Tag Archives: sin

At Calvary

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my king,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Words by William R. Newell, 1895
Music by Daniel B. Towner

 


“‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.
Leviticus 4:13 – 14

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Ephesians 4:17 – 19


 

“I shouldn’t have been given a ticket for parking there.  I didn’t know it wasn’t allowed.”  I spent many years working in university security and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard these words.  It was not their fault, because no one told them it was not allowed.  Sound like it makes sense, but we all know that it is not an excuse. It’s something we have probably been told since we were very young. Nicole Flatow puts it this way in the opening of her article about a recent supreme court decision at “Think Progress.”  She states;

“There is one simple concept that law students learn in their very first weeks of criminal law class: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. This principle means that when an individual violates the law, it doesn’t matter whether or not they knew what the law said. If it’s a crime, and they are found to have committed the elements of that crime, they are guilty.”

Whether you knew it is wrong, or not, it was still wrong. Taken further, the question is, if we do not know what we are doing is wrong, how can we ever expect to make amends.  The short answer is that we can not, but there is someone who can. This is the message of William Newell’s “At Calvary.”

The song summarize the ignorance that most of us live in far too easily.  An ignorance that many seem to revel in. After all, the old saying is “ignorance is bliss”.  So the hymn begins with the words, “Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.”

This is how we so want to live our lives . . . for ourselves.  We are nothing new in this capacity.  Jesus, when speaking of the end times uses this description in Matthew 24:37 – 39, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” In the days of Noah, people lived to meet their own pleasure, oblivious to the circumstances around them.

This life of seeking our own pleasures is an offense to God Himself. We must then come to accept these action that violate God’s law, even when done in ignorance must exact a consequence. Leviticus 4:13 – 14 tells us, “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.”

One might argue, “well that was Israel. God has revealed himself to them so of course they had no excuse.  Paul answers this objection when he says in Ephesians 4:17 – 19  “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Jew or gentile, it makes no difference.  The axiom remains true. Ignorance of the law is not excuse.

So we today easily find ourselves doing the same. We are all to often unaware that our behavior is self-indulgent, and an affront to a Holy God.  But as the hymn tells us, the truth has been made known if we will but listen.  It says “By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.”

When we realize the magnitude of our actions.  That we have lived a life seeking our own, mocking God, whether intentionally or unintentionally, at every turn, we can not help but quake with fear.  This is the Holy God, Creator of all and we have dishonored Him at every turn.  But thanks be, that we are given the way to make things right. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.

When we turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can experience the forgiveness of all sins, whether intentional or unintentional. This is the only means of making amends and God has given it to us freely.  This is why Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we accept this gift, we can know “salvation’s plan!” We can know “the grace that brought it down to man!” We can begin to comprehend “the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!”

No, ignorance is no excuse.  We remain guilty, even when we did not know what we were doing was wrong.  But praise God that He did not abandon us in our ignorance, but that provide a way to forgiveness that we might be restored to fellowship with Him. When we accept this we can join with all believers declaring, “There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.”

 

 

Read more about “At Calvary.”

Nothing But The Blood of Jesus

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing —
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Words and Music by Robert Lowry, 1876

 


But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Philippians 3:7 – 9

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Hebrews 9:22

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7

Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:18


 

I’m sure you have heard the proverb. There is more than one way to skin a cat. While I’m not exactly sure of the origins of this phrase, I know it means that there is always another way to do something. People all over the world know this, even if they have not heard the proverb. After all, we are always looking for an easier way to reach our end goal. And for the most part, this is true, but not always. That, of course, is what makes this a proverb and not a statement of fact.

So it is with knowing God and drawing near to Him. We are always looking for how to put ourselves “in God’s good graces.” What extra can I do? What can make up for my mistakes? How can I make God love me? When we look around, we find lots of answers to these questions, but the fact is,there is only one answer. This is the question found in the old gospel hymn, “Nothing But The Blood of Jesus.

Robert Lowry does not hesitate to lay out the question from the start. He writes, “What can take away my sin?” This is the ultimate question that each of ask. How can I stand before God? How can I make myself right?

Lowry answers his own question with the words “nothing but the blood of Jesus.” The blood is both joyous and sorrowful. It is a dark reminder of the sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross. That he gave his life to pay the price for the sins of man. (Romans 4:25) It was the only way.

We see the need of the blood of Jesus when we read, “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) And we go on to read in Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

No, “nothing can for sin atone . . . Naught of good that I have done.: This is why the Paul writes in Philippians 3:7 – 9 that, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

And so we see that this same blood is a source of joy, for by it we are made righteous. This is found through faith in the new covenant in the blood of Jesus. As Jesus, himself said in Matthew 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

It is the Blood of Jesus alone that opens the door. It is the blood of Jesus alone that can forgive our sins. It is the blood of Jesus alone that can bestow on us righteousness. It is the blood of Jesus alone that allows us to stand before God.

Yes, when we have put our faith in Jesus, when we have trusted in His blood, then and only then can we truly sing the words, “Oh! Precious is the flow That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

 

 

Read more about “Nothing But The Blood of Jesus.”

Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Words by Julia H. Johnston, 1911
Music by Daniel B. Towner, 1910

 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:4 – 10

 

It is said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, that is, “you don’t get something for nothing.” This is what we call a proverb, an insightful observation of the world around us. And as we look at the world around us, most of us would agree with this.

