What Benefit Did You Reap?

Jesus painting close up

What I hear a lot of is this:

Jesus did his part but now we must do ours.

I used to believe this.

I used to believe this – in the way that many Christians believe it today.

But what we’re actually saying is this:

Jesus’ crucifixion wasn’t good enough to cleanse us from our sin.

The blood of Jesus wasn’t powerful enough to destroy sin.

Jesus did not die to sin “once for all”, as Hebrews tells us.

It wasn’t ‘finished’ as Jesus shouted, pouring out His blood, from the cross.

No.

Jesus did his part but now we must do ours.

Brilliant English theologian John Stott says this:

We resent the fact that we have no part to play in our own salvation, so we stumble at the stumbling block of the cross.

– The Cross of Christ.

You see, either Christ ‘did away’ with sin on the cross or He didn’t.

But He did.

Christ appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

– Hebrews 9.26

Paul tells us how.

He made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.

But this is a little confusing.

What does it mean exactly?

I like this translation:

GOD’S WORD.
God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin.

However we phrase it, when Christ died, our sin died with Him.

All of our sin – past present and future.

This is great news!

This is the gospel!

On the cross, our sin died with Him.

But Paul goes further:

Anyone who was baptized into Christ was crucified with Christ. We were therefore buried with Him, through baptism, into death…

and

If we were united with Him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.

If we are not yet a believer, we are still living with ‘sin.’

And, as Paul says:

The wages of sin is death.

But – and this is the good news – if we are in Christ we died with Him.

Crucified on the cross.

But, Paul says:

If we died with Him we believe that we will also live with Him.

– Romans 6.8

and

If the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through His Spirit who lives in you.

– Romans 8.11

It is only in Christ that we can rise from the dead.

We will rise as He is risen.

This is the good news!

It is nothing to do with if we mess up, make mistakes, or ‘sin’.

And –

Where sin abounds, grace super abounds!

– Romans 5:20

Super-abounding grace!

We are free!

“But that means we are free to sin!” I hear someone say.

I answer with Paul’s words:

What benefit did you reap from those things you are now ashamed of?

– Romans 6:21

Really, what benefit did you reap in the past from your wrong doing, from your selfish, destructive behavior, from your mistreatment of yourself and others, and from your unwise choices?

I know what benefit I reaped: shame and soul-destroying guilt.

Sin has terrible, life damaging consequences.

And…

The wages of sin is death.

But…

The law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death.

– Romans 8.2

We have been set free from sin and death.

In Christ we have life!

Eternal life!

In Christ we have everything to live for!

This is the gospel.

The true gospel.

The amazing gospel!

Amen!

Steve Edwards

Does Romans 7 say we are still sinners?

Hebrews tells us Christ ‘did away with sin’ on the cross.

Paul tells us our righteousness is a free gift.

Jesus says we have been set free from the prison of sin.

If Jesus has set us free, why do we want to lock ourselves up again?

In Romans 7 Paul points out that he can’t stop himself from ‘doing what he does not want to do’ – but he finishes that passage with

Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Paul is saying only Jesus can save us – we cannot save ourselves.

But Paul isn’t finished there.

In Romans 8 he explains

You, however, are not led by the sinful nature if the Spirit of God lives in you.

Paul also tells us

The law of The Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death.

We are not under the law of sin anymore.

Whatever we do, we are holy, we are pure, we are righteous – as we are not under law but under grace.

God knew we could never obey His law so he made us righteous, perfect and holy as a free gift.

This is why Isaiah was overwhelmed with joy. He understood what God had given him:

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God for He has draped me in a robe of righteousness.

Who made him rightoeus?

God did.

Just as God has made us righteous, through Christ.

Now, if Christ has done it for us, can anyone take that away?

Can our sinful actions subtract from that?

Christ’s blood would not be very powerful if we were able to negate it everytime we messed up.

But we can’t negate it.

The truth is, if we do mess up and break God’s moral law (which we do every day) we are instantly washed clean.

