David Guzik’s weekly devotional, based on a verse or two from the Bible.

Keep the Unity

Keep the Unity

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With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Ephesians 4 begins a whole new part of Paul’s letter. The first three chapters explain in glorious detail all that God has done for believers, freely by His grace. Starting with chapter 4, he tells believers how to live rightly, but only after having explained what God did for His people in Jesus Christ.

Keep the Unity

Having considered and received all that God has done for us, we are to live with all lowliness and gentleness, not a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. Before Christianity, the word lowliness always had a bad association to it. In the minds of many it still does; but it is a glorious Christian virtue (Philippians 2:1-10). It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way.

Having considered and received all that God has done for us, we are to have longsuffering and to bear with each other. We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God’s family will not work against God’s purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus – illustrated through His current work in the church.

Having considered and received all that God has done for us, we should endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This humble, patient attitude towards each other naturally fulfills this gift of the unity of the Spirit.

Note that we must endeavor to keep this unity – we do not create it. God never commands believers to create unity among themselves. God has created it by His Spirit; our duty is to recognize it and keep it.

This is a spiritual unity, not necessarily a structural or denominational unity. It is evident in the quick fellowship possible among Christians of different races, nationalities, languages, and economic classes.

We can understand this unity of the Spirit by understanding what it is not. This isn’t the unity of lies, of evil, of superstition, or the unity that cowers under spiritual tyranny. This isn’t the unity of geography, as if all the Christians in a city had to be weekly gathered in the same building to fulfill this. It isn’t the unity of church government or denominational arrangements.

This is the unity of the Spirit and false forms of unity work against the true. We are confident that this unity is found in Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of God. As true, born-again believers from different backgrounds and experiences draw closer and closer to Jesus, they will also draw closer to one other. Jesus Christ is the source of our unity; He is one who broke down every wall (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus purchased this powerful unity at great cost: with His own blood. Believer, what are you doing to keep this unity?

Click here for David’s commentary on Ephesians 4


The Dimensions of God's Love

The Dimensions of God’s Love

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That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.(Ephesians 3:17-19)

This was part of a wonderful prayer Paul prayed for the Ephesians. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul gave us more than an eloquent prayer; in a special way this prayer reveals what God wants for His people.

Here is one small nugget from this glorious prayer. In verse 18, Paul prayed that believers would know the dimensions of the love of Christ (width and length and depth and height). This means that the love of Jesus has dimensions and that it can be measured. It is a solid, substantial thing; not merely a beautiful fiction, a sentimental believe, or philosophical theory. The love of Jesus is a measurable fact.

The Dimensions of God's Love

The love of Jesus has width. You can see how wide a river is by noticing how much it covers over. God’s river of love is so wide that it covers over my sin, and over every circumstance of my life, so that all things work together for good. When I doubt His forgiveness or His providence, I am narrowing the mighty river of God’s love. His love is as wide as the world (John 3:16).

The love of Jesus has length. When considering the length of God’s love, ask yourself, “When did the love of God start towards me? How long will it continue?” These truths measure the length of God’s love. Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

The love of Jesus has depth. Philippians 2:8 tell us how deep the love of Jesus goes: He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. You can’t go lower than the death of the cross, and that is how deep the love of Jesus is for us.

The love of Jesus has height. To see the height of God’s love, ask yourself, “How high does it lift us?” The love of Jesus lifts the believer to heavenly places where they are seated with Christ. He has made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

Can we really comprehend the width and length and depth and height of God’s love? To come to any understanding of the dimensions of God’s love, we must come to the cross. The cross pointed in four ways, essentially in every direction, because:

God’s love is wide enough to include the whole world.
God’s love is long enough to last through all eternity.
God’s love is deep enough to reach the worst sinner.
God’s love is high enough to take His people to heaven.

Look to Jesus Christ and His cross and live in all the dimensions of God’s love.

Click here for David’s commentary on Ephesians 3


Believing What God Tells You

Believing What God Tells You

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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

There is something deep in human nature that demands to earn its own way, its own standing before God. But right standing with God isn’t something earned. It’s a gift we receive by faith. Additionally, it is important to remember that faith is not a good work that earns right standing with God. Although good works accompany true faith, faith is not a “work.” Faith merely sees the offer God makes and believes it is true. It looks at God’s promises and says, “I believe they are for me.” Faith is refusing to call God a liar, taking God’s word at face value, and trusting that God and His word are reliable. When we do not have faith, we deny God’s word is true, and we call Him a liar. There isn’t any merit in not calling God a liar; it’s only common sense.

