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Lenten Devotion for February 27, 2024 Judgment and Holiness

For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but cast them into hell, and delivered them in chains of utter darkness to be kept for judgment; and if he didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others,, when he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly … the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority. Bold, arrogant people! They are not afraid to slander the glorious ones;” (2 Peter 2:4-5; 9–10, CSB)

Judgment, though needful, is not our favorite topic. Jesus, however, did not mince words about judgment. The Biblical Scholar, John Walvoord, wrote, “Jesus himself defined this more specifically and in more instances than any New Testament prophet. All the references to gehenna, except James 3:6, are from the lips of Jesus Christ himself…”  Jesus speaks of cutting down and burning unfruitful trees, gathering the weeds for burning, and even “casting into the outer darkness” an improperly dressed visitor at the wedding feast. It is the narrow gate we must enter, the narrow road that leads to life.

Judgment is not a topic directed not so much to those who have not heard the good news, but to those who have. The clear call of the gospel is to receive Jesus as Lord; those who refuse that call choose judgment over mercy, death over life. By their fruit they are known. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, CSB)

Saving faith is not merely the memorization of the facts taught in catechism, but the true faith that always translates into praxis: faith and faithfulness are joined inextricably together. Lent, therefore, calls us to a penance that relies on God’s way and His will. Our efforts, apart from the Holy Spirit, will always lead to sin rather than righteousness. Faith, however, draws us to God to receive His word and our obedience is animated by the Holy Spirit. So, we teach a holiness not opposed to grace, but only possible through grace. Grace sanctifies our hearts, mind and souls. Therefore, my responsibility as a preacher, commands that I preach obedience through faith. The Holy Spirit who first speaks that word now empowers us to live it.

The Lenten fast recognizes that we do not live by bread alone. The Lenten prayers remember that our life belongs to the Lord. The Lenten alms recognize that the Lord provides every need for those who first seek the kingdom of God. The Lenten devotions seek both forgiveness for our past sins and our turning to holiness that we may be prepared for the great feast before us.


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