We are protected. We are draped in a robe of God’s righteousness!

The amazing truth is – no ‘sin’ can taint us.

That can’t be the gospel, I hear you say. That’s too good to be true.

Yes it is too good to be true!

The gospel isn’t just good news, it’s the ‘too good to be true’ news.

Yet it is true!

If we do sin, John says, Jesus is our advocate. Our defence lawyer.

He has already paid the price for all of our sin, therefore we can never be held accountable.

We are free – forever washed clean in His blood.

In his book Destined to Reign Joseph Prince likens our position in Christ to being stones in a waterfall – nomatter how dirty we get we are perpetually being washed clean.

Spurgeon says it is as if we are ‘bathing in Christ’s blood.’

Paul says

Christ is…our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

1 Cor 1:30

And John says

As He is, so are we in this world.

– 1 John 4:17

If Jesus is a sinner, so are we.

But if Jesus is pure, holy and righteous, so are we!

Just as no sin tainted Him, so no sin can taint us.

If it could, our sin would be more powerful than His blood.

Is sin more powerful than His blood?

No!

We are not sinners.

We are, as Peter says

A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.

I know it’s amazing, but this is the gospel!

We are holy, perfect and righteous.

We are free!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!

– Galatians 5:1

Will someone give me an ‘Amen’ !?

Steve Edwards

Sunday Sermon: Is sin a crime or a sickness?

Been thinking a lot about a question Chloe Dudley posted on Twitter about whether sin was a crime deserving to be punished or a sickness to be healed.

Isaiah 53 says:

He was crushed for our sins.

He was pierced for our iniquities.

The punishment that brought our peace was upon Him

And by His wounds we are healed.

When I received my amazing revelation of grace last year Jesus told me that sin was a sickness and He was the Great Physician – The Healer. In fact, one of God’s names in the Old Testament in Hebrew is ‘Rapha’ – The Lord who Heals. 

However, in The Cross of Christ John Stott argues that the full force of God’s anger burned against our sin in Christ, which suggests punishment.

Jeremiah prophecies:

The LORD has given full vent to His wrath.

He has poured out His fierce anger.

Jesus has a prayer battle with his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane about drinking ‘the cup’:

Father, if it’s possible, please take this cup from me.

Isaiah 51:22 tells us what this ‘cup’ is:

From that cup, the goblet of my fury, you will never drink again.

See how Isaiah reassures The Christ? He will never have to drink it again. His sacrifice, as Hebrews says, will be once for all. 

As we know Christ’s cruxifixion fulfilled the Passover. He was our passover lamb sacrificed for us. The Last Supper was a passover meal.

At the meal four ‘cups’ of wine are drunk, each pointing to Christ and His finished work on the cross.

You can read a detailed study on Mike Ratliff’s blog.

However, here’s a brief explanation of the 4 cups and how they point to Christ and The Cross:

The first cup to drink at a Passover feast is The Cup of Freedom (Christ sets us free at The Cross.)

The second cup drunk is The Cup of Judgement (God judged our sin at The Cross).

The third cup drunk (I’d be drunk by now) is The Cup of Redemption (Christ redeemed us at The Cross).

The  fourth cup is The Cup of Restoration (Christ restores us (heals us) at The Cross).

Amazing, huh?

The Jewish people have been celebrating Christ for years in their passover celebrations!

It doesn’t stop there. Get this:

It was at the the third cup – The Cup of Redemption – that Jesus stopped, lifted the cup, and said to His disciples:

Take, drink, all of you. This is my blood of the New Covenant, shed to give the forgiveness of sins.

How amazing is that?!

It was the Cup of Redemption! This is why Christ’s blood is called ‘redeeming.’

Two definitions of the verb ‘redeem’ are:

1. to compensate for the bad aspects of someone.

2. to clear by payment.

We could say that Jesus did both. He compensated for our bad aspect by giving us His righteousness.

He also paid for our sin. He was punished for our crime.

So, I think to answer Chloe’s question we can look to the 4 cups.

