Category Archives: Daily Devotional Guide

January 19 Christ’s Gentle Example

“Walk … with all … gentleness.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Jesus is the greatest example of gentleness: He became angry when God the Father was dishonored, but not when He, the Son, was.

Jesus Christ is our supreme example of gentleness. Paul refers specifically to this in 2 Corinthians 10:1. Jesus Himself said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29).

Jesus showed righteous indignation when it was proper. When He found the Temple filled with people selling exorbitantly priced sacrificial animals, He drove them out, pouring out their money and overturning tables (Matt. 21:12). He told them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den” (v. 13). Jesus later said to the scribes and Pharisees, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (23:33). He did not stand idly by while the Temple was defiled. He spoke out in judgment against hypocrites who dishonored God.

Even though Jesus became angry when God was maligned, He neither retaliated against nor condemned those who attacked Him. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23). When God’s Temple was defiled, Jesus cleaned it out. But when the temple of His body was defiled, enduring the agony of the cross, with mockers all around, all He said was, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). That’s supreme gentleness—total selflessness.

It’s so easy to strike back when someone criticizes or attacks us, but that’s not the way of the gentle Christian trying to walk worthy. The only time we should let the lion in us roar is when God’s honor is at stake. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. How can we do any less to those who hurt us?

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: We all fall short of Christ’s example of gentleness. Pray that God would help you each day to reflect more and more the gentleness of Christ.

For Further Study: Read the account of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion in Matthew 26:47–27:50. Did He have the power to strike back (26:53)? ✧ Find all the instances you can in which Christ demonstrated His gentleness.[1]


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

Advertisements

January 18 Daily Help

NOTHING gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ. He has enjoyment as others have in the common mercies of life, he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works; but in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as in the matchless person of his Lord Jesus.

Where can such sweetness be found as we have tasted in communion with our Beloved?

If you know anything of the inner life, you will confess that our highest, purest, and most enduring joys must be the fruit of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 22). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 18, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The point of Jesus’ analogy was that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (crucified; cf. 8:28; 12:32, 34). The term must emphasizes that Christ’s death was a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation (cf. Matt. 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 24:7, 26; Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 17:3). He had to die as a substitute for sinners, because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Therefore God, “being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Eph. 2:4), “sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10). The stricken Israelites were cured by obediently looking apart from any works or righteousness of their own in hope and dependence on God’s word at the elevated bronze serpent. In the same way whoever looks in faith alone to the crucified Christ will be cured from sin’s deadly bite and will in Him have eternal life.[1]


The Serpent in the Wilderness

John 3:14–15

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

There are many things that separate true Christianity from the other religions of this world, but the most important is that Christianity is not a “works” religion. All the other religions or systems of religion known to us through history or through anthropology have at their base some system of good works by which the follower of the religion earns merit. Christianity insists, on the contrary, that we cannot earn anything, that all that could possibly be done has already been done for us by the Lord Jesus Christ and that salvation is therefore entered, not by doing anything but by receiving God’s gift. Even the Christian life grows out of that initial and complete accomplishment by the Lord Jesus.

This truth is taught many places in Scripture. Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). To Titus he wrote, “He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5). It is not surprising, therefore, as we come to the end of Christ’s words to Nicodemus about the new birth, to find another clear and forceful statement of this principle. Nicodemus had not understood about the new birth. He had not even been willing to acknowledge its effects in the lives of God’s children. Christ had chided him for that. Nevertheless, Jesus apparently seemed unwilling to terminate the conversation without pointing in some fashion to the basis of the salvation he was to bring. He therefore spoke of his death and the necessity for belief in himself by saying, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (vv. 14–15).

This is the first instance in John’s Gospel in which Jesus picked up an incident or practice of the Old Testament as foreshadowing some aspect of his earthly work.

Serpents of Death

If we are to understand what Jesus was saying, we need to go back to the strange story in the Old Testament to which he was referring. The story is told in Numbers 21:4–9.

The people of Israel had been traveling in the desert under the leadership of Moses, and they had recently traveled from the neighborhood of Mount Hor near the Red Sea to the borders of Edom. This is the area of the Near East in which Petra is located; it is some of the most inhospitable territory on earth, as I found out during a visit to Edom in 1961. The Bible tells us that “the people became impatient on the way” (Num. 21:4). As a result of their difficulties the people began to murmur against God and Moses, as they had done many times before, claiming that they had been led into the wilderness to die there and complaining of God’s treatment of them. Because of these complaints God sent fiery serpents among them. These bit the people, and many of the people died. The people came to Moses asking him to intercede between them and the Lord. When Moses did this, God commanded him to make a serpent out of bronze and to erect it on a pole in the midst of the Israelite camp. The heart of the story lies in God’s promise that everyone who had been bitten by the fiery serpents needed only to look to the brazen serpent on the pole to be cured.

