Gracefully Saved

2 Corinthians 6: 21

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

We have become the righteousness of God in Christ because Jesus took our sin onto himself. There is a song that, although pretty, kind of bugs me because it fails to reflect this great thing that Jesus did for us. The singer says in the chorus that he is just an old sinner saved by grace. Well, which is it? Are you an old sinner or are you saved by grace? You cannot be both. Now the song is trying to make a point about God’s grace saving us from our sins, but we need to be very clear on this point in our own minds. You cannot be both a sinner and saved by the grace of God. Jesus took your sin onto himself so that when God looks at you, he sees the righteousness of Christ. Jesus took away our sin. That’s what killed him. It wasn’t Roman soldiers. The wage of sin is death (Romans 6: 23). The sin of the world hit Jesus while he was hanging on that cross. It caused a separation between him and God because God cannot be in the presence of sin. That is why Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46). For the first time in his life, he was without the presence of God. But Jesus endured that, even becoming our sin so that we might become his righteousness. That is why I don’t like the chorus of that song. Even though I know that the author meant to glorify God and has the very best intentions, it just does not represent the true nature of God’s grace and that is that we are fully and completely washed clean of our sin through the forgiveness of sin.

Don’t go around wearing your sin like some old garment. Throw it out with the rest of the rubbish. To do less makes Jesus’ sacrifice of lesser effect. It is like putting him back up on the cross every day. He died once for all; for all people, for all sin. You are not an old sinner anymore if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior. His blood has washed you clean, and you are a new person in him, the old having completely passed away (2 Corinthians 5: 17). You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. That is what the Bible says. That is what God sees when He looks at you. You have been washed clean by the shed blood of Jesus the Christ. Glorify God in what Christ has done for you.

Fresh Start

2 Corinthians 5: 17               (NIRV)

The old is gone! The new has come!

Hallelujah! Old things are gone and it is a new day! Our old nature is gone and a new creation is born. Yesterday is firmly in the past and it is a bright new day. Last year is behind us and we have a brand new, clean slate upon which to write. The old things are passed away with all their sorrow and worry. If last year was a bit tough, fear not because it is a new day and we all get a do over. We can have new hopes and new dreams. They are not tarnished by last year’s failures, fears or lack. We get to start with a new, fresh, clean outlook. No matter how difficult your past, no matter what restraints hindered you last year or years previous, today is a new day and you get to write the story anyway you wish. Do not even consider your past as you look into your future. The old is gone! It is dead and passed away. Jesus says in Revelation 21: 5, “Behold, I do a new thing.” He makes all things new.

Were you ever hampered by low self-esteem? Did you have a disadvantage past? Were you subject to crippling fears, health challenges, loneliness? Well, I’ve great news for you today! That is all in the past. It is a new year and this new year has in its breath the hope of great and wonderful things for you. You can soar like you never before even dreamed possible. It has the hope of a future. It is a fresh, faced youth with no past only a bright and glorious future. It is forward looking and has belief in all opportunities and excited anticipation of the numerous and magnificent blessings the Lord has in store for you.

Don’t look behind you anymore. You do not have to carry your past into your future. It is dead and gone. Leave it buried. You are a new creation and you have a brand new start beginning today. Grab a hold of your newness. Embrace your own freshness. Let you be you perhaps for the first time in your life. Do not be what others made you to be, give free expression to the glorious creature God created in you. Don’t let age hinder you. Don’t let anything constrain you. You are God’s most glorious creation and He wants to see you soar on the winds the way he created you to. Past injuries? They are history. You are a new creature; born anew with no hurts or anxieties when you let the Lord, our God be your father; your dad. He is a great and wonderful parent who has re-birthed you. He has never and will never treat you in any way that would cause you injury or trauma. You are brand new today. Throw away all of the past and believe for your bright future. It is calling you. It is beckoning. Answer the call and Happy New Year!

Operator’s Manual

John 17: 16

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Jesus is speaking here, talking about believers. Since we are not of this world, then what are we of? I mean, if we are not part of the world, as Jesus tells us here, then what are we a part of?

