Daily Archives: January 28, 2018


Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.


Some Christian believers seemingly are committed to endless dialogue about the deeper spiritual life, just as though it were some new kind of fun and games.

Actually, many people want to talk about it as a topic but no one seems to want to know and love God for Himself!

When do we learn that God IS the deeper life?

Jesus Christ Himself is the deeper life and as I plunge on into the knowledge of the triune God, my heart moves on into the blessedness of His fellowship.

This means that there is less of me and more of God thus my spiritual life deepens, and I am strengthened in the knowledge of His will.

I think this is what Paul meant when he penned that great desire, “That I may know Him!” He was expressing more than the desire for acquaintance—he was yearning to be drawn into the full knowledge of fellowship with God which has been provided in the plan of redemption.

God originally created man in His own image so that man could know companionship with God in a unique sense and to a degree which is impossible for any other creature.

Because of his sin, man lost this knowledge, this daily partnership with God, and his heart has been darkened. But God has given sinful man another opportunity in salvation through the merits of a Redeemer, only because he was made in the image of God, and God has expressed His own everlasting love for man through the giving of His Son.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.


The house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

1 Timothy 3:15

Not all of the pooled efforts of any church can make a Christian out of a lost man!

The Christian life begins with the individual; a soul has a saving encounter with God, and the new life is born.

All else being equal, every individual Christian will find in the communion of a local church the most perfect atmosphere for the fullest development of his spiritual life. There he will also find the best arena for the largest exercise of those gifts and powers with which God may have endowed him.

Unfortunately, the word “church” has taken on meanings which it did not originally have. The meaning of the word for the true Christian was fixed by our Lord and His apostles, and no man and no angel has authority to change it!

The universal Church is the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the habitation of God through the Spirit, the pillar and the ground of the Truth.

Without doubt the most important body on earth is the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood!

Heavenly Father, equip and empower Your Church to fight the plague of evil rampant in our generation.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 28, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

1:19 / Gabriel: Few angels are mentioned by name in biblical and related literature: Gabriel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21); Michael (Dan. 10:13; 12:1); Raphael (Tob. 3:17; 1 Enoch 9:1; 20:7); Uriel (1 Enoch 9:1; 19:1); Phanuel (1 Enoch 40:9). The name “Gabriel” apparently means “God is my hero/warrior” (Fitzmyer, p. 328).[1]

19 Gabriel (cf. Da 8:16; 9:21) is one of two angels named in Scripture, the other being Michael (Da 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev 12:7). R. Brown (Birth of the Messiah, 271), noting the significance of Gabriel in Daniel and here in Luke 1, concludes: “The eschatological atmosphere evoked from Daniel is echoed in the tone of the message that follows.”

The verb εὐαγγελίζω (euangelizō, “tell … good news,” GK 2294) has a special significance in Luke. Of its eleven occurrences in the Synoptics, ten are in Luke (see 2:10; 3:18; 4:8, 43; 7:22; 8:1; 9:6; 16:16; 20:1). The noun εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion, “good news, gospel,” GK 2295) occurs in Mark but not in Luke. The words do not always denote news that is good (TDNT 2:707–37; cf. Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian, 123–24), but in the context of OT prophecies the word-group points to the coming of the salvation of God. See Otto Betz, “Jesus and Isaiah 53,” in Jesus and the Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins, ed. W. H. Bellinger and W. R. Farmer (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity International, 1998), 70–87.[2]

1:19. The angel had a quick answer. My presence should be enough for you. I am the angel Gabriel sent directly from God’s presence to share this good news with you. Just as I represented God to Daniel (8:15–27; 9:20–27), so I represent him to you. Now, listen.[3]

19. I am Gabriel, the angel answered. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.

It is true that the angel’s “I am Gabriel” follows Zechariah’s “I am an old man.” Nevertheless, the intended contrast is not thus indicated. The confrontation is rather that between the priest’s cold skepticism and the angel’s towering certainty, between the former’s presumptuous doubt and the latter’s profound conviction. Gabriel is conscious of having delivered God’s good news, bound to be fulfilled when the appropriate season arrives (verse 20). And because Zechariah has called in question a wonderful gospel promise that sprang from the heart and mind of God himself he deserved to be punished.

“I am Gabriel.” The name Gabriel has been interpreted variously as meaning: “man of God,” “mighty one of God,” “Mighty (is) God.” Elsewhere Gabriel is also mentioned in Dan. 8:16, where he explains the vision of the ram and the he-goat; in Dan. 9:21 f., where he interprets the prophecy of the seventy weeks; and in Luke 1:26–38, where he promises that in a very mysterious manner Mary will become the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. The only other angel mentioned by name in Scripture is Michael (Dan. 10:13, 21; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7).

Note also the significant words “I stand in the presence of God.” Partly because of this added qualification several more or less speculative theories have sprung up with respect to Gabriel:

  1. that he is not a created being but the Holy Spirit;
  2. that in distinction from the task assigned to Michael and the other angels, it is Gabriel’s special function not only to bring but also to interpret God’s messages to those human beings for whom they are intended; and
  3. that Gabriel is one of “the seven angels” (Rev. 8:2)—not to be confused with “the seven Spirits” (Rev. 1:4)—who stand in the presence of God.

