“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”
1 John 3:9
Without question God forgives all my sin. I have no doubts about His capacity and willingness to ‘pass over’ my sin and rebellion. The Father never ever will condemn me for my failure to follow Him completely. And yet I sin, each and every day.
But sin forgiven should be sin forsaken. We can walk clean and free, but only if we bid our sin, adieu. You can’t continuously sin anymore. I’ve been reading 1 John recently, and there is a clear statement against sinning repetitively, over and over again. To do so denies the specific reality of Jesus’ resurrection power within the true believer.
He always forgives, but I must forsake. To do this you must renounce and forsake your ‘favorite’ sin. It then means walking as someone ‘brand new.’ A completely new life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“The new has come.” The old things are no longer part of the equation. We are to shed the old which is now detestable in the eyes of God. We have been completely forgiven, of past-present-future sins. We are as pure as white driven snow. The foul has become clean. We are like the leper in the New Testament, we have become whole again.
He forgives, but I need to forsake. I no longer identify myself with the old– I’m a new creature. The word can be translated as “species.” I’m a brand new work of God, with a completely different DNA. I’m now categorized as someone new and distinct, new to this present age. (No wonder I don’t fit in anymore).
The act of choosing can’t be understated. In the ‘heat of the moment’ an easy obedience becomes easy to renounce. The temptation to sin becomes seemingly irresistible. This is true of habitual sins. We surrender to the inevitable, and deny the truth of our identity.
But God forgives us. You need to brush yourself off, declare your commitment, and get back in the saddle and finish your race. All heaven is on ‘tip-toe’ to see what you will do.
“Nothing in the church makes people in the church more angry than grace. It’s ironic: we stumble into a party we weren’t invited to and find the uninvited standing at the door making sure no other uninviteds get in.
Then a strange phenomenon occurs: as soon as we are included in the party because of Jesus’ irresponsible love, we decide to make grace “more responsible” by becoming self-appointed Kingdom Monitors, guarding the kingdom of God, keeping the riffraff out (which, as I understand it, are who the kingdom of God is supposed to include.)”
— Michael Yaconelli
Often there can be a frustrated hostility simmering just below the veneer of a religious person. It can be seen in sudden outbursts of irritation that seems to come from nowhere. It is often encountered when they feel the ‘spigot of grace’ has been open too long, too much water is being used, and the people are getting a little wild in showing their enthusiasm. “They’re acting like ungodly pagans.”
Regulating the watering hole becomes a compulsion, and a necessary work of the “Church.” Jesus’ love is for all is a confirmed fact, but we must have some standards of decorum and appropriate levels of conduct and respect. “We the keepers-of-the- spigot are called to take some responsibility in this,” we end up saying.
Celebratory shouts of joy are simply not acceptable. Dancing in the mud is way ‘out-of-line.’ But there is an outrageous element to grace. It is preposterous and disturbing. It is untamed and wild, and not at all logical. “We definitely prefer the thinking side of our faith,” we say.
Judas rebuked Jesus as he was getting a foot massage from the ungodly woman. She had no business to be there in the first place. And secondly, she has just poured this incredible fortune on the feet of Jesus! Judas said, “way out-of-line!” But there is a irrepressible love that always pushes its way forward.
For those of us who have first experienced God’s love and grace we must keep an alert out for our hard hearts. First, He is in charge of how the water is utilized. Second, [and we MUST believe this] when a man or woman connect with the water, there can be spontaneous displays of joy!
We must change our thinking, e.g. repent, and insist that we ‘cease and desist’. Our attitude is not acceptable or true to the Spirit of Christ. We are the ones way “out-of-line” and we have not been good witnesses about his grace and love. We had better turn from this sin, and ask Jesus to free us again.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.“
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
We can so easily process our faith to something respectable and somewhat pleasant. This is a natural tendency. But the cross has a stigma, we might think we can easily defuse it, rendering it as harmless. Acceptability is a wonderful thing to the modern day believer. It is easy to turn from all that would make us different, and grasp a crossless faith. It does seem we conform rather than transform.
Effort is being made right now to twist and nullify your belief in Jesus. It is a force that works on us, relentlessly. Satan intends to destroy you. He is frightened by the power of the cross, and the spiritual truth it contains. The cross (and resurrection) destroyed the devil’s kingdom of twisted darkness. He will never recover.
Just as Jesus carried the cross He was to die on, you and I are to follow His example. Jesus had to go to this place of death, and so are we. My cross is not purely emblematic or abstract symbolism. It entails a real death. I pick it up and go to die. Crucifixion is the end of me, it all comes down to this final point of termination.
Jesus escorts us to the point of death. This is to become the framework for a sincere discipleship. The cross, our cross, brings us to an end. To be worthy of Jesus is to bear it boldly. The cross develops into our thinking, and its dynamic pounds us into a spiritual reality. Jesus intensifies the cross, making it the mark of authenticity of a disciple.
We have no options, if we follow it must be with a cross. There is absolutely no room for us if we approach Him without it. The cross transmutes our lives, and transmits a signal that we have complied with Jesus’ wishes. If we advance at all, it will be through the cross only.
We must deny ourselves. That denial is an intense working. “I do not know the man” was Peter’s statement against Jesus. If we deny ourselves, we will take a stand against our own selves, turning against ourselves. We will be pinned to the mat.
Our focus should be on the cross. We must infuse it into our lives. A tea bag will flavor an entire cup. It turns a cup of boiling water into a wonderful beverage. The cross that belongs to us will have the same effect. It will make something where there was nothing.
“All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.”
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:14-15 ESV
Jesus declares and reveals something substantial here. He is the “good shepherd.” If we split this statement apart, we get “good.” We also get “shepherd.” And we simply must insist on both. Somehow, deep down, these two ‘particulars’ take on the most definite positions in our lives. We are desperate for anything good; and we know our need for a shepherd. We struggle so hard, and this understanding will carry us a very long way.
This verse tells us– He knows us!
He is fully aware of you in this present moment. This is amazing, to be aware that He engages us on the level were we are now at. Think about, its like He has our ‘x-ray’ in front of Him. He knows and understands us completely and fully.
The remainder of this verse goes on to suggest that we (yes, we) know Him. Now I have a multitude of issues, but when I sift them out, there is a deep awareness of His presence. I completely understand (as much as I’m able) of who He is, and I can’t shake Him. Once touched we’ll never be satisfied with anything else (and Lord knows we will try.)
While visiting this planet, Jesus maintained His connection with the Father. He would take this sense of intimacy with His Father down ‘into the stretch.’ And that pattern of love would take place in our hearts and minds. And now we have finally found our place– with him, with the Father.
The very last part, v. 15, places itself right in the middle of our understanding. He will definitely die for us. He wants to, and is eager to lay down His life to make us His own. It all seems foolish, I know. But He very much wants to bring us into His deep presence.
The idea that we are sheep is factored in. He dies for us. The Shepherd will now face crucifixion in order to claim His sheep. He will go to a painful and ugly death to give us life that is eternal.