THE PROMISES OF GOD
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The Bible is filled with promises from God for beginning, working through, and bringing to completion the process of sanctification. As you read each of the following portions of Scripture, make a list of the promises and provisions found there. When you have completed this chapter, examine your list and determine how you can make new, renewed, or improved efforts at putting God’s promises and provisions to work in your life.
II Peter 1:3-4
God, by His humanly unfathomable and universally matchless power has provided us with everything we need to live a godly life in this sin sick world - in spite of our human frailties. We are able to discern what He has provided and how to use His provisions to live according to His Word by coming to an accurate knowledge of His character, attributes, and purposes for us. Through His glory and goodness, He has made known His desire to adopt us and father us to spiritual maturity - teaching us to love as He loves so that we will be holy as He is holy. Therefore, He has given us extraordinary and precious promises which, when called on, enable us to take on His divine nature, now that we have been freed from self-centeredness and the powerful influence of sin.
Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16God, through the person of His son, Jesus Christ, come to earth and lived as one of us. Therefore, He understands, in a firsthand, personal experience way, the weakness of our flesh. He understands the strength of our enemy, the devil. He knows about the accumulative and addictive power of sin. He understands the treachery of self-deception and the difficulty of breaking sinful habits. He understands the power of society to influence us toward self-interest and sin. And having experienced the powerful temptations related to unjust suffering at the hands of self-absorbed, inhumane, power-hungry sinners, he knows how to help us in our time of temptation. But more than that, He sympathizes with our human weaknesses because he has gone through what we are going through - though he himself went through it without giving in to temptation and sinning. Therefore, we can boldly and confidently come to him in times of temptation and draw on his kind, wise, generous, temptation-defeating help.
What a loving Father we have. He has taken the steps necessary to understand life from our perspective so He can give us the kind of help we need to stand strong against temptation. All we have to do is come to Him, and then cooperate with the help He gives.
I Corinthians 10:13; II Thessalonians 3:3
God promises that He will not allow us to be tempted with any temptation that we are unable to resist. In other words, God will not allow anyone to place a temptation before us that is stronger than our current strength, maturity, and ability to say no. Therefore, on becoming God’s child, we can count on Him to shield us from any allurement, circumstance, relationship, or hardship that can overpower us so that we are unable to resist the consequent temptation to do what we know is wrong. In addition, God promises to provide a way to escape temptation’s seductively captivating allure. Because of these two promises, we never have to face overpoweringly irresistible temptation or be held captive by the lure of temptation until we give in.
James 4:7; I Peter 5:8-9; Luke 4:1-13; II Peter 2:9
God promises that if we resist the devil, he must flee. This is not intended to make us arrogant, as if we should think ourselves superior to the devil’s strength and so laugh in the devil’s face. It is not our power or doing which makes the devil flee when we resist him, but God’s. Neither does this mean that resisting the devil once frees us from being bothered by the devil again. What it means is that resisting the devil is one of God’s provisions for ending a particular temptation and releasing us from the pressure to give in.
Christ, during his forty days in the wilderness following his baptism, set the example for us. His method of resistance was to quote scripture verses appropriate to the temptation. We are wise to follow this example. There may be other methods too, but the important point is that when we resist the devil, we can count on God to make him back off - thus putting an end to that particular temptation at that moment.
I John 1:9, 2:1-2
God promises to forgive us when we sin. To be forgiven, we must come to Him and confess our sin. To confess our sin to God includes four things. First, it requires acknowledging to God that what we have done is wrong and we have no justifying excuse for having done it. Second, it requires making things right with God and whomever else we hurt by the wrong we have done. Third, it requires a humble acceptance of the consequences due for having done what we knew was wrong. Finally, it requires taking serious, and when necessary, prolonged action in an effort to put an end to that kind of sinful behavior.
Nothing good comes from admitting to having sinned when we are unwilling to make things right, take our lumps, and do what is necessary to change. Such an admission is worthless because we are confessing a sin we intend to keep committing. Forgiveness under such circumstances would make it safe to sin, not bring an end to our sin. It would spoil us, thus turning us into worse sinners, rather than strengthen our resolve to do what we know is right. It would leave our relationship with God and any others we hurt in a state of disrepair or alienation rather than bringing healing and reconciliation. So do not think God forgives such worthless admissions. It is only when we confess our sin (steps one through four) that God can be counted on to forgive us our sin.
