Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | June 4, 2021

“YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Peter 1:14-16.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”  1 Peter 1:14-16.

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“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”  1 Peter 2:11. 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2. 

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;  seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  2 Peter 1:2-4.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1.

“… like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”  Verses 15-16.   

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48.

But, there is hope!

“For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;  yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Hebrews 12:10-11.

“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.”  Ephesians 1:3-6.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:16.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:22-24. 

“and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;  so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.”  1 Thessalonians 3:12-13.

“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.

“… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing;  but that she would be holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27.

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  Hebrews 10:14.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;  and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Peter 1:10-13.

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:10-13.

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We see both the need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord and the need to fix our hope completely on grace.  The Scripture in today’s devotion more extensively detail the need to be prepared, so I highlight in bold italic font some of the more direct and clear expressions of grace, although we know that our ability and willingness to be prepared is also one of the gifts of grace.  

“For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.  While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.  We are not of night nor of darkness;  so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.  For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.  But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”  1 Thessalonians 5:2-9.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.  Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too;  go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’  And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast;  and the door was shut.  Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’  Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”  Matthew 25:1-11.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;  just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.”  2 Peter 3:10-18.

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Peter 1:6-9.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:6-9.

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“In this you greatly rejoice …”  What is “this” in which we greatly rejoice?

Consider the prior sentence.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  1 Peter 1:3-5.

Thus, we understand that we greatly rejoice in our inheritance of heaven.  And, this faith that we will inherit heaven helps us endure the trials.  No matter what trials that we experience in our relatively short time on earth, we will experience eternal and inexpressible joys and glory in heaven.  

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”  Colossians 3:2-4.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  Philippians 3:20-21.

“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”  Verses 8-9.

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope;  for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  Romans 8:24-25.

Abraham is our father in the faith and our example.  “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;  yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised,  He was able also to perform.  Therefore IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  Romans 4:19-22. 

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”  1 Peter 5:10-11.

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Peter 1:1-5.

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:  May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  1 Peter 1:1-5.

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Reformed Doctrine accurately summarizes Scripture and teaches that salvation is a work of God alone, by grace alone, and that God handles all the points of salvation from beginning to end:  from the beginning of “Unconditional Election” through “Limited Atonement” through “Irresistible Grace” to the end of “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.  This true doctrine of salvation is more fully taught in the Reformed Confession called Canons of Dordt.

In today’s short Scripture, we see these points of salvation.

First, we see “Unconditional Election” in the phrase “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”.

Second, we see “Limited Atonement” in the phrase “sprinkled with His blood”.  Those “who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” are “sprinkled with His blood”.

Third, we see “Irresistible Grace” in the phrase “the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ”.

Fourth, we see “Preservation of the Saints” in the phrase “who are protected by the power of God”.

In today’s Scripture, we also see the following summaries that salvation is a work of God alone, by grace alone.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”.

“May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

In conclusion, we are reminded of the following other Scripture.

“For who regards you as superior?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  1 Corinthians 4:7.

“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 2:8-9. 

“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.”  Ephesians 1:3-6.

Today’s devotion comes from James 5:19-20.

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:19-20.

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“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us;  we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:20. 

When we turn one back from straying from the truth, consider how we act like Christ and “save his soul from death” in the language of today’s Scripture.

In similar language of other Scripture, we “save others, snatching them out of the fire;  and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”  Jude 1:23.

When we turn one back from straying from the truth, consider how we act like Christ and “cover a multitude” of sins” in the language of today’s Scripture.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man;  though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  Romans 5:6-9.

“You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin. Selah.” Psalm 85:2.

“He who conceals a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” Proverbs 17:9.

“Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.” Proverbs 10:12.

Today’s devotion comes from James 5:14-18.

“Is anyone among you sick?  Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;  and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.  Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”  James 5:14-18.

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“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15.

We can mishandle today’s Scripture to simply try to get what we want.

We can break down today’s Scripture to a “To Do” list as if we do all the things, then we will get what we want.

We can miss the main points.

First, despite what the world claims, God does not treat all prayers equally.  God sharply distinguishes the prayers of the wicked from the prayers of the righteous.  

“The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29.

“15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:15-17.

“FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS,
AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER,
BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” 1 Peter 3:12.

“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  Verse 16.

Second, when we think that we can get what we want through our own wisdom and our own will, whether it be by doing all the things on the “To Do” list or by praying harder, thinking that by doing so then we will get what we want, we are likely praying through the flesh, rather than praying through the Spirit.

We have seen in the verses above that the prayer of the righteous can be as simple as a “cry”.

The prayer can also be as simple as “Abba!  Father!”  

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba!  Father!”  Romans 8:15.

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness;  for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Romans 8:26-27.

“It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” Psalm 127:2.

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Matthew 6:31-32.

“The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8.

“Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?  So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:3-5.

Third, God’s will, not necessarily our will, will be done.

Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh would be removed.  “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9.

Jesus prayed “saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me;  yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Luke 22:42.

“9 “Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]” Matthew 6:9-13.

Fourth, the Lord may delay granting our prayer request sometimes to allow the testing by fire of our faith:  “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:7. 

The Lord’s delivery is not dependent on how good we are or how right we are in doing the right things or how much faith we have.  We can’t treat God like a cosmic bubble gum machine and insert a coin of “good work” or “faith” and immediately receive the bubble gum of “deliverance”.

The Lord may not deliver us from our trouble when we want or how we want, but God will deliver us out of all of our troubles.

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19.

“This poor man cried and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:6.

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11.

Today’s devotion comes from James 5:13.

