The High Cost Of Free Grace

Redeeming grace is free to us, but its cost to God is inestimable.

Sin is not a serious issue to most people. Our culture flaunts and peddles it in countless forms. Even Christians who would never think of committing certain sins will often allow themselves to be entertained by them through television, movies, music, and other media.


We sometimes flirt with sin but God hates it. The price He paid to redeem us from it speaks of the seriousness with which He views it. After all, we “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold . . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
In Scripture the shedding of blood refers to violent physical death—whether of a sacrificial animal or of Christ Himself. Sin is so serious that without bloodshed, there is no forgiveness of sin in God’s sight (Heb. 9:22).


The sacrificial animals in the Old Testament pictured Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That’s why John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Old Testament sacrifices were necessary but incomplete. Christ’s sacrifice was perfect, complete, and once for all (Heb. 10:10). No further sacrifices are needed other than the “sacrifice of praise to God” for what He has done (Heb. 13:15) and our very lives in service to Him as “a living and holy sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).


By His sacrifice Christ demonstrated not only God’s hatred for sin, but also His great love for sinners. You could never redeem yourself, but Christ willingly paid the price with His own precious blood. He “gave Himself up for [you], an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2). His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father, so your redemption was paid in full. What magnanimous love and incredible grace!


Suggestions for Prayer
• Worship God for His wonderful plan of salvation.
• Worship Christ for the enormous sacrifice He made on your behalf.
• Worship the Holy Spirit for applying Christ’s sacrifice to your life and drawing you to Christ in saving faith.
• Ask God to help you guard your heart from flirting with sin.


For Further Study
Read 2 Samuel 11.
• What circumstances led to David’s sin with Bathsheba?
• How did David attempt to cover his sin?
• How did David finally deal with his sin (see Ps. 51)?


From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

The Slavery That Frees

Slavery to sin is bondage; slavery to God is freedom.

Freedom is a precious thing. People throughout history have prayed, fought, and even died for it. Our Declaration of Independence upholds it as one of our inalienable rights.


But the truth is, no matter what one’s political situation might be, everyone is a slave—either to sin or to God. Jesus said that “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). Paul added that all of creation is in slavery to corruption (Rom. 8:21). However, believers have “been freed from sin and enslaved to God” (Rom. 6:22).
The Roman Empire had as many as twenty million slaves; slave trade was a major industry. For a slave to gain his or her freedom, a redemption price had to be paid. The Greek word for such a transaction is lutroō, which Paul uses in Ephesians 1:7 to speak of our “redemption” from sin’s bondage.


Slavery to sin is bondage; slavery to God is freedom. That sounds paradoxical, but God is the Sovereign King, and true freedom means having the ability to bend your will to His and thereby become all He created you to be. Even though you will fail at times, your greatest desire and highest pursuit as a believer is to be like Christ (1 John 2:5-6). Those enslaved to sin cannot do that, nor do they want to.
Today you will have many opportunities to demonstrate your submission to Christ. Let your attitudes and actions speak clearly of your love for the Master.


Suggestions for Prayer
Thank the Lord that He is a faithful and just Master who always does what is best for His servants. A self-seeking slave is a contradiction in terms. Ask the Lord to guard you from thoughts and actions that are contrary to His will.


For Further Study
According to 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 what key characteristic is required of a servant of Christ? Read Matthew 24:42-51. How does Jesus describe a wise servant? Read Philippians 2:5-11. How did Jesus demonstrate the heart of a servant? What implications does His example have for your life?


From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Living To The Glory Of God

You were created to glorify God.

Englishman Henry Martyn served as a missionary in India and Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Upon his arrival in Calcutta, he cried out “Let me burn out for God.” As he watched the people prostrating themselves before their pagan idols and heard blasphemy uttered against Christ, he wrote, “This excited more horror in me than I can well express. . . . I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified; it would be hell to me, if He were to be always thus dishonored” (John Stott, Our Guilty Silence [InterVarsity, 1967], pp. 21-22).


Martyn had a passion for God’s glory—and he was in good company. Angels glorify God (Luke 2:14), as do the heavens (Ps. 19:1) and even animals (Isa. 43:20). But as a believer, you glorify God in a unique way because you are a testimony to His redeeming grace.


