Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 20 - The Miracle of the New Creation - 30 Days of Grace

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."          2 Corin. 5:17

Here is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible describing what God has done for us by grace!  First, who is the verse talking about?  Anyone in Christ.  Anyone, whosoever, any person at all is included in this verse.  If anyone wishes, they can identify with Christ.  Christ has already identified with us.  When He was born a human baby He was born "one of us."  When He was baptized, He was saying, "I identify with humanity, I will live my life as a human and represent the human race in all I do."  He included us in His obedient life, in His dying for sin on the cross, in His burial and resurrection, in His going to the right hand of the Father and sitting down after His finished His work. When we believe in Christ, we are identifying with Him, and all that He did in our place becomes reality and experience in our lives; we come alive to all He did 2000 years ago as our representative!  That means all that happened to Christ happened to you. When He died to sin and its power, you died to sin and its power.  When He rose in victory and newness of life, you rose in victory and newness of life.  When He ascended and sat down in authority in heaven, you did too, in Him!  All that comes 'online' for you when you believe in Christ!

What does the verse say is true if anyone is in Christ?  They are a new creation!  The old you has died and the new you has begun!  You aren't just a patched up version of the old self you were before you got saved.  You are totally different, totally new.  The word for 'new' in this verse is kainos, and it means fresh, novel, of a new kind, unprecedented, unheard of.  The new creation you is something that is totally new and uprecedented.  This new creation is so novel and different it has never been around before.  It is a totally new thing that God has created or made!  Jesus at His resurrection started a whole new creation.  He started a whole new realm of existence or environment, and He started a whole new being or species/race of people to go in this environment.  Everything about the new creation is new, new, new!  When you were born again, you were born as a new creation, born into this new creation realm.  You are a citizen of heaven and belong to the heavenly realms!  Through the Spirit, you have been born from above, born of God Himself!  You are a totally new creation!

What does the verse say has happened to the old you?  Old things have passed away!  Everything about your former life is gone!  The old you is gone and passed away, and doesn't exist anymore!  Everything connected with that old self is gone, too, including all the guilt, problems, worries, sin issues, and so on.  So now any hangups, struggles, sinful thoughts, fears and oppressions coming at you are seen for what they are - lies of the old existence.  They don't represent you anymore! They are part of the old self, and that self died with Christ on the cross.  You are now a new self, who was raised with Christ in the resurrection!

Hey, what a revelation that you don't have any hangups, problems, issues, or sin struggles. The person who had those problems is dead! When God made the new creation, He didn't make a flawed and messed up person with sin issues, no He made a righteous, beautiful, pure and lovely new creation, created in righteousness and true holiness after the image of Him who created it (Eph. 4:24-5)

In the verse, how many things have become new?  ALL of them!  There is absolutely nothing left of the old self in you!  Sure, you haven't gotten a heavenly body yet, but the REAL you inside is already completely changed and new, with nothing old left.  That is the real you.  The thoughts in your brain, the desires sometimes felt in your body, these aren't the real you at all anymore!  They are projections of the enemy onto your body, an attempt to deceive you into thinking you are still the old self, still have sin problems, still have struggles and fears and hangups.  NO!  Don't believe that lie!  The verse says old things have passed away - that means they are gone forever!  

And the verses also says ALL things have become new.  You are completely new without one trace of evil, wrong, problems, struggles, lusts, doubts or fears.  That is the real you!  You are a beautiful person.  You are righteous.  You are acceptable.  You are approved.  You are holy and pure.  You are strong.  You are healthy.  You are blessed.  You are complete.  You are whole.  You are of a sound mind.  You are perfect in God's sight!  

How can we say that?  Because He made you that way!  He re-made you in Christ, and in Christ means that you have the qualities He has.  As He is, so are you.  You have His holiness, purity, righteousness, strength, power, blessing, wholeness, approval, etc.  In fact, because He is the very source of life inside you, because you have been re-made with Him as your very life, HE is actually all those things in you!  He is righteousness, love, power, purity, completeness in you!  Your amazing qualities are the Person of Christ in you, for you were formed with His spiritual DNA and with His very Life as your own life material!    You are part of Christ and knit together with and in and by Him!  You are pretty awesome!  What a wonderful new creation He has made of you in Christ!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 19 - Your Sins Are Taken Away - 30 Days of Grace

We are forgiven of all our sins, past, present and future.  That is cause for relief and celebration!  The guilty, convicted murderer who is somehow forgiven by the victim's family and set free because one of them chooses to serve his sentence for him is certainly in a great position!  He is forgiven, he doesn't have to pay the penalty for his crime, the punishment has been taken off his shoulders, and he is allowed to go free!  Yet the fact is, he still murdered.  He still did things wrong.  He is still a murderer, just a forgiven murderer.  Is this how God treats us in the New Covenant?  Actually, no, God goes even farther than just forgiving us and still letting the fact of our sin hang over us.  Let us see what God has done for us to give us an even better position than 'guilty yet forgiven.'

