Tag Archives: sin

Why Did Jesus Suffer?

The amount of our sin did not affect the degree of Jesus suffering. It was God’s plan, not our plan that caused Jesus to suffer. God did not have Jesus suffer so we would feel guilty about our sin, nor did he suffer so we would be proud of how sinful we were. In the very beginning, God planned for Jesus to suffer so we would not have to suffer. In fact, that was the very reason that Jesus came to earth. God caused Jesus to suffer so we could see how much God loved us, not to show how much we sinned.

 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because 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 53:10-12(NIV)

Jesus wanted to follow the human way when he went to Gethsemane to pray. He did not want to suffer for our sin so he asked God to take the cup of suffering from him. And three times he prayed that it not be his will, but God’s will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42, 43) Three times Jesus surrendered His will to His Father’s will.

Jesus also told his disciples that the spirit was strong but his flesh was weak. The human nature that Jesus was given, wanted him to forgo the suffering.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46(NIV)

God made Jesus suffer so we would not have to suffer for our sin. Jesus became the blood sacrifice that satisfied our sin debt.

As we think about Jesus death and resurrection, let us not get caught up in the suffering of Jesus. Do not dwell on our past sins, God does not remember them anymore so why should we?  Rather, let us think about God’s great love for us. Let us think about the victory that Jesus won when he became victorious over death.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me,  from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34(NIV)

God loved us so much that he provided a way for us to overcome the damage that Adam and Eve caused when they ate the forbidden fruit. Through Jesus death and resurrection, the penalty for our sin was paid in full, we have been adopted into God’s family, and we can enjoy a restored relationship with God.

Have a happy Easter, basking in God’s love and the freedom we have in Christ Jesus!

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com, March 28, 2015

IS YOUR CHURCH COMFORTING OR IS IT ENCOURAGING?

 Comfort

Comfort – a state or situation in which you are relaxed and do not have any physically unpleasant feelings caused by pain, heat, cold, etc. http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/comfort downloaded 12/22/14

Praying Hypocrites Matthew 6. The comfort the hypocrites received was being seen by others. In other words, if someone saw them, they were comforted.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full…” Matthew 6:5(NIV)

2.  Disciples on stormy lake, Luke 8. When the disciples were in the storm, Jesus rebuked the storm and the disciples were comforted.

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:22-24(NIV)

3. Children of Israel before reaching the Promised Land, Exodus 16 (looking back at tradition). The Children of Israel were upset by the food God was giving them and they wanted to go back to Egypt were they could be content. To comfort them, God gave them manna and quail from heaven.

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” Exodus 16:1-5(NIV)

Comfort is meant to relieve that pain or discomfort in a person’s present condition. When someone loses a loved one, we will frequently talk about things of the past in an effort to get the grieving person comfortable with the situation so they can keep going..

Comfort implies looking back or helping a person function at the level they are on.

Using the illustration of the glass half full (or half empty) we can see that comfort is looking at the water in the bottom of the glass so we can see from where we have come, we can see the success that have had to get ‘half full’.

Encourage

Encouragement on the other hand, is looking forward. It is: heartening, urging, stimulating, and fostering one to continue filling the glass.  It is the idea of moving from our current position in the glass to the filled position in the glass.

1a :  to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope :  hearten <she was encouraged to continue by her early success>

b :  to attempt to persuade :  urge <they encouraged him to go back to school>

2 :  to spur on :  stimulate <warm weather encourages plant growth>

3:  to give help or patronage to :  foster <government grants designed to encourage conservation>

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/encourage downloaded 12/22/14

1.  Praying Christian, Matthew 6.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.Matthew 6:9-13(NIV)

Jesus was encouraging his disciples to focus forward to what God was going to do rather than backward to what they had already done. Their reward was in the future and not the present as in the case of the Hypocrite mentioned earlier.

2.  Disciples on stormy lake, Luke 8 When the disciples were in the storm, God comforted them by calming the storm, but he encouraged them to have faith in God for the future.

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”  Luke 8:24-25(NIV)

3.  Children of Israel before reaching the Promised Land, Exodus 16 After God comforted the Children of Israel in the wilderness by giving the manna and quail, He encouraged them to look forward and preserve the manna for generations to come. By doing this, God was causing the Children of Israel to look forward to generations to come. God wanted them to be ‘filled glasses’ not just ‘half-filled glasses’.

33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”

34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preservedExodus 16:33-34(NIV)

God wanted the Children of Israel to know that God was the one who was feeding them and they could trust God to provide for them in the future.

