Monday, June 18, 2012

Grace--forgiven once and for all.

And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." Matthew 8:4 (NKJV)

Matthew 8:2-4 is the first time the Bible gives details about a healing performed by Jesus. These details set the stage for Jesus ministry before the cross, which is why these points were made at the beginning of the Gospels. I want you to notice in the verse above it says, "offer the gift that Moses commanded." This was a requirement of the old covenant (Lev. 14:3-7).

When Jesus ministered on the earth, the law covenant was still in full force. The ministry of Jesus was to reveal our need for a savior. He made statements like, "if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out" (Mat. 5:29, Mat. 18:9, Mar. 9:45). He made these statements for two reasons, first---to stress the importance of obtaining righteousness, second---to reveal how difficult it was to obtain it.

It is important to understand this, to grasp the full grace message. A great example is in the Gospel of Mark. The Bible tells us in Mark 11:26, "if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." In the absence of Jesus as our mediator---before the cross---our Father could not forgive us if we harbored resentment in our hearts. In the new covenant, after the crucifixion, the Bible contradicts this. In Colossians 3:13 the Bible says, "Christ forgave you, so you also must do." Our forgiveness came to us first, and then we forgive others. NOTE-The words, must do, were not actually in the original text, that is why they are in italics.

So what is the big difference? In the old covenant, it was mandatory, in the new covenant of grace, it is a desire that comes when we know the truth. After years of trying to be a good Christian to please God---so I thought---I realized how short of good I really was. I would pick an area of sin in my life and try to correct it. Even if I could get it under control, another weakness would show itself to me.

Then there is the Scripture in 1 John. It says in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Every morning, in the shower, I would start confessing all my sins. This is where I began to realize I could never keep up. Instead of feeling righteous by the gift of salvation, I felt unworthy and undeserving of any good thing.

The disciple John said a few verses earlier, "that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). Notice it says, "that you may have fellowship with us." Notice there was two groups, you and us; you the unsaved and us the saved. Obviously, John was preaching to the unsaved. He was telling them, if we admit we are sinners; we can have His forgiveness. This is the message of salvation.

God does not want us to meditate on sin. He tells us in Philippians 4:8 (NLT), "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Grace meets this criteria.

Now that I am learning the grace message, I am overwhelmed daily with the Father's love. I see bondages broken and new desires replacing them. God is changing me from the inside out. I still have quite a ways to go but I am amazed how far I have come.

Study the Gospels with grace in mind, as you do you will appreciate how big a deal it was to have the gift of Jesus. You won't change because you have to, you will just change. Experience the true freedom from bondage grace provides.

Be Blessed!

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