1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, once purified, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said:
You did not want sacrifice and offering,
but You prepared a body for Me.
You did not delight
in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.
Then I said, “See—
it is written about Me
in the volume of the scroll—
I have come to do Your will, God!”[a]

After He says above, You did not want or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings (which are offered according to the law), He then says, See, I have come to do Your will.[b] He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.
11 Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. 12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He says:

16 This is the covenant I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws on their hearts
and write them on their minds,

17 He adds:
I will never again remember
their sins and their lawless acts.[c]

18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Heb. 10:1-18             

 How is the law described here?  As a shadow of good things to come, not the reality of those things.  So the law with its sacrificial system only pointed to the greater sacrifice of Christ that was to come.  What could the law never do?  It could never perfect people.  If it had been able to perfect people through its sacrifices, what would have happened?  People would have been purified once for all, would have had no more consciousness (awareness) of their sins, and so the sacrifices would not have been needed and would have stopped being offered.  But instead, what did the old sacrificial system do?  Instead of taking away awareness of sins, it kept reminding people of their sins!  Why was that so?  Because animal blood can't take away sins.  

Did God delight in the old way of animal sacrifices?  No.  So He sent Jesus, and what did Jesus say He came to do?  To do God's will, and He took away the old system of sacrifices and ushered in a new way.  What was God's will that Jesus completed?  Jesus sanctified us through the offering (sacrifice for sin) of His body once for all.

List some ways Jesus is different from the old covenant priests:  
1 - the priests offered sacrifices day after day, Jesus offered His only once 
2 - the old sacrifices couldn't take away sins, so had to keep being repeated; Jesus' sacrifice was one sacrifice for sins forever
3 - the priests were always standing, but once Jesus offered His sacrifice, He sat down.

So we see that Jesus' sacrifice was so good and so encompassing and so complete that He only needed to offer it once, and it worked for all time:  it took away sins once for all!  So since His sacrifice was complete and sufficient for all time, successful in taking away all sins for all time, Jesus' work was done and so He sat down!  When someone sits down, it means they are finished, their work is done, and they are in a position of rest!   Jesus' sitting down tells us the all the work to take care of our sins is completely done and finished!  

How does verse 14 sum up this whole work of Jesus?  It says that by one offering He has perfected us forever!  What the law's sacrifices couldn't do, Jesus did!  Remember how we listed what would have happened if the law sacrifices had worked, how people would have been purified and stopped making sacrifices, etc.?  Well, those things are now all true because of Jesus' sacrifice!  

Let's look back through the passage and list those things that are true for us right now because of Jesus sacrifice:
1 - it perfected us
2 - it purified us once for all
3 - it has taken away the consciousness (awareness) of sins
4 - any other sacrifices have been stopped, they are not needed
5 - Jesus' sacrifice took away sins
5 - Jesus' sacrifice stands for all time, is effective forever
6 - it sanctified us 
7 - it perfected us forever

God makes a statement about the new covenant in a quote from Jeremiah.  What two things does He say He will do in the new covenant?  He will write His law on our hearts and minds, and He will never again remember our sins!  Jesus' sacrifice is so perfect, so all-encompassing, so complete, that it doesn't just cover our sins.  It takes them away!  They are so GONE that God says He will never remember them again!  According to this verse, is God ever going to think about your sins again?  NO!  Is He ever going to bring up your sins again? NO!  Is He ever going to relate to you on the basis of your sins again? NO!

Look at the last verse in the passage.  What is the benefit to us of all that Christ has done so well in taking away our sins?  Well, since He forgave all our sins in such a complete way, by truly taking them out of the picture, there is NO MORE sacrifice for sins that ever has to be made!  You never have to do anything about your sins anymore. They can never come between you and God anymore, for they are gone! When you sin, you never have to feel that you must 'do something' to get back your position of fellowship with God or get back in His good graces, because you never lost your good position with God, and you are still IN His good graces (favor)!  Christ's sacrifice has given you a permanent forgiveness of all your sins by wiping out your sins completely so that God never remembers them!

