What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 6)

Daily Devotion | Day 365

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

Today we will look at the final part of Gabriel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24) regarding the Messiah’s work, which is: “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” As we go through the Scriptures, we will realize that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy and called us to manifest the fulfillment in our conduct. Jesus’ death on the Cross marked the end of sin’s reign and ushered in the reign of righteousness. As Paul said, “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17; see also v. 20-21 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead serves as the power source and the pattern for believers to walk in the everlasting righteousness of God. Hence, Paul writes, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Therefore, to live in the resurrection power means to walk in newness of life. This newness of life refers to a life of everlasting righteousness. The “walk” refers to our conduct.

Risen with Christ, we conduct ourselves in accordance with the gift of everlasting righteousness received at our new birth. Paul emphasizes this point when he writes to the Christians at Ephesus: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk . . . put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts . . . and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17, 22, 24). Peter confirms this when he says, “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15). To be holy in all your conduct simply means to live a life that consistently manifests the everlasting righteousness of God.

Peter reminds us again that Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In other words, Jesus died for our sins so that freed from sin, we would go forth and live righteously for the rest of our lives. This is how Gabriel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24) that the Messiah would “bring in everlasting righteousness” is fulfilled. The father of John the Baptist, Zachariah, knew about this everlasting righteousness. Recalling God’s oath to Abraham, he prophesied by the Holy Spirit that God had made a way for us to “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:67-75).

In Christ, the Father has created His project of everlasting righteousness. It is a perfect work of the Father, executed perfectly by Christ. We who believe in Christ are called to be the living expression of this righteousness project. The Father’s design is flawless. He has provided everything we need to manifest His righteousness and shine in the world as children of light. What we need to do is reject every doctrine that says we cannot live without sin. The only person who stands to gain from such a doctrine is satan. He, the devil, loves those who sin because he relies on them to grow the kingdom of darkness.

Everything we have said in this series (as well as the preceding one) is to defend the Father’s plan of righteousness and sinless life for His children and to expose the false beliefs that hinder us from enjoying freedom from sin. The Holy Spirit knew that righteousness would come under attack through a distortion of the Scriptures. He knew that people would come who would tell us that Jesus has made us righteous and after we receive this righteousness, nothing we do can make us unrighteous.

The Spirit knew also that there would people who would tell us that if we make any effort to live righteously, we are adding works to the finished work of Christ. Therefore, He inspired John to warn us, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He [Jesus] is righteous . . . In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7, 10).

A new year is upon us. I wish you well in all your endeavors. I pray blessings upon you. As we bring an end to the Daily Devotional, I hope it has been a blessing to you. Keep running the race of righteousness.

I will leave you with the following words of our Father. After reading those words, ask yourself: Can I live the rest of my life walking only in holiness and righteousness? I hope your answer will be an emphatic, “Yes, I can! And yes, I will!”:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Happy New Year!

What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 5)

Daily Devotion | Day 364 Cont’d

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

As I mentioned earlier today, the following will be a continuation of the point we were discussing in Part 4 of the series: cessation of transgression through self-denial in Christ. This subject is present not only in the teachings of Jesus, but in those of the Apostles as well. For example, Peter wrote, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesharm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sinthat he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2). This sums up everything we have been saying about the cessation of transgression (or sin) in the believer’s life. Peter could not have put it better. Now you can understand why Daniel prophesied that the Messiah’s arrival would pave the way to finish the transgression.

 Notice that Peter does not talk about a progressive or future cessation of sin. Instead, he describes it as the present, ordinary experience of the believer. Note also how he connects these three things: the suffering of Christ, the suffering of the believer and ceasing from sin. He says the believer should arm himself with the same mind as Christ. Which mind? The mind which understands that overcoming sin involves denying to oneself, and that this self-denial is accompanied by suffering. Knowing this, Peter declares, “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Many Christians overlook the suffering aspect of life in Christ and the crucial role it plays in putting an end to transgression. Find time and read 1 Peter 3:13-4:1-19, Romans 6:1-23 and 1 John 2-3; you will notice that the three Apostles are saying the same things using different words and expressions.

Let us complete this section by looking at something else God did in Christ to put an end to transgression of His laws. In Hebrews 10:16-17, the author says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them. . . Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (For the full text of this prophecy, see Jeremiah 31:31-34). According to the author of Hebrews, the prophecy of Jeremiah is fulfilled in Christ. Look closely at the passage.