Believing What God Tells You

There is a story about a man who was teaching a Sunday school class full of small boys. One day he offered a boy in the class something prized in that day: a brand-new watch. But the boy thought that it was just a trick. Fearing his classmates would laugh at him when the trick was revealed, he refused the watch. The teacher then offered it to the next boy, but he followed the example of the first boy. One by one, each boy refused the watch because the offer seemed too good to be true; certainly, the teacher just wanted to trick them. But the last boy was bold enough to accept the watch when the teacher offered it to him. When the teacher gave it to him, the other boys were amazed and angry. The teacher used this to show his class that no matter how good a gift was offered to them, they must believe the word of the giver and receive the gift before it could do them any good.

In 1829, a Pennsylvania man named George Wilson was sentenced by the United States Court to be hanged to death for robbery and murder. President Andrew Jackson pardoned him, but the prisoner refused the pardon. Wilson insisted that he was not pardoned unless he accepted it. That was a point of law never raised before, and President Jackson called on the Supreme Court to decide. Chief Justice John Marshall gave the following decision. “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” And he was.

Even so, God’s offer of pardon and salvation in Christ Jesus is offered to many, but only those who trust in God and His word will gain the benefits of that pardon.

Today, why not simply believe what God says and receive His gift of grace?

Click here for David’s commentary on Ephesians 2


When He Raised Him from the Dead

When He Raised Him from the Dead

That you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:18-20)

In this passage from Ephesians, Paul prayed a powerful prayer, longing that God’s people would know several things. One of those was great the power of God towards those who believe.

This is the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead. If the death of Jesus is the supreme demonstration of the love of God, then the resurrection of Jesus is the supreme demonstration of God’s power.

When He Raised Him from the Dead

We could say that what the resurrection is really all about is power. The essence of the cross is love; but love without power isn’t enough. Without power, love may be noble or well intentioned, but it isn’t enough. We need both God’s love and His power, and the resurrection is a demonstration of the fact that God’s self-giving love is full of power.

The great power of God brought life to the dead, but this mighty power that raised Jesus went beyond His resurrection. That same power raised Him to the heavens after His resurrection, raising Him above all demonic foes and every potential enemy in all ages.

This power – that which raised Jesus from the dead and lifted Him to the heavens – this same power is for those who believe! What can be said about this power?

This power is greater than the worst evil and harm of humanity. Jesus was subjected to the very worst in mankind when He was crucified; yet this mighty power of the resurrection made Him triumph over it all. No matter how bad man is, God is greater.

This power brings healing. When Jesus rose from the dead, He no longer suffered from His wounds, even though they were still visibly present with Him. The power of resurrection is healing power.

This power is toward some peopletoward us who believe, according to Ephesians 1:19. We might think that this power is toward those who do great things, or toward who have achieved some high spiritual, mystical place. That’s not what the Bible says; this power is towards those who simply believe.

This power is for continued living, not just for a one-time experience of resurrection. The power was not only to raise Jesus from the dead, but to raise Him permanently above every enemy and spiritual foe. This is an abiding power, not a one-time experience that ended when once used.

The wonderful truth Paul explained in Ephesians 1 is that resurrection power is here for the people of God, those who believe now. It is not only for when they die, and God wants the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to live in His people today. It is toward us who believe; believe and receive it today.

Click here for David’s commentary on Ephesians 1


Sowing and Reaping

Sowing and Reaping

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7) When we read the Bible, it’s important to consider context. If Galatians 6:7 were taken as an absolute statement, something always true in every case, then no one would go to heaven and the Bible […]

Living in the Freedom

Living in the Freedom

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

Paul makes it clear – Jesus sets us free but need to take care we do not become entangled in bondage again. How can we be brought under bondage?

Living in the Freedom

Long ago, two brothers fought for piece of land in what is now Belgium. The older brother’s name was Raynald, but everyone called him “Crassus,” a Latin nickname meaning “fat,” for he was terribly overweight. After a tough battle, Raynald’s younger brother Edward took his lands. But Edward didn’t kill Raynald. Instead, he had a room in the castle built around “Crassus,” a room with only one skinny door. The door wasn’t locked, the windows weren’t barred, and Edward promised Raynald he could regain his land and title anytime he wanted. All he had to do was leave the room. The obstacle to freedom wasn’t the door or the windows, but Raynald himself. He was so overweight, he couldn’t fit through the door. All that Raynald needed to do was diet down to a smaller size and walk out a free man.

However, his younger brother kept sending him tasty foods, and Raynald’s desire to be free never won out over his desire to eat. Some accused Edward of being cruel to his brother, but he simply replied: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he wants to.” But Raynald stayed in that room for ten years, until Edward himself was killed in battle.

This is a dramatic picture of how many Christians live. Jesus has set them forever free legally, and they may walk in that freedom from sin whenever they choose. But since they keep yielding their bodily desires to the service of sin, they live a life of defeat, discouragement, and imprisonment. Because of unbelief, self-reliance, or ignorance, many Christians never live in the freedom Christ paid for on the cross.

