Today’s devotion comes from Romans 4:9-15.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+4&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;  for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”  Romans 4:13-15.

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“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;  for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:20.

“What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.”  Romans 7:7-8.

“I was once alive apart from the Law;  but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;  and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;  for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”  Romans 7:9-11.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”  Romans 7:4.

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”  Romans 7:6.

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”  Galatians 2:18-19.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;  but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:56-57.

“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;  for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident;  for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:10-14.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;  therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:1-4.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 4:1-8.

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say?  “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS COUNTED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,
AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
“BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”  Romans 4:1-8.

———————

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  …”  Ephesians 1:3-7.

Article 22:  Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him.  For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.  Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy:  for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior.  Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works.  However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.  But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.  And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.  Belgic Confession.

“Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”  Psalm 32:11.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 3:31.

“Do we then nullify the Law through faith?  May it never be!  On the contrary, we establish the Law.”  Romans 3:31.

——————–

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets;  I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;  but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:17-20.

The foregoing Scripture helps us understand today’s Scripture.  We focus on the three bold italic font phrases:  “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” and  “until all is accomplished” and “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”.

Regarding this first phrase, “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”, we are joined to Christ, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”  Romans 7:4-6.

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:19-21.

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

Regarding this second phrase, the Law was established to accomplish two purposes such that “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” 

The first purpose was disclosed to us earlier in the same chapter as today’s Scripture, namely to hold the non-elect (unrighteous) accountable and under judgment until judgment has been accomplished.  

“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;  because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;  for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19-20.

“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”  1 Timothy 1:8-10.

“then the Lord knows how … to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,”  2 Peter 2:9.

“But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”  2 Peter 3:7.

The second purpose of the Law is to lead the elect (righteous) to Christ.  

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:24-26.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23.

Regarding this third phrase, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”, the requirement of the Law is fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:  sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  Romans 8:3-4.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;  for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”  Galatians 5:16-18.

“For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:5.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 3:21-30.

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe;  for there is no distinction;  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;  for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting?  It is excluded.  By what kind of law?  Of works?  No, but by a law of faith.  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.  Or is God the God of Jews only?  Is He not the God of Gentiles also?  Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.”  Romans 3:21-30.

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As shown in bold italic font above, today’s Scripture is not talking about any righteousness of man;  today’s Scripture is talking about the righteousness of God.

Other doctrine seeks the righteousness of man.

But, Reformed Doctrine seeks the righteousness of God.

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested …”  Verse 21.

“…  This was to demonstrate His righteousness …”  Verse 25.

Justice and righteousness requires punishment for sins.  

God would not be just nor righteous if He simply forgave sins.  Would we consider an earthly judge just and righteous if he or she simply forgave and released every criminal without any punishment?!    

God demonstrated His justice and righteousness by sending His precious only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross, because through His Father’s will, Christ took on Himself the sins of God’s Elect.  If ever there was a time for God to refrain from justice, it was this time.  But, God perfectly demonstrated His justice by even sending Christ to the cross, because justice required punishment for those sins.  To use a word in today’s Scripture, justice required “propitiation” for those sins.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby.

Article 1.  God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just.  And his justice requires (as he hath revealed himself in his Word), that our sins committed against his infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal, but with eternal punishment, both in body and soul;  which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.

Article 2.  Since therefore we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, he hath been pleased in his infinite mercy to give his only begotten Son, for our surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that he might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.

That is why today’s Scripture does not only call God “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”.  Rather, today’s Scripture calls God “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”.  Verse 26.

“The Rock!  His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.”    Deuteronomy 32:4.

Today’s Scripture is not even talking about our righteousness gained by us through our faith.  First of all, our faith was given to us by God, through His righteousness.  Second, faith is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.

Consider the following from the Belgic Confession.

Article 22:  Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him.  For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.  Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy:  for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior.  Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works.  However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.  But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.  And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

There is the warning about seeking to establish our own righteousness. 

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”  Romans 10:1-3.

In summary and conclusion, we do not seek a righteousness of our own derived from the Law, but rather, we seek the righteousness of God which comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ. 

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:8-9.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 3:19-20.

“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;  because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;  for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19-20.

———————–

The purpose of the Law for the non-elect (unrighteous) is to hold them accountable and under judgment.  

“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;  because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;  for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19-20.

The Lord knows how “… to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,”  2 Peter 2:9.

“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”  1 Timothy 1:8-10.

The purpose of the Law for the elect (righteous) is to lead them to Christ.  After the Law accomplishes that purpose, we are no longer under the Law and even should consider ourselves dead to the Law.  

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:24-26.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.”  Romans 7:4-8.

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:19-21.

We now walk by the Spirit, not by the Law.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23.

There are these warnings for the elect (righteous).

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”  Romans 2:18.

“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;  for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:10-14.

“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:4-5.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 3:9-18.

“9 What then?  Are we better than they?  Not at all;  for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  10 as it is written,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
“THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”  Romans 3:9-18.

