August 26, 2012

Revelation 1:5-6 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

This is one of a number of places where I think the person who first divided the Bible into verses wasn’t thinking too clearly! However, that’s minor quibble. There’s a lot of glorious truth in this passage. We read many times in the Bible that Jesus loves us, and that He atones for and forgives our sins, but the expression here is that He frees us from our sins, and that’s worth some real meditation. Often we seem to get stuck in sins, like a car with a wheel in a deep pot­hole. When we repent we are forgiven, but we also need to move past that particular sin in order to get on with the life God intends for us. For that we need to understand and receive God’s forgiveness, and we also need to forgive ourselves. I couldn’t begin to calculate how many people I’ve dealt with who placed themselves above God in relation to their sins. That’s not just in excusing things that God doesn’t, as you might think, but also in refusing to forgive things they have already confessed to God. If God has forgiven us, who are we to not forgive ourselves? That is a very frequent way that people get stuck in sins. It is only when we are liberated from our sins that we can function as the priests and kingdom that Christ has made us to be by His blood. And of course, all the glory for what He has done for us and is doing in and through us goes to Him.

I’ve experienced getting stuck in sin myself. Peter’s words about people who have forgotten they have been cleansed (2 Peter 1:9) have been helpful to me. As long as I am dwelling on some sin I have committed, I’m not free of it. That doesn’t mean at all that repentance is to be casual, much less insincere, but it means that once something is repented of, I need to move past it, and as a pastor, I need to help others do the same. I do indeed run into many who take their sins lightly, but I also run into many who can’t seem to let go of things that God has already forgiven. That is as much of a trap as the other! I have no wisdom in myself to liberate people, but God can use me in accomplishing that, so I need to keep myself fully available at all times. Again, I am not to dwell on the times that I have failed to communicate, but rather walk in the grace of God, expecting Him to act in and through me appropriately to His character.

Father, thank You for this reminder. You know the people who came to mind even as I was writing. I do ask Your grace for them, and for me as I minister to them, so that they may be set free indeed to walk in all that You intend for them, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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