The Difference Between Sin and Sins—Two Problems with Two Solutions

Have you ever done something you knew was a sin, confessed it, and quickly found yourself doing it again? I know I have.

What’s the solution to this problem? It begins with seeing the difference between “sin” and “sins” and then applying the proper remedy to each.

“Sin” and “sins” in the Scriptures

Concerning sins, 1 Corinthians 15:3 says , “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  Later, 1 John 1:7 says, “…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin.” These two verses speak of our sinful acts and their remedy.

In contrast, Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we may no longer serve sin as slaves.” In this verse we see “sin” as a powerful master that enslaves us and makes our body, the “body of sin.”  But we can also see a wonderful remedy.

Sadly, a lack of understanding concerning the difference between these two—sin and sins—has been a source of real frustration to many seeking Christians.

So what are we missing?

The underlying problem involves a lack of spiritual sight. But there definitely is hope. The apostle Paul both diagnosed and treated the problem in Romans 1-8.

First, we need to see the fundamental difference between “sin” and “sins.” Continue reading

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Give Yourself to Love the Lord

Last week while reviewing some tweets, I came across this awesome spiritual song that a friend of mine tweeted. It’s titled “Give Yourself to Love the Lord.” It became the song on my heart and spoke to me all week. It was so nourishing that I can’t help but focus on it in this post. I also can’t help highlighting the importance of “giving yourself to love the Lord.”

The lyrics of this song are as follows:

Give yourself to love the Lord.
No other way is so prevailing
And no other way, no other way is so safe.

Give yourself to love the Lord.
No other way is so rich,
And so full, oh so full, of enjoyment.

Each morning we must rise up and say to Him,
“Lord Jesus, I love You.”

Give yourself to love the Lord.
Do not care for anything else;
Just love Him! Do not care!
Give yourself to love the Lord!

We are not our own, Lord;
All we have we give to You.
Lord Jesus! Lord Jesus!
Lord Jesus, we love You!

Why does this simple song touch me so much? Continue reading

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

This is the question of questions.

Jesus asked this question of His disciples and the religious men of His day in Matthew 16:13-15 and 22:42, and in the 2,000 years since He walked on the earth, this question has remained a mystery for all men to consider. Our personal answer has the most profound impact on our life.

 Who is He?

Is He just a carpenter’s son?

The Galilean countrymen from the region where Jesus grew up were blinded by their personal knowledge of the man Jesus. They said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:55a). They knew Him according to His physical life, and they only knew Him as “the carpenter’s son.”

But who is He really?

Is He just the greatest among the prophets?

When Jesus took His disciples away to teach them privately, He asked them, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” They responded, “Some, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:13-14).

Apart from God’s revelation, men thought Jesus was a great religious leader, or even the greatest of the prophets.

But isn’t He more than this?

Yes, He’s the Christ, the Son of the Living God! Continue reading

How to Cultivate a Personal, Affectionate Relationship with the Lord Jesus

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! / For your love is better than wine. Draw me; we will run after you…” S. S. 1:2, 4a 

Are you satisfied with your love relationship with the Lord? I know that I’m not.  So this post isn’t the wise words of an experienced teacher, but the inquiry of a humble learner seeking to advance with others into a more personal, affectionate relationship with the Lord Jesus. Along with the lover in the Song of Songs, my prayer to the Lord is “Draw me; we will run after you…”  That’s how I consider “Holding to Truth in Love”—a community of Christ’s loving seekers “running after” our lovely Lord Jesus together.

May the lover’s cry become our daily prayer to the Lord, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth. Draw me. We will run after You.”  Only His attracting love can bring us into such a personal and affectionate relationship.

“I love my Lord, but with no love of mine”  Continue reading

Strike the Spirit of the Scripture to Catch the Divine Fire

“All Scripture is God-breathed…” 2 Timothy 3:16

“This indicates that the Scripture, the word of God, is the breathing out of God. God’s speaking is God’s breathing out. Hence, His word is spirit (John 6:63), or breath. Thus, the Scripture is the embodiment of God as the Spirit. The Spirit is therefore the very essence, the substance, of the Scripture, just as phosphorus is the essential substance in matches. We must strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit to catch the divine fire. [2 Tim. 3:16, footnote 2, par. 1 from the Holy Bible, Recovery Version]

I’m reminded of the importance of “striking the Spirit of Scripture with our spirit” whenever we come to the Bible. The Spirit is the essence of the Scriptures. Since the Scripture, the word of God, is the breathing out of God, it conveys His essence. Just like your breath conveys your essence. We need to touch this essence in the Scripture whenever we come to the Bible. Then we’ll “catch the divine fire.”

The Lord Jesus directed us to this essence when He said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” God’s word is not just letters on a page. It’s a living word, full of His breath, His essence.