You were created for the purpose of glorifying God—even in the most mundane activities of life, such as eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31). You are to flee immorality so you can glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19- 20). You are to walk worthy of your calling “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified” (2 Thess. 1:12).


Glorifying God is an enormous privilege and an awesome responsibility. When others see His character on display in your life, it reminds them of His power, goodness, and grace. But when they don’t, it dishonors God and calls His character into question.
Aim your life at God’s glory and make it the standard by which you evaluate everything you do.


Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank the Lord for the privilege of glorifying Him.
• Ask Him to show you any areas of your life that do not honor Him.
• Find a trusted Christian friend who will pray with you and hold you accountable for the areas you know need to change.

For Further Study
Read Exodus 33:12-34:8.
• What did Moses request?
• What was God’s response and what does it teach us about His glory?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Living Out Your Royal Heritage

Because God loves you, He adopted you as His child and grants you all the rights and privileges of family membership.

Moses told Israel that God didn’t choose them because of their great numbers or any inherent goodness on their part, but as an expression of God’s sovereign will and sacrificial love (Deut. 7:7-8). That’s true of you as well if you’re a Christian.


The Greek word translated “love” in Ephesians 1:4 speaks not of emotional or sentimental love but of love that seeks God’s best for others at any cost. It is marked by sacrifice rather than selfishness—giving rather than receiving. It seeks to forgive rather than condemn—to dismiss offenses rather than count them.


Such love is epitomized in God Himself, who loved you so much that He sacrificed His Son on your behalf, who willingly laid down His own life for you (John 3:16; 15:13).


While false gods are worshiped out of fear and ignorance, the true God—your Heavenly Father—has eliminated all fear so that you can confidently enter into His presence (Heb. 10:19; 1 John 4:18). You have received a spirit of adoption and can address Him as “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15), the Aramaic equivalent of Daddy or Papa.

Your Heavenly Father delights in your praise and glories in your obedience. Be a faithful child. Make this day count for Him. Live out your royal heritage. Seek His wisdom in all you do. Go to His Word and follow its counsel. Demonstrate His love to others in practical ways.

Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God for granting you the privilege of being a member of His family.
• Thank Him for the many manifestations of His love that you enjoy each day.
• Ask Him to lead you to someone to whom you can demonstrate His love in a practical and sacrificial way.

For Further Study
Read 1 Corinthians 13.
• List the characteristics of godly love.
• How does the quality of your love for others compare to God’s standard? What steps can you take today to bring your love into greater conformity to His?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Matching Your Practice To Your Position

The challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match your practice to your position.


God chose you in Christ to make you holy and blameless in His sight. To be “holy” is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be “blameless” is to be pure without spot or blemish—like Jesus, the Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:19).


Ephesians 1:4 is a positional statement. That is, Paul describes how God views us “in Christ.” He sees us as holy and blameless because Christ our Savior is holy and blameless. His purity is credited to our spiritual bank account. That’s because God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).


Despite our exalted position in God’s sight, our practice often falls far short of His holy standard. Therefore the challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match our practice to our position, realizing that sinless perfection won’t come until we are in heaven fully glorified (Rom. 8:23).


How do you meet that challenge? By prayer, Bible study, and yielding your life to the Spirit’s control. Commit yourself to those priorities today as you seek to fulfill the great purpose to which you’ve been called: “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).


Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God that He does not expect you to earn your own righteousness but has provided it in His Son.
• Ask His Spirit to search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder your growth in holiness. Confess that sin and take any steps necessary to eliminate it from your life.

For Further Study
Read Philippians 1:9-11.
• What ingredients must be added to Christian love to produce sincerity and blamelessness?
• What is the primary source of those ingredients (see Ps. 119:97-105)?
• What specific steps are you going to take to add or increase those ingredients in your life?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Avoiding A Spiritual Identity Crisis

A true sense of identity comes from knowing that God Himself personally selected you to be His child.


