December 10, 2015

Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteousness.

This very deep truth is precisely what Paul was referring to when he said, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) Paul later expressed the mechanism for that as, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) This is actually the most important distinctive between Christianity and every other religion. Other religions demand that people measure up to some standard in order to be accepted by deity. Even the name, Islam, means submission, and that is a polar opposite to the truth revealed to Jeremiah, Paul, and countless saints down through the ages. Buddhism takes a different tack, but there too the focus is on our defeating the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” (to use John’s expression in 1 John 2:16) on our own. The thing is, we can’t do it! Other religions have just enough of a taste of truth that they seem right to many people, but they have no ultimate solution to the problem of human sinfulness. That is why the God of the Bible is so shocking: He has taken our sins upon Himself and become our righteousness for us, because we could not do it on our own. From the human perspective, what God did in Christ is absolutely scandalous. He didn’t say sin was OK, He simply washed it away with the blood of the Lamb. That’s why books like 1 John are so important, making it very clear that claiming to be without sin is denying God, (1 John 1:8, 10) and that anyone who is comfortable with sin doesn’t know God (1 John 5:18) but that confession and faith restore us to a clean slate before God. (1 John 1:9) That is ultimately the message of Christmas, because teaching, though important, was not sufficient reason for God to become flesh; He came to be the Lord our Righteousness.

This is the message I proclaim, and I will have opportunities today and tomorrow, at least, to deliver it to people who have little if any grasp of it. I must not think that my powers of persuasion are up to the task, because I have demonstrated countless times that they are not. I need to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit have full control, so that His words through me may open blind eyes and bring people to repentance and faith. That’s a tall order for a Christmas party, but nothing is impossible for Him! Some I know have heard the Gospel, to some degree at least, but I am not to focus on them. Rather, I am to trust the Holy Spirit who knows whose hearts are prepared, so that His truth may enter those hearts, be received, and set them free, for their salvation and the glory of God.

Father, thank You for the opportunities You give me to share the Gospel in various ways. Sometimes I’m prepared and sometimes not. May I be fully prepared for each of the opportunities You have for me over the next two weeks, particularly, both the opportunities I am currently aware of and any others You have for me, so that I will be fully useful to You and not get in the way, in order that people may come from darkness to light, from death to life, 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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