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Wash Me!

April 11th, 2019

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)

One of the most staggering truths of the Scriptures is to understand that we do not earn our way to heaven … works have a place – but as a demonstration of having received God’s forgiveness, not as a badge of merit for having earned it. (Ravi Zacharias)

The Christian gospel is simply and clearly centered in the forgiveness of sins that we receive through Christ. In terms of personal application, nothing else is as great a truth as this. Christians are those who believe that Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross, and that He is forever interceding for us before the Father in heaven.

But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25)

There are many times that we believers will fail in our Christian walk. There are spiritual dangers on our right and left, and even in our hearts and souls. The Bible teaches us that God protects us so that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Cor. 10:13). Yet even with this protective provision we will fail.

Do we lose our salvation when we fail? Some think so, but I do not. We may have lost the joy of our salvation, and sense of freshness of our Christian life. We will lose the leadership of God in our hearts when we sin and do not confess our sins – “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). We will be like an errant and disobedient child who stubbornly refuses to obey his parent, and who feel the disapproval and distance of his parent, but is not disinherited.

When the Christian confesses his sins to God and he receives cleansing, and restoration, and a rejuvenation of his inner life. The sin that blocked the Christians heart – his inner spiritual “ear” – from hearing the voice of God is removed and God’s voice, His word, becomes alive and hearable again.

But what is the payment for our sins? There is only one payment that can forgive, cleanse, and restore a Christian to God – the death of Christ for our sins. In the Old Testament they observed rituals and animal sacrifices, but these pictured the coming of Christ and the ultimate sacrifice He would make on the cross. When David said, “Purify me with hyssop,” that was a reference to the Old Testament ritual and ultimately a reference to Christ.

This is the Christian’s faith, that in Christ’s death is the forgiveness our souls crave. True Christian repentance is not mere sorrow for sinning. Neither is it merely sorrow for sinning that results in promises not to do it again, or promises to undertake some great feat or to undergo some great personal punishment. It is sorrow and repentance and turning away from sin, but turning toward Christ, and moving toward Him in genuine faith.

The Christian faith is centered in that understanding:

But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the Law and the Prophets. And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

What is required is for us to reach up in faith and to take hold of Christ, to take hold of His grace. Faith is required. Faith realises our sin, but it also believes that God can forgive through Christ.

It is never enough just to be sorry for one’s sins. That is merely the beginning of conversion. Conversion is only complete, and can only truly call himself a Christian, when he believes that Christ is God’s answer for his sin. Have you done this? Have you repented, confessed your sins, and trusted in Christ? Have you come God in prayer and said, “Wash me by the blood of Christ and I shall be clean”?

Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior. (John Newton)

Psalms, Spiritual Recovery

Turning Back to God

July 26th, 2016

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out… (Acts 3:19)

Today let me share some biblical principles about conversion and spiritual renewal. These apply both to a lost person becoming a Christian and to a saved person being spiritually renewed. Christians need to be renewed from time to time. We need periodically “times of refreshing” from the Lord (Acts 3:20). Some Christians are involved in doing things that they know are wrong, and they need to repent and return to God. Some have gradually drifted away and have become cold in their hearts. They are on the edge of some serious unholy actions, but at this stage they are simply less excited about their salvation than before.

Conversion means change. In order to be saved or renewed we must repent of our sins, and repentance means more than mere sorrow for having sinned. It means more than wishing we had not been caught. It involves shame but it is more than shame alone. It means to stop going in the wrong direction and to start going in the right direction.

When we speak of conversion we mean something deep within our hearts has happened. God has given a witness to us through his Word. His Word makes us “wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 3:15), and without a clear and relevant message from God we cannot be converted (Rom. 10:17).

The Spirit also is active in the process of conversion. He convicts the human heart of our need of forgiveness, and of the offer of new life in Christ. He impresses upon us the urgency of the matter to where a person, who had given no thought to God or righteousness or his own sins, is suddenly convicted and knows in his heart of hearts that he must repent then and there (John 16:8-11).

We must also have someone to break the chains that Satan has put on our hearts. Satan is a deceiver, so this is mostly done through preaching the truth about Christ, yet there must be some means that comes from outside of ourselves that prevents him from stealing the Word from our hearts before it can take root (Matt 13:19).

But beyond the work of God there is a mysterious part that we must play ourselves. We are commanded to turn, to be converted. Though we cannot turn without the message from God and without the Spirit of God, there is still something that we are called to do. We must willfully choose to reject sin and to choose Christ.

Some people use the expression, “Let go and let God!” But I believe this statement misrepresents scripture and suggests that God will just hypnotize us when he wants us to get right with him. The Bible, however, calls us to specific action, to turn from sin and turn to Christ. It does not tell us to merely wait until the mood strikes, but to respond immediately to the call of God to draw near him.

Augustus H. Strong, in his classic Systematic Theology wrote:

Conversion is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner, in which he turns, on the one hand, from sin, and on the other hand, to Christ. The former or negative element in conversion, namely, the turning from sin, we (call) repentance. The latter or positive element in conversion, namely, the turning to Christ, we (call) faith… Conversion is the human side or aspect of that fundamental spiritual change which, as viewed from the divine side, we call regeneration. It is simply man’s turning. Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 829

The scriptures recognize our part in this matter of conversion just as they recognize God’s part. God turns us to himself. For examples, we read: “Restore us again, O God of our salvation…” (Psalm 84:4), and, “Bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God” (Jeremiah 31:18). And there are many other scriptures we could call on for evidence of God’s work in our salvation.

We also read that people are encouraged and exhorted to turn to God as well. For examples, “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my Spirit to you” (Prov. 1:23), and, “Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel” (Isaiah 31:6).

God is the Author of a new heart and a new spirit, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psa. 51:10). But people are commanded also to make for themselves a new heart and a new spirit, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

The point is that we should not just sit and wait for God to do what he has clearly commanded us to do. We cannot repent without God’s enlightenment and conviction in our hearts. But we are commanded to then do the work of repentance and conversion ourselves, as he enables us.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double minded. Be afflicted, mourn and weep, let you laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

Daily Devotions, Spiritual Recovery , , ,