Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Better Than Sacrifice"

We rightly rejoice in the merciful pardon promised by I 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."
An even greater joy, however, is the mighty power promised in I Corinthians 10:13: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Our Heavenly Father would have us avail ourselves of His forgiveness and cleansing in Christ when and as necessary. "He delighteth in mercy," and He is "ready to forgive" (Micah 7:18; Psalm 86:5). Born again believers in the Lord Jesus therefore live in great expectation that the blood of Christ is an always effective restorative in times of sin. We do God, ourselves and those to whom we are called to minister no favors by wallowing in our failure according to the devilish and humanistic notion that self-flagellation can somehow atone for sins. Only the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus suffices for genuine pardon, even as the hymnwriter affirmed, "Nothing can for sin atone; nothing but the blood of Jesus."
Again, however, the greater gift of the Gospel is the ever-present power whereby visits to I John 1:9 are meant by God to become less necessary. We are to live in great expectation that the Spirit of Christ inhabits us in order to provide effective overcoming in times of temptation. It is surely true that forgiven sin greatly glorifies our Lord. Faithful submission, however, even more reveals who He is, testifying to the grace that bestows not only necessary pardon, but a new person. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).
Our Father is ready to forgive. He is even more ready to enable the faith and obedience that makes forgiveness less necessary in time of temptation. Let us therefore rejoice in the expectation of restoration provided by I John 1:9. But even more, let us rejoice in expectation of the "way to escape" provided by I Corinthians 10:13. Both altars of hope comprise the salvation in Christ that glorifies God and enables a life of consistent and joyful faithfulness.
"To obey is better than sacrifice."
(I Samuel 15:22)

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