By Sheldon Smith
One day while watching television with the kids in the family room, our dog – apparently having eaten something that irritated her stomach threw up on the carpet right in front of one of the sofas. The kids reacted in horror and even my wife was disgusted at the sight. But I decided to use the occasion as a teachable moment. I told the kids to leave the regurgitated dog food right where it was and that the dog would return to it. One of my daughters said, “Daddy that’s gross,” to which I replied, “Dogs return to their vomit – the Bible says so.” (Proverbs 26:11)
However, the more important message the bible is trying to teach us – one I had to take to heart as a young man – is this: Christ did not redeem me from my sin for me to return right back to it.
My Bible tells me to not be in bondage to sin.
2 Peter 2:20-22 reads:
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Once repenting of our sins and being redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ through baptism, we are freed – no longer in bondage – to that sin as the Israelites were free after fleeing from captivity in Egypt (Exodus 14).
Romans 6:1-14 reads:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
If we have sincerely put on Christ, then we have died to sin. The above scripture paints the picture of a believer – having repented of his or her sins – being buried in water as Christ was buried in the earth and rising up a new creature as Christ was resurrected. In this picture, the old sinful man who was in bondage to sin was put to death and a new, redeemed person rises having fellowship with Jesus through burial in water.
The grace provided to us by our Lord and Savior is part of a New Covenant between God and us. This covenant brought an end to the repetitive animal sacrifices required for sin under the Old Law or Covenant through the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made with His blood as His body hung on the cross. Each Sunday, we remember Christ’s death through communion (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34) and are reminded by the scriptures that our participation in this Lord’s Supper must be done in a “worthy” manner. To do so requires constant reflection and an understanding of the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf.
One way to make sure we are worthy is to walk vigilantly. Ephesians 5:15-21 tells us:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Are you tired of living in bondage to sin? Do you desire to walk in a newness of life? Are you interested in being baptized into Christ?
We look forward to hearing from you.
By Sheldon Smith
People tend to take that which is good and make it bad, and the concept of sheep has fallen victim to that tendency. The Bible tells us we should strive each day to be more like sheep. This world is not our home, and we should not spend the time we have left tangled in worldly affairs but instead choose to let our lights shine and try to influence others toward the narrow path that the Bible says few will find (Matthew 7:14) – likely because of prideful selfish desires that lead to factions and strife.
Hebrews 13:20-21 reads, “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
We have a Shepherd in Heaven and in the church, we have shepherds. Our relationship to those shepherds is to be as sheep. As we submit to Christ, our Heavenly Shepherd, the scriptures equip us to do works that please Him, not ourselves (Colossians 1:10, 2 Timothy 3:16).
But what about the worldly activities that have so much of the world embroiled on controversy today? James 3:13-18 tells us, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
The world thrives on catering to the pride of life and the lusts of the flesh. The bible tells us in 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
To be effective disciples, we must reject the ways of the world that tend to be divisive and self-driven and truly submit ourselves to our Heavenly Shepherd. We must strive to love God more than we love the world which will one day cease to exist. We must humble ourselves before the Lord, emptying ourselves of ourselves.
As disciples of Christ, we must bear good fruit based on God’s standard, not man’s. The Bible tells us what good fruit looks like. Galatians 5:22-26 says, “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.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”
Psalms 1:1-6 (NASB1995)
By Sheldon Smith
Psalms 1 verses 1-2 reads: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.”
In today’s society, we are categorized, divided, sorted and manipulated by people and organizations with a wide variety of interests and agendas. Some may be commercial while others are political. They urge us to do one thing or another. Some even will disguise their own ambitions as those of God. As those who follow (or seek to follow Christ, the Son of God), we must be able to discern man’s will from God’s.
Psalms 112:1 reads, “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!”
If we fear (reverently revere and love) God, we will have a desire to please Him.
Verses 3-4 read: “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the
righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”
When we think of a tree firmly planted by the water, we can imagine one with roots that run deep and are well plenished by the river. Such a tree is strong and, even when the river rises and rages, cannot be moved. As followers of Christ, we must not be driven by the ways and will of man but remain rooted in truth.
Ephesians 6:10 tells us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
That chapter of Ephesians goes on to describe in verse 11 the “whole armor of God” that we must put on to “stand against the schemes of the devil.” With that in mind, we must be faithful and productive followers in Christ’s kingdom. To do so requires us to bear fruit as we work to spread the Gospel of salvation to others just as the fruit of the tree standing by the river provides its fruit to those who may be passing by.
If we do the will of God, He will recognize our work on the day of judgement. As for those who were
doing the work of man, God will not know them and they will perish.
Where do you stand today?
Please message us if we can help you become firmly rooted.