Tuesday, March 24th

Tuesday, March 24th

Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. Luke 5:36

I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’ “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:17-20

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart" .... And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:13-15, 20-23

In the Ezekiel passage above God tells us he is the Sovereign Lord. This means he is in charge of the universe and as the one who is in charge he knows what needs to be done and he has the authority and power to do it. God intends to succeed at creating a people for himself who live fully for him and who in the end fulfill what he has in mind for them. God's plan is to give people hearts that are willing, tender, responsive, focused, and filled with his Spirit with the result being they are obedient to his desires and intentions for them. God knows that the heart is the key. With our hearts under the control of God's Spirit, we are delivered and kept from the heart's natural propensity for sin and evil as seen in the Mark 7 passage above.

However, before God can show up in our hearts through his Spirit, he must show up on earth through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to institute God's plan of working from the inside out in the lives of willing people. This is what the new covenant is all about and this new way of God's Spirit is made possible through the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. It is after the resurrection that the fullness of the Gospel is in place so that the forgiveness of sins and the gift of God's indwelling Holy Spirit come to all who will believe. In Luke 5 Jesus is fully absorbed in the reality of the new thing he is here to accomplish. Jesus and the "new" come face to face with the religious establishment and the "old." The garment illustration above powerfully drives home the fact that the "old" and "new" are absolutely incompatible and must never be made to co-exist.

We said earlier that God intends to succeed at creating a people for himself who live fully for him and who in the end fulfill what he has in mind for them. That is precisely our calling as ones who have placed our faith in Christ for eternal salvation. We have received the forgiveness of sins and we are indwelled by the living God who has placed his Spirit in our hearts. We are smack dab in the center of the "new" thing Christ came to provide for all who are willing.  And yet we too, try to blend the "old" and the "new" in our pursuit of living the Christian life. Galatians 3:3 says, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Galatians 5:25 says, If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." When Jesus first shared the garment illustration it was just what was needed for that moment in that situation. There is little doubt that there is a Pharisee inside everyone of us who rears his ugly head from time to time. Perhaps the garment illustration is just what we need right now at this exact moment.

We closed yesterday's devotional with a prayer response that bears repeating. Lord, I continue to need you to help me comprehend and embrace fully all that I have and all that I am through your indwelling presence. And Lord, I continue to need your help at recognizing and forsaking anything of religiosity that remains in my life. Lord, I love you, I celebrate you, I embrace you, and I thank you for your indwelling Spirit.

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