On the other hand, we need not fear the devil’s efforts to turn God against us because we have sinned. Nor should we think God wants nothing to do with us after we have sinned. Such thoughts simply serve to keep us from true confession, restoration of relationship with God, and returning to the ways of God. God wants to share a relationship of mutual love and trust with us. He wants a huge family who loves their Father, and each other. So when we confess our sin, honestly and responsibly, God forgives, forgets, and all is well between us again.
Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; I Peter 1:6-9
God promises to use the persecution, difficult times, disappointments, sorrows, and the pains of life brought on by irritating people and undesirable circumstances to improve the quality of our Christian character and strengthen our commitment to do what we know is right. The interesting part of this promise is that when we demonstrate quality of character and perseverance under pressure, the quality of our character improves and our determination to persevere in doing what we know is right is strengthened. In other words, when we respond right to difficult times we grow in our ability to respond right to difficult times.
But what would make us want to see difficult times as a blessing instead of a curse? Why would we count it all joy to experience persecution, difficult times, disappointments, sorrows, and pain? The only rational and lasting motivation is love of God and of our fellowman.
When we love God supremely and others as ourselves, our love for them motivates us to become the very best lovers we can be for their sake. Our longing to love as they each need to be loved motivates us to grow and mature all we can. Therefore, because we love them, because we want what is best for them, the growing and maturing process is seen as a blessing, not a curse.
This promise does not mean God wants bad things to happen to us. Bad things happen to us because we, and everyone else in the world, have chosen our way over God’s way, selfishness over love, and sin over righteousness. Yet in spite of our waywardness, God wants what is best for us. Therefore, He is committed to sanctifying everyone who comes to Him for salvation from sin. In sanctifying us, He makes the most of every circumstance we get in, good or bad.
If we will nestle in God’s arms and cling to Him no matter how fierce the storm, He will use difficult situations for the further development of our Christian character and spiritual maturity. So do not become discouraged, bitter, depressed, or angry at God when people, relationships, or circumstances go sour. Instead, rejoice that you have a ready opportunity to become more Christ-like, and in so doing, improve your love-life.
Matthew 7:7-8; James 4:3; I John 5:14-15
God promises we can come to Him in prayer with the confidence that He will hear and answer. So we should pray earnestly and continuously, day after day, until we see God’s answer. This promise does not mean God will spoil us by giving us whatever we ask for. He is too wise and loving for that. He knows spoiling children ruins them, and the same is true for adults. Therefore, pray wisely and sincerely. Pray for the things that really matter, from an eternal perspective. Pray with the right motive. Then trust God to answer in a way that promotes and protects the good of everyone affected in any way by getting what we asked for.
John 14:26; I John 2:27
God promises to teach us all we need to know about how to live as one of His children. He uses things like circumstances, family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, ministers, the Bible, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, our ability to reason and think, our conscience, and good books to teach us. He empowers and enables whatever He uses so that it is able to accomplish its intended purpose. However, we must cooperate with His educational process if it is have its intended affect in us. Truly, He is able to teach us the most when we are hungry to learn, taking in His instruction as if it were the only food available for a starving soul.
We need Him to teach us, because He is the source of truth itself. Every human source of truth is tainted by our humanity. Apart from being taught by God through any of His chosen means, we can only get close to the truth - a closeness still so far away as to lead us astray. Therefore, we are wise to seek His instruction all our life.
God promises to give us wisdom if we ask for it. This means we can have all the wisdom we request, with one condition. He requires us to act on the wisdom given before giving more. Here is the reason why. If we ask God for wisdom and then doubt its sensibleness, we are doubting not only the wisdom given, but the giver, too. Asking God for wisdom means we trust Him to know more than we know. Doubting the wisdom given means we believe we know more than He does. Asking God for wisdom means we want to do things His way (the loving, seek the good of others, way). Doubting the wisdom given means we believe our way (the good of self first) is better than God’s way. If you ask God for wisdom, do not become skeptical of the wisdom given. Don’t be afraid to use it. Trust that God has given you the right wisdom for the situation, and confidently act on it.