Why is it important to know the difference between comfort and encourage?

I believe the church should provide both comfort and encouragement for believers, but if the church concentrates on one and disregards the other, we have a lot of Christians that are only half full, they will never know the fullness of God’s gift to them.

In earlier translations of the Bible, like the Authorized King James Version the word comforted is sometimes used because at the time of the translation it was the best word to use. However, like many of the English words that have evolved or changed over time, comfort used in the earlier translations may now be better translated encourage.

For example, in many of Paul’s letters to the early churches, Paul was trying to encourage the churches to grow in Christ. He wanted them to mature.. He wanted them to effectively spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was not just comforting them so they would remain the same forever, as the earlier translation would tend to indicate. Paul was encouraging the believers and in fact he was teaching them to encourage one another.

In I Thessalonians 4:18 and  1 Thessalonians 5:11,  Paul makes the statement that the believers were to encourage one another because of what God was going to do. The modern translation of the Greek word used here means to encourage

You will notice In the first part of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Paul was comforting them. He is attempting to get them to realize who they are and what they came from. Then in 1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5, Paul has moved past the comforting position and moved into the encouraging position.  There is a place for both positions in the lives of Christians. If Paul had stopped by just comforting them, their ‘glass would remain only be half full’. They would not mature as believers but would remain dormant.

Jesus frequently began with comfort and ended with encouragement.

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. (Comfort)You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (Encouragement) John 14:1-3(NIV)

In our society today, we have churches that are great at comforting. They frequently talk about what happened years ago, but they have a tendency not to move forward because of traditions or fear of upsetting the church members who have already passed from this life. But they frequently fail to encourage spiritual growth for those who remain. They believe that anything new is ‘sin’. They tend to be controlled by tradition rather than the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, we have churches that provide great encouragement, but they tend to just ignore comfort of those who need comforting. They encourage people by talking about going to heaven or about God providing them good things. But they fail to comfort them by talking about sin, the cause of their discomfort. They throw out traditions altogether. They sing a lot of new songs but ignore the comfort that the traditional hymns provide. They disregard the theology taught by the traditional hymns and do what people want them to do. They become more like the local coffee shop than a church. They are controlled by the false idea that everything our parents did in church was wrong, and needs to be changed to something more acceptable to society.

The Bible teaches that Christians are to comfort those who need comforting and to encourage  those who need encouragement. The Bible teaches that we are to encourage one another to mature, and become more like Christ.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18(NIV)

 

NOTE: All scripture in this blog was downloaded from Biblegateway.com

What is the Best Way to Change Our Government?

The Bible tells us about an incident that happened hundreds of years ago. It is a situation much like what we in the United States are facing today. The incident is the time when Goliath, a Philistine  was insulting God’s people, the Israelites. He was making a mockery of God and His people.

The Israelites stood their ground each day as Goliath came out to challenge them to send someone to fight him. They would listen to the giant and cowered in their position, afraid the end was near. They were afraid to send someone to kill the giant, Goliath.

This went on for several days until David came to the scene to see how his brothers were doing. While David was there, Goliath came out to ridicule the Israelite army and God. But when David talked to his brothers about it, they got upset with him when he asking them why they didn’t kill the giant.

After David’s discussion with his brothers, King Saul called for David. Here is their conversation as recorded in 1 Samuel 17:32-37

 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:32-37(NIV)

The king then tried to dress David in his own armor, but it was too heavy for David. David was not used to wearing armor, he was used to trusting in God for protection. So, David asked to go in the shepherd clothes because he was used to wearing them; that is what he wore as a shepherd.

Frequently when we come upon a difficult situation, we try to address the situation using the tools of the world, like the king wanted David to do. We think that the armor will protect us rather than trusting God to protect us. The problems we face in the United States today is that we are trusting in a political party to save our country. However, both political parties are wearing political clothing. They both use the same tactics to gain personal control of government, just like King Saul wanted David to do. The King wanted David to wear the same type of armor that both armies were wearing. But David wanted to wear the clothing that God had prepared for him. David knew that this battle was a spiritual battle, not a political battle.

The problems we have with government are not caused by political parties, they are cause by sin. You cannot use political jargon to counteract spiritual problems! If you want to change this country, first humble yourself before God then do what God wants you to do so that God can be victorious. Don’t be like the Israelite army and just stand there while the government continues its downward slide. Trust God and do something, just like David did when he trusted God.

