Guys, I’ve left you hanging for a month! Are you biting your nails over there or what?! ;) I have tons of great things to share with you, so let’s complete this series shall we! It’s a good one.
In Part 1 we learned God’s view of our “Human Condition” (in Jeremiah 17): We have hearts drawn to evil… persistently. Ugh.
In Part 2 we discovered sin’s incredible power to destroy lives (including our own) and its long-lasting consequences i.e. The wages of sin is death. Something or someone had to DIE to pay for our wrongs – or else we die.
In Part 3 I am grateful to share with you God’s solution to our pressing need to be saved… from ourselves and from others! This is some weighty stuff, so I hope I’ve written clearly about this subject. I so wish someone had written something like this for me long ago.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus is such a big deal to Christians? Or have you been like me (til age 22, when someone explained the full Gospel to me) & never understood why some guy you didn’t know had to die for sins you didn’t think you had, when you never asked Him to in the first place?
Or are you a Christian who doesn’t understand this Christ-dying-for-you thing? You may have prayed for Jesus to save you years ago yet still not grasp your daily need for His help & what He accomplished for you. It’s hard to appreciate a gift without knowing how much it cost, so I’ll try to explain what the Bible teaches us about this wonderful gift we’ve been given :)
I’ve been a Christian since I was 3 or 4 years old. I distinctly remember saying “Yes” when my parents asked if I wanted to give my life to God, going upstairs & kneeling beside my bed to pray for His forgiveness. It’s one of my earliest memories, yet it’s taken me several decades to begin to understand why this was the most important decision of my life.
The Bad News: Our Broken Condition
Like everyone else, we believe ourselves to be “good people” (who sometimes do stupid things), so this sin business is a bit far-fetched. Ridiculous even.
Yet when we make mistakes – especially big ones – we can’t help but feel weighed down. We wanna cover up what we did because it’s ugly.
We can live in this state of “Hide & Seek” with our sin our whole lives, pretending bad decisions away and sweeping them under the rug. Hebrews 3:13 says this: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Sin is, by its very nature, deceitful. And it hardens us to its terrible impact on our lives, if left unchallenged.
Sin says what you’re doing is “no big deal”, that “God loves & forgives me anyway”, and that the consequences aren’t as bad as they seem. This is a very slippery slope, and Scripture says one of the antidotes is other believers in our lives who can encourage & challenge you so you don’t slide down this path. The Bible adds the word “daily” – that’s how often our lives need examining! Every day sin is trying to dominate us. We must be vigilant & we need the help of others :)
It’s very easy to talk ourselves into doing something morally wrong and calling it “Okay” when we’re the only ones aware of it. Don’t let sin fool you! I can tell you firsthand I did this for years, and no amount of justifying myself in my mind or “do-gooding” could remove the stain I felt on my conscience.
Because I was wrong. And I needed to be made right again.
We can give all we have to charity, but it won’t pay back the enormous debt we have to our Creator! If it did, philanthropy would be our answer… so why, despite our good deeds, do we have a lingering need to “make up” for our errors?
Our own hearts betray us, warning that we’re still indebted to God.
Scripture says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, so this applies to every one of us. Without help, none of us escape punishment! One day He will rightfully judge all of our wrongs, so we need to get right with Him before that day.
The Bible also says all our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God. Nothing we do makes us right in His eyes. Many religions offer a way to “right ourselves” with the divine and “undo” what’s been done via religious exercises like meditation, prayer, fasting, or helping others.
But Christianity acknowledges that we’ll never be able to pay back how much we’ve hurt others or God or ourselves. We can never take back what we did. Trying to atone for our sins is like covering mounds of mud with tiny strips of cloth – they couldn’t possibly absorb such a giant mess!
I am very thankful God was “long-suffering” and patient with me to endure my repeated sins. 2 Peter 3 says,
“In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? …
But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
This passage details the earth’s future & today’s common phenomenon: Mockers saying “There is no God!“ without fear of imminent punishment if they continue rejecting Him.
Yet God is patient. He’s graciously giving people plenty of time to repent, which explains why people make continued poor choices and don’t appear to reap the consequences. Their judgment awaits if they don’t repent. God is awaiting the appointed time when everything we see will be destroyed.
The Good News: A Free Gift!
So what hope do humans have, who are daily drawn to evil & need to be washed clean of their actions? They need a Savior.
In light of God’s need to execute absolute justice on Judgment Day – my only pardon as a Christian will be that my penalty, the “death wages” I accrued in my lifetime, was paid for by someone else.
This someone had to be perfect – sinless – or their sacrifice would be meaningless. Their very kind gesture would still amount to “filthy rags” as far as earning righteousness is concerned.
However, Jesus was God’s Son & He was perfect! He didn’t have the same sinful human nature we have that draws us to sin – He was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, not of man’s “seed” but of God’s. That is why Jesus was able to overcome the temptations He experienced and the dreadful death He had… because He wasn’t subject (or enslaved) to our HUMAN CONDITION: the fallen nature. As a man with human limitations, Jesus was still vulnerable to our same temptations, yet the Spirit of God within Him helped Him withstand them.
Jesus single-handedly overcame the death, despair, and brokenness that people brought into this world through our fallen nature. He defied the devil and gave His life on our behalf so that we, too, could have a “rebirth” spiritually – a new nature like He had!
Because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice (“covering”) for our sins, God’s wrath over our wrongs was satisfied, and thus His Holy Spirit was able to coexist in human flesh. That is why we are now able to receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, and the reason we can invite Jesus into our hearts!
Before Jesus died, God’s people had to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins & they had to keep doing it. Jesus only had to die once because He was perfect.
