Today's Foundations Devotional: Appendicitis

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Memory verse

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

(Matthew 22:37-39)

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A man went to the doctor complaining of a pain in his stomach. After an examination the doctor diagnosed the man’s trouble as appendicitis.

“Appendicitis!” said the man. “What’s that?”

“Appendicitis,” explained the doctor, “is a condition of irritation or inflammation of the appendix.”

“Well,” the man confessed, “until now I never even knew that I had an appendix to be inflamed!”

In a similar way, many professing Christians are conscious of some deep-seated trouble in their spiritual experience – trouble that finds expression in such symptoms as instability, inconsistency, lack of assurance, lack of peace. If such Christians were to be informed that the root cause of their trouble lay in the failure to understand such basic New Testament teachings as the relationship between faith and works, or between law and grace, these Christians would have to confess, just like the man with appendicitis, “Well, until now we never even knew that the New Testament had anything to say about such things as that!”

Let us briefly outline the conclusions we have reached on these two related topics thus far.

1.The whole New Testament teaches emphatically that salvation is received through faith alone – faith in Christ’s finished work of atonement – without human works of any kind.

2. The faith that brings salvation is always expressed thereafter in appropriate works – in corresponding actions.

3. The works by which faith for salvation is expressed are not the works of the law. The righteousness which God requires cannot be achieved by observing the law of Moses.

These conclusions concerning the nature and purpose of the law of Moses naturally lead us on to one further question: If saving faith is not expressed by the observance of the law, then what are the works by which saving faith is expressed? What are the appropriate actions we should expect to see in the life of every person who professes saving faith in Christ?

The answer to this question, as well as the key to understanding the relationship between law and grace, is given by Paul in Romans.

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (8:3-4).

The key phrase here is “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,” where “us” denotes Spirit-led Christians. It is not the law itself which is to be fulfilled in Christians but the righteous requirement of the law.

What is meant by this phrase, “the righteous requirement of the law”? The answer is given most clearly by Jesus Himself, which we’ll look at tomorrow.

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Suggested prayer for today:

Father, how wonderful it is to grow in knowledge and in faith and trust in Your wonderful living Word. You make Your goals visible with me, so that I, in the power of Jesus, may be a way to life in the dying world. Hallelujah! Thank You! Amen.

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