There is nothing in the text or context that even remotely suggests theory (a). As to (b), it is doubtful whether this conclusion is supported by sufficient evidence. As to (c), this theory may well be correct. At least the correspondence between Luke 1:19 and Rev. 8:2 is striking. Both Gabriel and the seven angels are described as “standing before God.” Absolute certainty is, however, unattainable. Because of Matt. 18:10 one might ask, “But do not all the angels stand in God’s presence, beholding the face of the Father?”

Has the priest asked for a sign? He will receive a sign, but not the one he had asked for.[4]

1:19 The angel answered first by introducing himself as Gabriel (strong one of God). Though commonly described as an archangel, he is mentioned in the Scripture only as one who stands in the presence of God and who brings messages from God to man (Dan. 8:16; 9:21).[5]

1:19 One of two angels named in the Bible, Gabriel was often a messenger who communicated God’s plan (Dan. 8:16; 9:21). Michael is the other angel whose name is given (Dan. 10:13, 21; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7).[6]

[1] Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (p. 28). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 57–58). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 9). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 74–75). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1370). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1249). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

January 28 Striving According to God’s Power

“These are in accordance with the working of the strength of [God’s] might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead” (Eph. 1:19–20).


In Christ you have all the power you will ever need.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great hope of believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said that we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:3–4). We and what we have are protected by God’s power (v. 5).

In Ephesians 1:19–20 Paul draws two comparisons. The first is between the power God demonstrated in the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the power He demonstrates on behalf of every believer. That power is described as God’s “working,” “strength,” and “might.” Together those synonyms emphasize the greatness of God’s power, which not only secures our salvation but also enables us to live godly lives.

The second comparison is between our Lord’s resurrection and ascension and ours. The grave couldn’t hold Him, nor can it hold us (1 Cor. 15:54–57). Satan himself couldn’t prevent Christ’s exaltation, nor can he prevent us from gaining our eternal inheritance.

In Christ you have all the power you will ever need. For evangelism you have the gospel itself, which “is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes” (Rom. 1:16). For difficult times you have the assurance that the surpassing greatness of God’s power is at work in you (2 Cor. 4:7). For holy living you have God Himself at work in you “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

No matter how weak or ill-equipped you may at times feel, realize that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that [you] ask or think, according to the power that works within [you]” (Eph. 3:20). So keep striving according to that power (Col. 1:29), but do so with the confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in your life.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that He can and will accomplish His purposes in your life (Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:24). ✧ Pray for wisdom in how you might best serve Him today.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 145, noting every mention of God’s power David makes. Allow those examples to fill your heart with confidence and praise.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 40). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

January 28 Christ’s Galilean Ministry Fulfills Prophecy

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet.—Matt. 4:14

Centuries before the Incarnation, the prophet Isaiah foretold this great truth: “ ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned’ ” (from Isa. 9:1–2).

And eight hundred years later—just as prophesied—the despised, unbelieving Galileans glimpsed the Messiah and, ahead of many of the Jews in Jerusalem, saw the dawning of God’s new covenant.

The Jews in Galilee were less sophisticated and traditional than those in Judea. The Jewish historian Josephus noted that the Galileans “were fond of innovations and by nature disposed to change, and they delighted in seditions.” They even had a regional accent distinct from the Judeans (cf. Matt. 26:73). Jesus likely chose His apostles from Galilee because they too would have been less bound to Jewish tradition and more open to the gospel.

Jesus’ going to Galilee to really begin His ministry shows that salvation was for sinners everywhere, with no distinctions or restrictions. It fulfilled Old Testament truth, which God revealed through the Jews (cf. Rom. 3:1–2). However, it was not an accommodation to the proud, exclusive Judaism prevalent in Jesus’ day. It was no accident that “the Light of the world” (John 8:12) first proclaimed Himself and His message in Galilee.


As we’ll continue to see, Jesus often went to the least expected, the least admired, the least in the pecking order to administer His grace and reveal His identity. What is your level of concern and compassion for those in the greatest need of the gospel? Pray for a heart that beats like Jesus’ heart did—and does.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 36). Chicago: Moody Publishers.


We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives.

1 Thessalonians 2:8

I had the privilege of attending seminary to study for the ministry. I learned much from the books I read, the notes I took, and the papers I wrote. But I learned far more from the lives of the men who taught me. Rather than focusing on what they said, I concentrated on why they said it.

That is what Paul did with the Romans. He, in effect, said, “Before I give you my theology, let me give you myself.” Paul is a model for all who serve Christ. Follow Paul’s example and begin giving yourself.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 39). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 28, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Consider Your Resources

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (1:7)

A second means for guarding against being ashamed of Christ is to consider our divine resources. The Greek verb (didōmi) behind has not given is in the aorist active indicative tense, showing past completed action. God already has provided for us the resources.

The Lord may withhold special help until we have special need. Jesus told the Twelve, “When they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:19–20). But God provided everything we need for everyday faithful living and service when we first believed.

