May 7th 2010

Bad News, Good News!

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Matthew 5:48 (NKJV)

Now that’s bad news!  Because we are not perfect, and have not the remotest chance of ever being perfect in this life. As Paul wailed (many years after his calling, not just to ministry, but to be perfect) “…I am carnal, sold under sin. What I continue doing as a human being, I do without comprehension, because it’s not what I want to do. What I want to do, I fail to do, but what I now hate, that’s exactly what I end up doing. It’s almost as if there’s a law at work here—that I do what I hate, whilst agreeing that I should do what I am unable to do” (Romans 7:14-17, my paraphrase). Now, that’s very bad news indeed!

He didn’t want to sin—he did everything he could to avoid sin. And we’ve all been there, too. We seek to avoid the situation which leads us to sin; we try to surround ourselves with activities which will distract us from sin; we can work so hard at being good, and still we find sin sidles up and catches us out. Be honest now, that’s where you are too. Very bad news!

And yet, what Paul writes is so encouraging, because he gives us the total solution to our dilemma. We want to do good, and to be good; but we find, as he puts it “that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good” (verse 21).

He gives the answer in verse 25—Jesus Christ. And so Paul found he continued to sin; I hope it was less and less as time went by. But still he sinned. He found that he had to rely on the saving grace of Jesus Christ every day.

And that’s where the good news comes in. Because Jesus’ saving work is the total answer to our problem. The Christian finds he has to rely second by second on Jesus Christ’s saving work. Jesus, you see, is perfect. He never sinned. He never compromised with sin (as we do). And his perfect life was accepted on your behalf the moment you accepted Jesus as your saviour. Excellent news!

Most merciful Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins. And his sacrifice pays for past, present, even future sins. You know I want to be like him, sinless, but we human beings find it so difficult to avoid sin. It seems built in, a part of us. We have no hope, except through your continuing mercy and encouragement to keep trying, keep at it. And for that knowledge that, despite everything, you continue to work with us as long as we keep trying, we give you grateful thanks. In Jesus’ name.

Study by John Stettaford 

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