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!

Let Your Soul Rest

Daily Devotional | Day 344

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30, NKJV).

A soul at rest is a soul alive. But a restless soul is an unhappy soul. Such a soul cannot please God. The ability to rest in God is essential for your spiritual and overall well-being. Christian worship is not only about praying and attending church events. Letting your soul rest in God is part of worship. You will know you have faith in God when your soul is at rest. And if your soul is at rest, you won’t need an expert to tell you. You will know for yourself.

When your soul rests, it has many benefits for your body and for every aspect of your life. You will become a blessing to the people around you. You will radiate joy, peace and youthfulness. When people come near you, they will feel energized and refreshed. When your soul is refreshed, your very presence becomes refreshing to others. But all a restless soul has to offer is negativity, self-pity, anger, bitterness and constant criticism of others. Restless souls talk and act as if the weight of the whole world is upon their shoulders. Simply being around them will make you exhausted. For these (and other) reasons, Jesus wants your soul to rest.

Most of us have associated rest of the soul with dead people. When you hear, “May his/her soul rest in peace,” you know someone is dead. Make no mistake; there’s nothing wrong about wishing that the souls of our departed relatives and friends rest in peace. What is unfortunate is that – consciously or not – we apply soul rest almost exclusively to the departed. But what about us, the living? Shall our soul find rest here on earth? Who needs rest the most, the living or the dead? Yes, one day we hope to rest from our labors when our time here on earth is over (Revelation 14:13). But while we’re here, Jesus knows that our soul needs rest. This is why in our opening Scripture, He invites us to seek rest in Him.

Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus wants your soul to rest now, not later. And He shows you how you will find rest: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” The yoke here refers to His commandments. Jesus says you will find rest for your soul when you learn from Him. And learning from Him requires that you do what He tells you. That is His yoke. Learn from Jesus’ life of gentleness and righteousness, and your soul will rest.

To understand what Jesus is saying, you need to understand that your soul is made for righteousnessIt thrives on righteousness and nothing else. Therefore, righteousness supplies to your soul the needed peace and rest: “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Isaiah 32:17). But unrighteousness leads to fear, confusion and restlessness (Proverbs 28:1). Jesus further assures everyone that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This means His commandments are liberating. John testified to this when he wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus’ commandments are the commandments of the Father. And they are intended, not to hinder your success, but to promote it.

Rest for your soul begins now, not after your death. If your soul doesn’t rest in Jesus in this life, it will not rest in Him in the next. Therefore, let your soul rest in Jesus today and be refreshed. Amen.

For further studyPsalm 62:1-12; 63:1-11

Three Signs You Are Reigning in Christ (Pt 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 301

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17, NKJV).

In Chapter 14 of the Book of Romans, Paul responded to questions about which foods to eat and which ones to avoid. Apparently, some in the community preferred to eat vegetables only (v. 2) for reasons of conscience. Paul referred to such people as “weak in faith” (v. 1). Others, however, had no scruples about food. This offended those who were weak in faith. To resolve the problem, Paul urged everyone to follow his conscience regarding this matter. Then, he appealed to those who were strong in faith to bear with those who were weak and not do anything that might jeopardize their fragile faith. This is the context within which Paul made the statement you find in today’s opening passage (Romans 14:17).

What Paul said, especially the second part of his statement, is true for all Christians of every epoch. Starting with this passage, we will talk about three signs which show that we are reigning in Christ: righteousnesspeace and joy. This will be a three-part series. Today, we will focus on righteousness and how it enables us to reign in Christ. 

The Bible calls Christians “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). God calls us so because He wants us to reign (as priests) in His kingdom. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. Where you see the kingdom, you see righteousness.  The kingdom and righteousness are inseparable because righteousness is the primary defining characteristic of God’s kingdom. Therefore, without righteousness no one can reign with Christ.

It is with this understanding that Jesus urged us to prioritize righteousness: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Notice how Jesus tied righteousness to the kingdom. Righteousness gives you the keys to the kingdom. All blessings flow from this point. As the Book of Proverbs says, “blessings are on the head of the righteous” (10:6). This is how righteousness enables you to reign in Christ and appropriate the kingdom blessings.

To help us reign, the grace of Christ produces a two-fold (inseparable) action in the life of a Christian. First, it blesses you with the gift of righteousness: “For if by the one man’s [first Adam’s] offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Second, the grace of Christ empowers you to stop sinning: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). You are reigning when you are not sinning. You are reigning when you are walking in righteousness.

Therefore, grace is about receiving righteousness and walking in the righteousness received.

As John rightly put it, “whoever says he abides in him [Christ] ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6, ESV). Righteousness is not just a concept. It is a lifestyle. It is the dynamic power of God which enables you to take your rightful place in the Father’s kingdom.

Be righteous. Stay righteous. Reign.

Blessing: May the Holy Spirit power destroy every plot of the enemy against you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyRomans 6:5-23

The Agony of A Righteous Soul

Daily Devotion | Day 292

“And [God] delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Not only is God righteous, He is righteousness. He desires as well that His sons and daughters walk in His character of righteousness. This is important because the Father wants fellowship with His children. It is within this fellowship that one finds eternal life.

Fellowship with the Father is a fellowship of righteousness.

Because He is righteous and holy, the Father does not fellowship with unrighteous people, i.e. those who walk in sin. Paul put it well when he wrote, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If you are righteous, you will know it. The Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit (Romans 8:14-16). You will have no doubt about it.

In this world, being righteous or godly comes with a price. This brings us to today’s Bible passage. Peter is writing about Lot. As you recall, Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He lived in Sodom with his wife and two daughters. The Bible tells us that the people of Sodom were involved in all manner of iniquity (Genesis 18:20-21). God eventually destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But, as Peter says, the Lord saved “righteous Lot.” Lot was a righteous man living in the midst of unrighteous people. And he suffered on account of the ungodly environment.

Peter says Lot was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.” This tells us about the agony of a righteous soul. Righteousness is purity. When you are pure, it makes you highly sensitive to ungodly behavior. When you encounter any form of ungodly conduct, in your spirit you will find it disgusting and distressing. It’s a silent and indirect form of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). This was what Lot felt. He is not alone. This ‘oppressive’ feeling is common to all who are righteous.

Peter further explains that Lot “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.”  Lot had a righteous soul. He wasn’t corrupted by the sinful environment in Sodom. However, each day, he put his soul through torment on account of the lawless acts he saw and heard in Sodom. If you have a righteous soul, you can relate to Lot’s experience. A righteous soul makes you spiritually sensitive. It makes you cringe when you witness ungodliness. It makes you feel what God feels when He sees iniquity. This is the agony of the righteous.

With a righteous soul, you can’t participate in ungodly conduct. What others consider entertaining, you find disagreeable. There are TV programs you can’t watch. There are books you can’t read. There are images you can’t watch. There’s music you can’t listen to. There are dresses you can’t wear. There are places you can’t go. There are conversations you can’t have. There are words you can’t speak. There are thoughts you can’t entertain. And, there are friends you can’t have.

It is the price you pay for being a righteous soul. But it’s worth it. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). And Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). 

Be a righteous soul. Stay pure. Stay blessed.

For further study2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:1-21 and 1 Peter 4:1-19

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