Fulfilling the Law
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus faced much opposition during His ministry when He didn’t agree with contemporary Jewish theology (Matt. 15:1–3). Because it was hypocritical, He denied the Pharisees’ so–called devotion.
Many in His day were saying, “Is Jesus saying new truth? Is He really speaking for God? He doesn’t say what the Pharisees say. He, in fact, says the opposite of what we’re taught.”
Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). Jesus did not condemn Old Testament law, but He did condemn the tradition that had been built up around it. The religious leaders had so perverted God’s law that Jesus declared, “I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (v. 20).
Whose righteousness are you depending on? Your own or Christ’s?
||Divinely Chosen and Called
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
We didn’t choose God; He chose us.
What is “the calling with which [we] have been called”? It is simply the position we have now as Christians. Paul said the Christians at Corinth were “saints by calling” (1 Cor. 1:2). Peter instructed his readers to make certain about God’s calling and choosing them (2 Peter 1:10). Our calling is a high calling (Phil. 3:14), “a holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9), and “a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1).
Who called us? Jesus has the answer: “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). Jesus also said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (15:16). Those “whom [God] predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). God called out to us, we responded in faith, and He saved us.
Suppose after investigating all the different religions of the world, a person chose Christianity. If Christianity were nothing more than a simple, personal choice to be saved, this person would have a certain level of commitment—that is, “Since I’ve decided to do it, it’s worth doing.” But if I’m a Christian because before the world began, the sovereign God of the universe chose me to spend eternity in His presence, that creates a much greater level of commitment.
If a single woman approached a bachelor, told him he had characteristics she admired, and asked him if he would be interested in marrying her, there would be something missing in that courtship. But suppose he approaches this woman first and says, “I have gone from one end of the world to the other, and your character and beauty surpass all others. Will you marry me?” We know then that nothing is missing.
Magnify that illustration by considering God’s perspective. We didn’t ask God if we could get in on a salvation deal. Out of all the people in the world, He chose us to receive His mercy! That’s a high, holy, heavenly calling. Such a calling demands a response of commitment, doesn’t it?
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His grace in choosing and calling you.
For Further Study: Read Romans 8:29–39. How did Paul respond to the knowledge of God’s calling for his life? ✧ How should God’s calling affect your attitude?
THE SUM TOTAL OF OUR HUNGERS
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
One of the big milk companies makes capital of the fact that their cows are all satisfied with their lot in life. Their clever ads have made the term “contented cows” familiar to everyone. But what is a virtue in a cow may be a vice in a man. And contentment, when it touches spiritual things, is surely a vice….
Religious complacency is encountered almost everywhere among Christians these days, and its presence is a sign and a prophecy. For every Christian will become at last what his desires have made him. We are all the sum total of our hungers. The great saints have all had thirsting hearts. Their cry has been, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” Their longing after God all but consumed them; it propelled them onward and upward to heights toward which less ardent Christians look with languid eye and entertain no hope of reaching.
Orthodox Christianity has fallen to its present low estate from lack of spiritual desire. Among the many who profess the Christian faith, scarcely one in a thousand reveals any passionate thirst for God. ROR059-061
Oh, Lord, deliver me from the complacency that is so prevalent both around me and within me. Give me an unquenchable thirst for You that I may cry out for You along with the saints of long ago. Amen. 
Jesus’ Deity—Central to the Gospel
A voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”—Matt. 3:17
The truth that Jesus Christ is God’s perfect Son is a key feature of the gospel message. The author of the letter to the Hebrews makes this clear at the outset of his writing:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again, “I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me”? And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.” (1:1–8; cf. Col. 1:15–19; 2:9)
The New Testament presents God more as the Father of Jesus (John 14:6–11; Phil. 2:9–11) than as the Father of believers (Matt. 6:9). We cannot worship God unless we also worship Christ as one with Him (cf. John 5:23).
|Are you as “well-pleased” with the Son—your Savior—as the Father is? And are you willing to declare it, as if boomed from the heavens? Pray that God would renew your love for Him today and fill you with boldness to pronounce your devotion at every opportunity.
BENEFITS OF GRACE
But now in Christ Jesus ye…are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Only a believing Christian can testify, “I am a sinner—saved by the grace of God!” But that is not the whole story. All that we have is cut of His grace. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, is the open channel through whom God moves to provide all the benefits He gives, both to saints and to sinners—yes, even to sinners!
Even though you may still be unconverted and going your own way, you have received much out of the ocean of His fullness. You have received the pulsing life that beats in your bosom.
You have received the brilliant mind and the brain without which you could not function. You have received a memory that strings the events you cherish as a jeweler strings pearls into a necklace.
When we say to an unbelieving man, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” we are actually saying to him: “Believe on the One who sustains you and upholds you and who has given you life. Believe in the One who pities you and spares you and keeps you. Believe on the One out of whom you came!”
Lord, You are such a merciful God! Your offer of salvation is available to all men, women and children. You send Your rain on both the just and the unjust. Lord, open my eyes to those in my sphere of influence who don’t know You.
||Matching Your Practice to Your Position
“[God] chose us … that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).
The challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match your practice to your position.
God chose you in Christ to make you “holy and blameless” in His sight. To be “holy” is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be “blameless” is to be pure, without spot or blemish—like Jesus, the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19).
Ephesians 1:4 is a positional statement. That is, Paul describes how God views us “in Him [Christ].” God sees us as “holy and blameless” because Christ our Savior is holy and blameless. His purity is credited to our spiritual bank account. That’s because God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Despite our exalted position in God’s sight, our practice often falls far short of His holy standard. Therefore, the challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match our practice to our position, realizing that sinless perfection won’t come until we are fully glorified in Heaven (Rom. 8:23).
How do you meet that challenge? By prayer, Bible study, and yielding your life to the Spirit’s control. Commit yourself to those priorities today as you seek to fulfill the great purpose to which you’ve been called—the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He does not expect you to earn your own righteousness but has provided it in His Son. ✧ Ask His Spirit to search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder your growth in holiness. Confess that sin, and take any steps necessary to eliminate it from your life.
For Further Study: Read Philippians 1:9–11. ✧ What ingredients must be added to Christian love to produce sincerity and blamelessness? ✧ What is the primary source of those ingredients (see Ps. 119:97–105)? ✧ What specific steps are you going to take to add or increase those ingredients in your life?
TRUE WORSHIP: FULLY SEEKING THE LORD WE ADORE
O come, let us worship and bow down….
An old creed says that we worship one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
If we could set forth all of God’s attributes and tell all that He is, we would fall on our knees in adoring worship.
The Bible tells us that God dwells in light that is unapproachable, whom no man can see or has seen, and whom no man can see and live.
It says that God is holy and eternal and omnipotent and omniscient and sovereign, and that He has a thousand sovereign attributes. And all of these should humble us and bring us down!
I have come to believe that no worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in us displeasing to God. If there is anything within me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly.
Note that I am not saying that God must have a perfection of worship or He will not accept any worship at all. I would not go so far; if I did, I would rule myself out. But, I do say that the ideal God sets before us is to worship as near to perfectly as we can. Faith and love and obedience and loyalty and high conduct of life—all of these must be taken as burnt offerings and offered to God!
True worship seeks union with its beloved, and an active effort to close the gap between the heart and the God it adores is worship at its best!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 19). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 16). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.