It goes almost without saying that in itself the remedy proposed by God and enacted faithfully by Moses was absurd. In our day especially, with our knowledge of illness and of the cures effected by the various drugs and antibiotics available to us, we are aware that there was not the least bit of therapeutic value in the bronze serpent. At the best it could have been a warning to avoid the serpents. In such a situation we only begin to understand the story when we see it as a way of pointing the people’s faith back to God. We only understand it fully when we see it as intended to prefigure the raising up of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, by which sacrifice we are saved from sin.

Not of Works

The force of the story lies not merely in the obvious parallel to Christ’s death, as I have stated it, but in the implied comparison between what God commanded the people to do and all other methods that might have been imagined by the people to have had some value.

Think what those methods might have been. First, the people might have imagined that they could have made some medicines to offset the poison. Donald Grey Barnhouse, in God’s Remedy, has written well on this passage. “The brewing of potions and the making of salves would have given them all something to do and would have satisfied every natural instinct of the heart to work on behalf of its own cure. [But] there was nothing of the kind mentioned. They were to cease from human remedies and turn to a divine remedy. The fact that they were not told to make a human remedy is indicative of the greater fact that there is no human remedy for sin. Men have been bitten by the serpent of sin. How are they going to be cured of its bite? There is nothing but death awaiting them as a result of their wound unless God Himself shall furnish a remedy. Men rush around in the fury of human religions seeking a palliative for sin. They perform all sorts of rites, chastising the flesh, humbling the spirit. They undertake fasts and pilgrimages. Like the man in Israel’s camp who refused to look at the brazen serpent, but spent his time brewing concoctions for ameliorating his own conditions, they are carried off to spiritual death through the poison that is in their being. The man who trusts in religion instead of looking to Christ will be eternally lost.”

In the second place, the people who had been bitten by the serpents were not encouraged to follow any path of self-reformation. We might imagine them acknowledging to themselves that they had certainly gotten into a bad area of the country and had been exceptionally foolish in giving the serpents an opportunity to bite them. “Henceforth,” they might have said, “we shall be more careful. We shall see that this will never happen again.” Quite obviously, even if they had been able to do this there would still have been no cure. For the poison was in them, and those who had been bitten, died.

There is a verse in the Book of Ecclesiastes that tells us “God will call the past to account” (Eccl. 3:15). This means that even if you were to turn over a new leaf today and hereafter live in a way that was totally acceptable to God—which is, however, impossible—God would still be forced to require full payment for those violations of his law that you committed before your reformation.

You yourself think that way, you know. Suppose for a minute that you operate a small store. You have a customer who has not been paying his bill for some months and who comes to you saying, “Mr. So-and-So, I realize that I have been making a very grave mistake in the way I have been dealing with you. I have been buying on credit, and I have fallen quite head over heels in debt. I am reforming. Henceforth, I am going to pay cash for everything I buy.”

You are very glad to hear that, of course, and you say so. “I am very glad to hear that you are turning over a new leaf. When will you be able to make full payment on your old bill?”

“Oh, you don’t understand,” your customer answers. “I am going to pay cash from now on. Certainly you won’t hold that old unpaid account against me? I am turning over a new leaf.”

If that happened to you, no doubt you would reply and be correct in saying, “I am sorry, but I am unable to do business that way. If you pay your account, I shall be glad to continue doing business with you. But if you do not, there can be no sales. Business requires me to demand that which is past.” In the same way, God requires what is past. So no one will ever be cured from the effects of sin’s poison by any form of moral reformation.

In the third place, the people who were dying in the desert were not told to band together and fight the deadly serpents. Barnhouse again writes: “If the incident had been met after the fashion of our day, there would have been a rush to incorporate the Society for the Extermination of the Fiery Serpents, popularly known as SEFS; and there would have been badges for the coat lapel, cards for district workers, secretaries for organization branches, pledge cards, and mass rallies. There would have been a publication office and a weekly journal to tell of the progress of the work. There would have been photographs of heaps of serpents that had been killed by the faithful workers. The fact that the serpents had already infected their victims would have been played down, and the membership lists would have been pushed to the utmost.

“Let us accompany one of the zealous workers as he might take a pledge card into the tent of a stricken victim. The man had been bitten and the poison had already affected his limbs. He lies in feverish agony [for the phrase “fiery serpents” refers to the effects produced in the ones bitten, not in the color of the snakes], the glaze of death already coming to his eyes. The zealous member of the Society for the Extermination of Fiery Serpents tells him of all that has been done to combat the serpents, and urges the man to join—as a life member if possible (fee $10,000), a sustaining member (fee $1,000), contributing member (fee $25), or annual member (anything the organizer can get). The dying victim fumbles in his pocketbook for money and then takes a pen in hand. His fingers are held by the worker who helps him form his signature on the pledge and membership card, and the man signs in full—and dies.”

