Revisiting the heart problem of man that Jesus paid for with a grueling, torturous, and bloody death on the cross of Calvary.
I was in the shower thinking about a sermon I had preached a few years ago entitled, Pray For Your President. It was not a popular one with Christians at the time—to say the least—but it's what God wanted me to preach; so much so that He even had me preach that very same message in the very same week some four years later.
I heard some very awful things said in those days, and it seemed most people had either one of two reactions: scornful agreement or heartbreak. I'd say it was about half-and-half with maybe a nominal bit more on the side of heartbreak—which is the side I preached from then and am expressly focused on in this devotion now.
You could see the hurt in their eyes as shame filled the air with words of malice and resentment, yet none cared to make a vain shew of emotions to incite mutiny or riotous behavior. These were the peaceable and godliest of them all; the ones that showed mercy; the ones who were acquainted with longsuffering; the ones that exercised unsolicited forgiveness. Sadly, it wasn't enough to change the offensive, and un-Christ-like behavior.
From my vantage point, it seems sometimes that Christian forgiveness is mistaken for endorsement; encouragement for the undesirable behavior to continue. And yet, the Bible has much to say about Christian conduct, with strong reprimands for Christians practicing the contrary; for not only does it destroy trust from within, but it also discourages from finding the truth (as hard as it already is), those that are without.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Over and over again, we see the reproof and admonition to leave behind the former service we had to sin, and rather yield ourselves now as servants to righteousness unto holiness. But what I find also drastically important to pay attention to—I dare say alarming, even—is how tightly coupled this command is to the sacrifice Christ made for us. Nevermind what we believe about the crucifixion or the resurrection; what are we really saying about its authenticity and effectiveness if our lives, inconsistent with the gospel story, exhibit otherwise? That is to say that, can we honestly expect others to see, let alone deal with their need for the Saviour if, when we are allowing sin to reign in our mortal bodies that we should obey it in the lusts thereof, we are essentially telling them, "Actually, it's not all that important; it doesn't really work; it hasn't changed much in my life; I still do and say what I want and confess it later, it's okay." This is completely contrary to what Christ actually did and the word of God itself!
Remember: this was the heart problem that produced the sin which ultimately cost Jesus a grueling, torturous, and bloody death on the cross of Calvary to pay for; that we knew what sin was, but thought we could get away with it, so we did it anyways (i.e. Adam & Eve).
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
The availability of forgiveness is your only opportunity for repentance and a brand new start.
Never mistake it for endorsement.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.