The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers, and to us, a wonderful truth in Romans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (ESV)
I have had my own struggles at times to walk consistently without condemnation. I know so many believers who struggle with condemnation, and who are not walking in true peace with God. Why is this? I believe, for myself and others, that we have not fully accepted that because Christ died for all of our sins, God is not “sin conscious” like we are. Many people believe that God can and will forgive them of their smaller sins, but they do not believe that He will ever forgive them of their BIG sins. This, my friend, is not the truth.
Where does this “sin consciousness” come from? Well, we know that the Law was written down for Moses and the Israelites to reveal to them their sin. The law brought judgment and death. But how did this change when Jesus came and was crucified, died and resurrected? Jesus fulfilled the law! Therefore, believers are no longer subject to the law. Yet, to this day, Christians continue to struggle to accept this grace and freedom from the law. Instead, we want to mix parts of the old law into our relationship with God, afraid that if we don’t do certain things or behave in certain ways, He will no longer love us. Could this be why the “Church” is struggling? Is powerless? Is not witnessing the miracles and “greater works” than those Jesus performed, which He promised we would see when He sent the precious Holy Spirit? (John 14:12)
Romans 5:20-21 offers another explanation of the difference between law and grace: “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Most believers who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior grasp the “eternal life” part of this verse, but many do not grasp the significance of this promise: “…so grace might reign through righteousness…” It is a powerful and awesome thing to realize that Jesus came to fulfill the old law and to give us a new commandment. What is the new commandment? “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23) There is no higher law or commandment than this one: Believe in what Jesus Christ has done FOR YOU!
The law of the Old Testament was a standard of how mankind was required to live to be righteous before God. Jesus came to fulfill that standard of living, so that we can have His life as a free gift. If you have this in mind as you read the Bible–“I must do EVERYTHING Jesus did”–then you must do everything He did. Let me explain: you must go to the temple, you must wear the clothes that Jesus wore, if you were healed you must go to the temple and sacrifice as Moses commanded, you must keep the Sabbath laws, you must eat only “clean” foods, and the list of requirements goes on and on. Today, only the most devout Jews even attempt to live by the Law of Moses, yet there is a misguided form of law that people in the Church continue to feel bound to. This mixed form of law and grace does not bring life, peace or freedom, because we are “redeemed” from the law and are the recipients of grace through Jesus Christ. Isn’t this great news? Jesus kept all of the rules of the law while He was here on earth. Why? He had to in order to fulfill the law. In order to be the “perfect” sacrifice, He had to be without sin, and if He had not kept the whole law, He could not have been the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
So here it is: It is not by our obedience to laws that we can stand holy before God. We can only stand holy before God through the obedience of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Hallelujah!!! This is the manifestation of the love of God toward us: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)
So, as a believer, what happens when you sin? Is God pleased with your sin? No, He is not pleased with your sin, but this doesn’t change His love for you. Every one of us has messed up, but here is God’s “mess–age”: He took care of our mess! Jesus gave Himself on the cross to atone for all of our sins, for all time. Our sins “died” with Christ on that cross, and because they are now covered by the atoning blood of Christ, God no longer holds our sins against us. That is His grace! So, does that mean we can go on sinning, since God has given us this grace? “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:2-3, 6-7 ESV)
God wants to know that we love Him, and one of the key ways we show our love to Him is by choosing to receive what Jesus did for us. God gives us the choice, because He wants lovers, not robots. (“We love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19)
Jesus had the unshakeable knowledge of the Father’s love for Him. We can have this knowledge too, but we must realize that we cannot love Him until we know that He loves us first. His love is placed in us when we believe. The only thing we “do” is receive the free gift of salvation. We don’t have to do good things to earn his love so that He will approve. We must simply live in the work of Christ on the cross and rest in what He has already done for us, what we could never have accomplished for ourselves.
When we first believed on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, many of us were taught Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We began our walk of faith by receiving this great and precious promise of grace, which means “unmerited favor.” Yet, as we continued our walk with Christ, many of us fell into the bondage of believing that in order to become holy, we had to “do” holy things. We became focused on works and lost sight of His grace.
