This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
step on an ancient journey that Christ followers have been traveling for almost 1700 years. Our focus for the next 40 days will be allowing God to confront our lives through the Cross of Jesus Christ. We will examine some of the hard teachings of Jesus Christ as he made his way to die for our sins. We will look at what it means to walk Calvary’s road with Him as we are “crucified with Christ” so that “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galations 2:20). These 40 days will be a concentrated time of preparation for Easter Sunday, characterized by soul-searching and spiritual reflection. Each day is designed to help us consistently explore God's word and find out what God is specifically confronting us to do. For 40 days we will memorize scripture, meditate on God's word, let our minds try to grasp the beauty of the Cross, and spend time being confronted with the death of Jesus Christ and how he wants to transform our lives through the Cross. You may be asking, why 40 Days? While there is nothing magical about 40 days, the Bible reveals that God considers 40 days to be a spiritually significant time period in which people can be transformed. In fact, in the Bible, anytime God wanted to get his people ready to be used mightily for Him, He took 40 days to prepare them. For instance: Noah’s life was transformed by 40 days of rain Moses’ life was transformed by 40 days on Mount Sinai The city of Nineveh was transformed in 40 days Jesus was empowered for ministry by spending 40 days in the desert The disciples were transformed by 40 days with Jesus after the resurrection.
Through this 40-day journey, it is my prayer that God will use his Holy Spirit, his word, and these devotions to reveal to you what it means to be confronted with the Cross of Jesus Christ. It will be a journey in which we must decide to die to ourselves so Christ can live through us. These forty days are not about physical death, but spiritually dying to our sinful desires so Christ can live in us and we can have a fresh encounter with God. For every one of us, this journey will be different. The question is: Will you make the effort to be confronted with the Cross and listen to what God wants to reveal to you as you walk Calvary’s road with Jesus Christ? Passionately pursuing deeper intimacy with God is open to all who believe. But few of us will really be willing to follow once we know the real cost. It's a lot more fun to be entertained by Jesus than to walk Calvary’s road with him. It is far easier to sit and listen at church than to struggle and strain in our pursuit of purity to become the church that God wants us to be. It's much easier to play the part of a radical follower of Christ than it is to crucify all that you are in order to seek the presence of God. No, confrontation of the Cross will be hard because the call to die is not for everybody—only for those who are serious about experiencing the greatest adventure life has to offer. The road to Calvary is dangerous and frightening but it is the only way. Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). If you choose to answer that call, you will be in for some very hard moments, but take heart, it's well worth it in the end. Jesus promised that all those that follow him will have abundant and eternal life (John 10:10, 28). As you walk Calvary’s Road you are headed toward an encounter with God that will overwhelm you with more joy, engulf you with more hope, and astonish you with more love than you’ve ever known before. If you choose to take this step and use these devotions for the next 40 days, I guarantee that God will change your life.
I am asking for all those who call the Journey home to commit to the following: 1. Participate in all six weekend worship experiences and Consume (March 13-April 22). Every week the sermons will touch on how the Cross confronts us in our lives. Your Life Group will discuss the sermon and you will be studying the same topic individually during the week in these devotions. This will allow you to study in more detail the truths taught about on Sunday. It is crucial then that you attend all six weekend worship experiences. We will end the 40 days of Passion on Good Friday when we come together for Consume, April 22, at 6:30 pm for a night of intense prayer and passionate worship. Read the 40 daily readings in the 40 Day s of Passion Devotional. I want to suggest that you schedule a daily appointment to sit down and read it. Schedule it and do it every day for the next 40 days. It will take you about 15 minutes a day. Read the text, think about the principles, and allow God to confront you. I would also suggest that you have a partner that you can call on the phone and discuss what you’ve read. Don’t go through this journey alone. Get someone to hold you accountable and help you. Join with others in a Life Group to discuss the week’s teachings. True transformation never happens alone, but by challenging each other to seek hard after God. Each week Life Groups will be given discussion questions designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Bible and to help you consider how the truths of Scripture can impact your life. Commit to going to your Life Group consistently every week during the next 40 days. If you’re not in a Life Group, it’s not too late. You can visit our website (www.thejourneyoc.net) or go to the Information Center on Sunday and we will help you get into a group. Memorize a simple Bible verse each week from the 40 Day s of Passion Devotional that will help you focus on walking Calvary’s Road. Every week you will be given a weekly Bible memory verse that fits the theme of the session. Write this verse out every week and hang it someplace where you will constantly see it (refrigerator, mirror, computer, etc…), this will help you memorize and mediate on the verse throughout the week. While scriptural memorization may seem like a challenge for some people, I encourage you to take this opportunity to grow deeper in your walk with God through this key spiritual habit. Sacrifice one thing over the next 40 days. As a statement to yourself and to God of your commitment to follow Him, make a decision to sacrifice something for these 40 days. Denying yourself something so you can focus more completely on God allows Him the opportunity to really work in your life. This means that for 40 days, you will give up something from your everyday life that occupies your time; in order to free you to spend time that with God. Here are some ideas: You may decide to not listen to the radio in your car so you can spend that time in prayer. You may decide no television, internet, movies, magazine reading, or video games. Then you can occupy that time with prayer and scripture reading. You may decide to give up lunch each day so you can spend that time memorizing scripture and reading this book. You may give up a bad habit and spend the time you dedicated to that habit going through this book.
Pray about something you can give up in your life so that you have a little extra time to get intimate with God. God will be glad to show you! If you're still confused, pray again. I know that sometimes when God reveals something I should sacrifice, I have a tendency to compromise. Don't bargain with God. Fast from the thing that is most distracting to your spiritual life, and replace it with prayer, study, and worship. Are you ready to listen as God confronts you with the Cross? Are you ready to take the next step in living a life that pleases God? Are you ready to step out of the comfort zone of mediocrity and live the passionate life that God desires for you to live? Then let’s join together for this 40-day spiritual journey as we walk on the Road to Calvary with Jesus and allow the Cross of Jesus Christ to confront every area of our life.
Week 1 Confrontation The Latin term for confrontation means “to turn your face toward, to look at fully.” Confrontation means that you are turning toward the relationship and the person and dealing with the issue full on. You are face-to-face, so to speak and fully engaged in resolving the issue. In confrontation, we face the relationship and out of deep love deal with the issue that needs to be addressed. This is why God will confront every sin in our life. Sin is an expression of rebellion against God by making something else more glorious than Him. God desires to confront us in order to make the relationship better, to deepen the intimacy, and to create more love and admiration between himself and us. Memory Verse: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) Take time to write this verse out on a piece of paper that you can hang some place where you will constantly see it (refrigerator, mirror, computer, etc…), this will help you memorize and mediate on the verse throughout the week.
Day 1 :: March 14 :: Read John 6:25-29 Confronting the issue
During the middle period of his ministry, Jesus was popular—as popular as a top athlete, politician, or a rock star in our own day. Thousands of people came to see him, hear him, and watch him. He didn't disappoint them. They saw him miraculously heal the sick and raise the dead. "Man!" they probably said to each other as they smiled and elbowed each other, "This guy is incredible! What's next?" Crowds of more than fifteen to twenty thousand people would follow him wherever he went, chanting his name. The crowds couldn't get enough of him. But popularity was never Jesus' goal. He wanted to make radical disciples and worshipers of God, not groupies. So at the height of his fame, he made sure no one misunderstood. He confronted the people in no uncertain terms that he was God himself. He said, "I AM the bread of life." Sounds pretty simple, huh? But to the people of Jesus’ day, his “I AM” statement sounded very much like the time when God revealed himself to Moses and called himself “I AM that I AM.” Jesus was claiming to be that same God—with the implication that he should be worshipped, too. The people began to grumble, “Wait a minute. I like the healing and miracles and eating, but I don't know about this Deity thing...” They wanted Jesus to back down, to say, “Well, I sure don't want to offend anybody, so let me rephrase that statement.” Instead, Jesus cranked it up a notch. He told them bluntly, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink" (John 6:53-55). Eat his flesh? Drink his blood? Jesus had confronted them with some hard words and that was too much for them. So the crowd melted away and the thousands of people went back to their homes and regular lives. After watching them all walk away, Jesus stood there with only the twelve disciples next to him. Jesus then turned and confronted them, “Do you want to go as well?” What do you think that moment was like for these guys? Wow, what a crossroads moment! This was full on confrontation in which they had to decide who Jesus was to them and if they would follow him. Here Jesus was just a few minute ago, the big guy in Judea, with all the flare, glamour, and admiration of a movie star. Things had been going great! Then he claimed to be worthy of worship and obedience, and all the people—that's all the people in the crowd—left when he confronted them. I can imagine the twelve disciples shifting their feet and looking at the ground. Kind of embarrassing for all of them. Then Peter shrugged and said simply, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." So the twelve stayed with Jesus. Jesus didn't come to entertain us, to make all our earthly dreams come true, or even make life easier for us. Jesus' ultimate goal in coming was to bring glory to the Father by offering us salvation through his death and resurrection, and the opportunity to intimate with God. If we expect only to be entertained and given earthly blessings if we follow Him, we will leave the first time he confronts us to sacrifice something and obey Him. The people in the crowd did. Many of us do, too. But hard words of confrontation are just as much a part of being a disciple of Christ as all those promises we love to hear about God. In fact, if you are never confronted with hard words from God, it's a good sign that you aren't his child at all.
Solomon wrote about our need for discipline; so did the writer to the Hebrews: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son" (Proverbs 3:11 12, Hebrews 12:5 6). Only a loveless father refuses to confront his son or daughter, and our Heavenly Father is not that way at all. God loves us to the point that his heart breaks when we get off the path he has charted for us, so he lovingly confronts us and says, "Hey, it's me. Listen. You're messing up. Don't go that way. Come back to me." At that point, we have a choice to respond or ignore him. Not many people like confrontation. In fact most people tend to avoid it. But if you really love someone and you know that what they are doing is going to destroy not only them, but also your relationship with them, you will do everything to confront them. Your love would compel you to confront them because the confrontation would preserve the relationship and save the person. Confrontation occurs when we take off the mask of our lives, stop hiding and really begin to deal with who we are and what God wants us to be. When God tells us the truth about our lives, he is lovingly confronting us with information that we desperately need. He is confronting us with himself, presenting himself to us, revealing himself to us, and drawing a distinction between who he is and who we are. The intent is to make the relationship better, to deepen the intimacy, and to create more love and admiration between us. It is with these hard words, but loving words of confrontation that God guides us to the Cross.
Day 2 :: March 15 :: Read Matthew 16:24-26 When we least expect it
Jesus' words were unmistakable—and brutal—to his disciples. They knew what crosses were. No, they weren't silver charms worn on necklaces. They weren't the designs in tattoo parlors. The cross was an instrument of execution, one of the most violent and horrible ever invented by evil men. I can imagine the disciples gasping when Jesus confronted them with those words in Matthew 16:24. His words must have had a terrifying effect: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). These words are sobering because Jesus makes the price of following Him very clear. This death is not about physical death. It means that when I follow Jesus as my Savior and Lord, the old self-determining, self-absorbed, self-pleasing me must be crucified and die. I must every day consider myself dead to sin and alive to God. This is the path of life: “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). This is major confrontation. When Christ calls a person, he confronts that person with the strong words of death, but also promises the reward of real life. This is why Jesus begins this statement with a tiny but important word—“if”. He doesn't take it for granted that you and I will be willing to follow him along his path of radical obedience to the Father and experience the joys of intimacy with God. Jesus is no bully. He doesn't try to get us to pack our bags for a guilt trip. No, he simply offers that path with all its hardships and joys, and says, "If you want the greatest adventure life has to offer, and experience what the ultimate joy your heart was really created for, then here's what the ticket will cost you." Quite frankly, the vast majority of people look at the brochure and say, "No thanks. The price is too high. I'll settle for something else." Only a few are willing to say, "Yes, Jesus. I want to go wherever you go." Fewer still stay on board for the whole journey to the cross, to die to self and follow Jesus. Jesus makes the offer, and he leads each of us in deciding what we want to do. Jesus did not go to the Cross and die to make this life easy for us or even prosperous. He died to remove every obstacle that keeps us from him. Intimacy with Jesus Christ is our everlasting joy. Over the next several days you are headed toward an encounter with God that has the potential to flood your soul with joy in a way that eclipses anything you might have previously called satisfaction. But it will require God to confront you on several areas of your life and for you to respond in obedience as he leads. Too many of us have lost our passion for Christ and over the next several weeks we are going to open our lives up once again to his correction and begin to pursue hard after Him. If you are unhappy with your current state of spiritual hunger, if you feel like your love for God has grown cold—then hard—to God’s people and God’s Word; if God has moved from the passion of your life to the back burner; if instead of straining for more of God— to put Him first and receive his best—you find yourself unexplainably holding back; and if you feel any of these things in increasing measure, this is definitely the book for you. This is a book about coming back to the Cross to experience what true life is all about. Make no mistake about it, this road to Calvary in which we encounter the Cross will be hard. In fact in order to get there, Jesus says you are going to have to die as you follow Him. He will constantly confront areas in our life that need to be put to death. In some cases, God will confront you about a secret sin you harbor: pornography, anger, lying, greed, bitterness, or harboring a grudge. But in many cases, the sins are not hidden at all; they are your greatest strengths and your most valued possessions:
He may show you that you love yourself more than you love your boyfriend or girlfriend. He may expose your bad attitudes. He may show you that academics, sports, or your daydreams are taking too much time and attention. He may show you that you care too much about popularity, acceptance and the approval of others. He may reveal the bitterness and unforgiveness that resides in your heart. He may show you that your looks, clothes, car, career, or some other possession are taking God’s place He may show you that your selfish ambition or jealousy is stealing your heart away from God. He may show you that you want to avoid making hard decisions; that you wiggle out from under authority; and that freedom has become your God.
We can't program when, how, and where God will confront us. God will do it when he's ready, not when we think we're ready. And don’t expect Jesus to go easy on you. He loves you to much to allow you to spend your life pursuing false treasures and wasting your life on things that will never bring you ultimate joy, hope, peace, and pleasure. The Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly that God wants to revive our relationship with Him. He wants to confront us with our indifference and apathy towards Him. He wants to wake us up, to refresh our faith—to fire us up again. If you feel like your faith is a bit off course, you must know that the first wrong turn in your life is always a move away from God. If you wake up one morning and find yourself in a spiritual desert, then you must trace your steps back to where you wandered away. You’ve got to return to the Lord, go back to the Cross. Discover what happened in your life and where there was a failure of faith, because all pleasure flows from the fountain of joy that is found only in returning to God. This is where the Cross confronts us to get back on the path, get the goal in view again and pursuing Christ with new passion. As we examine the Cross we realign our life to seek God and gladly make Him the center of our life. Maybe you can remember a time when you were fired up about the Lord, but somehow you’ve drifted away. Maybe you’ve just been showing up lately to go through the motions of pursuing God, but you’re missing the mark. Maybe you could say, “Somewhere along the line I lost my passion for the Lord.” Well, you can have it back and God wants you to have it back! God wants each one of us to return back to Him and there’s no biblical reason to doubt it. Over the next several weeks we will be confronted with the Cross so that you can return back again to the love and joy of intimacy with God. This is a season of letting God confront you by tuning your heart-strings to the melody you were made to play: a dynamic, delightful, genuine relationship with Him. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, no matter what you feel or think you need, the clouds of heaven are now bursting with the favor and fullness God would shower upon every place within you that is parched and dry. A deluge of dangerous delight in the God who made you is ready to rain down upon you. If enjoying an intimate relationship with God was easy, everyone would have one. Fact is, most people do not—even those who are really trying. I know that I didn’t for a long time. But by God’s grace, He’s taught me and brought me a long way. More than anything I want to share with you the road I’ve traveled as I have been confronted by the Cross. I know that you have some questions and wonder how it can happen for you. Believe me; the answers will come in the weeks ahead as the Holy Spirit works. The point is, right now be receptive to his confrontation. When he speaks, be still. Listen. It's not necessarily audible. It's even louder. It is straight to the heart. God doesn't need your ears to get your attention. Obey. Will it be hard? You bet! Dying is never easy, especially the tortures death on a cross. But he speaks these words of confrontation because he loves you so much, and he honors your commitment to follow him with all your heart.
Day 3 :: March 16 :: Read 1 Corinthians 15:1 –4 Repairing the damage
Christ’s miraculous entry into this world, his gruesome crucifixion, and his surprising resurrection leave us all in a position of response to Him. The cross is indeed confrontational because it demands a response from us. Either we deny that He came and died for us or we believe it. Either we look away from his death or we look on it in repentance. Either we reject the belief that Christ rose from the dead or we place our hope in it. Either the Cross of Jesus Christ becomes the most important event in our life or we treasure something else as more important. These events are not value-neutral. Neither is our response to them. The cross confronts everything from what we believe about God to what we believe about ourselves.
However. The cross is confrontational because the Cross demands a response from you and me. Start banking your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. God created this world good and peaceful and offered us the opportunity of unbroken fellowship with himself. Let me urge you to do whatever it takes to make the gospel of Jesus Christ your passion. that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others.This is why the central message of the Bible is the gospel. God takes that which is broken within us and around us and makes it new. allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life. as Genesis 3 tells us. Through one man's disobedience. yet peace and beauty and hope burst forth as Christ rose three days later from the grave. Jesus. Paul provides a clear summary of the gospel: Jesus Christ died on the Cross in our place. so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself and has given him authority to exercise judgment. But why did Jesus have to die? To answer that question you must understand the story of redemption. The cross of Christ represents judgment on all our sin. The point is very simple. For his glory. and it tells of a just and loving God calling lost and rebellious creatures back to himself. What was once broken.… For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). who came and lived a perfect. Paul writes." will inevitably condemn itself by its treatment of Jesus. who has power to cast out Satan. In the midst of our various responsibilities and many possible areas of service in the kingdom of God. things went wrong. This is why Paul wrote: “Now I would remind you. God has patiently and purposefully continued the story of redemption. God sent his only Son. and who is the only way back to intimacy with God. brothers. loving it. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4. "the ruler of this world. who has the irresistible appeal to draw all of God's people to himself for salvation. The cross shows very clearly God's wrath against sin and his grace to repentant sinners. perfectly legitimate. Will we be drawn to the Cross and cherish its grace or will we ignore it and live our life centered on something else other than Jesus Christ. who has the power to forgive us of all of our sin. about the person and work of Jesus Christ. God restored through his Son. Break the power of sin's promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of Jesus Christ. the Cross of Christ is the judgment of the world and Christ is the judge. we fell from this joyful state of fellowship. This is the glory of Jesus Christ we are to treasure and worship. I mean passionate in thinking about the Cross. reflecting upon it. If there’s anything in life we should be passionately in love about. Jesus expressed it this way in John 5:22–23. rejoicing in it. "For as the Father has life in himself. This is the good news of what Jesus did for us and this news is very confrontational. Through Christ we are offered restoration and reconciliation. who condemns sin. the world became twisted and fractured. who has authority to judge this world. it’s the Cross. because he is the Son of man. then God is at work in your life." and in 5:26–27. We enter into his story at creation. Jesus endured God's wrath on behalf of sin. and from every person in this world. sinless life and offered himself as a sacrifice for our sin on the Cross. What should you do? Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you from the guilt and punishment and bondage of sin. Paul says. This can be done through prayer that can be done in this fashion: “I now believe that Jesus Christ is Your only begotten Son. but has given all judgment to the Son. of the gospel I preached to you. one overarching truth should motivate all our work and affect every part of who we are: Christ died on the Cross in order to die for our sins. "All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). God has been writing this grand and glorious narrative of his goodness and grace since before time began. It was a dark and horrendous moment of suffering and death. Since that time. Sin entered our hearts. Paul is pointing us to the one great truth that should define our lives. This. Ask God to change your heart so you can personally affirm for your own life the words of Galatians 6:14. A person accepts the gospel by declaring to God that they are turning from their sin and trusting in Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross. The harmony and peace that creation once enjoyed was damaged by sin and broken in disrepair. is the main thing. Nothing else—not even things that are biblical and honorable—are of equal or greater importance than this: God sent his Son to the Cross to demonstrate his love in that Christ would bear God’s wrath for sinners like you and me. and with that sin. The cross confronts us to answer the question—What’s the main thing in your life? What do you passionately love? What is truly “of first importance” to you? It might be something perfectly honorable. that He came to our earth in the flesh and died on the Cross to take away all of my sins and the sins of this world. or good news. "The Father judges no one." The cross glorifies the Jesus Christ because it reveals to us who he truly is. but if it’s something other than the Christ dying on the Cross for your sins so that you may be intimately reunited with God—are you willing to repent to God and reorder your life? Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so. one who loves his Father's glory more than his own life. it’s the gospel. I believe that Jesus Christ then rose from the dead on the third day to give all of us eternal 6 . paying the penalty for our sins. At the Cross the true state of every person’s heart is laid bare. three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him. “Far be it from me to boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?” Perhaps you have felt God calling you to surrender your life over to Him and receive Jesus Christ as your savior. It is a story that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. The Father invites his children into relationship with Him and into the newness of life Christ offers. According to Jesus "this world" under the dominion of Satan.
and pray for you. so he lays down the challenge to all those that want to follow Him. possessions. Has Jesus said some hard words of confrontation to you already? How did you respond? If you didn't respond very well. He was." then he has the responsibility to show us those things that stand in our way. It could be a cherished dream. confronted this man and pointed this out: "Go. "Hey. Jesus is challenging us to see that life is found in him alone and that he is the ultimate treasure. The main point Jesus was making was that if we genuinely want to follow Christ. The reason for this is not that Jesus must die again today. "All these I have kept. and says. Still. But out of his love for us. He confronts us with our need to come to Him and die." You will find a dozen reasons to leave it right where it is. kill it. We expect things to happen simply by pushing a button or clicking a mouse. Be brutal. Sure. what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus repeated some of the Ten Commandments and the young man responded. we can go to all the meetings and sing all the songs. I now confess to You all of the wrong and sinful things that I have ever done in my life. Day 4 :: March 17 :: Read Luke 9:23-27 Making things crystal clear These are hard words of confrontation. but until this issue is taken care of and that area removed. help you. don't expect it to just melt away. Our sin must die. here's a guy who is on the same page with Jesus. would you please let me know at pastorjameshilton@theJourneyOC. Don't listen to it plead or scream. He knows that thing—that dream." The man asked a good question: "Teacher. I turn from my old life of living for myself. sell your possessions and give them to the poor. Jesus.net. Jesus saw deep into this man's heart and he confronted him on his most prized possession—money. He came to be our Lord. Grab the dragon by the throat and slay it with the Sword of Truth (the Bible). I ask that You please forgive me of all of my sins by the blood that You have personally shed for me on the Cross. He will constantly confront areas of our life where we put something or someone before him. I see I am more flawed and sinful than I ever dared believe. it will destroy us and short out the connection between us and God. you may need to remember that he didn't come to entertain us or give us all our earthly wishes. and this culture has not prepared us for it. so that you can live in me. Why? Because we value our life more than anything else. but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. I have nothing in my record to merit your approval or salvation. If you and I have responded to him by saying. The devil does not go easy on us. his aim was to call a great band of believers after Him. but I now rest only in what Jesus did on the Cross and ask to be accepted into God’s family for his sake. but that I am even more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. Be done with it. follow me. they must die. “these things must be put away. "Jesus. we need to be ready for him to confront us with those things that come between us and him. Jesus saw an open door. It won't. When God shows you that something besides him is occupying the center of your life. Dying to sin is hard. but it is the only effective way to deal with sin. you love this more than you love me. Don’t expect it to die easily—it won’t! When God points to something in your life. it is essential if we intend to walk with God. and you will have treasure in heaven.life.” A rich young man came to Jesus one day. let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). He's not an actor or a comedian. What do I still lack?" At that moment. “If anyone would come after Me. I want to encourage you. He undoubtedly had seen it earlier in the conversation. or that person will hinder our intimacy with Him and until we move it to its right place it will continue to kill us.” If you prayed this pray. he's our Savior. I will follow you." Matthew tells us: "When the young man heard this. The quicker method is harsh and brutal. Then come. It won't. This is war. but that we must. God loves us too much to not confront us. It won't. I will help you tear it from your heart. it will find a way to hang on and you will be defeated. 7 . a very committed believer. Our "entertain me" culture has made us spiritually soft and emotionally mushy. Ask God to help you not get hung up on making excuses for your sin. a relationship. brutal work. because he had great wealth" (Matthew 19:22). When God confronts us he speaks words of love and rebuke and he makes himself crystal clear. he went away sad. but he waited until the man asked for more. If you try to get rid of the sin gradually. money. out of great love. Listen to the hard words of Jesus as he confronts us with the Cross. Be ruthless.” It sounds crazy. When Christ went to the Cross. I am now ready to accept You as my personal Lord and Savior. The disciples probably looked at him and thought. Don't expect it to come out without a fight. a position we want to hold. Don't expect it to step down graciously. Your heart will plead for more time or another chance. by all outward appearances. Don't start to bargain. “For whoever would save his life will lose it. a person—whatever we say that we must have to live or desire more than him. and put me there. "My child. Amen. When He bids us to take up our cross. that must die. the thing or the person we cherish more than him.
