Category Archives: John MacArthur

April 21 The Cushion of Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

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God’s peace cushions the soul during difficult times.

I remember reading about what is called “the cushion of the sea.” The ocean surface is often greatly agitated, but as you descend, the water becomes increasingly calm. At its greatest depths, the ocean is virtually still. Oceanographers dredging ocean bottoms have found animal and plant remains that appear to have been undisturbed for hundreds of years.

Similarly, Christians can experience a cushion of peace in their souls regardless of their troubled surroundings. That’s because they belong to God, who is the source of peace; they serve Christ, who is the Prince of Peace; and they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is the agent of peace. Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.” When you become a Christian, God grants you the gift of peace.

God is not only the source of perfect peace but also its purest example. Everything He does is marked by peace. First Corinthians 14:33 says He is not a God of confusion but of peace. In Judges 6:24 He is called Jehovah-shalom, which means, “the Lord is peace.” The Trinity is characterized by a total absence of conflict—perfect oneness, perfect righteousness, and absolute harmony. It is impossible for God to be at odds with Himself!

God wants everyone to know that kind of peace. He created the world with peace and sent His Son to offer peace. Someday Christ will return to establish His Kingdom and reign in peace for eternity.

In the meantime, turmoil exists for all who don’t know Christ. They have no cushion for their souls. You, however, have peace with God through the death of Christ Jesus, and as you obey Him, His peace will continually reign in your heart. Don’t ever let sin rob you of that blessed cushion. Only as you experience peace within yourself can you share it with others.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the cushion of peace He has provided amid difficult circumstances. ✧ Ask God to use you as an instrument of His peace today.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 57:15–21, noting how God encourages the repentant and warns the wicked in relation to peace.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 124). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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April 21 Dealing Radically with Sin

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.—Matt. 5:29–30

We must be willing, as Jesus teaches here, to relinquish whatever is necessary to protect us from evil and preserve righteousness. Mutilation will not cleanse our hearts, but Jesus’ figurative words call for dramatic severing of any impulse that could lead to sin (cf. Matt. 18:8–9).

In other words, we must deal radically with sin, as Paul says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). If we don’t purpose to carefully control the worldly influences around us, they will control us. Those we can’t control we should not hesitate to discard.

Cutting off harmful influences will not necessarily and automatically turn a corrupt heart into a pure one. But just as external acts of murder or adultery reflect internal hearts of sin, the outward act of fleeing sinful effects reflects the inward attitude that seeks holiness and God’s will rather than human pleasure.

Jesus reminds us again that His standards of righteousness are humanly impossible to attain. We have all been murderers and adulterers in our hearts, and often we don’t realize this because of sin’s subtlety and blinding effect. But the impossibility of measuring up to divine standards points to our need to receive a new heart and turn over our helplessness to His sufficiency.

ASK YOURSELF

How have you practiced this kind of severing in your Christian life? What familiar sins and seductions have proven so injurious in your past, it’s best if they’re just never in the same room with you?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 120). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 21 Suffering for Sins

For what the law could not do in that it was weakthrough the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin.

Romans 8:3

When we as believers suffer persecution, criticism, or even death, we are sinners suffering because of the sins of others. Our pain may come from the sins of hatred, anger, envy, or murder.

Christ also suffered for sins, but as the sinless One. First Peter 2:22 says He “committed no sin.” He never thought, said, or did anything evil. Rather, everything He thought, said, and did was perfectly holy. The sins of others placed Him on the cross: of those who mocked Him and those who nailed Him to the cross. He died because of the sins of the whole world.

Today’s verse says that Jesus died “on account of sin.” He suffered as a sin offering because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Just as in the Old Testament God required an animal sacrifice to symbolize the need for our atonement for sin, the New Testament presents Christ as the sacrifice who provided not a symbol, but the reality of our eternal atonement for sin.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 126). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 21 The Centrality of the Resurrection

“Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”

Matthew 28:5–6

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The fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the culmination of redemptive history and the essential basis of the Christian faith.