The Evangelist D. L. Moody used to speak of an old black woman in the South following the Civil War. Being a former slave, she was confused about her status and asked: “Now am I free, or am I not? When I go to my old master, he says I’m not free, and when I go to my own people, they say I am, and I don’t know whether I’m free or not. Some people told me that Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation, but master says he didn’t; that Lincoln he didn’t have any right to.”

That is exactly the place many Christians are. They are, and have been, legally set free from their slavery to sin, yet they are unsure of that truth. And of course, our “old master” is always trying to convince us that we are not free from his dominion.

Today, don’t listen to your old master. Do all you can to walk in the liberty for which Jesus has set you free.

Click here for David’s commentary on Galatians 5


Redeemed and Adopted

Redeemed and Adopted

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

The idea behind the phrase the fullness of time is “when the time was right.” Jesus came at just the right time in God’s redemptive plan when the world was perfectly prepared for God’s work.

Redeemed and Adopted

At just the right time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman. Jesus came not only as God’s Son, but also as one born of a woman, born under law. The eternal Son of God in heaven added humanity to His deity and became a man, born of a woman, born under law.

God’s great purpose in doing this was to redeem those who were under the law. Because Jesus is God, He has the power and the resources to redeem those who believe. Because Jesus is man, He has the right and the ability to redeem His people. He came to purchase believers out of the slave market, from their bondage to sin and death.

The famous hymn Amazing Grace was written by John Newton, a man who knew how to remember his redemption. He was an only child whose mother died when he was only seven years old. He became a sailor and went out to sea at eleven years old. As he grew up, he worked on a slave ship and had an active hand in the horrible degradation and inhumanity of the slave trade. But in 1748, when he was twenty-three, his ship was in immediate danger of sinking off the coast of Newfoundland, John Newton cried to God for mercy, and he found it. He never forgot how amazing it was that God had received him, as bad as he was. To keep it fresh in his memory, he fastened across the wall over the fireplace mantel of his study the words of Deuteronomy 15:15: You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you. If we keep fresh in our mind what we once were, and what we are now in Jesus Christ, we will do well.

But God’s work for the believer doesn’t end with redemption; it goes on to adoption. It would be enough that believers are purchased out of the slave market. But God’s work for His people doesn’t end there; they are then elevated to the place of sons and daughters of God by adoption.

Notice we receive the adoption of sons; we do not recover it. In this sense, we gain something in Jesus that is greater than what Adam ever had. Adam was never adopted as believers are. God doesn’t merely restore what was lost with Adam. Believers are granted more in Jesus than Adam ever had.

Cherish the glory of the standing God gives to His people: redeemed and adopted.

Click here for David’s commentary on Galatians 4


All Sons and Daughters

All Sons and Daughters

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27)

The false teachers among the Galatian Christians taught one could only come to Jesus through Judaism. This went against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel that Paul preached. This good news said we are made right before God because of who Jesus is and what He did for us, especially what He did for us in His sacrifice at the cross and His victory in resurrection.

All Sons and Daughters

Therefore, compared to what some taught among the Galatians, this was a revolutionary statement: you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. In some traditional Jewish thinking, standing before God was measured by obedience to the law. To truly be close to God – as His sons – one had to be extremely observant of the law, just as the Scribes and Pharisees attempted (Matthew 23). Believers are considered sons of God in a completely different way: through faith in Christ Jesus.

The standing is impressive. To be among the sons (and daughters) of God means we have a special relationship with God as a loving and caring Father. It is a place of closeness, affection, special care, and attention.

The method is impressive. To become a son (or daughter) of God through faith in Christ Jesus means much more than believing that He existed or did certain things. It is to put trust in Him, both for now and eternity.

Using the picture of baptism, Paul illustrated what it means to have faith in Christ. He didn’t say believers were baptized into water but baptized into Christ. In water baptism one is immersed in water, so when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, we are immersed in Jesus.

Some Christians seem content with just dipping a bit into Jesus. God wants us to be fully immersed in Jesus; not sprinkled, not just moistened. When one is immersed in water, you don’t even see much of the person anymore – you mostly see the water. When we live as baptized into Christ, you don’t see much of “me” anymore; you mostly see Jesus.

Another way of expressing our immersion in Jesus is to say that we have put on Christ. This phrase has the idea of putting on a suit of clothes. So, we “clothe ourselves” with Jesus as our identity.

Some might wonder if this is only play-acting, like a child playing dress-up. The answer is simple. It is only an illusion if there is no spiritual reality behind it. In this verse, Paul really speaks of the spiritual reality – those who were baptized into Christ really have put on Christ. Now they are called to live each day consistent with the spiritual reality.