The reason is that we are still living with desires. which a man found and covered up. The story of that person's life has come to a happy ending. it proves that God loves you. When we receive Christ as Savior we are making a declaration with our very lives that shouts. enjoyable. is merely window dressing when compared to the great inhabitant of Heaven." We are all longing to arrive on the shores of contentment. The fact that Christ compares receiving Him and his kingdom to discovering a treasure dramatically impacts how we understand the Christian faith. and glorious than anything else. to break the habit pattern we have developed of continually giving in to the temptation to that particular sin. to deprive it of its power. A woman loses a valuable coin and rejoices when she finds it. It will be with us until the day we die." Keane's "getting older" and "needs something to rely on. the quest is over. Perhaps this is why Jesus so often used the motifs of quests and treasures in his teaching. The question is will you turn from whatever it is God is confronting you with and return back to God. There are times when we allow other things to become more valuable and prized than Jesus. Pray and ask God himself to help you with his Holy Spirit. But the Christian's heart is a funny thing. The battle against our sinful desires is a fight for our lives. educated guess. but it will lead to new experience of the presence and power of God. intimacy with God. "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:4). this is the essence of sin. It is true—there is nothing better than Christ. right? At the risk of sounding a bit political. however. most importantly. The Christian knows that Jesus is not simply the last rest stop before reaching the anticipated destination. The goal of dying to sin is to weaken the habits of sin so that we do make the right choices and live as if Jesus is supremely more valuable. to find what will ultimately satisfy us. wants to feel what it thought was never real. This is why the call to die is not just a one time action that we make. U2 "still hasn't found what they're looking for. This may be a difficult struggle. and accountability. Embracing the Jesus of Scripture is not a roll of the dice or even a reasonable. remember these things: Fix your eyes on Jesus as he dies for that sin and gives you the grace and power to overcome it. but a way of life that we must live. They try to crawl back into your heart again and again. and a heart that is sinfully broken. we can only say yes—and no. Either by faith we believe He is the treasure. a battle that God can fight in and through us. He is the answer to the psalmist's question. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. we say yes." Linkin Park wants to "heal. Tell a godly friend to get some insight. and it would be worthwhile for us to sell off every other possession if that's what is required to have Him. Focus on passages of scripture to encourage and direct you as you respond to God’s confrontation. he understands that we can not completely eliminate indwelling sin and the desires of sin in this life. 8 . When we receive Christ as our treasure. Jesus did not say to the repentant thief on the Cross. as wonderful a place as it must be. emotions. "I've found it! Jesus is my treasure!" So when somebody becomes a Christian. or we keep looking for treasure in other places. you're in trouble. This is why Jesus confronts us to kill the sin in our life. If you have. Even heaven. When Jesus confronts us to die. we have found the very thing for which our souls have most longed. Scan through some music stations on your FM dial and listen for the longing. Stay in the fight. even after deciding to die to self. In dying to self there is a battle to be fought. leaving the other sheep to secure “the one that got away. Have you been confronted by God? If not. These things don't die once and for all. So. since the treasure hunt is an ongoing process as our hearts keep losing sight of what they know to be supremely valuable. and. But why. "Today you will be in Paradise." but rather. He is the pearl of great price. do we still battle with the desire to sin. A shepherd goes on an all out search. We also say no. encouragement. but yet it seems very few people are finding it. To die to a sin means to subdue it.When this day happens. “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25). Jesus is the destination. Jesus' comparison of finding Him to finding a buried treasure won't allow a kind "play it safe" approach to life.” And could Jesus be any clearer when He says. Will you follow Christ on Calvary’s road to die so that you might truly live? Day 5 :: March 18 :: Read Matthew 13:44 A treasure worth finding Everyone is searching for something that will satisfy his or her insatiable appetite for fulfillment. the lives of others. then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matthew 13:44).
and he will bind us up. Day 6 :: March 19 :: Read Hosea 6:1 -3 Following Jesus This whole week we have looked at how the Cross confronts us to come and die as we follow Jesus Christ. that promises us joy. You can leave where you are and return. We need to focus on it as an act of rebellion against God and his glory. So often we are troubled with a persistent sin only because it disturbs our peace and makes us feel guilty. despising of his authority. You say you cannot overcome it. seeking something else as more valuable than God. or neighbor. We must see our sin for what it is and for what it stands for—a rebellion against God. that we may live before him. It’s turning off the current path we are on and go back to the One that died for us. He sent his Son to die for those very sins that fill his heart with pain. Hating one particular sin is not enough. It's not too late. We must hate all sin for what it really is: an expression of rebellion against God by making something else more glorious than God. a belittling of his greatness. And yet. maybe you've experienced some parched days in your relationship with God. not because of what it does to me. he will come to us as the showers. but because your heart was in a dark place. kill impure hearts if we are unwilling to also put to death resentment. Genesis tells us that when "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on earth had become…The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth. You can return to the Lord. return to Him! The Hebrew term translated "return" is used more than a thousand times in the Old Testament. Notice the invitation. God is ferocious about upholding his glory in your life and will constantly confront you with areas that you have not kept watch over. We cannot. Why not? Is it because you value your secret desire above the will of God? If we are to succeed in putting sin to death.Dying to sin involves dealing with all known sin in one's life. After two days he will revive us. we must realize that the sin we are dealing with is none other than a continual exalting of our desire over God's known will and valuing something else as more valuable than Him. Let’s return by igniting a fresh godly passion within us by deciding to follow God with our whole heart. It is a picture of God confronting us where we are and calling us to come back to Him. they are acts that grieve God. "Come. choosing something else as more valuable than Him. Are you ready to make that choice right now? You can 9 . let us press on to kn ow the LORD. that loves us. you—can have a fresh downpour of God's grace and mercy upon your life as you confront the Cross. and hope in his presence. for he has torn us. The tender call of God is open if we will just listen. You—yes. let us return to the LORD. a grieving of his heart. Without a purpose to obey all of God's Word. Like me. that he may heal us. But it is also rebellion against our heavenly Father who loved us and sent his Son to die for us. To die to sin we must focus on its true nature. Our rebellion is of course against the sovereign authority of God. let’s return. on the third day he will raise us up. An attitude of universal obedience in every area of life is essential. It begins with the realization that sin is wrong. Listen to this amazing assurance given by the prophet Hosea: “Come. God is waiting now with open arms. a breaking of his law. Maybe you've known the sadness of falling in exhaustion and watching through weary eyes as your heart begins to shrivel and the darkness of sin invades your life. Your sin and my sin are not only acts of rebellion. You can gaze in renewed wonder and awe upon the God who loves you. I have some great news for you if this is you—Times of refreshing may come as you return to the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:20). majestic. Think of an unusually persistent sin in your life—perhaps some secret desire that lies in your heart that only you know about. You don't have to experience the sorrow and heartbreak that you're feeling. The heart that beats within your chest this moment can pulse with renewed joy given by God in response to choices you make and actions you take." You don't have to be where you are. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians. glorious God who sent his Son to die for my sins. Returning is a decision made at a particular point in time. It is used more frequently than almost any term describing what God desires for us. God our Father is grieved by our sins. he has struck us down. and his heart was filled with pain" (Genesis 6:5-6). pleasure. so let’s turn back. He is the treasure that we seek. with a right attitude toward sin. his going out is sure as the dawn. It's a tenderhearted pleading. or my spouse. Maybe you've had seasons where time with God was non-existent and weekend worship was dead—not because of what we sang or taught about. for example. or child. Let us know. "Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1). The problems in your life and in my life began when we turned away from God. you don't have to live the life that you're living. but because it is an act of rebellion against the infinitely holy. as the spring rains that water the earth (Hosea 6:1-3). precious. isolated attempts to mortify a particular sin are of no avail. We cannot kill a fiery temper if we are not also seeking to put to death the pride that so often underlies it. This is where dying to sin actually begins.
” He is crying out for urgency. When you see what got you where you are. Get fired up about it. I want what God has for me. and if necessary. I'm shutting it off and I'm moving away. You've got to let God shine his light on your activities inside and out. I am going to pursue it with the greatest passion that I have and with all my effort. You must look at your life and see what needs to be removed because it's a barrier to the returning you really need. ounce of strength we can muster. you will constantly struggle in sin. I’m killing it at the heart. Finally. respond now to the invitation: Come.” Broken confession and repenting are so important that we are going to spend a week on each of these. however. let us return to the LORD. So often as a pastor. I'm not going to just sit back. I'm returning to the Lord. I'm going after this myself. I want God!” When Hosea says. Why. You confess. admonish us. It is stating. “let us know God. but know for now that there is no deep intimacy with God without returning and there is no returning without confession and repentance.go through these 40 days of Passion and gain no benefit if you don't begin by turning to Him and following him on Calvary’s road. I'm sorry for what I've done. 10 . This is not just an emotional response and a change of your mind. This is why Life Groups are such an essential part of our church. so that he or she can enter into our struggles and not be scandalized by the nature of our deepest sins. I'm unworthy. It takes energy. It takes effort. and who are in danger of hell if they were to die today? If your honest answer is like most believers I know. you don't want it anymore. I don't want this anymore. ” The phrase “press on” is a military term that describes the way a victorious warrior conquered. Second. “I'm wrong. and to your success in killing sin in your life. It's intentionality and intensity all rolled into one.” he is talking about a passionate pursuit of the Lord. Remember. and accountable with people in that group about your sin. “let us know…wait. encourage us. open. You deserve better than this. Let us press on to know God. It is someone that you can share absolutely everything with and someone who will help pick up the sword and battle sin with you. Actively and constantly pursuing God is difficult work. This person (or persons) must be someone who is also involved in the struggle to kill sin in his or her own life. and then vanquished his foe. The call to return to the Lord begins by recognizing that some things have to go. Don't be so lazy and sluggish about your faith. it's also an exertion of your will to get moving again in the right direction. This is taking away my passion for God and I'm returning to the Lord. so we may know the Lord. The things that have to go are the ones about which you can say—“This is wrong or harmful to me and those I love. then quit being so passive. If you are not in a Life Group and vigorously being honest. heartfelt rekindling of love and passion for God's Word? When was the last time you really praised God because you saw the wonder of the Cross? How recently has your heart been so tender that you wept over lost people in your family or your coworkers who desperately need the Savior. I'm not hanging around that temptation. Each of us in a "one another" relationship should be committed to both helping and receiving help. "If Jesus is who he says he is. I don't want that. It takes enthusiasm. I want to say to people. I don't want the opportunity to sin anymore. you have to come back to the place where you were obeying God and centering your life on the Cross of Christ. Let's give ourselves to this. You are ready for some total honesty. repent of these things. “let us press on with every fiber of our being. I'm undeserving. we need more than everyday energy in the matter of knowing eternal God.” You've got to see some things differently. think about your life. This is the type of friend we should pray for and seek out to help us in our struggle to kill sin in our lives. these 40 days of passion. God. “I'm leaving this sin behind. God's invitation goes out to all of us to stop being lazy and give our relationship with Him all that it deserves. This is worth more than you're giving it." Pressing on to know the Lord means waking up and giving that pursuit everything you have. because next week we will soon discover that he is holy and glorious and worthy of our pursuit. When was the last time God confronted you over your sin and the direction of your life? When was the last time God brought you to your knees with the weight of weeds growing unwanted and treacherous in the garden of your heart? When did you last have a deep. The words “press on” calls for our enthusiastic effort.” It's like he stops midsentence and says. I have no excuse for acting and choosing as I have. It's intense. We need at least one other person of like heart to pray with us. “let us press on to know the Lord. What should you do? First. but I'm returning. this is why we need the help of other Christ followers to engage in the struggle with us. I'm going after it! I'm going to pursue it! I'm going to put some intensity into this! Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. so that what used to be attractive is recognized for the sin it really is. actually take steps to return back to God. No more. it is a mutual effort. if you want to experience the deep intimacy with God. Hosea is not casually saying.
We compare our life.Week 2 Holiness God calls all people to holiness. and do them” (Galatians 3:10. The demeaning of God would be endorsed. Because God is holy. Deuteronomy 27:26). however small it may be. both the good and the bad. This week we will be confronted with God’s holiness and examine how his holiness brings us to the Cross. “Well. and you cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Habakkuk 1:13). “Be holy. and he has made this clear: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Memory Verse: 1 Peter 1:15–16 As he who called you is holy. Holiness is nothing less than complete conformity to the character of God. Before we can ever realize how much God loves us. He cannot for one moment relax his perfect standard of holiness. because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). against other people and always seem to be morally better than them. What exactly is holiness? The Hebrew term for holiness is qōdesh. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). And it isn’t God. God’s holiness does not make allowance for any sin. We're not even exactly sure what holiness is. We would say "awesome" or "unbelievable" or "unfathomable. the Bible says. we mean God is not like us at all. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). you also be holy in all your conduct. Therefore. I’m still working on that area of my life. we must first be confronted with God’s holiness and our sinfulness. failure to love and obey him is not trivial—it is treason. There is a holy curse hanging over all sin. We love for and glorify what we enjoy most. God’s law demanded.” Day 7 :: March 20 :: Read 1 Peter 1:15-16 The holiness of God In order to intimately pursue the living God. “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law.” or even the more hopeful statement. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). we must first see God’s holiness and our sinfulness. there would be no demand for his wrath to be poured out on his Son to suffer and die in our place. God has not called us to be like those around us." That's holiness. God says. But we must understand that God is also holy. and rightly so. He is the standard of right and wrong. The reason is that we are very quick to dismiss our sin and make excuses for it. He will not tolerate. It defames God and destroys human happiness. But holiness is something that is often missed in our daily life. since it is written. He can never excuse or overlook any sin we commit. not in any way. Because God is holy he cannot possibly ignore or approve of any evil committed. the Greek is hagios. Therefore. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. God does not allow us to rationalize our sins or making excuses. We comprehend only a small part of all that God is. But we have all loved other things more than God. The Prophet Habakkuk declared. “Your eyes God are too pure to approve evil. more strong and impenetrable than anything we can imagine. Therefore. “Well.” No. He's different. All worship. This is why God demands perfect holiness from every living being. Before we can ever realize how much God loves us. and acting on those preferences. no 11 . Our sins deserve to be punished. A. “You shall be holy. A fresh encounter with God begins when you are confronted with God’s holiness and God’s call for you to live in holiness. W. Since God is holy. We talk a lot about the love of God. He says to us. love. We love to hear that God loves us. let alone how we are to live in holiness. If God were not holy. He feels a holy wrath against them. Both mean "to be set apart. Tozer rightly observed that what you think about God is the most important thing about you." When we say holiness. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him. that’s just the way I am. A lie would reign at the core of reality. It's true whether you realize it or not: your entire life revolves around your view of God and directs how you live your life. for I am holy. he does not sweep these crimes of sin under the rug of the universe. because God’s love is important. Not to punish would be unjust. We have trouble thinking of God in this way. He has called us to be like Himself. more piercing and powerful. you must have a right view of God and realize exactly what he is calling you to do. God is more righteous and pure. We will never stand in awe of God and deeply worship Jesus Christ until we are confronted with the seriousness of our sin and God’s holy wrath against us. and obedience flow from this fountain—the God of the Bible is a holy God. But God does not give us that right.
but in righteousness he rages against sin as a mighty torrent of fury. and how we have fallen far short of his standards of goodness and moral perfection. condemn. we sometimes play with temptation by entertaining the thought that we can always confess and later ask forgiveness. God says. Sin deceives us into imagining a god who just loves and loves. God’s righteousness is the natural expression of his holiness. God’s holiness confronts us about how we have rebelled against the purity of God’s nature. but too often we quickly rush over the first half of this statement to get to the second. our sins. it is stating that God will do what ever it takes to uphold His holiness. every twisted thought. God hates sin intensely because he is holy and his holy wrath will be poured out on every sin that you have ever committed. We need to be gripped by the fact that God hates all these things. our outbursts of anger. chiefly. Righteousness is a scale of measurement that compares God’s holiness against our lives. the more we will hate sin. 12 . Hate is such a strong word we dislike using it. Stop for a moment and let this sink in—God hates sin with such intensity because He is holy and His holy wrath will be poured out on every sin that you have ever committed. big or small. If we focus solely on God’s love. But it is. He never decides not to intervene. we sometimes lapse into a state of peaceful coexistence with them but God never ceases to hate them. It reminds us of all the things we have done that God did not approve of. therefore I hate every false way. Hatred is a legitimate emotion when it comes to sin. We may excuse our sins. you’d immediately guess that Paul would begin his most famous letter. Love is coming. We become so accustomed to our sins.” But that isn’t what Paul wrote. We cannot escape the fact that God hates our sins.” This is true. He hates our lustful thoughts. we are saying that He always does what is right and perfect. our choices. It leads us to think about all of God’s rules that we’ve broken. but God’s righteousness. The righteousness of God is not a fun thing to think about. since the sin is only a small one. With great astonishment. and our utter unholiness. Speaking of various sins in Israel. No. God does not just dislike sin. and not much else. full of joy and assurance. But first we must get a glimpse of God’s holiness. But he doesn’t. “Through your precepts I get understanding. we might think that nothing we do matters to God at all. our thoughts. In fact. hated. Before Paul could get to the love of God that was revealed at the Cross. This is why the scripture says. God’s wrath will punish every sin you have committed. and it is coming with completely overwhelming glory and grace. But such a one-dimensional God is not the holy God of the Bible. and our rationalization that our sin is no big deal. but God hates them because he is holy. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31)." (Psalm 119:104) We often say. only a strong word such as hate conveys an adequate depth of meaning. “God hates the sin but loves the sinner. We expect Paul to say that the Gospel revealed “the love of God. Therefore every time we sin. When we say that God is righteous. If God is infinitely pure. the more we are confronted with God’s holiness. It isn’t the love of God that confronts our sinful failures. his hatred of sin. This is why Paul began the great book of Romans by telling us that the Gospel reveals God’s righteousness. It reveals that we are not right. and every little evil desire that comes from us. he must explain to us how the Cross displays the holiness of God. He never overlooks our sin. What? That sounds so wrong. Yet when it comes to God’s attitude toward sin. God hates every minor sinful flaw. We will never stand in awe of being loved by God and deeply worship Jesus Christ until we are confronted with the seriousness of our sin and God’s holy wrath against us. David said. This means in God’s righteousness he will judge.matter how big or small we think it is. and punish all sin because he is holy. We hear so much about the love of God. our pride and jealousy. the letter to the Romans. and was unhappy about. have twisted his good gifts into loving them more than Him. It is hard to think that God’s righteousness is at the center of the “Good News” or Gospel to us. “I hate all these things” (Zechariah 8:17). and. His righteousness stands against all sin and anyone that disobeys his holy law or insults God’s holy nature. the Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Romans by stating that it wasn’t God’s love that was revealed in Christ dying for us on the Cross. God’s judgment does not have a soft spot. we are doing something God hates. When we read that God is righteous. In the deceitfulness of our hearts. We reprove our children for saying they hate someone. describing the greatness of God’s love for us. If this is how we think. We run to his love and dismiss ourselves from all responsibility and accountability for what we have done. we have been deceived. then He must oppose all sin. Day 8 :: March 21 :: Read Romans 1:16 -17 The righteousness of God With the emphasis on God’s love in the Christian culture. Such thinking is exceedingly dangerous.
and only then. Love. He is different in his nature and his character. there was never a time in which he did not exist. We can offer no defense before him and we can’t deny any charge he brings against us. God’s love is very precious. many attempts to present themselves as the “one in a million” but if that claim is true. All the gods of the nations are just idols—man-made creations that are nothing. There is only one God and every single creature will give an account to Him. God’s righteous anger was poured out on Christ through his death. Day 9 :: March 22 :: Read Exodus 15:11 There is no other God like You “Nothing else like it. Not only is God infinite in his knowledge. He was before creation. The righteousness of God was completely vindicated because Jesus Christ bore punishment for our sin and rebellion. or responding to them in his wrath. Our words amount to a heap of inadequate comparisons and you can't come close to describing God—He is indescribable! God is not like us. The price of forgiveness was totally paid. There is no one like God and you will stand before him one day. judge sin. his justice is perfect. We are on a collision-course in that someday we will meet the holy God of the universe. Holy” (in Isaiah 6). but it is even more valuable when we understand how we stood before a holy God. As you read the rest of Romans you soon realize that the love of God flows from God’s righteousness. “To whom then will you compare me. This shifts all emphasis we have been giving to God’s love and it forces us to think about how the Gospel is a proclamation of God’s righteousness. nor of causing any sin. whenever he wants to do it. and satisfy his justice concerning the sin in this world. God could never “wink” at our sins—just forget them. overlook them or let them pass away without a word. He is perfect in his knowledge and power. Love. nor is he capable of sinning. “God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners. This is why Romans begins with the righteousness of God and his judgment against our sins. 13 . That is where the Gospel begins. This is terrifying because there is no appeal against the accusations that God brings to us. that I should be like him?” Who can you compare to God? He's holy. and justly deserving his righteous judgment. does it move to the Cross of Jesus. But it is interesting that the only “triple” name for God in the Bible. We can’t escape him. Holy. and so he must confront sin. All the benefits that flow from the love of God come to us because the holiness of God has been satisfied by Christ on our behalf. a very special collector automobile. is “Holy. There is only one God. And it is in the Cross that we learn of his love for us. Christ died for the us” (Romans 5:8). The way that God has judged sin in the world is by the death of his Son on the Cross. He is not limited by any measure of strength. Heaven. he knows about our sin. The fact that God is like no one else brings us to a collision-point with God. But before we encounter God’s love we must be confronted with God’s holiness. The holy wrath of God was satisfied with the suffering and death of Jesus. He has never sinned. He is morally perfect in every way. and he is not like man at all. He is never defeated by evil. some of them are still there: “Prepare to Meet Thy God. Romans is supremely a book about the holiness of God and his righteous judgment on our sin in the Cross of his Son. God is never fooled. This is why the bible says that God is holy. Then it. every one will stand before the holiness of God and every mouth will be silenced by the majesty of His throne of judgment.one might imagine that God is just Love. as Romans teaches. We can’t hide from him. There is nothing to compare to the Lord. There are some of the loftiest passages in the Bible regarding God’s love (Romans 8 for example).” That is a phrase that we use to describe a diamond. There were some signs along the roads in the rural South many years ago. Make no mistake here. He is never at a loss for words. There is no deficiency in his moral character. God is God. He was from the beginning. and then God declared us holy because of what Christ did for us. In the end. an especially beautiful home. He is not limited by any shortage of knowledge or wisdom or power. Romans if filled with the love of God. the one you are looking at is unlike anything else in the world. In Isaiah 40:25. or a fabulous boat in the Caribbean. He is perfect in His hatred of sin and there is no hiding that we have all sinned. And because God is God. he is infinite in the realm in which he dwells. His knowledge of us is complete. The obedience of Christ was completed to the fullest measure. He can hear your thoughts even though you didn’t speak a word.” They just had five words. The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed by Christ on the Cross. but they carried a powerful message about the confrontation we will all have with God one day. It is the only one. He is not bound by time. God says. God can do whatever he needs to do. condemned for our sin. The phrase tells us that there are many imitators. God is not like us. His will is always accomplished.
and when you are leaving. I think our problem is not godly sorrow and holy dissatisfaction. but we must always remind ourselves that we have so much more to do. All sin is against God in this sense: it is His law that is broken. You may have a way of getting out of jams. I am asking you to honestly examine your life and ask “how I am doing compared to God’s majestic holiness?” If we truly are going to return back to an intimate encounter with the living God. You're depressed. or play games with Him. and then you spill your coffee. Until we face this attitude and deal with it we will not consistently walk in holiness. but there is a subtle. If God just used sweet words and gave only hugs we wouldn’t have a problem. that you think so highly of yourself. I'm asking you to feel worse that you possess so little of Christ. self-denouncing feelings spring from? Is the answer: God's offended glory because he is holy or your offended pride? People who are depressed and immobilized and angry because their behavior has injured the glory of God are very. You feel like quitting your job. 14 . For example. What's the use when you're such a klutz? Now I ask. people are already struggling with depression and guilt as it is. but I think 99% of our bad feelings about ourselves is rooted in pride. Admitting our spiritual imperfections and our moral failures is the starting point for the pursuit of God and encountering his presence. Most people are depressed. Developing a holy dissatisfaction with your spiritual life allows you to see how far you have to go so that you will pursue holiness with a greater passion. and recognize that you have not yet arrived. angry. or feeling the success of moral victory. or read the bible. and then the joke you attempt falls flat. it begins by feeling bad and guilty about the right things. God wants us to walk in obedience—not victory. Many people today would say. the evil thoughts of your mind. People do not need a negative appeal to think more about their guilt. I am asking for something that is rare in our day." But this is exactly what scripture calls us to do. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented. using your skill with words or your winsome ways to avoid conflict. but rather to emphasize that victory is a byproduct of obedience. or cool. and then you don't know which fork to pick up first. victory is oriented toward self. and the callousness of your heart. by seeking to become holy. We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of a holy God. We must turn from our sin. You don't want to show your face. Seeking the holiness of God begins by developing a holy dissatisfaction with your spiritual life. immobilizing. righteous. we will certainly experience the joy of victory over sin. self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin and the guilt we feel over sin. This is why we must be developing a holy dissatisfaction with our spiritual life and current state of holiness. Stand in front of the mirror of the Word. compare yourself to God’s holy standard. No matter how great you think you are. and that God’s holiness hardly ever comes across your radar. you are still so far away from what God demands of you. He knows perfectly the true condition of your soul. "This idea of comparing our lives to the holiness of God is utterly out of touch with real people. As we concentrate on living an obedient. We never see sin clearly until we see it as against the holiness of God. You can not compare your life with the holiness of God. where does all that low selfimage and guilt come from? Where do all these depressing. You hate yourself. not because we know it is offensive to God. Most of the time our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. There already is an epidemic of guilt and bad feelings about ourselves. But God is holy. You must start going hard after the holy God. and our selfishness. very rare. I'm not asking you to feel worse about your inability to appear good. no matter how many times you have attended church. You might be able to fool your friends and even yourself. His government that is rebelled against. or intelligent. How do you feel about yourself when you get home? Rotten. suppose you go to a dinner party and find out when you get there that you are dressed wrong. and guilt ridden because their behavior has prevented them from having a reputation of being good. holy life. or given money. trick Him. you call your hostess by the wrong name.What should make us horrified of this is God’s holiness. But such approaches are worthless before the holy God who made you. This is not to say that God doesn’t want us to experience victory. Obedience is oriented toward God. but you cannot fool God. aren't I a good boy?" and all of our reputation and self-consuming godlessness. Don't tell people that what they need is to develop more dissatisfaction about themselves. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics. You must turn from these empty things and embrace Christ by faith as the great treasure of your soul and your only hope for salvation. approach the holiness of God with humbling guilt. His authority that is despised. We must run from our "look at me. Let's pause and clarify this.
man again sets out on a foolish plan to make a name for himself by building a tower with its top in the heavens. influential or totally unknown. He requires that we be holy. but that we are only just beginning our quest to know him “as we are known. “Lord. God speaks truth. much more to be learned of him.Day 10 :: March 23 :: Read Isaiah 40:25 -26 See the holiness of God God has called every Christian to a holy life. Our view of God changes us. Every Christian of every nation. If we really love God and see him as the greatest treasure in the world. The more we see the greatness of God the more by faith we want to obey him and enjoy deeper fellowship with Him. the more we understand that there is much. sinless life to have fellowship with Him. holiness describes both the majesty of God and the purity and moral perfection of His nature. Holiness is nothing less than complete conformity to the character of God. at the core of our sinfulness is our desire to assume that someone or something else is more glorious than God. and he knows the future. To regard wickedness is to cherish some sin. As used in Scripture. He has called us to be like Himself. God’s moral code is perfect and he cannot break it. he hit me first.” Our God is great. I am preparing my heart for deep intimacy with God. Because of the fall that occurred in the Garden of Eden. God is at work humbling us. That is to say. “If I had cherished sin in my heart. At the core of our being is the sinful desire to reduce holiness so that there's seemingly no separation between us and God. But God has not called us to be like those around us. In Genesis 11. That's what God's holiness does for us—it puts everything and everyone in their rightful place. changing us to be more like him. When God is humanized and man is deified. Yes. In Genesis 3. The more we study God. and submitting our wills more and more to his will. and truthfully. Everything gets out of perspective. learned or unlearned. and a few dedicated godly people. yet I justify it in some way like the child who says. When I embrace God for who He is and I understand who I am—when I know God's place. If we love him and want deeper intimacy with him then we will grieve over the sin in our lives instead of justifying it. in all of us is a self-centered bent to make myself more glorious than God. wisdom. “LORD. we will pursue holiness because we want deeper intimacy with him. prophetic vision.” When we are holding on to some sin. what can we compare to him? The knowledge of God draws us not only to know about God. I can know my place—then things start to fall into place as we seek to know Him more. This call to a holy life is based on the fact that God Himself is holy. Because God is holy. to love it to the extent that I am not willing to part with it.” They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. and totally separate from me. but He does require that we be serious about holiness. we are not pursuing holiness and this will hurt our intimacy with God. This is why the pursuit of holiness in our life is required for fellowship with God. This is what makes sin so evil. the unsung homemaker and the powerful heads of state are all called to be holy. This is why it is essential that we must be confronted with the holiness of God so that God is placed back in His rightful place.” The psalmist said. God does not require a perfect. The more we see God’s greatness and magnificence. “Well. so these Christians are more or less holy. in other words—is not a living faith but a dead one. the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). highly exalted over me. Adam and Eve listened to the lie that they could be like God because they craved what belongs to God alone. who may live in fellowship with You?” The answer given in the next four verses may be summarized as “he who leads a holy life. In Romans 1 we learn that every human heart exchanges God's truth for a lie and we worship ourselves and creation rather than the Creator. I know it is there. is called to be holy. beyond me. The Christian plumber and the Christian banker. David asked the question. but it shows us the power of God at work within us. As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy. The more we know God. the more we recognize that what we know is amazing. There are no exceptions to this call. who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1). but to love him. When God is recognized as being above me. holiness is lost. the more earnestly we will pursue holiness as a way of life because the God we love is holy. Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness. we were born with the sinful desire to make ourselves god of our lives. 15 . whether rich or poor. it cannot be broken. Our service to God not only shows us more of the nature of God and his wisdom and glory. This is the point James is making in his hard-to-understand passage on faith and works (James 2:14–26). Nothing can be compared to God. no better than that which the demons possess. It is not a call only to pastors. He is simply telling us that a “faith” that does not result in works—in a passionate pursuit of a holy life. God is glorious and worthy of nothing but our adoration and worship. missionaries.
