"By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace" (Heb. 11:31).
Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.
Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that. The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.
Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (emphasis added). Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.
Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn't lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.
As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab's faith wasn't perfect, nor was her knowledge of God's moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho's conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.
For Further Study
Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.
If you want to live productively in this fallen world, it's absolutely critical that you humbly admit your limits as a human being, and then proceed to live within them.
You won't get much encouragement from the surrounding culture. In fact, think about all the branded slogans, advertising campaigns, or inspirational Instagram quotes that encourage you to deny or even ignore your limits:
We can only be in one place at a time, no matter how hard we dream. We can't tell gravity that impossible is nothing. We can't just do it and be all we can be without oxygen, food and water. Which, by the way, we don't supply for ourselves.
We can't remove our words and actions from history or redo a situation. We can't know the details of tomorrow, let alone know where we'll be or what we'll be doing in five years.
We can't accurately read the desires or predict the actions of someone else, and certainly not control them. We can't make our acquaintances respect us, and we can't assure that our family members will treat us with love. We can't change our spouse or force our children to have faith.
We can't avoid natural disasters or protect ourselves from suffering. We can't ward off disease and sickness or keep ourselves from aging. We can't defy the mortality of our humanity.
Discouraged? Don't be, and don't panic; reality is a healthy place to be.
Think about this: only when I humbly embrace my weakness, humbly admit my limits, and humbly recognize how small I actually am, can I begin to reach out for the help of the loving, powerful, and gracious Redeemer who is the true source of my strength, wisdom, and hope.
Only then can I begin to function as an instrument in his powerful hands, rather than being in his way because, in forgetting who I am and who he is, I have been trying to do his job.
You don't have to fear your limits. They were designed by the God who is the definition of everything that is knowledgeable, understanding, wise, and true. Your limits are not a flaw in his creative plan. They are the product of his wise choice and the fulfillment of his intentions. God made you limited, in exactly the way you are.
Your limits are meant to drive you in humble and worshipful need to your Lord, who has promised never to turn a deaf ear to the cry of his children (Psalm 34:15). He has welcomed you to cast your care on him (1 Peter 5:7). He has said that he will never leave you by yourself (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Admitting your limits is not a sign of weakness; it's an essential ingredient of mature faith.
Thou art good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;
My lips are ready to confess,
but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend.
I bring my soul to thee;
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.
Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt
as a rebel I have misused my strength,
and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.
Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors
that evil paths are wretched paths,
that to depart from thee is to lose all good.
I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts.
Thy loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
speaks in startling providences,
allures by secret whispers,
yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
impiously resent, grieve,
and provoke him to abandon me.
All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief
that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance
I may see more clearly the brightness
and glories of the saving cross.
Taken from https://banneroftruth.org/us/devotional/yet-i-sin/
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus - Romans 3:22b-26
Various views about God exist in our culture, but if there is one belief that people hold in common across religious lines, it is that “God is love.” This would not be a problem if the belief that God is love were defined by biblical content, for Scripture does indeed reveal that God is a loving God. Regrettably, however, some of the loudest proponents of the notion that God is love in modern Western culture are those who are the least likely to actually define what that means biblically. For many people, the idea that God is love means that our Creator overlooks or ignores our sin. His forgiveness is unconditional, demanding no payment for our transgressions.
In reality, God does not simply overlook sin, and there is a condition that must be met if we are to be forgiven. For while Scripture talks often about the love of God, it is just as emphatic that God is just (Deut. 32:4). The Lord who is revealed in the pages of the Bible does not allow sin to go unpunished. He does not “clear the guilty” (Num. 14:18), that is, He does not simply wipe the slate clean when He forgives a person. His forgiveness is costly; the only question is who will pay the cost.
On a human level, we regard it as a great injustice if a guilty per-son escapes punishment for a crime. How much more, then, would it be unjust for the perfectly righteous God not to punish sin? For God to be just, He must impose a penalty for transgression. The consistency of His character is at stake. If He were not to punish sin, He would not be truly just, and if He were not truly just, we could not believe what He has revealed about Himself, for He has told us that He is a just God (Isa. 5:16).
At the same time, God also tells us that He is merciful, unwilling that any of His people should perish (Ps. 86:15; 2 Peter 3:9). He wants to justify His people, to declare them righteous so that they can live forever. And yet He must do so in a manner that preserves His justice. That, of course, is what He does in our justification. Romans 3:22b–26 says God found a way to show mercy without denying His justice by having His Son pay the price for our sin in our place. This makes God both just and justifier (v. 26). Unlike the God revealed in other religions, the one true God does not compromise His character when He forgives. He does not simply wave sin away but punishes it in the person of Christ. He remains true to what He has revealed about Himself, so we know we can trust Him
God is both just and the justifier. He shows mercy without compromising His character. Because He is always true to Himself, we know that we can trust Him. He does not tell us that He is one thing and then act like another. No, because He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13), we know that He can be trusted in all things
If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace- Romans 11:6
Good works are an essential part of the Christian life. We see in Romans 1:5, for example, that Paul was called to preach so that the “obedience of faith” might occur in “all the nations.” The Apostle preached the gospel in order that people would believe and bear the fruit of obedience that flows from true saving faith. Furthermore, those who profess faith show that they are not just all talk but actually possess faith when they do not deny God by doing evil works (Titus 1:16). In other words, when we do good and not evil, we reveal that we have actually placed trust in Christ for salvation.
