What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 5)

Daily Devotion | Day 364 Cont’d

“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).

As I mentioned earlier today, the following will be a continuation of the point we were discussing in Part 4 of the series: cessation of transgression through self-denial in Christ. This subject is present not only in the teachings of Jesus, but in those of the Apostles as well. For example, Peter wrote, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesharm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sinthat he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2). This sums up everything we have been saying about the cessation of transgression (or sin) in the believer’s life. Peter could not have put it better. Now you can understand why Daniel prophesied that the Messiah’s arrival would pave the way to finish the transgression.

 Notice that Peter does not talk about a progressive or future cessation of sin. Instead, he describes it as the present, ordinary experience of the believer. Note also how he connects these three things: the suffering of Christ, the suffering of the believer and ceasing from sin. He says the believer should arm himself with the same mind as Christ. Which mind? The mind which understands that overcoming sin involves denying to oneself, and that this self-denial is accompanied by suffering. Knowing this, Peter declares, “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Many Christians overlook the suffering aspect of life in Christ and the crucial role it plays in putting an end to transgression. Find time and read 1 Peter 3:13-4:1-19, Romans 6:1-23 and 1 John 2-3; you will notice that the three Apostles are saying the same things using different words and expressions.

Let us complete this section by looking at something else God did in Christ to put an end to transgression of His laws. In Hebrews 10:16-17, the author says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them. . . Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (For the full text of this prophecy, see Jeremiah 31:31-34). According to the author of Hebrews, the prophecy of Jeremiah is fulfilled in Christ. Look closely at the passage.

In the Old Covenant, God wrote His laws on tablets of stone. The people broke that covenant by breaking the laws established by the covenant. Then God announced that He would make a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-32). In the New Covenant, what did God do differently? Instead of using tablets of stone, He has put His laws in our hearts and has written them in our minds. What is God hoping to achieve by writing His laws in our hearts and minds? He wants to prevent transgression of His laws. If His laws are written into our hearts and minds, this means His laws are built into the core of our being. Our new ‘DNA’ is wired with God’s laws. The laws of God are now in our nature. It would, therefore, be natural for us to obey God’s laws. In short, this would put an end to transgression.

After talking about putting His laws in our being, God adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In the New Covenant, God would no more remember our sins and lawless deeds because of two things. First, because Jesus would have washed away all our sins with His blood. God would not remember sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. Second, because God’s people (in whose hearts and minds His laws are written) would no longer transgress His laws. God would have no sin to remember because His people would be walking in the Spirit, fulfilling His laws (Romans 8:1-8). Consequently, the prophecy in Daniel 9:24 would have been fulfilled. When we present the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is important to explain to people these fundamental truths. When people grasp these truths, the Church would have a formidable presence in the world and the Name of the Lord would be revered.

May the Lord grant you deeper understanding of these matters. And as your understanding increases, may you experience a new chapter of victory in all aspects of your life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 364

“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).

Let us pick up where we left off yesterday. We were talking about how Daniel’s prophecy regarding the cessation of transgression is fulfilled and explained in the New Testament. We referenced Matthew 5:29-30 where Jesus instructed us that if our right eye or right hand causes us to sin, we should pluck it out or cut if off and cast it from us. Today we will examine this teaching closely in light of other passages in the New Testament. We want to find out how the transgressing of God’s law ceases at the Cross and because of the Cross.

Jesus did not come into the world to give us a partial solution to the sin problem. He came to deal with the sin problem once and for all. That is why He took away all our sins with a single sacrifice (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18). When He appears a second time, it would not be to deal with sin but to give salvation to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:27-28). Therefore, as Messiah, Jesus addressed the sin problem at its root. To tackle sin at its root, He did (and said) many things, culminating in His death and resurrection.

We have already talked about how Jesus made an end of sins and made reconciliation for iniquity (see Parts 1 & 2 of this teaching). In addition, Jesus did something else to make sure that after we are reconciled and forgiven, we do not return to a life of transgressing God’s law, but rather obey the Father in holiness and righteousness. This is where He taught us about denying the self.

Specifically, Jesus said that if something causes us to sin, we must cut it off and cast it from us. Jesus was not joking. What He said has the same force today as it did when He spoke those words. If we understand this teaching and practice it, then we will understand the Cross and benefit from its power. The most effective way to resolve a problem is to identify the cause and remove it. This is what Jesus is doing when He tells us that if our right eye or right hand causes us to sin, we must cut it off and cast it from us. He wants us to identify the things in our life that cause us to sin and take decisive action to part with them; no hesitation and no excuses. If we had to choose between life in heaven with one eye (or one hand) and death in hell with our full body, Jesus says the former is more profitable.

Jesus is not asking us to mutilate our body or someone else’s. His point is about doing whatever it takes to distance yourself from whatever causes you to sin. This means if you are aware of anything (or anyone) in your life that is a source of sin for you, Jesus expects you to “cut it off” and get rid of it. If, for example, you are in a relationship or friendship that causes you to sin, Jesus expects you to end it by walking away from the relationship. Likewise, if you have in your possession any images, videos or other materials that cause you to sin, Jesus wants you to get rid of them. And He wants you to obey Him now, not some time later. If you want Jesus to save you, He will, but on His terms alone, not yours. If you want to be saved on your own terms, He will not be part of that arrangement.