Our generation struggles and wallows in cheap grace and shallow holiness because we have departed from the biblical picture of God's holy and exalted nature. Preferring the comfort of his love and nearness. God is constantly reminding us that He alone is God and that we are not God. We are not God. greater than us. We are restored in holiness and so we break with our old way of living. God’s discipline of sin in our lives is serious stuff. Scripture constantly warns us that no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). He is restoring us from the dreadful Fall of Adam by restoring what was lost in our relationship with him. David described the discipline of the Lord this way: “When I kept silent. In a single word: Holy! God is infinite holiness. “Is there evidence of practical holiness in my life? Do I desire and strive after holiness? Am I deliberately living in sin and not turning from it? Do I grieve over my lack of holiness and earnestly seek the help of God to be holy?” It is not those who profess to know Christ who will enter heaven. But it is a change that is created through the love that you have for God. like puppets that obey the Law but don’t have a relationship with God. the Spirit of God is grieved (Ephesians 4:30). to hear his voice. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me. “The Lord disciplines those he loves. he is seen as holy by his people. When God speaks to us about some sin. and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6). unrepentant sin in the lives of those that confess to love and follow Him. for God is not impulsive in administering it. knowing. Our restoration puts us into a confrontation with our past. So close that we can say with a certainty that we know God and that he knows us as intimate lovers. This statement presupposes our need of discipline. He is holy! The holiness of God is a view that we have lost in our modern day. God is not whatever my conscience or imagination would like Him to be. He disciplines us because we need discipline. we need to be reminded of this fact.” are made holy. When we begin to fall away from the holiness that God calls us. Scripture says. but when we are constantly and deliberately living in sin. to have his work of reconciliation bring us close to God. we need to heed and take action. we may flatter ourselves that we are Christians but we do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. and He dwells in unapproachable light. We can never compare to God—He is more powerful than us. God is not the "Man Upstairs" or "Big Daddy" or some old grandpa with a long white beard. with cries for renewal and for new ways to walk with God as restored people that are pursing holiness. how could that not change you. he discipline us. These are not times when we fall into temptation and immediately seek God’s forgiveness and cleansing. and experiencing who God is and what he desires. God is passionately bringing us back to a closer intimacy with him. It is a long journey from seeing the holiness of God to becoming a person who longs to become more like God in your own personal holiness. wiser than us. living in sin. He confronts us with his holiness and our unholiness because he loves us. We are restored in holiness. Holiness is serious. To persist in disobedience. is to increase our necessity for discipline. We do not allow the enslaving power of sin to have its sway in our lives. and those who are near him make God holy by the manner in which they live their lives. God’s holiness will not allow him to tolerate continuous. God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). You love the holiness of God. Everyone. God is giving us the freedom to walk with him. who are “near him. but those whose lives are holy because they profess Christ. The reason is that when we indulge our sinful natures and dwell in unholiness. If we know nothing of holiness. God is not just making us holy. Even those who do “great Christian works” will not enter heaven unless they do the will of God. To be restored to God is to experience the work of Christ on the Cross. How could you not be changed when you are near to God? How could seeing. God is glorious and exalted. God is inexpressible. The very quality in God that was so fearsome to you when you first heard of it becomes the most precious quality within the divine Person. to speak with him. We come to God with pleas for deliverance. we have lost the reality of God's holiness. 16 . No matter how many times we read this. “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified and before all the people I will be glorified. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. Leviticus 10:3 reads in part. indescribable glory.” When God is sanctified. The only safe evidence that we are in Christ is a holy life. who professes to be a Christian should ask himself. and we're not. We no longer do what we used to do. Paul tells us that some of the Corinthian Christians persisted in disobedience to the point where God had to take their lives (1 Corinthians 11:30). my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3–4). Through the cross. Paul said. This means that those who become close to God.Day 11 :: March 24 :: Read Hebrews 12:10 Sharing God’s h oliness Throughout the bible we are told that God is holy and this holiness shouts separation. John said everyone who has within him the hope of eternal life purifies himself just as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3). then. understanding. To fail to deal with that sin is to risk incurring His hand of discipline.
this is murder. The reason is that we do not know the full story of the bible. Their firstborn’s lives were forfeit. I don't know how He is going to be both—but I know He will. But why had Isaac not been sacrificed? The sins of Abraham and his family were still there. He would have rightly assumed that he was hallucinating. ‘Lord. His ultimate punishment was taking the lives of their firstborn. Away from me. Why? Because in ancient culture the firstborn son was the family. But when God stated that his only son's life was forfeit. God was not asking him to walk over into Isaac's tent and just murder him.’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. So when God told the Israelites that the firstborn's life belonged to Him unless ransomed. my God—why hast thou forsaken me?" there was no voice from heaven announcing deliverance. Isaac was saved. and in your name drive out demons. that did not make it any less terrible. in those same mountains. a ram.. Jesus. He was calling in Abraham's debt that he owed because he has sinned against the holiness of God. “Not everyone who says to me. Our sin means that Isaac's life is forfeit. another firstborn son was stretched out on the wood to die. the just for the unjust. contradictory statement to him. he would have been too crushed and hopeless to go. a substitute was offered. Many will say to me on that day." Instead he was saying. The true substitute for Abraham's sin was God's only Son.Listen to these somber words of warning from Jesus. "Get up and kill Sarah. His son was going to die for the sins of the family. but I don't know how. All this is crucial for interpreting God's directive to Abraham. but I'm going to do it anyway. When God brought his holy judgment on Egypt for enslaving the Israelites. freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) 17 . But there on Mount Calvary. Rather. "My God. "This is crazy." Do what? God would somehow remove the debt of sin on the firstborn and still keep the promise of grace. "I know God is both holy and gracious. God by his grace allows the first born to be redeemed through regular sacrifice (Exodus 22:29. God is holy and because of the Israelites' sinfulness. "For Christ died for sin once for all. As Abraham prepared to walk up the mountains in obedience to God's call he told his servants that "we will come back to you" (Genesis 22:5).. for God would not ask him to do something that clearly contradicted everything He had ever said about justice and righteousness. If Abraham had heard a voice sounding like God's saying." Abraham would probably never have done it." He was not saying. If Abraham did not believe this he would have been too angry to go. How could a holy and just God overlook them? Well. because of the sins of the families and the nation. He asked him to make him a burnt offering. the lives of their firstborn are automatically forfeit to God. "God will make a way. Though the command was logical. along with Him. but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also. "I can do it. Lord. when the beloved Son of God cried. ‘I never knew you. He was saying in the most vivid way possible in those cultures that every family and person on earth owed a debt and deserved punishment because they had offended God’s holiness. It is unlikely he had any specific idea of what God would do. The Bible repeatedly states that. He would have just lain down and died. ‘Lord. Abraham still had the debt of sin to pay. But he did not go up the mountain saying. Instead." filled with willpower and self talk. that was not an irrational. Why? Because God’s holiness demanded that someone pay the debt for our sins. to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). It was only because he knew God was both holy and loving that he was able to put one foot after another up that mountain and climbed the mountain. Abraham was not just exercising "blind faith. he went up saying. Lord. We can only understand God's command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac by reading the rest of the story. 34:20) or through service at the tabernacle among the Levites (Numbers 3:40 41) or through a ransom payment to the tabernacle and priests (Numbers 3:46 48). Abraham was faced with the ultimate question: "God is holy. To many readers the story seems heartless and cruel that God would give such a horrendous command." If Abraham knew he had sinned against God and because of that sin he was in debt to a holy God. So with Isaac tied to the offering table and the knife in Abraham’s hand swiftly about to come down. but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. But was it the ram's blood that took away the debt of sin? No. you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21–23) Day 12 :: March 25 :: Read Genesis 22:1 -19 and Romans 8:32 The Sacrifice Genesis 22 tells the famous story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Notice. God the Father paid the price in silence. who died to bear our punishment. God lovingly intervened. Many years later. did we not prophesy in your name. God will do it . But if he had not also believed that God was a God of grace. Yet God is also a God of grace and love. How can God be both holy and just and still graciously fulfill His promise of salvation?" The masterful Hebrew narrative gives us some tantalizing hints. Paul understood the true meaning of Isaac's story when he deliberately applied its language to Jesus: "He who did not spare His own Son. It just doesn’t make since. God has said he wants to bless the world through Isaac. and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly.
God made Christ to be sin— imputing (charging) our sin to his Son—so that we might become the righteousness of God through Christ—imputing (crediting) Christ's righteousness to those who believe. Most often they tell a story through a series of "acts" that gradually unfold the plot of the story from beginning to end. you didn’t deserve the gift of life. and great confidence as you approach God’s perfect nature and glory. Only if Jesus lived and died for us can you have a God of infinite love and holiness at once. but because you were living in darkness and now the light of the Gospel of Christ has shone into your life. In so doing. God’s holiness collided with our sin on the Cross. As you can see. God views them as being in right standing or in good favor before him. The whole verse reads. At the moment that they trust Christ alone for the forgiveness of all of their sins and the only hope they have of receiving eternal life. he credits them with the righteousness of his own Son. Day 13 :: March 26 :: Read Hebrews 12:14 Only the holy can see God. so that his sin is charged not only to him but also to all who have come from Adam (Romans 5:12 19). Act 3 is crucial to the story of salvation. To credit means to add something positive that increases the value from what was true before. In Act 2. charging the expense to him. Adam sins in the garden. and Act 3. It was on the Cross where Christ paid for your sins. Scripture reveals that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). and you can be absolutely sure He loves you. God the Father put our sin on his Son and satisfied his own holy wrath against our sin through his Son's death. God imputes (charges) our sin to Christ. Act 2. To impute is either to charge someone with something bad or to credit someone with something good." This means that God can declare you holy because you have been credited with the complete righteousness of Christ. That is. more joy. you credit the account by the amount of that deposit. many of which you had no clue about. this brings to Adam and to us both the stain and bondage of sin in our inner lives and the guilt of sin before a holy God. Even though he was sinless and innocent of any wrongdoing. you'll know that a play is quite different from a movie. God imputes (credits) Christ's righteousness to all those who believe. and God did it for you without your permission. When Jesus died on the Cross. and it involves God the Father now crediting us with the righteousness of his own Son when we put our faith solely in Christ. because you never would have agreed to it. These three acts in the plan of salvation are sometimes referred to as the three acts of imputation. he bore our sin and took the punishment that we deserved. better confession. The plan of salvation in the Bible can also be understood as having a series of acts. yet for our salvation. those believers are seen by God as holy. making the account more valuable than it was previously. Like a play that moves the story forward through its series of Act 1. There on the Cross the firstborn Son of God was killed to pay our debt. Act 2 involves God the Father taking all of that sin—both the sin we received from Adam and all of our own sin—and charging that sin to Christ. But in Act 3. In Act 1. "For our sake he [God the Father] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin. the salvation story of the Bible moves the plan of salvation forward through three acts." God imputes our sin to Christ. As Paul states. Jesus alone makes sense of this story. Plays are performed on stages with live actors and actresses. But what does this mean? Does our salvation depend to some degree on our attaining some level of holiness or measure of righteousness before we can see God? To answer this question we must walk the Road of Calvary and see how the Cross confronts us with the holiness of God. The result is that you now can face your sin with new freedom. 2 Corinthians 5:21 speaks of the acts of imputation that happen both in Act 2 and in Act 3. You come not because you are holy. The remainder of 2 Corinthians 5:21 makes this point. There his sacrifice and righteousness was accounted to your life. You come because your imperfections are covered with the perfections of Christ. In Act 1. Some have referred to this as "the great exchange. God imputes (charges) Adam's sin to us. When God imputes (credits) the righteousness of Christ to those who believe. so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. When you deposit money into a savings account. Have you ever been to a play? If you have. God does this with sinners who turn to Christ in faith. The only way that the holy God can be both "just" (demanding payment of our debt of sin) and "justifier" (providing salvation and grace) is because years later another Father went up another "mount" called Calvary with His firstborn and offered Him there for our sins. But here is something very important: the reason God sees them as holy is not because their inner lives have been 18 . You are not worthy of it. It is at the Cross that God’s holiness shines the brightest. and in exchange God imputes Christ's righteousness to those who believe. eating the forbidden fruit.The Cross is where the debt of your sin was paid through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. "For our sake he [God the Father] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21a). That's the greatest exchange that ever could be! There's something else about Act 3 that we need to understand clearly. You come because you are forgiven. Just like if you used your dad's credit card to buy something. so God charges us with the sin of Adam.
not their own righteousness. By faith." so that "his faith is counted [credited to him] as righteousness. When God looks at them. even after they've believed. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly. he sees his Son's perfect righteousness. when Paul says that God "justifies the ungodly. a righteousness that is complete and perfect." You see. those that are unholy as holy? Answer: because they have been credited with the righteousness of Christ. an answer that is at the heart of what the Christian faith is all about. To justify is to make a legal statement. No. not their own work. so God because of his grace. Paul writes: "Now to the one who works. Did you notice a surprising. Christ’s holiness now as theirs. Their standing before God is now as sinners who have been forgiven of the guilt of their sin because Christ paid the penalty for their sin on the Cross. his faith is counted as righteousness" (vv. having the right attitudes. then. God declares as holy those who are still very unrighteous only because they have been given the righteousness of another—the perfect righteousness of Christ. Justified by faith." This is the answer to the dilemma of Hebrews 12:14. Romans 4:4-5). But notice here that the one whom God justifies—declares to be innocent. saying the right words. even all the good works in the world. even shocking statement? It's in verse 5. could make a sinner righteous and holy before God. not by works—this is the heart of what the story of God's salvation plan is all about. his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. The answer is amazing. But if they continue to have sin within them. God credits them with Christ's righteousness. One of the most surprising statements in all of the Bible is found in Romans 4. and righteous—is an ungodly person! How can this be? The answer hinges on the fact that the ungodly person has been declared righteous by faith. as in a court of law.cleaned up and they no longer sin. that someone is innocent of wrongdoing. only because of the Cross of Jesus Christ. how can God view them as holy and being in right standing before him? After all. As sinners trust in Christ's work. How can God view sinners as righteous. Look at Romans 4:5 again: "to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. This is how unholy people can approach and see the holy God. they are declared holy. imputed to them by faith. those who put their faith in Christ continue to have sinful inner lives—they continue to struggle with not always thinking the right thoughts. his faith is counted as righteousness. those who have trusted in Christ are credited with Christ's righteousness. a righteousness that is not their own. if this ungodly man tried to "work" for his righteousness. holy. they are still sinners. credits sinners with the righteousness of Christ and declares them holy when they put their hope and trust in Christ alone. 19 ." To justify is to declare that one is holy or in right standing with God. But this verse says that the ungodly man "does not work" but instead "believes in" the One who "justifies the ungodly. or doing the right things. he could never receive what he worked to get. No amount of works.
in every chapter of Scripture. and the command to repent is rejected. It will hurt. unrighteous. What every doctor knows is that the most loving and wisest thing to do for any patient is to confront them with their sickness. It is a season of humility. dark spot on our x-ray and sent us home. more God-filled life is waiting for you. We are in trouble because we are ungodly. 20 . but the entire human race. of getting honest with God and others about your true spiritual condition. James 4:4). After a brief introduction of himself and his travel plans. Let this sink in for a moment. Day 14 :: March 27 :: Read Romans 1:18–22 The truth. We do not have to do anything to become God's enemies. In fact. “Draw near to God. I was brought forth in iniquity. You are not a good little angel. we are born that way (see Romans 5:10. telling us that everything was fine? "Oh. rekindle your spiritual passion. and he will exalt you. What good would it do if the doctor saw a big." the doctor might rationalize. Paul tells the young church at Rome why the Cross of Jesus Christ is such a precious thing and how the Cross confronts our very desperate condition. Yet one of the most concise diagnoses is found in Paul's letter to the church at Rome. There is no dodging this hard analysis—we are all guilty. Paul tells it like it is. we dare not mess around with our eternal future and God’s holiness. You deserve the wrath of God for every single horrible act of treason and rebellion you have committed. you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Every great movement of God and fresh encounter with God in your life will always be preceded by a time of brokenness. this makes every single person born on our planet an enemy of God and totally deserving of his wrath. A correct diagnosis is a relief no matter how serious the prognosis because you finally know what needs to be done. God will confront you with the Cross so that in your brokenness you will return to God. What we deserve from God is not his blessings. Have you ever seen that view of God before? Maybe it was the first time you realized how far above and beyond us in every conceivable way God actually is. but I knew it would ruin their day to know they have cancer. see also John 3:36). deeper. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. and desirable than God both in our actions and attitude. It may be hard. I am not talking about someone else—I am talking about you. Every person born into this world is born with an inclination to sin and rebel against God. There's no way any of us could compare ourselves to God's holy stature. Paul is not talking about a certain segment of people. The only reason we go is because we know something is wrong. The depravity of our sin is deep. so we take action to find a cure. We want a doctor to examine us and reveal to us the problem. you are wrong. As responsible moral beings. fools. A richer. David wrote in Psalm 51:5. That's not how God looks at us. Paul does not hold back his words when he makes his candid observation about our problem. We have all failed to conform to God's holy standard and sought other things as more glorious. Colossians 1:21. Though you may think with vague and feeble hope that God is “too kind and loving” to punish the ungodly. a time of tearing down walls. Completely different from us. beautiful. As harsh as it sounds. Memory Verse: James 4:8-10. while death draws everyday nearer. and purify your hearts. and repair your life. “Behold. But in the end. Last week we were confronted with the holiness of God and got a fresh view of how holy God is. On every page. this unconquerable human condition is described in horrific detail.Week 3 Brokenness We often think that when something's broken we can't use it anymore. Humble yourselves before the Lord. and he will draw near to you. The New Testament refers to those without Christ as children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3. futile in our thinking. Cleanse your hands. Read the words of Paul again in Romans 1:18–22.” Even from the womb we are born with a desire to rebel against God. no matter what your grandmother told you. This means that there is absolutely nothing virtuous or godly about us. And it all begins with brokenness. What is our problem? From Genesis through Revelation we are given a sobering analysis. reconcile your relationships. He is Holy! Understanding holiness and how incredibly high God has set the standard for human behavior reveals to us our deep problem. no matter how difficult or life threatening it might be. you sinners. and under that wrath of a Holy and just God. This depravity strikes to the very core of our being. He won't use us until we are broken. and in sin did my mother conceive me. I wanted to tell them the truth. This type of thinking hushes the fears of thousands of people and allows them to practice all forms of sin. the whole truth Not many people love going to the doctor. God’s holiness and justice stands forever against the sin you have committed in utter severity. We are horribly ravaged by sin. but his wrath. the wrath of God is growing.
and purify your hearts. Sinful desires cling to us in spite of our efforts to remove them from our hearts and minds. then changed. to transform you into the image of Christ. Through faith in Him and what He did for you on the Cross your salvation is secure. He did that in an extra-ordinary and absolutely gracious answer to our sin problem." (James 4:8-9) What we find throughout scripture is that brokenness is not a feeling or even an emotion. Be afflicted. and mourn. those who grieve over that which grieves the heart of God). Jesus Christ was broken for you. You see. to bring death to our own selfish ambitions. our interests. and He will draw near to you. If we don’t see the horror of sin and God’s holy intensity against sin. excitement. but we must choose to walk the road of brokenness. he absorbed that wrath for you. “Draw near to God. we will never really encounter the presence of God until we have first experienced Him in brokenness. And it is wonderfully good because the reward for brokenness is deeper intimacy with God. and enthusiasm. and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit. brokenness. "I'm a Christian! Jesus paid the debt for my sin and forgave me by dying on the Cross. whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place. our rights. and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. it will be. you sinners.“Wait a minute." you say. "Blessed (to be envied. It is in this confrontation of God’s holy intensity against sin and the indwelling sin that still lives in our heart that he breaks us. our lives will experience a fresh encounter with God and reflect the beauty of our Savior. they will experience the comfort that only God can give” (Matthew 5:3-4). are those who mourn (those who mourn over their sin. The heart that God restores and revives is the broken heart. "Cleanse your hands. " (Isaiah 57:15) Then we hear the words of Jesus. Brokenness is a choice that we must make if we desire deeper intimacy with God. you double minded. and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. Brokenness is not a onetime experience or a crisis in my life where everything falls apart. Brokenness is a continuous on-going life lived on the basis of a decision to surrender everything to God and deal honestly with my personal sin. Growth is a process—one that includes setbacks. The place where God dwells most intimately is the broken heart. only to have God reveal to us yet another area of our life that needs to be subjected to his forgiving love. God is continually confronting us with our need to die to sin. we’ll never be able to rightly comprehend or understand why it needs to die in our lives and why he is breaking us. It is an act of my will as God reveals my sinfulness and molds me into what he wants me to be. Again and again. abundance. Tozer said: “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply. When we have embraced the work of the Cross in breaking us. in the same measure we shall experience the life and joy of God. who inhabits eternity. we do not see our own dark side. in the same measure only will Christ manifest his life through us. We tend to think of a fresh encounter with God as primarily a time of joy. Utter brokenness in God’s holy presence is a prerequisite to any mighty moving of God in your life. our ways. Through the Cross. If you placed your faith in Him. and to revive the heart of the contrite. no matter the price." But it also reveals that for intimacy to happen we must seek brokenness. happy) are those who are poor in spirit (those who are morally bankrupt. our reputation. That's the eternal picture. And so at the right time.” In the measure in which we can be broken. standing as your substitute. we find ourselves being broken in order that our old sinful desires might be torn away. The measure in which we will allow the Cross to operate in our lives. He is working to destroy everything that is unholy in you. Day 15 :: March 28 :: Read Isaiah 57:15 and 66:2 The heart that God loves What kind of heart does God really love? What kind of heart does God allow to experience a fresh encounter of his presence? As you read scripture the answer becomes pretty obvious: "For thus says the One who is high and lifted up. failures. The epistle of James gives us the great promise of intimacy with God. and yes. No person arrives "fully formed" as a mature Christian and automatically holy. It is a quote that I do not like to hear. tender breaking. hard lessons. so that you will be holy as he is holy. the majority of the work remains—the work of the Cross." Yes. And blessed. but one that I constantly need to hear. Tozer that has always stuck with me. In many areas. This is the path of brokenness. I remember one time coming across a quote from A. God hates sin in your life and will do whatever is necessary to destroy it. We may think we have repented of every sin. healed.W. But the way that God prepares the heart for this fresh encounter with Him is through brokenness. to revive the spirit of the lowly. God will do the breaking. What then does it look like to embrace brokenness before God? 21 . The process is painful and difficult. Old habits are not easily changed. The work the Lord does in our lives in giving us salvation is just the beginning. those who are spiritually poverty stricken) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He will not stop working. Brokenness does not come easily. but don't make the mistake so many Christians do by confusing God’s work on the Cross with your work on the Cross.
