Back to the Basics

The basics. It’s essential to know the basics. For just about anything…a job, a recipe, a sport, a business. You’ve got to know the basics. The same is true of Christianity. You’ve got to not only know but understand a few basics. A few fundamentals. And live by them. Problem is we don’t know the basics. Or choose to ignore them. And when you don’t have an accurate understanding of the basics you’ve got confusion and misconceptions and a whole lot of people who call themselves Christians but have absolutely no relationship with God. So today…today we get back to the basics.

Devotional: Genesis 15:6
Key Verse: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” 1 John 2:3

God is God. And we are not. He alone is perfect. Holy. He alone is without sin. We however are full of sin. Filled to the brim with sin. (Rom. 3:23) Sin entered the world through Adam and death through sin (Rom. 5:12). The wages of sin then is death. Death did not exist before sin. But is a consequence of sin because sin separates and death is the ultimate separation. Without faith in Jesus Christ death is a forever permanent separation from the absolutely completely holy God.

In order to be with God you must be perfect. And obviously we are not. So we have a problem – an enormously big problem solved only by an enormously loving God. When he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be the propitiation for the sins of mankind. (Hebrews 2:17) That we might be made/declared perfect in and through Jesus.

Jesus – who is himself God – became a man that he might be the perfect sinless sacrifice needed to appease the wrath of God. Jesus – through whom all things in heaven and earth were created – allowed himself to be beaten, spit on, mocked, stripped, and nailed to a cross. For you. For me. Jesus – the Almighty One – who resurrected on the third day defeating death. So that he could credit the account of each person who humbly submits to him for salvation with his pure and perfect righteousness.

Because on our own we’ll never be righteous enough. Never. On our own we’re destined for hell. Only through Jesus and his righteousness can we be saved from condemnation. Not through works of our own. Not through baptism or sprinkling or other rituals or even going to church. Not by giving to the poor, the needy, the homeless. Not by doing my best. But by believing. Simply believing.

Just as it was for Abram. “And he [Abram] believed the LORD, and he [the LORD] counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Not because of something Abram did. Not because of his good works, as Paul reiterates in Romans 4, but simply because he believed. He, just like us, was saved by grace through faith, not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

Yet faith without works…is dead (James 2:17). Dead! That’s some strong language. My friends, herein lies the most detrimental misunderstanding of Christianity today. The role of good works. No, we are not saved by our works. But good works are absolutely a necessity. Because a genuine belief in Jesus Christ will always result in growing obedience to him. Out of gratitude for what God did. Out of love for the Savior. For his glory. It’s not just about praying a prayer. It’s not about saying the right words. It’s about obedience. Jesus said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Even the demons believe Jesus is the Son of God. And they shudder. (James 2:17) It’s not just about acknowledging…it’s about obeying. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John elaborated, “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:3-6).

In the same way he walked. In obedience. In love. In truth and purity. Be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16). These are the fundamental truths of Christianity. But somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that real faith works and works hard. To bring God glory. To crucify the flesh with its unrighteous desires. Living not in the works of the flesh but by the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Even when it’s hard and seems impossible. Even when deep down we really don’t want to. Because genuine faith in Jesus Christ will result in the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said in speaking of real and false disciples (followers) “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-20).

Are we gonna mess up? You better believe it. We already established we ain’t perfect! But a genuine believer fights the flesh – sometimes hard – yet Christ empowers. My friends, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

Jesus asked “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) Obedience is no doubt a fundamental basic truth that cannot be ignored. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:6). I beg you, dear friends, with sincere love, to evaluate your obedience. Is it simply knowledge you possess? Or a relationship with Jesus evidenced by a growing obedience to HIS commands?

Salvation in Jesus Christ is not a one time event. It’s an everyday event. Living for the King of Kings. Living not for self. Not for my own gratification. Not for my own inclinations. But for Christ’s. For his glory and his kingdom. He saved us not so we could live however we want to and still go to Heaven. He saved us for good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” Eph. 2:10.

So let’s walk in them…

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is your faith genuine? Is it a faith that works? What evidence is there of the fruit of the Spirit?
Are you more like Christ than you were a month ago? a year ago? Is there a pattern of growing obedience in your life?image

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