from God. (Unfortunately, due to the existence of evil in the world, earthly authority is sometimes abused.)

God gives authority, or power, to His people. He gave Moses the power to perform signs and wonders before Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21). Jesus gave His disciples the power to cast out demons and to heal diseases (Luke 9:1; 10:19). God gave Stephen the power to perform signs and wonders among the people of Jerusalem (Acts 6:8). Jesus told us that He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth and He, in turn, has given us the authority to make disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-19). Through the Holy Spirit, all disciples of Christ receive power and have both the authority and the ability to spread the Gospel across the street and around the world (Acts 1:8). And, to those who receive Christ, who believe in Him and follow Him, God gives the right, the authority, to become children of God.

Want Peace? Seek Wisdom!

peace in sand

In a world full of political unrest, where people fight against each other with actions and with words, peace is something that many of us find lacking. But peace is something that I’m sure each and every one of us desires. Peace among nations, peace among our fellow citizens, peace in our families, and peace in our individual lives. True peace comes from God; it is found only in His character. Isaiah 9:6 refers to Jesus as the Prince of peace. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Philippians 4:9 speak of the “God of peace.” And Philippians 4:7 tells us that the peace of God, a peace that surpasses our limited human understanding, is the peace that will guard our hearts and our minds. So, how do we get that peace? We get it through praying to the God of peace. We get it through a relationship with the Jesus, the Prince of peace. We get it by allowing the Holy Spirit to live within us, to guide us each and every day. And, we get it through wisdom.

“Wait,” you say. “How do we get peace through wisdom? What does wisdom have to do with peace?” That’s a very good question! I’m glad you asked. There is a definite connection between peace and wisdom. But I’m not just talking about any wisdom here.  I’m talking about heavenly wisdom, the wisdom from above. It’s the wisdom that comes from the One who created this world, the wisdom of God. It is wisdom that comes from understanding God’s ways, a wisdom that begins by living our lives with a healthy fear of God (Proverbs 9:10). When we have this kind of wisdom, we live lives that are marked by honor, lives identified by good works done with humility (James 3:13). What this wisdom is not is the wisdom of man, earthly wisdom (James 3:15). Relying on earthly wisdom leads to arrogance. It leads to jealousy and selfish ambition. And where these things exist, disorder and evil of every kind will follow (James 3:16). Peace cannot exist alongside disorder and evil!

On the other hand, the wisdom that comes from above, the heavenly wisdom, is pure. It is wisdom that loves peace, that is always gentle and willing to be considerate of others. It is a wisdom that is full of mercy and compassion. It is wisdom that bears good fruit, that shows no favoritism to anyone and is, above all, sincere (James 3:17). One thing that stands out about all of these characteristics is that they are selfless and nonaggressive. When we demonstrate these characteristics in the way by which we live our lives, when we live by heavenly wisdom, we live in such a way as to show greater concern for others than for ourselves. And when we value others more than ourselves, we become peacemakers, sowing the seeds of peace to reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18).

Want peace? Seek wisdom, the wisdom from above.

Through the Red Sea

The Waters Are Divided

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29, NASB)

With each step out of the land of Egypt, the Israelites must have tasted their freedom more and more. God was leading them away from the place in which they had been enslaved for generations. And then it happened. They found themselves face to face with a watery dead end as they stood at the shore of the Red Sea. And then, to make matters worse, Pharaoh decided to pursue them in order to bring them back into captivity. As the Egyptian army, with its horses and its chariots, came into sight, the Israelites once again became slaves – not slaves to the Egyptians, but slaves to their fear. They cried out to God, complained to Moses, and began to think that they were better off when they lived as slaves to the Egyptians. But Moses had faith in God. “Do not fear!” he told the Israelites. Moses believed that God would not allow them to be recaptured, and God used Moses to part the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through on dry land before sending the pursuing Egyptian army to its watery grave (Exodus 14:1-31).