We must insist that works prove our faith. The Apostles know nothing of people who can make Jesus their Savior without also submitting to Him as Lord. To tell people that they can be carnal Christians, that they are secure in Christ simply because they make a verbal profession of faith but have nothing to show in the way of love for others and service to God, is to give them a false assurance. Without any works whatsoever, we do not have the faith that justifies (James 2:14–26).
But in insisting that works are necessary to prove faith, we must be on guard lest we make our works part of the righteousness that we think moves God to declare us righteous in His heavenly courtroom. It is a careful line to walk indeed to insist that works are necessary to prove our faith but that our works do not in any way justify us, but we must be committed to this lest we deny the graciousness of grace. As Paul says in Romans 11:6, if our election unto salvation and our justification are in any way based on our works, grace will no longer be grace. Justification depends on the empty hand of faith “in order that the promise may rest on grace” (4:16), which thereby allows us to give God the glory alone for salvation. If justifying faith merely rests in Christ and receives His righteousness, we make our redemption entirely the work of the Lord, which not only redounds to His glory but also gives us assurance. If our judicial standing before God is based not on what we do but only on what Christ has done, then we can do nothing to take ourselves out of His hands (John 10:27–29; Rom. 8:31–39).
To come before God with the empty hand of faith that receives Christ requires that we first release any claim of righteousness. We must relax our grip on our good works, confess our utter reliance on divine mercy and not bring our achievements before God as if He owes us His righteous declaration for our obedience (Luke 18:9–14)
All true Christians have a desire to obey God, but how do we separate that from our trusting in our own works? We know that we are trusting in our righteousness when we begin to think that our standing before God is based on our obedience. When we find ourselves thinking this way, we must return to the gospel and remember that we stand before God unafraid only when we are covered by the obedience of Christ.
Passages for Further Study
2 Peter 3:18
Devotional from http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/keeping-grace-gracious/
Last week I told you that my wife and I brought children into this world who thought they didn't need parents. At times, our kids genuinely believed they were smarter than their mom and dad. As the father of four, there were two more lies I observed my children believing. (Although, the Bible teaches - and everyday life reveals - that us adults fall for these same dangerous lies!)
1. The Lie of Autonomy
To be truly autonomous is to be independent, self-determining, and self-ruling. To possess autonomy is to have the right to do with your time and resources whatever you will. My kids wanted to believe they were autonomous when it came to bedtime, or when it came to choosing candy over vegetables. Imagine the unhealthy chaos that would have ensued if Luella and I let our young children determine what was best!
Kids surely need a wise and loving parent to rule over them.
2. The Lie of Self-Sufficiency
To be self-sufficient is to have everything you need within yourself to be what you were designed to be, and to do what you were designed to do. Picture a young child trying to learn to tie his shoes. He would fumble with those laces for years if it weren't for the help of his parent (or grandparent or older sibling). Newborn infants cannot survive without constant supervision, and even young adults have significant limitations. Kids surely need assistance from a community of others looking out for their best interest.
You and I Are Still Like Children
As we develop into mature, accomplished adults, it's tempting to believe that we are closer and closer to reaching levels of autonomy and self-sufficiency.
It's not hard to find evidence to the contrary. Imagine if every driver decided to be autonomous on the road tomorrow. Or, consider all the things you did in the past 24 hours that relied on the work of someone else.
More importantly, as children of God, we don't get to set our own rules and chart our own course. Because we're created in the image of God and not the Creator himself, we're not in charge of our own life. And because we're finite in knowledge and flawed in morality, a wise and holy God needs to guide us towards what is good and right and true.
As members of the family of Christ, we're designed to live in worshipful dependence upon God and in humble, interdependent community with his people. We surely don't have what it takes to see ourselves with accuracy or live according to the Bible's standards. You see, even if we know how to tie our shoes and choose our meals and go to bed at a reasonable hour, we still need help. Lots of help.
So today, let's ask for help, both from God and from others. Let's not pretend as if we know more than we actually do. Let's listen more than we speak. Let's not be quick to defend our righteousness. Let's humbly accept the confrontation of others.
Being a child of the living God is the biggest blessing we could ever experience. Let's take advantage of that blessing by living as his dependent, obedient kids.
1. Why is tempting for you to sometimes think that you're smarter than God?
2. How has God revealed himself to be smarter, wiser, more knowledgeable and more loving than you?
3. Think of a recent decision you made because you believed (even just for a moment) the lie of autonomy. How would your decision have been different if you remembered your place as creature instead of Creator?
4. How can you humbly depend on the body of Christ this week. Don't just think physical needs, but specific spiritual areas of weakness.
5. How can you serve someone in the family of Christ this week?
Post taken from https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/two-more-lies-children-and-adults-believe