THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE CROSS

As we come to Good Friday and think about the cross, I want to share three truths about ourselves, about God and about Jesus from one of my favorite authors: John Stott.

“First, our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgment and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not feel ashamed of ourselves.

Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension. God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sin, guilt, judgment and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that. It is more than love. Its proper name is ‘grace’, which is love to the undeserving.

Thirdly, Christ’s salvation must be a free gift. He ‘purchased’ it for us at the high price of his own life-blood. So what is there left for us to pay? Nothing! Since he claimed that all was now ‘finished’, there is nothing for us to contribute. Not of course that we now have a license to sin and can always count on God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, the same cross of Christ, which is the ground of a free salvation, is also the most powerful incentive to a holy life.”

Taken from The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott, pp. 83 and 84; pub. by IVP, 1986.

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ARE YOU TROUBLED?

Last week in my reading through the Psalms I came to a phrase that really struck me. In the second part of Psalm 38:18 David states “I am troubled by my sin” (NIV). The Revised English Bible intensifies the thought with “I am troubled because of my sin” (italicize added).

When I first read the verse I thought I can identify with David. I won’t cite specifics, but there have been many times in my life when I have been deeply troubled by a specific sin in my life. But as I continued to consider the big picture it occurred to me that there are also a lot of sins in my life that ought to trouble me but don’t. Sins I don’t think of as big sins, but nevertheless are sins. So my question to you is, “Are you troubled by your sins?”

The purpose of the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit in Christians is sanctification. That big word refers to our becoming the kind of people God has saved us to be. To move forward in actually becoming holy we have to make progress in dealing with our sin; one of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us is to make us aware of our sins.

I believe it is the Holy Spirit who is behind our being troubled by our sin. I think it is a good thing if we are troubled by our sins and that we should be thankful. For a Christian not to be troubled by his or her sins would be a bad sign and perhaps indicative of indifference to sin.  

Two pieces of New Testament instruction for Christians about the Holy Spirit came to my mind as I dwelt on Psalm 38:18b. The first was Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” What grieves the Holy Spirit? Since He is the Holy Spirit, and dwells in us, our sin (unholiness) grieves Him.

The second passage was I Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” To quench has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit’s thirst, but rather has to do with extinguishing a fire. I have always thought of this command in terms of not “throwing a wet blanket” on or spurning the Spirit. While the Holy Spirit wants to help us become more and more what God wants us to be, we can ignore and reject His help. And the more we suppress His urgings the easier it will be to do so.

So I ask you again, “Are you troubled by your sins?” Are your sins grieving the Holy Spirit who lives in you and could He be involved in your being troubled? I think the answer is yes. And a clear biblical response to being troubled by our sins is given in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When we acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness we need to believe God’s promise and move forward. Those sins should no longer trouble us. But we should still expect the Holy Spirit to trouble us about future sins.

What you think of this idea of being troubled by our sin? Leave a reply below and share these thoughts on social media if you think others would benefit.

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