Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Kingdom and the Cross

By Alistair Begg 

The Kingdom and the Cross

My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.

John 18:36

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, He was a king on a donkey, a king without a palace, a king without a throne—a king with no apparent kingdom. It rapidly became abundantly and controversially clear that Christ had come as the suffering king whom the Scriptures had foretold, not as the triumphant king whom people wanted.

Many who admired Jesus on that day in Jerusalem eventually discarded Him. They said, I don’t want any suffering. I only want victory. I only want power. I only want rule. Not much is different today. We often ignore what we don’t like in Jesus’ ministry and content ourselves with Jesus the great example, Jesus the problem-fixer, Jesus the guru, or Jesus the political reformer.

But God’s kingdom centers on the cross: “I decided to know nothing among you,” says Paul, “except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, emphasis added). In other words, we will never understand Jesus—never truly know Him, never really love Him, never actually be in His kingdom—until we understand that the entrance to and the heart of Christ’s kingdom is His death and resurrection. It is the means by which we come into it and the pattern by which we live in it.

A renewed culture comes about not because we transform institutions and policies but because that cross-centered kingdom transforms human hearts. Never in history has a revival been sparked by political activity; it has always resulted from Christians praying, preaching, pleading, and living as Christ calls us to live. The world will only ever be changed when we ourselves are changed.

God’s kingdom is a cause great enough to live for and great enough to die for. Do you want to give up your small ambitions and give yourself to God? Then give up championing a political cause as a means of safeguarding the health of the church or your society or of making revival happen. Instead, go somewhere where nobody knows Jesus and tell them. Maybe it’s your office. Maybe it’s your neighborhood. Or maybe it’s Tehran, Jakarta, or Algiers. It could be anywhere, for God is everywhere and is needed by everyone. Give up living by the maxims of the systems of this world and follow the King who tasted death before He entered His glory (Luke 24:26).

Believers have the immense privilege and the incredible challenge of offering the good news of God’s kingdom to a society that fears death and knows little of true life. That is no easy commission, and heeding it may very well cost you dearly in this life. But no one who gives much for Jesus has cause to regret it, now or through all eternity.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Will You Flee?

 By C.H. Spurgeon

Will You Flee?

Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:56

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives fled from Him at the very outset of His sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at best, and they flee when the wolf appears. They had all been warned of the danger and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic and took to their heels.

It may be that I, at the opening of this day, have braced myself to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself able for the challenge; but let me be careful in case with the same evil heart of unbelief I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honor to have stood manfully at Jesus’ side; they fled from honor. May I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety.

O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my wretched spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for His truth. What anguish must have filled the Savior as He saw His friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in His cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it.

If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify Him afresh and put Him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from such a shameful end.

A New Kind of Peace

 By Alistair Begg

A New Kind of Peace

Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad.

John 20:19-20

Many of us who have lost someone dear can recall evenings in the aftermath of loss when it felt difficult even to breathe. We sat there with others, grieving in a silence punctuated every so often by reflection.

On the Sunday evening following Jesus’ death, we can imagine His disciples going through a similar experience. Maybe one said, Do you remember how excited and hopeful we were when He walked on water? Perhaps another added, I remember Him weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. I won’t ever forget it. In all their reminiscence, they doubtless felt a stabbing awareness that they would never again on earth see Jesus’ face. Of that they were convinced. They were fearful of the future. They had just witnessed Christ’s execution, and they had locked the door behind them (John 20:19), worried that they would be the next targets.

Jesus knew this. Therefore, when He appeared quietly among them that night, the first word to come out of His mouth was “Peace,” or Shalom. This was a customary Semitic greeting that came with warmth and without rebuke, blame, or disappointment. Then He showed them His hands and His side. It was Him. The Jesus whom they were convinced they would never see again was actually standing among them!

“Peace be with you” gave the disciples an indication not simply that their gladness should be prompted by the awareness that He was no longer dead but of something far greater: that by His resurrection, Jesus had now come to bestow a new kind of peace as a result of His blood shed upon the cross. And the peace with which He greeted them is the same peace that He gives to every pardoned sinner.

Shalom takes on a whole new meaning for those who discover this peace. In our weary world, bowing under the weight of all that is difficult and broken, tainted by indifference toward or denial of Almighty God in all His majesty, we know that He still seeks us out. Just as He came up behind Mary Magdalene at the open tomb (John 20:11-18) and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), so He pursues you and me in love, bidding us find peace in Him, the one at whose birth the angels sang, “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:14, CSB).

