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Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

How is it that one can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? How can one “not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20)?

Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, gives to us the answer: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

To be filled and led by the Spirit of God does not require any great spiritual work on our part. It does not require a specific prayer or a holy and sinless life before the Holy Spirit enters into us.

Through the good news of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death for the sins of the world, God graciously calls us sinners to turn from our sins to Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life everlasting (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). The Holy Spirit reveals our sinfulness and utter failure to live up to the demands of the perfect Law of God (cf. John 16:7-11; Romans 3:9-20,23); but then the Holy Spirit comforts us with the assurance that atonement has been made for our sins in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again, and that we are forgiven and counted righteous by God through faith in Jesus’ name (cf. Romans 3:24-26; Psalm 32:1ff.; 51:1ff.).

When, by the grace of God, we believe this and trust in Christ as our Savior, being baptized into His name and according to His command for the remission of our sins (Matthew 28:19), we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in our hearts, teaches us of Jesus from God’s Word and strengthens and keeps us in the true and saving faith (cf. John 14:16-18, 26; 16:13-15).

And He who has “begun a good work” in us will dwell in us and “complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Savior, we thank You for granting to us the gift of the Holy Spirit – for bringing us to turn from our sins to You for forgiveness, being baptized in Your name, and for dwelling in us by Your Spirit that we might be kept and preserved in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. For the sake of Your bitter sufferings and death in our stead, and Your glorious resurrection, we pray. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Many consider their bodies to be their own, to do with as they please, whether that be to engage in illicit sex, abuse them with alcohol or other drugs, or even to harm themselves or commit suicide; but that is not the case. We were created by the LORD God that we might live for Him.

Since mankind turned aside from the ways of the LORD and fell into sin, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, redeemed us by shedding His own precious blood for us upon the cross (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19) and winning for us forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting.

We most certainly are not our own! We have been bought with a price, the blood of our God and Savior! “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15).

God not only poured out His Spirit upon the first disciples at the feast of Pentecost; He also graciously gave us His Spirit at our baptism (cf. Acts 2:38-39). Through the indwelling Holy Ghost, the Father and the Son, as well, make their abode with us (cf. John 14:15-23). The Spirit of God graciously brought us to trust in Jesus as our Savior and now He dwells in us to sanctify and keep us in that true and saving faith (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13-17; Phil. 1:6). What a blessing this is!

The Holy Ghost dwells in us believers – in our bodies. Therefore, we certainly would not desire to use our bodies to sin! Whether we be tempted to commit fornication, to use drugs or become intoxicated by alcohol or to do anything which is contrary to God’s holy will, we as Christians will want to consider what God’s Word says. We are God’s sanctuary and temple; God the Holy Ghost dwells in us!

O Spirit of God, You dwell in us. Graciously continue Your sanctifying work in us that we might repent of our sins and continue in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus as our Savior and live our lives as Your sacred temple. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him … And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:18, 21-24

The beginnings of marriage go all the way back to the sixth day of creation when God said it’s not good for the man to be alone and He fashioned woman from the rib of Adam and brought her to the man to be his wife. It is for this reason that even yet today a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and the two form a new family unit.

When asked about the permissibility of divorce, Jesus reminded His hearers of this truth, saying, “Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6). Thus, Jesus Himself tells us that it was never God’s intent for a marriage to end in divorce; and God’s commandment against adultery forbids breaking the vows and commitment of marriage between a man and a woman (cf. Matthew 19:9: Exodus 20:14).

How far short we have come in regard to God’s intent and design for marriage! Husbands and wives divorce, and couples live together without the life-long commitment of marriage. Instead of regarding God’s will and design for marriage between a man and a woman, we abuse our sexuality, lust after one another, and even pervert God’s design in creating woman for the man by tolerating and promoting unnatural acts. While society (and even many churches) winks at our unfaithfulness and disobedience to God’s will and commandments regarding marriage, God does not.