When you obey Jesus by “cutting off” the causes of sin in your life, this will cause you some suffering: You might lose friends, relatives, money, reputation and so forth. You might even be persecuted or killed. This is what Jesus means when He talks about losing your life for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel (Matthew 16:24-25). But persevering in this suffering is how you stay crucified with Christ and remain dead to sin. And because you are crucified with Christ and are dead to sin, you will no longer transgress God’s law. Your former life of transgressing God’s law would be over. In your new life, you will live for righteousness alone. Salvation from sin is costly; it cost Jesus His life. Make no mistake; it will cost you, too.

We have more to say about this point, but I have to pause here. I will post the continuation shortly. Then God willing, we will conclude the series (as well as the Daily Devotional) tomorrow. Stay blessed.

For further study1 Peter 4:1-19

The Man Who Feels Your Pain

Daily Devotional | Day 281

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3, NKJV).

Jesus has many titles. One that often gets overlooked is found in today’s opening Scripture. Jesus is known as a Man of Sorrows. Isaiah chapter 53 is a key passage in the Bible. It gives us a succinct description of the saving work of the Messiah, the effects of this work and what it cost the Messiah. You will do well to know this passage by heart.

When you hear the Bible talking about Jesus, get interested because whatever is said about Jesus has implications for you. Always remember: you are one Spirit with Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:17).

Therefore, the way to know you is to know Jesus.

Your true self is hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3-4). Your destiny is intertwined with His. Find Christ, find you. Put differently, ignorance of Christ is ignorance of your identity, potential and destinyIsaiah 53 is about Jesus. By implication, it’s about you, too. You are an individual organ/member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus is the Vine, you are the branch (John 15:1). If you are a branch of the Vine that means you are vine, too. A vine branch has all the properties of the vine.

Where Jesus goes, you go. If Jesus is victorious, so are you (Romans 8:37). If Jesus is seated in heaven, so are you (Ephesians 2:6). On the last day, when Christ is revealed, so will you (Colossians 3:4). We could go on and on. But hopefully you get the point. When you hear “Jesus,” pay attention because whatever is true (or not true) about Jesus affects you. It’s always Jesus-and-you. Remember that.

Jesus is not far from you. He was the Man of Sorrows because He bore our sins, our pain and our grief. He didn’t have to suffer, but He did. He believed you were worth every sacrifice. The Bible says He was despised and rejected by men. He became so disfigured by suffering that people hid their faces to avoid seeing Him. He was acquainted with grief. This means Jesus knows all about suffering.

Because you are joined to Jesus by a spiritual bond, your pain is His pain. Your sorrow is His sorrow. When you’re treated badly, He feels it. When you are despised and rejected, He feels it. When you’re ill, He feels it. When you mourn the loss of a dear one, He doesn’t look on unconcerned. He feels your grief.

No one feels your pain more than the Man of Sorrows

Go to Him when you feel overwhelmed by pain or grief. He will strengthen you. He will turn your mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). Pain is not fun. Jesus knows all about it. He felt the pain of the Cross, but He rejoiced in the light of the Resurrection.

Whatever your grief is, I pray that Jesus will turn your mourning into dancing and gladness. I pray that He sends you joyful news. I pray also that He delivers you from every evil attack and lifts up your head. Amen.

For further studyLuke 7:11-17 and 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Becoming Perfect through Obedience

DEVOTION: DAY 209

“Though he [Jesus] were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9, KJV).

As the eternal Son of God, Jesus didn’t need to ‘learn’ anything. But upon taking on flesh as a man, He had to learn many things – the most important of which was obedience. Jesus learned obedience, not for His own sake, but for our sake – to show us how to become blameless (perfect) in our walk with God. God has not changedwe have. From the beginning, God’s purpose has been for His children to be blameless in character. God, for example, said to Abram (later, Abraham): “I am the Almighty God; walk before meand be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1). Jesus demonstrated to us the way of perfection. If we walk in His steps – through obedience – we shall be like Him.

Today’s Scripture passage says Jesus learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Jesus was not exempt from suffering. Neither are weObeying God is very rewarding, but it comes with a price. To obey God, you need to endure suffering and give up certain pleasures, habits, desires, attitudes, relationships, conversations, lifestyle, social settings, and even certain religious views and practices which are contrary to God’s Word.

Notice that Jesus learned obedience, not by the miracles he performed, but by the things He suffered. He learned obedience the hard way: the temptations He endured, the opposition to His message, the threats from people, the persecution and hate, the pain of seeing loved ones suffer, the limitations of the human condition, etc. On the Cross, Jesus reached the height of obedience and perfection when He made the ultimate sacrifice – to redeem us.

The Bible continues by stating that Jesus became the author (i.e. the source or the cause) of eternal salvation for those who obey Him. Notice that there is a specific group of people for whom Jesus becomes the author of salvation: those who obey Jesus. In the original New Testament Greek, the word “obey” in this passage is rendered in the present tense and in the active voice. The implication is, Jesus is the cause of eternal salvation for those who currently (actively) obey Him, not those who obeyed in the past but have since stopped obeying Jesus.

Ongoing obedience to Jesus ensures, therefore, that we are connected to the source of eternal salvation. It further ensures that we grow in perfection: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). If you obey Jesus, it means you are abiding in Him. And if you are abiding in Him, you will manifest the Jesus-life.

Without obedience, there is no perfection. And there is no obedience without some measure of suffering. In Christ, and by the power of His Holy Spirit in us, we can walk in obedience like Jesus and become God’s blameless children in this world (cf. Philippians 2:14-15).

May the Lord bless you and keep you from all danger today. Amen.

For further study: Philippians 2:5-16

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