Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim 1:15)

Jesus did not come as a good example or to blaze a trail to the afterlife that we can now follow. No, Jesus came to save. He came to save because we are sinners who need saving. We don’t need good examples. We don’t need trails to follow. We need to be freed from our rebellion, freed from the grip of sin, freed from the blinding thoughts and desires that cause us to run from God instead of to Him.

It is fruitless for Jesus to blaze a trail to the afterlife because we don’t want to follow the trail. We run from the trail seeking to blaze our own. Sin causes us to believe we are capable of pleasing and reaching God in and of ourselves. We believe we somehow have the inside track and everyone else doesn’t. Sin causes us to think much better of ourselves

Instead of believing we are worth saving, we must see ourselves through God’s eyes — we are wretched sinners who don’t deserve salvation. Notice Paul ends the verse by admitting he is the chief of sinners. We must admit the same as well. When we are willing to admit we are the chief of sinners we can rest knowing Jesus is at work in our lives. We should praise Him for His work in saving us from an eternal life outside of the presence of God. As well as freeing us from the effects of sin on our life now.

Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

By the Grace of God, you are a gift for Jesus’ glory

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,” (2 Thess 1:11)

We need the prayers of the saints for our growth. As believers, we are to look after and encourage one another. We should desire to see the best for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. What could be better than their growth in Christlikeness.

Becoming more like Christ means we become more like the people God originally designed us to be. When we live according to God’s designed, life generally goes well for us. Even if we experience difficulties such as persecution or set back, we can have joy. Joy because we have hope. Hope for a future when we will see Jesus in all His glory. Joy because even in the difficulties we are able to accomplish our purpose in life, which is to glorify God. In verse 12, Paul reveals the end to which he prays,

“so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 1:12)

The end is Jesus glory in us and us in Him. Jesus is ultimately glorified in us, not by our work, but by the grace of God. In this way, we are a gift to Jesus for His glory. What a privilege it is to be used by the Creator of the world, the King over all, the All Sovereign Lord as a gift to His Son for His glory and our own.

Set your mind on the things above to live out your new humanity in Christ

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2)

It is easy to focus on the here and now. What is going on around us often steals our attention. It consumes us. The thoughts, actions, ideas, philosophies of the surrounding culture presses in on us. As believers, however, those who have been raised with Christ, we are to set our minds on the things above. In other words, we are to live according to God’s will.

Where is God’s will found? It is found in His Word. We must use God’s Word as our daily guide. If you are a believer, yet you never read God’s Word, you are incapable of setting your mind on the things above and living differently than the culture.

But those who are believers, those who have been raised with Christ, whose life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3), you should set your mind on the things above. You should be motivated to do so because Jesus came to die. He didn’t come to die in order for you to continue to be influenced by the culture as you once were.

Jesus sacrificed Himself in order for you to be different. Not just live differently when you feel like, but to literally be different. If you skip down to verse 10, you discover that our self is new. In other words, in Christ, we are a new humanity. As a new humanity, we are to live differently. We are to live according to God’s original design.

The problem with living according to our new humanity is that we live in a world pressing in on us. Since we currently live in the midst of a sinful world, we must set our minds on the things above in order to live out our new humanity on a daily basis.

Remember, we are fighting a spiritual war.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

We are living in a time of political upheaval. Tempers are charged on either side of the aisle. Everyone feels they have been wronged. Both sides are fighting back, protecting, vouching for, and propelling their candidate to the front.

Let me encourage you not to put your trust in a candidate, political party, or policy. While politics are important, they are not the end all be all. Paul reminds us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Instead the battle we are fighting is a spiritual battle. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a spiritual war by taking up spiritual armor.

Spiritual wars are not fought with sticks, clubs, swords, or guns. They are fought by following and adhering to God’s Word. Jesus told His disciples to put their swords away. We should put our swords away as well. Attacks, riots, mob violent will not solve the problems we face in our country. Only the gospel and God’s Word will bring the change for which we desperately hope.

Remember, we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood, instead we are fighting a spiritual war, which requires spiritual armor.

Love for neighbor creates unity in the community and we should seek unity.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal 5:13)

In Christ we have been set free from the demands of the law. Not that we set the law aside in that we shouldn’t follow God’s Word. No, we must and we should follow God’s Word. A disciple is someone who follows a master. Jesus is our master. We are His disciples. We should follow Him. But we are free from the law’s bondage over us. It is no longer our tutor, teaching, training, restraining and pointing. It has accomplished it’s goal in that it has pointed us to Christ.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. He embodied it perfectly, never breaking a single command. As a result, He is able to be our perfect sacrifice, fulfilling the law on our behalf so as to make those who believe in Him through faith righteous.

Having experienced the freedom Christ provides, we should not use your freedom to satisfy the desires of our flesh. In fact, the opposite is true. Having been set free from the bondage of sin, we should use our freedom to follow Jesus in living according to God’s Word.

Not that it is a bad idea, but we don’t need to memorize all the commands in God’s Word in order to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The whole law, as we are told in verse 14, can be summed in their phrases, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:14). Paul is playing off Jesus’ answer in the gospels to a question regarding what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answered it is to love God and the second greatest was to love your neighbor (Matt 22:36-40). I believe both ideas are implied here, but the specific focus of the passage in on community, which is why the second greatest commandment is quoted.

It is wrong to say that you love God, while at the same time hating your brother. If you love God, you will love your brother. You will not use your freedom to bite and devour them. Instead, you will use your freedom to show love and care for them. If we seek to devour another instead of living in unity with them, we will be devoured ourselves. So as others attempt to take a bite out of us, we should press into love.

Love for neighbor creates unity in the community and we should seek unity. It is what the law, although imperfectly, was seeking and what we are capable of now that we are freed from the bondage of sin in Christ. We are capable of loving and living in unity with our fellow brothers and sisters. We must press into unity in our community by loving others as we would love ourselves.

When the gospel is faithfully preached, taught, and lived, its your affections that restrict you

“You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.” (2 Cor 6:12)

When the gospel is faithfully proclaimed, taught, and lived it’s not the person proclaiming, teaching, and living that restricts others from following God’s Word. Instead, it is the person’s affections that restrict them from turning to the Lord.

Affections refer to what we love. They determine what we are drawn to and what captures our attention. When we refuse to turn to the Lord, our affections are captured by something or someone else.

If we claim to be Christian, we must allow Jesus and Jesus alone to capture our attention. We shouldn’t be drawn to anyone or anything else but Him.

When the gospel is being faithfully proclaimed, taught, and lived, that which restricts someone from coming to Christ or following Him in obedience is their own affections. To what are your affections given? Are they given to the world? Are they given to something or someone more than to Jesus? God desires our heart, our affections, our love.