From a negative perspective, we can be sure that any spirit of timidity we might have is not from God. Both testaments speak of a fitting and proper fear of God, in the sense of awe and reverence. But deilia is a timid, cowardly, shameful fear that is generated by weak, selfish character. The Lord is never responsible for our cowardice, our lack of confidence, or our being shameful of Him. The noun deilia (timidity) is used only here in the New Testament and, unlike the more common term for fear (phobos), carries a generally negative meaning.

The resources we have from our heavenly Father are power and love and discipline. When we are vacillating and apprehensive, we can be sure it is because our focus is on ourselves and our own human resources rather than on the Lord and His available divine resources.

Dunamis (power) denotes great force, or energy, and is the term from which we get dynamic and dynamite. It also carries the connotation of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled. God provides us with His power in order for us to be effective in His service. Paul did not pray that believers in Ephesus might be given divine power but that they might be aware of the divine power they already possessed. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,” he wrote, “so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:18–20). Through Christ we have the resource of God’s own supernatural power, the very power He used to raise Christ from the dead.

Although Old Testament saints were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit in the same degree of fullness that New Testament believers are (cf. John 14:17), they did have the resource of God’s Spirit providing divine help as they lived and served Him. They understood, as Zechariah declared to Zerubbabel, that their strength was not by human “ ‘might nor … power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

It is of utmost importance to understand that God does not provide His power for us to misappropriate for our own purposes. He provides His power to accomplish His purposes through us. When our trust is only in Him, and our desire is only to serve Him, He is both willing and “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

God also has given every believer the resource of His own divine love, which, like His power, we received at the time of our new birth. In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul exulted, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

The love we have from God is agapē, the volitional and selfless love that desires and works for the best interests of the one loved. It is not emotional and conditional, as philos love often is, and has nothing in common with erōs love, which is sensual and selfish. The love we have from God is constant. It does not share the ebb and flow or the unpredictability of those other loves. It is a self-denying grace that says to others, in effect, “I will give myself away on your behalf.” Directed back to God, from whom it came, it says, “I will give my life and everything I have to serve you.” It is the believer’s “love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:8), the divinely-bestowed love of the one who will “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It is the “sincere love of the brethren” by which we “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22), the “perfect love [that] casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). It is the love that affirms without reservation or hesitation: “If we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Above all, it is “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).

Our spiritual lives are measured accurately by our love. If our first love is for self, our life will center on seeking our own welfare, our own objectives, our own comfort and success. We will not sacrifice ourselves for others or even for the Lord. But if we love with the love God provides, our life will center on pleasing Him and on seeking the welfare of others, especially other Christians. Godly love is the first fruit of the Spirit, and it is manifested when we “live by the Spirit [and] … walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, 25).

Sōphronismos (discipline) has the literal meaning of a secure and sound mind, but it also carries the additional idea of a self-controlled, disciplined, and properly prioritized mind. God-given discipline allows believers to control every element of their lives, whether positive or negative. It allows them to experience success without becoming proud and to suffer failure without becoming bitter or hopeless. The disciplined life is the divinely ordered life, in which godly wisdom is applied to every situation.

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul uses the verb form of the term, admonishing, “I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment [sōphrone], as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). In his first letter to Timothy (3:2) and in his letter to Titus (1:8; cf. 2:2), he used the adjective form to describe a key quality that should characterize overseers, namely, that of being prudent and sensible.

When we live by the godly discipline that our gracious Lord supplies, our priorities are placed in the right order, and every aspect of our lives is devoted to advancing the cause of Christ. Because of his Spirit-empowered discipline, Paul could say, “I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26–27).

The great spiritual triumvirate of power, love, and discipline belong to every believer. These are not natural endowments. We are not born with them, and they cannot be learned in a classroom or developed from experience. They are not the result of heritage or environment or instruction. But all believers possess these marvelous, God-given endowments: power, to be effective in His service; love, to have the right attitude toward Him and others; and discipline, to focus and apply every part of our lives according to His will.

When those endowments are all present, marvelous results occur. No better statement affirming this reality can be found than in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, to whom he said,

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:14–21; emphasis added)[1]

7 As Paul reminds youthful Timothy (1 Ti 4:12; cf. 1 Co 16:10), “God did not give us a spirit of timidity” (pneuma deilias, GK 1261; only here in the NT; cf. Lev 26:36 [LXX]; Ps 55:5 [LXX]; Sir 4:17; cf. the similar wording in Ro 8:15; see C. C. Ryrie, “Should a Christian Be Afraid?” BSac 110 [1953]: 76–81). Jesus had similarly encouraged his followers not to be afraid (Mt 8:26 par. Mk 4:40; Jn 14:27). John noted that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). God has given us a spirit of “power” (dynamis, GK 1539; elsewhere in the PE only in v. 8 and 3:5; cf. Mic 3:8), “love” (agapē, GK 27; v. 13; 2:22; 3:10), and “self-discipline” (sōphronismos, GK 5406; cf. 1 Ti 2:9, 15; 3:2; Tit 1:8; 2:2, 4–5, 12). This triad shows that the power exercised by church leaders must be constrained by love (cf. Eph 4:15) and self-discipline.[2]

1:7 / Although the niv’s translation of “spirit” in this verse with a lower case s is possible (since the definite article is absent in Greek) and follows the traditional English versions (kjv, rsv), it is most highly improbable and quite misses both the relationship of this sentence to verse 6 as well as Paul’s own usage and theology elsewhere. That Paul is referring not to some “spirit” (or attitude) that God has given us (him and Timothy, but ultimately all other believers who must equally persevere in the face of hardship), but to the Holy Spirit of God is made certain by several items: (a) the explanatory for that begins this sentence gives it the closest possible tie to verse 6; (b) the close relationship between charisma (“gift,” v. 6) and the Spirit (v. 7) is thoroughly Pauline (see on 1 Tim. 4:14); (c) the words power and love are especially attributed to the Spirit in Paul; and (d) there are close ties between this verse and 1 Timothy 4:14, where the “gifting” of Timothy is specifically singled out as the work of the Spirit.