Without the Resurrection, our Christian faith would just be a lot of wishful thinking, no better than human philosophies and speculative religions. In fact, the noted seventeenth–century philosopher John Locke, some of whose ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Our Saviour’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”

From its very early accounts, Scripture has contained the message of resurrection hope. Death has never been the end for the believer, but simply a gateway to eternal life in Heaven. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac because in faith “he considered that God is able to raise men from the dead” (Heb. 11:19). The Lord assured Daniel that believers “will awake … to everlasting life” (Dan. 12:2).

The Resurrection was the focal point of Christ’s teaching to the disciples about His sufferings and death: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). It is therefore completely understandable that Matthew and the other three Gospel writers all included an historical account of Jesus’ resurrection in their narratives.

Paul knew that without the Resurrection our salvation could not have been possible. He was also convinced that the truth of the Resurrection must be believed or else salvation cannot be received: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

It’s no wonder that Paul, the other apostles, and every leader in the early church continually proclaimed Christ’s resurrection as the culmination of His ministry. Those men were so captivated by the significance of the Resurrection that they could not help but preach it. And that should be our attitude today.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the truth of John 11:25, which gives us the hope of resurrection in Jesus’ own words.

For Further Study: Read Acts 2:14–36 or 3:12–26. What is the focal point of Peter’s evangelistic sermons? ✧ How does he prove his theme?[1]


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

April 20 Becoming Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

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You have a part to play in becoming pure in heart.

Purifying a heart is the gracious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things we must do in response to His prompting. First, we must admit we can’t purify our own hearts. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” The implied answer is, no one!

Next, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross is the basis for our cleansing. Acts 15:9 says that God cleanses hearts on the basis of faith. Of course, our faith must be placed in the right object. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Finally, we must study the Bible and pray. The psalmist said we keep our way pure by keeping it according to God’s Word, which we must treasure in our hearts (Ps. 119:9, 11). As we pray and submit to the Word, the Spirit purifies our lives.

That’s how you acquire and maintain a pure heart. As a result you “shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). That doesn’t mean you’ll see Him with physical eyes, but rather with spiritual ones. You’ll begin to live in His presence and will become increasingly aware of His working in your life. You’ll recognize His power and handiwork in the beauty and intricacy of creation (Ps. 19). You’ll discern His grace and purposes amid trials and will learn to praise Him in all things. You’ll sense His ministry through other Christians and will see His sovereignty in every event of your life. Life takes on a profound and eternal meaning as you share Christ with unbelievers and see Him transform lives.

There’s no greater joy than knowing you are pure before God and that your life is honoring to Him. May that joy be yours today, and may God use you in a powerful way for His glory!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Lord for continued grace to live a pure life so others will see Christ in you.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 6:1–8. ✧ Describe Isaiah’s vision of God. ✧ How did Isaiah respond to God’s presence?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 123). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

April 20 Desire, the Root Sin of Adultery

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.—Matt. 5:27–28

The seventh commandment protects the sanctity of marriage, and anyone who relies on external righteousness to keep it is prone to break it. Just as anger equals murder, lustful desire equals adultery.

In Jesus’ admonition, “looks” indicates intentional and repeated gazing. Therefore He means purposeful looking that arouses lust. In contemporary terms, it condemns a man who sees an X-rated movie, watches a salacious television show, or visits pornographic websites. It encompasses any thought or action done to arouse sexual desire.

Jesus is not referring to accidental exposure to sexual temptation. It is no sin if a man looks away from a provocative scene. It is the continued look that Christ condemns, because that demonstrates an adulterous heart. And by inference this prohibition would apply to women also, who must not gaze at men or dress in seductive ways to elicit stares.

In earliest redemptive history, Job understood these principles: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?… If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted” (Job 31:1, 7–8).