You are not just a 'forgiven criminal' with your sins still hanging over you.  Your sins have been taken away!  They aren't on you anymore!  It isn't just that you have them, but won't be punished - you don't even have them any more!  They are gone!  You are cleansed, perfected, purified, and sanctified (made holy) once and for all, according to the passage above.  How, by your hard work and consecration and prayers of surrender?  NO!  By the sacrifice of Christ once for all!  His sacrifice not only forgave you, not only took away your sin, but it cleansed you so well that you are holy and perfect!  How long are you perfect, just till your next sin? No, you have been perfected forever!  Forever is a very long time to enjoy your good, clean, right and pure standing before God!  There is nothing left against you, and you are not only forgiven but also cleansed! That is why the passage talks of having no consciousness or awareness of sins.  God doesn't even want you to be aware of your sins, conscious of them, thinking about them in any way.  You are completely purified and cleansed and holy - clean!  Not dirty!  So verse 19 of Hebrews 10 says that we have 'boldness' to enter God's presence through the blood of Jesus!  We can run boldly to God, we can be confident of His welcoming us, we can pray to Him anytime, enjoy our relationship with Him anytime without worrying about our sins coming between us ever again, because those sins are gone!

When God looks at you, He doesn't see any sin.  Not because the sin is covered, but because Jesus took it AWAY and it is GONE!  There is no sin on you today.  The verses above say that once and for all, by Jesus' sacrifice, you have been cleansed, purified, sanctified (made holy) and perfected.  You are clean, pure, holy and perfect!  So come boldly to God and enjoy His presence without any consciousness of your sins!  Do as God does concerning your sins - do not remember or think of them anymore!  Have no awareness of them, because they aren't there at all; instead, be aware of the presence of God with you, because He is there with you always and forever due to the perfect sacrifice of the Son!  Since the Son cleaned you out so well, you are actually God's holy temple where He is at home and is dwelling right now!  Hallelujah!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 18 - You Are Forgiven of ALL Your Sins - 30 Days of Grace

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you  alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.      Col. 2:13-15

Let's look at this wonderful passage and sense the relief it brings that all our sins are forgiven!

What did God do for us when we were dead in our sins?  He made us alive with Christ and forgave us all our sins.  How many of our sins did He forgive?  He forgave ALL of them!  How many sins are included in the word 'all?'  ALL of them!  

Now sometimes I have thought that when I became believer in Jesus, God forgave me of all the sins I had done up to that point as a non-Christian, but not for the sins which were yet in the future, that I would later commit.  I thought that each time I, as a Christian, then committed a sin, I would be out of fellowship or 'not right with God' and need to go confess, ask forgiveness, recommit myself to God, etc. in order to be back 'right with God' and in fellowship again.  It was like I thought that any and every time I sinned, my sin was like a wall coming between me and God, and that He was not pleased with me because of my sin.  In fact, I felt that He must be disappointed in me and wishing that I would do better.  I felt He was seeing my faults and telling me to change and improve.  This left me feeling very uncertain about being with Him, for I was worried that He saw me as a failure in my Christian life. It was hard to feel His love for me or feel comfortable coming to pray to Him, especially right after I'd done wrong. Perhaps you have had some of these feelings, too.

But look at the verse again:  how many of our sins did God forgive?  ALL of them!  When did He do that?  When we were dead in our sins!  God forgave us of ALL our sins back when we were still dead in our sins!  We are told in 2 Corin. 5:19 that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them."  So we see that God forgave us, at the cross, of ALL our sins 

Does Col. 2:13 distinguish in any way between past sins as a non-Christian and future sins as a Christian? No.  In fact, how many of our sins were in the past when God forgave them all at the cross?  None of them were in the past - they were all in the future, for we weren't even born yet!  So we see that God forgave ALL our sins, whether those we committed before we got saved or those we will commit on into the future as a Christian - He already forgave ALL of them back at the cross!

What was standing against us and condemning us, according to this verse?  The charge of our legal indebtedness.  In other words, the law with its commands that we had broken was against us, condemning us back when we were in our sins.  So what did Jesus do to take care of that law that we broke and its condemnation of us?  He took it the law and its record of our mistakes, and He nailed it to the cross!  So if there is no law to point out your wrongs, are you guilty anymore or condemned anymore? NO!  You are free to go, because the law that showed you as guilty, the law that condemned you to death, is gone!  The record of your sins has been wiped out, because Christ 'took it away' at the cross!  So there is no record of crimes that you have done!  You now have a clean record because of Christ!  So it isn't just that you are forgiven, as good as that is - it is also that your bad record is taken out of the way.  Sin is wiped off your record, the books are cleared!  You get off scot-free!  You are declared innocent, and you ARE innocent, for there is nothing left to condemn and no law to condemn you anyhow!