God provided a way for the Israelites to escape their captors and their fears. He made a way through the obstacle in front of them and away from the fear that pursued them. The way through the Red Sea was provided by God, but it required something on the part of the Israelites. In Exodus 14:16, God told Moses that he was to lift up his staff, stretch his hand over the sea, and divide the water, and that the Israelites were to walk through the sea on dry land. God’s way through the problem facing the Israelites required faith and action. Moses and the Israelites had to believe that what God said would happen would come to pass. They had to believe that the laws of nature would be bent and that the water would roll back, exposing dry land so that they could pass through. They had to believe that the water would be held back long enough for every one of them to make it through to the other side, ahead of the pursuing Egyptian army. And then they had to step out in that faith.

We will all face a Red Sea moment at some point in our lives. That Red Sea moment could be an addiction. It could be financial difficulties or the loss of a job. It could be sickness. Whatever our Red Sea is, we have a choice. We can stand in front of it and allow ourselves to become slaves to fear, anxiety, or worry. Or, we can seek God’s help, asking Him to help us through by parting our Red Sea. When we reach out to God, He will provide a way through our difficulties. That way could be miraculous, as God takes away our addiction, provides money or a job, or heals us from our sickness. Or God may simply give us the strength, hope, and courage we need to face the situation we are in. But, whatever shape that Red Sea parting takes for us, just like it did for the Israelites, it requires faith and action on our part. We need to believe that God will make a way for us. And we need to step out in faith and walk through our difficulty in whatever way God directs.

Are you standing before a Red Sea in your life? Are you at a standstill, paralyzed by fear in which the enemy is trying to enslave you? Cry out to God, allow Him to show you the way through, then step out in faith into the freedom that waits on the other side.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Training for Eternity

Born in Italy in 1892, Angelo Siciliano moved to Brooklyn, New York at the age of eleven. As a young man, Angelo was slight, round-shouldered, and scrawny, weighing in at just 97 pounds. One day, while spending time on a beach, Angelo was accosted by a bully, who kicked sand in his face. Determined to prevent that sort of thing from happening again, Angelo turned to exercise in an effort to build up his body. Through a regimen of exercise and diet that he learned by talking to the strongmen at shows in Coney Island, Angelo went on to win a contest at Madison Square Garden in 1922, where he was dubbed as “America’s Most Perfectly Developed Man.” That same year, Angelo Siciliano officially changed his name to Charles Atlas, and soon went into business, offering a bodybuilding program by mail order that he claimed would “make you a new man” in just seven days.

God’s Word tells us that exercise, physical training of the body, is of some value (1 Timothy 4:8, NIV). Discipline in nurturing the body through exercise and diet makes us physically stronger and can help us to be physically healthy. Having spent a few years working in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, I can attest to that. But here’s the thing: physical exercise is only beneficial in this life, in the time that we have before our physical bodies eventually fail us and we face our earthly mortality. That certainly was true for Charles Atlas. He was physically fit even into his old age but, in his final years, he developed diabetes and died in 1972 at the age of 80.

God’s Word also tells us that, through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ conquered both sin and death (2 Timothy 1:10). Jesus has abolished death and taken away its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55). Does this mean we will not face physical death? No. Until Jesus returns, physical death will still claim our mortal bodies. But there is a life beyond the grave, and how we spend that life will depend upon how we train in this life, how we discipline ourselves. It depends upon how well we train spiritually. 1 Timothy 4:8 points out that, while physical training can benefit us in this life, training for godliness provides benefits not just in this life, but in the life to come.

We need to work hard at godliness, striving to become more and more like Jesus, fixing our hope on Him, our Savior. But it is not just for our own benefit that we must do so, it is also for the benefit of others who, seeing the way in which we live our lives, may also choose to follow Christ and be assured of the salvation that comes through Him. Our example can mean the difference in how those around us will spend eternity, in God’s presence, or separated from Him. And it’s for this reason that, we who have believed, who have chosen to follow Christ, must closely watch our lives and our beliefs. We must persevere in them because by doing so, we save both ourselves and those with whom we share the Good News (1 Timothy 4:16).

