Sacred Scripture contains words sent spiritually, blessed, and preserved for us. They’re not meant to be taken softly or politically correct. No matter what you’ve learned so far, God’s Word helps us fully understand the mind of Christ. Paul, in Romans, clearly tells us what we need to know.
Paul lays out the foundation of our faith:
- All people are sinners
- Christ suffered death on the cross to forgive save us from sin and death
- By faith, we enter into a right relationship with God
- The redeemed and reconciled will see eternal life
- An intimate, heartfelt relations with Christ is possible
It is not enough to know the gospel, we must be transformed by it. Transformation requires daily fellowship with the Father, in Christ Jesus. Cultivate your God-given relationship with Him by knowing and understanding words—His Word.
Words have meaning.
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
I believe, we need to hesitate here and talk about the meaning of words. Faulty conclusions, misunderstanding, and misconceptions are harmful and counter-productive.
If we are going to continue in the book of Romans, there are some words we need mutual understanding: sin, salvation, growth, sovereignty, and service.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sin is: an offense against religious or moral law; an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible; an often serious shortcoming (fault); transgression of the law of God; and a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.
So, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, to him, it is sin.
Sin is a “biting” word. We are not quick to use it in our common everyday language. The news anchor will not announce that a man sinned, but only that he was caught killing people in a hate crime.
According to God, sin is sin, period. All sin comes from refusing to live in God’s revealed will and failing to do what God requires. We sin not out of opportunity, but because we are natural-born sinners.
We’ve, honestly, inherited our sin nature from our ancestral mother and father. Their rebellion makes us for life, and we are set on self-destruction. Sin severs our relationship with God. It is impossible to fellowship with God when sin darkens our for, or we harbor secret sin in our heart.
Sin is inescapable—a poison that poisons eternally. If anyone claims they are sinless, then they lie and don’t know God’s word. On the other hand, God is pure, just, perfect, and fair. He is both righteous and just. He has every right to condemn us.
Sin is the evidence He has against us. We are without excuse.
The gospel message is clear. God’s great lovingkindness intervened on our behalf. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, not to condemn us, but to save us. Jesus took the poison of sin for us. He did this of His own free will. The sins of all the world were placed on His sinless body, and He still bears the scars to prove His love.
Sin is something we must take seriously.
“Sin is cosmic treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, salvation is deliverance from the power and effects of sin; the agent or means that effects salvation; liberation from ignorance or illusion; preservation from destruction or failure; and deliverance from danger or difficulty.
… Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Before we can fully understand the beauty of salvation, we need to know the truth about sin. In Webster’s final definition of sin, it reads: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.
We have no problems understanding “self estranged from God”, but what does “vitiated state of human nature” means to cause deterioration or lowering in quality or character. Vitiate implies a destruction of purity, validity, or effectiveness by allowing entrance of a fault or defect. Common words for “vitiate” are corrupt, debase, deprave, and pervert.
Initially, the Holy God created holy people who became unholy—defective. God’s plan of salvation rescues us from “self-corruption”.
Sin takes control over our soul, our thoughts, and the intent of our heart. It is like a deadly virus. We don’t deserve to be forgiven.
The sinful soul will forever be separated from our God.
Salvation rewrites our destiny from eternal death to life eternal. God’s faithfulness, justice, righteousness, and love made the impossible possible. His kindness touches generation after generation until we are gathered to the place He has prepared for us. He alone is our Salvation.
Christ Jesus, our Messiah, and Lord, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. It would be nice if the story ends here, but it doesn’t.
We cannot enter into the Land of Happy Ever After until we do our part. We must believe and repent. Only the redeemed of the Lord believe God sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself. Only the reconciled turn away from self-will to God’s will. The “saved soul” moves in alignment with God’s will.
Salvation is the gateway to a heartfelt relationship with Christ. The yielded soul in the hand of her Savior is safe, transformed, redeemed, reconciled and completely in God’s possession.
Knowledge of God is another privilege of “salvation”. The closer we come to Christ the more we know Him and such knowledge is sweet and intimate. We are filled with awe—giving God the glory and honor is more than skin deep.
Salvation also makes us sin sensitive. As Christians, we will not be immune to sin’s sickening call, but we will recognize it for what it is. We will not “habitually” sin or justify it. We understand how sin separates us from God. The horror of separation is so great that we run to the Father immediately for forgiveness.