There are some who will think this fanciful and even a possible slander on worthwhile social work projects, but I am convinced that this is an accurate picture of much that passes for so-called humanitarian endeavors. I am not against works of social welfare. Today’s great social work programs sprang from Christian principles and in many cases were launched by committed believers. Nevertheless, the point of the parallel stands. Sin is not cured by social organization. By all means let us mop the fevered brow. Let us comfort the stricken patient. But let us also recognize that the cure of sin’s sting lies only in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the promises of God that accompany it.

Fourth, the people who had been bitten by the deadly serpents were not told to pray to the serpent on the pole. You must not misunderstand me here. Prayer is a good thing, but prayer is for believers only. Man cannot pray for his own salvation. Christ died for sinners. This salvation is to be believed. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:9–10).

Finally, the people who had been bitten were not commanded to buy some relic of the serpent or possess some fragment of the pole upon which the serpent of bronze had been erected. The notion that salvation can come by relics is perhaps the most absurd and totally pagan idea ever associated with Christianity, and yet today there are millions who believe that they can come closer to heaven by adoring a piece of the cross or the bones of a saint. History should illuminate such folly. During the Middle Ages, those who traveled to the Holy Land were asked to bring back souvenirs of Christianity, just as a visitor to Europe or the Far East might be asked to bring back souvenirs today. The Arabs, who were good businessmen, quickly supplied the demand and did so well that it is said that the Middle Ages possessed enough particles of the true cross to build several cathedrals. Unfortunately the possession of such relics eventually gave way to worship and to the belief that a person could be saved by touching or possessing them.

It is interesting to note that the same thing happened with the bronze serpent erected by Moses until God had Hezekiah step in to destroy it. Someone apparently preserved the serpent, and it remained in Israel for hundreds of years, gaining more and more worshipers. At last, when he became king, Hezekiah “broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)” (2 Kings 18:4). The last word, as Barnhouse observes, is a sneer; for it might be translated correctly as “merely a piece of brass.” Thus does God speak of the supposed virtues of the relics of a ritualistic religion: piece of bone … dirty linen … rusty metal … stinking candles.

Resting on Christ

By this time, of course, you will have understood that the only thing required of the dying Israelites was that they should have believed God’s word about the serpent and have looked to it as he commanded them. In the same way, we are to look to Christ’s cross. We have been bitten by sin, as they were bitten. We are dying of sin, as they were dying. God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin that we might believe on him and not perish.

What does it mean to believe? Many years ago now, when John G. Paton first went out as a pioneer missionary to the New Hebrides islands, he found that the natives among whom he began to work had no way of writing their language. He began to learn it and in time began to work on a translation of the Bible for them. Soon he discovered that they had no word for “faith.” This was serious, of course, for a person can hardly translate the Bible without it. One day he went on a hunt with one of the natives. They shot a large deer in the course of the hunt, and tying its legs together and supporting it on a pole, laboriously trekked back down the mountain path to Paton’s home near the seashore. As they reached the veranda both men threw the deer down, and the native immediately flopped into one of the deck chairs that stood on the porch, exclaiming, “My, it is good to stretch yourself out here and rest.” Paton immediately jumped to his feet and recorded the phrase. In his final translation of the New Testament this was the word used to convey the idea of trust, faith, and belief.

“Stretch yourself out on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever stretches himself out on him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who stretches himself out on him may have eternal life” (John 3:14, 15). Have you done that? Will you do it? If you will do it, turning away from any faith in yourself, your own good works, religion, your efforts at self-reformation, your prayers and relics, looking to the cross of Christ on which God dealt with sin and on the basis of which he promises new life to the sinner, then God will heal you. This is the heart of Christianity. God has provided salvation for you in Jesus Christ. Say, “I believe that, Lord. I trust the work of Jesus Christ for my salvation.”[2]


14 Verses 14–15 draw on the account in Numbers 21 in which Moses at God’s command places a bronze snake on a pole so that the Israelites who were dying from a plague of venomous snakes might look at the bronze snake and live (Nu 21:4–9). “Just as Moses lifted up the snake,” so also must the Son of Man “be lifted up.” The Greek verb hypsoō (GK 5738) is regularly used throughout the NT in the figurative sense “to exalt” (e.g., Mt 23:12), but in all five occurrences in John’s gospel it refers to the lifting up of Jesus on the cross (cf. 8:28; 12:32, 34). Paradoxically, the crucifixion of Jesus is portrayed by John as a vital part of his exaltation. Speaking of his coming death, Jesus on a later occasion said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him” (13:31). What the secular mind would judge a humiliating defeat was from God’s viewpoint a display of divine glory. In God’s redemptive plan it was necessary (“the Son of Man must be lifted up”) that Jesus die as a sacrificial offering for the sins of humanity. On the basis of this one act, believers are privileged to enter into the eternal glory of their heavenly Father. In the account in Numbers, a bronze snake provided physical healing; in the lifting up of the Son of Man, spiritual healing replaces eternal death. As Hendriksen, 1:138, notes, “The Antitype far transcends the type.”

