John the Baptist was born to prepare the way for Jesus, the Savior of the world! I encourage you to read all of John chapter 1 on your own. It’s so incredible. I have read it twice recently and both times I have gotten caught between wanting to just sit there and sob because of the greatness of God revealed in Jesus, while at the same time feeling the excitement of what is possible for us when we live our lives by Christ Jesus, in Christ Jesus and through Christ Jesus!
Imagine, that as John the Baptist was just being faithful to do what God had called him to do, suddenly he saw Jesus, the very One he had been called to prepare the way for. The culmination of everything he had lived for stood before him now. The emotion he felt must have been overwhelming.
I want to point out the first statement John the Baptist made when he saw Jesus.
John 1:29 (NLT)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
This statement that John the Baptist made is packed full of significance. Why? Because John didn’t say, Look, the Lamb of God who covers the sins of the world for a period of time. He was ‘making a statement’ with his statement, that Jesus is the One we have been waiting for who will completely remove our sin once and for all!
If we had lived under the old covenant of law, we would even better understand the significance of what Jesus came to do in fulfilling the law on our behalf.
You see, under the old covenant God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of the people’s sins.(see Leviticus 4:35 and 5:10) These animal sacrifices were an important theme found throughout the Bible during the time of the old covenant of law because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness according to Hebrews.
Hebrews 9:22 says,
In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. (NLT)
As you will read in these verses in Hebrews 10, the old covenant was foreshadowing what was to be fulfilled through Jesus that could never be fulfilled through man’s efforts. Check this out:
Hebrews 10:1-18 (NLT)
Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.
3 But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. 4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God,You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.But you have given me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God as is written about me in the Scriptures.’
8 First, Christ said, You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them(though they are required by the law of Moses). 9Then he said, Look, I have come to do your will. He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time.Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
16 This is the new covenant I will make
with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.
17 Then he says,I will never again remember
their sins and lawless deeds.
18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.
Whoa! That’s real good news. That means once we place our trust in Jesus as our Savior, our sins are forgiven. We are not just talking about past sins, but all sins – past, present and future sins – Verse 10: once for all time. Verse 12: good for all time. Verse 17: God will never again remember our sins and lawless deeds. Furthermore, we have been given the privilege of being grafted in along with God’s special people, the Jews! (see Romans 11:17) Because of this great privilege, us Gentiles can also live under these amazing promises shown in the verses above in the new covenant of God’s grace.
Knowing that all of our sins are forgiven is so relevant to our everyday life and to living it out with confidence. Let me give you an example:
Recently I talked on the phone with my Aunt Carolyn. I was sharing with her that God was helping me see the power behind the scripture in Proverbs 15:1 which says, A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (NLT) The Holy Spirit had just been helping me see more and more that as I deal with my kids, how much of a difference the tone of my voice makes when I am speaking to them. This especially comes into play if I need to correct them about something because I always notice that if I raise my voice to them out of frustration, they have more of a temptation to come back at me strong and throw a wall up, unwilling to hear what I have to say. On the contrary, if I just talk to them in a respectful manner, the way my heavenly Father talks to me, they are open to listening and we have some fabulous conversations.
I am not kidding when I say that as soon as I got off the phone with my Aunt Carolyn, I was discussing something with one of my daughters about leaving her things laying around the house and she started making excuses for this. This made me mad and… let’s just say that verse about ‘a gentle answer’ escaped me for a few minutes.
But the great news was, I did not have one moment of condemnation over this. In fact, I had an awesome conversation with God, talking to Him about the situation while making the needed adjustment in my heart as well as thanking Him for His forgiveness.
You see, when we understand through the Bible that our forgiveness was secured by Jesus through His finished work on the cross, it changes everything.
The day you and I received Jesus as our Savior, we also received the forgiveness He shed His blood to provide for us. Each time we sin instead of being condemned over our sin, we can be so very grateful all over again for Jesus. We know we can’t earn it and don’t deserve it and that is exactly why Jesus’ sacrifice for us is so amazing! (see Romans 5:7-9)
I was sorry and apologized to my daughter and asked her to forgive me for speaking to her in that manner. Then God helped us both calm down and we had a great conversation where we made some real headway. But….I was so happy that I didn’t spend the next couple of hours trying to concoct a plan of how I could keep from ever doing that again or feeling like I was a terrible Mom.
Why could I walk in the confidence that I did? Because I have a revelation of my complete forgiveness through Jesus’ finished work on the cross – a revelation of what I have been given because of Jesus which is forgiveness of my sins including the ones I have not even committed yet.