The Holy Spirit is Our Guide

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“Oh, what a beautiful morning!” Each day of our trip to Israel this past February began with those words from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “Oklahoma!” As the tour bus departed from our hotel each day, the song was lifted up by Menachem, our tour guide, who then spent the rest of the day bringing us insight and knowledge about the sites we visited. In many ways, it was that insight, provided by someone who knew the country and its history like the back of his hand, that made the trip the memorable experience that it was. Without the help of our guide, we still might have seen many wonderful things, but we would not have experienced them quite as fully as we did. As our tour guide, Menachem was invaluable to us as we traveled in a place we had never been before.

As followers of Christ, we have a guide who helps us each step of the way along our journey through life. That guide is the Holy Spirit, who gives each one of us guidance as we face the challenges, difficulties, and decisions that face us every day. It is the same Holy Spirit who guided Moses when he raised his staff and the Red Sea parted (Isaiah 63:11-14). It is the same Holy Spirit who led Jesus in His ministry (Luke 4:1). And it is the same Holy Spirit who guided the early church in its corporate decisions (Acts 13:2). For each of us, as individual believers, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, to lead us and to guide us. And when we are led and guided by the Holy Spirit, we are the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14).

In what ways does the Holy Spirit guide us? He guides us as we read the Word of God, helping us to understand it and to keep it before us at all times (Isaiah 59:21). He guides us in prayer. When we are weak and do not know what to pray for or how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings that are too deep for words (Romans 8:26). He guides us through the spiritual gifts that each of us has been given, empowering us to use those gifts in service to God and to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). He guides us as we witness to others, sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus (Mark 13:11), giving us the words to speak (1 Corinthians 2:13). And, He guides us into a knowledge of truth, the truth that comes only from God (John 16:13).

Like Menachem on our Israel trip, the Holy Spirit is invaluable to us as we walk through life. It is only through His guidance that we can fully realize the goal of becoming more and more like Christ.

Walking in God’s Calling

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, NASB)

Have you ever felt called to something? A calling is an inner desire or impulse that spurs you to pursue a vocation, a profession, or even a course of action. When you truly feel called to something, you take whatever steps are necessary to accomplish what you are called to do. A calling can be a result of the influence of family or friends, it can be a result of things you have read or learned through experience. But no matter what brought you to feel called to something, you will have a desire not just to accomplish it, but also to do so to the best of your ability.

All who follow Christ have a calling. That calling comes from God and the purpose of that calling is to glorify God, by helping to further His kingdom through the work that He planned for us long before we were born. That calling could be to full-time ministry as a pastor or a missionary. It could be serving in a volunteer capacity in the church. Or it could be shining the light of Jesus in the world while at work or in school. God’s Word says that whatever that calling may be, whatever work God has called us to do, we should carry it out in a manner worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1). That means doing it in such a way so as to preserve the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3). In order to do so, we must carry out our calling with humility, gentleness, patience, and by bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

When we choose to follow Christ, we become part of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:4 tells us that there is just one body and there is just one Spirit that indwells that body. That body is the church. As members of that body, we are called to share a common hope concerning our future with God, the confidence that begins when we receive salvation through Christ. Just as there is one body, there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. The one true God is over all, through all, and in all (Ephesians 4:5-6). And it is that one true God who has given gifts to each one of us. These gifts, which we receive through the Holy Spirit, are given to us in order to equip us for the works of service to which each of us has been called, works that build up the body and glorify God (Ephesians 4:11-12).