In the face of fear, our world aches for peace. But longing for it and singing about it will not create it. Peace can only be found in Jesus’ words: “In me you may have peace” (John 16:33; emphasis added). The resurrection doesn’t simply mean there is a Christ. It means that Christ is alive forever and that He gives us peace with the Father and peace in ourselves, today and forever. Whatever storms are raging around you or inside you, make sure you hear the voice of your risen Savior today, saying, “Peace be with you.”

Sunday, March 26, 2023

A Temple With Foundations

 By Alistair Begg

A Temple With Foundations

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous.

Psalm 11:4-5

It’s possible for all of us to read certain passages or verses of Scripture many times yet miss goldmines of truth. Sometimes we pass by because we’re overly familiar with what we’ve read, and other times it’s because we don’t take the time to meditate and savor the wealth before us.

So let’s take the opportunity to dwell on the truth that “the LORD is in his holy temple.” This simple truth offers both comfort and chastening. Its reality is affirmed in many places in the Old Testament (for example Habakkuk 2:20Psalm 18:6Micah 1:2), but David provides some additional angles from which to consider it here in Psalm 11.

The first is that “the LORD’s throne is in heaven,” making Him the exalted Lord. He reigns not as a mortal with limited perspective and control but as the all-powerful, immortal, all-knowing God of heaven. He outlasts all rulers, and all nations are as nothing before Him.

Second, God is the observing Lord: “His eyes see.” From the exalted position of His heavenly throne, nothing is hidden from God’s sight. No good thing done in His name goes unobserved, and no impure motive or thought is secret to Him. What a comfort to know that every day of our lives, going back to when we were merely “unformed substance,” is visible to God (Psalm 139:15-16)! And what a sobering reality to realize that every word, thought, and deed is laid bare before Him!

Third, God is the examining Lord: “The LORD tests the righteous.” His tests are not always or often easy, but they are always precisely what we need. None of us will reach heaven without tests and trials along the way. This may be an unpleasant reality to consider, but it should be precious to us, for it means we will not panic when God, in His sometimes inscrutable wisdom, routes our path through a valley. God’s tests are never without a purpose; they are always for the sake of preparing us for the day when we shall see Him in His holy temple.

Keep the truth of this verse in mind the next time you feel as though “the foundations are destroyed” (Psalm 11:3). The instability we sometimes feel is meant to remind us that worldly stability is only an illusion and that true security is found in God alone. He alone is exalted, He alone sees all, and He alone directs our lives and tests us for our good. When the foundations tremble, we can remember that this world is not our home and that our sovereign God is leading us to one day inhabit a city with foundations that will not shake (Hebrews 11:1012:28). You can know that He is in His holy temple—and He has promised to bring you to that very place.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

His Glory, Our Concern

 By Alistair Begg

His Glory, Our Concern

She bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death … she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

1 Samuel 4:19-21

Do you ever see somebody in passing, perhaps on a bus or in a store, and find yourself struck by the thought that there’s a whole life wrapped up in that person—hopes, dreams, sadnesses, regrets? Phinehas’s wife—we don’t even know her name—is someone who may cause us to wonder, “What had her life been?”

Presumably, there would have been great joy and celebration at this woman’s wedding. After all, she was marrying a priest! As time went by, however, she likely became aware of her husband’s double standards: he fulfilled his priestly duties, but he also abused his role to sleep with other women, which was a matter of public knowledge (1 Samuel 2:22).

Now, heavily pregnant with his child, “she heard the news” (1 Samuel 4:19) that the Philistines had slain her husband and captured the ark of the Lord (v 11). Typically, you would think that the death of a spouse would head the list of concerns, with every other consideration in the world receding in comparison. But this was not the case for Phinehas’s wife. For this woman, the spiritual implications of the ark of God being captured far outweighed even the most distressing temporal concerns. Even the news that she had borne a son did not rally her. And so she named her child Ichabod, which simply means “no glory” or “Where is the glory?”

In all her pain, disappointment, and loss, somehow, deep inside, Phinehas’s wife had laid hold of something that even those closest to her had not grasped. She knew that God’s glory mattered more than Eli’s name, mattered more than Shiloh, and mattered more than victory in battle. As Dale Ralph Davis writes, “She taught more theology in her death than Phinehas had done in his whole life.”

This woman must have lived in the presence of God. When her husband let her down and she was aware of the discrepancy between his public profession and his private reality, she must have run to the Lord, her “very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Otherwise, concern over His glory would not have been her response.

What about you? Is God’s glory and presence your greatest concern? Does the advance of His cause and honor of His name matter more to you than anything? This way lies real freedom, for it means you always look forward to life in the very presence of God—that city where there is no temple, “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light” (Revelation 21:22-23). In the details of your day, in the trials of life, and at the moment of your death, turn to God as your refuge and strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). Only then will you discover or remember that God’s glory truly is our greatest hope and joy.