Acts 1: 3 speaking of Jesus reads, “To these He also presented Himself alive, . . . speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Jesus came preaching that the Kingdom of God had come. His ministry was about revealing this kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the New Covenant which is sealed in Jesus’ blood. So, the answer to the questions above is that we are not of the world because we are members of the Kingdom of God. We are sanctified, meaning set apart, from the world and unto God. We are called to live our lives in the Kingdom of God rather than in the world but we were raised in the world. We learned how to operate in the world system. Mostly we have learned the rules of society and how the world system works. Now we are thrust into this kingdom and we don’t know the laws which govern it, what principles it operates under or even the rules of engagement. When we are born again we truly are born anew. It’s a whole new ballgame. One may have lived on the earth for fifty years and have pretty much figured out the ins and outs of the culture. Then, in a moment, saving grace translates them from the world to the kingdom of God’s dear son (Colossians 1: 13). All of a sudden we are babes again. We don’t know the language, how to walk and we cannot even feed ourselves. We are brand new creatures (2 Corinthians 5: 17) but without a clue.

Fortunately, this new creature comes with an owner’s manual though many don’t realize it. It is called the Bible. Yep, that’s it. I guess that is one of the reasons the Bible has been so important to me over the years, I have understood it to be my “How To” book. Because of this realization, my self-interest is very invested in learning what information and wisdom it holds. Looking back over the last 35 years, especially, I can see how important and beneficial God’s Word has been. I am very thankful for the good teachers I had when I was young who taught me to value God’s Word. If I had one thing to change in my Christian walk it would be to read the Bible more. It is amazing to me to recognize how much my understanding of the Word and of the Kingdom of God has improved over the years. I think, “Wow, what if I had read the Bible everyday for all these years?” I know that my revelation would be much greater than it is today. Still, I see things in the Bible today that I didn’t see last year or the year before. I see the whole Bible fitting together now and I can see the broad picture. Not only are there specific principles at work but over time I am seeing the broad concepts emerge.

My encouragement to myself as well as to others is, “It’s never too late.” While I sometimes regret having not spent more time in the Word, I revel in the new day. Every day is January 1st and I get to start over. Let’s not beat ourselves up over what we have not done but rather encourage one another (and even ourselves) to have a good day today. Let’s do the things which will move us forward in the Kingdom of God’s dear son. 

You are not of this world and not meant to be. You are part of God’s kingdom. If you want succeed and prosper in this kingdom, you must learn how it works. The Bible is your “How To” manual. Let it guide you.

No Longer Sinners

1 John 3: 6

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him

Christians make a big deal about sin. It is kind of interesting really that people who have been redeemed from sin would be so sin conscious. But look, Jesus has solved the sin problem forever so let’s get sin off of our minds and focus on that indwelling victory within us. We are saints, not sinners.

You may hear people confessing that they are “an old sinner saved by grace.” Well, which is it? Are you a sinner or saved by grace. Surely, today’s verse will change our confession. We know what these folks mean though, don’t we? They are trying to give Jesus a nod for what he has done for us so it usually is well intentioned. However, I want to get those words out of your mouth because you are now a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 17). You have been reborn. The old person has died and behold you are new. Hallelujah. We need to focus on what Jesus did for us in that miracle transformation instead of always looking back at the dirty garments he took from us. Those are grave clothes and they are supposed to be in the grave with the old self. 

Are we perfect? Well, yes. When we are abiding in him and following his leading, we are with the perfect and we are perfect. But then the old man resurrects and we do something stupid or we just simply make mistakes. No problem. Jesus took care of that so we just run to him as fast as our little spirits will carry us and trade our error for his flawlessness. We run to the altar in our minds and cast our “self” on the altar and put on Jesus.

Am I minimizing sin? By no means! I am casting it into the pit of hell where it belongs. My purpose in this devotional is to get sin off our minds and out of our mouths. We should be focused on Jesus and his righteousness. I want to change your self-image. 1 John 3: 9 says, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” This is where we live. We don’t practice sin. We abide in the Holy One of God and we cannot sin. Just keep abiding. Get out of yourself and into Jesus. Let his abiding presence be louder than your former sin. Lose your sin consciousness and revel in the saving grace which abides in you. This simple paradigm shift will lead you to praise and you will be lifted up rather than down trodden.

Look, here is the bottom line, sinners aren’t getting into heaven so you better decide you are a saint. No sinner abides in Christ and Christ most certainly does not abide in a sinner. Put on your reformation in Christ. Let your eyes be fixed on Jesus and the wonder of his majesty instead of focusing constantly on yourself and your shortcomings. In other words, get yourself off your mind. Jesus is our heart, soul and has become our very existence. You are truth and righteousness in the Lord, Jesus, our Messiah.