If the adulterous heart gives in to temptation, the godly heart will protect itself, praying, “Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You” (Ps. 119:37–38; cf. 2 Tim. 2:22).

ASK YOURSELF

What could replace your next lustful thought or glance? Instead of focusing on what God has graciously restricted, what blessings, privileges, and freedoms can capture your attention instead?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 119). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 20 Christ’s Triumph

Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.

1 Peter 3:18

It’s incredible to think that One who was perfectly just would die for the unjust. Pilate was correct when he said of Jesus, “I find no guilt in this man” (Luke 23:4). The charges brought against our Lord were fabricated. The witnesses were bribed, and the conviction itself was illegal.

Yet Christ triumphed through such unjust suffering by bringing us to God. And though believers will never suffer as substitutes or redeemers, God may use our Christlike response to unjust suffering to draw others to Himself.

So when the Lord asks us to suffer for His sake, we must realize we are only being asked to endure what He Himself endured so that we can point others to Him.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 125). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 20 Compassionate Loyalty

“And many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.”

Matthew 27:55

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The women who supported Jesus’ ministry all the way to the cross are fine examples of compassionate loyalty.

Caring, consistent loyalty is a wonderful characteristic of godly women. This trait is probably more evident in them than it is in godly men. The women by the cross were the main group of believing eyewitnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion. They also showed incredible loyalty in the face of ridicule and danger. This courage contrasted with the disciples who, except for John, had fled in fear the night before Jesus was crucified.

We saw in a lesson earlier this month that some of the women, including our Lord’s mother, had been watching the crucifixion from the foot of the cross (John 19:25–27). But in today’s verse the women are described as “looking on from a distance.” They had not suddenly become afraid of the Roman soldiers or the Jewish leaders. Neither had they become ashamed of being known as Jesus’ followers. They withdrew because their grief was deep and their hope shattered at the impending death of their Master. The women’s endurance, however, was undaunted.

Throughout His ministry, devoted women such as those at the cross ministered generously to Jesus and the disciples. Luke 8:2–3 says, “Mary who was called Magdalene … Joanna the wife of Chuza … Susanna, and many others … were contributing to their support out of their private means.” It is probable that most of the meals Jesus and the Twelve ate were prepared by faithful women.

The women who followed Jesus set the standard for faithful service and compassionate loyalty that Paul later outlined for godly women: “a reputation for good works … washed the saints’ feet … assisted those in distress, and … devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10). Such self–giving acts of practical service are marks of excellence and spiritual maturity that ought to be evident in the lives of all believers.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Is there a Christian friend to whom you can affirm your loyalty? Pray for an opportunity to serve that person in a practical way.

For Further Study: Read John 13:3–17. How did Jesus demonstrate the theme of today’s study? ✧ What impact did Jesus’ example have on Peter?[1]


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

April 19 Thinking Biblically

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

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The way you think determines the way you behave.

God is concerned about the way you think. That’s why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In Philippians 4:8 he instructs us to think about that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy.

When Jesus spoke of a pure heart in Matthew 5:8, He was talking about sanctified thinking. The Greek word translated “heart” is kardia, from which we get the word cardiac. While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Matt. 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).

In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions.

The Greek word translated “pure” in Matthew 5:8 means “to cleanse.” In the moral sense it speaks of being free from the filth of sin. It also refers to something that is unmixed, unalloyed, or unadulterated. Spiritual integrity and sincere motives are appropriate applications of its meaning to the Christian life.

Jesus was saying the Kingdom citizen is blessed because he or she has pure thoughts and pure motives that together produce holy living. Someone might claim to be religious and have pure motives, but if his behavior isn’t righteous, his heart isn’t fixed on God. Similarly, you can go to church, carry a Bible, and recite verses, but if your heart isn’t clean, you haven’t met God’s standard.