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Despite today’s Scripture strong and vivid language, other doctrine belittles the range and depth of man’s sin.  Other doctrine still trusts man to provide the works or at least the alleged free-will choice of Christ that it thinks man needs to provide for salvation.

But, Reformed Doctrine understands the range and depth of man’s sin and appropriately labels it “Total Depravity”.  Reformed Doctrine understands that man, who is in dead in sin, is not able nor willing to provide anything needed for salvation.  Reformed Doctrine totally trusts God to provide all that he needs for salvation from beginning to end.

Here are more Scriptures followed by a summary in the Canons of Dordt.

“2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who understand,
Who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.”  Psalm 14:2-3.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”  Ephesians 2:1-3.

Article 3.  Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.  Canons of Dordt – THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

But, there is hope!

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”  Colossians 2:13-14.

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—”  Colossians 1:21-22.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:4-9.

Reformed Doctrine totally trusts God to provide all that he needs for salvation from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through God’s “Limited Atonement” through God’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of salvation, more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt. 

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.  Canons of Dordt – THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 3:1-8.

“Then what advantage has the Jew?  Or what is the benefit of circumcision?  Great in every respect.  First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.  What then?  If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?  May it never be!  Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

“THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS,
AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.”

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He?  (I am speaking in human terms.)  May it never be!  For otherwise, how will God judge the world?  But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?  And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”?  Their condemnation is just.”  Romans 3:1-8.

——————–

“The Rock!  His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.”  Deuteronomy 32:4.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 2:17-29.

“But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?  For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written.

For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law;  but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly;  and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter;  and his praise is not from men, but from God.”  Romans 2:17-29.

———————–

Let us not get smug thinking this Scripture only applies to Jews and dismiss today’s Scripture as not applying to us as Gentiles.

First of all, the Apostle Paul wrote this Scripture as a letter “to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints” (Romans 1:7), knowing and intending that many (if not most) who would receive this letter were Gentiles.

Second, the conclusion is:  “What then?  Are we better than they?  Not at all;  for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;”  Romans 3:9.

“10 as it is written,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”  Romans 3:10-12.

Today’s devotion seeks to direct our meditation to pursue righteousness that comes from faith in Christ and that pleases God.  

We serve God, trusting what Christ has done for us, in the newness of the Holy Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter of the Law.   

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”  John 5:44.

“Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;  for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, …  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:2-3 and 8-9.

“For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”  Colossians 2:9-14.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;  therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”  Galatians 5:1-6.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”  Romans 7:4-6.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 12, 2020

“God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 2:12-16.

“For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;  for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.  For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”  Romans 2:12-16.

———————

We can appear quite righteous.  We can quietly sit in church today and hear a sermon.  We can even have coffee afterwards and mingle with fellow church members.  We can even say “Hello” to visitors.

But, what do we really believe?  And, what do we do when we go home or go to work?

What are our secrets?

Today’s devotion will focus on two points presented by today’s Scripture.  First, “for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”  Verse 13.  Second, “… God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”  Verse 16.

Regarding this first point, “for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”, we likewise read in Scripture:  “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works?  Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?  Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  James 2:14-17.

Regarding this second point, we likewise read in Scripture:  “…  For He knows the secrets of the heart.”  Psalm 44:21.

Who can do what they should do?!

Who can believe what they should believe?!

But, there is hope!

The hope is not in other doctrine which trusts man and his own wisdom and his own alleged free-will.

The hope is in Reformed Doctrine which trusts God and His wisdom and His will.

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 2:5-11.

“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.”  Romans 2:5-11.

—————————

God is The Righteous Judge who renders righteous judgments.  Verse 5.

“For there is no partiality with God.”  Verse 11.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that God does not only exercise lovingkindness;  God also exercises justice.

“11 God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.

12 If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
13 He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.”  Psalm 7:11-13.

“6 “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
7 “And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You;
You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.”  Exodus 15:6-7.

“7 But the LORD abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
8 And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.”  Psalm 9:7-8.

“Before the LORD, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.”  Psalm 96:13.

“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.  He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”  Deuteronomy 10:17-18.

“He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.”  Psalm 33:5.

“The Rock!  His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.”  Deuteronomy 32:4.

Jesus referred to Himself by quoting the prophecy of Isaiah:

“A BATTERED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK OFF,
AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT,
UNTIL HE LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY.” Matthew 12:12.

Jesus also stated:  “But I will warn you whom to fear:  fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell;  yes, I tell you, fear Him!”  Luke 12:5.

“And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said;  now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  Luke 12:6-8.

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man (Christ) whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”  Acts 17:30-31.

“[The Coming of Christ]  And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”  Revelation 19:11.

In the most profound demonstration of God’s devotion to justice and God’s exercise of justice, God sent His precious only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross, because through His Father’s will, Christ took on Himself the sins of God’s Elect.  If ever there was a time for God to refrain from justice, it was this time.  But, God perfectly demonstrated His justice by even sending Christ to the cross, because justice required punishment for those sins.

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;  for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24.

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