Why Do Christians Continue to Sin? (Pt 5)

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 holyyou 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 studyEphesians 5:1-27 and Psalm 1:1-5

Chosen in Love, Driven by His Holiness

Daily Devotion | Day 304

“He [God] chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, NKJV).

Why are you in this world? What’s your life purpose? Why were you born the day you were born? Why are you a Christian and not an atheist? I hope today’s message helps you to reflect deeply on the above questions.

Your destiny gives you purpose and direction. If you know your destiny it means you know your destination. And, knowing your destination will guide you to make choices that agree with the known destination. Fortunately for us Christians, the Father has revealed to us our destiny and life purpose. This destiny provides the framework within which all our choices (should) fit. You will find our destiny stated in different ways throughout the Bible.

But today, we’ll look at what Paul said in Ephesians 1:4. The passage is an excellent, succinct description of the Father’s plan for us. As children of the Father, it’s important that we know our destiny and be guided by it.

God chose us before the foundation of the world. This choice, we’re told, occurred before the world was created. Pause for a moment and think about that. Imagine what it means to be on God’s mind from all eternity. God knew you, chose you and planned a great life for you long before the universe existed.

Paul adds an important detail about God’s choice. He says, God chose us in Christ. This means God has planned that your life should be as glorious as the life of His Son. When God looks at you, He sees you in His Son. In a sense, when you see Jesus, you’ve seen you because you are in Him. And when Jesus looks at you, He sees Himself in you because He is in you. Listen to Jesus in His own words, “At that day you will know that I am in My Fatherand you in Meand I in you” (John 14:20). What an amazing life!!!

Next (and this is crucial), Paul tells us the purpose for which God chose us on Christ: “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Holiness is the quintessential attribute of God. The Bible spares no effort to emphasize this point. At the time Isaiah received his call to be a prophet, he saw a vision of seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3). In the Book of Revelation, John too, saw a vision of heaven in which the four living creatures “do not rest day or night, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come” (4:8). Not surprisingly, we’re told, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Our purpose in life is to be holy and without blame to the glory of God. This means God wants us to be as He is.  He wants us to be essentially God-like in our being and in our conduct. Is this possible? Yes, it is. Anyone who affirms the contrary is either willfully ignorant of the Scriptures or is lying.

We’ve been given all the grace and ‘tools’ we need to answer our calling and to fulfill our purpose. The Holy Spirit Himself testifies to this in 2 Peter 1:3, “His [God’s] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” If we don’t live holy lives, God is not to blame. Nor is Adam. But rather, it is we who have chosen to go our own way. 

Remember who you are. Remember your destiny. And fulfill your calling, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study1 Peter 1:1-25

Why Righteousness Is Reasonable and Sin Is Not

Daily Devotion | Day 282

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, KJV).

Sin is the most irrational choice a human being can make. Sin is unnatural. But righteousness is natural. Sin is abnormal. But righteousness is normal. Sin is unreasonable. But righteousness is reasonable. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that sinning is a normal part of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, sin is not part of life. It is part of death (Romans 5:12-14; 6:23). Sin is not normal, at all.

God’s plan from the beginning hasn’t changed. Righteous living is the norm; sin is the exception. Unfortunately, centuries of inaccurate teaching have led many to believe that sin is the expected norm and righteousness is the exception. The truth is, a righteous life is what agrees with your God-given nature. Anything else is an abnormal life.

Let’s listen to what God is saying in today’s opening passage. “Come now,” He says, “and let us reason together.” God is the essence of Reason. He created us in His image and likeness. This means we are intelligent beings capable of making reasonable choices. This is also why it is possible for us to reason with God. Reasoning with God enables you to understand clearly the choices before you.

God reminds His people that they are stained with sin. But if they would reason with Him, that condition would change. Instead of the stain of sin, they would be white as snow or wool. It is a choice between clean and unclean, pure and impure. The rational choice here is to prefer clean over unclean, and pure over impure. When you sin, you’re not using reason. Sinning is foolishness. It is like preferring to wear dirty clothes when you have the option of wearing clean clothes.

In the New Testament, Paul made a similar appeal to Christians: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The only reasonable (logical, intelligent) service you can render as a Christian is a service of holiness and righteousness. That’s it. Anything to the contrary is unreasonable. And if it is unreasonable, then it is unacceptable.

Be reasonable. Choose purity.