God’s Word says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers [literally: fornicators or those having sexual relations outside of marriage] and adulterers [those being unfaithful to their marriage vows] God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

The Apostle Paul warned the churches: “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10). God’s judgment against those who sin against His purpose and design for marriage between a man and a woman is exclusion from His kingdom and a place in the everlasting torments of hell (cf. Revelation 21:8).

But there is yet one hope for all who have come short of God’s perfect will; and that is in Jesus Christ, God’s Son! He upheld and fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law for all mankind, and He took upon Himself the guilt and punishment for all our sins when He suffered and died upon the cross.

His resurrection on the third day proves that God accepted His death as full payment for the sins of the world. God has made us sinners “accepted” through faith in the sacrifice of His own beloved Son. In Him “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 7).

God calls us sinners to look to Him for mercy and forgiveness; and in Christ Jesus He reaches out to us with open arms, offering us life instead of death, the eternal joys of heaven instead of the never-ending torments of hell. Yes, in Jesus there is hope for lost and condemned sinners. In Jesus, there is unfailing hope for you and for me!

Dear Father in heaven, I have sinned and done evil in Your sight. Thank You for sending Your Son to pay in full for my sins and the sins of the whole world. Grant me Your forgiveness and a place in Your everlasting kingdom for the sake of Your beloved Son and His holy life and innocent sufferings and death in my stead. Amen.

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Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. That statement is true of so many things in our day as our country turns from its Biblical moral base into ever-changing moral relativism.

I write this because of court decisions, including a Supreme Court decision, striking down state laws and bans against same-sex marriages and making same-sex marriages “legal” across the United States.

But just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. No matter what laws our legislatures adopt, how our judges rule or how executive branches enforce the laws passed by representatives of the people, there is still a law above the law and a judge above the highest courts and judicial officers of our land; and that law doesn’t change with the whims of the people, and the judgment against those who set aside that law won’t be altered. Even if the courts strike down just and moral laws and open the floodgates of immorality, even if our legislators amend and repeal good laws, or even if executive powers refuse to enforce just laws, people still have a moral obligation, owed to their Creator, to do what is good and right according to His law.

And, yes, even if the laws of our land are struck down, changed or amended to allow what God’s law condemns and to permit what God’s law forbids, and if people escape the judgment of man for their immorality, all will still stand before the Judge of all the earth and give account for their rejection of and disobedience to His Word. And that most certainly includes, as well, judges, legislators, governors and others in high positions of our government.

It may have become legal to have same-sex marriages in every state in the Union, but that doesn’t change what God says of it in Genesis 18-19, Leviticus 18, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, Ephesians 5, or Jude. And, by the way, lest I appear to be picking on only one form of immorality, God’s Word speaks similarly against all perversions of God’s purpose and design in His institution of marriage between one man and one woman as defined in Genesis 2, Matthew 19 and elsewhere in the Bible.

The fact that laws are struck down or changed to remove all civil or criminal penalty from what once was considered immoral and criminal doesn’t mean people will not have to give an answer to the Judge of all when they stand before Him on the Last Day. “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

And so, I say again, “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right!” Our laws may allow same-sex marriage, divorce, adultery, gambling, and the list goes on; but that doesn’t excuse our actions when we disobey God’s laws. We still must give account, and our evil deeds will not go unpunished.

What if we are guilty before God — and we all are in one way or another, for the Bible tells us that if we sin against one commandment we are guilty of all (cf. James 2:10)? Jesus Christ, God’s own dear Son, came into this world to fulfill all God’s commandments for us — perfectly in thoughts, words and actions — and He took our guilt and our punishment upon Himself, dying on the cross and rising again, that we might be pardoned, acquitted, forgiven!

While the homosexual lifestyle, living in adultery, continuing in fornication, drunkenness and the like are incompatible with the Biblical Christian faith, God still loves lost sinners and calls them to repent of their evil deeds and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world. And in His Word, He counsels and guides us in living our lives for Him.

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