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I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. Psalm What do these words mean? How do they apply to our daily lives? All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Deuteronomy When you read the Bible, you learn important information, but something else happens when you have an open heart. Reading and meditating on what you study actually changes your attitudes, motives, and emotions. It transforms you on the inside.

It renews your mind. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

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Romans It encourages us to draw close to God, to be brave in our faith, and to overcome fear. It tells us who we are in Christ and challenges us to live for him. Has reading the Bible ever comforted, inspired, encouraged, or challenged you?

Describe one time this happened. The Bible encourages us to live righteous lives by showing us the serious consequences of sin and rebellion. Thankfully, it also teaches us about the grace of God and the forgiveness he offers when we turn from sin and ask for his forgiveness. For the word of God is living and active.

Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews Sometimes we are mainly concerned about whether our actions are good or bad. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

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I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. If you wanted to do well at a job and the boss gave you instructions, would you make an effort to learn those instructions?

Why or why not?

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Have you ever gone through a period of time during which you read the Bible regularly? What difference did this season of Bible reading make in your life? Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. Visit www. Permission granted to print for personal use.

See reprint policy. First Name. Last Name. Sign Up. Such understanding denies us candy-coated perceptions of our lives. We really are the temptable and tempted, the vulnerable and frail, the weak and wretched sinners that the Bible portrays us to be. But we recognize at the same time that such honesty is neither helpful nor healthy if tears of remorse do not at the same time turn us in gratitude toward the One who has delivered us from our guilt. We can claim the biblically-balanced, empowering joy our Savior offers when we understand that God is not moved by our deeds but rather pours his mercy on those who confess their desperation and delight in his praise.

The Samaritan does not repeat any Creed or proclaim the deity of Christ. Jim Orders was dying of cancer and knew it. Far from it, he was in a race. Jim raced to finish a book on the history of his family and family business that recounted the grace of God in his life. Jim entitled his book Nothing Happened by Accident.

He deeply believed that the caring character of God revealed in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was operative in every stage of life.

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I have never met a man more zealous for the honor of his Savior, nor more certain of the cause of his zeal. Jim threw himself into homage of the Savior with such energy and joy because he so loved the God who saved him through faith in a great mercy not of human origin. It always does. May each of us learn to embrace this faith that is the health of our souls, the joy of our hearts, and the truest source of Christian obedience. People in his church were despairing that they would ever obtain the spiritual maturity and victory for which they longed.

Despite their continual striving for holiness, they felt themselves unable to escape sinful habits and patterns of thought. Their despair was becoming more acute as they realized that years of battling, praying, and grieving over sin did not seem to break their bondage.

Sin had not become less troublesome in their lives nor less burdensome to their hearts. Those for whom Marshall was concerned believed themselves forever bound to passions and habits that marked them as spiritually destitute.

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No religious formula or personal discipline had brought the victory over sin that these desperate souls craved. Persistent failure to be what Scripture requires and their own hearts desired had become spiritual torture almost too painful to bear. Were there no answers? Was holiness a mystery without resolution? With deep love for his people, this seventeenth-century pastor answered with The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification.

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He himself had known this kind of struggle. With his own righteousness Marshall had tried to find peace with God, but the reality of inescapable personal imperfection had led to torment instead. Consistent teaching on holiness and even the godly examples of others that are intended to encourage us, instead function as mirrors of condemnation. They reflect ever more vividly our bondage to sin, reminding us that our religious performance yet falls short of the maturity for which we long.

As a result, godly instruction can lead to despair. How do we encourage striving after godliness without depriving ourselves of the holy joy of which Marshall writes and for which our hearts long? Marshall answers by echoing truths the apostle Paul provides in the book of Galatians. There Paul confronts those who are saying that what we do in and to our flesh is the basis of our standing before God. Religious extremists in the Galatian church had apparently persuaded both immature and mature believers including the apostle Peter for a time that what we do—our level of holy performance and sacrifice—is what establishes our acceptance with God.

Paul reminds everyone of the gospel they had originally embraced with joy. And he does this only through what Christ accomplished for us. Rules are an expression of love, but they do not establish love. We are united to God not on the basis of our good deeds but on the basis of faith in what he has done for us in Christ. Thus, to find release from the bondage and burden of sin, and to access the joy that is the strength of the Christian life, we must believe that we can rely entirely on our union with Christ to make us right with God.

But what is the nature of this union, and how does it enable us to grow in godliness?