BlessingMay your light shine brightly today. In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

For further studyRomans 6:1-23 and Ezekiel 18:1-32

Your Body and Jesus

Daily Devotion|Day 268

“. . . Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13, NKJV).

God made you special. The fact that He made you in His image and likeness tells it all. But there’s more. As a Christian, the death and resurrection of Jesus has made you even more special. There’s something about you and Jesus you need to understand. You are bound by a strong supernatural chord. You both are joined to the point that you are in Him and He is in you. This is literal, not figurative. His life is your life. His glory is your glory. Think of yourself and Jesus as distinct but inseparable. This understanding will form the basis for how you experience the Christian life.

What has your physical body got to do with Jesus? Everything.

 Before we continue, take another look at today’s opening Scripture. It tells us something important about the body. It says that the body is not for sexual immorality. Next, the Bible tells us the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. This means there’s a covenant between your body and Jesus. This covenant dictates the terms of how you use your body. Because of Jesus, your body is not an ordinary thing. It is sacred. Whatever you do with (or to) your body, you implicate Jesus. This is the basis for Christian morality regarding the human body.

 What we do with our body is more than a moral issue. It is a covenant issue with far-reaching implications for us and Jesus. It makes no difference whether you’re married or not. When you treat your body well – in chastity and purity – your body becomes a pleasing sacrifice to God. As a result, you create the right environment to receive the covenant blessings.

Your body is precious to Christ. Handle it with care.

BlessingMay the Lord’s favor accompany you in all your ways. Amen.

For further studyRomans 12:1-9 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

Speak Clean, Stay Clean

Daily Devotional: Day 197

“When he had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:10-11).

The words from your mouth say a lot about you. Your words also say a lot about the condition of your heart, for as Jesus says, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). As the mouth is, so is the heart. A sound and upright heart will produce wholesome and edifying words; while an evil heart will produce evil words. It is impossible to distance yourself from your own words, for your words are the external expression of your internal condition.

 When Jesus started His public ministry, he showed Himself to be the Interpreter of God’s Law. Up to that time, some of the high-ranking religious teachers in Israel had corrupted the purity of God’s Word by mixing it their own man-made ideas. They taught and presented these traditions as doctrines which had to be obeyed. It’s similar to what you observe in some religions and churches today. That’s not surprising, given what Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV).

The Scribes and Pharisees complained when they observed that Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before eating. Jesus would have none of their criticism, so He took the opportunity to set the records straight. Jesus wasn’t against hygiene. He was against how the religious authorities conveniently set their own regulations (in this case, regulations of hygiene) over and above the commandments of God, thereby imposing unnecessary burden on God’s people. In the opinion of these religious teachers, eating without the washing of hands defiled a person. This leads us to today’s Bible passage where Jesus corrected their erroneous beliefs.

Jesus says, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” This statement contains a powerful revelation about spiritual matters. Let’s focus on the last part of what Jesus said, i.e. what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person. This means, your condition before God (defiled or undefiled) isn’t based on matters of hygiene regarding food and drink. What can defile you is what comes out of your mouth. When He talks about what comes out of your mouth, Jesus is referring to your words.

The Greek word translated “defiled” is koinoō (pronounced KOI-NO-O). The word means to make unclean, common or profane. What Jesus is saying is that watch your mouth, because bad or evil words from your mouth can make you unclean, rendering you defiled before God. As a Christian, you want to be clean. God says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). God is clean and He wants you clean as well.

Based on what Jesus said, your words play a vital role in determining whether you are clean or unclean. The Lord has made you clean through His Word and the precious Blood of Jesus. Don’t change that. When you speak, use mouth filters. Just as we have air filters in our vehicles and in our homes, use filters when you speak. Let your words be guided by the Spirit of God who dwells in you. Speak in a way that keeps you clean and edifies people.

As a child of God, avoid cussing, cursing, murmuring, trashing, bad-mouthing, gossip, slander, grumbling, muttering, and obscene or bad jokes. You may think these things are harmless. The truth is, they are not. If Jesus says your words can make you unclean, it means they can influence your destiny. Moreover, recall that no unclean thing will enter heaven (cf. Revelation 21:27). Next time you speak, remember what Jesus said and use filters. Speak clean, stay clean.

The blessing of our heavenly Father come upon you and remain with you today. Amen.

For further study: Matthew 12:33-37