We all have gifts and we all have a calling. God has provided them. Our responsibility as the body is to discover those gifts and that calling through prayer and to walk in them in a manner worthy of the calling.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Jesus Entered Our Story

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3, NASB)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17, NASB)

A few years ago, I wrote a children’s story called Once Upon a Spring Break. The story centered around a young boy named Travis Bennett. During a spring break, when all his friends have gone away with their families, Travis is stuck at home. When his mom sends him to the library to take out a book to read to occupy his time, Travis happens upon an old, musty book of fairy tales. He begins to read it, only to find the stories are all mixed up. Through an old man named Max, Travis soon learns that, in order to restore the stories, someone needs to enter the book, to enter the stories. And that someone is Travis.

Our story, the story of mankind, is one that has gotten mixed up. Through the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, sin came into the world and changed the story that was originally intended for us, a story in which we would live eternally in the presence of God. Sin made it impossible for us to live in God’s presence and, because all of us are sinners and all of us fall short of the glory of God, we needed a Savior, someone who could restore our story. So, God sent a Savior into our story. But this Savior was not just anyone, it was the Author of our story, the Word of God. The Savior was God’s Son, Jesus, who entered our story as a tiny baby over two thousand years ago. Jesus entered our story and by dying on a cross, He provided a way to fix our story.

When we believe in Jesus, believe that He died for us and rose from the grave, and we choose to turn from our sin and follow Him, our story is restored. Because through Jesus, the Word of God and the Author of our story, we can once again live eternally in God’s presence.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Don’t Hold Your Breath, Breathe Out Forgiveness

Peter had a question for Jesus, one he was sure he already knew the answer to. So he went to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive someone who sins against me?” But before Jesus could answer, Peter attempted to answer his own question by asking, “Seven times?” Imagine Peter’s surprise (and perhaps his disappointment) when he heard Jesus’ response: “No, Peter, not seven times; you should forgive that person seventy times seven.” Perhaps seeing that Peter was perplexed by this answer, Jesus went on to illustrate the importance of forgiveness, with a parable about a servant whose debt to his master was so great he could not possibly repay it. When faced with the consequences of that debt, the servant pleaded for mercy. The master had compassion on him and forgave the debt. The servant left, freed from the penalty of his debt (Matthew 18:21-27).

Now, one would think that this servant, having received forgiveness, would be overjoyed and ready to pass on that same forgiveness to others. Instead, the servant left his master and immediately went to a fellow servant who owed him money. Although the debt that this fellow servant owed was not nearly as great as the debt that he was just released from, the servant demanded repayment. The fellow servant could not pay the debt and pleaded for mercy but instead was thrown into prison. Despite the fact that the master had chosen to show the first servant forgiveness, he was not willing to extend that forgiveness to his fellow servant. When the master heard of this, the first servant, as a result of his unforgiveness, was thrown into prison to be tortured until he had paid off the debt he owed to the master (Matthew 18:28-34).

Jesus taught that, just as our heavenly Father has forgiven each of us, we must also be ready and willing to forgive others. And He said that if we do not forgive others, we will not receive the forgiveness of our heavenly Father. In his Bible commentary, Matthew for Everyone, well-known British Bible scholar N.T. Wright compares forgiveness to the air in our lungs. He points out that our lungs can take in more air only when we have breathed out the air that was already in them. If we hold our breath in order to keep that air inside our lungs, we are unable to breathe in any new air and will suffocate. When it comes to forgiveness, the forgiveness that we receive must be “breathed out” to those who have sinned against us in order for us to continue to receive the forgiveness of our heavenly Father. Unforgiveness, holding that forgiveness inside us, like holding our breath in our lungs, will suffocate us spiritually.

So, why do we sometimes have such a difficult time with forgiveness? One reason could be pride. We may feel that offering forgiveness is beneath us, that we are better than the person who has sinned against us so, why should we forgive him or her? At the beginning of Matthew 18, Jesus explained that it is the person who becomes as humble as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4). Childlike humility is important in the life of a follower of Christ. When we work on having that kind of humility in our hearts, we see others as equal to ourselves. We are not better than others, and they are not better than us. This is the kind of humility that enables us to breathe in the forgiveness that God offers us and then breathe it out to those who have sinned against us.