“Is anyone among you suffering?  Then he must pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  He is to sing praises.”  James 5:13. 

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The temptation is for us to dismiss this Scripture, thinking “I know that.  I do not need to be taught that.”

I felt that way.  Then, when I went to bed last night, I decided to slightly change the temperature.  The house was almost completely dark, and after I changed the temperature, I was in a rush to get back to bed, so I defiantly stomped back toward my bedroom and tripped over the corner of my dog’s black metal crate, badly stubbing my toe, causing me to fall down hard.  We have thick carpeting, so I was fine except for my stubbed toe.  

I was suffering, but I was too focused on my pain and shame for being too careless and too arrogant.  Thus, I hesitated to pray until I remembered to pray.  

I know that this is such a small example of suffering.  Some of you are going through much more suffering.  But, you may even more need to be reminded to pray.

Other doctrine focuses on our alleged free-will and what we can do to not fall. 

But, Reformed Doctrine focuses on God’s steadfast love for His elect, how God forgives us and cleanses us from all of our unrighteousness, how God rescues us, how God heals us, and how God preserves us, even using thick carpeting.

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” Psalm 50:15.

“8 Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-10.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalm 103:1-5.

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
3 With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.
4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.” Psalm 92:1-4.



Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | May 27, 2021

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear”

Today’s devotion comes from James 5:12.

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath;  but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”  James 5:12.

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The use of the words “above all” commands our attention to this verse and our priority to “do not swear”.  The command to “do not swear” is not to be lightly dismissed nor to be treated casually.

It may help us to do so by using an example of wedding vows.  If we are careful with wedding vows which seem so innocent, sweet, loving, and marriage-building, then we will be more likely to be careful with other types of swearing.   

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’;  anything beyond these is of evil.”  Matthew 5:33-37.

Consider the following from the Heidelberg Catechism which covers the third commandment of the Ten Commandments which I also quote here.  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”  Exodus 20:7.

Q. 99.  What is required in the third commandment?

A.  That we, not only by cursing or perjury, but also by rash swearing, must not profane or abuse the name of God;  nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others;  and, briefly, that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence;  so that He may be rightly confessed and worshiped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

Q. 100.  Is then the profaning of God’s name by swearing and cursing so heinous a sin that His wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavor, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?

A.  It undoubtedly is, for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God than the profaning of His name;  and therefore He has commanded this sin to be punished with death.

Q. 101.  May we then swear religiously by the name of God?

A.  Yes;  either when the magistrates demand it of the subjects, or when necessity requires us thereby to confirm fidelity and truth to the glory of God and the safety of our neighbor;  for such an oath is founded on God’s Word, and therefore was justly used by the saints both in the Old and New Testament.

One may think he is clever and think that he has found a loophole in the above answer to Question 101 that wedding vows “confirm fidelity” in marriage.  But, does “necessity” require us to vow more than we take our fiance’ as our spouse in marriage?  

How often have we heard long, rambling, careless marriage vows, that even included jokes!  Is that protected?!  NO!!!

So, if we feel the absolute need to add a list of vows to the one vow, if necessary, to join us in marriage, then we can distinguish it by using Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 5:37 above.  “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’;  anything beyond these is of evil.”  Matthew 5:37. 

We can ask the Pastor performing the marriage to briefly introduce the reason for a wedding statement, and each spouse can say something like:  “In addition to my wedding vow to take Susan (or Bob) as my wife (or husband) to be joined in marriage, I would like to make a wedding statement.  My wedding statement is ‘Yes, yes’ to (fill in the blank) and ‘No, no’ to (fill in the blank).”

If we are careful with wedding vows which seem so innocent, sweet, loving, and marriage-building, then we will be more likely to be careful with other types of swearing.   

If we honor God by care to our wedding vows, then we glorify God, set an example for others, and act as if we truly want God’s blessing on our marriage.  

“7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8.

Today’s devotion comes from James 5:7-11.

“7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  8 You too be patient;  strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.  9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.  10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  11 We count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”   James 5:7-11.

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God gives us reasons to why we should be patient.  First, “the coming of the Lord is near.”  Verses 9 and 9.  Second, “the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”   Verse 11.

Staying with the analogy of the farmer in verse 7, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  Galatians 6:9.

God also give us His Spirit to bear the fruit of patience in us.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, …”  Galatians 5:22-23.

Today’s devotion comes from James 5:1-6.

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you.  2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten.  3 Your gold and your silver have rusted;  and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire.  It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!  4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you;  and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.  5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure;  you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man;  he does not resist you.”  James 5:1-6.

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It is bad to set your mind on things on earth rather than on things above.  See Colossians 3:6.  See verse 5.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.  Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”  Luke 6:24-25.

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  1 Timothy 6:10.

“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:21.

But, it is worse to do so and, in addition, do injustice to the poor at the same time.  See verses 4 and 6.

But, there is hope!

Our hope is not based on our alleged free-will.  We love to do the bad things and worse things in our natural condition of “Total Depravity”.

Our hope is based on God’s will in giving us, His elect, “Irresistible Grace”.  

Consider the following in the Canons of Dordt in the section titled THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof. 

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.

God uses the means of His Spirit and His Word (the Bible), including good preaching and teaching, worship services, sacraments, discipline, and other means to wean us from things on earth and to attach us to things above.  We should seek to use those means and not neglect them.  

“It is the Spirit who gives life;  the flesh profits nothing;  the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”  John 6:53.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:16.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:22-24. 

“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD:  “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from now and forever.”  Isaiah 59:21.

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