Friday, March 24, 2023

How to Deal with False Teachers

By Alistair Begg

How to Deal with False Teachers

They must be silenced... Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

Titus 1:11, Titus 1:13

When a building is on fire, what is needed is not only an alarm that alerts everyone to the danger but a means of dousing the flames.

In his letter to Titus, Paul didn’t only raise the alarm about those who could harm the members of the congregation with dangerous teaching; he also provided his protégé with instructions for how to put the fire out.

Paul’s instructions are not mild-mannered. First he says, “They must be silenced.” The word “silenced” can also be translated “muzzled.” If a dog barks and bites people all of the time, there’s a clear solution. That is what Paul is instructing Titus to do with these teachers, in no uncertain terms: Muzzle them! He also tells Titus to “rebuke them sharply.” He is not pulling his punches!

When we hear this passage with the ears of an outsider, we can understand why someone might say, “Well, I don’t know much about Paul, but he sounds like a mean guy. There’s a level of intolerance here that I don’t really like. He sounds very judgmental.” Indeed, some may hear Paul’s teaching and reject the truth of the gospel on the strength of its offensiveness—unless we translate Paul’s meaning for them.

For it is the seriousness of the situation that explains the directness of his speech. Paul’s intolerance is similar to the cancer specialist’s intolerance of the cancer that he or she seeks to eradicate from a patient’s body. The problem must be dealt with vigorously so that health might be restored. There’s nothing remotely unkind about this kind of focused, principled opposition. Paul is saying, We can’t allow this disease to spread through the congregation, for it can be spiritually fatal. 

God looks for those who will fall down at the feet of His Son and say, “All that I could ever do is love You in response to the majestic nature of Your love for me, which has been revealed in Your cross.” The people in Crete were in danger of losing that appreciation. Whether it is in Crete, Cape Town, or Cleveland, false teaching must be responded to graciously, firmly, immediately, and compassionately so that God’s people will be protected from error. Churches must not give a platform to teaching which denies the gospel, and Christians must not give their ear to it.

In the Bible, even those commands that appear harsh and intolerant are motivated by God’s love for His children and His desire to protect us from harm. He wants us to continue to live in wonder at His love—and as we do so, He wants us to be sure to guard our hearts and our churches.


Heard in His Trial

 By Charles Spurgeon

Heard in His Trial

He was heard because of his reverence.

Hebrews 5:7

How amazing is this reverence in light of the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken. There may be sterner trials than this, but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken. “See,” said Satan, “you have a friend nowhere! Your Father has closed the door of His compassion against you. Not an angel in His courts will stretch out his hand to help you. All heaven is alienated from You; You are left alone. The companions from whom You have taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there Your brother James, see there Your loved disciple John, and Your bold apostle Peter, how the cowards sleep when You are in Your sufferings! Look! You have no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against You. I have stirred up my infernal den. I have sent my letters throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon You this night, and we will spare no arrows—we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm You; and what will You do, You solitary one?”

In the face of his cruel trial an angel appears to strengthen Him. “He was heard because of His reverence.” He was no more alone, but heaven was with Him. Perhaps this is the reason why He came three times to His disciples.

Backwards and forwards thrice He ran,
As if He sought some help from man.

He would see for Himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken Him. He found them all asleep; but perhaps He gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping not from treachery, but from sorrow; the spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak. In that dark valley He was heard because of His reverence. Jesus was heard in His deepest trial; my soul, you shall be heard also.

Death Is but a Doorway

By Alistair Begg

Death Is but a Doorway

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

Death confuses most of us. We fear it, and though we know it is inevitable, we would much rather not have to deal with it. We seek to isolate ourselves from its reality, turning the music up to drown out the ominous silence that accompanies it. Our denial is understandable; death is the hardest fact of life to face. Yet in our more sober moments, we realize that our lives are as precarious as a child’s sandcastle on the seashore: that sooner or later, the tide will come in and wash it all away.

As with all the issues it addresses, the Bible aims to reorient our perspective on death. Solomon, writing with the all-surpassing wisdom that God had granted him (see 1 Kings 3:5-12), said that death “is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” Likewise, Moses tells us that “a heart of wisdom” comes from our contemplating our limited number of days on earth, which “end like a sigh” (Psalm 90:9, 12). This is why we learn more about reality at a funeral in a “house of mourning” than at a party in a “house of feasting.”