I want to reiterate the last half of 1 John 4:9, “. . .that we might live through him.” We can’t live by the law. We must live in and through Christ. God sees us through Jesus. He sees Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ shed blood covering us, and Jesus’ perfect, sinless life. It is not by our works of the flesh that we become righteous, not by our own hard work or power. Rather, it is God’s gift to us that Jesus’ life becomes our own, and we are judged, not according to our own failures and acts of selfishness, but according to Jesus’ perfection.
There are two ways God takes away sin: 1) He took upon Himself the punishment for our sin, and 2) For those who believe in the work of Jesus on the cross, He has removed the law. Forgiveness of sin is not just God saying, “I’m not angry with you.” Forgiveness of sin means to set free from the dominating power – the law. My friend, Christ as set you free from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Praise His name!!! It is easy for sinners to sin. It is easy for believers to do right because we now live in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own willpower or belief in our own ability to do right.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that is free from the requirement of works, from having to do things by your own power in order to achieve righteousness. This is the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good news. . .the GOSPEL! Oh, don’t you just want to praise Him for what He has done for you by taking your sin upon Himself so that you can live a wonderful, peace-filled, satisfying life?
Let’s pray together:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to pay the penalty for all of my sins. I receive what you have done so I can walk in this newness of life. Please show me the areas in my mind where I have been caught up in “law-based thinking” and help me to allow You to replace this with a full acceptance of Your grace. Please help me to be free of “sin-consciousness” and the fear that I can never be “good enough” for You to love. I want to be ever aware of Your grace and love, and to live daily in this wonderful freedom you have given to me by Christ’s holy work on the cross.
In Jesus Mighty name I pray,
Except as noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.
By Sherry McPherson | April 21, 2010 11:28 am |
When you were a child, as Christmas approached, your parents may have said something like this to you: “You had better be GOOD, or Santa isn’t going to bring you any presents!” I know mine did. Even though our parents knew they would still give us gifts, the myth of Santa gave them a kind of leverage they used to influence us to be extra good, in case our bad behavior, like fighting with our siblings, might ruin the happiness Christmas was supposed to bring.
A young child’s mind is very impressionable. Even at ages 4, 5 and 6 we have already begun forming mindsets based on our experiences and what we have heard from adults. Much of our belief system is built upon those early experiences; both good and bad.
How many of us have grown up to believe that God must be like Santa Claus? You may have never put the two together as I am suggesting, but I hope you will consider the following observations and examine your own belief system for possible misconceptions about God.
Here is a song almost every child in America has sung many times, not to mention the countless times they’ve heard it on T.V. and radio. Let’s consider this song line by line and then ask some questions:
“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
You better watch out, you better not cry,
You better not pout, I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town!
Do you believe that God is someone you’d better “watch out for?” You know, in case you haven’t behaved yourself very well? And what about crying and pouting? Do you think God is angry if you cry or pout? Even adults cry and pout sometimes and feel sorry for themselves. Does God turn away and tell us, “Grow up! Get over it?” Is God really that harsh and insensitive? I say He’s not, and so does the Bible! “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are!” (I John 3:1a) “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
He’s making a list and checking it twice,
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town!
Wow! Does God keep a list of all we’ve done? And if we’ve been bad does He use it against us and keep good things from us? Well, yes He knows everything about us: our past, present and future. Most people believe God is capable of this. But God’s reason for keeping track of everything isn’t to see if we’re being good or bad and to knock us over the head if we mess up. If we are in Christ, if He is the Lord of our life, He has cleansed us and we are in His righteousness. Yes, we still mess up and fall short most every day, but His grace is greater! “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23). And if that wasn’t enough, consider Psalms 103:12: “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Now what about the line, “Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice?” By this the child is convinced that he or she must be good enough (perfect?) in order to receive gifts for Christmas. The great news about being a believer in Christ and living for Him is that God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He first loved us, so that is why we are able to love Him (I John 4:19).
