Why Do Christians Continue to Sin? (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 354

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’” (1 Peter 2:21-22, NKJV).

Today’s presentation will pick up the point we were making yesterday, that two things happen at the Cross: the reception of forgiveness and the cessation of sin. We noted that when Christians speak of grace or the Cross, they tend to focus almost exclusively on the forgiveness of sins and neglect the part about cessation of sin in the believer’s conduct. We had much to say but we did not talk about the opening Bible passage. Thankfully, another day is here, so let us go into the text and find out what the Lord is saying to us.

Peter was addressing the conduct of slaves with respect to their masters. He encouraged them to persevere in doing good even when they suffer, looking to Christ as their example. We know that Jesus is an example for all Christians, so what Peter said to slaves applies to all believers. This is part of what Peter said, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Peter is talking about the Christ who suffered and died for us. Christ endured all manner of suffering and temptation even till His last breath on the Cross. According to Peter, Jesus did this to leave us an example, that we should follow His steps. Which steps?

In the next two verses (22-23), Peter names the specific steps Jesus left for us to follow. The first step Peter talks about is this: “Who [Jesus] committed no sin” (v. 22). Note carefully what Peter is saying. Jesus took the steps of not committing sin. And He wants believers to do likewise. Jesus, therefore, expects Christians to follow His steps and no other steps. The steps He wants us to follow are the steps of not committing sin. It means enduring temptation and suffering to the very end (without sinning) just like Jesus did. Jesus came in the flesh, among other things, to show us that it is possible to live in this world as a normal human being, face diverse trials and still not commit sin. If we could dramatize this, Jesus’ conversation with a believer might sound like this:

 “Dear [NAME]. The devil is a liar. He wants you to believe you can’t live sin free. I know what it means to be tempted. From My infancy I faced every possible trial, but I didn’t sin. I wanted to show you that you can do what I did. Don’t listen to those who say you can’t. Just listen to Me and you’ll be fine. Do you see My footprints? Good. From this point on you’re not going to sin again. Do you believe Me? Good. Here’s what I want you to do. Put your foot wherever you see My footprint. Nice. You’re doing well.”

“Keep going. I’m with you all the way, so even when you don’t see Me, don’t think I’ve left you. No, not here; there. There you go. Do you see the trail that is coming up? Good. I want you to follow that path; it is the path of righteousness. You’ll hear voices telling you to turn left. Don’t listen. Just step where you see My footprint. Now this part is going to hurt, but don’t worry; My grace is sufficient for you. You’re doing great so far. We’re close to the finish line. Keep your eyes on Me. Everyone in heaven is cheering for you. A few more steps to go. One step . . . and the last step. Awesome! See, I told you, you could do it. Welcome home, faithful servant. The Father can’t wait to greet you.”

To be continued tomorrow, God willing. Until then, keep running the race of faith. Don’t quit. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 4:1-16; 12:1-13

Accepting Jesus’ Terms and Conditions

Daily Devotional | Day 247

“Then He [Jesus] said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save His life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24, NKJV).

Eternal life is a free gift, but it is not without conditions. It is free in the sense that God alone is its author. We can receive eternal life, but we can’t create it. Additionally, eternal life is free because God offers it out of His love and goodness.

In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus lays out an underlying principle on how to obtain salvation from Him. The principle explains Jesus’ terms and conditions for salvation and discipleship. In the passage, you will notice two things. Jesus talks about discipleship (following Him) and getting saved. Unfortunately, in some quarters, people have tried to create a false dichotomy between discipleship and salvation.

To such people, being a disciple of Christ and being saved are two separate realities. They conclude, therefore, that you can be saved without following Jesus as His disciple. Or, you don’t need to be Jesus’ disciple to be saved. All you need to do is confess your faith in Christ. Following Jesus is good and commendable, but it is not required for salvation. But the reality is, such a position is a dangerous misreading of the Scriptures. Jesus taught the very opposite, as we can see from today’s reading. Let’s get into the passage.

If anyone desires to follow Jesus, He demands that they deny themselves and take up their cross. This means your love of self must end. You do that by dying to self. Dying to self simply means detaching yourself from the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eye (see 1 John 2:15-16). The cross is a symbol of death. Carrying your cross means remaining ‘dead’ to the flesh and its lusts (see Galatians 5:24). Immediately after this statement, Jesus adds that those who want to save their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for His sake will save it.

