Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Only One Thing

EPHESIANS 2:1-5 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.

THEME OF THE DAY. ONLY ONE THING. Christians face daunting spiritual foes in their pilgrimage to heaven who have one single goal. The devil, the world, and our flesh are united to achieve one thing in the life of every Christian; tempt them long enough and hard enough to commit sin. And their tactics are crafty, organized and so powerful that there is only one thing which can overcome them. But before we identify the one thing, here is an insightful story from history illustrating that one thing.

One of the early church fathers was a godly man named Chrysostom. He was known for his excellent preaching and godly living. As persecution came upon the 1st century believers, Chrysostom was arrested for his faith. As the Roman council gathered to give the Emperor advice on what to do with this Christ-centered man, they were initially perplexed. One said, “Let’s banish him to an island to live in isolation.” “No”, came the reply, “He will spend all his time seeking his God in prayer and solitude. This will be a delight to him, not a punishment.” Another shouted, “Kill him. Make him a public spectacle by his death.” Again, resistance came. “No, he would only sing praises to his God during his execution and many will see his faith and become followers of his Christ.” Back and forth they went trying to determine the punishment which would cause Chrysostom the worst pain and greatest grief. Finally, one member of the council stood up and said, “I know the answer. There is only one thing that he despises more than anything and grieves him the most. It is sinning against his God. Get him to sin and we will accomplish the greatest form of suffering and sorrow he will ever encounter.”

Are we like Chrysostom? Is sin our greatest grief? And why was it so for this godly man? Not because of what sin would do to him, but because of what it would do to the heart of his God. The key to Chrysostom’s hatred for sin was his love for God. And his love for God came from his experience of God’s love for him. It is love, the love of God and love for God that is the only power to defeat our spiritual foes and sin. It is God’s love that enables the Christian to see the ugliness of sin and creates a deep distaste for sin leading to the departure from sin. This love is wonderfully unfolded in today’s scripture. Meditate on what the Apostle Paul states of God’s love – “because of the great love with which He loved us.” God not only loved us, but greatly loved and loves us. It is by pondering long and drinking deep at this unfathomable well of God’s love that the power, the only power, to defeat the love of sin comes into our lives.

Chrysostom hated sin and avoided its tempting snares because the love of God was far more attractive than the fleeting pleasures of sin. It will be so for us, too, if we seek to experience His love that always leads to loving Him back; a love that hates and avoids all sin.

PRAYER: “Lord, I praise You for loving me and then giving me the ability and desire to love You back.”

QUOTE: “The only thing to deliver us from the love of sin, the world, and self is the love of God controlling us”