While it may be tempting to try to shy away from death, then, wisdom looks like accepting that we must face it head on. In fact, the key to learning how to live is to be found in learning how to die. We will never know the reason for our earthly pilgrimage until we’ve come face to face with the fact of death, for it is death that lies at the end of every path. Without considering our death, we’ll end up like the one whose tombstone reads, “Here lies a man who went out of the world without knowing why he came into it.” Such is the lot of so many who spend day after day after day separated from Christ, “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

But if by faith God has made you alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5), then you have already passed from the domain of death to the land of the living. You can say with Paul, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). For you, death is no longer an end that you must dread but the doorway to “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). And with that perspective on your final day, you will be ready to make the most of this day, endeavoring in all that you do to glorify the Lord, who has Himself triumphed over death and who will lead you through it (1 Corinthians 10:31).


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Freedom of His Rule

By Alistair Begg 

The Freedom of His Rule

Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

John 18:37

By nature, we believe we have the right to rule our own lives. We think that nobody has the authority to tell us what to do or to rule over us. We will decide for ourselves, define who we are, and mold our own future. Yet this is a dreadful path, and it leads only to despair. For when we look within, however much we have been told to think positively and to believe in ourselves, we are still confronted by our need, our failure, our frailty, and our inadequacy. And when we look without, we see a divided culture and flawed institutions. To what, then, should we look?

The Old Testament records Israel’s repeated rebellion against God’s rule. In an attempt to look just like the nations around them, the Israelites demanded an earthly king (1 Samuel 8:5). Tragically, all of Israel’s kings eventually crumbled to dust: the mighty Saul, the great David, and the wise Solomon all failed politically, morally, and religiously. Surely, the people in the streets were making the same complaints that we hear today: “This is not what we were led to expect when this person became our leader! There must be someone better than this!”

Indeed, there is someone better. Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God, is the Creator, Sustainer, and King of the universe: “For by him all things were created …. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). He is the King who will perfectly fulfill the demands of the role: “In his days … the righteous flourish, and peace abound[s]” (Psalm 72:7); He will deliver the needy, the poor, and the helpless (v 12-13); all nations will serve Him, and “the whole earth” will “be filled with his glory!” (v 19).

As question 26 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism explains, Jesus carries out His kingly office “in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.” He comes to reign over us in such a way that we find real freedom in giving up our autonomy and real rest in quitting from our efforts to make our own future. “Come to me,” He says. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Jesus is the resurrected and ascended King. His claim on us is total, and our response is all or it is nothing. We must decide whether Christ’s right to rule and reign over the universe will extend to every facet of our lives as well. Only then will we find Him to be “our shield and defender.” It is as you bow the knee to Him in those areas of life where you find it hardest, trusting that His rule is better than yours, that you give Him the place that He deserves and find the freedom and the future that you long for.

Spiritual Perception

By Alistair Begg 

Spiritual Perception

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

1 Samuel 3:7, 1 Samuel 3:10

When we struggle to understand a new model or theory, we are not helped by a teacher who leaves us on our own if we don’t grasp the concept the first time. Instead, we need a teacher who patiently, encouragingly explains the idea again and again until we get it.

When He called Samuel to be His prophet, God dealt graciously with His servant who didn’t get it—in fact, with two of His servants who didn’t get it!

Samuel was involved at the temple, ministering and engaged. But there was a personal dimension of faith which he had not yet experienced. God’s word hadn’t been revealed to him—and so God took the initiative and was gracious enough to persist by calling to Samuel repeatedly. In this quadruple call of God, we have a reminder of His tenderness and His kindness.

Yet while Samuel is the focus of this passage, Eli also needed God’s patient interactions. Even as a priest, he did not think in the first or second instance that the Lord was speaking to Samuel. Then, suddenly “Eli perceived…” And when there is perception, it is an indication of the work of God.

This gradual perception was true of Jesus’ disciples as well. He told them He still had many things to say to them, but they weren’t ready to understand yet (John 16:12). He didn’t give up on them, though. Instead, He patiently explained again and again.

Some of us may be able to relate to Samuel: perhaps you have read books and listened to sermons many times without experiencing any true impact. Or you may be like the disciples: you’ve begun to understand, but you still find so many matters of faith confusing. No matter how many years we follow Christ and read God’s word, there will always be more to understand and enjoy. Sometimes we may even feel we have gone backwards! But we can be confident that in God we have a gracious teacher to guide us. So, join the psalmist in praying, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). And then work hard to understand God’s word and perceive its meaning for your life, prayerfully confident that as you find yourself grasping more and more of what it says, God is at work in you.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

How Does the Bible Talk about Sin?

 By Alistair Begg

How Does the Bible Talk about Sin?

