Thursday, July 10, 2008

We are Free Indeed!

Today I was pondering who in the Bible I would most like to be, if I were able. First I thought of Anna, who lived in the temple and beheld Jesus. (And that, I think, is the one I'd want to be.) But then, for a moment, I thought, "No. I'd want to be Jesus, because He was without sin." But then, I thought, "But then He who knew no sin became sin for us..." and I didn't think that would be so desirable! (Except that He was worthy to be victorious over our sin.) That brought another thought that I knew, and yet saw in a new light to my own amazement: I always thought of Jesus as unique in being sinless, and yet because He took the penalty for all the sins of those who trust in Him, we are seen by God as sinless even though we are frail and in the flesh. So Jesus is sinless, and we too qualify as sinless! What a phenomenal gift! But it also directed me toward another thought, in regard to a memory of mine. We are free from the penalty of our sin, and so...
I thought of back when I was part of a church ministry. We'd have monthly leaders' meetings, and discuss how things had gone for us. One of the leaders started off with his report at one of these meetings with how he just had been overcome by his sin over the last while and so he was burdened with it, troubled by it. The rest followed suit; to my amazement anyone who had anything that they would report continued in that same vein. I am not bragging, I was worried that I might be missing something about self-examination, in that I being the last to speak admitted that I didn't feel that same trouble and burden. I never did really conclude how sure I was about my position until today. Was I neglectful in self-examination? Was I not recognizing myself as the sinner I no doubt am?
Today, though, it hit me why we don't need to carry this guilt, and why I didn't feel the burden. We are free from the burden of our sins, thanks to the promises of Scripture in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we are burdened by our sins, we are to take it to Jesus, who calls out to us, in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For
My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

For that matter, if we are troubled by a temptation to sin, there is also 1 Corinthians 10:13, which Navigators ministry calls the "Assurance of Victory," and I can remember it because a woman I knew had put it to song: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, and God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." When a temptation hits you in the face, you are not sinning unless you entertain that temptation and submit to it. The best thing to do is pray to God for help. He promises to give wisdom to all who ask: James 1:5-6: "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." When we pray, if we pray within God's will, then of course He will answer us, and isn't it in His will that we obey Him? So He will help us, and teach us, and give us other courses of action, and protection, and deliverance. Then we will end up wiser and stronger for having resisted with God's help. And free! Boy, of all people, we believers are free! Indeed!
So we have victory. We have the ability to avoid sin, and therefore have victory, but even if we fail in that, Jesus Christ has bought us the victory by taking the penalty Himself and shedding His own blood that we might be unburdened by our sin, and seen as sinless in the eyes of God, and therefore acceptable into heaven. Hallelujah! Is He not wonderful? But of course, we knew that!

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