Many people in our society are on a seemingly endless and often frantic quest for personal identity and self-worth. Identity crises are common at almost every age level. Superficial love and fractured relationships are but symptoms of our failure to resolve the fundamental issues of who we are, why we exist, and where we’re going. Sadly, most people will live and die without ever understanding God’s purpose for their lives.


That is tragic, yet understandable. God created man to bear His image and enjoy His fellowship forever. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they violated that purpose and plunged the human race into sin. That created within man a spiritual void and an identity crisis of unimaginable proportions.


Throughout the ages ungodly people have tried to fill that void with a myriad of substitutes but ultimately all is lost to death and despair.

Despite that bleak picture, a true sense of identity is available to every Christian. It comes from knowing that God Himself personally selected you to be His child. Before the world began, God set his love upon you and according to His plan Christ died for you (1 Pet. 1:20). That’s why you responded in faith to the gospel (2 Thess. 2:13). Also, that’s why you can never lose your salvation. The same God who drew you to Himself will hold you there securely (John 10:29).


Don’t allow sin, Satan, or circumstances to rob your sense of identity in Christ. Make it the focus of everything you do. Remember who you are: God’s child; why you are here: to serve and glorify Him; and where you are going: to spend eternity in His presence.

Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God for choosing you to be His child and for drawing you to Himself in saving faith.
• Praise Him for His promise never to let you go.

For Further Study
Read John 6:35-44; 10:27-30; Romans 8:31-39.
• According to Jesus, how many believers will lose their salvation? What was his reasoning?
• What did Paul base his certainty on?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Identifying With Christ

To encourage you on your journey, Heart2Heart is pleased to announce that we will now be bringing you daily study devotions on weekends as well as weekdays days.


Christianity isn’t simply a belief system—it’s a whole new identity.

Many people mistakenly believe that one’s religious preference is irrelevant because all religions eventually lead to the same spiritual destination.


Such thinking is sheer folly, however, because Scripture declares that no one comes to God apart from Jesus (John 14:6). He is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only One powerful enough to redeem us and hold us secure forever (John 10:28).


Every Christian shares a common supernatural union with Christ. Paul said, “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him)” (1 Cor. 6:17). We are in Him and He is in us. His life flows through us by His Spirit, who indwells us (Rom. 8:9).


As a non-Christian, you were in bondage to evil (Rom. 3:10-12), enslaved to the will of Satan (1 John 5:19), under divine wrath (Rom. 1:18), spiritually dead (Eph. 4:17-18), and without hope (Eph. 2:12). But at the moment of your salvation a dramatic change took place. You became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), alive in Him (Eph. 2:5), enslaved to God (Rom. 6:22), and a recipient of divine grace (Eph. 2:8). You were delivered out of the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13). You now possess His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) and share in His eternal inheritance (Rom. 8:16-17).


All those blessings—and many more—are yours because you are in Christ. What a staggering reality! In a sense what He is, you are. What He has, you have. Where He is, you are.
When the Father sees you, He sees you in Christ and blesses you accordingly. When others see you, do they see Christ in you? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).


Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God for His marvelous grace in taking you from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ.
• Ask Him for wisdom and discernment to live this day for His good pleasure.


For Further Study
Read the book of Ephesians, noting every occurrence of the phrase “in Christ.”
• What has God accomplished in Christ?
• What blessings are yours in Christ?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Cultivating A Heavenly Perspective

Christians hold a dual citizenship. We are citizens of earth, but, more importantly, we are also citizens of Heaven.

It’s been said that some Christians are so heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good. But usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so enamored with this present world that they no longer look forward to heaven. They have everything they want right here. The health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine has convinced them that Christians can have it all, and they pursue “the good life” with a vengeance.
Despite the prevalence of such thinking, the old Negro spiritual well says, “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through.”


Paul reminds us of that truth in Philippians 3:20: “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s why we must set our minds on heavenly, not on earthly things (Col. 3:1- 2). Our deepest affections and highest aspirations should center there. Our actions and decisions should reflect heavenly priorities, not earthly indulgences.


Even though we live in a sin-stained world and must constantly fight against its corrupting influences, God hasn’t left us stranded. He extends to us all the rights and privileges of our heavenly citizenship. Let that assurance encourage you today to live to His glory and rely on His heavenly provisions. Take care not to let impure aspirations or trivial pursuits distract you from your heavenly priorities.