Some people are scared that if a person gets ahold of this truth about complete forgiveness they will use it as a license to sin. I have yet to see this happen with Believers who truly understand what Jesus secured for them at the cross and have a genuine understanding of the power of God’s grace. What I have seen is the exact opposite happen, with myself, my husband Steve, our kids and my friends. You can’t shut any of us up about Jesus because we are so excited we finally stopped being focused on ourselves and started focusing on the right person – Jesus!
1 John 3:9 says
Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. (NLT)
You see, because my mind is so consumed with the goodness of God at this point instead of with my own sin, having my mind on His goodness actually leads me to gladly repent! (see Romans 2:4) Repenting (changing my mind and going in the other direction) has become more of a natural way of life for me than ever before, but with no fear or condemnation attached to it. I no longer think, “Oh my gosh, I have to hurry up and repent of this sin so God won’t be mad at me and stop extending His goodness to me.” No, it’s actually the other way around. I think, “Oh my gosh God, You are so unbelievably good to me. You just won’t let go of me no matter how many times I fail. (at this point I am usually yelling on the inside, My Gosh, I Love Being Your Daughter God! It makes me love Him so much and want to change my mind, turn around and head in the other direction and live for His glory!
I really like what Katie, a friend of mine said recently. She said, “I believe with my whole heart that being sin-conscious is destructive and we need to live being Jesus-conscious.”
Once we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have all that Jesus’ finished work provided for us. Even so, because we are human, we can still have times in our lives when we need to be re-awakened to who we truly are in Christ Jesus. We have to keep it ever before us that we are no longer a slave to sin (see Romans 6:6) and that sin is no longer our master once we are living under God’s grace. (Romans 6:14).
We have to fill our mind with the truth that we are completely forgiven, righteous in Christ and perfectly loved by God, no matter what. The devil will never roll out a red carpet for us to live in victory over sin and his biggest tactic is to lie to us, trying to convince us that we do not have what we already have in Christ.
Yesterday, when I sinned by speaking to my daughter in a disrespectful manner, I literally spent the next half hour meditating on these things I just talked about. I was thinking about how grateful I am to Jesus that I could stand forgiven, loved and righteous. I’m just sure it was giving the devil a nervous breakdown since he had me convinced for so many years to dwell on the negative each time I sinned. He loved keeping me trapped in that vicious cycle of frustration, condemnation and anxiety.
I used to spend half my time trying to get over being condemned about my sins and the other half trying to figure out a way I could stop sinning. That didn’t leave me much time to think about Jesus, but Jesus was Who I really needed to be focusing on, and the devil knew it. All those years what I really needed was to be awakened to what I already had in Christ Jesus through the finished work of the cross!
Always remember that in many ways the old covenant and the new covenant are completely flipped around. In the old covenant, it was all about their behavior, behavior, behavior; but in the new covenant it is all about relationship, relationship, relationship, and Jesus made the way for relationship with the Father!
Let’s not focus on our behavior in order to get into God’s good graces. Let’s focus on the fact that we are living in God’s good graces, not because we are good, but because He is good and we have chosen to accept His great grace by inviting Him to be The Lord of our lives. As we focus on all that Jesus died to provide for us we will find ourselves falling more and more in love with Him, resulting in us having a heart after His heart and guess what tags right along with close relationship with God? Right behavior!
I have seen such an explosion of spiritual fruit in my life since I have been awakened to all of these things I am reminding you of. It’s like when I stopped trying in my own strength (under the law) and started receiving what was mine to begin with (under grace), the Holy Spirit went to work on the inside of me and began to produce in and through me what I couldn’t produce on my own, even with all the trying in the world.
I’m telling you this to encourage you and give you hope for your own life. You will also find, as you allow The Holy Spirit to plant in your heart what you have as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice for you, that a life of victory – over things that you thought you could never be free from – is already yours because of Him! You will find your life as a Christian becoming easier than ever before and just like me, you will know that it is certainly not by your own strength, goodness or wisdom but solely by the grace of God (His unmerited favor) that you just keep seeing the goodness of God in your life. (see Matthew 11:28-30)
This kind of believing leads directly to a life of rest. When you know you are in right standing with God because of Jesus and you know you are perfectly loved apart from anything you do or fail to do and you know that your sins are completely forgiven – past, present and future, you have just begun to live in the victory of Jesus’ finished work!
Colossians 2:13-15 says,
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.(NLT)
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!