At The Cross we were set free, judged righteous, our debt was paid (He was punished for us) and we were restored (divinely healed).

Isaiah, it seems, agrees:

The punishment that brought our peace was on Him.

AND

By His stripes we are healed.

Phew!

Deep question.

Thanks for asking it, Chloe.

So…what do you think? Is sin a crime or a sickness? Or both?

Grace be with you.

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Shall we go on sinning?

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

(Romans 6:1)

If we go on sinning, grace increases.

The more we sin, the more God pours out His grace.

Grace is ‘on tap.’

Many people think that a true understanding of this will cause people to sin purposely, saying:

Well, God forgives me, so I can do what I want.

But this is a lie.

Anyone to whom God has revealed grace to has already reached the bottom of the barrel.

They have strived and tried to overcome sin themselves.

They have wrestled with God.

They have cried out to Him from the bottom of their hearts, begging to be released from the sin that enslaves them.

It is when we completely and utterly give up, and say to God:

I desire your presence more than this continual struggle with sin.

that He reveals grace to us.

It is when we have nowhere left to turn, when our trying and striving just seems to lead us to more sin, more shame, more self-condemnation, more self-hatred, and so more sin, that we cry out to God and he sets us free, with a freedom so beautiful, so abundantly forgiving, so amazing.

The gospel of grace is this: it is not what we do that makes us holy, it is what Christ did that makes us holy.

We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, once for all.

(Hebrews 10:10)

It is not what we do that makes us righteous.

How much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life?

(Romans 5:17)

Righteousness is a gift of God.

And this not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.

(Ephesians 2:8)

We cannot overcome sin. If we could, would Christ have had to die? Would Christ have had to sacrifice Himself, like an animal?

But now, at the end of the ages, Christ appeared once to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

(Hebrews 9:26)

Because of Jesus’ great love for us we are pure, we are righteous, we are holy.

We could not do it on our own. We can not. Only He could do it. As Paul says:

Nothing we do, it is the gift of God.

If only all of the men and women Christians who still believe we have a part to play in defeating sin would just throw their hands in the air and give up, then God could reveal the wonder of His amazing grace to them and they would be free.

Unfortunately, pride gets in the way, as John Stott says:

We regret the idea that we have nothing to contribute to our own salvation, so we stumble at the stumbling block of the cross.

(The Cross of Christ).

Yes, we may make mistakes, yes, we may mess up, yes, we may do wrong, but Jesus paid the penalty for every mistake we will ever make, ever, so that God is able to see past our old sinful nature and see us as righteous, perfect and holy – as he intended us to be – our true selves.

If you’ve ever felt the presence of God, you’ll know He is amazingly beautiful.

If you’ve ever felt the love of Jesus you’ll know that He is amazingly beautiful.

Well, that’s how God feels about us.

To Him, we are amazingly beautiful.

As beautiful (I know it’s hard to believe) as Jesus.

To God we are righteous and perfect, because He decided, out of His abundant love, to adorn us with His righteousness, with His glory, with His beauty and majesty, as a free gift!

As if we can add anything to the beauty and majesty He has given us!!!

Not of ourselves.

It is the gift of God.

And finally, for those who say too much freedom leads us to sin, there is no such thing as too much freedom.

If God has decided to reveal radical, pure grace to you, it is because you needed to hear it – perhaps you were struggling, and condemning yourself, like me, feeling unworthy of God’s love.

Perhaps you are in a leadership position and God wants you to be preaching His grace to the flock under your care.

Or perhaps God simply wanted to set you free from the trying and striving to please Him, so you may rest in His beautiful presence and simply enjoy the freedom that comes knowing you are completely forgiven and perfectly loved – and that nothing you can do will ever change that.

It is finished!

There is nothing left for us to do, except, like Paul:

Complete the task Jesus has given us to do, the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

(Acts 20:24)

Amen!

steve-edwards1.jpg

ALL sin.

“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

Based on this verse, how much sin does the blood of Jesus purify us of?