But what about this: If we have been a believer for quite some time, we know we are to please God and not sin. But when we do sin, is God mad at us? Will He not forgive us? Will He turn away and not give anything good to us if we’re not perfect? I John 1:9 assures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we have hurt another person or have sinned against them we need to follow James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
The Law given to Moses and the Israelites, as recorded in the book of Leviticus, was meant to reveal to the people just how far short they had fallen from the Lord’s standards. The law required the sacrifice of goats, sheep and bulls, so that the shed blood would atone for the people’s sins. Yet, because of their selfish natures, the people were still unable to keep God’s commandments. So God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the perfect atoning sacrifice for all of mankind, that whoever would believe in Christ as Savior would not die eternal death, but would be saved and have eternal life (John 3:16). God doesn’t force anyone to believe in Jesus. He leaves it up to each of us, individually, to choose to believe and follow Him, and to accept the shed blood of Christ as the atonement for our sins. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The next few lines of the song read:
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!
Yes it is true that God sees us when we’re sleeping and He knows when we’re awake. No human person is capable of doing this, only God is. He is omnipresent (always present) and omniscient (all-knowing). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Psalm 15:3). The message of the Santa Claus song is that you had better be good so you can get good things from a man who comes to your house once a year! But when we have repented of our sins and accepted Christ as our Savior, we can rest assured that as God sees us and knows us, we can feel protected and safe in His presence. Not judged and condemned or in fear that we’ll not receive good things from Him because He’s angry at our behavior. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). If we decide to sin and behave in rebellion toward God, we leave ourselves open to the influence of the devil. God sees all of this too, but He leaves us with the choice to follow Him or our own selfish desires.
It is so wonderful how His Holy Spirit reveals truth to us. As we seek Him, He is faithful to transform our hearts, so our desires become His desires, and we find ourselves wanting to do good and to be like Him. And with the help of the Holy Spirit we can become all that God desires for us to be. He longs to help us; not to criticize and judge us.
Have you seen any similarities between your faith walk and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”? Deep down inside, do you really trust God to be for you and to be there to help you? If not, pray that the Lord will help you replace your wrong beliefs with His truth: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
The Christian life is a journey. It is a mountain climbing, valley walking, river crossing journey in which we must learn to depend on God and not ourselves. When we mess up we must turn to God and not away from Him, because He loves us and wants to help us get back on His path. And He wants us to experience His love. Why? So we can know His love is always there and will never fail us, and so we can love others as He loves us. “. . .God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4:9-11).
The song ends by repeating the first verse again, “You better watch out.” Do we need to watch out for God? Yes, but not because He wants to punish us. We should watch out for Christ’s return, when He will come to receive his Bride, that is, those who accept Him as Savior and truly follow Him. The Bible says that He will return in the clouds and take us to be with Him forever. “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens” (Mark 13:26-27). We are to watch and be ready! “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).
I know that I haven’t been perfect, but your Word says that You love me anyway. Forgive me for relying on my own efforts and going my own way. I ask that you help me to step down from the throne of my life and to give You complete control. Please come into my heart and make me new. Help me to see You as the loving Father that You are and help me to then love others as You love me. Thank You that I now see that You are not to be compared to Santa Claus, or to any other man. You are God and You are always with me, guiding me, revealing truth to me and helping me to be transformed into your very likeness. Thank You for being My Lord and Savior!
All scripture references are from the English Standard Version
By Sherry McPherson | December 1, 2009 3:14 pm |
Have you struggled with feeling loved by God? Do you doubt that He will help you? Do you feel that He is against you, not for you? Whatever your need is today, your solution is found in a greater revelation of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came preaching GOOD NEWS, the “too-good-to-be-true news” that is absolutely true! Jesus is Truth, and He longs for you to awaken to His truth now, today. He wants you to understand who He is and what He has done for you that is SO AMAZING!
If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you have surrendered your life to Him and have asked Him to forgive you and cleanse you from your sins, then you are cleansed. In spite of all the ways you have fallen short of God’s glory (and we all have), God now sees you as righteous. He wants you to cease being sin-conscious so you can be righteousness-conscious.
