A Life for a Life

entertain-cross

We must decide upon some things. This is not easy theology. It calls us to take decisive action.

The idea of Jesus dying on the cross for my sin is brutal. I’m left with the idea that I contributed to His death. But my sin had to be covered, and alas, and He did so. But I can never repay God for the drastic measures He took. But I do know that my life is now His. His for mine.

In many cultures it is a life for a life.

Some people groups believe that the person who saves another person is owed a “life debt” out of gratitude. I become His “property” because He died in my place. A life for a life. His for mine.

There are sins that I commit that He must pay for. This is not as easy as you might think; I confess my sin, and Jesus Christ picks it up. He has chosen to pay every and all penalties for it. I go “scot-free” while He must die. This is what He decided to do for me. A life for a life.

The cross was not just a Roman method of execution. It was planned in eternity for the rebellion of mankind. It was God’s “method.” He knew those “from the foundation of the world” but had to find a way to atone for their sin, and redeem them from Satan’s control. He must die for them. And it’s a life for a life. His for mine.

I’ve been ransomed and redeemed.

His death gives me eternal life– something which can ever be taken away. His own death makes me “holy.” The Bible promises me even more than this: forgiveness, peace, joy and “real” holiness. He has done everything, I have done nothing except believe.

His life for mine. A life for a life.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Romans 11:33, ESV

 

When Your Giant Mocks

 

Young David stood and looked at Goliath face-to-face. 

Physically there was hardly a comparison.  Goliath was almost 10 feet tall, a warrior since birth–we read of his armor–he was like a human tank. 

But David was just a pesky boy, nothing more.  Goliath preened and strutted into the field of battle, and simple David was stepping up for his first try at hand-to-hand combat.

And then Goliath begins to blaspheme. 

He boasts and mocks.  In his mind he believes is superior, his arrogance knows no bounds.  The center of the universe is the Philistine army, and he is their champion. He is contemptuous of everything else–physical or spiritual.

Goliath essentially is a ‘human’ wood chipper. 

Everyone who has faced him has been destroyed.  There have been no survivors to speak of. But I find David to be powerfully exceptional.  His reaction to the ‘human mountain’ of Goliath was to run directly at him.  This is an astonishing faith.

“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground”.

1 Sam. 17:48

Many of us face a giant called guilt, pride, doubt or despair.

Satan (our enemy) has marched out on the field of battle, confident of his ultimate triumph over us.  We’ve been rightly tutored that there are enemies that can destroy us. I suppose that should terrify us. And we’ve also been indoctrinated to accept their control, and the inevitable slavery, with a spirit of timidity.

The ‘monster’ of despair is real and brutal.  Our destruction is inevitable in his mind.  Satan does expect to win over your soul, but Jesus stands as our advocate shielding us. We are saved because He wants us saved.

Yet so many believers, cowed and intimidated, surrender to the boastings of the giant Despair.  Hope, and faith are drained out of our being, and we become an empty spiritual shell.  The “warfare” dimension gets nullified, and soon irrelevant.  Despair reaches us and has the full intention of taking total control. It’s never satisfied with just a little bit.

David ran to the battle–to face his giant. 

He passed through the dark intimidation and influence to approach Goliath.  There was no passiveness or doubt to cloud his mind.  David took a spiritually aggressive position, he took on the fear, and then ran directly at the giant Goliath.  His spirit was untouchable.

As believers, we might struggle and David and Goliathpout.  We can turn our hearts over to despair.  We become available to the enemies workings.  And the confidence we might have through faith is dissipated into doubt and confusion.  But the victory we have in Christ allows us the liberty, through the Blood of Him who defeats our own Goliath of despair.

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Nothing But the Blood

blood of jesus christ

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NIV

At first glance the Old Testament is a collection of extremely bloody books. So many sacrifices were made that the Levitical priesthood had to sacrifice lambs 24 hours a day. People had this desperate need to cover their sins with an offering. This was instilled in them by the Law and their conscience. The guilt emanating from their sin must be covered by a lamb’s blood.

As our sins mount up (and they will) we have an innate need to cover them up. Sin is almost never hidden, and never exalted as a virtue. And yet we try to skate though our accumulation of many sins. We forget many, and try to excuse the more heinous. Our guilt condemns us, and we have no choice but to hide it, from ourselves, others and from God. We can no longer pretend we’re without sin.

“Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it.”

-C.S. Lewis

The Jewish people no longer sacrifice lambs, and the Gentiles have never caught on to this idea of a physical sacrifice. But sin has never gone out-of-style. But there is still a way for God to forgive our sin. The New Testament teaches clearly that Jesus has offered His blood as the payment of every sin ever committed. His death wiped our slates clean, forever.