Suggestions for Prayer
• Tell Jesus how thankful and full of praise you are because of the place He is preparing for you in heaven (John 14:1-3).
• Pray for a greater awareness of the fleeting value of this world and the surpassing value of the world to come (1 John 2:17).


For Further Study
Read Revelation 4-5, 21.
• What primary activity are the inhabitants of heaven engaged in?
• List some of heaven’s blessings.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Understand Your Spiritual Resources

As a Christian, you possess every spiritual resource you need to fulfill God’s will for your life.


The story is told of a wealthy London businessman who searched many years for his runaway son. One afternoon he was preparing to board a train to London when he spotted a man in ragged, dirty clothing begging money from passengers along the station platform. His first impulse was to avoid the beggar but there was something strangely familiar about him.


When the beggar approached and asked if he could spare a few shillings, the businessman realized he had found his long-lost son. With tears in his eyes and joy in his voice he embraced his son, crying, “A few shillings? You are my son—everything I have is yours!”
That pictures many Christians who are ignorant or negligent of their spiritual resources. They are children of the King, yet live like spiritual paupers.


Paul repeatedly emphasized our sufficiency as believers. In Colossians 2:10 he declares that in Christ “you have been made complete.” In Philippians 4:13 and 19 he says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” and “my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Peter added that God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).


The word translated “spiritual” in Ephesians 1:3 speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit. Every blessing you receive, whether material or immaterial, has God as its source.


As a Christian, you possess every spiritual resource you need to fulfill God’s will for your life. You needn’t pray for more love, for example, because His love is already poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). The same is true of joy (John 15:11), peace (John 14:27), strength (Phil. 4:13)—and every other resource you need. The key to spiritual progress and victory is learning to apply what you already have, not seeking more.


Suggestions for Prayer
• Praise God for His abundant spiritual resources.
• Ask Him to help you apply them with wisdom and consistency.

For Further Study
Read Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:6-8.
• What specific promises does God make in those passages?
• What does He require of you?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Blessing The God Of Blessings

When we bless God, it is with words of praise; when He blesses us, it is with deeds of kindness.

Paul’s brief doxology identifies God the Father as the ultimate recipient and source of blessing—the One to whom blessing is ascribed and the One who bestows blessings on those who love Him.

“Blessed” translates the Greek word eulogeō, from which we get eulogy. To bless or eulogize God is to praise Him for His mighty works and holy character.

That should be the response of your heart just as it has been the response of believers throughout the ages. The psalmist said “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer” (Ps. 66:20); and “blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders” (Ps. 72:18). Peter said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).

When the situation is reversed and God blesses us, it isn’t with praise, for apart from Him there is nothing praiseworthy about us. Instead, He gives us undeserved benefits through His many deeds of kindness. Scripture identifies Him as the source of every good thing (James 1:17), who works all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).

That is but a sampling of the many blessings He lavishes on us in His Son, Christ Jesus. It’s a marvelous cycle: God blesses us with deeds of kindness; we bless Him with words of praise.

Beware of the sin of thanklessness. Recognize God’s blessings in your life and let them fill your heart and lips

Suggestions for Prayer

• Identify ten specific blessings that God has granted to you in recent days and praise Him for each one.

• Ask Him to make you more aware of and thankful for His goodness in your life.

• Always be ready to seek forgiveness when you take His blessings for granted.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 103.

• What blessings does David mention?

• How do they apply to your life?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993

Experiencing God’s Peace

True peace is God’s gift to those who love and obey Him.

Throughout history mankind has sought peace through military alliances, balances of power, and leagues of nations. Yet lasting peace still remains an elusive dream. Even during times of relative peace, nations struggle with internal strife and crime.


The Bible says that man on his own cannot know peace because he is alienated from its source. But we need not despair. True peace is immediately available from God our Father (the God of peace—Rom. 15:33), and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Prince of Peace—Isa. 9:6). It’s a gift of God’s grace to those who love and obey Jesus Christ.