As you can see, Jesus connects the reality of following Him (and carrying one’s cross) with the reality of getting saved. They are two sides of the same coin. Jesus’ point is clear: If you want Him to give you a new life (eternal life), He wants you to let go your old life. You can’t have both.

If you hold on to your old life and its pleasures, it is impossible to receive God’s gift of eternal life. In Christ, the only way to live is to die. The Cross is a necessary path to the Resurrection. You must lose your old life at the Cross, if you want to enjoy Resurrection life. Skipping the Cross is not an option, if you want to live and reign with Christ (see Romans 8:17). Losing your old life at the Cross can be painful, but it is liberating. It is the only viable path to eternal glory. 

Accept and obey Jesus’ terms and conditions. You will be glad you did.

Blessing: May the Lord’s goodness and mercies follow you today. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 14:25-33

Meet Jesus, the Captain of Our Salvation

Daily Devotional: Day 149

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10, NKJV).

God made Jesus the Captain of our salvation. Jesus is not one of many captains of our salvation. Jesus does not have a co-captain. He, and He alone, is the Captain of our salvation. This title and role was not conferred on Jesus for free. He earned it by paying a heavy price. How do we know that Jesus earned it? Today’s opening Scripture tells us. It says God had a plan to bring many sons to glory. “Many sons” is referring to us who are born again and destined for salvation. The Father wanted many children (us) to share in His heavenly glory. But Someone had to pay the price and lead the way. God, therefore, appointed His Son to become the Captain of our salvation. And, God made the Captain perfect through sufferings. The glory of God is now upon us because of what Jesus did.

 Jesus’ sufferings did not begin on “Palm Sunday,” “Holy Thursday” or “Good Friday.” Jesus started suffering as a baby. He was born in a manger, exposed to the elements, and deprived of the basic comfort of normal birthing conditions. Still as an infant, His life was in danger because of King Herod’s fury. We can go on and on, counting the sufferings of Christ. The Cross was only the culmination of His sufferings. It was in this crucible of sufferings that Jesus was made the Captain of our salvation.

Because Jesus is our Captain, you can be confident that you are on the winning team. Jesus has never failed as a Captain, and He never will. Your salvation rests on the solid ground of Jesus’ captainship. This also means that obeying the voice of the Captain is key to your success. Be of good cheer and know that, no matter the challenges you face, your Captain will never let you down. Know that you are child of glory through Captain Jesus.

May the Lord let His face shine on you today! Amen.

For further study: John 17:20-26

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

‘This Man’ Is the Difference

Daily Devotional: Day 95

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God . . . For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:11-12, 14, NKJV).

Jesus didn’t just make a difference. He is the difference. The difference He made has impacted your past, your present and your future. Sin is the reason no one could gain eternal life. But Jesus, and Jesus aloneis the reason everyone who believes in Him will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The priests of the Old Covenant were on their feet every day, offering animal sacrifices for sin. Selected animals (goats, sheep and cows) had to die for the sins of the people. But the Bible says those sacrifices could never take away sins. That’s understandable. Animals, which are inferior beings, cannot pay for the sins committed by superior beings (humans).

 To take away the sin of humans, you will need the blood of someone from the same human race. Additionally, this person, like the sacrificial animals, must be spotless, i.e. sinless. Here is where Jesus entered the scene. Notice that the Bible speaks of ‘This Man,’ not ‘these men.’ This means only one Priest can save you. Jesus is His Name.

What has ‘This Man’ done for you that should make you leap for joy? A lot of things. Let’s focus on just one. The Bible says Jesus has offered one sacrifice for your sins forever. This means Jesus sacrificed His life for you, and in the process, He has forever atoned for all your sins. Wait, it gets even better. The Bible further explains that by dying for you, ‘This Man’ has perfected you forever.

When you become born again, God makes you holy. Yet He continues – through the work of the Holy Spirit – to sanctify you, i.e. to make you holy in the moral, practical sense (cf. 1 Peter 1:1-2). Jesus’ death has perfected you forever. Did you catch that? ‘This Man’ indeed is the difference. Let us fall at His feet and worship.

Prayer:

My God and Father, I bless you for saving me from my sins through the blood of your Son. With all my heart, I worship you. Fill me with the joy of salvation that I may always declare your marvelous love. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Revelation 5:1-14