I would like us to review three short passages today as we consider the beauty and grace of the forgiveness that God offers everyone through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4 (NIV)
This passage from Romans is a beautiful explanation of the forgiveness offered to us through Christ. The opening statement is definite, powerful and worth memorizing. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – what a blessing! The passage describes how Jesus has suffered the punishment that we deserved to pay and has become a sin offering for us. The other part of this passage that is very important is at the end, the qualifier that is attached to this offer of forgiveness. God offers forgiveness to all but that doesn’t mean everyone will accept it and turn to Him. Verse 4 says it is only those who give up living according to the flesh and strive to live according to the Spirit who will receive this gift. Let’s also consider this passage as we think about that:
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”
We can clearly see in this passage that we have a duty as Christians to guard our hearts and we are also encouraged to help those around us do the same. Those who have accepted the gift of Jesus sacrifice are those who “have come to share in Christ”. We see another qualifier in this passage in the words “if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” Brothers and Sisters it is so important that we follow these words! Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying: We cannot save ourselves and we can never deserve or earn our own forgiveness but we certainly have a duty as Christians to live a certain way to remain in His forgiveness. We must live “according to the Spirit” and “hold firm to our original conviction to the very end”. These statements are true but not very specific. If we want to know specifically how to please God we must search for some answers and for that we turn to God’s Word.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The word of God is amazing. It not only defines right and wrong actions for Christians it also defines the right and wrong attitudes and even thoughts. There is no other document like this. If we want to know how to please God with our actions, thoughts, attitudes and hearts we have no further to look than His Word. If you are a Christian maybe the firm grip you had on your faith has been slipping a bit. Maybe as a non-Christian you are still living according to the flesh. There is no day like “Today” to run back to God. Read His Word, know His will for your life and live it out as best you can to the very end of your days.
Written by Myles MacMillan, Minister, Central Church of Christ