The first step begins with deep humility. Are you being honest and transparent with people about your sin? Are you confessing your sin to a group of people that are helping you grow in holiness? Are you being specific about your sin when you confess? 22 . but rather. He created us for himself. Contrite is one word that is used in the Old Testament to speak of brokenness. to bring us to the position where we will want to do whatever God desires. The more isolated we are. David cries out with humility and brokenness because he is overwhelmed by his sin. He cries to God. pleasure. good looking. People who are unwilling to be broken are deeply concerned with being respectable and admired. and love. He wants to break our self-will. nor is it our essential personhood. It is confessing that you have sinned against God. to stop blaming others and take full responsibility for what we have done. But as God breaks us he reveals our need to stop hiding and face the ugly reality of our sin. Why did you sin? What were you looking to satisfy your heart and life more than God? Are you willing to confess your sins to God? Confession leads to complete surrender to God. When we sin we love to make excuses. They're willing to die to their own reputation in order to find healing through accountability. Confession is more than just admitting you feel bad. It is when we have no confidence in our own righteousness or justify our sin by comparing ourselves to other. As God moves you through the process of brokenness. the more destructive will be the power of sin over us. God is in the process of changing what we desire. This humility comes when we are willing to strip away our self-reliance and pride. Brokenness requires that we not confess in generals. True humility is realizing our great need for God. blaming others. It is crying out to Him that you are wrong and want God to restore your intimacy with Him. If I asked you. or even healthy. Do you want to be broken by God? Do you realize how your sin hurts the very heart of the God that loves you? This humility leads to complete honesty about our sin. This is why those that are broken “confess their sins one to another” (James 5:16). It is a willingness to take whatever steps God is leading us to take in order to destroy the sin that is in us. or worried that you will get caught. kindness. Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will—the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God. fashioning us. no stubbornness—simply submitting myself to his direction and will in my life. We pray God break me so that I may love you more. God didn't create us to give us our every whim and wish. What is it that God wants to pulverize in us? It is not our spirit He wants to break. Sin demands that we live isolated from others in order to hide our ugly truth and habit. but we deal with concrete sins. financially secure. shameful over your sin. We cast ourselves in total dependence upon the grace of God working in and through us. "Are you willing for God to do anything necessary to bring you to total surrender so that he is free to accomplish all that he wants to do for you and all he wants to make out of you?" I wonder what your response might be. in a great relationship. It is also more than an admission of guilt but is a process of soul-searching to see where sin has taken root in our lives. "Yes. Lord!”—no resistance. Brokenness happens as we honestly agree with God about the true condition of our sinful heart and the sin that is still in our life. "Do you really want God's best for your life?" I feel confident that you would say. Brokenness comes when we obediently respond to the conviction of God by confessing our failures. It is knowing that life evolves around Him and not us. and the more deeply we will become involved in our sin. and vulnerable because what they care about and what matters to them is not what others think. far more than he is in the process of giving us what we desire. as a rock is pulverized. he will always lead you into the need to have accountability in your life. The reason is because God knows what will fully satisfy you and give you ultimate joy. David is aware that his sin has crushed the very heart of God. They are willing to be transparent in order to find victory through confessing their sins to others that will help them fight for holiness. But broken people are concerned with being real. In Psalm 51. so we withdraw from any form of accountability. They're concerned with what others think and they're working to protect their own image and moral reputation. God is more concerned about you being holy and completely committed to Him than he is about you being happy. our desire to live without him. Are you willing to surrender everything over to God? If not go back to step one and begin to seek humility. God is refining us. It is saying “Yes. the God that has shown him nothing but mercy. no hiding. and making us into people that are holy. Are you still hiding your sin? Are you ready to deal with it as God convicts you? Through honesty we now confess our sin to God. True humility is a heart that wants to continually please God first and foremost above our own needs and wants. “Please don’t take your spirit away from me!” (Psalm 51:11) Here is a man desperately seeking God’s presence and fully aware of his failure. It is in that moment that we choose to come clean. Someone who is broken has a very clear picture of how their sins separate them from God and grieves the very heart of God. but deeper intimacy with God. of course!" If I asked you. transparent. covering our failures up through lies and hypocrisy. and security—Him. Humility is candidly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Through accountability they fight against the sinful instinct to cover up their sin. That word suggests something that is crushed into small particles or ground into powder.
sickness. There is no brokenness as long as the finger of blame is still pointed at another and you justify your sin. Isaiah had this list down. For the most part. how we spend time and money. reveals our needs. woe to them who are proud. but ultimately. In the presence of God’s holiness and greatness all our self centered plans and goals will be ruined. If and when. emotional despair. graduation. boss. God himself must reveal himself to us.. no way to fix his problem. woe to the immoral. But upheaval—a move. and who we love and obey … everything will be turned upside down. Once we catch a glimpse of this we become aware—painfully aware—of how bad we are. like Isaiah. but we fail miserably at seeing sin in our own lives. but to break you so that he can cleanse you and fill you with himself. revealed his holiness to Isaiah. At that moment. And in that sense. he replaces it with new. It reminds of the story of Isaiah. laziness and discipline. and hopeless—unless God himself touches us. Isaiah recognized his true condition. woe to them that are sensual. The problem in your life is not the sins of your neighbor. This is a lie—your sin is the problem. When you and I feel insecure. and broke the pious prophet. Isaiah got a glimpse of his own depravity (unholy. we get the slightest clue what God is really like. God wants to ruin our already dead lives in order to resurrect in us real life. this great servant of God. the Lord himself must break through our calloused hearts to show us what he is like. and somehow opens us to listen to God. wicked people around him. If we don't see the horror of sin and God's holy intensity and discipline against sin. 23 . who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). you see Isaiah. "Holy.Day 16 :: March 29 :: Read Isaiah 6:1 -6 Your sin. Why—because now God is breaking Isaiah and his sins are exposed in the light of the presence of God. He was an upright guy and compared to almost everyone else in Israel. Sin is the answer ever time we shout. One of the ways that we avoid brokenness is that we begin to think that we are not as bad as Scripture says we are. our sin Even though you have been forgiven and saved be the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Stability often produces passivity: the same old same old. Relationships. my sin. true life in Him. He had to be honest about his sin. As you read the fifth chapter of Isaiah. God doesn't design this experience to merely crush you. how we love. but the first words out of his mouth. and God uses these openings to speak to our hearts. pronouncing woes to all sorts of sins—woe to them who are materialistic. Then it is our responsibility to respond to the brokenness of God and deal honestly with our sin. Now he no longer cries woe to them.. but now he sees himself compared to the holiness of God." And no longer is Isaiah seeing himself in the light of all the sinful. God wants sin out of your life because He is at war to destroy all sin and it's the only thing that keeps you from experiencing the fullness of his presence in your life. The problem in your life is not the sin of your mom. not just convenience. a job change. woe to me. As he got a glimpse of a holy. unholy. as he sees the holiness of God are. The problem is your sin. we'll never be able to rightly comprehend or understand why brokenness needs to happen in our life. suffer. and desperately sick. he was pretty holy. The prophet said. there remains in you a definite bent towards doing things your own way that must be broken. “Why don't I feel close to God the way I used to? What happened to my passion for God?" Sin is what's in the way. or are hurting we are more open to God speaking to our hearts. Our lives will then be driven by conviction. It is this capacity to deceive ourselves that leads us to believe we are holier than we really are. Our sinful hearts trick us into thinking that everyone else has problems. He was ruined. wife or anyone else in your family—no matter what sin they have done. a broken relationship. We can't be broken until we realize how holy God is and how intense he hates sin. This is why one of the greatest prayers you can pray is “God break me!” It is in times of brokenness that we are more open to God. It's your sin that hinders you from experiencing deep intimacy with God. As he crushes the old life. We can prepare our hearts and put ourselves in a position to be receptive to God's voice. nowhere to hide. dad. holy God. broken. but not me. woe to the hedonistic pleasure seekers. That realization always brings us face to face with change.). No one can make us have this kind of vision of God. high and lifted up. Now he is pronouncing guilt and God’s judgment on his own sin. coworker. we quickly realize that we fall short—way short. holy. God reveals himself to Isaiah and Isaiah sees the Lord." All the other times Isaiah was pronouncing guilt and God’s judgment on other people’s sins. Then one day God broke through. friend. holy. holy. or anyone else you know. a deep disappointment—breaks our hearts. husband. Scripture tells us that our hearts are deceitfully wicked above all things. We are ruined. and in that moment our pride and religious merit is shattered. God revealed himself to Isaiah. "I'm ruined! I'm not what I should be!" He had nowhere to run. unholy. "Woe to me. God’s majesty and holiness swamp our petty selfishness and religious comparisons. helpless. we are good at seeing sin in our culture and in the lives of others.
and then lived for an extended period of time in rebellion trying to cover up his treacherous. and he was killed. [will receive] wrath and fury. haughty eyes. Why the difference? Both men were confronted by prophets over their sin. for example. he justified his sin. Why? It is fearful because any one of us has the ability to harden our hearts in the same manner as King Saul and by this set ourselves up for the discipline of God. rationalizing. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. his family was destroyed. Think. making excuses." He rationalized his sin. God is just as much offended. Unbrokenness is a fearful thing. added “but it was not all my fault and please don't tell the people. Notice the promise that God gives to those that choose brokenness—“the Lord is close. He committed murder to cover up his sin. One committed horrible. Our relationships and our jobs suffer because we become difficult people. he fell on his face before God in confession. For those that do not embrace brokenness—the Lord will seem far away." and then quickly. He lied. "[Those who] do not obey the truth. Many times those illustrations are set in contrast to the lives of those who were not broken. Pray today that God will break you. and being honest about our sin. 24 . Whereas King David. Paul tells us in Romans 2:5. he began to harden his heart. this is a sign that the wrath of God is upon us. But the kinds of people God will never despise or walk away from are the individuals who live with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Saul began as a humble leader. two-timing sin against God and against his nation. All that it seems Saul was guilty of was incomplete obedience. our family and loved ones suffer. by the arched-back. they stop making excuses. Saul’s sin. In the same breath he said "I have sinned. David responded with brokenness which resulted in experiencing a refreshing of God’s presence and the blessings of God. but over the years. Saul paid a great price because of his unbrokenness. And both men said verbally. And yet in response to his sin. excuse driven spirit as he is by the sodomite. by comparison. God was not as concerned about the nature of the sin itself as He was about the heart attitude and response of these men when confronted with their sin. Now think of the king who came before David.” The opposite if this is true as well. a broken and a contrite heart—these. In each of these comparisons both kings had sinned. If we continue in life failing to make the goodness and glory of God the center of our lives. “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. but also the people he led. but it also affects those around us. Scripture also points out how Saul’s unwillingness to be broken did not just affect him. Oftentimes when we resist the work of God. does not seem anywhere near as horrendous as that of King David. The only difference between the two was in their response to God’s confrontation. Our unbrokenness and willful disobedience against God may reveal that we never really trusted him as our Savior and Lord in the first place." In Romans 2:8. the prostitute. The same thing happens in our lives when we refuse to humble ourselves. Saul revealed the true condition of his heart." When we hear words like this—that we are all "under sin" and that sinners will receive the "wrath and fury" of God—we need be still and let that sink in. But something else is even more fearful. and the evidence of that broken and contrite heart was that he penned for the entire world to see those psalms of confession and repentance that we read in Scriptures today. He refused to be broken of his own ways and began to rebel against God. of two Old Testament kings who sat on the same throne. You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Broken people stop trying to cover their sin up. They confess their sin and are open about it. The way to have God near to you is to be humble and broken over the sin in your life. Not only does our resistance prolong the process and delay the good work the Lord is trying to bring about in our lives. never turning to God in brokenness.Are you willing to be honest about your sin? Are you willing for God to break you so that you can experience more of his grace and joy in your life? The Psalmist wrote. Yet in the Scripture we are told that Kind David was a man after God's own heart. scandalous sins against the heart of God. As long as we are stubborn and hard and unbending to God’s confrontations. loved and lived with. justifying himself. the adulterer. his confession was in the context of blaming the people. O God. Saul responded with unbrokenness which resulted in experiencing deeper depression and the discipline of God. Saul lost his kingdom. or the murderer. defending himself. rationalizing. In this moment of God trying to break Saul. when confronted with his sin. stiff-neck. little by little. He committed adultery. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). God was breaking both David and Saul by confronting them with their sin. and he covered up his sin." But you see when King Saul confessed his sin. and shifting the blame. but obey unrighteousness. Day 17 :: March 30 :: Read Romans 2:5 How brokenness reveals our hearts There are wonderful illustrations in the Scripture of broken people. "I have sinned. He will be far from us. hard to get along with and living with internal tension that soon manifests itself in our external lives.
but broken people are willing to yield the right to be right. But broken people are compassionate. They can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven. They are secure in God’s love for them so they are free from being addicted to people’s acceptance and approval. Unbroken people focus on the failures of others. but have you turned from your sin and desired to follow God totally in your life. What they care about and what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows. they have no rest day and night. Unbroken people are quick to blame others. and building up his righteousness to prove that the breaking God was allowing to happen was unfair. God began to reveal himself and his ways to Job. been baptized as a child. the evidences of the person that no longer just hears about God’s holiness. just a bit player in a sense. but broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn. and God’s holy intense wrath towards sin is not a joke. No more self-righteous. the cross of Christ will not be the infinitely precious. 25 . This must becomes clear in our heads and powerfully felt in our emotions. but broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they were wrong in the situation. enduring intense suffering as part of that cosmic plan of God and the warfare between Heaven and hell. and they're working to protect their own image and reputation. They think the best of others. Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness. They love to look down on others.” And for chapters. but broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need. a righteous man. He says that sinners “will drink of the wine of the wrath of God. For true believers. no greater negative force can be conceived. rather a broken man pleading with God for mercy. we need to come to see God as He really is. Unbroken people are defensive when criticized. This is the consequence of your sin. and I repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. He spent many chapters defending himself. You may have prayed a prayer when you were younger. fault-finding spirit. He said. and have a perfect attendance record at church. In Revelation 14:10-11. They have a critical. or the love of God will be reduced to sentimentalism or to mere assistance for our self-help improvement plans. Unbroken people desire for self-advancement. which is mixed in full strength in the cup of his anger. Job talked on and on and on until finally God said. never-ending. the more we will see our own needs. Unbroken people are concerned with being respectable and seeking the approval of others. We speak of the fury of a hurricane that flattens buildings or the fury of a tornado that snaps off trees like toothpicks. Job could hardly breathe. What are some of the characteristics. Unbroken people have a drive to be recognized.These are terrible words. and they're willing to die to their own reputation. but broken people receive criticism with a humble. unimpeachably just and righteous divine wrath and fury. but broken people desire to promote others. "Oh God. open spirit. Have you seen the beauty of the Cross of Jesus Christ because there God’s wrath is absorbed for your sin? Day 18 :: March 31 :: Read Job 42:1-6 Evidence of brokenness Are you a broken person? You say. tremblingly embraced treasure that it really is. They're concerned with what others think. They're eager for others to get the credit. Are you unwillingly to allow God to break you? Are you unwilling to die to your sin and follow God in every area of your life? If you are not willing to yield to God’s confrontation of your sin and turn from it. Unbroken people are self-righteous. "How do I know? Well. I think of Job. to be appreciated. John fumbles for language to describe the length and depth of hell.” There is nothing more fearful in reality or in imagination than the prospect of everlasting. omnipotent. But these forces are as nothing compared to the power and fury of the wrath of God. And when God finished. but broken people are not concerned with self at all. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. The consequences of your sin are too great to be toyed with. To us. They're wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. The closer we get to God. but who has encountered God’s holiness and is now broken? Let me just share with you some differences from a person that is living an unbroken life and a broken life before God. Unbroken people have to prove that they are right. and now I abhor myself. But under the philosophies and input of his friends. “I'd like to speak. we must get a greater view of God’s holy wrath and discipline towards sin. When the all powerful God has wrath and fury. and they esteem all others better than themselves. Unbroken people are self-conscious. protesting his innocence. Job began to reveal a heart of self-righteousness. and they rejoice when others are lifted up. but now my eye has seen You. Unbroken people feel confident in how much they know. They look at everyone else's faults with a microscope but never really examine their own faults. I have heard of You with the hearing of my ear. But broken people are concerned with being real. then this should be a wake-up call that you need to examine whether or not you really have trusted in the gospel. They're thrilled that God would use them at all in any service.
we get a glimpse of God’s heart for the broken. sorry that they got found out or caught. contrite heart? Or are there more evidences of unbrokenness in your heart and life? Will you cry out to God right now to give you a broken heart? Day 19 :: April 1 :: Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17 The worst of sinners In the book of Isaiah. Unbroken people are sorry over the pain that their sin brings them and to those around them. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness. We are part of a world in which we are told. It is in that moment that we affectionately move closer to Jesus out of awe when we truly see how much he does love us. Pretty stark. . Our sin that drove the nails deep into His hands. genuinely repentant over their sin. but broken people are willing to be open and transparent. We are unbending. 26 . and prepares us for part two: “. Unbroken people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor. Whereas humble. but broken people take the initiative to be reconciled. because it has grieved the God that they so dearly love. personality. but broken people once they've been broken they don't care who knows or who finds out.” Now what are we supposed to do with that? How can the great Apostle to the Gentiles—the original poster child of the Christian faith—honestly say that he is the worst of sinners? Who in the world is he comparing himself? And what standard is he applying? Because if Paul thinks he is the worst sinner on planet earth—what in the world does that make us? These are important questions. being important and first class in everything. We see that it is our sin that put Him on the Cross. and honest with others as God directs. that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. When there's a misunderstanding or conflict in relationships. Broken people are heartbroken over how their sin was an open act of rebellion against the infinitely holy and majestic God. the root of their sin. Paul wrote to Timothy. When confessing their sin. catapults us to the heart of the glorious gospel. but broken people are able to deal under the conviction of God's Spirit to acknowledge specifics and take full responsibility for it. of whom I am the foremost. proud people tend to deal in generalities or how others helped them sin. and trembles at my word. As you read the differences between the unbroken person and the broken person. Unbroken. Yet. what do your actions and heart reveal? Did God find you having a broken. but broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for his mercy. In Isaiah 66:2. They are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose—God has forgiven them. Will you please forgive me?" But broken people are quick to admit their failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary. we are brought to a point of awe as we see God’s grace demonstrated through the Cross of Jesus Christ. when they have sinned. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit. Our sin that broke Him. . but they're sure that everyone else does. as bad as we can be. God says. the Apostle Paul seems to think he's even worse..” Sin is a persistent problem for all of us. self-ambitious and never wanting to give in. unbroken people don't think they need revival. position.” But here is the problem—so many times we are totally opposite of the one whom God esteems. ability. want to be sure that no one finds out.Unbroken people find it very difficult to share their spiritual needs with others. Unbroken people are blind to their real heart condition. but broken people realize that they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance. As we are confronted with the incomprehensible gap that our sin creates between us and God. beauty. isn't it? Not a lot of wiggle room there. but broken people walk in the conviction of the Holy Spirit. broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God. Unbroken people have a hard time saying. Unbroken people. Paul leads off by calling this a “saying that is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. self-centered. This leads us to walk with Jesus in brokenness.” That's the ancient equivalent of putting the little exclamation mark on an email you send—this is of high priority! Paul’s “saying” has two parts. The key to seeing brokenness is the Cross.. Unbroken people don't think they have anything to repent of. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. either directly or indirectly. Our sin that caused God’s wrath to be poured down on the innocent life of Jesus Christ. self-absorbed. vulnerable. but broken people are grieved over the cause. and a profound point is being made here.” This confronts us with the Cross. Unbroken people are remorseful over their sin. of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). Maybe we can learn something from him. for a fresh filling of his Holy Spirit. “Fight for your rights! Be your own person! You are great! What matters is success. This is the Word of God. "I was wrong. Their instinct is to cover up. But broken people are truly. Unbroken people are concerned about the consequences of their sin. We dare not dismiss Paul's statement as a passing exaggeration or an empty exercise in false humility. We see the gift of his Son being broken for us so that we can be forgiven.
and God's mercy in the face of his sin. that through dying we really begin to live. in effect. and even defend sin in our life we will never see sin for what it really is. but my sins. His goodness comes to me even though I'm not good. That's when brokenness begins to make sense. So this sin—my sin and yours—is supremely ugly. 27 . because most of them he had never met! This tells us that his focus is not primarily outward. and self exalting. I know my sin. When this finally drops in our minds and hearts we co me running to the cross in order to honestly confess our sins and to find healing. seeking to justify. we will never treasure the Savior who was broken for that sin. Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16). This means that my biggest problem in life is not the sins of others. Paul was honest. cover. vision clearing. Knowing both God and himself accurately was not at all discouraging or depressing for Paul. it's more proud. the more broken we become. the only God. grace. As far as I can see.” This is the language of a man that has been broken and one who understands the sinfulness of his heart. Our sin is vile. The more we see how sinful we are compared to God’s holiness. Now let's look at the very next verse. No hiding behind a facade of pleasantness or building up his religious resume as a cover. who brings God's holiness and mercy together in the Cross. it's clear that Paul is not trying to objectively compare himself to every other human being. Only then will you understand how much you have been forgiven and the cost of that forgiveness. convicted and condemned. The person that has stood before his God. and the patience of Christ in continuing to love and identify with him in his daily struggle against sin. "To the King of ages. He's also not suggesting that his moral character is bankrupt or his spiritual maturity is zero. His grace becomes bigger than my failures. What's going on here? Is this some kind of bipolar spirituality at work? By no means! It is the joy of brokenness having its way in our life. And I don't think it's a stretch to say that he knew he was capable—given the right circumstances—of the worst of sins and the vilest of motives. selfish. The cross makes a stunning statement about us: we are the worst of sinners and our only hope is grace. But at the same time it is the backdrop to a larger drama.First. “But I received mercy for this reason. You and I are the worst of sinners. He is simply talking about what goes on in his own heart. He knows the sinful desires and evil impulses that churn within. Rather. Our Savior has come to rescue us from the penalty of sin and grant us an abundant life by his Spirit. The same Paul who could call himself the worst of sinners could exult two verses later. This brokenness sends us to the Savior. If we think flippantly of sin. blame. even painfully. You must see yourself as the worst of sinners. with the death before his eyes. It is in brokenness—a pridecrushing. And what I've seen in my own heart is darker and more awful. This is the confrontation of the Cross. and to live for the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed. and forgiveness. If this happens. Paul was acutely. invisible. Paul's confession to Timothy presents us with a stunning example of brokenness. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17). humble honesty of confessing my sin—that I experience the forgiveness of God and worship the beauty of the one that is being broken for me on the Cross. “Look. two things grew larger for Paul as he was broken: his sinfulness in light of the holiness of God. God is at work to kill it all in our life. Like Paul. to hate the evil which has been forgiven him. is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned. that in me. yet we can be joyful works. He wanted to see God and himself clearly. the biggest sinner I know is me. we can find 1 Timothy 1:15-16 trustworthy—we know that we are indeed the worst of sinners. aware of his own sinfulness which resulted in him turning from sin and magnifying his Savior! As God confronts us with a greater awareness of our sinfulness this often stands side by side with great joy and confidence in God because we stand in wonder of the Cross. be honor and glory forever and ever. He is saying. With the passing of each day. and it's more consistently and regularly in rebellion against God than anything I have glimpsed in the heart of anyone else. it is wicked. as the foremost (that is the foremost of sinners). you must allow yourself to be broken and recognize the enormity of your sin. it deepened his gratitude for the vastness of God's mercy in redeeming him. We may be works in progress who are painfully prone to sin. rationalize. I start to see God as he truly is. It's inward. immortal. for—thanks be to God—we have been redeemed by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. excuse. Once we embrace a life of brokenness before God.
Jesus accepted it as final. the good times quickly evaporated.” as well as explicitly mentioned in “desirable for gaining wisdom. Jesus would be pushed away from perfect unity with his Father. even those times were good. but Jesus defended the truth with grace and strength. The cup the Father wanted Jesus to drink was one of sacrifice. Being confronted with brokenness is a call for us to kill our own unholy sinful desires and wishes. and he rebuked them when they tried to talk him out of it. but in the end he knew his obedience to the will of the Father would bring great joy.” 28 . Eve saw “that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye. we want out! We do not want to be broken. We want a certain person or a certain thing or a certain career. He faced excruciating pain and agonizing death. We do not want to die. or perhaps the perceived benefits of the sin are desired. They went to sleep. and they had seen Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead. but God confronts us and says. murder. positive desires. Note how the concept of desire is implied in “good for food” and “pleasing to the eye. In a way. Scripture says that Jesus “endured the Cross for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). too. as an example of how to respond when we are faced with a choice of this magnitude. He had to fight the desires of his flesh to allow brokenness to come. You and I only rarely are faced with any choice that even vaguely compares. we feel His daily breaking. Follow me. As you and I walk with God. As the Cross drew closer. speak of deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22). He had told his disciples over and over again that he was going to be killed. Satan appeals to us first of all through our desires. All sin is desired. As Jesus fell on his face in prayer. we experience the collision of our will against God's. we walk as Jesus did. but this account is written for our instruction. he was utterly and absolutely alone. They had talked with him about the Father. The prospect of all that pain that this brokenness would bring made the heart of Jesus shudder. too. When the Father told him there was no other way. His death wasn't just theory anymore. too. must choose obedience through his grace. as the Spirit chisels off the unwanted mess of sin and conforms the contours of our attitudes and behavior to be more like Christ. The reality of his call to obey confronts us and we simply don't want to do it. However. and to serve Him. In our flesh. and awful thirst would make his tongue swell and cling to the roof of his mouth. The whip. But in the crucible of the choice. and the thorns would sear his flesh. and this is where we must fight for brokenness as well. Jesus first asked the Father to take the cup of sacrifice away from him. woman. to obey Him. Those were some good times—really good times. Would he follow the will of the Father and die or follow his own will and live? The collision of wills took Jesus to the brink. He knew the prophesies. Over those last three years. Jesus had many pleasant times with his followers. He would pay for all our sins alone. When we have been broken of our own ways and our own life. of course. my child. The disciples had also watched as the Pharisees and Sadduccees accused Jesus of all kinds of heresy. These religious bigots confused people." In this moment we can either run in rebellion or allow God to break us. day after day. but they still didn't get it. and in his flesh. envy. Jesus wanted out. But so often. He told them all the things they needed to know. But now the time had come. It is evil desire that causes us to sin. Between those two moments was a struggle in his soul so titanic in its intensity that the blood vessels in his forehead broke and blood dripped from his face. selfishness. "No. 1 Peter 1:14). I have chosen a different way for you. and sinful desires (1 Peter 2:11). evil desires (James 1:14. but he affirmed his willingness to drink it. For a time. Not all desires. but an attitude of our hearts. The lies and taunts and spit of those lining the streets and those near the Cross would compound his pain. He knew all this was coming. Jesus had to totally surrender everything over to the will of the Father in order to be broken. rape. He would be alone. Sin most often appeals to us through our desires. the nails. he must die for the sins of the world. however. in true submission. anger. The Scriptures. There are many good. This is not just an outer compliance to the things of God. they had laughed and told stories. and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Genesis 3:6). Jesus followed the will of the Father. It takes us there. What might it look like in our lives? I believe it invariably involves sacrifice. and every other sin of every single man. That is a continuous process. He knew the Messiah had to die for the sins of the world.Day 20 :: April 2 :: Read Matthew 26:39-42 Embracing brokenness Every step of Jesus’ life led to the hill outside Jerusalem where he was to die. we. are sinful. and child who ever lived or ever would live that would place their faith in him as Savior. as Christ chose obedience in his spirit. In a few hours he was going to take on his shoulders all the ugliness and pain of hatred. however. He knew the Cross would bring pain. It was reality. before it is acted upon. It was now Jesus' last night with the disciples. We can desire to know God. He asked them to pray for him. He told them he was going to die a horrible death.
in submission to the Lord and with joy in our hearts. We must see the love. that is live in dependence on and obedience to the Spirit. live by the Spirit. By the filling and help of the Spirit of God we must keep going back to face the Cross. In everything He was in submission to the Father. No matter how miserably I have failed. that we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. This is why the call of brokenness is mainly directed at killing the sinful desires in our hearts. They are in conflict with each other. but if sin controls our desires. It is only when we confront the Cross that we will be honest about our sin and follow the will of God. especially when they represent recurring sin patterns. and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. We fix our eyes on Jesus Christ and embrace brokenness as He did. “so I say. They cry out for fulfillment. This is the struggle depicted by the Apostle Paul when he wrote. God's grace.Sin carries on its war within us by entangling our desires. drawing them into an alliance against what we know is right and leading us to run from the commands of God. Paul writes. because those desires run deep and strong. that is. He never sought his own will or followed sinful desires. And when we fail for the umpteenth time. “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit. only the Cross reveals to us the grace and forgiveness of God that will give us the courage to get up again and keep on going. This is why we keep seeking to be broken. so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17). They must be mortified. love. subdued and weakened in their power to entice us into sin. 29 . We may say that we love God. and forgiveness is greater than my sin. joy. With joy Jesus did what the Father told Him. and pleasure that come from obeying God over our own desires." But the problem is that we can not do this on our own. We are to live the same way. it has seized a fort from which it will continually assault our life. It is always emotionally painful to say no to those sinful desires. and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Galatians 5:16). That is why scripture uses such strong language as "put to death. That is what Jesus did and it is what he calls us to do. He came to do only what the Father desired. It is as we live by the Spirit.
