If you’ve been reading this writing series, then you know the last few have been geared toward those who don’t know Christ Jesus as their personal savior. The words have been written for those who have never accepted that he stretched out His arms and gave His life to offer us all the free gift of forgiveness of our sins. And also to those who have long forgotten God’s warm and forgiving and loving embrace. That’s because there are many people who are near and dear to me that fit one of the above listed descriptions.
As I have drawn nearer to God over the past year, I have been burdened with the desire to see my friends and family come closer to God as well. After all, it is my desire to one day share Heaven with them all. That is a burden that all of us Christians should have for our fellow Earth-mates.
I can’t “beat the Jesus” into those people, as some have suggested. Like any gift, if I offer some of God’s words to them, they must be willing to reach out and receive the gift of those words. So this time I will write to my fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Although, I pray this writing will be of benefit to non-believers also.
So to those in the fold, we all know – or should know – that Jesus has already paid the price for our sins to be forgiven. Unfortunately, as human beings with a sinful nature, we undoubtedly need His forgiveness on a regular basis. The “fortunate” part for us sinners is that He will forgive us again.
Hebrews 7:25 says this about Jesus, “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (New International Version).
First of all, thank God for that statement. I thank Him for always living to intercede on my behalf. To me – and I’m not a certified theologian, just someone trying to follow God’s Word and apply it to my life as I am reading it – that verse and many others are a reminder that no matter how I mess up, Jesus will “intercede” for me, forgive me of my new sin, just like He has forgiven me of my old sin, and help me get back on the path He wants me to be on.
That is a wonderful thing!
But it doesn’t give me, you, or any other Christian a monopoly-game-style “Get out of sin free” card. That verse doesn’t mean, “Do whatever,” and then get forgiven. If Jesus is your savior, you will strive to not sin against Him. That’s how you make Him your Lord. Sometimes we say He is “Our Lord and Savior,” but those aren’t just words. He is our savior; we have to put Him first for Him to be our Lord.
Jesus, knowing all things, knows that we will sin again and again. One Biblical example of this is when Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed (John 13:31-38).
Peter…. A disciple….. Peter was one of the original twelve who loved and followed Christ everywhere. Peter, like the other disciples had dropped everything he had going on and left his family to follow Jesus, but he continued to sin.
“’You are not one of His disciples, are you?’ the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, ‘I am not.” – John 18:17. John 18:25-26 continues to fulfill Jesus’ earlier prediction, “As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, ‘You are not one of His disciples, are you?’ He denied it, saying, ‘I am not.’ One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, ‘Didn’t I see you with Him in the olive garden?’ Again, Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.”
I know that I’ve never been put in a situation like Peter was that day. People were coming to kill and imprison Jesus’ followers. Jesus himself had already been arrested. After all they had been through together; things were getting “out of (human) hands.” Even the disciples were getting scared.
Scared to stand up for Jesus!
They didn’t yet understand what all Jesus was to go through. Scared of what might happen to him, Peter was afraid to proclaim to be one of the Disciples of Christ.
When we today commit blatant sins in front of, or even along side of non-believers, we commit the same type of denial of Christ. Not only are we guilty of sin, again, but in that situation we are guilty of spreading the darkness of sin in front of those who are near and dear to us, but do not believe in Jesus. We show them our sin, or take part in theirs, and they already know we are supposed to be Christians. We are showing them that we are no different as a Christian that the rest of the world.
I know the feelings Peter had when he heard that rooster crow – the sound Jesus predicted would follow Peter’s betrayal of his closeness to Jesus. I’ve felt those feelings many times myself: shame, embarrassment, failure, that mental, “Oh man, what have I done?”
I usually don’t hear a rooster crowing after I have sinned, but I don get that, “Oh man,” feeling. That feeling when you realize you’ve just let something bad happen that is already driving a wedge between you and God.
On the other hand, it is a wonderful feeling, knowing that Christ will forgive me. But what definitely isn’t wonderful is repeatedly needing to ask for His forgiveness.
It was hard for me as a teenager to admit that I was wrong, that I couldn’t do it all myself and that I needed to say three difficult words, “Jesus, forgive me!”
But Hebrews again tells us that even though we repeatedly sin, we must stay true to the course.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1.
It was hard for me, a know-it-all-teenager, to fall to my knees and ask for His forgiveness. But I’ve found that after repeatedly falling short of what God wants for me – again and again sinning against Him – the three hardest words to say are the ones I find myself needing to say most often:
“Forgive me…… Again!”