A Journey of Repentance
Christianity hinges on the message of forgiveness. Other religions may offer moralism. They may offer methods that will help us tidy up our lives or make us feel that we are good people. Christianity, however, is for the unworthy, the lost, the beleaguered, and the sinful. It’s for people who need to hear that they can be forgiven. In other words, it’s for everyone.
From first to last, the gospel is about what God does, not about what we must do. It is God, by His mercy, who gives us the desire to even want to be forgiven—and it is only when we put our faith in Jesus that we are fully pardoned. When we turn to Him in repentance and faith, we are able to look back and say we have been saved from sin’s penalty. All that was against us, all that kept us from knowing God, all that kept us from discovering His love and His goodness—all of the penalty that we deserve—has been eradicated, erased through the saving work of God’s Son on the cross.
As believers, then, we can—we should—rejoice in the fact that sin no longer rules over us. Yet the reality is that in our earthly lives, we still sin. We still miss the mark; we still fail to reach God’s standard. And when we do, the Evil One loves to whisper, “Are you really saved? Will God really forgive you this time?” To which we must answer, “Yes, I am; and yes, He will, for the one who died for me is at this moment advocating for me.”
Knowing forgiveness is not a license to sin; indeed, John wrote with the purpose “that you may not sin.” When we sin, the joy we have found in God begins to fade. While He remains our heavenly Father, it should be no surprise that if we harbor sin, we will fail to enjoy all the blessings He intends for us.
And so we seek to live in obedience to our Lord, and yet, since we will not do so perfectly, we also must live in repentance to our Lord. Jesus underscored the need for and importance of daily repentance in John 13 when, while He was in the midst of washing His disciples’ feet, Peter protested and said, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus responded, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (13:8). Forgiveness is not ours until we are washed by Jesus, and then He continues to wash us through our daily repentance and faith.
One day, you will be taken to heaven and saved from sin’s presence. But until that great day, your Christian life is to be a journey of repentance. You have been saved. You will be saved. But for now, day by day, you are mercifully being saved as you repent and turn back to Jesus.
The Law and Sin
7What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Life in the Spirit
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