It is no wonder then that we are so excited when we receive a gift, especially when that gift comes out of no where and seems utterly undeserved.

But an undeserved gift with no string attached is exactly what God has offered to each and everyone of us. But this gift is only of use to those who are willing to accept it.  It is received by believing in Jesus and choosing to follow him.  We call this gift grace.

Ephesians 2:8 – 9  tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Salvation has nothing to do with what we do.  In fact, there is nothing we can do to earn it.  “It is the gift of God.”  And this grace is able to forgive us for all of our failings.   Romans 3:21 – 24 tells us, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Grace.  It is one of the most beautiful words in the world.  It is receiving, for free, something we do not deserve, something we can never achieve on our own.  This is what Julia Johnston expresses in her hymn, “Grace, Greater Than Our Sin.”

In her final verse, Johnston writes, these words, “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe!” There is an endless list of words that can be used to describe the miraculous gift of grace.  And so I rest in the truth presented in the chorus, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

 

 

Read more about “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

Prone to Wander, Lord I Feel It

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Written by Robert Robinson, 1758
Music by John Wyeth, 1813

 

Of the many hymns I have known and sung over the years, this is one that routinely comes to mind. I will often find myself singing these words, sometimes without even knowing it.

But as I sing these words, it is the third stanza that makes me stop and think.

“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”

I have been a christian for as long a I can remember. I was raised in a Christian home. I attended church regularly. I accepted Christ as my personal savior when I was very young. I studied youth ministry in college and earned a Masters of Divinity degree. But that is in the past and means little to nothing when it comes to living my life now on a daily basis.

You see, when I rest in these events of the past, when I trust in my own strength I find myself doing exactly this. I find myself “prone to leave the God I love.” As Paul writes in Romans 7:19 “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” I am a Christian, how can this be the case?

I remember a few years ago when I was thinking about the phrase “there, but for the grace of God, go I” that it suddenly hit me what that meant. I, like all of us, am a sinful being and my nature is to seek after that. To seek those things that simply serve me, to seek after my own pleasure, and to not care about anyone else. Yes, left to my own devices, I fear to think where I would be.

But thanks be to God that I do not have to face this alone. For I can find strength in the words of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” It is in Christ that I can find the strength to stand firm. It is because of this that I find the deepest meaning in the first part of this stanza:

“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”

My debt is to Christ and the grace of God. And , O how great a debt. A debt, I can not repay, but a debt I freely owe. It is not a debt that God lords over me. Rather, it is a debt he gives in love and so, it is this love that binds me to Him. It is because of this that I joyfully declare the last phrase of this stanza, “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.”

So, “here I raise my ebenezer” (helper stone). A reference to a monument that stands as a reminder to God’s help. (I Samuel 7:12). And I stand fixed on the “mount of God’s redeeming love.”

You can read the full text of Robert Robinson’s poem by clicking “Come Thou Fount.”

When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

I can not count the number of times that I have heard sermons and lessons on Christ being tempted in the wilderness. We learn how Christ was tempted in every way that we are, so He understands. (Lust of the flesh – bread from stones, Lust of the eyes – Satan would give him the wealth of the world and the pride of life – if he was the Son of God he deserved to be treated as such) We hear about how Christ used scripture to resist the devil and how this shows us how important it is to memorize scripture. (Which of course it is, but I digress.) But as I was reading through the passage in Luke this week, my mind began to ponder the final sentence of this passage. “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13

I realize that all to often we, . . . I, fail to see that Christ temptation was not a one time thing. Too often this passage is breezed through and the cliche answers are given. And while these answers may be valid and helpful in our lives, temptation does not end that simply for us, and it did not end that simply for Christ. While scripture does not specifically tell us of these other temptation, we can see them between the lines. When he became angry with the money changers, I am sure the temptation was there to do more than simply overturn their tables. When in the garden, the temptation to run away could not be more clear. While hanging on the cross, can any of us doubt that the devil whispered in His ear, “Are they really worth it?” No the temptation surely did not end with the three described in Luke 4.

I know that we give people comfort as we teach that Jesus has been tempted in every way that we have. We give people strength when we teach them that God has given us the scriptures that we can call upon to resist the devil. But we do a grave injustice if we fail to remind people that the devil is not so easily discouraged. I Peter 5:8 tells us that “the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking those that he might devour.” He may leave, but he waits “until an opportune time” to return. While these opportune times may come at any moment, sometimes out of the blue and often when we least expect them, we must always be on guard. (“Self controlled and alert” 1 Peter 5:8) We can not think that once we have resisted the devil and he has fled (James 4:7) that it is over. This is the very opportune time that the devil is looking for, when we let our guard down, when we say to ourselves, “I have stood up to that temptation and it is behind me. I do not need to worry about it anymore.”

Only when we stand in glory, before our Lord and Savior will all temptations finally be set behind us once and for all. Until then, we must always stand on guard because temptation is not a one time thing. But we need not fear these temptations for we have our victory in Christ. He has given word to keep in our hearts so we do not sin against him. He has faced every temptation faced by man, and emerged victorious. Most importantly, he has not left us alone. He has granted to those who believe in Him, the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. So while we may continue to face temptations in this life, we know that we already have victory in Christ Jesus.