In the Old Covenant, God wrote His laws on tablets of stone. The people broke that covenant by breaking the laws established by the covenant. Then God announced that He would make a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-32). In the New Covenant, what did God do differently? Instead of using tablets of stone, He has put His laws in our hearts and has written them in our minds. What is God hoping to achieve by writing His laws in our hearts and minds? He wants to prevent transgression of His laws. If His laws are written into our hearts and minds, this means His laws are built into the core of our being. Our new ‘DNA’ is wired with God’s laws. The laws of God are now in our nature. It would, therefore, be natural for us to obey God’s laws. In short, this would put an end to transgression.

After talking about putting His laws in our being, God adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In the New Covenant, God would no more remember our sins and lawless deeds because of two things. First, because Jesus would have washed away all our sins with His blood. God would not remember sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. Second, because God’s people (in whose hearts and minds His laws are written) would no longer transgress His laws. God would have no sin to remember because His people would be walking in the Spirit, fulfilling His laws (Romans 8:1-8). Consequently, the prophecy in Daniel 9:24 would have been fulfilled. When we present the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is important to explain to people these fundamental truths. When people grasp these truths, the Church would have a formidable presence in the world and the Name of the Lord would be revered.

May the Lord grant you deeper understanding of these matters. And as your understanding increases, may you experience a new chapter of victory in all aspects of your life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 364

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

Let us pick up where we left off yesterday. We were talking about how Daniel’s prophecy regarding the cessation of transgression is fulfilled and explained in the New Testament. We referenced Matthew 5:29-30 where Jesus instructed us that if our right eye or right hand causes us to sin, we should pluck it out or cut if off and cast it from us. Today we will examine this teaching closely in light of other passages in the New Testament. We want to find out how the transgressing of God’s law ceases at the Cross and because of the Cross.

Jesus did not come into the world to give us a partial solution to the sin problem. He came to deal with the sin problem once and for all. That is why He took away all our sins with a single sacrifice (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18). When He appears a second time, it would not be to deal with sin but to give salvation to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:27-28). Therefore, as Messiah, Jesus addressed the sin problem at its root. To tackle sin at its root, He did (and said) many things, culminating in His death and resurrection.

We have already talked about how Jesus made an end of sins and made reconciliation for iniquity (see Parts 1 & 2 of this teaching). In addition, Jesus did something else to make sure that after we are reconciled and forgiven, we do not return to a life of transgressing God’s law, but rather obey the Father in holiness and righteousness. This is where He taught us about denying the self.

Specifically, Jesus said that if something causes us to sin, we must cut it off and cast it from us. Jesus was not joking. What He said has the same force today as it did when He spoke those words. If we understand this teaching and practice it, then we will understand the Cross and benefit from its power. The most effective way to resolve a problem is to identify the cause and remove it. This is what Jesus is doing when He tells us that if our right eye or right hand causes us to sin, we must cut it off and cast it from us. He wants us to identify the things in our life that cause us to sin and take decisive action to part with them; no hesitation and no excuses. If we had to choose between life in heaven with one eye (or one hand) and death in hell with our full body, Jesus says the former is more profitable.

Jesus is not asking us to mutilate our body or someone else’s. His point is about doing whatever it takes to distance yourself from whatever causes you to sin. This means if you are aware of anything (or anyone) in your life that is a source of sin for you, Jesus expects you to “cut it off” and get rid of it. If, for example, you are in a relationship or friendship that causes you to sin, Jesus expects you to end it by walking away from the relationship. Likewise, if you have in your possession any images, videos or other materials that cause you to sin, Jesus wants you to get rid of them. And He wants you to obey Him now, not some time later. If you want Jesus to save you, He will, but on His terms alone, not yours. If you want to be saved on your own terms, He will not be part of that arrangement.

When you obey Jesus by “cutting off” the causes of sin in your life, this will cause you some suffering: You might lose friends, relatives, money, reputation and so forth. You might even be persecuted or killed. This is what Jesus means when He talks about losing your life for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel (Matthew 16:24-25). But persevering in this suffering is how you stay crucified with Christ and remain dead to sin. And because you are crucified with Christ and are dead to sin, you will no longer transgress God’s law. Your former life of transgressing God’s law would be over. In your new life, you will live for righteousness alone. Salvation from sin is costly; it cost Jesus His life. Make no mistake; it will cost you, too.