The Holy Spirit Seals Our Inheritance

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Several years ago, my wife and I were considering a move to Florida. We made several trips down there to look at homes in a number of active adult communities. On one of those trips, we visited a community in Ocala that we felt would be a great fit and even found a lot that we liked that backed up to a small body of water. Unfortunately, we were not ready to buy yet, as we had to have some work done in our New Jersey home before we could put it on the market. So, not wanting to lose the lot, we put down money, a deposit to guarantee that the builder would hold the lot for us for a period of one year. That deposit was what is known as earnest money. Although we eventually chose not to complete the transaction, we were guaranteed that the lot would be ours because of that earnest money.

When it comes to our inheritance from God, the Holy Spirit is God’s “earnest money.” In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of the inheritance that we have received as a result of hearing the Gospel and receiving the salvation that is given through believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. And when we receive that salvation, it is sealed with the Holy Spirit, just as a legal document is sealed to signify that the transaction being made is complete. Our salvation is made complete in Jesus and then is sealed by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us when we have chosen to follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit then becomes God’s deposit, His “earnest money” toward the inheritance that we will share with Jesus, the kingdom of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit is God’s deposit, or first installment, which guarantees that God will finish the work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6). That work is the work of redemption, which begins when we come to faith in Jesus (Ephesians 1:7), and continues as the Holy Spirit works in us to help us to become more like Christ (Romans 8:1-4). Our redemption will be completed on the day that Christ returns to call us to Himself and we become like Him. And, when that takes place, the inheritance that was sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, will become ours, an inheritance that belongs to Jesus and to all who follow Him.

Saved to Serve

buckingham-palace

Since 1837, Buckingham Palace in London has been the principal residence of the reigning British Monarch. Queen Victoria was the first to reside there and that tradition has been carried down through the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to being the residence of the monarch, Buckingham Palace has served as the administrative headquarters of the monarch and as the site for state occasions and royal hospitality. The palace contains 775 rooms, which includes staterooms, royal and guest bedrooms, staff bedrooms, offices, and 78 bathrooms. Needless to say, it takes quite a large number of servants to tend to both the building and its inhabitants. In fact, according to Answers.com, there are 800 servants employed in service to the Queen.

Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1). He is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He sits at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 2:33-34). But when Jesus came to earth some 2,000 years ago, unlike the British monarchs, or any other earthly rulers for that matter, He did not live in a huge palace with scores of rooms. Jesus Himself said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58, NLT).” Jesus didn’t have an army of servants ready to cater to His needs and desires. In fact, referring to Himself, Jesus said that, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… (Mark 10:45, NASB).” The King of kings, who could have had a legion of servants to wait on Him came to serve by giving His life so that we could be set free from the penalty of sin.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be like Him. When we give our lives to Him, when we confess and turn from our sin, and follow in His ways, we are not saved just for our own benefit. We are saved to serve. Just as Christ served us, we are to serve Him by serving others. Unlike earthly rulers, who “lord it over their people,” or earthly officials who “flaunt their authority over those under them,” we are called to be servants to those around us (Mark 10:42-44, NLT). We, who have been given freedom from the slavery of our sin are not called to turn that freedom into an opportunity to satisfy our worldly needs and desires. Rather, we are called to “serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13, NLT).”

Jesus commanded that we must love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). One of the best ways we can do that is by serving others, by placing their needs above our own. When we meet the needs of others by serving others, we reflect Jesus in the world.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Protecting Our Identity

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The term identity theft, coined in 1964, is used to describe the act in which one person poses as another person through the fraudulent use of things like that person’s name, Social Security number, drivers license, or credit card. It’s a crime that has existed for decades and has increased with the advent of the internet and almost daily data breaches. It is a crime that can ruin the victim’s life, wreaking havoc on his or her credit status and finances, and causing a multitude of other problems.