You must do the will of God from a pure heart (Eph. 6:6). Toward that end, make David’s prayer yours as well: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Psalm 19:14 and make it a part of your daily prayers.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of a pure heart: Psalm 9:1; 26:2; 27:8; 28:7; 57:7.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 122). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

April 19 Reconciling with Others

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.—Matt. 5:25–26

The time for reconciliation with others is always now, just as it is with salvation. Tomorrow may be too late. No excuse is valid to allow bitterness, anger, hatred, or any other sin to keep us separated from another person. Jesus illustrates here that we should make good on any debt or settle any grievance before it is too late and we’re imprisoned.

In the Roman Empire, two opponents at law could settle an issue on the way to court, but not after a judge became involved. To avoid judgment and imprisonment, the guilty person had to pay “the last cent,” or everything owed in debt.

Being thrown into prison and not being able to get out until a debt is paid is Jesus’ analogy to the Father’s punishment. We can’t miss the Son’s teaching here: we must make every effort possible, with no delay, to mend any broken relationship with a brother before we can avoid divine chastening and have a right relationship with God.

We know that because of sin, none of us is ever completely at peace or perfectly related to another. And since it’s impossible to have perfectly right attitudes toward others or God, no worship is ever fully acceptable. All of Jesus’ teachings in this passage and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount show us again the utterly perfect standard of God’s righteousness and the absolute impossibility of our meeting that standard on our own.

ASK YOURSELF

There ’s no denying the pain of strained and severed relationships. But there ’s nothing like knowing you’ve done everything you can to make it right. Can you live in the Lord’s peace even if nothing changes?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 118). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 19 Your Two Options

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

1 Peter 3:17

You have two options. The first is to do right, even if it results in suffering. You then accept suffering as part of God’s wise and sovereign plan for your life.

The second option is to do wrong, which also will result in suffering. Both options are available according to God’s will. God wills that you suffer for doing right so you will receive spiritual strength and glorify God. But He also wills that you suffer divine chastisement for doing wrong. So do good, and avoid bringing suffering on yourself for all the wrong reasons.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 124). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 19 The Soldiers’ Saving Response

“Now the centurion, and those who were with him … became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’ ”

Matthew 27:54

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The testimony of the soldiers after Jesus’ crucifixion demonstrates the sufficiency of His death for all sinners.

Most of the time our daily activities are dictated by the routine responsibilities of our jobs. That’s how it was for the Roman soldiers who stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus gave up His life. They were there simply out of duty, to make sure the crucifixion was carried out properly and without interference.

The soldiers probably had little knowledge of Judaism and had not heard of Jesus before, unless it was by hearsay. Therefore, they really had no idea why the Jewish leaders and most of the crowd were so intent on killing Him. To these anonymous soldiers, Christ’s claims to be the Son of God and a king seemed equally ludicrous and harmless.

The darkness and the earthquake, however, radically changed their attitudes. Their emotional fear produced by those events quickly turned to reverential awe for who Jesus was. They sensed that the natural phenomena had a supernatural origin and suddenly realized that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

Jesus’ gracious and profound words, spoken from the cross and before Pilate, and His humble, selfless demeanor worked on the soldiers’ hearts. But it was the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ultimately convinced them to confess Christ’s deity.

The declaration “Truly this was the Son of God!” proclaimed by the centurion (see also Mark 15:39) on behalf of himself and his men, was for the soldiers a profession of faith in Christ. Although that testimony was uttered by someone else after Jesus had died, it became in essence His final testimony from the cross. It also offers us compelling proof that His grace can extend to all sinners, even to those who helped put Him to death. In John 12:32 Jesus announced, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for someone today who needs salvation—perhaps someone whom you quit praying for because you thought it unlikely they would ever respond to the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Mark 10:17–27. The young man was outwardly a prime candidate for salvation, in contrast to the Roman soldiers. What kept him outside the kingdom? ✧ What do verses 26–27 teach about the nature of salvation?[1]


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