This is what we call a very big deal! :)
Jesus bought me back from spiritual death because He paid for me Himself. He did this while I was still a sinner – and He did it for every person on earth.
The reason I have hope is that I ACCEPTED Jesus’s sacrifice. If I rejected it, I’d be as hopeless as if He’d never died for me.
Jesus alone was in the unique position to stand in my place because He hadn’t sinned. When He assumed my debt, He paid my costly entrance fee (Holiness) into heaven so I could be with God forever… but I had to accept His offer.
Many of us carry pride with us every day. We don’t wanna believe we need anyone, especially some gracious divinity who rights our perceived wrongs. If we did, we’d have to ADMIT we were wrong in the first place then LEAVE our bad path. Some of us aren’t willing to do that.
For years I sincerely didn’t see a need for God in my life either. I thought the idea was silly & not worth my time. Coming from a Christian girl who grew up in Christian circles.
When Judgment Day comes, our good & bad deeds will be publicly revealed. Based on what we did with Jesus’s gift to us, we’ll receive a ticket “up” or “down”. Our forever-future hinges on our answer to this question: Did we receive Jesus’s gift or reject it?
The sad reality is that people go to hell every day because they refuse to face the truth about who they are inside & most importantly, about their great need for a Savior. They live their lives “proving” their worth – a total sham – and then face God after life is over with no valid excuse for their behavior. So He must punish them.
Many people succeed in this life yet fail in the most important one: Our future, eternal life. Mark 8:36 says,
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
We should never be so proud to admit we fail or that we need help because once we accept this, we open ourselves up to receiving Jesus, our salvation! But we must believe we’re sinners & that God made a way for us to become saints (in His eyes).
I am so thankful for this next passage of Biblical truth! 1 John 1:9 states: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
YAY! God’s only requirement for salvation is that we CONFESS our wrongdoings to Him, accept Jesus’s sacrifice – our need for Him to cover us with His purity & innocence, and declare that He is now Lord (“ruler”) of our life. God then promises to purify us from all unrighteousness, making us right with Him.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” Romans 10:9.
When I said “yes” to Jesus, God was able to balance my spiritual checkbook & declare I no longer owe Him or anyone else anything.
I now stand debt-free before God with unhindered access to Him!
This wasn’t a “Get Outta Jail Free” card: My debt was paid, just not by me! And now I have great peace every day because I’m not living with the guilt of my past or the pain of what others did to me. I’m free!
Once you & I become believers in Jesus, we must keep in mind that He is our righteousness – “the One who’s made us right with God” – not anything we do or how well we perform as Christians. When we rest in what Jesus did, we are then free to live our lives loving people with His Spirit working through us. We don’t have to waste our lives “making up for” sins that have already been atoned for. We live in freedom and forgiveness.
Jesus set us completely free, even from our old lives! He saves us not only the first day we welcome Him into our lives, but every day we face temptation to return to our old ways. Jesus said in John 8:
“Truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
We must realize that we are either SLAVES TO SIN or SLAVES TO GOD. There is no other one you can be enslaved to… but “slavery” to God is really true freedom! He loves us dearly and, by honoring Him in each area of our lives, we open the door in that area to be set free from what used to entangle us in our past.
If the Son sets you free (from sin), you will be free indeed (and IN DEED)! :)
And… My Favorite Part!!
One of my favorite aspects of our redemption is this: Jesus paid for the trouble I caused… and He HEALS the very same people I broke through my sin.
This also means that Jesus heals YOU & ME from the brokenness others gave us!
That is HUGE! Our Savior redeemed us from death in eternity… and He restores what sin destroyed in our lives (& in other people’s lives around us). We don’t have to live with the weight of what we did to someone else. We can apologize, release it to God, and ask Him to heal them because He is our healer. What more could we hope for in a God?
At the end of all this, God remains true to His character as the Good & Just Judge! And because of our Savior, we are free to be with our Father in heaven forever! We don’t have to experience separation from Him because of what we’ve done, and we don’t have to live with the guilt and shame and pain we caused others with our bad choices.
That is a miracle. That is why it’s called grace, or “unmerited favor”. We did nothing to merit grace, but by it we have favor with God nonetheless.
And to bring our 3-part series full-circle…. when we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, He CHANGES OUR HUMAN CONDITION!!
This is what people call being “born again” – having a new spirit different from your old sinful one! Jesus rebirths us by bringing His spirit into our hearts. His spirit within us gives us power to make better choices & gives us new, good desires in place of evil desires.
We are made “alive with Christ” and become “dead to sin”. IT IS AWESOME. We’re no longer slaves to our appetites, lusts, sins, pride & ego. We’re no longer powerless to overcome temptation. We are FREE to obey God because our sin doesn’t cling to us like it once did.
If you’ve ever struggled with habitual sins, addictions, or very bad patterns of behavior (like so many of us have), this is one of the greatest freedoms we receive in Christ. We are no longer enslaved to eating disorders, drugs, pornography, anger or depression. Christ set us free.
Yes, we must still battle our earthly flesh, but we have a heavenly spirit that makes us “more than conquerors” (as Scripture calls us). We must read God’s Word – which tells us His many promises He’s given to us – and claim them as our own when we become His child. We can then take a stand on God’s promises to experience freedom from every earthly temptation.
A lot changes when we surrender to Christ. The Bible is full of wisdom and truth about this change of state. It’s so important to read it regularly to understand the freedom we have in Jesus – the truths that set us free from our struggles & this world.
So my friends, this is the drastic measure God took to make us right with Him & secure our future with Him forever. Because that’s how much He loves us.
“At one time you Gentiles in the flesh… [were] separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”