15 Verse 15 states the purpose for which the Son of Man was lifted up—so that all who believe “may have eternal life.” Eternal life is more than endless existence; it is sharing in the life of the Eternal One. In his high priestly prayer, Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent (17:3). The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament ([Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998], 185) observes that “eternal life is the life of the age to come which is gained by faith, cannot be destroyed, and is a present possession of the one who believes.” John uses the verb pisteuō (“to believe,” GK 4409) ninety-eight times in his gospel, but only here is it followed by the preposition en (“in”) rather than eis (“into”). This suggests that “in him” should follow “eternal life” rather than the verb “believes.” The frequency of the verb corresponds with John’s stated intention in writing his gospel—“that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). That eternal life is a present possession of the believer (clearly taught elsewhere in the gospel; cf. 3:36; 5:24) is strengthened by the use of the present active subjunctive echē (“may have,” GK 2400).[3][1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (p. 114). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 220–225). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 398). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

January 18: Giving Up Control

Genesis 30; Matthew 22:23–23:36; Ecclesiastes 7:6–12

We are born bent on our own ambitions. It’s in our nature to control and compete. And pride—often the source of this behavior—keenly notices the pride of others. Often, we want to point out the failing of the equally prideful and impose our own wills on them, while neglecting to see these traits in ourselves.

In Genesis 30, we find a myriad of characters who are bent on obtaining favor and selfish gain—often at the expense and exasperation of others. Rachel foolishly demands a son of Jacob (Gen 30:1) and then—because the family dynamics weren’t complicated enough—she has her handmaid bear her a child via Jacob. When she finally obtains a son, she is not joyful—she is triumphant: “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed” (Gen 30:8). Leah uses bribery and her own handmaid to gain the attention of her neglectful husband, while Laban and Jacob continue circling, using and manipulating one another (Gen 30:16, 25–36).

Though the battle is often with the other, ultimately the battle of wills ends with God. When we are bent on our own way with others, we don’t think about the one who leads and directs our lives. In Genesis 30, God is the one who is in control of events. Only when He “listened to Leah” or “remembers” Rachel do they bear children (Gen 30:17, 22–23).

Our wills are actually battling His, not theirs. The Great commandment in Matt 22 presents another approach and mode of operation: “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If we first submit to this, the second will be easier: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

When we are right with God and we realize how patient He is with our weaknesses, we can learn to be patient with others.

How are you fighting for control of your life and the lives of others? How can you seek to submit your own will to God in humility?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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

January 18 Proclaiming God’s Preeminence

We were predestined “to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12).

✧✧✧

In salvation, as in everything else, God is preeminent. He deserves all the credit.

The word preeminence implies supreme standing, picturing one who excels over all others in a particular quality or achievement. Only God is truly preeminent, worthily so.

Ephesians 1:12 underscores that truth. You were redeemed and were granted an eternal inheritance so that God might be glorified. Certainly you benefit greatly from salvation, but God’s glory is the primary issue.

Our man-centered culture doesn’t share that perspective. Sadly, its self-seeking and self-glorifying mentality has crept into the church, and even the gospel itself has been subjected to its influence. For example, sin is often defined by how it affects man, not by how it dishonors God. Salvation is often presented as a means of receiving what Christ offers, not as a mandate to obey what He commands. Many modern-day evangelists have reduced the gospel to little more than a formula by which people can live a happy and more fulfilling life. The focus has shifted from God’s glory to man’s benefit.

Such a convoluted gospel fuels the fire of self-love and self-exaltation.

As believers we know better than that. We know that the purpose of life is to glorify God. In other words, living to His glory is to govern everything we do.

What higher or more noble purpose could life afford? “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14). Keep that goal clearly in mind in all you do today. By doing so, your day will be “to the praise of [God’s] glory.”

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for His preeminence in all things. ✧ Pray for opportunities to speak of His preeminence to others, remembering that they will see Him in your actions as well as in your words.

For Further Study: Read Job 38:1–42:6. ✧ How did God convince Job of His surpassing knowledge and power? ✧ What was Job’s response?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

JANUARY 18 THE TRUE CHRISTIAN IS THE PRACTICING CHRISTIAN

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

2 PETER 1:3

The supreme purpose of the Christian religion is to make men like God in order that they may act like God. In Christ the verbs “to be” and “to do” follow each other in that order.

