Have you found yourself in a spiral of sin, confess, sin, confess, sin, confess, but you never seem to progress past that? You keep repeating the same patterns, the same sins, the same responses, with the same lies, and the same attitudes, but you just can’t seem to jump ship. It is a lot like driving around and around in a cul-de-sac but never getting out on to the street and going in a direction and then keeping on in going in that direction. Everything just gets recycled over and over again, and with the same excuses, too. It is a lot like being on a merry-go-round, but it never stops, and so you can’t get off. Or, you believe you can’t get off, but you can.
The Lord Jesus led me to read Isaiah 43:18-28 (ESV).
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.” Vv. 18-21
When you came to believe in Jesus Christ, what gospel were you taught? What was your concept of the word “believe”? To you, what does salvation mean?
I ask these questions, because we were not all taught the same, and what we came to believe, because of what we were taught, is critical to our eternal salvation and to the merry-go-round finally stopping so that we can get off; and to getting out of that cul-de-sac, so that we can move forward.
I think most of us were probably taught these basics: Jesus Christ, the Son of God (God the Son), left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, and suffered and was tempted like we are, yet without sin. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, performed many miracles, comforted the sorrowful, and he preached the good news.
But, the religious leaders in the temple hated him, so they had him hung on a cross to die, but this was God’s will for him. For, in his death he who knew no sin became sin for us. He took our place and our punishment for sin on himself so that we could be forgiven our sins and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. Yet, he did not remain dead. He rose again, then he ascended back to heaven, and one day he will come again.
But, what many are leaving out is why the religious leaders put Jesus to death, and they are omitting much of the truth as to why Jesus died for our sins, too. And, they also omit what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, and what difference that belief should make in our lives day in and day out.
The religious leaders in the temple put Jesus to death because they hated him, they didn’t believe in him, they were jealous of him, and they decided he was a blasphemer because he claimed to be God. They were jealous of him because of his popularity among the people, and they were threatened by that and feared that their own positions of power and influence were at risk. And, they hated him because he pointed out their sins, and he didn’t comply to their religious rituals nor did he bow to their man-made religion.
When Jesus was on this earth, he preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He taught that to follow him we had to deny self, take up our cross daily, i.e. daily die to sin and self, and follow (obey) him. He said that if we did not eat his flesh and drink his blood, i.e. if we did not participate with him in death to sin, that we had no part in him, and that we did not have eternal life. And, he said that if we held on to our old lives of sin, we would lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives, i.e. if we die with him to sin, we will save our lives, i.e. we will have eternal life with him in glory.
Thus, Jesus died on that cross, not just so we could be forgiven our sins and have eternal life with God in heaven. But, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God.
So, what is the point of all this? It is that so many people are teaching a gospel absent of the cross of Christ in our lives. There is no death to sin and no living to righteousness in their gospel, for they do not teach the necessity of repentance or obedience for salvation. But, Jesus did. The apostles did. But, not to earn our salvation, but as part of believing faith, for the gift of salvation is not just forgiveness of sin, but it is deliverance from slavery (addiction, bondage) to sin. It is deliverance from the merry-go-round, so we can get off and so we can get on that path of righteousness and move forward, and not backward, and so we don’t keep going in circles.
“Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.” Vv. 22-24
The problem here is two-fold. There are those who have bought into a false grace gospel, have prayed a prayer after someone else, and thus they believe they are saved from their sins, and that they have the hope of heaven when they leave this earth. But, they never repented of their sins. They never were crucified with Christ in death to sin, so they also were not resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus, they have not been born again.
That part got skipped. They just went from acknowledging what Jesus did for us on that cross and accepting his forgiveness, but minus repentance, to trying to live the Christian life, but in the flesh. And, that is why they can’t get off the merry-go-round, because they missed a step. They skipped that part about turning away from a lifestyle of sin to walking with Christ in obedience, because someone told them they didn’t have to. And, in the flesh they will not be able to be free from their addiction to sin.
The other aspect of this is those who did genuinely receive Jesus Christ as Savior of their lives, but at some point in their lives, they fell back into sin, and they didn’t truly repent, and so they got stuck there. And, the only way out for them is to come clean, to confess their sins, to turn from them, in the power of the Spirit, and to walk in righteousness, in the strength of the Lord. They have to once again yield their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, and lean on him, and trust in him, and choose to follow him.
So, God is not pleased! He gets no pleasure in our insincere sacrifices or our superficial acts of worship of him. He is weary of our pretenses, and our false confessions of loyalty to him, which are lacking in true repentance. And, so he is calling out to those who profess his name to repent in truth, and to seek his face, and to walk in his love, and to yield to his Spirit.
“I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;
set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
Your first father sinned,
and your mediators transgressed against me.
Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
and Israel to reviling. Vv. 25-28
Our Lord longs to be gracious to us and to forgive us our sins and to daily cleanse us from all unrighteousness, if we will come to him in truth, and if we will honestly give our lives to him in full surrender.
As believers in Jesus, if we do not repent, and we hold on to sin, he will discipline (chastise, rebuke) us. He will judge his adulterous church, but not to condemn, but to save, i.e. to bring them to their knees so that they will leave (forsake) their idols, and so they will follow him in obedience.
For those, though, who think they are saved, but they skipped repentance and obedience entirely, because they were convinced they didn’t have to, they must know that if we walk in sin and we make sin our practice, we will die in our sin, not have the hope of eternal life with God. But, if we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and if we are walking according to the Spirit, then we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:17-24).
Handel’s Messiah Pt 1 (excerpt)
The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple,
even the messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in;
behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
But who may abide the day of His coming,
and who shall stand when He appeareth?
For He is like a refiner’s fire.
And He shall purify the sons of Levi,
that they may offer unto the Lord
an offering in righteousness.
Sunday, December 31, 2017, 4:44 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your word. May we all take it to heart. Amen!