The bible teaches that those who have been forgiven much will love much.1Lu 7:47 NIV “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven— for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Stephan loves much. 21Co 13:4-5 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.I struggle to understood how Stephan could forgive while being hit with rocks that were intended to kill him.3Ac7:59-60 NIV While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.Of course, I knew it was possible with God. 4Mr 10:27 NIV Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”5Lu 18:27 NIV Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Revelation: We are the temple of God. 62Co 6:16 NIV What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” When we sin, we assault the temple of God. When someone sins against us, they assault the temple of God. Perhaps Stephen had and internal dialogue with God that went something like this:
“Lord, they are attacking your temple, the very same temple that I have assaulted many times, please forgive them just like you forgave me.”7Lu 6:45 NIV The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.82Cor 1:3-5 NIV Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
My prayer: Lord, help me to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and ALL OF MY STRENGTH,9Mr 12:30 NIV “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”so that, like Stephen, using all my strength to love you, I haven’t the strength to pick up a rock.10Mt 25:40,45 AV And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. –Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.11Exe 37:23 AV
The NIV uses the word “Backsliding” whereas the AV states that God will save us from our “dwelling places”.
Backsliding –the opposite of repentance; they are diametrically opposed to one another! One is turning away from God toward evil and the other is turning away from evil toward God.
Dwelling place –where I live, my habitation, the seat, my resting place. Does what ever I look to for comfort, identify my resting place?
Is my resting place God? Is he my comforter, or am I still looking to sin for comfort?
Surely I need to be delivered from the dwelling place that produces backsliding!
And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.2Ho 11:7 AV
Do the things that humble us harm us?3Pr 16:5 AV Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.4Jas 4:6 NIV But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Don’t the choices we make dictate the life we live?5Ro 6:16 NIV Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey— whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
My Prayer: God, please save me out of my dwelling place where I have sinned. In faith, I apply the blood of Jesus, cleanse me; I want you to be my God and I want to be counted with your people. Please continue to refine me and conform me to your image.6Ge 1:26 AV And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.Amen.
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Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.7Heb 4:14 AV
Hold fast… Don’t give up! Jacob wouldn’t let go because he desperately needed a blessing.2Gen 32:24-29 NIV So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.3Heb 4:15 AV
Jesus has empathy and compassion for our struggles, he knows our feelings just as his own.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.4Heb 4:16 AV
Expository: Let us, without concealment (open confession), draw near to the seat of grace (the mercy seat where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us) that we may (with empty hands) lay hold of mercy (the kindness and goodwill towards the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to help them) and find grace (the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues) to help in time of need.
Consider:“come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy” Whom ever needs mercy should come boldly –does that not seem the opposite of what we naturally do?5Ro 5:6-8 NIV You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.6Ro 11:32 NIV “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”
Further Consideration: Look at the order: we are encouraged to come boldly before we obtain mercy and find grace. If I am waiting for mercy and grace before entering into the presence of God, have I not believed a lie, a grand lie of the enemy? Who else would want to prevent me from getting what I so desperately need except the enemy of my soul? Shall I not go immediately, especially if I love my sin and can’t help myself? Where does hatred for sin come from, if not God?
If we deserved mercy, would we even need it? We are instructed to come boldly to the God of mercy because we desperately NEED His mercy and grace! Doesn’t the blood of Jesus qualify us to receive the mercy and grace of God?
If we confess our sins (agree with God), he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.71Jo 1:9 AV
We must be diligent and continue to come boldly to the throne of grace; ignoring the lies that somehow we have to be worthy, to receive mercy and grace. How bold is someone who is starving, will they not pursue food at all costs?8Mt 5:6 AV Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mercy and grace are gifts that God desires us to receive. Confession is where the hatred of sin begins, shall we not confess our sins even if we continue to commit them over and over?9Mt 11:12 NIV From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
The enemy uses lies about us to drain our will to fight for what has been given us. If the enemy’s accusations are true we have only to apply the blood of Christ to effectively turn them into a blessing. We apply the blood of Christ through confession.10Mt 5:25 AV Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.11Lu 12:58-59 AV When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.