True religion leads to moral action. The only true Christian is the practicing Christian. Such a one is in very reality an incarnation of Christ as Christ is the incarnation of God; not in the same degree and fullness of perfection, for there is nothing in the moral universe equal to that awful mystery of godliness which joined God and man in eternal union in the person of the Man Christ Jesus; but as the fullness of the Godhead was and is in Christ, so Christ is in the nature of the one who believes in Him in the manner prescribed in the Scriptures.

Just as in eternity God acted like Himself and when incarnated in human flesh still continued in all His conduct to be true to His holiness, so does He when He enters the nature of a believing man. This is the method by which He makes the redeemed man holy.

The faith of Christ was never intended to be an end in itself nor to serve instead of something else. In the minds of some teachers faith stands in lieu of moral conduct and every inquirer after God must take his choice between the two. We are presented with the well-known either/or: either we have faith or we have works, and faith saves while works damn us. This error has lowered the moral standards of the church![1]


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

January 18, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Body is a Temple of The Holy Spirit

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (6:19–20)

As Christians our bodies are not our own. Paul puts sting into this verse by framing it as a sarcastic question. They are the Lord’s, members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit, who has been given by God to indwell us. So Paul calls for sexual purity not only because of the way sexual sin affects the body, but because the body it affects is not even the believer’s own. Understanding the reality of the phrase the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God should give us as much commitment to purity as any knowledge of divine truth could.

To commit sexual sin in a church auditorium, disgusting as that would be, would be no worse than committing the sin anywhere else. Offense is made within God’s sanctuary wherever and whenever sexual immorality is committed by believers. Every act of fornication, every act of adultery by Christians, is committed in God’s sanctuary: their own bodies. “For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). The fact that Christians are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit is indicated in passages such as John 7:38–39; 20:22; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:9; and 1 Corinthians 12:3. The fact that God sent the Holy Spirit is clear from John 14:16–17; 15:26; and Acts 2:17, 33, 38.

We no longer belong to ourselves because we have been bought with a price. We were not “redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from [our] futile way of life inherited from [our] forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18–19).

Christians’ bodies are God’s temple, and a temple is for worship. Our bodies, therefore, have one supreme purpose: to glorify God. This is a call to live so as to bring honor to the person of God, who alone is worthy of our obedience and adoration.

A friend once took a visitor to a large Catholic cathedral in the east. The visitor wanted to pray at the station of his favorite saint. But upon arriving at that station, he was startled to find no candles lit, and a sign saying, “Do not worship here; closed for cleaning.” The Corinthians provided no divine focus, either, no place for seeking souls to worship, since they were unclean. That, Paul said, had to change.[1]


18–19 Paul is now ready to sum up in a general way how a Christian should react with respect to sexual matters. Believers should “flee from [all forms of] sexual immorality.” This is a general and all-embracing statement. But what does Paul mean when he says (lit.), “Every sin [the Greek text does not have a word for the NIV’s “other”] whatever a person commits is outside the body”? We in the twenty-first century can think of many sins a person can commit against his or her own body—addiction to alcohol or drugs, gluttony, and suicide, to name a few. Among the possible understandings of this text, the one that seems to fit best is to see this statement as another maxim cited by the triumphalist Corinthians. In keeping with their other maxims as cited in 6:12–13, here certain Corinthians are suggesting that sin doesn’t matter since the body (which will be destroyed) doesn’t matter to God. Thus any activity that might directly affect one’s body is not to be considered sin: “Every (true) sin a person commits is not connected with the body.”

Paul’s response to this pagan viewpoint is, also once again, to stress that the body does matter and that sins of immorality are indeed against one’s body. This does not deny, of course, that there might be other sins against the body; Paul’s sole concern in this section is with porneia. In fact, as he goes on to say, the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (once again, introduced by a “do you not know,” v. 19). This, then, is a second significant reason why the body is important and why we are not free to do with our bodies as we please: Not only will God raise the human body someday, as he did the physical body of Christ, but he also comes to abide within us through his Spirit. Imagine that! God, through his Holy Spirit, inhabits our bodies! Do we need any further proof that the Lord places a high value on the human body?

