Category Archives: Grace – the most lavish gift

Q316 “when is repentance sin?”

Repentance is hailed by legalists as the last, best, good work. When they have run out of rules and regulations and have to concede that the old covenant is over, they wave the repentance flag in the desperate hope that someone will remain bogged down in the mire of the law to keep them company.

What exactly is repentance ? Repentance is a change of heart – a turning in the opposite direction – a letting go of the old, to embrace the new. It is to believe in something you previously didn’t. It’s turning toward Jesus.

What is not repentance ? A heart that wants to please God by its remorse. A determination to walk away from sin. A committment to live a more honourable life. A decision of the will to do better. It’s not turning toward my self own improvement.

There is only one last, best, good work ~ the death and resurrection of Christ in payment for our sin debt, we do not participate in the process, nor do we do anything that brings us into God’s favour. Prior to becoming Christians we were dead in our sins, dead people can’t be remorseful, make commitments, or decide to follow God. All dead people can do is be brought back to life, repentance is simply the acknowledgement that Christ breathed new life into us at the cross “I no longer live but Christ lives in me”.

Repentance has nothing to do with how you intend to live now that you’ve chosen to believe, but is has everything to do with realizing that Christ purchased your freedom from sin, death and satan ~ and accepting this new condition.

Repentance becomes sin when we shift the focus off the work of Christ and onto the work of myself, (my decision to do better). Repentance is all about Jesus, and not at all about me.  When I shift the spotlight on to my own effort to respond, my own choice to live better, my own ambition to give it all ~ then I am entering into a work of the flesh, and every work of the flesh has it’s origin in sin.

I guess that’s the tragedy of it all ~ repentance is supposed to be all about realizing the wonder of Christ and falling into His grace and love, unfortunately legalists have turned repentance into a work of man ~ the result being that many Christians remain bound-up by the law, too scared to trust in the goodness of Christ alone to lift them out of the mire of sin.

The sin of repentance is the compulsive need of mankind to do something for himself. The grace of repentance is the realization we can do nothing for ourselves, so we fall into the goodness of the cross of Christ. Our repentance is not a gesture we offer God ~ but a gift He offers us.

It reminds me of the time Jesus dressed-down the Pharisees for keeping the people under bondage in Matt. 23:15 “…you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are”  –   sobering stuff…

Graeme

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Filed under Grace - the most lavish gift, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus, The defeat of satan, sin & death

Q301 “what is the one thing God can’t do as well as me?”

That question got your attention ~ what could God possibly not be good at ? ~ He is omniscient after all, all-powerful ~ and I am just plain old mortal me.

Yet there is one thing that I can do better than God, much better in fact… 100 times better… 1 million times better !!

I can remember my sins.

I have a hopeless memory, I need to write notes to myself, I need to ask my wife questions about stuff that happened – all the time, I need to ask people what their name was – again. Sometimes my wife will ask me ” do you remember a certain event that happened last year” and I scratch my head and try really hard to remember it, but I can’t find it in my head… and I don’t remember all my sins either.

But God is even worse at remembering my sins than I am ~ Heb. 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” In fact, God can’t remember any of my sins ~ not just the small ones, or the old ones ~ He can’t remember any, even the really big, recent ones ~ and here’s the real kicker, He has forgotten tomorrows sins even before I committed them.

Now, we know that God has been around for a long time, but this memory loss has nothing to do with the aging process. It’s actually a characteristic that is unique to God, it is connected to His creative ability (by His word He can create anything) ~ and by His word He can un-create anything (it’s reverse-creation). That’s why in Isaiah 43:25 He says; “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”.

What we have created, God has un-created ~ that’s how He is able to forget it, because He has un-created it, (as if it never existed). Whatever God blots-out is fully-blotted… trust me – nothing, no-one, no sin, can stand against His blotting-out power. He can create out of nothing ~ and He can un-create back to nothing ~ that’s blotting out.