God is faithful, and He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Our relationship with Him is too valuable to allow the interference of sin!
“There is no more urgent and critical question in life than that of your personal relationship with God and your eternal salvation.”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, growth is simply a stage in the process of growing and developing.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
2 Peter 3:18
I remember, when I was a new Christian, praying for the Lord to grow me now. I guess I expected spiritual growth to be like those magical beans in Jack and the Beanstalk.
Nevertheless, the truth is that spiritual growth is the same, and yet different, from physical growth. It is different because it’s not seen by the naked eye, but it is the same because it takes time. It’s a life-long education in the profound things of God. We do not gain the mind of Christ overnight.
This progressive journey is simply called “sanctification”. The redeemed soul is set aside for God’s purpose and prepared for His will. The Holy Spirit enables us to learn as he transforms us, and we conform to God’s revealed will in Sacred Scripture.
The classroom of the Holy is behind closed doors in the Secret Place.
The Holy Spirit gently leads us into all truth and guides us in God’s will. The transformation frees us from the demands of the law and eternal damnation. We freely yield to the help, instruction, and counsel of the Spirit of God. We are led away from sin’s deadly control to a growing relationship with Christ. The closer we come to Him, the more intimate. Long-distance will never be sufficient.
Growth, or maturity, as a Christian is progressive, secure, and perfect. It is personal.
“There is nothing that is more dangerous to your own salvation more unworthy of God, and more harmful to your own happiness than that you should be content to remain as you are.”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sovereignty is one possessing supreme authority; excellent; unqualified nature; supreme power; absolute and unlimited rule, free from external control, influence, or manipulation; controlling influence.
Ah, Sovereign LORD, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You. Jeremiah 32:17
The term “sovereign” is an old-fashioned word, but I don’t think it should ever go out of style. God is Sovereign—He oversees, cares for, and has authority over all creation, under the earth, in the earth, and into the universe.
Sovereignty means God has absolute control
Interestingly enough, there is only one area that His sovereignty is not in control, and that is because He made it: free will. Freely He gives and freely we receive. We choose Him as our destiny or not. We select the right to eternal life or the right to die. Jesus, by His free will, decided to accept the suffering and loss at the cross. No one forced Him. It was His Sovereign will to save us.
God sovereignly moves creation at His will. We cannot change His mind nor manipulate Him for our favor. God is the change agent that changes us. He is unchangeable in character, attributes, Word, and purposes. He is stable, secure, and unshakeable.
We are safe in the arms of His Sovereignty.
“When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, service is slave; occupation of serving; help; use; benefit; contribution to the welfare of others.
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:11
We must approach this word, service, with care.
- Why do we serve God?
- Does He want for anything?
- Does God need us?
- Are we serving God out of guilt or love?
Whenever we serve God under the shadow of obligation, it is no service at all.
God, in His sovereign wisdom, allows us to join Him in His plans, purposes, and will. He does not need us. In service, we align our lives to His. We come to know Him intimately as we service Him.
The hand that holds you holds you well in His service.
“The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless. The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”
Words matter to the Lord, and how we understand them makes a difference. Words, especially the Word of God, allows us a glimpse into the mind of Christ. Words stabilize our understanding, and God’s word infuses us with wisdom once hidden and concepts once unknown.
Trust the Word of God, as His revealed will. Call to Him and He will answer you. Go! Go behind closed doors, let the Holy Spirit usher you into His presence and capture His voice. Can you hear Him? What’s He saying? Grasp the Sacred Word as the Word grasps you.
Trust me, you’ll never regret it.
Thus says the LORD who made the earth the LORD who formed it to establish it—the LORD is His name: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
What’s Your Takeaway?
Today we have discussed the value of definitions. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in words. His treasured words must be freely received and freely understood. Misconceptions, misunderstanding, and faulty conclusions are harmful and counter-productive.
- What did you learn – your greatest takeaway?
- Did you learn something that changed your perspective?
Share it with us, in the comments. We’d love to know.
“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” Mother Teresa.
Photos by Kevin Carden—Lightstock.com
Christine Malkemes, https://christinemalkemes.com/. Founder of Words Whispered. Used with permission.