20 As a final summary, Paul emphasizes, as he did in 6:11, that we as believers have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. His blood is the price paid for us (cf. Rev 5:9, which also uses agorazō, “to purchase,” GK 60). This means, of course, that we belong to him—body, soul, and spirit (see comments at v. 17 above). Because we belong to him, we must “glorify” (doxazō, GK 1519; NIV, “honor”) him with our bodies. To glorify God means to reflect by the way we live the glory of God. That is, when people see us, they should be able to see by our actions how glorious and majestic is our God, who has changed us from sinners into saints living holy lives before him. As far as Paul is concerned, no one doing so will commit sexual immorality. May God give us the strength to present this picture to church members today who are faced with a host of temptations via TV, movies, and the Internet to commit sexual immorality in thought, word, and deed.[2]


6:19 / Paul turns more directly to religious imagery in the following lines. In this verse he reiterates the point he made earlier in 3:16, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s pronouns are plural, addressing the entire body of believers in Corinth. He does not single out only those who have been fornicating, for while those particular persons have acted inappropriately, they have acted in a manner that ultimately touches and shapes the life of the Christian community. Thus, the community is in need of instruction, for in different but complementary ways all have been involved in the degradation of the body of believers.

Moreover, Paul qualifies his reference to the Holy Spirit by adding the phrases who is in you, whom you have received from God. All the pronouns are plural, indicating that Paul directs his remarks to all the believers at once. With these brief lines Paul registers at least four crucial theological truths. First, the Spirit is present and active among the Corinthians, empowering them to live the life to which they have been called. Second, the Spirit comes to them from God, whose will is to be manifest in the life of the Spirit-filled community of the Corinthian believers. God’s authority, will, presence, and power form and should inform the shape of the temple of believers in Corinth. Third, the Holy Spirit was received by the Corinthians. They did not earn or produce the Spirit’s presence among them; God acted graciously in bestowing the Spirit on the Christian community in Corinth. Fourth, the Spirit dwells in the temple so that the Corinthians are bound into an intimate relationship to God through the presence of God’s Spirit. They are not independently blessed, but they live in relation to the life that God lives among them.

Paul’s final words in this verse, you are not your own, may form the final part of the question that began at the outset of the verse: Do you not know that … you are not your own? The sense is self-evident: the Corinthians are neither autonomous individuals nor an autonomous community of human beings. God founded, forms, and holds a claim on the lives of these and all other believers. No greater truth can be brought home to the church and its members in every generation. How often do discussions of personal and community affairs (freedoms? rights? responsibilities?) take their start and find their course from the reality that every aspect of the life of believers belongs to God? Nothing we have is ours to have and to do with as we please. All of life belongs to God, and it is ultimately God’s will and work that is to be accomplished in our lives and in our life together. The believer and the believers find identity, purpose, direction, and meaning from the foundational nature of the relationship that God has established in creating us and in reclaiming us in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.[3]The habitation of the body by the Lord (19)

Paul’s fourth plea for Christ-centred purity is the habitation of our bodies by the Lord, by the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are not simply physical shells of remarkable composition: they are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Earlier Paul affirmed that the whole church of God at Corinth was God’s temple, with stern warnings against any who might destroy that temple. Now he uses the same metaphor to remind individual Christians at Corinth that God has given to each the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, whom you have from God. In the earlier passage the reference was simply to ‘God’s Spirit’. Here he feels compelled to emphasize the call to holiness, ‘your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit’ (19).

The redemption of the body by the Lord (19–20)

Paul’s final plea for purity is based on the cost of redeeming our bodies: You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. Before they began to experience the freedom for which Christ had set them free, the Corinthians were in the most servile bondage. They were slaves to themselves, their self-centred desires, self-indulgence and bodily passions. Then came a master with the resources to set them completely free. He paid the necessary ransom. They had been set free from the futility and servitude of their previous manner of life. Their bodies were no longer like chunks of flesh up for sale to the highest bidder in the slave-market, or available to a cult-prostitute for a fee.94 They had been bought with a price and they now belonged to a new master. His orders now mattered, not their own fancies or foibles. He now intended every physical faculty they had within them to express the glory of God. So far from despising their bodies, marked as they were by all the degradation and indiscipline of sin, he was committed to working out from within ‘the redemption of their bodies’. Flesh and blood, particularly such dissolute flesh and blood, could never inherit the kingdom of God;96 but the power of his redeeming love could—and would—complete what the Holy Spirit had already begun.

So we are urged to learn from the Spirit of God what it means to glorify God in our bodies: not to pander to them, make excuses for them, or be flippant about the many powerful temptations to abuse them. Paul forthrightly commands the Corinthians to flee two sins: immorality (6:18) and idolatry (10:14). Joseph had to run from the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife. Christians today do not have to be citizens of Corinth, or handsome visitors in the opulent courts of amoral Egyptian rulers, to discover the practical wisdom of running away from temptation when the odds are stacked too high against them.

This, however, is the negative (though necessary) aspect of Christ-centred purity. Paul’s last word on the subject is far more challenging and positive: glorify God in your body. Let Godet have the final comment on this call to purity: ‘Display positively in the use of our body the glory and especially the holiness of the heavenly Master who has taken possession of our person.’98 The poetic vision of the Psalmist is the perfect epilogue:

Thou didst form my inward parts,

thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.