How can we receive God’s living essence when we come to the Scriptures?

We need to learn how to strike the Spirit of the Scriptures with our spirit. It’s like striking stick matches on the phosphorus tip to get a flame. When we use our God-contacting spirit (John 4:24) to touch the Spirit in God’s word we get spirit and life (John 6:63). That is,  we get His essence.

The simplest way I know to “strike the Spirit of the Scriptures with our spirit” is to exercise your spirit, your deepest part, to mingle your Bible reading with calling on the Lord’s name (1 Cor. 12:3), praying short prayers (Eph. 6:17-18), singing, praising, and giving thanks (Col. 3:16-17). Try it and see if you don’t get divine breath from your reading and “catch the divine fire.”

“Dear Lord, thank you for showing us that Your word is “God-breathed” and that Your Spirit is the essence of Your word. Lord, teach us to strike the Spirit of the Scripture with our spirit to catch the divine fire. Whenever we come to the Bible, we want to touch You. Make Your word so living and even a burning flame within us. ” 

For more on this point, you may want to get a copy of “Pray-reading the Word” and read this short chapter for yourself. You can read it online at ministrybooks.org or you can get your free copy from Bibles for America as a part of Basic Elements of the Christian Life, Volume 3. It’s the last chapter in the booklet.

5 Metaphors that Describe Genuine Christian Ministers and Their Ministry

Today there is an ever increasing amount of “Christian ministry” available in nearly every form imaginable–especially over the internet. But how much of this can really be considered as genuine “ministry” when measured according to the New Testament pattern.  In 1 Timothy 1:16, Paul said, “But because of this I was shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ might display all His long-suffering for a pattern to those who are to believe on Him unto eternal life.” So God set forth Paul as a pattern to the believers, not only of salvation, but also of a life and work that fulfills God’s purpose.

In this post we’ll consider the constituting of genuine ministers and their ministry in light of the pattern of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2-4.

Five expressive metaphors that describe how genuine ministers and their ministry are constituted

In 2 Corinthians 2-4, Paul uses five expressive metaphors to describe how genuine ministers are constituted, live, behave, and carry out their ministry. These five metaphors are: 1) captives in Christ’s triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:12-14), 2) incense-bearers scattering the fragrance of Christ (vv. 14-16), 3) letters written with Christ as the content (vv. 3:1-3), 4) mirrors beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord (vv. 3:16-18), and 5) earthen vessels containing Christ as their treasure (vv. 4:6-7).

First, ministers are captives in Christ’s triumphal procession—2 Cor. 2:12-14; Eph. 4:8-12As a genuine minister, Paul did not have the freedom to move and act according to his own preference—even when a door was open to him by the Lord (v. 12). Rather, as a captive of Christ, he was restricted by the rest in his spirit. For Paul to be a captive of Christ meant that he was one who lived and acted in his spirit (v. 13)—walking by and being led by the Spirit in all his living and service (Rom. 8:4, 14).

However, in our experience we may not be Christ’s captive, but we may make Him our captive. So we need to pray, “Lord, defeat me, never let me win. Lord, make me your captive.” Continue reading

Does truth really matter?

Does the truth really matter to us? The motto of the Christian Research Institute is “Because Truth Matters.” It mattered enough to Hank Hanegraaff and his staff to do a six year study of Witness Lee and the local churches to find out what the truth was. As an issue of their restudying the teachings and practices of Witness Lee and the local churches, CRI came to the emphatic conclusion that “We Were Wrong.” That was the title of their December 2009 issue of the Christian Research Journal, an issue that  was very costly to them in many ways. But I have to respect them very much for standing on their foundation—“Because Truth Matters.”

Truth really matters

It really mattered to the apostles. Especially in his two epistles to Timothy, Paul repeatedly emphasized the importance of the truth ( 1 Tim. 2:4, 7; 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:15, 18).

Even more,  it really matters to the Savior God. In 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul said. “…our Savior God, Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth.”

What is this truth?

Is truth just a matter of not telling lies? If it were, the Lord Jesus never would have said “I am the way, the truth [or reality] and the life…” (John 14:6).  Actually, truth in the Bible refers to the reality of all the real things revealed in God’s word, which is mainly Christ Himself as reality of God and of every spiritual thing and the church, Christ’s Body which is the pillar and base of the divine truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Since the divine realities are revealed in and conveyed through God’s word this make God’s word, the word of the truth (Eph. 1:13). When we speak this Word as the gospel, we impart the truth of the gospel (Col. 1:5). To appreciate more concerning what is the truth, please read my post “Knowing the Divine Truth, the Divine Reality.”

What does truth have to do with us? Continue reading