” Apparently the earlier letter was to the point. Paul knew that leading them to a place of grief over their sin was for their own benefit. I determine to change my behavior (changing my will) so I may pursue the joy of Christ. 30 . that your sins may be blotted out. the more likely we will repent of our sin. not because they were grieved. Denial of sin only takes us backward and never forward. curling like a mighty wave and breaking upon the shore of your life. Memory Verse: "Repent therefore. It's this life change that makes hearing the hard truth not only worthwhile but cause for rejoicing. Now we are confronted with repentance. Though repentance might seem like a bad thing at first glance. rebuking letter. Repentance alone opens the way to a fresh outpouring of God's favor and presence in our lives. but because they were grieved into repenting (2 Corinthians 7:9). Repentance is the funnel through which all personal encounters with God flow. followed by a heartfelt sorrow.K. they were carnal and divisive. God confronts us to repent so that we can return to Him and allow Him to bring real transformation in our life. Repentance is the first step in a personal cleanup of the wreckage that sin brings. Apparently they were wounded by the truth. In my heart I feel compassion for their pain. This comes only through repentance. Only two of them were ever found and declared as Scripture by the early church. In 2 Corinthians. Though it's not an easy or pleasant thing. you get this three part definition: repentance recognizes sin for what it is. then repentance is essential. and that was the cause of Paul's rejoicing (v. We know from studying the New Testament that Paul wrote four letters to the church at Corinth. Repentance is change in the place where it's needed most—inside me. but I don't want to short circuit what God is doing in their hearts. It's good for us to feel sorrow over the wrong choices that we're making. don't be so upset about what you've done. In my flesh I want to say. If you want to get to a better place with God. all of God's grace. or where I live or who I hang out with. The church at Corinth that Paul was writing to was the most problematic church in the New Testament. I see it for what it is (changing my mind). Sometimes you have to receive a hard word. Many times I pray with people who are grieving over their sin. Paul rejoiced because he knew that only when the Corinthian Christians were wounded by the reality of their sinful choices could they begin to experience the renewing power of His Spirit at work in their lives. something that you'd rather not hear.. No wonder repentance is such a common theme in God's Word. and turn again. Paul felt that tension after he had written this strong. Through repentance God changes me—not a change of spouse. No doubt about it. we must be confronted with repentance. repentance is a very good thing. "It's O. Repentance is the moment when everything changes. God is ever ready to cover you with grace and mercy at the moment of genuine repentance. all of God's blessing. repent or else! I mean it. Refusing repentance only takes us down and never takes us up." But I know they need to feel grief over sin in order to fully experience God's grace. Repentance is the natural next step on our confrontational journey. In the letter we call 2 Corinthians. that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. it is a good thing. We have been challenged to face our sin and brought to a place of personal brokenness. Paul pleaded with them to halt their sinful behavior. Eventually they repented. The people in this worldly church were filled with themselves. We have been confronted with God's holiness. You don't get to a better place with God until you recognize that the sinful place where you are is not the place that will give you the joy and pleasure that you are after.Week 4 Repentance Repentance is the door to greater openness and honesty before God and deeper intimacy with God. I do not regret it." (Acts 3:19-20) Day 21 :: April 3 :: Read 2 Corinthians 7:10 Desperate for repentance If we really want to live each day in the presence of God. 9). you need and want more repentance in your life. as in. Paul refers to an earlier corrective letter that he had written them: “For even if I made you grieve with my letter. Through the Cross. in order to get to the place you've always wanted to be. If you study all the Hebrew and Greek terms together. but it was only temporary. knock it off and repent or you're going to get it big time! ” Paul’s harsh rebuke of the church in Corinth was difficult for him to give. I experience heartfelt sorrow (changing my heart). Picture it now by faith: all of God's favor. not a change of job. “Hey. God is not reluctant or unwilling to draw close to you and allow you to experience a fresh encounter of his presence. Paul rejoiced. culminating in a change of behavior as I treasure God more than anything else in life. The more that we are confronted with God’s holiness and our brokenness. It's right to feel grief over sin because that can lead us to some very important choices. But deep down.
31 . Karl Menninger caused a big stir back in 1973 with his book. Repent and return to the way you saw yourself and your sin and God's holy requirements when you first turned to Him. All those who come to the Cross of Christ have something in common: they all repented. Now in case you're thinking that was just an Old Testament thing. God is working. Scripture cries out to us." What about today? What about what God wants to do in your life—today? Repentance is the absolute essential that can bring those "times of refreshing. Peter's first message was. Believe me on this: God can and will wipe all that shame and sadness away if you will only repent. This is an out of style word and it seems far removed. “Come now. I am troubled by my sin” (see Psalm 51. Where repentance is true and honest. they shall be as white as snow. Directly after the Holy Spirit came." "When we were newly married. Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest prophet ever born to a woman. “I thought by now I'd be further along in my spiritual life and in deeper intimacy with God. that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. If not. But hear what He really says: "As many as I love. I know that this doesn't sound like the Jesus we love to hear about. let us reason together. "Good morning…repent…let's pray. or even to hear of kings or princes repenting as they humbled themselves and admitted their need for redemption–they confessed their sins and some of them fell to the ground in self-abasement (humble self-emptying) lying on the ground in true humility—the kind of humility that only God can cause within a human heart. for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). consider the prominence of repentance in the New Testament. I don't know what your life has been like. I rebuke and chasten. I don't know where you've been or what you've done. I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. Repent was the one word sermon from every Old Testament prophet. Whatever Became of Sin? He wrote as a Jewish psychiatrist. and he was astonished that our culture was ridding itself of any semblance of guilt or responsibility for any action. done some things that you would be ashamed for others to know. fresh experience with God? I know I get so tired of living on leftovers: "When I was in college." Do you ever think. Let’s learn about repentance. that your sins may be blotted out. We don’t talk about it with our friends. What was his message? "Repent. In the past it was more common for people to hear about a nation repenting. Most of us don’t hear about repentance as a modern phenomenon. we continue to see this message of repentance. Too often Jesus is characterized like some overindulgent parent who gives us whatever we want and turns a blind eye to all of our sinful acts. Peter preached. It should be part of our lives every day. Luke 15:7 makes an amazing assertion that there's more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninetynine other people who are like. In Revelation 2:16. Wake up to the reality that you're not progressing as you want to in your faith because there are some things that need to change in your life—and that happens through repentance. Repentance isn’t a one-time event. and turn again. The emotions of repentance Psalm 38:18. You may have chosen some paths that you're not proud of. This is the heart of Christ for the church today even if it takes drastic measures." This was the message God used to move His people to return back to Him. they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18). "Therefore repent. Mark 6:12 says that Jesus sent them out and they went and proclaimed that people should repent. They would show up before a group of people and say. I think I'll just stay were I am. No wonder repentance was the method in the mouth of every biblical messenger. what should I do?” The answer is repent." As you move through the New Testament. Ezekiel. calling the people of Jesus’ day to repent (see him in The Greatest Story Ever Told). He wrote that the modern world was wrenching any shame or remorse they ought to feel when they acted on their inclinations and lusts and ought to have felt some remorse about what they had done. Hosea—all of them preached this one word message. God did this." We all are desperately in need of "times of refreshing from the Lord. "Repent therefore. Repentance might bring up a mental picture of a scary looking Charlton Heston portraying John the Baptist dressed in camel-skin." Wouldn't you love a new. 2 Corinthians 7:9–10). says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet. Repentance ought to be in our vocabulary and in our lives. we saw God do amazing things in us. the Lord says to the church. Jeremiah. Isaiah." Jesus Christ Himself is moving today in resistance against every person who will not humble himself and repent of his sins. How can that happen? How can you leave your past behind you? Only through repentance! Day 22 :: April 4 :: Acts 3:19-20 Repentance and sorrow The only road the leads to the Cross is the road of repentance. though they are red like crimson. "I'm kind of tired of reading about repentance. In fact. "Repent!" In Acts 3:19. not pertinent or necessary for how we live today. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19). It was plagiarism to the max. “I confess my iniquity.Repentance is the funnel through which all personal encounters with God flow. It seems old and far removed from our world.
or has been in open rebellion against what God by breaking the commandments and violating God’s law—that person can never have true sorrow for their sins or begin to repent of them. rather. Do you know someone who gets stopped for speeding over and over and all she can do about it is complain about the police? Or the person who doesn’t perform her duties at work. the failure. It is a healthy and joyous decision to take responsibility for your life.” People were flooding to the psychiatrists to get help for their sadness and grief. It is where God deals with our sin. The Cross gives us the courage. The Law tells us about God’s character. but to have specific sins in mind. It takes us past just being sorry for what we’ve done. We become conscious of our sins—and even that is a gift of God—and we repent of them. “Let us examine our ways and test them. The sorrow of repentance begins a much deeper and more difficult journey that drives us to examine our relationship with God. and to live your life for God Psalm 51 is the most important passage on repentance in the Bible. to stop blaming others. it is remorseful. They might be sad. even filled with sorrow over the things that are happening in their lives. If a person does not recognize their actions have missed God’s ideal for goodness—taken a good gift from God and twisted it for another purpose. it grieves. The games are over. The nature of God is most clearly and simply explained in his Law. The purpose of sorrow is to lead us to turn from our sins. They might be sorry that those things happened. and it has sorrow. a “knowing” aspect to repentance. Repentance turns you from your sin and it turns you to God for restoration and forgiveness. People can be superficially sorry they got caught. David said. Menninger’s point was that it isn’t a call for therapy that should follow our bad behavior. it admits to what you have done. The law is our guide to Christ. and it shows us how far away from God we are.” “I’m sorry I got drunk at your sister’s wedding. so clearly that there is no misunderstanding. or break trust with a child. no avoiding of the issue. If a person does not have a true knowledge of their sin. You need to not just feel a generalized discomfort with your sins. 2 Corinthians 7:9 is a section about sorrow unto repentance. A repentant man knows what he has done. collapsed and surrendered. and who you have offended by your action. the strength to confront every sin. they have no knowledge of the nature of God. They hoped that through counseling they might be freed from their guilt. It was given to convict us and to consign all humanity under a curse. The Cross is the intersection between Heaven and Earth. Some people are perpetually “apologetic. but that isn’t repentance. They become 32 . Your sin should trouble you but you shouldn’t stop there. Lamentations 3:40. The Law brings a curse.” Sorry is easy. both Psalms are on the mark in learning about our subject). any mistake. to repent you must deal with specific things that you have done. Godly sorrow understands the sin. Beginning to repent Repentance begins with sorrow for sin and grief for what you’ve done. it convinces us of our sins.” “I’m sorry I was late for work again for the fifth time this week. We become very aware of our sin. But it begins there. or refusing to name the offense to God. Repentance understands sin. Godly sorrow is what causes a person to lie on the floor. the victory. powerless before God. all our wanderings and failings.” God’s Word and especially God’s Law tells us where we have sinned against God. The Law was not given to congratulate us on how well we’ve been living. destroy a marriage. Grace and mercy come through Jesus Christ. The Psalm teaches us that there is an intellectual. Some people are just sad that their lives aren’t going well for them. The “godly sorrow” is not momentary and light. crying out in sadness and in humility to God. but is incessantly critical of her boss? Or the person who is unkind to his 14-year-old boy and all he can think to do about him is blame the boy’s friends for his behavior? These are symptoms of people who have not repented. all our short comings and failures.” You need to know what you have done. it is broken-hearted. Repentance moves you to take an action that will make your situation better. because they were overwhelmed for what they had been up to. no hiding things away hoping they will disappear.Modern therapy was focused on helping people not feel too “bad. through the law we become conscious of sin. There really is no question about what is on the table. They can be sorry their actions caused them to lose a friendship.” Romans 3:20. When we place our lives against the Law. “I know my transgressions. and the many ways we sought to find our greatest joy anywhere but in God. It is a sorrow that creates a change within the person. their shame and their embarrassment. Repentance is difficult. and let us return to the Lord. The Law of God is the starting point for our repentance. and my sin is always before me …. it convicts us of our failures. but they are not repentant. “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in *God’s+ sight by observing the law. But sadness about the course of one’s life is not repentance. It is where we agree with God about them.” “I’m sorry I was going 89 in a 65 mph on I-4. It was written by David after his affair with Bathsheba (Psalm 32 probably was written then too.
“All that you’ve given me. Repentance begins a new life with God." He recognized the sin in his life for what it was—that is the first step to repentance: changing your mind about sin. First. He felt shame over his actions and more like a slave than a son. and God. was his father’s things. His father was just a means to an end. freedom. Luke 15:17 says. It takes the intervening grace of God to make this happen. Notice that the younger son does not try to shift the blame. If you had given me the things I asked for. she is what I want and need. This is why in this story he gives us the elements of repentance. The essence of the son’s rebellion. The younger son may have lived with his father and may even have obeyed his father. Jesus is revealing that we all sin because we excessively love something. He demanded of his father all the money from his inheritance in order to live the life of his dreams. we begin repenting. What he thought would give him life led to a complete life collapse. ultimately. He does not say.” That’s not godly grief. At this point the younger brother realized that he ‘lost his way’ and desired to return back to life with the father. What causes the father to come out and lavish this love on the son? What causes the father to throw a party and rejoice? It is repentance! In the previous passages. 18-19). we can’t stand the sight of them. and look to things to give us the joy and meaning that only God can give. What Jesus is getting at here is that the fuse that ignites the love and grace and power of God in the gospel to explode in your life is repentance. we hate them with all we are. Disordered The prodigal son in total rebellion ran from the father. our sin. The son cried out with a deep sense of unworthiness before God: “I have sinned against heaven. Then according to Luke 15:13. What Jesus wants to show us in this story is that in order to return to the father. The sins that cause the most problems in our lives and relationships are the ones of which we are unaware. God allows the circumstances and consequences of your sin to hit you and in this reality he opens your eyes. “I messed up. God. Jesus tells us a story of what repentance really looks like. We love relationships. What Jesus is revealing to us is the true essence of sin. there is godly sorrow. He believed that true joy and pleasure could be found away from his father. That is the essence of sin.” That’s contempt for God’s greatness and disapproval of God’s goodness.burdensome. It’s your fault I left.” Repentance means accepting full responsibility for my sin without blaming anyone else. We love and rest our hope in. The prodigal son is the poster boy for repentance. not his father. undisciplined and foolish behavior. Godly grief and guilt occurs in understanding that you sinned against the goodness and greatness of God. horrible in our sight. inordinately. but it was your fault for not giving me everything I wanted. Dad. It takes God pulling out his proverbial 2x4 to whack us upside our thick heads and hardened hearts so we can see our sin for what it really is and where it is leading us. he came to himself or "came to his senses. I feel bad that I’ve been outed and now people know what a dog I am. “Give me what is mine. he was awakened to his sin. This blindness to our sins is called denial. He 33 . “I have sinned against the Lord. That's changing his heart about sin and realizing he has sinned directly against his father. And in true repentance. and resources because of his self-indulgent. our reputation or something else too much. He ran out of friends.” (vs. Godly grief is. and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. and status that wealth brings.” Instead he owns up to sin: “I have sinned. He used Bathsheba as someone without a soul to satisfy his sinful pleasures. pleasure. This means that repentance comes in response to those moments when the Holy Spirit breaks us open. peace. The thing he loved. but he obviously didn’t care. “Coming to our senses” is something that happens to us as God works in our lives. It’s not. comes out in his request. all that you’ve provided for me. money. Our hearts are twisted by disordered loves. Repentance starts when God begins to work in your life and opens your eyes to the reality of your sin. more than God and that is why we sin. Second. and identity. There was this know-it-all kid who came up with a rebellious plan. “Oh. His heart was set on the wealth and on the comfort. there must be repentance. How? Because he’s going. If you repent today and repeat the offense tomorrow. God.” You see. and we see the truth about ourselves. Third. we plan to never do them again. Jesus has told us that God rejoices and loves a repentant heart (Luke 15:7 and 10). we must accept full responsibility for our sin. we put our faith in something other than our Heavenly Father to give us joy. I have wronged the Lord. every way that you’ve cared for me and what you’ve given me as a gift isn’t adequate. He knew that the request would be like a knife in his father’s heart. pleasure. wealth. the son squandered his property in reckless living. you don’t know godly sorrow. It turns you to him. The younger man’s lostness was clearly seen when he ended up in the pigsty. David looked down at Bathsheba on the rooftop and had disrespect in his heart for God’s goodness and greatness.” What is the son’s ultimate love? It is the father’s things. Repentance is the key to everything. When grace does intervene and we do come to our senses spiritually. I would never have left home. You don’t know repentance at all. Day 23 :: April 5 :: Read Luke 15:11-20 The heart of repentance In Luke 15. but he didn’t love his father. What I need you cannot give me.
security. It is only when we see the love that was poured out for us on the Cross and how much it cost God to bring us back that we will find the courage and motivation to repent. it helps you to begin to hate the sin. can be self-preservation. In Luke 15:11-19. I know I don't have a right to come back into the family. and gratitude so that we will repent and return to God? Where do we find the motivation to repent of our sin? The answer to each of these questions is found as we are confronted with the Cross of Jesus Christ. The problem is that they are still in love with the stuff God offers. “Against You and You alone have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). When he feels he is ready for the confrontation. but still not experience a fresh encounter of God’s presence in your life. The response to this. We have to be cautious because there is a huge difference between godly regret and repentance and worldly regret and repentance. righteous. he is turning to the father because he realizes that he has lost the only real thing that gave him joy—intimacy with the father. but in your heart you are sorrowful because you have broken God’s heart. love. What this takes is coming to the point that you begin to see your sin as total rebellion against God. “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret. This young guy in the story is not turning to the father because he is afraid that he is going to be beaten or wants more money. But what they want is for God to fix the problem. falls upon him and kisses him. and your will (producing a specific plan of action for change). Want more of God's presence and deeper intimacy with Him? He longs to give it to you. Your sin is against the goodness of God. "Bring the best robe and put it on him!" What is he saying? The best robe in the house would have been the father's own robe. showing his emotions openly. You are not 34 . resulting in a change of behavior. Day 24 :: April 6 :: Read Luke 15:20 -24 Coming close to God How do we escape the shackles of sin so that we can repent? How can the inner dynamic of the heart be changed from one of fear and anger to one of joy. not their sin. his feelings changed. Want more of God's presence. not just because you broke the rules. your emotions (heartfelt sorrow over your sin). The younger son comes within sight of the house. The father interrupts him. then at least I could begin to pay off my debt. not only ignoring his rehearsed speech. Repentance is an internal change of will that always leads to an external change of living. We must be confronted with the fact that true. His thoughts changed. Jesus shared that the younger son had rebelled against his father’s love and was lost. Then you begin to change because your heart is changed toward sin. This is an internal change of mind and thinking about our sin so that we are guilty and grieved over our sin because it has grieved the very heart of God. And David finally got it and repented. Here is why we must be cautious: what is it that wakes you up to your sin? Most of the time it is the guilt. Repentance involves your mind (recognition of sin). The rabbis of Jesus’ day taught that if you had disrespected your family in the midst of the community an apology was not sufficient—you also had to pay for the rebellion. The final step in repentance is a change of the will. The son intends to say: "Father. "Quick!" he says to his servants. The father is saying. but it's not going to be given to you until you put away your sin. But if you apprentice me to one of your hired men so I can learn a trade and earn a wage. But here's the truth: you can agree that you need to return to God. hope. not fix them. God's greatest blessings are yours. You repent. if you are not careful. but directly contradicting it. and all of it is an offense against a holy. painful consequences in their life. The son said. If you remove either one of those pieces. whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). he tries to roll out his business plan to pay his father back for his sin. pleasure." That was his plan. he picks up and begins the journey home. jealous God. but not without a turning. his actions changed. power. not God. the unmistakable sign of restored standing in the family. There in the pigsty the younger son rehearses his speech. that you have believed the lie that there is more joy. When pain wakes you up. not merely the consequences. your heart (accept full responsibility for our sin). Coming to God is not enough. significance in things other than God. what you naturally want to do is get rid of the pain and guilt. not humble repentance.lies. “I will arise and go to my father… and he arose and came to his father” (Luke 15:18 & 20). They are broken over the pain of their sin. you no longer have what the Bible calls repentance. I know you're serious about getting on a fresh page with God. he murders. Why? Because we fail at this point of repentance. transforming grace and the overwhelming joy of God flows only to the heart that is repentant. His father sees him and runs—runs to him! He runs to his son and. Remember that Paul wrote. and pain the consequences of your sin bring you when your life collapses. I'm not going to wait until you've duly groveled. Perplexed. no matter what sin it is. sharing their story of pain and how sin has caused major. Many people come to God. and peace? Absolutely! But not without a pure heart crying out in repentance. "I'm not going to wait until you've paid off your debt. This almost surely would have taken the younger brother by surprise. grief.
forgiveness and reconciliation that will cost God and it will be a cost that He will pay. It doesn't matter if you've deliberately oppressed or even murdered people. He was willing to pay not just a finite amount of money. and rejection. Jesus Christ. On the Cross Jesus was treated as an outcast so that we could be brought into God's family freely by grace. criticizing and ruining his good name as a way to restore your own. Again. But is it? Someone has to bear the expense so that the younger brother can be brought back in. The alternative is that you could forgive her and pay for it yourself (or go about bumping into furniture in the dark). but the infinite cost of His own life to bring us into God's family. we are idolaters and God is dishonored. there is a price for redemption. Jesus shows the father pouncing on his son in love.going to earn your way back into the family. who had all the power in the world. However. poverty. if someone breaks your lamp. The Father's love and acceptance are absolutely free. There was no way for the younger brother to return to the family unless someone paid the cost. He created us in such a way that his glory is displayed through our joy in it. paid the debt for our sins. Peter tells us that this is the greatest thing Christ died for: “Christ also suffered once for sins. taking on the more difficult task of setting the record straight without vilifying him. While the younger brother's restoration was free to him.” Do you remember the next line he had rehearsed? “Treat me as one of your hired men. be willing to repent and return back to him. That is what Jesus did on the Cross. we are all lost. That is the difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world. joy. you have two options. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. His father is embracing him when the younger son says: “I have sinned against heaven and against you. merits the favor of God. The forgiveness is free and unconditional to the perpetrator. there is no sin that is a match for his grace." Out of love and pure grace the father welcomes the son back and throws him an epic party. he is the one who is willing to pay any cost to seek and save that which is lost. isolation. But the message of the gospel is that there is nothing we can do for God that will make restitution for our sin. The gospel of Christ is the good news that at 35 . In the story. The radically cost of the Cross of Christ transforms our hearts toward God so that we can finally love God and return to God through repentance. in return. then it isn't mercy. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Forgiveness and reconciliation always have a cost. If our best joy comes from something less. we cannot make restitution to God and we cannot pay God back for all the wrong that we have done. and gratitude so that we repent and return to God. but it is costly to you. There was no other way. There Jesus was stripped naked of his robe and dignity so that we could be clothed with a dignity and standing we don't deserve. purchasing for us the only place our hearts can rest. The father could not just forgive the younger son. So he emptied himself of his glory and became a servant (Philippians 2). We deserve alienation. This is where Jesus comes in.” The father never lets him say that next line! Repentance means admitting that you have sinned and that you are not worthy of forgiveness. returning to God. at the cost of his life. Jesus shares that the younger son knows how much he is loved before he repents to his father. somebody had to pay! The father could not reinstate him except at the expense of someone else. I am going to simply take you back. Why is this the essence of the good news? Because we were made to experience full and lasting happiness from seeing and savoring the glory of God. the righteous for the unrighteous." but he also discovered that there was grace to spare. it came at enormous cost. saw us enslaved by the very things we thought would free us. What a scene and what a story! Listen to the startling message Jesus is giving us about what happens when we repent: God's love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. What Jesus is going to share is that while God’s love and approval are absolutely free to all those who by faith repent. You need to be confronted with the sight of what it cost to bring you home. You could make him pay for this by going to others. but even before he can recite his repentance speech. namely that someone has seriously damaged your reputation. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it. except at the expense of Jesus Christ. We have to follow certain rules to earn God’s approval and pay off the debt we owe him. We all have rebelled against the Father. not even utter contrition. Nothing. but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness. He laid aside the infinities and immensities of his being and. or how much you've abused yourself. There Jesus drank the cup of eternal justice and wrath so that we might have the cup of the Father's joy. This is how the heart can be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love. The point of the story is that forgiveness always involves a price—someone has to pay. not only before the son has a chance to clean up his life and evidence a change of heart. There is no evil that the father's love cannot pardon and cover. you could demand that she pay for it. There was no other way for the heavenly Father to bring us in. Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. The younger brother knew that in his father's house there was abundant "food to spare. for our debt is so much greater. It is only when you climb Calvary’s hill and see that God can be trusted and that he really loves you will you. Jesus did not just run down the road to save us or go to the next country to find us. and rags with the robes of my office and honor. Imagine a more grave situation. God must pay the price for us. He paid our debt in our place so we could return home. that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). All other religions say that we have to make restitution to God ourselves. Or you could forgive him. For example. but he came all the way from heaven to earth. I will cover your nakedness.
he said to the Lord. or lift my hand against him. He was a criminal and he deserved the penalty the Centurions were meting out. “Jesus. Jesus. strength. and purify your hearts. Be confronted with the Cross of Christ so that you can hear the invitation to repent. that leads us to repentance. ‘I am the one who has sinned and done wrong.) Trials and sufferings can lead us to truly repent. Luke 23:42 records his last words to Jesus. on the contrary.) God moves his people to repent. These are but sheep. Day 25 :: April 7 :: Read Psalm 51:7-12 When repentance comes Repentance is not just a set of emotions. It is also a group of actions. become a good friend in Heaven. while men say to me all day long. was innocent. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. and turn from “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) and come to “pleasures forevermore. He rebuked his fellow felon and with his last words embraced Christ by faith. He loves his sin too much. Psalm 4:4. He said to his men. Deuteronomy 4:39. The thief didn’t have long to repent. Why wouldn't you want to offer yourself to someone like this? The selfless love of Christ dying for us on the Cross destroys the mistrust in our hearts toward God that makes us not want to repent so that we can brought into intimacy with God. remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Galatians 6:4. Job 16:20. Seeing God makes all the difference. There is no other. 2. “When David saw the angel of who was striking down the people. ‘Repent and be baptized. 5.” The thief was not a great theologian.” Psalm 42:3. my Savior and my God.” Silence is needed for self-examination. to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.” Isaiah 45:22. His repentance was free from blaming others. 3. “Where is your God?”’ Verse 5 goes on to say “Why are you downcast.” There are several ways to experience repentance in our life. for he is the anointed of the Lord. That vision alone gives insight. “It’s your kindness. they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles. “When the people heard this. mourn. Let guilt do its work: Repent of your wickedness.’” True guilt comes from doing what you know is wrong. It is a wonderful account. and wail. search your hearts and be silent. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:8.” The repentant person sees God.” Repent and come to Christ.’” 24:17. just before he died. called you on that day to weep and to wail. But sorrows can bring the fruit of repentance into your life. Acts 2:37-38. “But let each one test his own work. God can intervene and give us the gift of repentance and everything starts new and fresh. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. ‘Brothers.” God is much more concerned about your repentance than you are. Jesus confirmed his faith was true and that they would be together after they had both died. 1 Samuel 24:5. You cannot think seriously 36 . “The Lord. when you are on your beds. The thief gives us hope because he cast himself on the mercy of Christ at the last possible minute. O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. what shall we do?’ Peter replied. “Come near to God and he will come near to you. you sinners. in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. ‘The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master. Sinful man does not want to stop sinning. all you ends of the earth. but they are different roads to the same destination. “My tears have been my food day and night.’” In the New Testament. Lord. a saving and true faith. for I will yet praise him.” This means he sent Christ to bring us to the deepest. too much. for I am God and there is no other. Grieve. He loves his freedom to do what he wants to do.) Considering God’s Works and Ways.) Repentance comes through self-examination and silent personal reflection. Sorrows can make many secondary issues vanish so you can hear God’s voice and see God’s face in the face of Jesus Christ. 4.the cost of his Son’s life. every one of you. It accepted his punishment as a result of his own hand.) Raw guilt can drive us to repentance. “Afterward. but he did it well. Isaiah 22:12. David was conscience-stricken for having cut off the corner of *Saul’s+ robe. “My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God. the Lord Almighty. There is no more dangerous position than to have a heart that cannot grieve your sin.” Sorrows and suffering are painful experiences that no one seeks or hopes will increase in their life. “Turn to me and be saved. and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. the Lord’s anointed. God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy—returning to him. you double-minded. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family. God sent Christ to suffer “that he might bring us to God. He saw Jesus as his only hope in the life to come. and he believed in him. on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. “In your anger do not sin. he uses the same phrase. The thief on the Cross is a precious person who will. “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in Heaven above and on the Earth below. and courage to repent. longest joy a human can have. Wash your hands. Here are some ways in which Scripture reveals that repentance comes: 1. perhaps. see the motivation to repent. In Chris Tomlin’s song Kindness.