Now, imagine you are in prayer and a sin committed pops into your mind, so you say to God; “before we go on, I just want to confess a sin to you” ~ God scratches His head and tries really hard to find it ~ eventually He says, I’ve looked everywhere for that sin, I’ve gone through all the records and it’s not there, all I can see at that time was that you were in Christ… now, that is something I remember really well, it was when my Son Jesus stormed hell and took all of your sins, past, present, and future, and threw them in the sea of my forgetfulness ~ that was a day worth remembering.

It’s quite silly really, that we insist on bringing up sins that God has forgotten. And besides, it’s also just a little bit offensive – our habit of telling God that Jesus didn’t do a good enough job of disposing of our sins.

Graeme

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Filed under Grace - the most lavish gift, It's all about Jesus, Renewing the mind

Q19 “what if I die before repenting of a sin ?”

Its a fearful thought to have walked your whole life as a Christian and then to mess up at 1 minute to midnight. This question is similar to yesterday ‘how can I be sure I am saved’. It springs from the notion that there is something I do that adds to or takes away from my salvation. One of the hardest things for mankind to accept is that God has ceased from scrutinising your life, a remnant of guilt and condemnation always seems to linger.

Rom. 8:1 says ‘there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’. That means that God’s awareness of our sin ended when we received Christ’s righteousness. From that moment on God can only see us hidden in Christ, we are lost in His virtue. We are forever imprinted with Christ’s perfect DNA, if we still feel guilty then it has got nothing to do with God… feeling guilty is agreeing with satan as opposed to God’s word.

When Christ removed our sin nature at the cross it means that all of the sins we have committed or may still commit, have already been repented of. It is not about keeping short lists anymore… its about trusting that all my sin  was nailed to the cross 2000 years ago, even the one that I don’t get time to repent of.

Stressing over failure is un-Godly living, it is fixing our eyes on ourselves instead of on Christ – Heb. 12:2. Religion is wrapped up in doing things to stay in God’s good books, relationship is resting that my name is forever written in the book of life. This kind of living is very different from the way humanity operates, it takes some effort to retrain our thinking… but the prize is worth the effort. Heb. 12:2 goes on to say ‘Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith’, it seems to me we should restfully allow Him to undertake His job description in our lives – perfecting our faith.

Perhaps the biggest transition to take place for a Christian is the one where we truly believe and trust that Christ did everything necessary, and for me to relax in His love and goodness.

Graeme

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Filed under Gazing upon the cross, Grace - the most lavish gift, No more guilt or condemnation, Renewing the mind, The complete work of Jesus, The defeat of satan, sin & death

Q1. “is God good ?”

Happy New Year, welcome to 2012 – the year of renewing our minds !

“is God good ?” seriously, I thought this was going to be a blog with a bit more depth. Of course God is good, otherwise why do we believe in Him ?

Think about this – many Christians say that they believe God is good, but act as if He has a dark side. How often have you heard the statement ‘everything happens for a reason’ ? which implies that God sends us bad stuff to make us into good people… Most of the Christians I know think that God sends them good stuff and bad stuff so that they will eventually mature into grown up Christians, its as if God is giving them a test to see if they can respond in a way that is pleasing to Him.

This question is 1 of 3 questions which we will look at over the next 3 days – these questions form the framework of our entire Christian response to life and the first one, ‘is God good’ is the real make or break one. If I cant get this one right it will effect every aspect of my Christianity. My confidence in my daily walk with God is completely about this question.

Christianity is not a melding of 2 covenants, Law & Grace – it is an abolishing of the old covenant so that God’s kindness and favor can continually and unrelentingly flow through our lives. Eph. 2:15 says that Christ abolished the law with it’s commandments and regulations, Heb. 10:14 says we have been made perfect forever.

God does not send good and bad so that we can participate in His self improvement program, He has already made us perfect through Christ – no more improvement required. Christ died and removed sin from me and now God is completely and irrevocably happy with me. This is a huge leap for some, it sounds presumptuous and disrespectful, but give it time…

so now I live today and forever in the river of life which is teeming with all God’s goodness.

Graeme

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