THE LETTER FOR GENTILE BELIEVERS
After Peter spoke about being accepted by God through faith alone, James, the church leader in Jerusalem, agreed with Peter. He wrote a letter to the Gentile believers to resolve the issue of circumcision, "And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations." James and the church in Jerusalem agreed that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised but to live a godly life. The Gentiles must abstain from anything related to idols, such as eating food that was offered to the idols. They must abstain from any sexual relations outside of marriage and follow dietary restrictions, such as drinking animal blood. Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch in Syria together with Silas and Judas (it is not the same person who betrayed Jesus) to deliver the letter to the Gentile believers. (Acts 15:12-35).
One of the proofs of our faith in our Lord Jesus is how we live our life. The way we live should follow what we believe. If we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we must live according to His ways. Many people only use God to forgive their sins and receive blessings from God, but they do not want to surrender their sinful lifestyle. They are using God's grace and mercy to continue their sinful behavior. However, God knows their hearts and motives. In the end, God will deal with them, and they will be judged accordingly. Not so with us who genuinely believe in Jesus. We desire to allow God to change our hearts. We do not want to continue to live in sin but in the righteousness of God.
God knows our hearts, and there is nothing that we can hide from Him. God knows that we are not perfect and still commit sin, but we need to have a repentant heart. It means we are quick to confess our sins to God and ask Him to change our hearts. If we do not want God to change our sinful lifestyle, we must examine our hearts to see if we truly believe in Him. We cannot live both for ourselves and for God at the same time. Several years ago, I struggled with the dilemma of living for myself or for God. I praise God that I chose to live for God, and my life has never been the same, and I never have any regret living for God. I am sure you can make the same decision too, and you will never regret it.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through carefully and meditate on the questions while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speak to you) What does it mean to believe in the Lord Jesus? Am I willing to decide to live for God? Is there anything that is holding me back from completely living for God? What would it take for me to decide to live for God?
Write down all the worries you face today and lift them up to God.
Father in Heaven, you know the condition and the secrets of my heart, and there is nothing that I can hide from you. Please forgive my sins and change my heart to follow and live for you. Please do not let my heart become hardened with sin, but help me to surrender everything to you. Please help me to truly believe in you and trust you with all of my heart. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.