‘religious’ repentance is self-righteous. but in the gospel we just receive it through what Christ did for us on the Cross. Day 26 :: April 8 :: Read 1 John 1:5-10 Good news in repentance As you read the teachings of Jesus. Personal reflection requires your entire and focused attention. and only then. unnatural. and conversations. But in the gospel the purpose of repentance is to repeatedly tap into the joy of our union with Christ and see the price that was paid for our salvation in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God's heart. Indeed. Repentance can easily become a form of ‘atoning’ for the sin. there is always some bitterness in any repentance. messages. The world despises silence. all-of-life-repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus and dying to self. so it is not so traumatic to admit our weaknesses and failures to God. can you profit greatly from a regular and exacting discipline of self-examination and repentance. Everything is pulled out. In religion we are only sorry for sin because of its consequences to us. Every sin is forgiven (all of them). refuse to speak with God. and this. Therefore. So we repent. the more aware you are of God's grace and acceptance in Christ. the gospel makes it God-centered. It would be unjust of God to ever deny us forgiveness. Joy has come.’ That is a remarkable statement. and horribly threatening. Or. Assurance is established. you can refuse to repent and be doubled over with guilt and shame. every instance of sin and repentance is traumatic. self-righteous. Your sin is brought before the God of Mercy. the more precious. in religion.about your life while watching a ball game or texting. Turn from your sin. because Jesus earned our acceptance! In religion we earn our forgiveness with our repentance. In the gospel. In religion we are mainly sorry for the consequences of sin. In religion we repent less and less often. The closeness of a child with his Heavenly Father is restored. And though. the more we see that we are accepted and loved by the grace of God. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. and bitter all the way to the bottom. in the gospel there is ultimately a sweetness. but in the gospel we are sorry for the sin itself. The root cause of all sin is a lack of joy in Christ Jesus. On the surface this looks a little bleak! It seems to be saying Christ-followers will never be making much progress in fighting sin. You could babble on and on and on in your stupid prayers about your selfish longings. Our world does everything it can dream up to keep us surrounded with distractions. then. grieves the heart of God. The more you see your own flaws and sins. in turn. and amazing God's grace appears to you. You could refuse to come to the Cross of Christ and be forgiven. and dishonors him. sin displeases God. because their only hope is their moral goodness. But the gospel tells us that sin can’t ultimately bring us into condemnation (Romans 8:1) Its heinousness is therefore what it does to God. We simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ. not our own. Here are some examples of ways that we may be confronted with repentance as we view the Cross: 37 . All the rocks and boulders are removed. But in the gospel the knowledge of our acceptance in Christ makes it easier to admit we are flawed because we know we won't be cast off if we confess the true depths of our sinfulness. If you clearly understand these two different ways to go about repentance. of course. Peace is given. John says that God forgives us because he is ‘just. Turn back to God. pervasive. But the more we are confronted with the Cross of Christ. This means that 'religious repentance' is selfish. The cross constantly confronts us with our need for repentance and it is the Cross that helps us to repent. you soon discover that Jesus taught that the entire life of believers will be one of repentance. But of course that wasn't Jesus’ point at all. In 1 John 1:9. Religious repentance often becomes a form of punishing ourselves in which we convince God (and ourselves) that we are so truly miserable and regretful that we deserve to be forgiven. Hope is received. We must never lose focus of what Jesus did for us on the Cross or repentance is drastically changed. Only under great duress does a religious person admit they have sinned. Religious repentance is also “bitter all the way down.” In religion our only hope is to live a good enough life for God to bless us. We do not have to make ourselves suffer in order to merit forgiveness. electrifying. Repentance makes the way clear. You are the only one who can do this for you. will lead to more and more repenting. interruptions. Thus. stay isolated and live apart from God. we know that Jesus suffered and was miserable for our sin. Our hope is in Christ’s righteousness. however. The gospel affects and transforms the very act of repentance. the more able you are to drop your denials and selfdefenses and admit the true dimensions of your sin. it is the road to Calvary. We realize that sin will bring us punishment and that is something we want to avoid. repentance is self-centered. noise. You could refuse to confess the sins that God already knows all about. Repentance requires it. In 'religion' the purpose of repentance is basically to keep God happy so he will continue to bless you and answer your prayers. But on the other hand. Jesus was saying that repentance is the way we make progress in pursuing Christ. Furthermore. Or you could repent.
Let’s keep in mind that the penitent person is seeking forgiveness with every fiber of his being. The Penitent seeks to make restitution for what he has done to another person. If we confess it. Restitution is the heart of a penitent person to be sorry for wrongs.” We are not just forgiven. By His grace. he describes their sin. He loves his people and he is quite sure they will sin. The only words we have that are like it in English sound like penitentiary. It was an accident. the Lord speaks to his people.” God has great compassion for sinners. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. B) no impatience (think of his patience with you). Make it right. It doesn’t really change anything. They surrender to God’s invitation by saying. But this word doesn’t focus on punishment. to pray about it.” 38 . But this isn’t just a forgiveness party where you get forgiven so you won’t go to Hell. In repentance we hide nothing. Penitence is one we need to be especially clear about. God was infinitely patient and attentive to me. We know that God is offended by our sin and that hurts us. “What can I do that can make this right?” Part of penitence is restitution. B) decreasing pain over criticism (since I should not value human approval over God's love. repent like this: Consider the free grace of Jesus until I sense A) decreasing disdain (since I am a sinner. which is a place of punishment for wrongs. In Malachi 3:7. That is. This may be what James had in mind in James 4:8b.” It is another to go to the store and buy your friend a new one. But the next day you come by with a new mailbox and take the time to install it. Day 27 :: April 9 :: Read Luke 15:7 Desiring repentance This study on repentance brings up several terms that we need to be careful to define. pretend that while backing up your car at a friend’s house you run over your friend’s mailbox. Make restitution where you can. and purify your hearts. “What do you want me to do. not everything we harm can be repaired. Repentance is turning from a sin and planning.Deep humility vs. This is restitution. But is that really the point? Feeling bad about our sin is just feeling bad about our sin. it longs for and it seeks forgiveness. too). If you broke something that can’t be fixed. Consider free grace until I experience grateful. they might forgive you. “How are we to return? Tell us what you want us to do?” The penitent. believing God that you will never. You can’t demand that someone forgive you. Officer?” The husband who has broken the heart of his wife says. Bring over those teapots. but if you truly repent and are penitent (genuinely sorry and earnestly desiring to be forgiven). Hurting a reputation is far more difficult to repair than a teapot or broken window. repent like this: Consider the free grace of Jesus until there is A) no coldness or unkindness (think of the sacrificial love of Christ for you). the damage can never be repaired. Start with two questions: Does God want you to feel bad about your sin? Or does God want you to be rid of your sin? Feeling bad about something we did might lead us to repent of it. then we are forgiven. you sinners. so we quickly repent. Burning love vs. restful joy in Jesus Christ and His love alone. We are so grace-overloaded today that we think that we can hurt anyone we want or do any type of damage we care to do and get away scot-free. Sadly. “Wash your hands. you double-minded. It confesses everything. it is too great a burden and now unnecessary. but we are to wash our hands and purify our hearts. “What could I possibly do now to rebuild our love?” A student who has damaged the reputation of a friend out of spite.) In light of his grace I can let go of the need to keep up a good image. of course. God desires for you to repent. and to make amends. You can confess everything to God. and C) no indifference. Not quite. It helps you. It is one thing to say. Penitence comes from an Old French word that means to desire to be forgiven. perhaps. You do not need to hide anything from God. For example. Consider free grace until I show warmth and affection. What God loves is a heart that is broken over sin and honest over what happened. and then they responds to God with these sweet words of penitence: “How are we to return to you?” The sinner comes to God not to negotiate for better terms. why gossip is such a terrible sin. pride: Have I looked down on anyone? Have I been devastated by people criticizing me? Have I felt snubbed and ignored by people and now I am deeply offended by them? If so. But getting rid of sin. If there was damage. “I’m sorry I ran over your mailbox. that is a good plan to be working on. Repentance brings deep sorrow for sin. Psalm 34:18. replace what was broken. NEVER do it again. you can still ask for (but not demand) the other person to forgive you. not sinning as much tomorrow as we are sinning today. not to demand from God better treatment while God is punishing them. “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. indifference: Have I spoken or thought unkindly of anyone? Am I justifying myself by exaggerating how bad they are and how good I am? Have I been impatient and irritable? Have I been self-absorbed and indifferent and inattentive to people? If so. praying. when pulled over for speeding says. God forbid! Repentance is how to stay in an intimate relationship with the God of Glory. It doesn’t help God if you repent. and to do all that is in their power to make it right. he promises restoration if they will come.
if we could find someone to love. and even change our body shape. not for long. Day 28 :: April 10 :: Read Romans 5:8 All you need is love. no matter how great that love is. our lives feel meaningless. Proverbs 19:22 says. We buy fragrances. where Jerry. If I had her. a love that will complete us. Yet in our contemporary culture. We say to ourselves. love has been magnified to an astonishing degree. worthless. and broken. yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed. “What a man desires is unfailing love. we find ourselves on the prowl. eat chocolate.” All the longings of our heart for meaning and affirmation would be fixed if we could just find someone to love us. We desire a love that will never fail us. but rather upon the one man. They are new every morning.” And Jesus promises. “I am the true Bridegroom. movies made. finally something would be right in my miserable life. His love changes everything. all for the prospect of love. “There is only 39 . We will never find completeness and ultimate joy in the love of another person.Week 5 Love The death of Jesus Christ is the most important event in the history of the world and the crux of how a relationship with God is made possible. The reason is that no human relationship can bear the burden of giving us the love that we crave. his death by crucifixion. Every single person on this planet wants to be loved and to love someone. but soon realize that this type of love can not be found in any human relationship.” God declares. a need that was placed there by God himself. searching for in people is a love that comes from beyond this world. Lamentations 3:22-23. We want something from our lovers that they cannot possibly give us.” That is what we are looking for. Our culture has become overly dependent on being in love. I am the true Father. The Cross of Christ confronts us with God’s unfailing. or seek it in God. It is this deep longing that causes us to look to our relationships to fulfill us and give us life. But here is the problem: the man or woman who lives only for the love and attention of others will never be satisfied—at least. Our desire to be loved is a symptom of a deeper need. Jesus Christ. unexplained yearning. I will come to you” (John 14:18). This is why we try in vain to fill our lives with everything around us to satisfy this desire for love. God’s love is unfailing.” And in Isaiah 54:10. our relationships will ultimately fail us. it would fix things. We search for someone to give us meaning by loving us. in other words by God himself. What we are longing for in our human relationships can only be fulfilled by God.” which means he truly is the only one who can satisfy us with his love. Nothing in us is untouched. But this infinite abyss can only be filled with an infinite and immutable object. tells us. We each have a yearning inside of us to be loved that only God can satisfy. overwhelming. I am the ultimate Lover of your soul. You—you complete me. The need inside us is “God-shaped. books penned. No matter how we may idealize and idolize people and want their love. Without a romantic relationship of some kind. searching to satisfy some inner.” This is what we want. It is at the cross that we most clearly are confronted with the extent of God’s love for us. Memory Verse: Romans 5:8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners. for his compassions never fail. who has compassion on you. proclaims that man once experienced this type of love. people will inevitably reflect earthly decay and they will shine their imperfections towards us. “I will not leave you as orphans. More songs have been written. This craving for love and this helplessness to find it. Now we have a choice: we can either stop searching to find this type of love. The cross is the greatest love story ever told—the love story of a passionate God who pursues humanity with immense love. We need to hear the Lord say. but we all spend our lives seeking things on earth to satisfy it. I am the true Friend. Christianity is not based upon ideas or philosophies. That kind of love comes only from God. great is your faithfulness. unconditional love for us. We must understand that this hunger for ultimate love that completes us is God-given and can only be satisfied by him. and poems created on the subject of love than any other idea in history. What we are longing for. “If I had him or her. “Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed. and the one event. But because only God can meet those needs.’ says the LORD. From life’s outset. we find God’s words to us. There is a wonderful line from the movie Jerry Maguire. Christ died for us. Everything is changed. looks with great intensity at his love and states: “I love you. “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed. played by Tom Cruise. which leaves us on an endless and unsatisfying quest. Our hunger causes us to search for people who will love us and complete us. At the cross we can reflect on how deep our sin goes and how much God does truly love us.
He could have escaped the pain of the Cross. Jesus revealed that the entire law of the Old Testament can be summarized in just two commands: love God and love others. We let these things crowd God out of the center of our lives. "We love because he first loved us. etc. God isn't a list of principles or steps that we must follow. Instead of looking for love and acceptance in others. present. but he didn't. Find your life and completeness in his love. Our first priority is to love God. my life. but we get confused.000 Assyrians in one night. success.one set of arms that will give you all your heart’s desire. We can't read about it and take "four easy steps" to love God. but rather that you should know and love God more. As the poet George Herbert wrote. In response to mankind brutally mocking and murdering their Lord. and await you at the end of time. for they don't know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). John gives us a radical new understanding of how we are to love God in 1 John 4:19. When Jesus was being arrested. Paul says that we were spiritually dead. We focus on the things of God (prayer. Simple. Jesus looked at those who betrayed him and those that were killing him and cried something shocking and totally unexpected—“Father. He could have annihilated the entire planet in an instant in his wrath against our sin. He is demonstrating the depth of His love for you. "Do you think I cannot call on my Father. I first need to be confronted with his love for me. I have to ask myself.” If you seek people to like you expecting them to approve of you so that you feel like you are meaningful. Day 29 :: April 11 :: Read 1 John 4:19 Love God first and most The Old Testament contains hundreds of laws given by God about every conceivable relationship. church attendance. approval. the more you. It will take all of eternity to comprehend the wealth of his love and grace. No.” Gaze hard on the Cross and see your Savior’s love for you. will love God and love others. and behavior. Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). But instead. we read of a single angel who killed 185. popularity. When I read of Christ’s love for me on the Cross. if only you turn to me.000 to 6.) instead of on God himself. yet in His great love for us. Jesus Christ died for us. and pleasure. Fishermen never really make good soldiers because instead of cutting of the guys head. my light. Something has gone wrong. loved by God through the Cross. He is crying out for you. He is dying for you. He is the lover of our souls. so that would be 36. Who can you turn to whose love and acceptance is so overwhelming that your heart will finally be satisfied in its quest for love? There is only one answer to this question. He passionately pursues you and me to sweep us off our feet and convince us of His incredible love. In 2 Kings 19:35. Peter tried to stop the soldiers from grabbing Jesus by taking out his trusty sword. ‘Lord Jesus. We can't find a list of things we can do to create love in our hearts for God. Beauty alone to me.000 to 72. The Cross is about the incredible love of Jesus—his saving love for you and for me. but he endured the suffering to glorify God and to demonstrate his love for us. Others of us are closer to the mark. it is certain they will disappoint you. isn't it? But if it's so simple. “Do I really understand that type of love? Is my greatest delight found in that love?” If not. in turn. We can't manufacture it. let these words penetrate your heart—you are infinitely. living in open rebellion against God. This is a radical concept: the more that you understand God’s love for you. Think of what the angels must have thought. He didn't have to do it. How much does He love us? Enough to give His life for us. Jesus said He could have called twelve legions of these guys! A legion was usually 3. but angels are some of the most powerful spiritual beings ever created. And know that I love you now. Christ has paid for all your sins— past. eternally. Most people think of angels as happy. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners.000 of these amazingly brutal. irrevocably. shouting. Bible study. This means that if I really want to obey God by loving him and loving others. say the word and we’ll slay them all!’ Jesus knew all he had to do was say that word and the fight would be over. and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). looking at Jesus on the Cross: “Thou art my loveliness. why do we get off track so far and so often? Some of us get off track because we are so caught up in pursuing riches. Peter cut off the guy’s ear. He is bleeding for you. our love for God is always in direct relation to our perception of his love for us. forgive them. battle-hardened soldiers to fight for Him! Jesus could have stopped the process leading to the Cross right then and there. Yet. conflict. The Cross shouts to us that you no longer have to fear punishment for your sins or rejection by God.000 soldiers. it was as if the mighty angels peered over the edges of heaven with their swords drawn and their teeth clinched. and future—when you placed your faith in him to save you. Jesus immediately stopped Peter and told him. unconditionally. fat babies with bows and arrows. 40 . then I need to reassess my view of God’s love. It's not that you should try to seek and love less people." Our love for God is begun and built in response to his love for us.
in school. too. Christianity is not fundamentally an invitation to get more religious and improve your life. but to respond to the love of God that was shown to us on the Cross. Day 30 :: April 12 :: Read 1 John 4:9 -10 Unconditional love It is only through the gospel. we long to spend time with our lover. and we believe. and we can’t stand for anything to get in the way. Statues of greatness are never given out to the underachievers in our world. earnestly I seek you. that we can really begin to see that God loves us. my lips will glorify you” (Psalm 63:1. not because we are lovable. It steals the peace.” but some of us need to say. waiting. David wrote about this longing for God: “O God. But even as Christians we still fall into the trap of thinking that our moral achievements and righteous deeds make God love and accept us more. Christ died for us. compassion. moral people always lack assurance of God’s love because they simply aren't sure God loves and delights in them. Paul lets us know in Romans 8 that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God. We define success on the basis of our performance in whatever it is we do and whatever it is we value. It pushes us away from God in fear and away from others in superiority or inferiority. What If I asked you one-on-one. Tell him how you see him and ask him to take you down the path of new insights about his character and love. We want more of it. Because your love is better than life. Religious. you have to perform in order for people to approve of you. “For my father and my mother have forsaken me. Some of us can look at our parents and say. my soul thirsts for you. He is thrilled when we respond to his love. The gospel says it’s what Christ achieved for you on the Cross that allows you to be approved and loved by God. my body longs for you. but he sure doesn’t care about me. or in the boardroom. in a dry and weary land where there is no water. are involved in churchly activities. our human view of God’s love is distorted. We assume God grits His teeth at us. you are my God. abandoned. and enslaving. Like someone hopelessly in love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners. but because he is. Once we have truly been confronted with the love of the Cross. rather than relying on Christ’s finished work on the Cross as the basis for our assurance of God’s love and acceptance. God is not just a principle and his love is not a theory. we are overwhelmed by it. He is the greatest pursuer that has pursued you with love since the beginning of time. begin by being honest.Romans 5:8 says.” However. Both responses are open doors to letting God convince us of his love for us. Only Jesus is. not the one who bills 8 hours a week. or a kind and slightly senile grandfather. As long as you are trying to earn God’s love through your goodness. and hope that are meant to be ours because we are children of a loving Father. Some of us have had authority figures in our lives who have been harsh and condemning. We tend to think that God loves us more when we have emotional fervor for God. Always waiting. But it’s not the gospel. When you try to push him away. by seeing the love that was lavished on us through the Cross. a waiter. and joy. You get in by performing above normal. On the playground. In fact. Some of us have been neglected by those who are supposed to love us. But how can you ever know if you are doing enough for God to love you? How can you be sure that God accepts you today if you are currently struggling? Performance-driven Christianity is neurotic. The one who makes partner in the law firm is the one who bills 15 hours a day. Start right where you are. Let our heart be filled with his kindness. or for our ability to avoid habitual sins. He’s a person who loves you so much he’s seeking you out—even when you don’t understand. We may see God as a cop. This is tough for us to grasp because in our everyday life and world our performance determines our acceptance. If you don’t delight in the beauty of the Lord’s love. Look through the Psalms and experience the beauty of the Lord. The number one priority in our lives is to love God. The Cross alone guarantees us of God’s love and the way that we are intimately reunited with God.” We feel alone. Our acceptance and love is based on how well others see us excel. joy. a judge. you will never be sure you have been good enough. an outcast far from God. and he is always ready to comfort us when we are honest that we don't feel his love. but the LORD will take me in” (Psalm 27:10). None of those are accurate pictures of God and his love for us. depressing. “I can see some of what God is like because I’ve known the love and strength my parents provided for me. “How are you doing as a Christian? How can you be sure God loves and accepts you today?” Most of us would draw our assurance of God’s love based on things we do or how we feel. 3). You don’t get accepted into a prestigious college by having average grades. Remember. Achievement is the basis for your approval and love in this world. It is essential for us to be confronted with the love of the Cross. 41 . he is still nearby with his heart open and his hand out. “God loves Jim or Mary. and snarls when we mess up. but our love for him is only a response to his incredible love for us. like King David.
serve God. as did the Pharisees and other religious leaders. You will also feel irresolvable guilt. Not long after Jesus’ death. Though religious people may be diligent in prayer. an expert in Biblical law stood up in public and asked Jesus a question. These three kinds of discourse are analogous to forms of prayer that have been called “petition. and mind. It was commonly understood that the entire Biblical moral code could be summarized as two master commandments—to love God with all the heart. Then they may devote themselves to a great deal of prayer. his followers. Luke tells us that the law expert wanted to put Jesus to the test. The more I am assured of God’s love. and someone you are in love with. kill the sin in our life. when they started this new movement. but on our present feelings or our recent achievements. Perhaps he had seen how so many non-religious people flocked around Jesus. “Oh. or delight in their conversations with God. In fact. This idea was so different from the other religions of the world that the Romans actually had a name for the early Christians. embraced the kind of radical faith that is found in the gospel. Since you can't be sure you've repent ed deeply enough. superiority or a worthless. Jesus turned everything upside down and said. When you do something you know is wrong. because we now know He loves us. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He may have expected Jesus to say something like. so that we might live through him. Think of three kinds of people—a business associate you don't really like. With your friend you may open your heart about some of the problems you are having. Your conversations with the business associate will be quite goal oriented. They realized that God’s love for them is based not on their moral performance. This is because your sense of God's love is abstract and has little real power in your life. You won't be interested in chitchat. it devastates you. the more the conversation heads toward the personal. your conscience torments you for a long time. 42 . strength. What are the signs of this lack of assurance of God’s love? Every time something goes wrong in your life or a prayer goes unanswered. and toward affirmation and praise. and resurrection. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners. you wonder if it's because you aren't living right in this or that area.” Listen to how Paul assures us of the love of God through the Cross of Christ. Religious people may be disciplined in observing regular times of prayer.” or some other statement that would reveal him to be unconcerned with full obedience to God's Word and law. They had never heard of a God who accepted them based on love and grace. there is no wonder. however. “You are accepted by God and loved by God through the work I did for you on the Cross. All of a sudden. awe. and sacrifice to honor him is not to earn his love. you only have to believe in me. many religious people. the more I will die to myself that I may have more of His presence in my life. self-loathing despair. or to give a summary of them. for all their religiosity. that God sent his only Son into the world. burial. They were used to earning their god’s love and approval based on obeying rules. not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10). soul. because there was no paradigm in which their understanding of religion would fall. do not have much of a private prayer life at all unless things are not going well in their lives. Jesus. to trap him. “What is written in the law?” The only way to answer such a question is either to spend a week reciting the whole body of Mosaic regulations. but their prayers are almost wholly taken up with a recitation of needs and petitions. Day 31 :: April 13 :: Read Luke 10:25 -29 When obedience isn’t enough In Luke 10:25. If you base God’s love and acceptance of you on your performance and morality. Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Perhaps the clearest symptom of this lack of assurance of God’s love is a dry prayer life. This reveals that their main goal in prayer is to control their environment rather than to delve into an intimate relationship with a God who loves them.” The deeper the love relationship. people who did not diligently obey the law in every facet of their lives. and you need the approval and love of others to bolster your sense of value.” “confession. you will never be assured of God’s love. until things get better again. But with your lover you will sense a strong impulse to speak about what you find beautiful about him or her. a friend you enjoy doing things with. not spontaneous. This lack of assurance will then kill you and suck every passion for God out of your life. intimacy. Another sign is that criticism from others doesn't just hurt your feelings. Do you know what they called them? They called them atheists. Listen to how John affirms this truth: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us. responded by asking the man a question. The man took Jesus to mean the latter. but because of the Cross of Christ. In this is love. and who is in love with you.” and “adoration. joyful praise because they are in love with God. even after you repent.This performance-driven Christianity leads to one of two poles: a critical and heartless. The man may have been thinking something like this: “Here is a false teacher who shows little respect for the necessity of obeying the law of God!” So he asked Jesus. You look for ways to atone for your sin so that you can feel the hurt that you think you deserve. you beat yourself up over what you did. Now the reason we obey God. We as Christians tend to start each day with our personal security of God’s love resting not on the finished sacrifice of Christ.