Wonderful are thy works!

Thou knowest me right well;

my frame was not hidden from thee,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.

Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance;

in thy book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.[4]


6:19. For this reason, the apostle appealed once again to a teaching which he had already given the Corinthians. The Christian’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in believers, making their bodies a holy place for the dwelling of God’s special presence. That the Holy Spirit resides in believers points to the new nature of believers’ bodies. Believers’ bodies are sanctified and holy, being in union with Christ. When a person in Christ engages in sexual immorality, that immorality runs contrary to the new nature and new identity of his body. The Christian has been redeemed for good works (Eph. 2:10), so he ought to use his body for good deeds and righteousness, not for sin.

Paul also reminded the Corinthians that they did not have rights to their own bodies. They were not free to use their bodies any way they wished. He insisted that Christ bought them at a price—his own blood. As a slave was bought in the ancient world, Christ bought his followers, body and soul, through the price of his own death. Because they belong to him, believers do not have the right to rebel against him by using their bodies in ways the Lord has prohibited.

Further, because this purchase results in redemption and salvation, it ought to inspire grateful obedience, not rebellion. In this reminder, Paul chastised the Corinthians and pleaded with them to obey Christ eagerly and thankfully.[5]


19. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? And you do not belong to yourselves.

  • “Or do you not know?” The comparative conjunction or provides an additional reason for fleeing sexual immorality. For the last time in this chapter, Paul rhetorically asks the Corinthians whether they have definite knowledge (see vv. 2, 3, 9, 15, and 16). They again have to give an affirmative answer to this query. We assume that on an earlier occasion Paul had taught them about the purpose, use, and destiny of their physical bodies.
  • “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.” Paul reminds the Corinthians of the sacredness of their bodies. He notes that the Holy Spirit makes his abode within them, so that their body is his temple. He writes the two words body and temple in the singular to apply them to the individual believer. Further, through the word order in the Greek, he places emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Paul literally writes to the Corinthians, “Your body is a temple of the one within you, namely the Holy Spirit.” That is, the physical body of the Christian belongs to the Lord and serves as the residence of the Holy Spirit.

What an honor to have God’s Spirit dwelling within us! Note that Paul writes the word temple (see the commentary on 3:16). The Greek has two words that are translated “temple.” The first one is hieron, which refers to the general temple complex, as in the city of Jerusalem. The second is naos, which denotes the temple building with the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (see, e.g., Exod. 26:31–34; Heb. 9:1–5). Naos is used in the present verse. For the Jew, this was the place where God dwelled among his people until the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70. For the Christian, not a fixed geographic site but the body of the individual believer is the place where God’s Spirit is pleased to dwell. In the early church, Irenaeus called individual Christians “temples of God” and described them as “stones for the Father’s temple.” If, then, the Spirit of God dwells within us, we should avoid grieving him (Eph. 4:30) or extinguishing his fire (1 Thess. 5:19).

  • “Whom you have from God.” In this brief segment of the verse, Paul teaches first that the individual believers possess and continue to possess the gift of the Holy Spirit. Next, he reveals that the Spirit’s origin is from God.
  • “And you do not belong to yourselves.” We are not the owners of our own bodies, for God created us, Jesus redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit makes his abode within us. The triune God claims ownership, but he leaves us free to consecrate and yield our physical bodies to him. By contrast, those who commit fornication desecrate the temple of the Holy Spirit and cause untold spiritual and physical damage to themselves and others. For this reason, Paul exhorts us to flee sexual immorality (v. 18). Because God owns our body, we are its stewards and must give an account to him. Therefore, we ought to guard its sanctity and protect it from defilement and destruction. God’s temple is holy and precious.[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (p. 152). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 312–313). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (pp. 133–134). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Prior, D. (1985). The message of 1 Corinthians: life in the local church (pp. 103–104). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 101–102). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 201–202). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

JANUARY 18 FAITH AND OBEDIENCE

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

What is our answer to the many confused persons who keep asking: “How can we know that we have come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?”

First, we stand together on the basic truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. A second fact is that men and women are saved by faith in Christ alone, without works and without our merit.

However, the fact that Christ came to save sinners is not enough—that fact in itself cannot save us. Now in our day, the issues of believing faith and the gift of eternal life are clouded and confused by an “easy acceptance” that has been fatal to millions who may have stopped short in matters of faith and obedience.