In the spiritual realm, we have an enemy who would like nothing better than to steal our identity. But it’s not our earthly identity, the identity that ties us to our earthly possessions, that our enemy is out to steal. Our enemy, the devil, is out to steal our identity as children of God. He does this, not through the internet, not through our Social Security numbers, but through our minds by casting doubt as to who we are. And he chooses those times when the challenges of life have brought us to a place where we are most vulnerable. So, how do we fight back? How do we defend ourselves against these attacks on our identity? Let’s look to Jesus for the answer.

After Jesus was baptized, He spent forty days in the wilderness, having nothing to eat that whole time. Jesus, although He was fully divine, was also fully human. He was hungry, weakened by the lack of sustenance for such a long time. It was then that the devil tried to tempt Jesus, saying, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” The devil’s goal was to make Jesus use His divinity for His own physical, human purposes. Jesus responded by saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4, NASB)

While in a weakened state, Jesus’ defense against the temptation of the devil was to use Scripture, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3. In times when we are weak, and the devil tries to steal our identity by making us question that we are children of God, we need to follow Jesus’ example as He was tempted in the wilderness. We need to use Scripture, the Word of God, as our defense. We need to spend time in His Word so that when the devil has us questioning who we are, we can remind the devil that God has written that we have been given the right to become children of God because we believe in Jesus (John 1:12). We can point out to him that our Father has such great love for us that we are called His children. And that’s exactly what we are (1 John 3:1).

I Was Blind, But Now I See

The Healed Blind Man Tells His Story to the Jews

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:24–25, NIV)

The man had been blind from birth. He lived every day of his life in darkness, unable to do anything but beg for the help and kindness of strangers. But one day, all that changed. It was the day on which the man encountered Jesus Christ. Jesus walked up to the man, spit on the ground, making mud with His saliva. He took the mud, put it on the blind man’s eyes and then told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man did as Jesus told him to do and, for the first time in his life, he was able to see (John 9:6-7). He was set free from the prison of darkness by the light of the world.

This healing took place on the Sabbath so, when the Pharisees heard of it, they decided to investigate. They questioned the formerly blind man. They questioned his parents. Then they questioned the man again. They wanted the man to testify that Jesus was a sinner and that the healing was from God, but had nothing to do with Jesus. The man told them that he did not know whether Jesus was a sinner or not. He told them that the one thing he did know beyond a shadow of a doubt was that he had been blind but could now see.

The formerly blind man’s words are echoed in one of the most beloved hymns, “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now I’m found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Don’t you just love that hymn? The words of “Amazing Grace” are such a testimony to the love and grace that God shows to all of us, a love and grace that are demonstrated in the fact that, while we were still sinners, God gave His Son, Jesus, to die for us, so that by believing in Jesus, we can be saved (Romans 5:8; John 3:16).

Because of sin, all of us have been born in darkness, we have been born blind. But, unlike the blind man in John 9, our blindness is not a physical blindness and the darkness we walk in is not a physical darkness. Rather, our blindness and our darkness are spiritual. But, just like the blind man, our blindness can be healed and we can walk in the light because, just like the blind man, we can encounter the healing and saving power of Jesus. Long before Jesus came into the world, Isaiah prophesied that those who walk in the darkness will see a great light, those who live in the dark will have the light shine upon them (Isaiah 9:2). That light is Jesus, the light of the world.

Jesus came as the light of the world so that everyone who believes in Him will no longer live in the darkness of sin (John 8:12). Without Jesus, we are spiritually blind, walking in the darkness that has been created by our sin. Sin causes us to walk in the darkness, where we stumble and get lost. But when we come to Jesus, when we believe in Him, believe that He died for us, and we turn from our sins to follow Him, then we walk in His light. And, when we walk in His light, that darkness cannot overtake us (John 12:35). Without Jesus, we are lost. With Him, we are found. And when we walk with Jesus, the light of the world, like the blind man we can say, “One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see.”

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