If you are not willing to submit to God, then you might just as well get used to the country deteriorating as you prepare for  your final destination. However, if you are willing to submit to God, you will begin to experience peace, hope, and love as you prepare for your final destination. You will be able to see God making the changes, when you are willing to let Him make the changes.

NOTE: Scripture used in this article was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Pray v. Prey: The Christian’s Responsibility Regarding Sin

In our world today, there are many meaningful Christians who do things in an effort to make the sinner more like them, rather than like God; Christians who think God should smite the sinner dead for what others are doing; they will get on their bandwagon in an effort to get other Christians to prey on the other person who has sinned. But, what does God say we should do when someone sins?

As I was reading 1 John 5 recently, there was a verse that jumped out at me. In verse 16 of that chapter, the writer says:

If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. 1 John 5:16a(NIV)

The first thing I noticed is that when a brother or sister sins, my responsibility is to pray for that person. Is that what I am doing? Am I praying or am I preying?

If I get on the social network and try to get everyone to do the same thing I am doing, it is probably preying. Or if I develop an organization condemning the other person, I am probably preying. If I am the first to post the other person’s sin, do I like getting other people to “like” it? Doesn’t that make me feel really good? When I prey on someone, I want other people to think more highly of me than the other person. I want them to condemn the other person, just like I am condemning them.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the writer recorded these words of Jesus:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:5(NIV)

In the time in history when this was written, the synagogues and street corners were the social media of the day. The hypocrites wanted the maximum exposure to what they were saying. They get their reward, their short period of gratification…just like I would get on the social media or the organizations I may try to start.

However, that is not how I am supposed to pray. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t stop there with His instruction for praying, He continued with these words:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:6-8(NIV)

You will also notice that this scripture indicates that God knows what the other person needs; we do not have to tell God how to answer our prayer.

This brings us to the second important concept mentioned in 1 John 5:16. Once we pray, it is not our responsibility to change the other person. God is the one who brings life, not us. Somehow, as Christians, we want to confront that person (prey on that person) so we can have the satisfaction of changing that person to our way of thinking.

Has it ever occurred to you that God may have already answered your pray and is in the process of changing that person? If we attempt to put words into God’s mouth, we may be hindering God from changing that person into the person He wants them to be.

When we pray and give God multiple choice answers that he should give, we are babbling like pagans because God already knows how He is going to answer your prayer.

Galatians 5 tells us what the acts (sins) of the flesh are:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Galatians 5:19-21a(NIV)

These sins mentioned in Galatians is the sin of the flesh (self). Every sinful act mentioned is a side effect of living in the flesh. As Christians we have a tendency to condemn the side effects of the sinful act and not the sinful act itself. In fact, in many cases, we are acting in the flesh when we condemn the other person’s ‘sinful act’.

Galatians 5 also tells us how we should respond to the person involved in the sin of the flesh:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

If you want to help the person who commits sin, these are the tools you will use with that person. When used properly, these are the tools that cause the person who sinned, want the life that God has to offer.

When you use flesh to fight flesh, the only person to win is the one acting in the flesh. Let us fight flesh with spirit. In other words, let us ‘pray for the sinner’ and not ‘prey on the sinner’.

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

The Unpardonable Sin

Frequently as Christians, we try to make a point about someone else’s sin. To do that we frequently say that the person that does … has committed ‘the unpardonable sin’

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32(NIV)

The Bible makes it clear that sin is sin. there are no first degree sins, second degree sins, third degree sins, etc. We can group sins into various categories but the consequences of sin are the same for each category.

Henry Brandt & Kerry L. Skinner in their book: The Heart of the Problem, (page 73) group sin into four categories which are helpful in understanding our sin. Sin can be committed in our mind, our emotions, our mouth, and our behavior.

1 John 3:15(NIV) says:

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

In this verse we see ‘hate’ would take place in our emotions and ‘murder’ would take place in our behavior. You see, both hate and murder are sin but they take place in different parts of our body. The consequence is the same. They are sin.

Going back to the passage in Matthew 12:31, we see that sin of every kind can be forgiven, except blasphemy against the Spirit.. And in verse 32 we find an explanation of ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’. It is when a person speaks against the Holy Spirit. This is a very strong statement! In other words, it is the failure to accept the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is the failure to act on the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding our sinful nature. It is our desire to make ourselves out to be God. God will never force us to become Christians against our own wishes.

