Bethesda (John 5)

Grace, Mercy & Sanctification

So, some may have wondered whether the Brother Don was still alive and well. Well, I’m happy to tell you that I and my family are well indeed.

I often go through phases where I do not feel led to write a blog and so I tend to send short encouragements on the social media channels:

I have been walking out my journey in the Lord, learning more and more about being a husband, a father and a son of God. Like most of us, to varying degrees of discomfort.

I am listening to the great worship song called ‘Greater Than It All’ which I have put on the blog before, but right now it seems all the more pertinent as I ponder on the section of scripture that I felt led to share a few thoughts on. There is a line in the chorus that says, “Grace and mercy found me, oh the blood of Jesus is greater….” Even as I write those words (“Grace and mercy found me”), tears of thankfulness come to my eyes. Life has not been easy for any of us, but thank God, yes, thank God that He came to live a life we could not (sinless) and took our place on the cross as the perfect sacrifice that had to pay the ultimate, once and for all, price of sin on our behalf – Grace and Mercy. And now ANYONE, yes ANYONE who will call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will be saved (Romans 10:13) from the penalty of sin, which is eternal separation from God, in Hell (it really does exist).

Back to John 5

The longer you read biblical scripture the more revelation God pours out. You start to see things that seem so apparent now which caused no end of confusion in times gone past, or the line you’ve read hundreds of times now gives such different insight; well, that’s been my experience. Isaiah is a case in point for me; it used to confuse the heck out of me, with all the figurative speech and woes, but as I read it now, I just see a loving Father’s heart for His wayward children who have completely and utterly turned their backs on Him and sold themselves out to follow foreign idols… And yet, God still promises the Messiah will come and ultimately save them once they have faced some of the consequences (exile, separation…) of their ill thought-through choices – oversimplified? Yes, for some people, but this is what I mean about the longer you read the greater the revelation.

Brother Don!!! Argh yes, John 5. You all probably have seen this already, but I have so often quoted the healing of the crippled man who had been that way for 38 years and marvelled at the mercy and grace shown to him by our Lord Jesus in his healing.

Definition of grace: Strong’s Greek: 5484. χάριν (charin) — in favor of, for the pleasure of (biblehub.com)
Definition of Mercy: Strong’s Greek: 2433. ἱλάσκομαι (hilaskomai) — to be propitious, make propitiation for (biblehub.com)

For some reason, I always assumed that the man had been born with his condition but had not really given much thought to the possibility that this man’s 38 years of infirmity may have been caused by his own acts of sin. Well John 5:14 (AMP) tells us the following:

14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

5:14 (AMP)

You’ve just got to love the Lord – His statement almost sounds like a ‘simple matter of fact’ (being plain, straightforward, or unemotional), whereas I’m like “Hello everyone…38 years over here everybody, this is a big deal…”. Clearly the Lord knows best.

Have you ever given thought to the “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” statement? Clearly if the Lord has said it, then it could happen. In my mind I’m like, this guy’s been crippled, sick or as the New International Version puts it, been an invalid, for 38 years. If it can get worse than that then I don’t even want to think about it. What was the sin? Thankfully, we are not told, but sin is sin, so Brother Don’s view is to keep laying ourselves bare at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to create in us new hearts and loyal/steadfast spirits (Psalm 51:10).

So, whilst the grace of God is freely available to us now, please can we also take note of what Jesus said to the man healed after 38 years… “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you”.

30 But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness [making us acceptable to God], and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God], and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin],

1 Corinthians 1:30

There are so many believers who are held back and are not reaching God’s potential for them, due to unconfessed, deep entrenched sin in our lives such as old wrong, ungodly patterns of thinking, attitude, idea, desire, belief, motivation, habit, and behaviour – all of these get in the way of us soaring as God intended (Isaiah 40:31).

I say let us not forget the call to sanctification which we are encouraged to pursue and without such we do not get to grow in our Christian lives.

1 Finally, believers, we ask and admonish you in the Lord Jesus, that you follow the instruction that you received from us about how you ought to walk and please God (just as you are actually doing) and that you excel even more and more [pursuing a life of purpose and living in a way that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation]. 2 For you know what commandments and precepts we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, that you be sanctified [separated and set apart from sin]: that you abstain and back away from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor [being available for God’s purpose and separated from things profane],

1 Thessalonians 4:1-4

14 Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

It’s been a difficult 20 months or so. Not only has there been the Coronavirus pandemic (still very severe in many parts of the under-developed world), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues, impact of issues such as global warming and national interests such as the UK only really beginning to see some of the immediate impact of Brexit, we also have relentless 24/7 news media outlets seeking to bring the most dramatic, often traumatising stories from around the earth, with very little positive, life-refreshing stories. I say, let us not cast away our confidence (Hebrews 10:35) but keep our eyes fixed on Jesus:

Jesus, the Example
[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Let’s make the choice to do as the Apostle Paul advised and focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity].

May you be blessed and prosper in the name of Jesus.

‘But test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.’
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (New Living Translation)
Laura Rhinehart – Step into Grace

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