One final thought. Ask God for wisdom, often, and in extraordinary amounts. You will never regret it. What you will regret is not having asked for more, more often, before now.
Hebrews 12:5b-11; Revelation 3:19
God promises to discipline us for our good, and the good of everyone affected by our choices and behavior. This is a wonderful show of love by our loving Father toward us and everyone affected by our choices and behavior. Because God is good, we can trust Him to do this without fearing His methods. He takes no pleasure in punishing us. He has no desire to harm us. He is not out to get us. Nor does He want to get rid of us. He is not unfair in His dealings with us. He has no double standards. He isn’t impossible to please. Indeed, He is looking for measurable progress, not perfection. His single motive in disciplining us is only and always to seek our good, and the good of everyone affected by all we say and do. Treasure this promise. See God’s love for you in His discipline. But more importantly, cooperate with His lessons and methods.
John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7
God promises that He will give us a calm assurance and deep inner peace in the face of turmoil and difficult times. All we have to do is tell Him what the problem is, tell Him what we would like Him to do, and then leave the rest to Him. He may or may not handle the matter the way we request, but He will take care of it. And as we give Him full rein to do what is best for all involved, He pours peace into our inner being. So, don’t waste precious time on anxiety and fear. Go to God in prayer. Tell Him what the problem is. Then, leave it with Him. When we trust God to be our provider and protector, we are free from inner turmoil even when everyone and everything around us is in turmoil.
God promises that when we are in Christ there is no more condemnation. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save all who repent of sin and put their trust in Him. God takes no pleasure in sending anyone to hell. Truly, He doesn’t want anyone to die in their sin. His passion is to rescue us from our own folly, redeem us from sin, and reconcile us to Himself. Therefore, there is no more condemnation for all who are in Christ Jesus.
No more condemnation frees us to focus on becoming what God saved us to be, rather than on fearing what God will do if we sin. Not that we should ever take sin lightly, or fail to feel guilty over having sinned. But guilt is intended to produce repentance. Repentance is intended to produce a changed life. Once we have repented, we should move on in the way of God. To continue feeling guilty and condemned is to lose time to being conformed to the likeness of Christ. Don’t waste that time. It’s too precious. Devote yourself to forward progress in becoming all God saved you to be.
God promises to make sure all our physical needs are cared for when our primary concern is the building of His kingdom and the advancement of His loving ways. As we take our focus off ourselves and what we need, and put our focus on serving God so as to accomplish His purposes in ourselves and our world, God will make sure we have what we need.
This promise frees us to live and give for God with the confidence that His provision and protection is always greater than what it may cost us to build His kingdom and advance His loving ways. Leaving the concern for our well-being in God’s hands makes it reasonable, rational, sensible, prudent, and wise to get our focus off the good of self and on to the good of God and others.
God promises that He will bring to completion His sanctifying work in us. Before repenting of sin and putting faith in God, we spent too many years selfishly gratifying ourselves in an effort to find happiness and fulfillment - and too often in the wrong places and in wrong ways. Some of us feasted on things like alcohol, drugs, sex, food, physical fitness, laziness, entertainment, acceptance, power, fame, possessions, and money. Some of us feasted on fear, self-pity, depression, bitterness, hatred, and revenge. Whatever we have done, however bad we have been, we have not been bad enough to keep God from making us new creatures. No matter how sinful we’ve been, God’s power to change us is greater than our sinfulness. He will perform His sanctifying work in us until every sinful thought, habit, word, and deed is gone and righteous, loving ways are put in their place.
The promises of God are sure, dependable, eternal. They have been given to thwart sin, and advance righteousness. They have been given to free us from the power and practice of sin. They are a vital means to whole-life, life-long godliness. And, they are ours for the using. Now, it is up to us to make proper use of them. You will be blessed if you do. But even more, you will bring honor to God and be a blessing to others if you do.
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