“…let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The practice of reading through the Bible in a year or less is good for a time or two. But then, once we check that off our bucket list, we would do well to master the art of living in one book of the Bible for a solid year, one chapter for six months, one verse for a week, one phrase for a day.
This verse has snagged my attention today and one part in particular…
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (Second Corinthians 5:19).
The first part–what God was doing in Christ–is the essence of the Gospel, Christ’s assignment in this world, if you will. The last part–He has given us the word of the Gospel–is our assignment, our calling in this world.
In between, we have the unanticipated blessing of the Gospel message, that as a result of what He did in Jesus, God is not holding our sins against us.
What occurs to me with the force of a battering ram today is this: Until the middle part–not counting our trespasses against us–becomes precious to us, we will never properly value the first part (Christ’s work) or be effective in carrying out the last part (our work).
Therefore, I’ll be camping out on the second part today.
As the result of what God did in Jesus, my sins are gone. The trespasses I’ve racked up in a long life of neglect and rebellion are erased, atoned for, nailed to the cross.
As David put it a thousand years earlier, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
“How did David know this about God?” I wonder. The cross was still in the future. And the only answer I can come up with is: a) David knew what it was to be forgiven of his sins (see II Samuel 12:13), and b) He knew the heart of God (I Samuel 13:14).
The enemy wants to tell us that God just possibly might be talked into forgiving us of our sins, but it’s against His nature and He does it begrudgingly. Then, we open Scripture and find out just the opposite staring out at us from practically every page.
On the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). And they had not even asked!
In Mark 2, Jesus looks at the paralytic who has been lowered into the room, brought there by his four friends that he might be healed, and says to him, “Son, your sins be forgiven you.” Think of that! The man had been brought there for healing, but the Lord takes care of his deeper, more permanent need and forgives him of his sins without being asked!
That ought to tell us something about our Savior. He is on our side, wants far more for us than we want for ourselves, desires to free us and bless us and give us abundance in life.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
How good is this!
No wonder we make so much of the cross. Scripture goes to great lengths to get across to our pagan, carnal minds what God accomplished when Jesus took our sins to the cross and paid the debt there.
–“…having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).
–“…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7).
–“…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9).
–“…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).
Cleansed, forgiven, purified, redeemed, set free, made new–Scripture beggars the language in search of descriptions adequate for the task. And comes far short, we note.
“Oh, pause and think of this.”
It’s been said the the “Selah” found in some Psalms are rest-stops, calling on readers and singers to camp out there and take in the wondrous blessing of what has just gone before.
We would do well to take just one phrase of God’s precious word and reflect on it for hours as we drive, work in the yard, or go for a walk.
Do that and we quickly learn something valuable about Holy Scripture: it’s deep, true, valuable, multifaceted, and has ten thousand applications.
No wonder the Psalmist devoted fully a fourth of his material to praising God for His word. We should too, and we will, the more we learn of what it contains and what that can do.