Sin is a word and concept that many Christians have grown so familiar with that they risk forgetting all that it means. Like a word we’ve turned over in our minds so many times that it has begun to seem unreal, the idea of sin can seem totally disconnected from our experience. We need sometimes to be reminded of what sin is and of its real, destructive power.

Sin is not merely a word for a bad deed. It is primarily a condition, a state of being. “Sin,” says the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”1 It is an “estate whereinto man fell” that can be properly described as “a corruption of his whole nature … together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.”2 Sin, in other words, describes the way human beings are, and it describes what they do as a result—and its most basic feature is that it puts human beings at odds with God and His good design.

One way we can help ourselves to see the reality behind a word is to examine the words that are nearest to it in meaning. The New Testament uses a number of terms to describe what we call sin. Understanding some of the most common ones can help remind us of sin’s many facets and why its impact on our life is so significant.

Five New Testament Words for “Sin”

Aside from a few Aramaic and Hebrew words and phrases, the New Testament was written in Koine Greek. Drawing from this language, the biblical writers used five words in particular that give us a strong picture of what sin is.

First, there is hamartia, which is most often translated as simply “sin.” This word can describe sin in all its forms. Etymologically, it portrays a picture from archery of having missed the target. It is because of our hamartia that we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), failing to live up to the standard for which we were made. In our fallen nature, we sin and are in sin because we are not (yet) what we ought to be.

Second, there is parábasis, which is often translated “transgression.” This word describes willful sin that is a particular violation of God’s standards of righteousness. It means a stepping across the line. If God has drawn a line in the sand by giving us His law, then human beings have deliberately crossed it by breaking the law. People sin and are in sin because they know what they ought to do, and they do otherwise.

Third, there is paraptōma, which is translated a number of ways, including, “sin,” “trespass,” and “offense.” Historically, its meaning carries the idea of slipping up or falling away. This word can describe sin that is willful, but it can also describe sin that is unintentional, relatively unconcious. In either case, it gives us the picture of someone slipping from the path and into a pit. It is a picture of sin as going awry. People sin and are in sin because they have fallen from the path God set them on.

Fourth, there is anomíaNomos is Greek for “law.” The prefix a-, as in many English words, indicates negation. Anomía is thus lawlessness. It is total rebellion: “I’ll do what I want. I’ll think what I want. I’ll go where I want.” It describes the condition of people who not only have failed to live up to God’s standards but also have no interest in doing so. People sin and are in sin because they are enemies of God in their minds (Col. 1:21).

And the last word is opheílēma, which simply means “debt.” When the Bible describes sin as a debt (Matt. 6:12Rom. 4:4), it recognizes that we owe something to God and that we have failed to pay. Because of this, we are at His mercy. People sin and are in sin because they were made to do only good works, and they failed to do so.

Taken together and set in their New Testament contexts, these words describe human beings as out of step with their Creator through both willful rebellion and unintentional failure. They reveal humankind as corrupted in their hearts and minds so that they do not seek to do good. And they remind us that in such a state, each of us has already defaulted on the debt of good works owed to our Creator and so deserves His just punishment.

Satan’s Strategy and God’s Grace

One of the strategies of the Evil One is to try and convince us that sin is no big deal. He wants to convince us that “sin” is just a handful of harmless things that prudish church people don’t like. He says, “Nobody knows. Nobody sees. And even if they do, it doesn’t matter, because no one will be hurt.”

Don’t believe that for a second. God is opposed to sin—its state and its acts—not because it is distasteful but because it is murderous and destructive (James 1:14–15). And Jesus says that what we think is secret will one day be revealed before the throne of God (Luke 12:2–3). God’s design is for our good, and it is fair. We reject it to our peril, and we are then rightly subject to God’s judgment.

But the good news is that Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—came to free us from the penalty and the power of sin, and He has promised to free us also from its presence.

When He died on the cross, Jesus took all of God’s wrath on Himself and suffered in our place so that those who call on His name in faith and with repentance might receive forgiveness. He paid our debt on our behalf, freeing us from sin’s penalty.

Since He has risen and ascended to the right hand of God, the Lord Jesus has commanded those who are His own to turn away from sin. The Holy Spirit, whom He has sent, gives them the power to do so. If we are in Christ, our minds are renewed, and it is possible for us to live in step with God’s commands because He has freed us from sin’s power and dwells in us.

And the Lord Jesus has promised that one day we will live eternally with Him. In that day, sin and its effects will no longer be present (Rev. 21:1–4). He will have transformed us fully into His likeness, as He has always intended us to be. Then we will walk in perfect righteousness and freedom with our good God. What a day that will be!