Confess Your Sins to One Another

January 20, 2014 in Atonement, Bible - NT - James, Bible - NT - Romans, Confession, Ecclesiology, Meditations
James 5:16 (NKJV)
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
As human beings we frequently endeavor to put on a front in order to prevent others from knowing who we really are. Fearful of rejection, we hide our struggles, we hide our doubts, we even hide our fears because our standing with others is based on our own performance, our own worth. So we often live painfully alone.
But Jesus frees us from this loneliness and fear. In Jesus we behold the love of God reaching out to us and rescuing us even though He knows exactly who we are and what we’ve done. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Our standing with God is not based on what we have done, what we are doing, or what we will do – but solely on the righteousness of Christ who has given Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed.
Consequently, Jesus empowers us to be honest with others, particularly with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can be honest, we can avoid putting on a front, we can seek help and accountability and encouragement because we know that God accepts us, God is on our side, God loves us – not because of our deeds but because of Jesus’ deeds. So freed from the paralyzing fear of what others think of me, I can confess to my brother in Christ, confess to my sister in Christ – I need your help.
And if that brother or sister looks at me and says, “My god! What kind of freak are you!”; if that brother or sister refuses to help, rejects me, then I can rest in the knowledge that God is still on my side. “I have sought God’s forgiveness in Christ; so even though my brother has rejected me, God has not.” And in the knowledge of God’s favor I can approach another brother or sister for help, for encouragement, for accountability.
But as Christians we often fail to believe the Gospel, fail to believe that our standing with God really is dependent on Christ’s work and not on ours, and so we begin erecting fronts once again. We are fearful of confessing our sins to one another; fearful of seeking help; “Everyone else seems to have it all together,” we say to ourselves. “If I tell them my struggles then they might not speak with me any more.” And so we erect a stunning façade but inside we’re becoming increasingly empty and lifeless.

James exhorts us, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” In the knowledge that God has forgiven us, that we are right with God because of Jesus’ sacrificial atonement, let us confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed, that we may grow in righteousness, grow in our ability to please the Lord who has loved us. Let us cease hiding; cease erecting facades, cease playing at following Christ. Let us pray for one another so that the joy on our faces, the delight in our eyes, the comfort in our souls be not merely a façade but reflect what is truly reality. And let us begin by confessing our sins corporately this day.

Pleading the Blood of Christ

December 27, 2010 in Atonement, Bible - OT - Job, Children, Meditations

Job 1:4-5 (NKJV)
4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.

Several weeks ago we spoke about various things that separate the men from the boys – and one of the things we mentioned is that men take responsibility. They do not point the fingers at others. They do not make excuses. They avoid undue explanations. They take responsibility.

In our text today we observe Job doing this very thing. His children loved one another and so frequently enjoyed a good time feasting and drinking together, celebrating the goodness of God and His kindness in providing them with such largesse. But Job was fully aware that whenever one attempts to honor God in feasting, there are always pitfalls: tempers can flare, indiscretions can be committed, drunkenness can rear its ugly head, relationships can be strained. And so at the conclusion of the feast Job took responsibility for their condition, reminding them of their sacred obligations to serve the Lord and to honor Him, and pleading the blood of Christ on their behalf in the presence of God.

Pleading the blood of Christ? How did he do that? Well note that after the party Job not only sanctified his children – reminded them of their sacred duties and prayed for them – but he also offered burnt offerings “according to the number of them all.” He didn’t leave out any of his children but made a sacrifice for each of them.

So what did these sacrifices mean? In themselves, these sacrifices were worthless and empty. After all, how could the blood of an animal take away the sins of a man? The animal didn’t sin. Man did. We rebelled against God; we transgressed His law; we spurned His authority. The blood of bulls and goats could never truly take away sin and this is why, Hebrews tells us, these sacrifices were repeated again and again and again. Every sacrifice pointed beyond itself, declared the need for the true Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, pointed to our Lord Jesus Christ, the man who would offer Himself in our place.

Every time Job offered up an animal as a burnt offering for his children, this is what he was saying: “God, have mercy on my son ___________ and forgive his sin for I know that Your mercies are everlasting and that one day Your are going to send a Lamb who will truly take away all our sins. So have mercy on my son and forgive him.” This is what he said every time he offered up an animal; he plead the blood of Christ for his children.

So, husbands and fathers, have you plead the blood of Christ on behalf of your families? Plead with God to have mercy upon their sins even as He has had mercy on yours? This is part of what it means to take responsibility for them.

And children, I want you to notice this day the seriousness with which God takes sin. Sin is no light matter. The psalmist reminds us, “But there is forgiveness with You, O Lord, that you may be feared.” Forgiveness of our sin comes at a terrible price – a price that none of us, not one parent, not one child, not one friend, not a collection of them all – forgiveness comes at a price none of us could ever pay. But Jesus paid it. So children, how seriously are you taking your sin? Do you daily plead the blood of Christ for your own sin knowing that all our sin deserves the wrath of God? Do not treat sin lightly – it sent Jesus to the cross.

All these things remind us of our need to confess the seriousness of our sins and to plead the blood of Christ on our behalf. So let us kneel and confess to the Lord.

Jesus a Willing Victim

May 21, 2008 in Atonement, Bible - NT - John

The Gospel of John is incredibly careful to emphasize that Jesus went to his death willingly. One of the ways John emphasizes this is through a small detail at the arrest of Jesus that the other Gospel writers choose to leave unmentioned. When the men came to arrest Jesus, he asked them, “Whom do you seek?” Upon hearing the declaration, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus himself declares, “I AM.” The response? The arrestors become arrested in their tracks – falling back and fearing for their lives. Why? No doubt because of the majesty of our Lord shining through on this darkest of nights. And so John tells us – these men couldn’t have arrested Jesus if he hadn’t wanted to be arrested. As true as it is that Judas handed Jesus over to his enemies, it is just as true that Jesus handed himself over to them. And so Jesus tells Peter, “Shall I not drink this cup that the Father has given me?” Praise God for our Willing Victim.