Furthermore, the typical Pauline “not … but” contrast, especially the parallels in Romans 8:15 and 1 Corinthians 2:12, is determinative. In each case the difficulty arises from Paul’s first mentioning the negative contrast, which does not in fact fit the Holy Spirit very well (“of slavery,” “of the world,” and “of timidity”). But it is equally clear in each case that when Paul gets to the “but” clause, he intends the Holy Spirit. Thus Paul’s intent goes something like this: “For when God gave us his Spirit, it was not timidity that we received, but power, love, and self-discipline.”

Paul’s concern, of course, ties into what he has just said in verse 6. In light of the appeal to persevere in the face of hardship, he urges Timothy to “fan into flame the charisma from God,” namely, his giftedness for ministry. The basis for this appeal goes back to his original gift of the Spirit, given at conversion. In giving his Spirit to Timothy, God did not give him timidity—a translation that is probably too weak. The word, often appearing in battle contexts, suggests “cowardice” or the terror that overtakes the fearful in extreme difficulty (cf. Lev. 26:36; 2 Macc. 3:24). It is a particularly appropriate choice of words for this letter, given Timothy’s apparent natural proclivities and the suffering and hardship now facing him.

To the contrary, and in the face of present hardships, Paul reminds Timothy that the Spirit has endowed him with power (a thoroughgoing nt and Pauline understanding; cf. e.g., Acts 1:8; Rom. 15:13, 19; 1 Cor. 2:4), love (cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 5:5), and self-discipline (sōphronismos; a different word for “self-discipline” from that of Gal. 5:23). This is a cognate, and here probably a synonym, for the “soundmindedness” of Titus 2:2, 5, and elsewhere. In all likelihood Paul intended to call for a “wise head” in the face of the deceptive and unhealthy teaching of the errorists.

Thus Paul begins his appeal by reminding Timothy of his own “gift of the Spirit” for ministry, who in turn has given him the necessary power, love, and soundmindedness to carry out that ministry.[3]

1:7. Having confirmed that Timothy possessed this great gift of God’s grace, his own Spirit, Paul pointed Timothy toward the boldness that should belong to every believer: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Timothy, many interpreters surmise, was a man of quiet disposition—a retiring, timid individual who had been thrust into a leadership role for which he had no predilection. The battle against the false teachers was strenuous, leaving Timothy weary, perhaps even questioning what he was doing. It is possible that he was overwhelmed by these circumstances.

But Paul countered our natural tendencies and excuses by directing us to consider this great gift which we all possess—the Spirit of God. Our natural abilities can only supplement what God calls us to do. The important consideration in all of life’s challenges and duties is to remember that God’s Spirit resides within us. He is the giver of power, love, and self-discipline.

Power is simply enablement to do what God requires. We are never asked to do anything beyond what God gives strength and ability to accomplish. Love is expressed first to God, then to others. It is the distinguishing quality of Christians, this unnatural love, and it comes only as we allow the life of God’s Spirit to live through us.

Self-discipline denotes careful, sensible thinking. It is the ability to think clearly with the wisdom and understanding that God imparts. Fear is a driving force in society today. It is the main subject of the evening news, the underlying premise of advertising and marketing. Fear often spawns confused thinking, irrationalities, and misunderstandings. Thoughts and speculations swirl in our mind when fear enters. This is why Christ calls us to healthy, orderly thought processes.

Perhaps we can look at life and realize our need for God’s power (dunamis). We need the “dynamite” of God’s strength in our daily living, to endure and make wise choices, to live in patience, producing goodness (Col. 1:9–14).[4]

1:7 Facing martyrdom himself, Paul takes time out to remind Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear or cowardice. There is no time for fearfulness or timidity.

But God has given us a spirit of power. Unlimited strength is at our disposal. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the believer can serve valiantly, endure patiently, suffer triumphantly, and, if need be, die gloriously.

God has also given us a spirit of love. It is our love for God that casts out fear and makes us willing to give ourselves for Christ, whatever the cost may be. It is our love for our fellow men that makes us willing to endure all kinds of persecutions and repay them with kindness.

Finally, God has given us a spirit of a sound mind, or discipline. The words a sound mind do not completely convey the thought. They might suggest that a Christian should be sane at all times, free from nervous breakdowns or other mental ailments. This verse has often been misused to teach that a Christian who is living close to the Lord could never be afflicted with any kind of mental ills. That is not a scriptural teaching. Many mental ills can be traced to inherited weaknesses. Many others may be the result of some physical condition not connected in any way with the person’s spiritual life.

