Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Empty Hands"

    A local jewelry store promotes itself as "Your Get Out of Trouble Place."  They carry a line of inexpensive rings, necklaces, and bracelets for men who seek to appease offended wives or girlfriends.  "Guys, if you've messed up with your gal, we'll get you through the rough patch.  And it won't cost you an arm or leg!" (if honest, of course, they would rightly add, "No, not an arm or leg.  Just your honor, decency, and the sincerity in your relationship!).

    This reminds me of how tempted we are to bargain with God, as it were, in times of sin.  Unbelievers attempt countless means of religiosity to cover their failures, not surprisingly.  However, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ may also succumb to the enticements of the world, the devil, and the flesh regarding our dealings with unbelief and disobedience.  Our Heavenly Father provides but one way of restoration to fellowship and faithfulness.

   "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 1:1-2).

    The word "propitiation" can be translated "mercy seat," hearkening to the covering for the ark of testimony in the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament.  Once a year, the Jewish High Priest sprinkled the blood of animal sacrifices upon the mercy seat, foreshadowing the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His own blood to make atonement for our sins.  Unlike Israel's High Priest, who never sat down while administering the annual ritual, the writer of Hebrews declares of the Lord Jesus, "But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12).  Our Lord rested because "by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).  God the Father accounts His Son's death on the cross of Calvary as perfectly effectual in making forgiveness available and actual to all who trust in Christ and Christ alone.  "He is able to save them to the uttermost who come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).  Thus, our Father's grace in Christ means we need never bargain with Him, nor seek to appease Him, nor offer any form of religious restitution to Him for our sins.  

   Consider the error constituted by any attempt to appease the God whose wrath against sin burned so fiercely against His Son on the cross.  Can we imagine He would have gone to such lengths, but then accept any other sacrifice for sin?   Our Heavenly Father offers forgiveness and cleansing freely, but exclusively.  We may "come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy" so long as we come to that mercy seat trusting in the person and work of the One who sits thereupon, having sprinkled the Heavenly place of rest with His own blood (Hebrews 4:16).  As the hymn writer confessed, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling!"   This understanding alone creates within our hearts repentance and godly sorrow for our sins.  A contrite heart results only from the empty hands that receive God's pardon in the realization of how completely His Son paid our debt by His sufferings.  "Now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

    That jewelry store does a disservice to women whose men seek to restore damaged relationships by bargaining, bribery, and bestowal of trinkets.  A greater disservice by far occurs when any human heart seeks to buy its way to God.  We come freely through the person and work of the Lord Jesus, or we come not at all.  Even now, may the melody be heard in our hearts, and the lyrics be upon our lips, "Nothing in my hand I bring"

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
And having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
(Hebrews 10:19-22)
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleaneth us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:7-9).

Weekly Memory Verse
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous runneth into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10)

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