1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
I was introduced to the last part of this verse very early in my participation in the Charismatic Movement, but I can’t recall that I’ve ever heard a sermon on the first part. (It’s quite probable that I have, but just don’t remember it.) It actually contains an extremely important truth that is all too often overlooked: Jesus didn’t die on the cross just to get us into heaven, He did so in order that we would depart from sin and live for righteousness. Many people seem to want Jesus as their ticket to heaven, but they don’t want Him messing with their daily lives. How blind! If Jesus isn’t your Lord, then He isn’t your Savior, either. That truth keeps coming out again and again throughout the Bible. Even in the OT the prophets frequently took the people to task for going through the motions without having hearts that were committed to God. People today want Jesus to heal them physically, but they don’t want to depart from their sins (which is how the Japanese puts it). God delights to meet our physical needs of all sorts, but Jesus essentially ran from the people who wanted to follow Him after He fed a huge crowd with one person’s lunch. He desires people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), not people who are just looking for handouts. It’s interesting how often I’m reminded of Daniel’s three friends. They knew that God was able to save them physically, but that wasn’t why they served Him. They served Him because He alone is worthy of all our praise, worship, service, and obedience. (Daniel 3:16-18) That attitude indeed “seeks first His kingdom and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)
I’ve had struggles with my own level of obedience over the years, but the attitude of being in it for what you can get out of it is certainly rampant today. Even within the Church people chase feelings and manifestations, going from conference to conference and never really settling down to work in a local church. (That’s not so much of a problem in Japan, because there aren’t so many conferences!) I deal with people all the time who “follow Christ” for a while because they are after something they want, and if they don’t get it, they discard the pretense of faith. Jesus didn’t die to give us “easy street,” He died so that we might depart from sin and live for righteousness, as Peter says here. My task is to help people realize that their need for a Savior isn’t just for some immediate difficulty, it is a matter of their eternal destiny, and Jesus is more than worthy of their total commitment and obedience.
Father, thank You for this reminder. May I communicate this truth effectively by Your Spirit, so that many will receive it, repent, and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!