What this verse is teaching is that God has given us a spirit of self-control or self-mastery. We are to use discretion and not to act rashly, hastily, or foolishly. No matter how adverse our circumstances, we should maintain balanced judgment and act soberly.[5]

1:7 The Holy Spirit is the One who gives us spiritual gifts and empowers us to use them. God’s Spirit does not impart fear or cowardice, but power, love, and a sound mind, or “self-control.” The Spirit imparts power for the various circumstances of ministry. The love the Spirit gives to us should be directed toward other individuals. Furthermore, as we use our spiritual gifts to build up the church, we should exercise self-control, using our abilities only at the appropriate times.[6]

1:7. Why Timothy needed this reminder of his ordination, and the confidence in his own gifts he developed as a result of it, is not clear. In 1 Timothy the reference to Timothy’s ordination is associated with problems stemming from his youthfulness (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12). Perhaps he had become somewhat intimidated by the opposition to both Paul and the gospel, even in some ways threatened, defensive, and ashamed (cf. 2 Tim. 1:8) at having to defend a prisoner (cf. 2:9) and the “foolishness” which they both preached about a despised and crucified Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18–2:5). But such timidity (deilias, lit., “cowardice,” used only here in the NT) has no place in God’s service. Instead God gives a spirit of power (cf. 1 Cor. 2:4), of love (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5), and of self-discipline (cf. 1 Tim. 4:7). These three virtues, each supplied by the Holy Spirit, should characterize Timothy.[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 17–20). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 569). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 226–227). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 266–267). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2110). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1611). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Litfin, A. D. (1985). 2 Timothy. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 750). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

—Psalm 119:15-16

Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession, do so many persons find themselves no farther along than when they first believed?…

The causes of retarded growth are many. It would not be accurate to ascribe the trouble to one single fault. One there is, however, which is so universal that it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God….

The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God….

Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him. ROR007-009

In a busy life, Lord, it’s so easy to neglect the important time we need to cultivate our knowledge of You. I devote myself to furthering my spiritual progress by seeking knowledge of You. Amen.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 28 Our Unity in the Spirit

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:4–6


All Christians are part of the same Body, with the same Spirit, who is our pledge of eternal life.

Everything God ever designed for the church is based on the unity of believers. Paul emphasizes that by listing seven “ones” in these verses. One is the key; it is the cause of the worthy walk.

How many bodies of Christ are there? There isn’t a Presbyterian body, a Baptist body, and a Methodist body; nor is there a California body, a Utah body, and a Kansas body. There is just one Body, the church. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Whatever your race, creed, nationality, or language, when you become a Christian, you become one with every other believer.

Paul’s next point is that there is only one Spirit, who dwells in every believer. First Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” We “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). Individually we are the temple of the Spirit; collectively we are the dwelling of the Spirit.

We are also “called in one hope of [our] calling.” We have only one eternal calling, only one eternal destiny, and the Holy Spirit guarantees our heavenly hope. “You were sealed in [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13–14). He is our down payment, the first installment of our eternal inheritance.

Ephesians 4:4 focuses on the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us: we are placed into one Body by the Spirit, one Spirit dwells in us, and our one hope is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the church and in your life.

For Further Study: First Corinthians 12 has much to say about church unity. Read it carefully, noting in particular what the Spirit does in the Body and what our responsibility is as individual believers.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

January 27 Daily Help

HE who would be happy here must have friends; and he who would be happy hereafter, must above all things, find a friend in the world to come, in the person of God, the Father of His people.

True friendship can only be made between true men. Hearts are the soul of honor. There can be no lasting friendship between bad men. Bad men may pretend to love each other, but their friendship is a rope of sand, which shall be broken at any convenient season; but if a man have a sincere heart within him, and be true and noble, then we may confide in him.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 31). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 27, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Victory: In Standing Firm

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (6:13)

It is easy for believers—especially in the Western world, where the church is generally prosperous and respected—to be complacent and become oblivious to the seriousness of the battle around them. They rejoice in “victories” that involve no battles and in a kind of peace that is merely the absence of conflict. Theirs is the victory and peace of the draft dodger or defector who refuses to fight. They are not interested in armor because they are not engaged in the war.

God gives no deferments or exemptions. His people are at war and will continue to be at war until He returns and takes charge of earth. But even the most willing and eager soldier of Christ is helpless without God’s provision. That is Paul’s point here: take up the full armor of God. We have His provision in being His children, in having His Word, in possessing His indwelling Holy Spirit, of having every resource of our heavenly Father. God is our strength, but His strength is appropriated only through obedience; His mighty armor must be put on (v. 11) and taken up (v. 13).

Every day since the Fall has been an evil day for mankind, and every day will continue to be evil until the usurper and his forces are thrown forever into the bottomless pit. In the meanwhile the Lord makes us able to resist in the evil day as we take advantage of the armor He supplies.

Our responsibility is to resist and stand firm. When Martin Luther stood before the Diet of Worms he was accused of heresy. After being condemned for declaring that men are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, he declared, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.… Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.” Every believer who is faithful to God’s Word cannot do otherwise than stand firm.

