The severity of sin and its remedy – Matthew 18:7-9

Jesus was never light on sin.  While infinitely gracious, compassionate and kind toward flawed and fallen people like ourselves, he understood the depth of our affliction.  He absolutely refused to minimize it.  As he saw it, both the tempter and the tempted put themselves at the most serious risk of judgment.

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire (ESV).

No solution for sin and its effects is too radical for Jesus.  Cut off the guilty body part and throw it away.  But here the depth of the problem is revealed.  We might imagine ourselves amputating till there was almost nothing left and still struggling against sin.  The source of our guilt cannot be found in the hand or the eye, or anything else that is removable.  Sin thrives in the lowest recesses of the heart.

David grasped this when he prayed in Psalm 51:10,

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.

And this is what God promises in Ezekiel 36:26-27,

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

This is what we need – a heart that desires to please God.  We don’t need one less limb or useful organ.  We need to become new people.  Receiving new life in Christ accomplishes this.  If we don’t have it, then that is what we need.  If we do have it, we need to learn to walk in it.  This is clearly summed up in the words of Paul.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  

Sin is severe – and probably more awful than we can understand, since our very perception of it is distorted by, well, sin!   Jesus took it so seriously he paid for it on the cross.  A new heart, a whole new self, is now available to us in Christ.

Matthew 15 Verse by Verse

Matt photoMatthew has been hinting at the fact that Jesus is the “prophet like Moses” that was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.  In this chapter the Lord begins to do Moses-like works not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.

Matthew 15.pdf

Matthew 15.mp3

 

A Prayer Prompted by the Stories in Matthew 15

Heavenly Father,

Some of the most religious people of Jesus’s day misunderstood both his heart and yours. Please help me to avoid making the same mistake.

Help to put aside any religious traditions or views that stand in the way of your word. And help me to avoid any concept of faith that goes soft on my own sin. I want to live a truly holy life that consistently brings glory to you.

I also ask that you would help my faith to be strong.

When I feel like I am not the kind of person that should be praying help me to remember that you want everyone to pray.  When I feel like you are ignoring my prayers, help me to be persistent. And when I feel like you will never answer my prayers, help me to be persistent again.

I understand that sometimes having great faith means being persistent in prayer.

And finally I thank you for your unending goodness and mercy toward me.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

 

Devotional thought for Good Friday

In Romans 5:7-9 Paul reminds us,

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Today we remember the greatest example of love the world has ever known.  This is the day we remember that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  True, Paul writes this at a time when many who would read it were alive at the time of Christ’s death.  He could say “while we were still sinners” and look back on the crucifixion and the space of time before he believed in its value.  We look at it somewhat differently.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/notre-dame-cathedral-on-fire-crucifix-altar-cross-paris/

Notre Dame altar cross, early Tuesday, April 16, 2019, by Philippe Wojazer, Reuters

From our standpoint Christ died before we were ever born.  He died before we ever sinned.  He also died long before we saw our need for a Savior.  How wonderful that by the time we saw our need, the Savior was risen.  The price for our sin had already been paid.  All that was lacking was our making use of Christ’s payment and asking it to be applied to us.

The love he shows to us is every bit as great as if we had known Christ personally while he walked the earth.  He was the lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world.  We are the sinners, who have corrupted the world by our sin.

As children of the very wealthy are in danger of not appreciating the true cost or worth of their riches, we run the risk of not appreciating the price that Christ paid.  We were born into a world whose sin was already dealt with at the cross.  We have been forgiven based on a work done long ago, a completed suffering.  We need to take some time to consider the cross.  Grace can be freely extended to us only because our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself to a death that we deserved.

Thank you, thank you Jesus.

Amen.

Matthew 1 Verse by Verse

Matt photoIn this first chapter Matthew give us some foundational material regarding Jesus Christ the son of David, son of Abraham, our Savior.

Matthew 01.pdf                 

Matthew 01.mp3

A Shared Tragedy: Sin and Its Effects – Genesis 3-11

Unity, Diversity and Our Identity in Christdiversity
Part 2 of 14

The entrance of sin into the world has had devastating consequences for us all.

A Shared Tragedy Gen 3-11.pdf                

A Shared Tragedy Gen 3-11.mp3

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildrose115/27623264486