A bit? Some? A little?

No.

All sin.

As John says later:

“I write to you because your sins have been forgiven…”

Have been. Finished action.

All of our sin was forgiven at the cross.

This is what John is driving at when he says ‘Nobody born of God is able to sin.’

We have been completely purified of all sin.

Spurgeon describes it as if we are bathing in Christ’s blood. Joseph Prince says we are like rocks in a perpetual waterfall of cleansing and forgiveness.

It is impossible for us, in Christ, to sin. We are in a constant state of cleansing and forgiveness.

That is the power of the blood of Christ.

Oh amazing grace!

God’s opinion is all that matters.

When we’re walking free from sin, head held high, it’s easy to accept God loves us.

However, its’s when we sin, crash and burn that we need the message of Grace the most.

What good is it to know that God loves us when we are ‘being good’ ?

But to know God loves us and accepts us even in the midst of our sin – this is when the message of Grace is the most needed and the most powerful.

God will never see you as a failure. If you sin He will forgive you and cleanse you the moment it happens, and He will completely forget, forever.

Paul, after 15 years as a Christian, says in Romans 7 that he longs to do what is right, but is incapable. What he wants to do he does not do, and what he hates he does.

But who does he trust to rescue him from his sin?

Does he trust himself?

No.

“Who will rescue me from this body of death?” he cries. “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

He trusts Christ.

We cannot make ourselves righteous, no matter how hard we try.

If we could, Christ would not have had to die and God would not have had to give us His righteousness as a FREE GIFT.

So, even if you mess up, hold your head up high, because God’s opinion of you does not rest on what you do or don’t do, but on what Christ has done for you.

What did Christ do for you?

“By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are sanctified.”

Rejoice! He has made us perfect forever!

Our righteousness doesn’t dependent on what we do anymore.

To God we are absolutely perfect, righteous and holy.

And God’s opinion is ALL that matters.

 

Confusing Grace with Responsibility of Personal Choice

Someone has written:

“May we never confuse grace as the removal of personal responsibility for our choices.”

The writer is right, we should never confuse Grace with responsibility for our personal choices, because Grace has nothing to do with our personal choices but is all about God’s choice to rescue us from our sin.

Grace is nothing to do with what we do, but all about what God has done for us. God knows we had absolutely no hope of saving ourselves so He came to save us.

In the same way God knows we have no hope of being righteous our selves, so He supernaturally imputed us with His righteousness.

This is not the kind of righteousness we can achieve by our own good works – this is a righteousness distinctive to God – perfect, pure and holy.

This is why Isaiah was so ecstatic:

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God, for He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness.” (61:10)

It’s true that if we make the wrong personal choices in life we will suffer the earthly consequences.

However …

If we make the wrong personal choices in life we will not face eternal, spiritual consequences, because Christ suffered those consequences for us, on the cross.

The writer of Present Truth magazine puts it like this:

“Paul says no one can become just in God’s sight by his own performance, and he uses the future tense: no one will ever be considered justified on the basis of his own life. The reason is clear:

“All have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace.”

(Romans 3:23)

So, yeah, sure, we and others around us will suffer human consequences if we make irresponsible choices. Yet even if we make the right choices we can never attain the level of righteousness God requires.

If I believe I have any part to play in my righteousness myself I am, literally, ‘self’ righteous.

God knows we could never, ever, ever reach His standard of righteousness by our good deeds (which are like filthy rags in comparison) and so He has given us HIS righteousness as a free gift.

Grace doesn’t depend on our choices at all, but is given freely, and we are justified not by what we do, but through our faith.

I’ll end with another quote from Present Truth magazine:

“As the believer looks away from self to Christ and rejoices in what He has done for him and what He is to him, the Spirit of God will live in his heart and continue to transform his life. But if the believer begins to make his experience the center of his concern, the Christian faith is lost.”

So let’s take our eyes off of our selves and our own experience, and look to Christ, for:

“How much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of Grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life?”

(Romans 5:17)