Some forty years ago three men conducted evangelistic campaigns together in Ireland and saw much fruit from their labors there. Years later an Irish pastor who was converted in those meetings asked about the three men. He was told that only one was still faithful to the Lord. Of the other two, one had become apostate and the other had died an alcoholic. Some believers have done everything well in the Lord’s work, but they do not continue to stand firm. The issue is not in what a believer has done, but, when the battle is over and the smoke clears, whether he is found standing true to the Savior.

John warned, “Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward” (2 John 8). Paul’s one great fear was that, “possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). He was not afraid of losing his salvation but his reward and, even more importantly, his usefulness to the Lord. Countless men and women have faithfully taught Sunday school for years, led many people to Jesus Christ, pastored a church, led Bible studies, ministered to the sick, and done every sort of service in the Lord’s name—only to one day give up, turn their backs on His work, and disappear into the world. The circumstances differ, but the underlying reason is always the same: they took God’s armor off and thereby lost the courage, the power, and the desire to stand firm.

In the great spiritual warfare in which we do battle, we are only called to resist and to stand firm. As noted earlier, James says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Peter counsels us to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:8–9).

The greatest joys come in the greatest victories, and the greatest victories come from the greatest battles—when they are fought in the power and with the armor of the Lord.[1]

Our Only Strength

Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

When I talk about the devil I try, as I did in the last study, to show that he is a finite, and therefore limited, being. He is not an evil counterpart of God. Satan is not omnipotent, as God is. He is not omnipresent, as God is. He is not omniscient, as God is. Consequently, he can only do what God permits. He can only tempt one person in one place at one time, or else operate through those legions of angels, now demons, who fell with him. He does not know the future. At best Satan can make shrewd guesses based on experience.

But none of this means that the devil is not dangerous. He may not be omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient. But he is certainly powerful, wicked, and sly. He is so powerful that, according to Jude, even Michael, the archangel, “when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” (Jude 9). He is so wicked that he is described in the Bible as “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). He is so sly that we are in constant danger of being tripped up by his wiles. This is why Paul wrote even of an elder in the church that “he must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (1 Tim. 3:7). The devil is not all-powerful, but he is certainly much more powerful than we are. So if we are to resist his evil influences, it must be by the power and provision of God only.

That is why James wrote, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It is why Paul says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph. 6:13).

Elisha at Dothan

When I think of our need to stand against Satan in the strength of God, I think about the prophet Elisha at Dothan. In those days the northern kingdom of Israel was under attack from the Syrians led by their infamous king Ben Hadad. Israel was the weaker of the two nations, and she would have been overrun by the Syrians had God not been revealing the plans of the Syrian king through Elisha. Whenever Ben Hadad would set a trap for Israel, God would reveal it to Elisha, Elisha would tell the king of Israel, the plans would be changed, and Israel would escape unhurt.

Ben Hadad thought there was a traitor among his officers. So he called them together and demanded to know who he was. They told him the truth: “Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom” (2 Kings 6:12).

When he heard that, Ben Hadad decided that if he was going to make progress in his war with Israel, he would have to capture Elisha first. So he demanded to know where he was. He was told that Elisha was residing at Dothan. Ben Hadad got his troops together, marched to Dothan, and surrounded the city by night. It is an interesting picture: all the armies of Ben Hadad combined to surround and, if possible, capture this one true servant of God.

In the morning the servant of Elisha went out of the city and saw Ben Hadad’s soldiers. The story does not tell us anything about him, but I suspect that he was young and even somewhat sleepy as he set out to do his chores—probably to draw water from a city well. I can see him stumbling out of the gate with his eyes half-open, perhaps not even noticing the soldiers until he had first drawn a bucket of water and washed his face. Suddenly he saw them! His eyes opened wide, and, leaving his waterpot, he ran back into the city to tell Elisha they were surrounded. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” he asked (v. 15).

Elisha replied in what is surely one of the greatest statements of faith in all the Bible. “Don’t be afraid. … Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). Then Elisha prayed, and God opened the young man’s eyes to see the hills full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.

That statement by Elisha is a great statement of the principle we have been studying. On the one hand, it says that the enemy we face is greater even than the enemy we see. The enemy is “them,” in this case the combined armies of the Syrians under Ben Hadad. It is also “those who are with them.” In view of the revelation given to the servant, this enemy must be the spiritual force of evil that accompanied and stood behind the Syrian forces. But what is on the other side? So far as anything seen is concerned, there were only Elisha and his young servant—two unattended individuals. But, of course, that is not the whole of the equation. On the Syrian side were soldiers plus the spiritual force of evil. On the side of Elisha and his servant were the angels of God here described as “horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” From a human perspective the Syrians seemed more powerful, but when the spiritual forces were taken into account, God’s servants were stronger.

The Lord Our Strength

Paul is not referring to this incident, of course. But the theology of victory, which he is advocating, is the same. Notice how often Paul mentions the Lord in this passage. It is the way he begins: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (v. 10). When he begins to talk about the armor in which we are to resist the devil’s forces, he stresses that it is God’s armor: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (v. 11). So also later: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (v. 13). It is only by the strength of God that we will be able to stand against these forces.