We have more to say about this point, but I have to pause here. I will post the continuation shortly. Then God willing, we will conclude the series (as well as the Daily Devotional) tomorrow. Stay blessed.

For further study1 Peter 4:1-19

What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 3)

Daily Devotion | Day 363

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

Yesterday we discussed how God made an end of sins through the Cross of Christ. Today we will look at the part of Daniel’s prophecy that says the time of the Messiah would be a time “to finish the transgression.” We are at a critical juncture in our discussion, so let us pay extra attention to the issues we will be addressing from this time till the end of the series. To transgress means to break God’s law. Transgression describes an action, the action of breaking God’s law. The Bible says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, KJV). 

According to Daniel, there would be a cessation of transgression because of the Messiah’s work. At first glance, we might be tempted to think that transgression would be finished only after we die or when Christ returns. We will soon find out that it is not the case. After death, what is done is done; there would be no room to transgress God’s law. Hence, cessation of transgression applies only to our time in this world. In the Father’s plan of salvation, the cessation of transgression is part and parcel of manifesting the born gain life.

How does the cessation of transgression work? The Scriptures, especially the New Testament, tell us how. Let us recall the passage where Jesus demanded self-denial from all who desire to follow Him (Matthew 16:24-25). We talked about it in Part 10 of the series “Why Do Christians Continue to Sin?” Self-denial is not a pleasant experience, at least not at the beginning. Like cases of addiction, self-denial might cause initial withdrawal symptoms. But Jesus needs that from us for the cessation of transgression to take effect. Cessation of transgression does not happen mechanically or magically. It works only when believers obey Jesus’ command to deny themselves and crucify their flesh. 

Obedience to Jesus is necessary for salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God, but Jesus does not impose the gift on us. Therefore, He cannot save us if we disobey His word. If we resist Him, we are refusing His salvation. In case anyone has doubts about this, the Bible says, “And having been perfected, He [Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus taught us concrete ways to express self-denial and die to sin. In no uncertain terms, He said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. . . And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30). 

Do not take the above-quoted Scripture as a pretext to harm your body. God willing, tomorrow we will discuss the passage and determine its relevance for believers within the context of Jesus’ death on the Cross. Until then, let your light shine that all may see and give glory to your Father in heaven. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 10:1-31

What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion – Day 362

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

Today we will look at two more things in Daniel’s prophecy. Daniel prophesied that a time was determined (a) to finish the transgression and (b) to make an end of sins. As we pointed out yesterday, these prophecies refer to the work of the Messiah and the expected outcome of His work. Jesus, as we know, is the Messiah. We know also that by Jesus’ death on the Cross, the Father has reconciled us to Himself. This means our reconciliation was finished (done) on Calvary. But that is not all. Daniel’s prophecy identifies other things that would result from the work of the Messiah: finish transgression and make an end of sins. We will look at each of these prophecies, starting with “to make an end of sins.”

To make an end of something means to defeat, stop, destroy or render it powerless. By His death on the Cross, Jesus made an end of all sins. This means He defeated sin, dethroned it and rendered it powerless, so that sin can no longer multiply (as sins). We must emphasize that Jesus accomplished this once and for all time. That is why Jesus will not die for sins again (Hebrews 9:24-28). How did Jesus make an end of sins? The Bible provides the answer in many different ways and in several passages. We will look at three of those instances. 

Through the death of Jesus, God “condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Notice the past tense. To condemn something means to make an end of it. That is what God did to sin. When God Himself condemns something, we can be sure that that thing has been brought to its knees. Another important passage is from the First Letter of John: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (3:8). “The works of the devil” is referring to sins. Satan is a sinner and he gains power by getting people to sin like he does. That is how he controls people. But Jesus died on the Cross to destroy the works of sin, so that people would no longer do the devil’s works, i.e. commit sins. 

The next passage is from Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” This passage is telling us that sin has lost its dominion because it has been dethroned. This took place through the death of Jesus. Calvary was where the battle against sin reached its climax. In that battle, sin lost and Jesus won. On Calvary, God made an end of sins. And Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled.

We will pause here and continue tomorrow, if the Lord permits. In the meantime, understand that Jesus has made an end of sins. Sin could not defeat Jesus. It cannot defeat you, either. Sin is powerless against the Holy Spirit in you. The power of God in you is infinitely stronger than any temptation you might face. Walk in this truth and you will overcome every temptation just like Jesus did. Live free from sin. Live for Jesus alone. And enjoy the blessings of the born again life. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 7:1-28