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!

What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion – Day 362

“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 two more things in Daniel’s prophecy. Daniel prophesied that a time was determined (a) to finish the transgression and (b) to make an end of sins. As we pointed out yesterday, these prophecies refer to the work of the Messiah and the expected outcome of His work. Jesus, as we know, is the Messiah. We know also that by Jesus’ death on the Cross, the Father has reconciled us to Himself. This means our reconciliation was finished (done) on Calvary. But that is not all. Daniel’s prophecy identifies other things that would result from the work of the Messiah: finish transgression and make an end of sins. We will look at each of these prophecies, starting with “to make an end of sins.”

To make an end of something means to defeat, stop, destroy or render it powerless. By His death on the Cross, Jesus made an end of all sins. This means He defeated sin, dethroned it and rendered it powerless, so that sin can no longer multiply (as sins). We must emphasize that Jesus accomplished this once and for all time. That is why Jesus will not die for sins again (Hebrews 9:24-28). How did Jesus make an end of sins? The Bible provides the answer in many different ways and in several passages. We will look at three of those instances. 

Through the death of Jesus, God “condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Notice the past tense. To condemn something means to make an end of it. That is what God did to sin. When God Himself condemns something, we can be sure that that thing has been brought to its knees. Another important passage is from the First Letter of John: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (3:8). “The works of the devil” is referring to sins. Satan is a sinner and he gains power by getting people to sin like he does. That is how he controls people. But Jesus died on the Cross to destroy the works of sin, so that people would no longer do the devil’s works, i.e. commit sins. 

The next passage is from Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” This passage is telling us that sin has lost its dominion because it has been dethroned. This took place through the death of Jesus. Calvary was where the battle against sin reached its climax. In that battle, sin lost and Jesus won. On Calvary, God made an end of sins. And Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled.

We will pause here and continue tomorrow, if the Lord permits. In the meantime, understand that Jesus has made an end of sins. Sin could not defeat Jesus. It cannot defeat you, either. Sin is powerless against the Holy Spirit in you. The power of God in you is infinitely stronger than any temptation you might face. Walk in this truth and you will overcome every temptation just like Jesus did. Live free from sin. Live for Jesus alone. And enjoy the blessings of the born again life. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 7:1-28

Why Do Christians Continue to Sin? (Pt 8)

Daily Devotion  – Day 358

“For the death that He [Christ] died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:10-11, NKJV).

In the entire chapter 6 of Romans, Paul has but one message for Christians: You can live sinless, so live that way. Recall that at the beginning of this series (Part 1), I briefly mentioned Romans 6:1-2 and recommended that everyone take a look at it. I said at that time that we would return to that passage later. The time has come, so to refresh our memory, this is what Paul said: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Everything Paul said in this chapter is held together by the first two verses (which we have just quoted) and verse 14 where he writes, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” In Paul’s mind, those who have died to sin can no longer live in sin. In other words, they can no longer sin. That is what he implies by the rhetorical question, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” 

Some would say that there is a difference between living in sin and merely committing a sin. But this is just another way of avoiding Paul’s point. The Bible makes no distinction between committing sin and living in sin. When someone sins, in that moment the person is living in sin, even if the sin lasted for one minute. The one whose sin lasts one minute and the one whose sin lasts one month both lived in sin at some point. Hence, attempting to draw a distinction between committing sin and living in sin amounts to splitting hairs. The implication of Paul’s rhetorical question (“How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”) is obvious: Because believers have died to sin, they can no longer continue to sin; the only life befitting their status as God’s children is a life of righteousness, a life without sin. 

Paul knew believers were (are) fully capable of living without sin because of the abundance of grace available to them. In case people had any doubt about this, he emphatically stated, “For sin shall not have dominion over you . . . for you are under grace.” Notice Paul’s choice of words. He did not say, “Sin shall have dominion over you from time to time.” Rather, he says that sin will have no dominion at all. This means Jesus has opened the door for every believer to live sinless. What remains is for us to take advantage of the opportunities grace has set before us. 

Not only is it possible for a Christian to live without sin, it is the expected normal life of the believer. The believer has no other life. This is good news, that we can live righteously as Jesus did. Therefore, we need to preach a Gospel that includes the cessation of sin so that Christians can experience the joy that comes from reigning over sin.

To be continued tomorrow, God willing. Until then, meditate on Romans6.

For further studyRomans 6:1-3

Why Do Christians Continue to Sin? (Pt 6)

Daily Devotion | Day 356

“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).