Although the word “lord” has many uses—it can, for example, be used of a mere human master, as was the case in the servant’s cry of alarm to his “lord” Elisha—“Lord” is the word customarily used in the Greek version of the Old Testament to translate the tetragrammaton, the great name for God (YHWH). This was the name by which God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush, explaining it by saying, “I am who I am” (Exod. 3:14). It is a name intended to stretch our minds as we contemplate the nature of God.

“Lord” teaches us that the God of the Bible, in whom we are to trust as our only defense against Satan, is self-existent and self-sufficient.

It is most important to see that God is self-existent, because this is what the name “I am” most naturally points to. Everything we see and know has antecedents. That is, it exists because something existed before it and was its cause. We are here because of our parents. They lived because of their parents, and so on. It is the same with everything else—everything except God. God has no antecedents. Nothing caused God. On the contrary, he caused everything else. Even Satan would not exist if it were not for God. We may be puzzled by this, wondering why God permits Satan and his activity. But even if we do not have the full answers to this question, the fact that God is self-existent begins to put our spiritual warfare in perspective. God, not Satan, is in charge, and in the end everything will be resolved by him and everyone will be answerable to him.

God is also self-sufficient. Self-existence means that God has no origins. Self-sufficiency means that God has no needs. No one can supply anything that God might be supposed to be lacking. No one can teach God anything; he knows all things. No one can stand in for God in any place; he already is everywhere. No one can help God out; he is all-powerful.

When I think of the power of God my mind often goes to the first chapter of Jonah which has a funny little play on words in it relating to God’s power. In the fifth verse, after we have been told that God sent a violent storm after the ship that was carrying Jonah to Tarshish, we read that the sailors were “afraid.” That is reasonable enough, of course. Who would not be under those circumstances? They were in danger of losing their lives. But then, just five verses later, in verse 10, after Jonah had been brought up on deck and had identified himself, saying, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord , the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land,” we read “this terrified them.” The older versions read, “Then were the men exceedingly afraid” (kjv).

Why is it that in verse 5, when they are in danger of losing their lives, the sailors are said to be only “afraid,” when in verse 10, after hearing Jonah’s testimony, they are said to have been “exceedingly afraid”?

I think it is because these men already knew something about Jonah’s God. They were sailors, after all, and sailors get around. They had been in and out of the major ports of the Mediterranean Sea and had heard the port gossip. In the Egyptian ports they would have heard how Jehovah had delivered his people from slavery. He had brought plagues on Egypt: turning the waters of the land to blood, multiplying frogs, gnats, and flies, afflicting cattle, destroying crops, calling out swarms of locusts, eventually blotting out the sun and then killing the firstborn. Nor was that all. When the people prepared to leave Egypt God divided the waters of the Red Sea, making a path for them to pass over. Then he caused the waters to come back and drown the pursuing Egyptians.

Perhaps the sailors heard how Jehovah had cared for his people in the desert—how he had given them manna to eat and water for them and their livestock. He had sent a great cloud to cover them by day, protecting them from the fierce rays of the sun; it turned into a pillar of fire at night to provide both light and warmth. At last God had divided the river Jordan for Israel to cross into Canaan and had destroyed Jericho. He even stopped the sun and moon while the Jewish armies wrought a total destruction on their foes at Gibeon.

This is what the God of the Jews was like. So when Jonah said, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord [Jehovah], the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land,” they were terrified and said, “What have you done? … What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” (Jonah 1:10–11).

This God is our God too. Only his strength is greater even than that displayed in overpowering Egypt and bringing the Jewish people into the Promised Land. God is the God of all power. Nothing can stand against him. So although we cannot hope to stand against the forces of Satan in our own strength even for a moment, we can successfully stand against them and defeat them in the power of God. God is our only strength, but he is the only strength we need.

The Armor of God

Still, victory in this spiritual warfare is not automatic, which is why Paul admonishes us to “put on the full armor of God” and “stand [our] ground” against Satan.

Where did Paul get his thoughts about this armor? I suppose that I have never heard a sermon about the Christian’s armor that did not point out that Paul probably began to think along these lines while being chained to a Roman guard during his imprisonment. It seems quite plausible. We can imagine him looking at the guard’s armor, thinking of the Christian’s spiritual warfare, and wondering what the various parts of the guard’s armor could illustrate.

It is entirely possible that Paul came by his ideas about the Christian’s armor in this way, but I am inclined to think that in this case, as in many others, Paul got his ideas from the Word of God. Paul had filled his mind with the doctrines, words, and images of the Old Testament, and he would have known that in Isaiah 59 there is a picture of God putting on his own armor. Part of it says,

He put on righteousness as his breastplate,

and the helmet of salvation on his head (v. 17).

Since those phrases are the exact ones we find in Ephesians 6, I think that Paul got his idea here. That is important, you see. It means that when Paul speaks of the “armor of God,” as he does in Ephesians 6, he is not thinking of it only as the armor which God supplies—his in the sense that he gives it—but rather that it is God’s own armor, that which he himself wears.

What do we need if we are to fight against Satan? Is it truth? Yes, we need truth, but not just any truth. We need God’s own truth: the truth of God, which we find in Scripture. Do we need righteousness? Yes, but not just human righteousness. We need the righteousness of God. The gospel? It is God’s gospel, God’s good news. Peace? It is God’s peace. Faith? It is faith from God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Is it salvation? God is salvation. We must be armed with him.

