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

Avoiding Distractions in the Church

Daily Devotional: Day 125

“Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas [Peter],” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13, NKJV).

Paul played a pioneering role in establishing the church at Corinth. As was his practice, he left the church in charge of capable elders and teachers from the local community. Sometime later, he received disturbing report that the church had been split into at least four factions. There was the pro-Paul Camp, the pro-Apollos Camp, the pro-Peter Camp and the pro-Christ Camp. When Paul received this news, he was deeply grieved. He wrote his First Letter to the Corinthians, in part, to address this unfortunate development in hopes of bringing an end to it.

In addressing the problem, Paul begins by posing the question: “Is Christ divided?” The point he is making is that the church is all about Christ. And Christ is one; He is not divided into camps. Whoever divides Christ into camps is ignorant of Christ and ignorant of what the Church represents. Obviously, the Corinthians were not mindful of the things of God. They saw the church as any other social group that could be divided into factions to advance people’s individual tastes and preferences. The Corinthians also forgot that Christ alone was crucified for them and in Him alone were they baptized. The result is that the attention shifted from Jesus Christ to mere men and useless arguments. This behavior overshadowed the centrality of the Cross of Jesus and of its power.

 Today, we, too, need to be on our guard lest we fall into the same problem the Corinthians faced. When we lose our focus, we may think that the Church exists to cater to our flesh and its lusts. At times, we let our personal preferences and tastes dictate what the Church of Christ should be. One group says it wants ‘traditional’ music; the other group says it prefers something else. Within the same local church, we can create rivalry and competition by comparing one minster to another. Sometimes factions are even created based on ethnicity, race, gender or social status. And there are those who feel they are special because they were baptized or ‘touched’ by their favorite minister. Furthermore, we can idolize ministers or pastors to the point where it results in cult of personality. A similar thing was happening in Corinth, where some said, “I am of Paul,” and others said, “I am of Peter.” When this happens, Christ fades from view, and everything becomes about us.

The truth is, all these things are childish; they are a complete waste of time, and they distract from Christ and the urgency of preaching His Gospel. Let our focus be on glorifying the Name of Christ, for this alone really matters. 

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23