The New Testament so clearly teaches the inextricable link between God’s grace and peace that “Grace to you and peace” became a common greeting in the early church. Grace is God’s great kindness toward those who are undeserving of His favor but who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. It is the fountain and peace is the stream. As recipients of His grace, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1)—we are reconciled to Him through faith in His Son and we will never experience His wrath. We also have the peace of God (Phil. 4:7)—the Spirit’s way of assuring us that God is in control even in the midst of difficult circumstances. That’s why Paul calls it the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Phil. 4:7).


The world’s peace is relative and fleeting because it is grounded in circumstances. God’s peace is absolute and eternal because it is grounded in His grace. Does God’s peace reign in your heart, or have you allowed sin or difficult circumstances to diminish your devotion to Christ?


Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God that you have peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
• Ask the Spirit to reveal any sin that might be hindering God’s peace from ruling in your heart. Be prepared to respond in confession and repentance.
• Ask for opportunities to demonstrate God’s peace to others today.

For Further Study
Read Philippians 4:6-7.
• What is God’s antidote for anxiety?
• How does God’s peace affect a believer’s heart and mind?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

The Measure Of True Success

God is more interested in your faithfulness than He is in your accomplishments


Our society is success oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God’s standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.


Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling as an apostle—one of those unique men who were foundational to the church and recipients, teachers, and writers of the New Testament.
That was a high calling, yet judging from Paul’s lifestyle most people would hardly call him successful— having suffered imprisonments, beatings, death threats, shipwrecks, robberies, hatred from his theological enemies, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements (2 Cor. 11:23-27). But none of those things deterred him from obeying God’s will. His final testimony was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). That’s true success!

Although we’re not apostles, we’re to follow Paul’s example of faithfulness (1 Cor. 11:1). That’s possible because, like the Ephesian believers, we are “saints [holy ones] . . . who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). By God’s grace we’ve trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:8-9) and received His righteousness (Phil. 3:9), Spirit (Eph. 3:16), and every spiritual resource necessary for faithful, victorious Christian living (Eph. 1:3).

What remains is to cultivate greater love for Christ and more consistent obedience to His Word. Those are the hallmarks of a true disciple and God’s measure of success. Make it your goal that your life today warrants the Lord’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful [servant]” (Matt. 25:21).


Suggestions for Prayer
• Praise God for His wonderful grace, by which He granted you salvation and all the spiritual resources you need.
• Thank Him for His Word, where you learn the principles of godly living.
• Ask Him for opportunities today to encourage the faithfulness of others.

For Further Study
Read Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10; Titus 2:11-12.
• What is the goal of your salvation?
• Are you living each day in light of that goal?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.

Daily Devotion: The Preeminence Of Christ

Christ has preeminence in everything.

The apostle Paul presents four great truths in Colossians 1:18 about Christ’s relation to the church.

The first is that Christ is the head of the church. This concept looks at the church as a living organism, inseparably tied together by the living Christ. He controls every part of it and gives it life and direction (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-20).


Christ is also the source of the church. The Greek word translated “beginning” (arche) is used here in the twofold sense of source and primacy. The church has its origins in Jesus. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). As head of the Body, Jesus holds the chief position or highest rank in the church. As the beginning, He is its originator.


Another truth is that Christ is the first-born from the dead. Of all those who have been raised from the dead or ever will be, Christ is the highest in rank. Furthermore, it is Christ who will cause the resurrection of others (John 5:28-29; 6:40).


Finally, Christ is the preeminent One. As a result of His death and resurrection, Jesus has come to have first place in everything. Paul states that truth to drive home as forcefully as he can that Jesus is not merely another emanation from God.


Paul then summarizes his argument by saying that all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ alone (Col. 1:19). It is not spread out in small doses to a group of spirits, as the false teachers were saying. Rather, in Christ, and Him alone, believers are “complete” (2:10).


What should be your response to the glorious truths about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19? Be encouraged to meditate on the glory of Christ as revealed in this passage. Doing so will help you be transformed into Christ’s image and will prepare you to behold His glory in Heaven.

Suggestions for Prayer
Thank the Lord for each of the four truths discussed above.

For Further Study
According to John 1:16, what have you received?