You and I owe God a sin debt that we could never pay. But Jesus has already paid our debt. He even overpaid it so we can be debt free and no longer sin-conscious. God declares us righteous through Jesus’ shed blood. That’s what the Apostle Paul called being “justified by faith.” But how can we comprehend this and truly believe it? How was it that Jesus, who never sinned, willingly took on Himself the sin of the whole world? I call it “the great exchange.” He took our sin and gave us His righteousness.
The devil wants us to be self-conscious but God wants us to be Jesus-conscious. Turn away from his accusations and the focus this puts on yourself, and focus instead on Jesus. God no longer judges you on your own merits or failings. He has placed you in Christ and He now sees in you the beauty and perfection of Jesus. Isn’t that AMAZING?
The LAW was the Old Covenant, the long list of strict rules that God gave the Hebrew people to show them how far short they had fallen from His perfect plan for them. The Psalmist wrote to the Lord, “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Psalm 143:2 NIV), and “If you, oh Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3 NIV).
To atone for the sins of the people, the law required the sacrifice of live animals, which represented the earthly wealth of the Hebrews. A man’s wealth was measured by the size of his herds and flocks, and God said that to be forgiven of sin, a Hebrew must sacrifice the most perfect, spotless lamb, his most valuable possession of all.
But Jesus satisfied the law once and for all by dying willingly on the cross to atone for our sins. He was perfect, without sin, a “spotless Lamb.” By shedding His blood, Jesus paid the price God demanded for justice, and He brought to us the New Covenant. The Law was all about focusing on yourself and your sin. The New Covenant of grace is all about each of us focusing on and living in Jesus Christ. Through the grace of his Holy Spirit working within us, Jesus is forming His very likeness inside each of us as He transforms us from selfish, earthly beings into selfless, heavenly beings. And God now sees the likeness of Christ in us, through His AMAZING grace.
How do we get a greater revelation of Jesus’ love and grace for us? Do we read the Bible more? Do we pray harder? Do we fast more? The Pharisees committed to memorizing the Holy scripture, yet they failed to see God in the flesh standing before them. They also made sure everyone knew when they were fasting and would say their prayers loudly in public for others to see how “holy” they were. The disciplines of reading Scripture, praying and fasting are important, but if we focus on those things we can fall back into legalism and bondage. We won’t see who Jesus really is just by memorizing scripture or being “religious.” Revelation comes when we seek God in person and ask Him to reveal to us the truth of who He really is.
Now, God’s grace does not give us license to sin. The Apostle Paul preached freedom by grace, but listen to what he said to the Romans: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV) Paul is clearly saying that we must not continue in sin. Are you having trouble overcoming a sin, a bad habit you just can’t seem to break? Call upon Jesus to help you by His mercy and grace. One of my favorite verses from Paul’s writings is, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV) To me, this says we can ask BIG and we can expect God to do BIG things when we ask. That is AMAZING! It helps to admit to God, “Lord, I can’t do this myself. I will stop trying in my own power and I choose to trust Your grace to help me.”
Maybe you have been struggling financially and you don’t see a way out of your situation. Paul told the believers in Philippi, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Why was Paul able to say this and believe it? Because He knew what Jesus blood had accomplished and he knew what His AMAZING grace meant not only for Paul, but for all of God’s people. This confidence in God’s provision is available to you also!
And don’t you think that His amazing grace is there for your pain and sickness as well? He shed His blood so that we can be healed and live well.
He took our sorrow and grief so that we can have joy and liberty of heart. His grace is complete, His grace is all sufficient for every one of our needs.
Call out to Him right now to help you. It is pointless to see yourself as never being good enough. You couldn’t earn salvation no matter how hard you tried. Refuse to believe the lie that God won’t help you or that God doesn’t love you until you become perfect. “But God shows His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
His love for you is beyond the ability to understand. His love is never ending and without limits. And His gift of grace and forgiveness is FREE! He sent His only Son Jesus to die in your place so you can know your Creator and be loved by Him, and so you will never again be separated from Him by sin. Call upon the AMAZING grace of Jesus and be healed, changed, provided for and loved.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you that you are my Father and that you sent Jesus to give me the AMAZING grace I so desperately need. Forgive me for struggling on my own and for not calling upon You and trusting You to meet my needs. I want this AMAZING grace and I want to experience your great love for me. I thank you that today my life is going to turn around and I’m going to walk in the freedom you have for me. I thank you for showing me truth today. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Except as noted, all Scripture references are from the English Standard Version.