Are you armed with God’s armor? The wonderful thing about this, as you will see if you avail yourself of it, is that the armor of God is perfectly suited to us. When we put it on we find that it is just what we need.

When David went out to fight Goliath he was just a young man, and Saul was unwilling to have him fight without armor. So he offered him his own. Saul put his helmet on David’s head. He put his breastplate on David’s chest. He gave him whatever other pieces of armor he had, but they were all too big. Clothed in Saul’s armor David must have looked like a Muppet in William Perry’s uniform. So David took Saul’s armor off and went out to fight Goliath with his sling.

Only his sling? Yes, in the sense that the sling was the only thing to be seen. But in reality David went out in God’s armor. For if ever a man was clothed in God’s truth, God’s righteousness, God’s gospel, God’s peace, God’s faith, and God’s salvation, it was David. And he was invincible. In God’s armor David was prepared, not only for physical battle, but for all spiritual battles as well.

Four Great Battles

Some years ago at an early Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, the theme was the biblical terms for salvation, and Dr. John H. Gerstner spoke on “The Language of the Battlefield.” In developing this theme Gerstner spoke of four great spiritual battles: (1) the battle of Satan against God early in the history of the universe, which Satan lost; (2) the battle of Satan against man (Adam) without the God-man (Jesus), which Satan won; (3) the battle of Satan against the God-man, where Satan thought he had won by killing Christ, but had actually lost; and (4) the battle of Satan against a man (Peter) who was joined to the God-man (Jesus), where Satan was also defeated.

The chief contrast in this message was between the second of these battles (Satan against Adam) and the fourth (Satan against Peter). In the first one, Adam seemed to have everything he needed to prevail. He was without sin and had every possible inclination to goodness. Yet he fell, because (we must assume this) he did not avail himself of the strength of Jesus Christ, the God-man, which was certainly not withheld from him. In the second battle Peter seemed to have nothing. He was sinful, weak, proud, vacillating. He even had the arrogance to tell Jesus, “Even if all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29) and “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). Peter did fall. He denied his Lord three times, just as Jesus predicted he would. Yet that was not all that happened. Jesus foretold Peter’s defection, but he added, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32).

In other words, Jesus told Peter, “Peter, you are weak in yourself. Left to your own devices you will certainly fall. You will be no more permanent than chaff when the wind blows upon it. But I am for you. I am on your side; and since you are united to me by saving faith, I have prayed for you, and because of my prayer you will not be destroyed but will instead be strengthened. You will fall, but you will not fall away. You will be turned aside, but you will also be turned back, and when you are you will become a pillar of strength for your brothers.”

Gerstner pointed out that there is a hymn we sometimes sing that goes, “Lord, we are able.”

“That was written by Peter,” Gerstner said. Peter said, “Lord, I am able.” But when he was tempted by Satan and fell, Peter discovered that he was not able. So he revised that hymn to read: “Lord, we are not able.” He learned that only as he was united to Jesus Christ could he stand his ground and be victorious.

Gerstner adds, “That man, in all his pristine glory, made in the spotless image of God with holiness, righteousness, and knowledge, was able to be brought to ruin by satanic temptation proved that we never of ourselves are posse non peccare [able not to sin]. But no matter how weak our faith, how meager our discipleship, how much we shame the name of Christ and have so often to repent and turn home again—no matter how we fail, because we are united to Christ with a love which will never let us go, Satan with all his craft and power cannot stand against us and we can conquer him. … Even in our best condition we cannot meet Satan; but in our weakened and debilitated state, sinning far more than we live virtuously, we are able to conquer him because Christ has given us the victory.”[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 343–344). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 236–242). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

January 27: Revenge Isn’t Sweet

Genesis 42:29–43:34, Hebrews 5:11–7:28, Ecclesiastes 10:10–20

It’s easy to revel in vigilante justice, be joyful in the irony of someone getting “what’s coming to them,” or feel satisfied when “bad Karma comes back around” to others. The colloquialisms around the subject alone demonstrate our infatuation with justice. Joseph is similarly impassioned; he schemes against his brothers who sold him into slavery. At the beginning of Gen 43, Joseph’s brothers must go back to Egypt to request food from him—their younger brother, whom they do not recognize. Joseph waits for the youngest, Benjamin, to join them. What Joseph intends to do when he does, we’re not told.

When Benjamin and the other brothers arrive, Joseph is either moved with empathy or chooses to act upon his original plan of revealing himself in front of all his brothers (Gen 43:16, 29). Joseph even helps them financially, signaling that he somehow still cares for them (Gen 44). Yet it doesn’t seem that Joseph has forgiven them yet, because in Genesis 44, more evil schemes emerge.

The thought of others feeling the same kind of pain they have inflicted can cause us to feel remorse. But we’re always aware of the choice; we can choose to fight our instincts. We can recognize that instead of lashing back, the best answer is turning the other cheek. This may be easy for some, but for others—especially those who have been deeply hurt—abandoning the urge to inflict injury will require spiritual strength, prayer, and self-control.

Whom do you currently desire to see hurt? How can you let that feeling go? How can God help you release the situation to Him?

John D. Barry[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.