If you by faith are in Jesus, then you are a child of God. You are immersed in the Savior. You have put on Christ. Now live it!

Click here for David’s commentary on Galatians 3


When It's Hard to Stand for the Truth

When It’s Hard to Stand for the Truth

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” (Galatians 2:14)

Superficially, it was an argument over seating arrangements. In truth, it was a confrontation about the truth of the gospel.

When It's Hard to Stand for the Truth

At the church fellowship meal in Antioch, certain men from Jerusalem had pressured Peter, Barnabas, and other Christians from Jewish backgrounds to refuse to sit at the same table with Christians from Gentile backgrounds, believers who did not observe Jewish customs.

In doing this, they said loud and clear, “You can only be right with God if you put yourself under the demands of the Law of Moses. You must be circumcised, eat a kosher diet, and observe the feasts and rituals.” Thatmessage told Paul this was an issue concerning the truth of the gospel.

When Paul confronted Peter before them all, what a scene it must have been! In Antioch, the Gentile Christians weren’t allowed to sit with the Jewish Christians or share food with them. Peter – the honored guest – went along with this. So did Barnabas and the other Jewish Christians in Antioch.  But Paul would not stand for it. Because this was a public affront to the Gentile Christians and because it was a public denial of the truth of the gospel, Paul confronted Peter in a public way.

This wasn’t easy knowing who Peter was. Peter was the most prominent of all the disciples of Jesus. Peter was the spokesman for the apostles, and probably the most prominent Christian in the whole world at the time.

This wasn’t easy, knowing who Paul was. This was before any of Paul’s missionary journeys; before he was an apostle of great prominence. At that point, Paul was far more famous for who he was before he was a Christian – a terrible persecutor of the church – than he was for who he was as a Christian.

This wasn’t easy, knowing who agreed with Peter. There were the strong, domineering personalities of the men from Jerusalem. There was also Barnabas, who was probably his best friend. There were also the rest of the Jewish Christians in Antioch. Paul was in the minority on this issue – it was him and all the Gentile Christians against all the Jewish Christians.

As difficult as this was, Paul did it because he knew what was at stake. This wasn’t a matter of personal conduct or mere personal sin on Peter’s part. If that were the case, it is unlikely that Paul would have first used such a public approach. This was a matter about the truth of the gospel; proclaiming, “This is how a man is made right before God.”

Dear brother or sister: when the truth of the gospel is at stake, stand strong – especially when it isn’t easy.

Click here for David’s commentary on Galatians 2


Twisting the Good News

Twisting the Good News

Which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:7)

Paul planted several churches in the Roman province of Galatia on his first few missionary tours. Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians because he was concerned that they had embraced a false message, a different gospel.

Galatians 1:7 reveals three things about this different gospel. First, it was an illegitimate gospel (not another true message). Second, it was not good at all but trouble. Third, it was a distortion or perversion of the true gospel.

Twisting the Good News

Paul recognized this different gospel was not really another gospel at all. Those who promoted this different gospel perhaps said, “We know our message is different than Paul’s message. He has his truth, and we have ours. He has his gospel, and we have ours.” Paul rejected the idea that their message was a legitimate alternative gospel in any way.

The word gospel literally means “good news.” Paul meant, “There is no ‘good news’ in this message. It is only bad news, so it really isn’t a ‘different good news.’ It is bad news. This is not another gospel at all.”

Those who brought this other gospel to the Galatians brought them trouble. They didn’t advertise their message as trouble, but that is what it was. False gospels don’t just happen. People bring them, and the people who bring them may be sincere and have a lot of charisma.

The message of these false teachers was to pervert the gospel of Christ. It was a distortion of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It didn’t start from nothing and make up a new name for God and pretending to have a new Savior. It used the names and ideas familiar to the Galatian Christians, but it slightly twisted the ideas to make the message all the more deceptive.

Paul plainly wrote that these people want to distort the good news of Jesus. It is sometimes hard for us to understand why someone would want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

When we understand how offensive the true gospel is to human nature, we better understand why someone would want to pervert it.

– The gospel offends our pride. It tells us we need a savior, and that we cannot save ourselves. It gives no credit to us at all for our salvation; it is all the work of Jesus for us.
– The gospel offends our wisdom. It saves us by something many consider foolish – God becoming man and dying a humiliating, disgraceful death on our behalf.
– The gospel offends our knowledge. It tells us to believe something which goes against scientific knowledge and personal experience – that a dead man, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead in a glorious new body that would never die again.

The good news of Jesus Christ isn’t ours to edit, twist, or transform. That message is ours to believe and proclaim in all its life-changing power.

Click here for David’s commentary on Galatians 1