By Sherry McPherson | August 5, 2009 10:17 am |
The Eagle soars upon the wind,
High with so much ease.
If I could learn the spirit’s wind
I could fly like He.
A river flows with current set,
Over rocks and sand.
If I could learn the Spirit’s flow,
Through anything, I’d stand.
The stars at night, all held in place,
By powers we cannot see,
And every morning the sun will rise,
If I could put my trust in God
As much as earth and sky,
I would never fail to see
His Spirit soaring high!
His hand of grace, His heart of love,
His ever present care,
I would live each moment through,
Knowing that He’s there.
But I failed today and yesterday,
And the day before.
I failed to trust Him with my all,
The doubt has come once more!
When my life’s in the Father’s hand
Why would doubt prevail?
The enemy of heart and soul,
There to make me fail!
But I turn my eyes once again
To see and to believe,
That God is really big enough
And my heart CAN receive…
His grace, His love, His present care
That He has here for me.
Could it be that I must choose
To trust when I can’t see?
And place my hand upon faith’s door,
And live a life that’s free!
By Sherry McPherson | July 21, 2008 11:48 am |
The book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, is full of profound instruction for the believer. Yet, for a new believer, the lessons in Romans can be some what difficult to understand. A Bible Study on the entire book is well worth the time and effort, and I highly recommend it. In this devotional, I will be using several scriptures from Romans, but this is in no way an exhaustive study. Hopefully it will enlighten you and inspire you to do further study in Romans.
In the Old Testament, God seems to enforce a strict standard on His people. Why was God so rigid about His commandments, and why did He become so upset when His people disobeyed Him? He even allowed His people to suffer in punishment and slavery.
One way to understand the Bible is as an ongoing story, beginning with God’s creation of the universe and humankind. As the story unfolds, we see humanity’s rebellion against God and God’s ongoing call for humankind to return to Him. Ultimately, the story leads to the arrival of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who came to show us the true character of God, and to die on our behalf as the atoning sacrifice for our sins that would once and for all provide a means for us to be restored to a right relationship with God.
Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Why were we in need of Grace?
The first word I’ve underlined is peace. Genesis chapter 3 gives the account of the first sin by Adam and Eve. After they had disobeyed God, they realized they were naked. They became afraid and hid from God. So sin, the disobedience of God, entered the world through one man, Adam, and one woman, Eve. Through their sin, Adam and Eve lost their peace with God, and instead of peace, they experienced fear. Sin separates us from God. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)
The second word I underlined is faith. Adam and Eve turned their faith from God’s words to Satan’s words. Either God’s words are true or they are not. The Bible tells us this about God’s word: “God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19 ) As much as Adam and Eve walked with God, they still did not have a right understanding of God’s nature, and they allowed Satan to convince them that if they ate from the forbidden tree, they would become like God, “knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
Adam and Eve were in need of grace. After Adam and Eve sinned, God required the blood sacrifice of animals as an atonement for the sins of mankind. Genesis 4:1-7 tells the story of Cain and Abel, in which Abel brought an animal sacrifice to the Lord. Clearly, by this time, God had given some instruction about blood sacrifices. Through the atoning sacrifice of blood, God, in His grace, forgave sins. (Leviticus 17:11)
Throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, mankind continued to choose pride and sin instead of God and his righteousness. By the time of Noah, mankind had become so corrupt that God decided He must destroy all of humanity except for Noah and his family, who were righteous. Later, the tower of Babel would symbolize the continued rebellion of humans against God in their attempt to ascend to heaven. God saw that He had to do something about the pride and corruption, so He confused their languages, making it impossible for them to complete the tower and resulting in the scattering of the people to other places.