Let's look at what else Christ did for us - what else does the passage say He did at the cross?  He disarmed the powers and authorities at the cross, making a spectacle of them and triumphing over them.  Jesus disarmed Satan and his demons at the cross!  He took away his biggest weapon that he was using against us - He took away the law!  Satan loves to use the law to accuse us and point out all the ways we haven't measured up to the law's standard.  The law is good and holy, but Satan in his twisted way uses it to accuse us and make us feel guilty, condemned, fearful of punishment, and afraid of God.  But Jesus took away the law and its record against us; He nailed it to the cross, so Satan can't use that against us anymore!  So who can accuse or condemn us?  Noone!  Satan is seen as a spectacle, a worthless bug who can't harm us, and his accusations are seen to be empty, because there is no record left of our sins and no sentence condemning us to death anymore!  Jesus has triumphed over Satan and we stand in that triumph!  Hallelujah!

So what about the way I used to feel when I sinned, that there was a wall there, that God was upset with me, that I was 'not right' or out of fellowship until I confessed and asked forgiveness?  Well, now that thinking is shown to be false and based on a lie of the enemy - the lie that sin is still a problem between us and God! That is a lie!  God has finished dealing with the sin problem of the world; Jesus came as the Lamb of God, sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.  That is exactly what He did. He took away our sin, and it is gone.  He also took away the law's record against us of broken rules.  There is no record against us anymore!  Thus Satan can't use the law to accuse us, because we aren't under the law's jurisdiction anymore - it has been taken out of the way as far as we are concerned!  The law has no say over us any more!  And so God has forgiven us completely, not only of some sins, but of ALL our sins, past, present and future!  There is nothing left to be ashamed about, nothing left to be condemned about before God, nothing left against us, nothing at all!  We are standing before God with nothing against us, not even one thing!  IN fact, not only has He taken away our bad record, He has replaced it with Christ's perfect record!

So when we sin, we haven't lost fellowship.  We are still in perfect fellowship, still 'right with God' since our rightness with God is based on Jesus' perfect right-ness anyway, not our own, and His righteousness before the Father is perfect and unchangingWe stand forever right with God in Christ's perfect righteousness! That righteousness doesn't change based on our performance, it's based on Christ's performance.  We didn't even receive it by performance but by grace through faith, so that means we can't lose it by performance!  So when we sin, we are still righteous before God.  He is therefore still pleased with us, looking as He does at Christ's perfect righteousness in us.  He is not mad, not upset, not disappointed, not pointing out our faults or wishing we'd just 'do better.'  He is finished dealing with our sin and now relates to us, not on the basis of our sins, but on the basis of Christ's righteousness!

Forgiveness carries with it the idea of being released or freed - you have been freed from the burden of your sins, freed from guilt, released from condemnation and punishment.  The penalty has been paid by Christ on the cross for ALL your sins, He has taken your punishment for you, and there is NO punishment left for you!  ALL of your sins have been forgiven, and the law record that showed your errors and demanded your punishment has been taken out of the way and nailed to the cross!  There is nothing against you. There is no condemnation.  There is no sin on your record. You are released, you are free to go! 
 Forgiveness carries with it the idea of being released or freed - you have been freed from the burden of your sins, freed from guilt, released from condemnation and punishment.  The penalty has been paid by Christ on the cross for ALL your sins, He has taken your punishment for you, and there is NO punishment left for you!  ALL of your sins have been forgiven, and the law record that showed your errors and demanded your punishment has been taken out of the way and nailed to the cross!  There is nothing against you. There is no condemnation.  There is no sin on your record. You are released!  You are free!, youare free!, you are free!

Thus no need to confess or repent in order to get forgiven, because you already are forgiven..Yes, it is okay to confess and repent, but it's not to get forgiveness, for we already have that.  Confession and repentance is more to see things from God's perspective and be honest about our struggles - because we are accepted and forgiven, we can let down our masks and admit we don't have it all together, knowing we're still approved by God and accepted.

We have been freed from our sins, freed from guilt, freed from condemnation, freed from shame, freed from penalties, freed from punishment, freed from any accusation or blame!  We are free indeed!  So next time you sin, remember you have been (past tense) forgiven of ALL your sins, the law and Satan cannot condemn you, Jesus already took your punishment so there is none left for you, released from your debt, the sin is just remnant of the old way of things and is not your real true identity in Christ, your record is clean, you are innocent, you are righteous and thus right with God for all time!  Remember all that and walk free!

May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14