Often as Christians we attempt to deal with the symptoms of sin rather than the sin itself. Sin is simply living for our own fleshly desires. The symptoms of living for our fleshly desires are found in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21(NIV)

 

When we reject the Holy Spirit,  we live our lives according to our fleshly desires. Our fleshly desires will cause us to perform these sinful acts. If we continue doing sinful acts, (continually reject the working of the Holy Spirit) we will not go to heaven.

There is one other qualifier regarding the unpardonable sin. Committing the unpardonable sin is a deliberate rejection of the Holy Spirit. To reject the Holy Spirit, we must be aware of what God did for us when He gave His Son for a sin offering for our sin.  Committing the unpardonable sin doesn’t take place by accident.

17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17(NIV)

We cannot replace our sinful acts in our own strength.  We must surrender these sinful acts to God so that the Holy Spirit can give us the power to replace them with spiritual acts, the acts we will perform if we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26):

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

God illustrates this principle in the lives of Adam and Eve. In Genesis, when God talked about creating the animals, including mankind, He said that man was made in God’s image. From man, he made woman. Then God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

When he placed them in the garden, he also gave them instructions not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden. They were obedient to God’s instructions until Satan came into the picture. He convinced them that they could be like God if they ate the fruit. So Eve ate of the fruit and gave some to Adam also. Their desire was to become like God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-4(NIV)

Immediately they realized they were naked. When God came looking for them, they hid themselves. When God found them, He knew what they had done. He explained the consequence of what they had done, then barred them from the Garden of Eden so they would not eat of the tree that would cause them to live forever.

 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:21-24(NIV)

You see, when man tries to make himself like God by placing his personal desires above those of God, he is banned from experiencing eternal life in heaven. Likewise, Adam and Eve were banned from spending eternity with God in Garden of Eden when they put their desires above God’s.

Every person has two options in life. They can either surrender their lives to God, or they can surrender their lives to self. When they surrender to God, we call them ‘Christians’. When they surrender to their fleshly desires, they commit an unpardonable sin and are call  ‘sinners’.

However, becoming a Christian, does not make us perfect. Christians will have those weaknesses that cause them to perform sinful acts but when the Holy Spirit convicts them of those sinful acts, they will turn from their sinful ways and willingly follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Most of us in the United States have just completed our Christmas celebrating and are now getting back to our normal routine of life.

I personally think it is a great idea to celebrate Christmas just before the new year starts. Because Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived on earth, and was victorious over death, many things have changed.  In Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the ‘mystery’. The mystery is fulfilled because of Jesus.

You ask, “What things have changed?”  Well, here are a few:

1.  Because Jesus came to earth and ministered, everyone becomes eligible for eternal life with God. Because of God’s grace, salvation is now available to everyone, not just to the Jews. We are undeserving of eternal life, but because of God’s love for us, He made it possible for us gentiles to have salvation.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

2. When I sin, I don’t have to go to the priest to have my sin forgiven. In the Old Testament, this could only take place once a year. If I committed a sin the day after the priest had sacrificed for my previous sin, I would have to wait another year with the guilt of my sin. Now Christ has become our priest and is available instantly. When I confess my sin, I am forgiven! I don’t have to wait for the right time of year to seek forgiveness. In addition, I do not have to make a blood sacrifice because God has already made that sacrifice for me.

Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:10(NIV)

3.  Also, in the Old Testament times, people had to work for their salvation. God gave the people laws that they had to observe, feasts that they were to have, they had to observe special days, they even had to marry their sister-in-law if their brother died. But now we do not have to earn our salvation. God has given us salvation through faith and not because of our works.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10(NIV)

4.  Because of Jesus ministry on earth, I have been given the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of the Lord was only given to certain people. And it could even be taken away from those people if God so chose.

When Samuel anointed David to be king, David received the Spirit of the Lord.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.     1 Samuel 16:13(NIV)

A few verse later, we see that God had taken the Spirit of the Lord away from Saul because of Saul’s disobedience. God spoke to Samuel the prophet and told him that He regretted making Saul king.

I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 1 Samuel 16:10 (NIV)

This was difficult for Samuel to accept. In fact he cried out to the Lord all that night.

1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells about what happened when God took the Holy Spirit away from Saul. (Please note: the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit from the Lord are not the same)

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. 1 Samuel 16:14-23(NIV)

When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His crucifixion, he told them that His Father would give them an advocate, a comforter that would continue to minister to them just as Jesus ministered to them.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:23-27(NIV)

What more could we ask for?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman s 8:32-39(NIV)

Happy New Year!