As humanity continued to rebel against God, He gave the Law, to show His standard of living and to illustrate how far short mankind had fallen. Yet, even then, in pride and rebellion, people continued to live according to their own fleshly desires instead of by God’s standards.
Yet, if God is perfect, why is there sin? God created mankind in love, in His own image. (Genesis 1:26) As part of His design, he gave us the ability to choose to love Him or to not love Him. Why would He do that? Think about it. If we had no choice but to love God, of what value would our love be to Him? We would be no different than a computer programmed to say “I love you.” God wants us to truly love Him and serve Him because it is our choice, not because we are robots that must automatically do His will.
Yet, throughout time, humans have abused their freedom to choose, following their own selfish and prideful path, at risk of destroying themselves through sin, and incurring God’s righteous anger.
But though the Old Testament years passed, God’s story was not over. The birth of Jesus Christ, prophesied in the Old Testament, ushered in a new era, the new era of grace covered in the New Testament. Mankind had forgotten the true nature of God and had earned God’s judgment. They had forgotten that God is love. The New Testament reveals that God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to show mankind the true loving nature of God the Father, to point out the many ways humanity had fallen short of God’s righteousness. God did not choose to turn His back on mankind, but instead made a way for them to come back to Him.
To satisfy God’s requirement of a blood sacrifice for sin, Jesus offered up Himself to die on a cross, not just as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, but as the LAST blood sacrifice God would ever require for our sins, once and for all. God accepted the blood of Jesus for all the sins of mankind for all time. And by God’s grace, He offers forgiveness of our sins if we will simply confess our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. By faith in the covering atonement of the blood of Jesus, we are justified in God’s sight. That is, even though we have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), God declares us righteous in His sight! (Romans 4:1-8)
Jesus changed everything! When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we accept what Jesus has done for us and we have a “new nature” in Him. We are given His authority over Satan and demons, we are given His robe of righteousness and we are given power over sickness. God sees us through the interceding person of JESUS, His Son! In the Old Testament covenant, God required the shed blood of animals for the forgiveness of sin. But now we have the PERFECT sacrifice through our Lord Jesus. His sacrifice was enough. God showed His incredible love for us “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For in while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:9-10) Jesus has given us a means for a new relationship with God. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, He has accepted God’s righteous wrath that we deserved. The debt has been paid. This is GOOD NEWS.
The Apostle Paul explains it so well in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. . . .” Verse 17 sums it up: “Because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
When we come to God and accept His Son, we are brought to a newness of life. Our old self has been crucified with Him so we can no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6-7) This doesn’t mean that we never sin, but we have an awareness of sin and the evil fruit of it, and we have Christ’s power in us to overcome sin. Our desires change from wanting to sin to wanting to be righteous like Christ. And the glorious truth of all of this is that God’s gift of eternal life is His FREE gift to us. It is up to us to receive it. Romans 6:23 explains it so well: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” HALLELUJAH!
I have found that many Christians think God is angry with them, that all He sees are their faults and failures. They see God as an angry Judge who is terrifying to approach. They can’t feel “good enough” to approach Him. That was how they felt in the Old Testament, and rightly so. None of us are good enough to approach God. But Jesus has changed everything! God loves you and He wants to extend His blessings toward you. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and repented of your sins, God has promised to forgive you! Accept His free gift right now today. Accept Him as the loving Father that He is and know that your sins are forgiven because of Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know I’ve done wrong. I am a sinner needing your grace. Thank you that you made a way for me through your Son dying on the cross, shedding His precious blood and defeating death so that I can have life and be free from the slavery of sin. I accept your forgiveness now and I thank you for your love for me and I receive your blessings now. In the holy name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
The Salvation Poem
Jesus, you died upon a cross
And rose again to save the lost
Forgive me now of all my sin
Come be my Savior, Lord and Friend
Change my life and make it new
And help me, Lord, to live for you
Devotional by Sherry & Matt McPherson and Don Boyer
By Sherry McPherson | May 19, 2008 12:23 pm |