Jesus was seeking to confront the man of sin. This means that all the acceptance and love that Jesus is due for his righteous life and death is given to us.lives. of course. Jesus took it so seriously that He made Himself completely obedient to every law. and love you. not actually love God. But Jesus Christ changes everything. If you can give God a life like that. The law expert is shaken by Jesus’ move. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart change will always be superficial and fleeting. which.” You can say. We obey not to earn God’s love. we are freed from the moral law as a way to earn God’s love and acceptance. are really just motives of fear and pride—the very things that also lead you to sin. all the punishment we are due is taken away because he received it in our place. Though we deserve the wrath of God and punishment for our sin. and carefulness with which you meet your own needs? That is the kind of life you owe your God and your fellow human beings. “That's right. This means we can never see obedience as only an option. you will certainly merit eternal life. This means that Christians have a unique attitude toward the law of God and moral obedience. and you will have eternal life. he says it is the “grace of God that brings salvation. Jesus was pushing this man to see that he needed God’s grace and could not live up to the standard he was asserting.” This was. blessing. we are now loved and treated by God as if we had done all the great moral and righteous things that Jesus did. The law expert recited these. On the one hand.” This is how we say “no” to temptation and obey God. Jesus was showing the man the perfect righteousness the law demanded so that he could see that he was ultimately powerless to fulfill it. an impossibly high standard. turns the tables on him and beats him at his own game. and you will live.” He explains what he means by the “grace of God” in Titus 3:5: “he saved us. Jesus said in effect: “My friend. As we are confronted with the love of the Cross we are taught that you receive God's acceptance. But if we are confronted with the Cross and really experience God’s love in our lives. If you can do what it commands. God’s love for us is no longer tied to our moral performance.” You can say. He lived the life we should have lived and therefore earned the blessing of salvation that such a perfect life deserves. but because we realized that we are fully loved by God. we must love and delight in obeying God. This man wanted to make following God’s laws a means of earning God’s love and receiving salvation.” which “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness." He was seeking to humble the man. in our place. This is the universal religion of the world. so we can be saved by sheer grace and love. but will hate it all the way. Why? It is only if we truly see the love God requires in his law that we will be willing and able to receive the love God offers in His gospel of free salvation through Jesus. then God will accept you. is what Jesus had discerned about his heart already. but because of his loving mercy. You are just using the same self centered impulses of the heart to keep you obedient to external rules without really changing the 43 . Jesus was encouraging the man to seek the love of God by the grace of God. in our place. we know how supremely important the law of God is. even more seriously than you do. But at the end he died on the Cross and took the curse that our imperfect lives deserve. You can say. "No—because I'll hate myself in the morning and feel guilty. “No—because then God will not bless me. energy. I do take the law seriously. “No—because I'll look bad!” You can say.. of course. Jesus. and love as a free gift through Jesus Christ. “No—I'll hurt my family. Just obey those two commands fully. Jesus Christ came and stood in our place. since it reveals the nature and heart of God. of the impossibility of self salvation. We will do it. He was filled with self righteousness and was motivated by a desire to justify himself and control God. Almost every religion teaches that if you live a good moral life. not by his own merits. It reveals the things God loves and hates.” How does Paul tell them to get this self control? Remarkably. loved unconditionally based on what Christ did for us on the Cross. On the other hand. we are God's children. He was complying with his religious observances as a way of “getting ahead” with God so he could make sure that he would receive eternal life. In Titus 2:11-15. This man thought that he could merit God's love and salvation by his good works and moral efforts. Paul calls his listeners to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” and “to live self controlled." Virtually all of these motives. but that was the point.. The love Jesus Christ showed us by dying on the cross for our rebellion changes our hearts and changes our behavior. In effect Jesus’ message was something like this: “Have you actually looked at the kind of righteous life that all these specific laws are really after? Have you seen what kind of life God really wants from you? Do you love God with every fiber of your being every minute of the day? Do you meet the needs of your neighbor with all the joy. When we repent and believe in Jesus. Jesus wanted this man to feel the inadequacy and failure of his moral achievement so that he would turn to God for mercy. you will live. by using against him the very law he knew so much about. The text tells us “he wanted to justify himself” (Luke 10:29). and died to pay the penalty of the law. not because of righteous things we had done. What Jesus is doing is showing him that he takes the law of God so seriously that Jesus is willing to pay the penalty of disobedience on our behalf. the things that are good and evil.” Jesus replied. then we will be changed and our behavior will be radically different.” It was a brilliant move. bless you. “Do them.and to love one's neighbor as oneself. By faith. This man’s response reveals that his obedience is only formal and external. however. however. Instead. Think of all the ways you can say “No” to ungodliness.
Until that happens. the more we will run to Him for forgiveness. Jesus is trying to reveal to a very moral man that his morality is what is keeping him from experiencing the love and the acceptance of God. That would have been a substantial expense. A Jewish man was riding through a mountainous. and who does that really mean?" In other words. and economic needs through deeds. Yet when the Samaritan saw the man in the road. All of these great. deep needs continue to control you only because the concept of the glorious God delighting in you and loving you with all His being is just that— a concept and nothing more. Along came first a priest and then a Levite. He then paid the innkeeper and charged him to care for the man until he had fully recuperated. and religion—is your neighbor. quickly repent of our sin and walk joyfully in obedience to Him. You must let the gospel argue with you. He said it meant being sacrificially involved with the vulnerable. all the more. appreciated. This is what Jesus was trying to get the man to see. discipline. the man saw another way to defend himself. the law expert wanted to whittle down this command to make it more achievable. Though he felt the weight of Jesus’ argument. You must let the gospel sink down deeply into your heart until it changes your motivation and views and attitudes. Also. the Cross will never be our ultimate hope and Christ our ultimate treasure. and for people whom we like. "Yes.” possibly because it would have been extremely dangerous to stop on a desolate road in a region infested with highwaymen. "Who is my neighbor?" The implication was clear. physical. Samaritans were seen by Jews as racial "half breeds" and religious heretics. We do it for people like us. "OK. emotional health. Jesus will have none of that. and you must love your neighbor. But they didn’t. It is typical for us to think of our neighbors as people of the same social class and means. "you don't mean I have to love and meet the needs of everyone!" In response. But the more we see the love that was lavished upon us by Christ on the Cross. he was moved with compassion. to be broken. coach you—over a period of time. just as the Samaritan risked his life by stopping on the road. to your heart—experiencing his love in every area of your life. But Jesus refuses to let us limit not only how we love. He was trying to show him how utterly impossible obedience to the law was so that he would run to God for gracious love. not based on our good record or moral deed. so we never really change. We must see that we are loved by God. 44 . mercy. because the Jew was their brother in the faith. social approval—so your deepest joys and hopes rest in those things. Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need—regardless of race. one of the temple workers who assisted the priests with the sacrifices and offerings. and so there was great animosity between them. You are using God to get things—self esteem. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew. He wanted his own righteousness to be the reason God accepted him. He braved the danger by stopping. our lives have never really confronted the love of Christ. It removes the need to have everything in your life go well and the need to have power over others. beaten. respected. Paul is saying that if you want to really change. Not everyone is your brother or sister in the faith. He refused to allow the law expert to limit the implications of this command to love. you are not really doing anything out of love for God. Then a Samaritan came along the road. "Surely. removes the need to be constantly loved by others. They “passed by on the other side. but everyone is your neighbor. if it is really believed." he implied. Our hearts don't believe it. prosperity. But Jesus’ first effort was not enough to put this law expert off his self justification project. you must let the love of Jesus Christ drop from your head—knowing God’s love as a concept learned in church. but whom we love. These were both righteous figures that should have stopped to give aid. Or they just didn’t want to be bothered. The gospel. and left in the road "half dead" (Luke 10:30). and well regarded. Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. Caring for people's material and economic needs is not an option for Jesus. class. Day 32 :: April 14 :: Read Luke 10:30 -37 Breaking boundaries We continue our story in Luke 10. The love of God in the gospel must train. but through God’s great love. politics. giving him emergency medical aid. I see that I have to love my neighbor—but what does that really mean. love from others. not God." he was saying. We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. and then transporting him to an inn. We will stay in our sin and refuse to die to self because we are unsure if God really loves us. What was Jesus doing with this story? He was giving a radical answer to the question—what does it mean to love your neighbor? What is the definition of "love"? Jesus answered that by depicting a man meeting material. and grace. Samaritans and Jews were the bitterest of enemies.heart itself. He countered. Jesus. We will cry out. remote area where he was robbed.
Circumcision was the external sign that a family had come into a covenant relationship with God. Jesus was going a little deeper here than it first seems. the widow. Yom Kippur (Leviticus 23:26-32). by my love and grace. as in the case of the Samaritan. but the law expert did not have the vantage point to see what we can see. feed and clothe the poor. racial outsiders in their own midst? Through Moses. he will lovingly serve others. he would have nonetheless accepted it. The love of Jesus Christ is the answer to the man’s ultimate question. Jesus was saying something like this: “What if your only hope was receiving help from someone who hated you and only owed you revenge? What if your only hope was to receive love based on pure grace from someone who had every good reason to crush you. In Deuteronomy. mocked him. hurting. belittled him. Moses asks. could they be callous to the poor. we are all like that man. He should have crushed us. and the poor immigrant was a sign that the Israelites’ relationship with God was not just formal and external. and do not be stiff necked any longer. hurting. One of the remarkable “twists” that Jesus gave to his parable was the placement of the Jewish man in the story. not merely at the risk of his life. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords. Remember that Jesus was telling this story to a Jewish man. It was only then that Jesus says: “Go and do likewise. he was moved with compassion by our plight (Romans 5:10). Spiritually. God said: “Israel. Another example of this reasoning is found in Isaiah 58:2. All during the year the Israelites were to obey the moral law diligently. On the Cross he paid a debt we could never have paid ourselves. based on your relationship to him and the way you had treated him in the past? You see. The Israelites had been poor. How then. and had been offered neighborly love from someone from whom he would have expected rejection. then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God's gracious love. The only fast commanded by law was for the Day of Atonement. Moses said to the people: “Circumcise your hearts. If he doesn't lovingly serve others. though our entire life we had run from him. Now go and love other the way I loved you. the more God confronts me to love others. and the law expert had no response. and at worst he has not really encountered the saving love of God. but in his heart he is far from God. “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Only if you see that you have been saved by the gracious love of Christ dying for you on the Cross will you catch the heart of the story. so Jesus put a Jew in the road as the victim. dying. He had to agree that. The biblical motivation for loving others is the love of God in redemption. and loves the alien. therefore. if he had been the needy man in the road. You did not accomplish it. mighty and awesome. All we have to do.And so Jesus ended the story with a question: “Who was the neighbor to the man in the road?” The law expert must admit that it was “the one who showed mercy” (Luke 10:37). but internal as well as they loved others. If he doesn't care about the poor. dying in the road. unlock the shackles of the hurting. According to the Bible. the great God. you were liberated by me. is accept it. he came down our road.” Notice how Moses begins his exhortation with “circumcise your hearts” (Deuteronomy 10:16). racial outsiders in Egypt. Heart circumcision was a passionate commitment to love God on the inside. Out of love untie the yoke. He came to save us. he came to help us. who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. “Teacher. When Jesus came into our dangerous world. he was asking each listener to imagine himself to be a victim of violence. for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:16-19). He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow. Jesus is the Great Samaritan to whom the Good Samaritan points. giving him food and clothing. Meeting the needs of the orphan. God sees the Israelites fasting. God’s love should make you loving. I performed it for you. Remember the man’s main question. like the beat-up half dead guy in the road. And you are to love those who are aliens. to cross all racial and religious barriers to love you? Of course you would. it reveals that at best he doesn't understand the love he has experienced. what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25) This is what Jesus answer to the original question. but 45 . the law expert. This theme does not just begin in the New Testament. In other words. but out of love. The Cross confronts us with the reality that nothing we do can earn God’s love. And though we had been his enemies. The logic is clear: If a person has grasped the meaning of God's love in his heart. we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:5). but at the cost of his life. as I lovingly did for you. with no hope if this Samaritan did not stop and help. it is freely given to us through Jesus Christ. How would you want the Samaritan to act if that was your situation? Wouldn't you want him to be a neighbor to you.” He had made his case. Day 33 :: April 15 :: Read Deuteronomy 10:16 -19 A New Commandment The more that I am confronted by the love of God on the Cross.
That is the real proof that you believe your sins have been atoned for. Listen to the words of Jesus: “A new commandment I give to you. Understanding and receiving the love of God in Jesus Christ not only does things for you—forgives your sins. but “themselves” (Isaiah 58:10) by loving others. and that you have truly been humbled by that knowledge of God’s love and are now living a life submitted to God and shaped by knowledge of him. he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 2:4–5). ‘and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves. and he loved us so much. “going without” for a day or two. And then we hear the words of Paul. The Day of Atonement meant that God's relationship with his people was based on his gracious love and forgiveness. There is nothing like it. and it takes our breath away: "But God is so rich in mercy. on a permanent fast. If you look down at the poor and stay away from their suffering. This is why God proclaims: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness. but by his grace the Lord makes a provision for sin. and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold. you also are to love one another. Doing miracles and teaching us wonderful truths about God would have been astonishing in their own right. Does your love for others reveal that you have been confronted by the love of Jesus Christ on the Cross? Day 34 :: April 16 :: Read Ephesians 2:4–7 The love of God and holiness The love of God is the primary power behind your choices to live for God. clearly God's love is not based on how lovable we are. in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure. that you love one another: just as I have loved you. clothing. how can it be? His love would have been notable had it just been that Christ came to show us what the Father was like. Self indulgence and materialism should be given up and replaced by a sacrificial lifestyle of giving to those in need. but still show pride and haughtiness toward the poor and needy reveal that no true brokenness has ever penetrated their hearts. atoning for the sins of the people. so filled with mercy. Amazing love. resisted him. Though they demonstrate the external sign of belief in God’s love—fasting—their lives reveal that their hearts have not been changed. and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house. to cover him. mocked him. People who fast and pray ritually. they exhibited humility before God and showed they believed in the basic message of Yom Kippur. you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).” (Isaiah 58:3–4) God sees economically comfortable people abstaining from food. gets you to heaven. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. when you see the naked. That was why fasting was an appropriate way to observe Yom Kippur. The love of God changes every other love in our lives. we are wretched sinners and disgraceful in his sight. But to come to die for our sins. namely. essentially. and peace. God has shown the riches of His love for sinners who deserve the fullness of his wrath. We have turned away from him. 46 . But God was deeply displeased with the Israelites' fasting: “‘Why have we fasted’ they say. to make us his own people—all come through the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. to pay our debt. that even though we were dead because of our sins. So. particularly food. Our sins create a barrier between God and us. For reasons we will probably only come to understand in eternity. you have not really understood or experienced God's love in your life. So once a year the high priest entered the sanctuary of the tabernacle and offered a blood sacrifice. It is impossible for us to know the love of God and not have it change us substantially. and home with the hungry and the homeless. You cannot be confronted by the love of the Cross and not respond with love towards others. that we are all sinners saved only by God’s gracious love. What is this permanent fasting? It is to lovingly work against injustice. By abstaining from pleasures. By this all people will know that you are my disciples. and oppress all your workers. It is the most glorious expression of his love because it was so undeserved. The Cross of Christ is the greatest expression of the love of God for sinners. to undo the straps of the yoke. People who are confronted and changed by the love of God should go. and profoundly. to share food. to let the oppressed go free. Behold. scorned him. They should spend not only their money. and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6–7) Fasting should be a symbol of a pervasive change in the person’s entire life. just the opposite.God knew that this was not something that they would ever do satisfactorily or sufficiently. as it were. and in a million other ways have slighted God. but not being willing to stop exploiting their workers. Why God loves us is completely beyond our ability to understand. gives you great friends–it also does a great work within you. to take our guilt upon himself. grace.
prayers. all of them can fail miserably if they are not flowing from the love of God. Not only does God’s love confronts us to love other people. so reflective of his glory. The love of God transforms us so that we love others with the love of God. attendance at worship. The love of Christ can control us. not in a superficial or falsely religious sense. Hating what God hates is not license to be angry. reading the Bible. You also see evil and sin within yourself and in the lives of those you love and you pray against it. so transforming. It says we respond to the love of God by loving others in Christ. You might expect John to have written. and to turn from them. We no longer have to look for love and acceptance in others because we are accepted and loved by God. the joy of Christian fellowship. your greatest weaknesses and failures and to run to God for mercy. The love of God gives you confidence. not an attempt to earn his love and approval. service. your selfishness and pride. obedience. God’s love comes to you. but in real terms that change my life?” The answer is: Love God more. Our actions and works should be in response to God's love for us. 47 . godly practices. It teaches us by divine example what and who we should love and how we should love them. You also begin to hate what God hates. You fight against it with all you strength. and God’s love dwells within you (Romans 5:5).” But it doesn’t say that. If you engage in love. you strive with all your might against it. to stand before him forgiven. It expresses your love for God and. and holy because of the Cross of Christ and not because of anything in you at all. guide us. “God demonstrates his love for us. you love his Word. direct us (see 2 Corinthians 5:14–15). It reminds you that all your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. Obedience driven by duty will exhaust and break you. and obedience to his will. That love is so powerful. If you want to know and do God’s will. the riches of his Word. This is why finding our love and acceptance in Christ serves as a basis for our relationship with other people. People are often stumped when it comes to growing more in their Christian life. in true holiness (the Spirit of God will help you live as you ought to live). you want more and more of God’s life. you love what God loves. but it transforms your life so that you become more holy. clean. If you love God. pure. It heals the wounds of the worst of sinners and makes enemies of God into his best friends.Being confronted with God's unconditional love is foundational for all future growth. beginning with yourself. so we respond by loving God. and that keeps you at a distance from your Father in heaven. the fullness of his Spirit. and you do his will. How could the love of God not substantially change you? The love of God gives unshakable confidence when we come before God. that causes you to fall. “How can I become more of the person that God wants me to be?” “How can I become more holy. When you have a love for God. We are accepted and loved by God completely as we are because of the Cross. so filled with his grace. Our love for others is the testament that we have received God’s love for us. He confronts us with his love in order to change every relationship we have with others. Service done because you love to be thought well-of by others will end up with you being worse off. Holiness done by your sinful nature will result in your pride and self-praise. Serving will be in your heart because you love God. The love of God frees us from our captivity to sin (Romans 6:22). The love of God helps you face your sinful nature. that robs you of joy. the best course of action is to grow in your love for God. God has a greater design. beloved. it will change everything in your world. Obedience motivated by the love of God (God’s love for you and your love for God) results in praise to God (for the Cross and the work of Christ). not better for it. and joyful conformity of your will to the will of God. more godly. We must understand and rest in the fact that we don't have to do things in order for God to accept us or love us. But there is more. courage to face your most difficult sins. you are waging war on the sin that hinders you. and his most beloved children. The question is asked. You are confirmed as a son or daughter of God. Now we can honestly love and accept others because we will not use others to merely build up our own worth and develop our identity on their approval of us. Receiving God’s love was not just so we can love God back. You embrace more and more of God.
then we have this mercy because God gave it to the undeserving. But such an approach is offensive to God. We are not saved based on our own merit but through the merit of Jesus Christ.Week 6 Grace Grace is the heart of God that you see at the Cross. “All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This quality is why we want to be paid for our labor. But think for a moment of what it represented. picture Jesus stretched out against the sky. Instead of qualifying for some favor or for God’s love. there are only two ways that people have by which they may seek to be reconciled to God. There is no reward that can be received that can take us high enough to come before the God of Heaven. according to the riches of his grace… Day 35 :: April 17 :: Read Ephesians 2:8-9 Grace The Cross of Jesus Christ is the signature symbol of the most important event in the history of civilization. The Cross itself has become big business. This second Way holds that man deserved God’s displeasure and wrath. If it is a wonderful gift of God. Grace challenges the very notion of our goodness. and given the holiness of Christ. This is profanity in the truest sense. Jesus Christ. but gruesome. the Cross has cornered the market on modern religious pop culture. Grace confronts any sense that we have done something that God can justly reward. and things 48 . Merchandisers manufacture the symbol of the Cross into everything imaginable. It is as strong as God. but God who is rich in mercy determined to pay for the sins of the world by the Cross of his Son. From coffee mugs to t-shirts. Without grace there is no salvation. Yet today. Grace is how people who were enemies of God were made friends of God. Christ died for no good reason. The whole of the human race is under the stain and curse of sin. When we look at the Cross. and no Heaven. Every person who is saved by the grace of God is undeserving of it. Everything that God wants us to know about himself comes together in those crossbeams. Grace is immensely bigger than we imagine. No. help the little old lady across the street. Is it any wonder we have lost the wonder of what happened on Calvary? The resurrection of Christ was the event that completed salvation and verified Christ's victory over death. no forgiveness. no reconciliation. and this way is completely contrary to Way #1. The second way. It is through grace that people who were under the curse of sin are brought into God’s family. or telling over and over about our exploits on the high school football team. The first way is to qualify for God’s love by some act of merit. Across the broad span of humanity. the Bible is very clear: We do not qualify for anything but God’s wrath. This was not beautiful. Think on him there. Way #1 tries to earn or qualify for God’s affection. The Bible says “None is righteous. they are utterly at odds with one another. Grace is what moved God to save sinners. It is not given to any because they were worthy of it. we depict the Cross as common. why we enjoy putting our diplomas on the wall. the forgiveness of our trespasses. The Cross was a hideous instrument of torture. We had no merit of our own. There is no human merit. shame. Way #2 abandons any thought of the goodness of man and trusts in the grace of God. no hope. Memory Verse: Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood. This week we will spend time being confronted with the grace of the Cross. and his furious rage against sin is never-ending. Jewelers pound it into all sorts of finery so we can staple it to our ears and wear it around our necks. The two Ways could not be more different from each other. If it is unnecessary. But it was the Cross of Jesus Christ that accomplished our salvation and showed us the grace of God. In your mind's eye. Grace brings every gift that God wants to give into our lives. Now from our point of view there are many things we do that are rewardable. some choice or decision that is made by man to give him acceptance and to have positive goodness in God’s eyes. why we like to be recognized for an achievement. Only two. But it was never intended to be some lucky trinket. These two systems could not be more at odds. from fuzzy mirror ornaments to cross watches. help feed the poor. no qualifying deed for the grace of God. no new life. There is no qualification we have to meet for God’s mercy. Grace is either a wonderful gift or it is utterly unnecessary. We are kind to children. forgiven of every sin. is that God qualifies man for his favor and love solely because God is gracious. All the religions of the world except Christianity are of this first type. not one” (Romans 3:10). What's he doing there? That's the question we will explore. and death. we are confronted with the clearest expression of grace that God has ever spoken. We are confronted by grace because there is within every person a need to earn or qualify for what we receive.
We are saved by grace alone. We think that we can do enough to qualify for God’s mercy and earn his love. There it is. then. We must admit that we've put our ultimate hope and trust in things other than God. we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get things from God. people don’t think they are all that bad. By faith. You can’t trust in the grace of God. his perfections. Grace. we might squeeze through. People think they are born naturally good and live morally good lives. believe in the Cross of Christ and the righteousness of Jesus AND try really hard to qualify for the love of God by what you do. The Bible says that to do so would be to nullify God’s grace. for if righteousness were through the law. To receive the grace of God we must first abandon Way #1. Here is the verse: Galatians 2:21. Grace works at enmity—is an enemy—to any notion of self-righteousness. not Way #1. 19:1). Men are not permitted to steal God’s glory from him. 12:10. but Christians repent of the very root of their self-righteousness as well. He has done it all. obeyed God’s Law in every way. Graded on the curve. This is why Paul writes. not a result of works. God gave us all we have. not works. Grace doesn’t add to your merit. We don’t deserve God’s love. does full-scale-all-out-war on any claim we make about our goodness. and at least they aren’t hypocrites. To truly become a Christian. “I do not nullify the grace of God. What must we do. It is this way because it is the only way God can deal justly with our sin. It's called the new birth because it's so radical. paid for our sins by the Cross of Christ. then Christ died for no purpose. self. give us his love and grace and not assault his own holiness. they think they are already good enough. assaults. It shows us to be incapable of any God-ward inclinations. Hebrews 2:3. but that God’s grace is there just to make up for the part they can’t do. The challenge of using Way #1: is how can we be as good as God? People with good sense will. but if that is all you do. We failed miserably in every way. In both our wrongdoing and right doing. And this is not your own doing. And that is the confrontation: Grace challenges any notion that we are as good as God is good. even more. and the end of your relationship with God. We didn’t qualify for it. others. We will never be as good as God. God then gives us who follow Christ the gift of Christ’s righteousness. but God by his grace. Revelation 7:10. Grace says that only God is as good as God. we are qualified to be with God and to know God. It’s like they have run the marathon but they need God just to push them over the Finish Line. Grace assures us that salvation is from God (Psalm 37:39. you are on verge of understanding grace. We are still sinners. Way #2. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. That is the grace of God. you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian and repent of these “good deeds”. you may become very religious. and the biggest reason is that it gives God all the glory for our salvation. So. But he shares his love and grace with those who have faith in and follow Jesus Christ. your virtue. Those things are very nice. and they certainly do not deserve Hell. we must also repent of all the times we were morally good and righteous for the wrong reasons. to be saved? We must learn how to repent of the root of all sins and the root of our self-righteousness—the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. he deserves all the glory. but God loved us in spite of our sin. by the gift of Christ’s righteousness. Grace convicts men of sin. at that point.” You can’t start by grace and end with your effort. Those following Way # 1 only repent of their sins. but you are placing your faith in Way #1. he gave it to us.like that. This is why Way #1 is the most popular notion among people. it will change everything: how you relate to God. It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed. we are in trouble. God now sees us as if we had done everything good that Christ did. so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). It lays us guilty before the measure of God’s holiness and perfection. but Christ was obedient. Grace doesn’t just help you finish the race. your work. To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong. 49 . Grace says we didn’t have any. see their need for the grace found in Way #2. It was God’s gift. it is the gift of God. and they are commendable for people to do them. the middle. The more you are confronted with grace. qualify for it or deserve it in any way. your sins. attacks. But because of pride we naturally hate grace. they are better than most. and he never sinned—not even once. as good as some. it is your only merit. and to love God despite the fact that we could never earn it. therefore. Philippians 1:28. the world. it is the beginning. Salvation is by grace from first to last. Grace is all or nothing. If you in any way are relying on your own good deeds or religious attainments as the reason for your salvation. Another variant on Way #1 is that people believe that they haven’t been good enough. The Cross of Christ stands atop Mount Calvary as a monument to human sin. And. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good. But commendable by whom? Who has the measuring stick of what is good? How good does it need to be? If it needs to be merely better than most people. We didn’t deserve it. Grace. Why would God not allow them into heaven? Most people believe that they do not deserve any punishment from God because they are not that bad. If it needs to be as good as God. and he paid the penalty for it by the death of Christ. He gives it to no one else. Or the other-way-around. always faithful. But using grace in this way is offensive to God and it dishonors Christ. to the saving power of the Grace of God. when people want to use Way #1.