Today’s opening Scripture is a crucial passage in the current discussion. It tells us that we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. The “weaknesses” in this passage is not referring to sins. Rather, it refers to the limitations of the human flesh by which we all are subject to temptations and trials. The Bible is saying that Jesus can sympathize with these limitations (weaknesses). He knows how it feels to live in this world and deal with all manner of temptations: temptations at home, at the work place, at school, in your own mind, and so forth. That is why the Bible says Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are.” He can sympathize with us because He lived like us and faced the same struggles we face.

Next, the Bible adds an important phrase. It says, Jesus was tempted like us, yet without sin. Jesus faced the same struggles and lived within the same limitations of our earthly life, but He did not succumb to temptation; He overcame every temptation and did not sin. At this juncture, we must ask: Did Jesus do what He did just prove that He alone can overcome all temptation and be without sin? Or, Jesus did what He did to show us that following His footsteps, we too can overcome all temptation and be without sin just as He was? Which of these two lessons is the Letter to the Hebrews trying to convey to us? Most Christians were brought up to believe the lesson in the passage is that Jesus alone did (and can) overcome all temptation and be without sin, but not us. For Roman Catholics, the only exception is Mary; no one else can live without sin.

But as will soon become clear, the reason the Letter to the Hebrews brought up Jesus’ victory over temptation was to inspire us that we too can be tempted and yet not give in to sin. We can be as victorious over temptation as Jesus was. That this victory is possible is supported by the following statement by Paul, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). The way of escape exists for every temptation. This means victory over every temptation is possible, which further shows that it is possible to live without sin.

This grace (the grace to prevail over every temptation and be without sin) is available to all of us, not just Jesus or Mary. Jesus showed us how it is done. It is up to us to follow His footsteps through obedience, taking advantage of the spiritual weapons of grace at our disposal. This is what the Bible means when it says, “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 4:16). Many interpret this as follows: “Jesus knows we will fall into sin from time to time. Therefore, if you sin, just go to Him boldly to find mercy and grace.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The passage is stating the opposite, which is: Jesus was like us; He faced every possible temptation, yet did not sin. We can, and must, be like Him. Therefore, in a time of need (when we are tempted), we must not succumb. Instead, we must come boldly to the throne of grace. There we will find grace and mercy to prevail over the temptation, just as Jesus prevailed.

The author of Hebrews is telling us what we need to do to stand firm and not fall into sin. He is not talking about what we need to do after we have sinned. He has but a single goal: to teach Christians how to persevere in righteousness without giving in to temptation. His goal is not to teach us how to recover each time we fall into sin. He wants Christians to learn how to be like their sinless Lord. This would show to the world that in the Cross of Jesus there is victory over every temptation and over every sin. If Christians continue to sin, the world will find Christianity unattractive and unconvincing. 

To be continued tomorrow, God willing. Until then, know that the grace for decisive victory over all sin is available to you. Let no one tell you otherwise. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 10:1-39

Conquer Your Fear, Go for the Win

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 205

“And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart” (Deuteronomy 20:8, KJV).

Deuteronomy chapter 20 opens with instructions given to the Israelites about preparing for battle. On their way to occupy the Promised Land, the Israelites would encounter several nations and peoples. Some of these encounters would result in battles. The Lord wanted His people to be battle-ready and be able to overcome the nations which stood between them and the Land of Promise.

To win a battle, your attitude is as important as your weapons. You may have the right numbers and the right weapons, but if your mindset is flawed, you risk being defeated. Battles are won or lost starting with one’s state of mindTo win any battle, it is necessary that you first conquer your own fears. Therefore, when the Lord prepared Israel for battle, one of the first things He addressed was fear (cf. Deuteronomy 20:1-3).

Fear is contagious. It’s like an infection. If, for any reason, you’re afraid, be kind enough not to spread your fear. Fear undermines, not only your own faith, but the faith of the people around you. If you partner with people who panic easily, they can derail your faith and cause your plans to fall apart. Do not go on any important mission with people who are prone to fear. This word of wisdom is proposed in today’s Bible reading. Look at it again.

Before going into any battle, God commanded the officers of Israel to speak to the people about fear. The officers had to call on any fearful or fainthearted man to return to his house. Then, notice what the Bible says next: “Let him go and return to his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.” It is better to go into battle with just two or three people who have faith than with a hundred people who are fainthearted. Recall the incident in Mark 5:35-42, where Jesus expelled a group of people for giving in to fear. If you are dealing with any battle (battle in your marriage, business, health, finances, academics, battle with an addiction, etc.) be careful who you call to fight with you. 

To sum up today’s message, let’s remember the following: Fear is to faith what a leech is to blood. Faith does not fear, and fear does not believe. Don’t infect others with your fear. Conquer your fear, and go for the win.

For further studyNumbers 13:17-4:9, or Mark 5:35-42