Daily Devotion | Day 355
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NKJV).
At the beginning of this series (in Part 1) we listed some of the common factors (reasons) which explain why Christians continue to sin. So far, we have discussed two of those reasons. Today will talk about a third factor, which is: a majority of Christians believes that only Jesus could live a sinless life; no other person can live that way. One of the main Bible passages quoted in support of this belief is what we have in our opening Scripture (Hebrews 4:15-16). People who hold to this belief feel it preserves Jesus’ uniqueness. Being sinless is the exclusive attribute of God and of Jesus. To suggest that someone else is (or can be) sinless would, in their view, amount to blasphemy and heresy. I must admit, for years I used to believe this until the Lord led me to examine the Scriptures more attentively.
In this discussion, we are not interested in whether people have ever sinned or not. What we are discussing is: Is Jesus the only person who can live a sinless life or we, His followers, can (and must) live the way He did? And if it is impossible for us to live the way Jesus did, then what is the alternative life God wants us to live? Finally, if it is true that only Jesus can live a sinless life, then no one can blame us if we continue to sin. What does the Bible say about these things?
Before we examine Hebrews 4:15-16, let us briefly consider what is wrong with the picture which portrays Jesus as the only person who can live sinless. Holiness is the attribute of God. Yet God said to the Israelites, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). Peter applied this passage to Christians when he said, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15; 16). All would agree that when God says, “Be holy, for I am holy,” it means He wants His people to be just as He is. It further means God has given His people the ability to be holy as He is. In the Old Testament, the word “holy” is a broad concept which can be applied to people, ceremonies, rituals, places and even objects used in worship. That said, the command to be holy primarily deals with how God’s people must conduct themselves, just as Peter indicates in the letter he addressed to Christians.
The command to be holy deals with issues of obeying God, i.e. issues related to not sinning against Him. The point is, God is without blemish and He wants His children to be just like their Father. Sin is the one thing which can put a blemish on us. Therefore, when God said, “Be holy,” He could also have said: “Be blameless;” “Be spotless;” or “Be sinless.” When Jesus said, “Sin no more,” (John 5:14; 8:11), He meant “Be sinless.” The two statements are equivalent. If we tell our bank that we want no more paper-based bank statements, we mean we are going paperless. “No more paper” and “Paperless” mean the same thing. Similarly, “Sin no more” and “Be sinless” imply the same thing. Jesus, as far as we know, has not adjusted the standards. He expects nothing less from us.
Throughout the Bible, God says the same thing in different ways. For example, He told Abraham, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). The way to be blameless in God’s sight is to obey Him and be without sin. That is how Jesus lived, and that is exactly how He wants us to live. The alternative is to continue sinning from time to time and hope (in vain) that somehow God will look the other way because of the Cross. The reality is, the Cross does not excuse us from living a sinless life. On the contrary, it is the Cross which gives us a reason to live without sin.
If the Lord permits, we will continue tomorrow by looking at Hebrews 4:15-16. Until then, enjoy the blessings of holiness. Amen.
For further study: Ephesians 5:1-27 and Psalm 1:1-5