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

Paul: The Chief of Sinners? (Pt 3)

Daily Devotional | Day 347

“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin . . . For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:14-17, NKJV).

Of all the passages which appear to portray Paul as the chief of sinners, none perhaps is more perplexing than Romans 7:13-25. Like the passage we saw in 1 Timothy, some see the passage in Romans 7 as evidence that Paul (as Apostle and Christian) did struggle with sin(s) in his life. This, in their view, explains why (almost) all Christians struggle with sin. It is further proof, they say, that sin dwells in all of us. In effect, indwelling sin coexists with our born again identity. But does the passage support these assertions? We will examine the passage and find out what Paul is saying.

Let us start by making two observations. First, Paul is describing the experience of a Jew who knows the law. He is not talking about the experience of a Gentile. Although they were not under the law, Gentiles, like all people, did have a conscience (Romans 2:12-16). Therefore they had their own battles with (un)righteousness; but their experience would differ from what Paul is talking about in Romans 7:13-25.

Second, Paul is describing the experience of one who is suffering guilt, condemnation and defeat under the law due to his inability to keep God’s law. But remember, not all those under the law could not keep it. The Scriptures testify that there were some who successfully obeyed God’s law and were morally blameless. For example, the Gospel of Luke has this to say about the soon-to-be parents of John the Baptist, Zachariah and Elizabeth: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (1:6). This is remarkable.

Now let us look at the things Paul said. Notice that he speaks in the first person, mostly in the present tense. This is one reason some conclude that the passage is a description of the Paul who had been saved by Christ. Keep in mind what we said yesterday about the use of the historical present tense to narrate a past event.

In Romans 7:13-25, Paul acknowledges that the law is good, spiritual and holy (v. 14, 16). The law, therefore, is not to blame for his inability to obey it. The problem lies with the person under the law. Paul describes his status in the strongest of terms, “I am carnal, sold under sin” (v. 14). Essentially, this means he is a slave, bound by the power of sin; and he is ultimately helpless. He makes the same point when he later admits that he is captive to the law of sin which is in his members, i.e. his flesh (v. 23).

Next, Paul tells us how being captive to sin translates into moral choices: “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (v. 15; 19). Paul is saying that as a result of being enslaved to sin, his moral choices are heavily influenced by the power of sin which binds him. The law has taught him the will of God. But a conflict has developed between knowing what is good and doing it, or knowing what is evil and refraining from it. Unfortunately, in this conflict sin inevitably wins, leading to further guilt and condemnation. Is this part of Paul’s personal experience of Christianity?

We will pause here and continue tomorrow, if the Lord wills. Until then, may the Lord keep you in His mercies. Amen.

For further studyRomans 6:1-23

Your Words Shape Your Destiny

Daily Devotion | Day 280

“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37, NKJV).

Human beings are unique among God’s creation. Part of our uniqueness is that we are creatures of speech. We possess the ability to form words and create language out of these words. Our words are the expression of our inner self. You are your words. That is, by your words you reveal who you are. In the spiritual realm there is no such thing as ‘meaningless’ words. Every word from your mouth has consequences even if you don’t intend there to be consequences. Therefore, words are not neutral. To borrow a term from the world of electricity, words carry a charge. They carry a positive charge or a negative charge.

The point is, in the spiritual realm words carry consequences. Intention is important, but it is not required. What matters is that you are speaking and you mean to speak. We’ve been miseducated about words. This explains why people say things and assume that their words are ‘nothing.’ It also explains why people say a lot of things followed by, “I was just joking;” “I was kidding.”

You may have noticed a pattern in the Bible, the book God has given for your instruction. You will find all kinds of stories in the Bible. One thing you will not find is a line intended to be a joke. Take every man of God in the Bible. Take Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus didn’t say one thing He meant as a joke. This doesn’t mean He was not an interesting Person. On the contrary, He was very charismatic. But people were attracted to Him, not because He was a comedian, but because of His authority (Matthew 7:28-29). You don’t need to crack jokes to be an interesting person. What you need is magnetic authority through purity of life.

Pay attention to what Jesus is saying in today’s opening Scripture passage. According to Him, on judgment day people will give account of every idle word they’ve spoken. By “idle word,” He means a word that in of itself is useless. He didn’t say people will give account of some idle words. No, He says “every idle word.” If your words didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be required to give an account of them. If your words didn’t carry any consequences, there would be no need for judgment.

Your words shape your destiny.

After saying this, Jesus adds another statement. He says, “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Your words can cause you to be justified or condemned. This means your words influence your destinyThrough your words you have a say in your destiny. You can use your words to your advantage or you can use them to your disadvantage. Jesus has done His part by teaching you the truth about words. What you do with His teaching is up to you. The choice is yours.

But I encourage you to choose life. Speak wholesome words for your own sake. Use your tongue to your advantage. A well-trained tongue is a well-trained soul. And, a well-trained soul is a healthy soul.

BlessingMay the favor of God be your shield in all your ways. Amen.

For further studyLuke 19:20-23; Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-21

Eyes on the Cross

Daily Devotional: Day 96

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him [Jesus], saw that He [Jesus] had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5, NKJV).

Judas betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities. Rather than face the consequences of his actions, he chose to die a coward. It is bad enough to sin against Jesus, but it is worse if you disqualify yourself from Jesus’ mercy. You need courage and humility to face the Cross. Why? Because on the Cross you see the cost of your sin; but more importantly, you see an innocent, loving and merciful Savior who died that you might live. Judas did not turn to the Cross; instead, he turned to himself and ended up in the grave. When you sin, the last thing you want to do is to turn to yourself. You should turn immediately to the Cross, look Jesus in the eye and you shall obtain grace and mercy.

 When I say ‘Cross,’ I am not referring to a piece of wood, metal or plastic, the work of human hands. If you turn in prayer to a man-made object called ‘cross,’ that is idolatry. Remember that God is Spirit, and the power of the Cross is a spiritual reality that is present to you anytime, anywhere; it is not associated with any object made with human hands.

Strictly speaking, Judas did not repent, because true repentance leads you to Jesus; it does not lead you away from Him. Judas felt bad for himself, but did not see the point of turning to God for mercy. He didn’t realize that the Innocent Blood which he betrayed was the same Blood that could have saved him from his sin.

Judas made the right confession to the wrong people. To the chief priests, he confessed, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” The chief priests could care less. Judas should have turned to Jesus instead. The truth is, no man can save you from your sin; not even yourself. God alone can. Therefore, to Him, and to Him alone, should you turn for mercy. If you have hurt people, it is important that you apologize. But no matter what you have done or how horrible you feel, turning to the Cross is your antidote. No one can turn to the Cross for you. It’s your call.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I repent of all my sins. I turn to you for mercy and grace. Cleanse me with your precious Blood and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Make me new and set me apart as a vessel of honor. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

For further study: Numbers 24:4-9 and John 3:14-18