The New Testament is crystal clear on this. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ had enough sufficiency to cover everyone, once, and for all. It all seems astonishing, beyond belief and possibility. The blood it seems, has never lost its power. This may be why Christians can’t seem to ‘shut-up’ about their faith. They ‘see’ something! At long last, the tremendous guilt is lifted from the believer, and they want others to know about it.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”

(Hebrews 10:19)

Simply put, you now have the confidence–‘backstage passes,’ into God’s presence, all because of His death. The cross is far, far beyond a gold religious medallion worn around the neck. The cross of Christ, and more precisely His blood, is now regarded as complete righteousness for anyone (who by faith) receives it as his/her own. A brand-new confidence takes hold. “God loves me, and He really has forgiven me.” 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

(2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)

Our sins and our weaknesses, whether they be from our fallenness, whether they be genetic or environmental, are now smothered in the blood of Jesus. That red blood makes us ‘white as snow’ in God’s analysis. ‘Brokenbelievers’ everywhere are cheering. We know we aren’t quite right, and we understand our sin, but we have become fans of Jesus Christ. After all, His death has brought us eternal life.

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My Anger

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”

-Ecclesiastes 7:9

“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past … to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back — in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

-Frederick Buechner

What really happens when I get angry? I suppose my B/P goes up and I get all red, but just perhaps it’s a bit more than that. The Bible is painfully clear on the subject of anger. It seems there is an anger that is righteous; and one that is unrighteous. It is the latter I’m most familiar with, unfortunately. And repeatedly our anger, the earthly kind, is condemned by Scripture. It is terribly wrong, and it is sin.

Merriam-Webster defines anger as “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism, or rage.” This definition seems right on. First–it’s a strong feeling. There is an intensity to it, and it ‘clouds’ my sense of what is reasonable. Second–it has some form of frustration and irritation. Third–it escalates into “rage.” And I suppose that anger at this particular level is where it really, really gets destructive. At this point we become totally irrational and unbelievably destructive. When we get to this point we become “fools.”

I remember clearly having a dog that killed a chicken. My dad took the carcass and wired it to the dogs neck. After some time that chicken began to rot. It putrefied to the point where pieces of that carcass started to fall off. I can still see the dog’s eyes rolling, and he was slobbering all over. the place. That dog never even touched another chicken. It completely cure him. (I suppose the ASPCA would object today.)

I suppose that is what carnal anger is like. It’s something that we carry around and it defiles us. We learn that evil attaches itself to each of us and pollutes us. We soon realize that this kind of life is really death. When anger is attached to us, we are poisoned inside. Someone once said that “he who angers you, conquers you.”

No matter how just your words might be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.”

–John Chrysostom

There is another kind of anger though. It’s the kind that is turned on when we are angry with ourselves. We call this “self-condemnation.” Internalized disgust with yourself is extremely corrosive to our personality and our spirits. Instead of an authentic confidence in what Jesus’ has done, we look inside with hate, anger and disgust. We condemn and put ourselves under a twisted form of justice that is not biblical, nor is it true.

When we become angry with ourselves (and yes, we sin constantly) we dismiss the sacrifice of Jesus and His forgiveness. We become a law unto ourselves, and we pass a guilty judgement on our sinfulness. Christians are quite often ‘crippled’ by self-condemnation and a vicious guilt. Perhaps we are the most ‘visible’ when it comes to this kind of self-hatred.

Satan is the prime instigator of this attack. He desires to split you from fellowship with God. That is the way he functions, you might say that this is his evil ‘ministry.’ His specialty is guilt, an inciting an unholy anger which we turn inward. We give him the right to accuse us before God. We no longer see the blood of Christ as our covering for our sin. He indicts us before a holy God, and all we see is our guilt. Is it any wonder that we are angry with ourselves?

“The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come. The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accused them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.” (Revelation 12:10)

I suppose this anger at ourselves is perhaps our most difficult challenge we face. More believers are ‘hamstrung’ by this than any other sin. When we turn on ourselves, we become angry and self-condemned. We avoid His healing presence, His Word and the fellowship of other saints. Most of all, we don’t want to pray or worship.

Dear one, come to Jesus, and bring along your issues. He is the one who loves you. He died, and He has covered you with His blood. He is God’s Passover lamb who takes away all your sin. Jesus’ present day ministry is not just sitting on a golden throne, He is actively interceding for you even as you read this.

” He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

Your forgiven brother,

Bryan

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