Summer 2017: Look and Live
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Summary: For the last several weeks, I have been focusing my personal devotion time on the science of salvation. How am I saved? What is justification and sanctification and how do these processes work in my life?
 
 

For the last several weeks, I have been focusing my personal devotion time on the science of salvation. How am I saved? What is justification and sanctification and how do these processes work in my life? What is the true correlation between faith and works? It seems a fitting topic considering that 2017 is the 500th year anniversary of the reformation and it is this very issue that brought Martin Luther to the point where he nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door. As far as I can tell, the key ingredient to the plan of salvation can be summed up in 3 little words: Look and Live.

These words, of course, come from the story of the Israelites bitten by snakes in the desert. Moses erected the bronze serpent on a stake and anyone who looked at the symbol was instantly healed of the poison of the venom. Surprisingly enough, not everyone looked, despite the simple remedy.

I wonder how many of the Israelites really understood the lesson. Later the bronze serpent became something of an idol to them, so obviously they missed the point. But we should not. Look and live is how we must live every moment of every day. Listen to what the Spirit of Prophecy says:

The sense of sin has poisoned the springs of life. But Christ says, ‘I will take your sins; I will give you peace. I have bought you with My blood. You are Mine. My grace shall strengthen your weakened will; your remorse for sin I will remove.' When temptations assail you, when care and perplexity surround you, when, depressed and discouraged, you are ready to yield to despair, look to Jesus, and the darkness that encompasses you will be dispelled by the bright shining of His presence. When sin struggles for the mastery in your soul, and burdens the conscience, look to the Saviour. His grace is sufficient to subdue sin. Let your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty, turn on Him. Lay hold on the hope set before you. Christ waits to adopt you into His family. His strength will help your weakness; He will lead you step by step. Place your hand in His, and let Him guide you. Never feel that Christ is far away. He is always near. His loving presence surrounds you. Seek Him as One who desires to be found of you. He desires you not only to touch His garments, but to walk with Him in constant communion. (MH 85)

Did you catch the method? Look. Whenever you have a trouble of any kind, look to the Saviour. If you are about to sin, catch yourself as quickly as you can, and look to Jesus. Multiple times every single day, this look and live principle is to take place.

I have a very dear friend that prays out loud to God whenever she recognizes her need of a Saviour - before she drives anywhere, whenever a trouble arises, even when she’s alone and needs to lift something or turn something that she can’t do on her own. At first, it unnerved me to have her declare her need so vocally and pray about everything, but now I understand. She is practicing walking with Jesus as a Friend and keeping Him uttermost in her mind throughout the day. You may not address Him vocally, but you may still speak to Him throughout the day.

But how do we remember to look and live? First I need to believe with all my heart that Jesus is an ever-present friend. Then I need to remember my need. If I ever forget that my efforts, my own works are insufficient to save me, then I forget to look.

Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God’s will and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory. (FW 103)

It’s when I forget to “keep in a state of repentance and contrition” that I become stubborn, prideful, refusing to apologize for some failure because apologizing would mean admitting. If I stayed in a state of repentance and contrition, recognizing my need of a Saviour, I would be quick to apologize, taking rebuke and correction with a humble and meek spirit.

It’s when I forget to “keep in a state of repentance and contrition exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer” that I forget that every good thing that I do is only because of the grace of Christ, and I start to think that I can accomplish anything with my own finite mind, and that my works are worthy and sufficient to gain acceptance with God. Forgetting to “look and live” makes me write, speak, and act on my own, without being imbued with the spirit of Christ.

Within me there dwelleth no good thing. That is a difficult concept for the proud heart to accept. We want to have something good to bring to God. This is what Cain wanted. He wanted to be acceptable to God without God’s contribution – in his own goodness. He did not want to accept that he was not good without Christ. How often have I rejected the Lamb and instead brought my own fruits to the altar, wanting to be accepted with my own efforts- -with something in me that I alone produced? But the message of “look and live” says otherwise. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.

The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. (FW 101)

In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart; and it is by obedience that faith itself is made perfect. Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace supernatural power is imparted to the man and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature and finally driven from the soul temple. (FW 100)

This is what needs to take place every day. Christ creates in us a hatred for the sin we commit and as we cry to the Lord for help to overcome and ask Him to rid us of our besetting sin, believing His word and exercising faith that He can and will cleanse us, He transforms us. This is the process of sanctification. We do not make ourselves perfect. Our job is to submit and depend on Christ hourly. We must learn to abhor sin. This is the only way the universe will be immune to its ever rising again. To be inoculated against sin is to learn to hate it, rather than to love it.

Dear reader, if you’re like me, there are still areas in your life that need to be given to Jesus. If you have been trying to bring your own fruits to the altar, if you have resisted the idea that you need Jesus and that nothing you alone can do can ever make you worthy, if you long for a clean heart and a right spirit, then the recipe is simple, yet hard to do. Look and live.

Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. (Ps 51)

Only Jesus can do this for us, as we submit and obey. Obedience may mean learning to talk to Jesus as a Friend throughout the day. Obedience may mean asking the Lord for strength to resist this or that temptation. Obedience may mean admitting your sin – whatever it is. Obedience means a continual repentant and submissive state – ready to look and live at all times, ready to admit and apologize immediately, ready to cry for help at a moment’s notice. Dear reader, this hour, this day, this week, this month: Look. And live...

-Wendy

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