Daily Devotional 8-3-14

Lifting Up Jesus
volume 13, number 25, June 19, 2014

. . . but by His doing you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

If you are a follower of Christ, then you must never forget that your salvation is completely of God, through and through. You would never have chosen Christ. You hated God. You were at enmity with Him. The gospel was foolishness to you. You were a blind rebel, just like Nicodemus. You were a hell bound adulteress, just like the Samaritan woman. And you were a son of the devil, just like the Pharisees. You had no hunger for God because you were dead. You had no capacity for righteous living because you were wretched and ungodly. You had no hope because you were without God in this world. You had no ability for true happiness because you were miserable in your sin, enslaved, addicted. You thought you had everything but you actually were poor, devoid of the Spirit, worldly-minded, divisive. You were a grumbler against benevolent providence. You found fault with people. You followed after your own lusts, indulging the fleshly desires of your mind and body. You flattered people in order to gain an advantage over them. You were like hidden reefs in a harbor; dark clouds without water; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up your own shame like foam; wandering stars for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Though you may have grown up in the church and known of Jesus, prior to God’s full-orbed work of grace through Christ, you still would have perished in hell If you had died. If you had lived at the time of the flood, then you would have drowned just like everyone else but Noah and his family. If you had lived when the Babylonians took away idolatrous Judah, you would have been exiled with them too. If you had lived perfectly from the age of twenty until your death at the age of ninety, having served humanity with unrivaled magnanimity you, nonetheless, would have gone straight to hell. You were like Sodom and Gomorrah, going after strange flesh, indulging your fleshly desires, and consequently you faced a certain terrifying expectation of judgment. You were an ungodly sinner who stood condemned for all your ungodly deeds which you did in ungodly ways.

And even now, as one who has been redeemed, purchased by Christ’s redemption at Calvary, you still are often hard-hearted concerning the glories of this redemption. Perhaps you have not been moved by them in some time. You can become so cold-hearted toward your own sin, failing to repent, even lacking the desire to repent. You can go days without sincere, fervent prayer and Scripture reading and meditation. You, perhaps, have gone months without letting anyone know of the hope that is within you, even Christ Jesus Himself. You have forgotten that all the wisdom of God is summed up in Christ. You have foolishly gone after the world’s philosophy and are not bothered much by your folly. You are saying words privately that you have not said in years, prior to your conversion. You have entertained destructive imaginations that could ruin you if you ever acted upon them, and perhaps you recently were close to doing so. You have allowed certain sins to creep in unnoticed, turning the grace of God into licentiousness, denying the power and efficacy of Christ’s person and work. And to make matters worse, you are ambivalent about mending your ways. At times your heart feels more drawn to Christ and you make an overture or two toward Him, but the impulse quickly dies. You repeatedly feel the accusations of the devil and he reminds you times without number that you are beyond hope, that Christ has rejected you. And due to your present heart waywardness, you wonder if Christ still loves you. You sincerely doubt that you can ever again know His power, love, mercy, and grace. You are convinced that if you were to stand now before the eyes of the Holy One, you would have no hope. You would be immediately dispatched to outer darkness.

Does this describe you? What then must you do? Preach Jesus to your own heart, soul, and mind. And who is this man? He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Prophet, Priest, and King. He speaks truth because He is truth. He intercedes for you because He has been exalted to the Father’s right hand. He is the ruler of all the kings of the earth and nothing or no one can thwart His sovereign plan. He is Jesus, the Savior, the One who will save His people from their sins. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the One who reconciles us to Himself through His death. He is wisdom for in Him all the wisdom of God dwells in bodily form and in Him you have been made complete. You cannot add anything to the word of grace wrought in you by the great, eternal lover of your soul. He alone is your righteousness. The Lord Jesus did what you could not do-He lived perfectly on the earth, never once sinning, obeying every command from His Father, completely and without hesitation. He never pitched a temper tantrum when He was two years old. He never boasted in sophomoric adolescence. As a carpenter He never cursed when hitting His thumb with a hammer. He never grumbled against the providence of His loving Father, always and fully submitting to it. By faith, which the sovereign God bestows on you, He has declared you righteous. He has acquitted you of your guilt, removed your death sentence, taken away your sins, delivered you from the domain of darkness, promising all the while to save you to the uttermost.

He is your sanctification. Even as a redeemed, regenerate saint, you have no holiness in yourself. You cannot manufacture holiness by godly discipline or self-will, though you certainly are required to be holy. The holiness of God the Father in Isaiah 6, the holiness of the glorified Christ of Revelation 4,5, and the holiness of the Helper of John 14-16 all are alien to you. They are not inherently yours by anything you did, can do, or will do. Christ Jesus is your sanctification. You are united to Him in His death and resurrection. You walk with Him in newness of life. You have died to sin and are now alive to God through Christ. You are vitally, spiritually, eternally united to the Lord Jesus. Consequently you have His holiness.

And the Lord Jesus is your redemption. In Him you have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of your trespasses according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon you in all wisdom and insight. Consequently He loves you with an everlasting love. He has drawn you with His lovingkindness. He has taken your sins away as far as the east is from the west. His death is a propitiating one. He bore the curse of your sin on His altogether lovely head. His death is an expiating one. He cleansed you of all your idols, of all your filth. His death is a reconciling one. He was angry with you every day in your unbelief, but the Father’s wrath, which you ought to receive without mitigation, was placed on His Son. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

When you find yourself wandering from the lover of your soul, doubting the Trinity’s love for you, continuing in unbelief, unrepentant-preach Jesus to yourself. “Soul, why are you in despair? Why are you hard-hearted, cold-hearted, ambivalent? Hope in God. Think on my blessed Jesus.” Dwell on the glory of Christ’s person and work. He is your wisdom from God, your sanctification, justification, and redemption.