Faith is believing and receiving, as in Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”; and as in John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

I praise You, Lord, for accomplishing the mission for which You came to this earth. I pray today for my family members and coworkers who have not put their faith in You. Bring them to Yourself, Father.[1]


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

January 18 Don’t Count on Sensationalism

“If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You.’ ”—Matt. 4:6a

Throughout history, sensationalism has often appealed to average people who are looking for dramatic events that titillate the senses and pander to fleshly curiosity. Toward the end of His ministry Jesus warned, “False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24).

Even when signs are from God, they usually do not bring unbelievers to faith, but only confirm the faith of those who already believe. God’s many miracles on behalf of the wandering Israelites just made many of them more presumptuous and unbelieving, as did Jesus’ signs to the Jews who opposed Him. The apostle John writes, “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him” (John 12:37). Jesus Himself, as the Messiah and Son of God, was the greatest sign God ever gave to humanity, yet “He was despised and forsaken of men” (Isa. 53:3).

Demanding sensational signs, as Satan did from Jesus, does not manifest faith but rather skepticism and unbelief (cf. Matt. 12:39; 16:4). Because a fascination with the sensational is far removed from true faith, Jesus would take no part in it. For those who, apart from special signs, believe in God the Father and trust in His Son—our Savior—it is well evident that Christ has already proved Himself.

ASK YOURSELF

The best Christian witness in the world remains the power of a changed life. People will respond to your testimony of God’s love and mercy much more often than to a high-energy worship service. How are you making Christ known through your own life? Look for the simplest of ways.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 26). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 18 Compelled to Serve

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.

Ephesians 4:1

Do you have any idea of what a high calling it is to serve Christ?

Paul said, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). He also said, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1).

In ancient times, a victor at the Olympic Games once asked, “Spartan, what will you gain by this victory?” He replied, “I, sir, shall have the honor to fight on the front line for my king.” May that be your response to the call of your King.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 29). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 18, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

23 Character traits, pride and humility. A humble spirit brings honor and respect. The verse contrasts consequences: pride leads to abasement, but humility brings exaltation. The lines are tied together with a paronomasia between “brings low” (tašpîlennû) and “lowly [šepal] in spirit.” McKane, 633, explains that the lowly one can learn, but “pride is a way of descent to mediocrity or worse” (see Lk 14:11; 18:14).[1]


29:23 A proud man can be sure of being brought low. It is the humble man who is elevated to a place of honor.

Professor Smith was climbing the Weisshorn. When near the top the guide stood aside to permit the traveler to have the honor of first reaching the top. Exhilarated by the view, forgetful of the fierce gale that was blowing, he sprang up and stood erect on the summit. The guide pulled him down, exclaiming, “On your knees sir; you are not safe there except on your knees.” Life’s summits, whether of knowledge, of love, or of worldly success, are full of perils. (Choice Gleanings).

O Lamb of God, still keep me

Close to Thy pierced side;

’Tis only there in safety

And peace I can abide.

With foes and snares around me,

And lusts and fears within,

The grace that sought and found me,

Alone can keep me clean.

James G. Deck[2]


29:23. The reverse effects of pride and humility warn against the one and encourage the other. Ironically pride, by which a person seeks to elevate himself, actually results in his being brought low (šāp̱al) whereas one who is of lowly (šāp̱al) spirit is elevated by others to a position of honor (cf. 3:34; 15:33; 16:18–19; 18:12). God hates pride (see comments on 6:17) because it influences a person to live independently of Him.[3]


29:23 The pride of a person will bring him humiliation Pride is seen as a destructive attitude throughout Proverbs (11:2; 16:18). Pride prevents people from accepting reproof or advice (12:15; 13:18).[4]


[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 232). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 866). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 968–969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 29:23). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

JANUARY 18 A MIGHTY MAN WAS DAVID

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

—Psalm 84:2

Perhaps David’s greatness and his significance for mankind lies in his complete preoccupation with God. He was a Jew, steeped in the Levitical tradition, but he never got lost in the forms of religion. “I have set the LORD always before me” (Psalm 16:8), he said once and again he said, or rather cried, for his words rise from within like a cry, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (42:2).

David was acutely God-conscious. To him God was the one Being worth knowing. Where others saw nature he saw God. He was a nature poet indeed, but he saw God first and loved nature for God’s sake. Wordsworth reversed the order and, while he is great, he is not worthy to untie the shoelaces of the man David.

David was also a God-possessed man. He threw himself at the feet of God and demanded to be conquered, and Jehovah responded by taking over his personality and shaping it as a potter shapes the clay.

Because he was God-possessed he could be God-taught….

He sent his heart to school to the Most High God, and soon he knew Him with an immediacy of knowing more wonderful than is dreamed of in our philosophies. WOS033-035

Lord, may I be as God-possessed as David. Give me a heart that cries out to You; then teach me and enable me to know You with immediacy and intimacy. Amen.[1]


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