That’s the only reason. There was nothing in the nation of Israel that distinguished them so that they deserved God’s love and choice. too. It reads in part. his people: (some translations make it a statement. Look for grace in them: Romans 1:7b. how fabulous we are. there is no Gospel of Jesus Christ. waiting for ourselves to make us happy. our moral failures. Knowing why God loves us is important to building a growing. “These people deserve my love. hope that can never be taken from us. This grace of Christ was something that God created out of his heart. but the point is the same) “Did the Lord love you because you were more numerous than other peoples. joy that is immense and uncontrollable. and sacrificially. and whose glory is seen in every glimmer of sunlight. God loves them only and purely because he loves them. demanding that we must do something to deserve God’s love. For any relationship you need to know why a person loves you. spoken. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time …. or sung. We like to put past the introductions and get into the heart of the letter. and brings glory to God. There is nothing else like it in Heaven or on Earth. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:3. It believes in. the wisdom of God. That’s what grace does. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Some of the closings are filled with important things that he wanted them to have ringing in their ears when they finished reading. to give us riches. a new kind of honesty about who we are. Grace leaves the saving to God. The greetings at the beginning of the New Testament letters are easy to pass over. but you get the idea. In Deuteronomy 7:7–8 Moses gives the reason why God chose and loved his people. then you’d be safer in the relationship.” Our pride cries out. healthy. “Why does the Lord love you? Because he loves you. And at times another part says we can never deserve it. The greeting at the beginning was a justification for the letter.” That is grace. If you knew the person loved you unconditionally. from every era. Without the grace of God. Knowing why God loves you is extremely important. trusting relationship with God. But letter-writing was different then.Day 36 :: April 18 :: Read Galatians 2: 17–21 Grace that changes everything The grace of Jesus Christ is the Gospel. “It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers …” In other words. the verse begins with a question about God’s love for Israel. We have been walking around as blind and deaf men. even in the Old Testament era. how lucky God is to have us living and doing good things on the planet. and loves without limits. the power of God. his reason for writing and to whom the letter is written. These two verses ask a question and then gives an answer. There is nothing as wonderful. Jesus Christ. able to trust that person’s love.” The collision we have with grace comes from the phrase “not because of anything we have done. on what grace is. That is reason enough. It gives us. It trusts in the love of God. 2 Timothy 1:9. the mercy of God. And all of them are wrong. and gives everything to know. there is no thought or idea so full of power and majesty as the grace of Jesus Christ. is of God. 50 . and life everlasting. No one compelled him to do it. selflessly. Here are some of those greetings and closings. for you were the fewest of all the people?” Then the answer is given in 7:8. That phrase is the sweetest line in all human language.” There is a passage in Deuteronomy that pulls the curtain back a bit. So why does God love you? In Deuteronomy 7:7. that would change everything. Read it carefully and you will see grace fully formed in the Old Testament. It stops our bragging about what we have done. He certainly did not look upon the world and think to himself. it told who wrote the letter and it also told something about his authority. He loves you because he loves you. and therefore have no hope. Grace silences our pride. Another part of our heart cries out that we already are deserving. instead. The greeting is important. and with that grace he gives us riches beyond measure. to give our lives meaning. nothing as glorious. “who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. Grace is central to the understanding of the Gospel. We can now face our appalling selfishness. our utter disregard for the presence of God who made everything. And God comes with grace instead. If a person was seeking to form a relationship with you merely because you had a lot of money. It was a return address. There are many more. every color in sky and leaf. The grace of God comes from God. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. every song of a bird. They were a tiny nation with nothing in them to distinguish them or make them deserving of God’s love. Romans 16:20b. in all that has been written.
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Grace exposed our sin for what it was. Christ realized this when he prayed in the garden the night before his death (John 17). It filled us so full that it will take eternity to grasp all that God has given us in his Wonderful. There is a holy curse hanging over all sin and God’s holy wrath will crush all those that have rebelled against his glory. You can't understand the gospel until you understand this idea of substitution. The plan of chief priests and the elders worked because the crowd shouted they wanted Barabbas to go free. He said. God’s holy wrath is just. On that night he asked the Father to take away this “cup” of suffering and sorrow.” to erase not only his person. This was Pilate's perfect opportunity to avert the murderous demands for Jesus' death by offering either Jesus or the most notorious prisoner called Barabbas. to pay the debt of our rebellion. He's taking God's wrath for your sin. Pilate was trying to position Jesus as the favorite to be released. Jesus took my place on the Cross. in between the other two revolutionaries. "You choose. and to bear the curse of sin for all who trust Him. or carted off to prison. Amazing Grace. But the chief priests and the elders had a plan. They had “persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus” (Matthew 27:20). Scripture tells us that Jesus was crucified between two robbers. In the original language. This is Jewish culture's most celebrated time of year. This is the meaning of the word “propitiation” used in scripture (Romans 3:25). and every day Hebrew insurgents battled in the streets. He was evil and a revolutionary. This is the meaning of the Cross. Pilate then asked. killed. The "Passover party" culminated in a popular custom where the governor would release a prisoner of the people's choice to appease their anger and reduce their frustration with the Roman occupation. "Let him be crucified!" Pilate was stunned. but so should I. Barabbas should have died on that cross for the sins he had committed. There is in this prayer the knowledge that it would be unimaginably difficult for Christ to 51 . does not just cancel the wrath. You can imagine how the families and communities suffered in the aftershock of such conflict on a daily basis. knowing that Barabbas was dangerous and Jesus was innocent. God sends His own Son to absorb His holy wrath. That's substitution. "Do you want Osama bin Laden or Jesus? The murderer or Jesus?" Surely they would want Jesus. "Why. We now have the love of God. It shifts the value system we had in place and it puts in an entire new measurement of what is truly precious. there is hope. What scripture is revealing is that the Cross in which Jesus died was intended for Barabbas. The grace we now have is more precious than the gold which perishes. and it was spent and poured out. Jesus literally took the Cross that had been reserved for Barabbas. He's paying the price that God's holiness requires so you and I can be forgiven. He absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself.Grace doesn’t leave anything untouched. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). without God’s gracious substitution. The Romans had conquered and subjugated the land. Picture Christ on the Cross and ask yourself: "What's He doing there?" Answer: He's subbing for you. In effect. It changes every relationship. People didn't need TV. and so should you. Do you want this mad revolutionary or Jesus?" He believed their sense of self preservation and kindness would force them to choose Jesus. It literally means "revolutionaries. there is nothing else to say. Jesus Christ. it actually means “annihilate him." The two men crucified on either side of Jesus were revolutionaries. but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 says. Each of us deserves to die in payment for our own sin. The gold we had before is now valueless. He's satisfying the just demands of a holy God. "robbers" doesn't refer to burglar types who comb neighborhoods looking for homes where the owners forgot to lock their patio doors. the most notorious revolutionary. So. It refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. what evil has he done?" Everyone knew the evil that Barabbas had done. Day 37 :: April 19 :: Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 The Substitute Jesus lived His life on earth at a time of revolution and unrest in the nation of Israel. So he asked. Jesus stepped in and took that penalty for us. Over the centuries it became like our Christmas and New Year's celebrations combined. when before our love was just an empty desire to get what we wanted. Wipe him out as if he never existed. They were commanded by the Old Testament to remember the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:43). Destroy is a very strong word. The substitute is graciously provided by God Himself. they watched drama right in front of them as their hometown boys were captured as resistance fighters and injured. with that background. I deserve to die that death. "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said.” Every sin that you and I have ever committed deserves to be punished. not withdrawn. This is the central tenet of the historic gospel. It brought us to Christ empty. but the memory of his having ever lived. “The wages of sin is death. Pilate was offering. The substitute. Jesus died in Barabbas' place. But because of the grace of God. but by the grace of God. we enter the story at the time of the Passover.
Jesus asked her. Jesus became a homosexual. "Yes. suffering the wrath of the Father against our vile. His blessing for our cursing. and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus could have said. Grace is why you serve. This point is played out one morning as Jesus was teaching in the Temple. Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Scripture declares that on the Cross Jesus exchanged His perfection for our imperfection. He is the propitiation for our sins. She deserved death. Jesus gave her grace. All grace comes through Christ. His intimacy with God the Father for our distance from God the Father. Grace is how you live. that's what the Law says. But there was something else at work here. defiled. upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace. Jesus Christ delivers us from the wrath of God by becoming our sin. to save you from your sins." she said. evil. Grace is the way you pray. adulterer. most glorious expression of grace. Jesus took the penalty for our sins in our place so we do not have to suffer the just penalty ourselves. most beautiful. The Cross was not just violence and wrath. the righteous for the unrighteous. and His life for our death. the love of grace. There is no grace apart from him. Jesus was made to be the worst of what we are. some lawyers and Pharisees burst into the room dragging a woman in front of Jesus. wicked.come to the Cross and give everything for our salvation. His obedience for our disobedience. willingly gave himself. accused publicly of a scandalous deed. raging lunatic. for love of you. unspeakably horrible. Jesus became the most ugly. "Woman. it was the point of grace for all eternity. On the Cross as our substitute. This was the great exchange. Rather. the victory of grace. it was the clearest. This does not mean that Jesus never sinned. The holy Son of God dying for sin. The wrath of God that should have fallen on us and the death that our sins merit fell on Jesus. Scripture repeatedly stresses this point: But He was wounded for our transgressions. Grace is how you are made holy. For Christ also suffered once for sins. But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners. He was crushed for our iniquities. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors. Christ was not forced. After all the accusers had left the room. wicked. and facing a horrible death. Scripture teaches us that “for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin. "Then neither do I condemn you. [He] was delivered up for our trespasses" (Romans 4:25). In that moment. pedophile. addict. in that moment when Jesus cried out that He had been forsaken by God the Father. Christ our substitute is the author of grace. glutton. and let's get it over with!" But he didn't. Grace is the means by which you know God. Imagine how she felt at that moment—caught in the act. the fullness of grace. pervert. and makes intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12). self-righteous religious pig—and whatever else we are. Pick up a rock. Grace is the grand Theme of Heaven and the Song of the Angels. dragged to the Cross against his will—this may be the most amazing fact about the Cross—he chose it. God forgives sinners because it pleases him to be gracious to us. thief. where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one. rebellious. The Perfect Man. Grace is power to endure suffering. As a result. selfish acts." Jesus 52 . She had been caught in the act of adultery. Christ is the grace of God. Grace is how you learn. coveter. and not ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). Suddenly. Come on. sir. must have been for God the Son. dragged out into public half naked. beginning and end Grace is where you start. it means that He was made sin. Day 38 :: April 20 :: Read John 8:1-11 Grace. thoughts and words. corrupt. everybody. and hideous thing in all creation. alcoholic. the source of grace. Grace is hope when you die. yet He bore the sin of many. the means of grace. Jesus stood alone with the woman. whore. Grace is how you grow. idol worshiper. When they accused her. the people understood why her hair was messed up and she was barely clothed. that He might bring us to God" 1 Peter 3:18). so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). Grace drove Christ to the Cross. and these religious leaders wanted to have her stoned to death for her sin. His substitution for us gives us grace.
The grace of God reveals his glory and his nature. Every day we must be confronted with grace of God so that we dive in head first and soak our hearts in God’s grace. but grace is an "all day. We don't get to heaven based on what we've done. Notice what Jesus is saying." All day. Our sins deserve condemnation. God's grace is greater. every day" thing." Grace doesn't minimize it and say. hope. we understand more about God's heart.” This is why grace is not something that merely gets us into the door of intimacy with God. "do because he loved me" gratitude.declared. and restoration. he did not tell her in anger or with a terse voice. God’s grace doesn't excuse sin and say. How much does the Father accept you and me? As much as he accepts his own Son. It is the air we breathe in our relationship with Christ. How much does he provide for you and me? As much as he provides for Jesus. Grace turns a teeth gritting. You may have really struggled with some things you feel that God has told you to do. and no situation is too difficult for it. the more we will be aware of God's grace! Those who think they don't sin very much don't have much appreciation for the forgiveness and kindness of God. Over and over again in the New Testament. Our motives for obedience are clarified. how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2). "Neither do I condemn you. the writers use the term "in Christ" to describe believers. We get there in spite of what we've done—even the worst of us." How much does the Father love you and me? As much as he loves Jesus. Even our desire to please God is a result of his grace working in our hearts. and guilt producing? These laws are God's perfect standard of holiness for us. because we are "in Christ. The grace of God is not an ointment we dab on when we feel bad. you're not so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. gentleness. As we soak up the grace of God. She blew it. and forgiveness. The more we meditate on this truth. No matter what you've done. we gain three things: We have hope and assurance that God forgives. the grace of God brings us to repentance so we are born again. Paul wrote. this women was not just saved by God’s grace. Do you see it? The more we are aware of our sinfulness. "Oh. she couldn't help it. That perspective is so pervasive that it is difficult for many of us to realize that God breaks this mold. the more that we will die to self and fight sin in our life. No matter how big or how bad your sin may be. We have to stop thinking of grace only in terms of the point of our salvation experience." He told her in love and joy. That's why God's great grace is so wonderful: We deserve just the opposite! But God's goodness is displayed toward our unworthiness. however. we don't even think of God. He encouraged her to respond to his grace by doing better. "The law was added so that the trespass (and our awareness of sin) might increase. We will "go and leave our life of sin. God cares. We think he is reluctant to be kind to us. he sees the righteousness of Christ because we are "in him. and they show us how far we miss that standard. We obey out of love. No sin is bigger than God's grace. Jesus. You may have disobeyed God. we won't take forgiveness for granted. remember the grace Jesus showed to the woman caught in adultery. difficult. When God looks at you and me. We get what we deserve. but we received kindness and love. "Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:10-11). 53 . Have you noticed all the rules and commands listed in the Scriptures? Do they seem to be demanding. not because we're afraid of him. Paul then asks a question: "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" His answer: “By no means! We died to sin. Our choices to obey are by the grace of God." The grace of God looks sin in the face in all its ugliness—and forgives. we think it's so bad that even God can't fix things. It changes us. But where sin increased. By now you've been working through this devotional for several weeks. When Jesus talked to the woman caught in adultery. His grace is unlimited. "It wasn't that bad. when things are going bad. every class we take. God's grace provides forgiveness. Some of us think God shakes his head and grimaces when he dispenses grace to us. We tend to make two mistakes regarding the grace of God: When things are going well. and every job we hold is based on performance. You must realize that your best days are not so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace. Paul's conclusion is very similar to the statement Jesus made to the woman caught in adultery: When we are confronted with the grace of God. but that's not true at all. every day. When we understand more about grace. Certainly. but is commanded to live in that grace. We are full of thankfulness. "do or die" attitude into a thankful. on your worst days. He treats us very differently. and you feel conviction. God delights in showing his goodness and forgiveness to us. If that is the case. grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20). The grace of God is at work in our lives from beginning to end. we realize that we deserve condemnation. but those who are very aware of the dark parts of their hearts are very thankful for God's grace. but it is what motivates us to live for God everyday. They deserve the righteous wrath of God to be poured out to punish us. and God provides. too—big time!—but Jesus spoke to her with kindness. Like the woman in John 8. Almost every relationship we experience.
As we approach Good Friday we understand a bit more. This list is a beginning and much more could be said. by grace. they are overwhelmed with the love of God. The grace of God is the greatest motive for loving God and people. For now there are some practical steps we can take to grow in grace. When the grace of God showers down on a person’s life. But when God appears and reminds him of his sin and his wretchedness. Make no mistake about it: Without the Cross there would be no grace. our greatest treasure. and the gift of our loving Savior. the love of God for sinners. Love. you may have been faithful to do every exercise in this devotional and you've learned a lot. The question is where we begin to grow in grace: We must first confess our sins. If you are doing great. the forgiveness of sins. The reason this 40 Day devotion was written was to challenge.including the sin of pride. Therefore. have been growing and learning. who spoke in your name to our kings. We have sinned. to help you grow in grace. Job didn’t believe he had much to confess at this point in his story. to hold firmly to. turning aside from your commandments and rules. Confession of sin. and to worship God. As we reflect on the Cross of Christ in a focused and special way today. They are the deep work of the goodness and power of God. the great and awesome God. and Hell. remember that these changes are not your doing. But let’s start here. It acknowledges that we need the grace of God. even as our fathers did. the power of his death over sin. You're so proud of yourself that you can't wait to tell people how great you're doing and the pearls of wisdom you're learning every day! You need to remember the grace of God. we have done wrong and acted wickedly. How are you responding to the darkness in your life? If you are down. remember God's grace in his kindness and encouragement. Daniel 9:4. It is with the Cross in mind. Or maybe you are seeing wonderful changes God is making in your life. the adoption as sons and daughters. it is everything in living for God. the hope of Heaven. You aren't more acceptable to God because you've done your homework or almost completed the 40 day challenge. to teach. The life-long quest of a Christ-follower is to grow to understand grace more. can sense the depth. Job’s tune quickly changed. The grace of God is his highest glory. and not have it impact their love for God and their love for other people? The love of God’s people is a powerful proof of the grace of God. our sins are forgiven. Grace is from first until the last. The Christ-follower must keep grace at the center of every part of his relationship with God. and without reservation. and death. The greatest failures of the church have been failures to understand. 54 . every great and precious promise of God is ours. Job 13:23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. we have the assurance of the Father’s delight. will take an eternity to study. Through the grace of the cross: we are adopted into God’s family. that you may be healed. our princes. to encourage. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. and to know Christ better. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets. we have the promise of the Holy Spirit. confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. James 5:16. are held by the Father’s strong hands. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession. But there remains some great mysteries here that we will never understand. who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments. You are acceptable only because Jesus Christ died to pay for your sins . We who worked on it have also been challenged by these great themes of Scripture and we. To forget grace is to invite a spirit of independence from God to creep into the Christian faith. How could the Father forsake his Son? How could such horror result in my salvation and forgiveness? Why? Why would God do this for us? The mystery of the Cross. we have the right of access to the Presence of God. and much more than could be listed here. That love is not theirs alone. too. and to take into our hearts. Day 39 :: April 21 :: Read Luke 23:26 -47 More and more grace The source of all grace to you is by the Cross of Jesus Christ. and our fathers.Or in the past few weeks. Grace brings people to love God utterly. are protected by the power of God. How could a person receive the grace of God with the unmerited love of God. his grace is truly amazing. Psalm 106:6. “O Lord. Here is a verse from Job. too. we can put the grace of God before us in a way that may not be possible at other times. Grace requires the confession of sin. There is not more important preparation for growing in grace than to confess our sins to God. saying. the richness of it. it is overflow through them to others as well. 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled. absolutely. we know the love of Christ. that Peter calls us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Either way. and to all the people of the land.
mocked. it reconciles us to God. Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. Father. The pain of crucifixion was so horrendous that a word was invented to explain it. for those who are called according to his purpose. 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. Romans 8:12-14 So then. if we love one another. God is faithful. that God sent his only Son into the world. you will live. we also ought to love one another. if God so loved us. encouraged the brokenhearted. We walk in his steps. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you. To ensure maximum suffering. but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape. 8:1–34 This side of the Cross Jesus taught the foolish. by the Cross. not to the flesh. Yet. adoption as his sons and daughters. healed the sick. 1 John 4:7–12 Beloved. which chronicles the week leading up to Jesus’ death. Jesus was setting His gaze on the Cross. Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. But what troubled Jesus? Some suggest it was the physical torture and agony of the Cross that Jesus agonized over. Anyone who does not love does not know God. It is no longer I who live. God promises not a rescue from every trial. because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” which literally means "from the Cross. Grace shows us our great need and provides us with the only Savior of sinners. “Now is my soul troubled. Jesus’ hands would have been chained above His head to expose His back and legs to an executioner's whip. He says. Jesus was emphatic that the primary purpose of His coming to earth was to glorify God by suffering and dying for our sins. save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Other ends of the straps had hooks made of either metal or bone that would have sunk deeply into the 55 . You are free not to sin. and acceptable to God for Christ’s sake. And what shall I say? ‘Father. Scourging itself was such a painful event that many people died from it without even making it to their Cross. glorify Your name. We are alive because we died with Christ. and loved the sinner. to live according to the flesh. There is no sin that we must commit. For if you live according to the flesh you will die. brothers. Some of the ends had heavy balls of metal intended to tenderize the body of a victim. and deprived of all physical comforts." A crucified person could hang on the Cross for days. counseled the wayward. In this is love. we are greatly loved. fed the hungry. We are crucified with Christ. so that we might live through him. He will go without sleep. We die with Christ in our baptism. We died to our sin so that we might be alive to God. No one has ever seen God. It brings us to the Cross with sorrow for our sins and grief for our failures. and our lives as dwelling places for the Spirit of God. We are not merely forgiven. let us love one another. and are raised to newness of life. because God is love. and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. The closer Jesus approached the day that he would die. and it give us the remedy for it as well. but Christ who lives in me. but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body. we are to die to our sinful nature. In this the love of God was made manifest among us. Grace provides us the means by which we understand our sin. Beloved. who loved me and gave himself for me. the greater his soul agonized. In the next twenty hours or so. we are debtors.Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. There is no sin you must commit. “excruciating. spit upon. for love is from God. that you may be able to endure it.” In that moment. We take up the Cross and follow Jesus. precious. not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. be scourged. In John 12:27-28. scourging preceded crucifixion. punched. Dying to self means that you will not fall into sin so much. By the grace of God we can die to our sinful desires. and it raises us to newness of life. Dying to Self. The whip was a series of long leather straps. but an assurance that with his power there is no sin that is greater than the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. filled with love for God. As Christ gave his life for us. passing in and out of consciousness as their lungs struggled to breathe while laboring under the weight of their body. Day 40 (Good Friday) :: April 22 :: Read Romans 3:21 –26. and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. be on trial six times. The death of Christ not only redeems us to God and pays the penalty for our sins.
" Christ asks (Luke 22:42). beyond human resemblance. It was with this understanding in mind that Jesus is on the ground. dismayed. . inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. and he pours out from it. the “apostle of love. thunder. "Father. and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. and sets His face like flint to enter the hell waiting for Him. bloodied back and shoulders to the place of His own crucifixion. Jesus’ crucifixion must have been a grotesque scene. Jesus was then forced to carry His roughly hewn wooden crossbar of perhaps one hundred pounds on His bare. who had driven many nails into wood with His own hands. muscle. Despite His young age and good health. For Jesus himself will be “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire. stand up. Once the hooks had sunk deeply into the tenderized flesh. The Bible describes “a fearful expectation of judgment. tendons. the winepress—such images pictorially captured the severity of God's hatred of sin. The cries of Christ are the scream of the damned that were cried for us. Jesus was in unbearable agony as they lifted Him up. wake yourself. severe beating. and His cross dropped into a prepared hole. He was so marred. and even bones off the victim as he shouted in agony. the first-born Egyptians were killed. But was Jesus merely a coward in his last night on earth. of course. the punishment that should have been poured out on those who deemed God worthless and had rebelled against his glory and goodness. Those who reject Christ and give their allegiance to another “will drink the wine of God’s wrath. Jesus was nailed to His wooden cross. This begs the question: what is it that Jesus is wrestling with here that causes Him such distress? The ensuing physical challenges. the victims were left to die. After his horrendous beating. well mixed. He is brave.shoulders. then had five to seven inch. traumatized. it is John. Christ drank the cup so that we who trust in him will never have to drink the cup of God’s wrath. there were "previews" of that wrath throughout the Old Testament when places like Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. and . shook violently. let this cup pass” (Luke 22:42). remove this cup from me. Ironically. is no. Once he arrived with help at His place of crucifixion. and scourging that He collapsed under the weight of the Cross. But to understand His anguish and agony over the “cup”. At this point during a crucifixion. and the Amalekites slaughtered. back. Jesus warned the people of his day to “flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7). They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction. Jesus is no coward to physical pain.” who gives us the most graphic glimpses of God’s punishment of sin. When the Almighty visited a city with His cup of wrath. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine. sweating drops of blood. the victims labored to breathe as their body went into shock. 56 . who have drunk to the dregs the bowl. putting down one and lifting up another. the soldiers pulled Jesus’ beard out (an act of ultimate disrespect in ancient cultures). are not what He is wrestling with. you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath. Yes. why have you forsaken me?" on the Cross. rough. But in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before he dies. When Jesus cried out. the executioner would rip the skin. He was actually experiencing the forsakenness and wrath we deserve. and His form beyond that of the children of mankind. away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The following passages depict it graphically: But it is God who executes judgment. let's back up and consider something Jesus knew all too well: the Old Testament. The careful reader will notice that Jesus tells us precisely what He is wrestling with— “Father. But there was another symbol that Israel was quite familiar with. His enemies had to drink it down to the very bottom. because He is wrestling with the cup of His Father's wrath. Yet the full fury of that wrath towards evil and sin had yet to be poured out. There is a real judgment that is coming to all those that do not by faith trust in Christ. "My God. for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). and bled heavily. metal spikes driven into the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body in His hands and feet. Naked and embarrassed. been poured out before. buttocks. my God. Psalm 75:7– 8 Wake yourself. and mocked Him in front of His family and friends. The Old Testament Jew was well acquainted with a number of metaphors for God's wrath. if you are willing. Jesus was so physically devastated from His sleepless night. . But never had the total measure of God's wrath. But Christ emerges from His time of prayer. Darkness. The answer. and legs of the victim. Isaiah 51:17 The cup was a dreadful symbol of the deserved holy wrath of God being poured out on all those that oppose him in sin. What does this tell us about the love and grace of Jesus Christ? We are so deeply loved by the Savior that He was willing to swallow hell itself for us. What Jesus struggled with there was unspeakable: the full measure of the God's wrath. Some pictures of this final wrath of God are almost too terrible to ponder and also point back to the cup that Jesus drank for us. we find Jesus in utter agony. Hundreds of years prior. though great. the eternal weight of it. miles of walking. causing His body to shake violently on the spikes. the cup of staggering. It calls us to live “with reverence and awe. poured full strength into the cup of his anger. spat on Him. and crying. prepares to be arrested. the prophet Isaiah predicted the results of Jesus’ torture: “Many were astonished at His appearance. O Jerusalem.” Jesus the carpenter. unable to carry it alone. and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27).
We can spend our entire lives studying the Cross and having its power change everything in our relationship with God. and cannot be sold or reproduced without prior consent from the Journey at First Baptist. Downpour: He Will Come to Us Like the Rain by James McDonald A Call to Die: A 40 Day Journey of Fasting from the World & Feasting on God by David Nasser Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller 57 . mind. please share your questions with one of the pastors. and to love God with more of your heart. brokenness. Completing the 40 Days Devotions These 40 Days have taken us through some of the great themes of Scripture. day or night” (Revelation 14:10-11). If you have worked through this and you still have questions about your faith and your relationship with God. Our future in Heaven comes to us by means of what the Cross makes possible. but most miraculously. the holiness of God. We have considered repentance. soul. Everything in our relationship with God is dependent on the Cross.will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. thoughts and material from the following books were used in the writing of this 40-day devotional. We have this shared experience of learning about and contemplating these great subjects. 2011 This 40-day devotional is to be used for educational purposes only. We have read about the love of God. Without him. or with one of the many faithful leaders at the Journey. forgiven by God. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. What a blessing to think about these great subjects. If this little guide helped you in even a small way to grow in your faith. This study mentioned the Cross more than 190 times. and he alone. can save us from the wrath to come because he absorbed the wrath of God for us on the Cross. Thank you for walking this way. love. Praise be to God that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath bone dry. promised to see the Glory of God. and they have no rest. we will probably not grasp the sweetness and greatness of the saving work of Christ for us on the Cross. brokenness and confrontation. The Cross is now behind us. Until we feel some measure of dread about God’s wrath. James Hilton Thomas Warren March. fasting. leaving not a drop for us to drink because we have trusted in Him as our Savior. Some ideas. we love God. the grace of God. then we give praise to God for using this study for his glory. We are not only reconciled to God. but most of all the greatest privilege is to think about God. All that God wants to give us comes through the means of the Cross. Climb Calvary’s hill and be confronted with holiness. we will be swept away forever. repentance. Jesus Christ. All of us who have taken this 40-day adventure have come under some of the great texts of the Bible. and grace of the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is a privilege to study the Cross. and strength. The Cross is the center of our Christian faith and it is the way we come to God.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.