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I use this newsletter to send Bible studies as much as once per week, sometimes less, but never more. See back issues.

You Cannot Win Battles Without Battling

How shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? With tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shill I give my firstborn for my disobedience? The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O Man, what is good. What does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:6-8)

The context of the familiar verse Micah 6:8 is important. Sacrifices are great for the obedient, but sacrifices, even claiming the sacrifice of Jesus, does nothing for those who do not repent and do not seek to live a life that pleases him.

King David said it well when he wrote:

For you don't delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You have no pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps. 51:16-17).

Psalm 51 ends with David offering burnt offerings, But look at what he wrote:

Then you will delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, in burnt offerings and in whole burnt offerings. Then they will offer bulls on your altar." (Ps. 51:19)

Repentance is first, even in the New Testament. James does not say "trust in Jesus' sacrifice" to those living in sin, but "lament and mourn and weep." Paul described his ministry as going about preaching repentance and works fitting for repentance (Acts 26:20). To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22).

What we don't understand in today's church is that Jesus' sacrifice was much more to free us from sin than to forgive us from sin. God promised to forgive the repentant throughout the Old Covenant. The Jews most common praise to him was "Praise ye the Lord, for his mercy endures forever." Mercy is not new to the New Covenant; the Holy Spirit and deliverance from the power of sin is new to the New Covenant.

Sin will not have power over you because you are not under law, but under grace. (Rom. 6:14)

This is the great gift of grace that Old Testament saints did not have! God consigned Jews and Gentiles alike under sin so that he could deliver us from sin. Romans 7 describes what the Law could not do. It could not deliver us from the power of sin. God, however, could do what the Law could not do. He did it by sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:2-4).

If you are still a slave of sin, then you need to get together with your brothers or sisters and get help. All of us need exhortation/encouragement/consolation "day by day" if we are not to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).

Let's step up the game, brothers and sisters! Let's obtain repentance. Let's cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1), as a team! We grow together, speak the truth in love to one another, and need each other (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12).

You don't win battles without battling!!

"Don't you know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may get it! ... I run, therefore, not with uncertainty. I do not fight like someone boxing the air, but I discipline my body, and I bring it into subjection, lest having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified."--The apostle Paul