December 9 I Wednesday
“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” —Romans 8:13
The parable of The Prodigal Son is popular amongst Christians. The story talks about how the father welcomed his younger son home even though the son had lived a sinful life. We love hearing this story because no matter how sinful our life is, God has grace for us in the person of Jesus Christ. We simply have to place our faith in what Christ has done for us and we will receive forgiveness of sin.
The story also tells us how the father’s older son, who was always obedient, is upset with the father welcoming back his sinful son. The religious leaders in Acts 13 were like the older son. They were mad that God would forgive sinners and lavish His grace on those people, and mad that their religious performance had not earned them God’s love and grace––it was an assault on their pride.
Yet, even in the Old Testament, God knew that the dogs of religion would not receive His message of grace and salvation in the person of Christ. The prophet Isaiah records, “Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain” (Isaiah 56:10-11). Even in our present time, there are some people who infiltrate into our churches who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, stirring up the flock and drawing people away from dependency on Christ. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” These dogs and false apostles are not people who sincerely look for God and have some misconception that needs clearing up. They are people who have clearly heard the message of Jesus, seen the evidence of His work in people’s lives and miracles performed by the apostles, but stubbornly refuse to believe in the gospel.
The gospel is an offense to religious people who have placed their confidence in self and love to boast about religious performance. Paul reminds us where we should put our confidence: “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). As we place confidence in what Christ did for us, we will discover a freedom, a liberty and a peace with God.
The focus is not on the younger or the older son but the father. May we run to the Father, knowing He receives us with open arms.
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, thank You that I am saved by Your act of grace, love and mercy and not by my own acts. I put no confidence in my flesh. Amen!