Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Your Sins, Your Enemies, and Your Fears Will Be "Cleared Away"
Now, there’s a passage to lift your spirits! For remember, all who have trusted in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty of their sins, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are “grafted in” to the covenant God has made with the spiritual Israel (Romans 11, et al). And that means that these exquisite, exciting promises are yours!
And here are a few more points to ponder:
1) The judgments of a holy God against your sins are “taken away” -- completely and forever -- because Jesus, the King of Israel has paid for them with His death on Calvary’s cross. John the Baptist rejoiced in this glorious truth when he saw Jesus coming to him at the Jordan River: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What an exhilarating miracle -- our sins and guilt and lack of righteousness are taken away where they will condemn and shame us no more. No wonder the prophet Zephaniah calls for the people of God to shout for joy.
2) The above promise has a twofold fulfillment. One is for now. One is for the future. One points to what theologians call the “positional truth” of our salvation. If you have received Christ as Savior (that is, trusted in His sacrifice to atone for your guilt before God), then you are saved, born-again, forgiven forever, adopted into God’s family, grafted into the covenant, etc. It is a done deal. From God’s perspective, the believer is, at the very moment of faith, cleansed from sin, redeemed, and sealed with his Spirit. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that with your complete trust in Christ, God actually imparts His righteousness into you. Wow.
But, you say, you still struggle with sin. That’s correct. Having your sins forgiven doesn’t mean that you will be free from sin in this life. But when this part of the adventure is over, you will be. And there is the double fulfillment -- the penalty of your sins are taken away right now but, in the day when you are ushered into the presence of God, the very presence of sin will be taken away…and forever.
3) A double fulfillment is also in play with the promise of God “clearing away” our enemies. Our enemies, of course, are all too obvious: our carnal nature, the devil, the rebellious world around us. And those enemies have, in our past, enslaved us. But, in Christ, we have been made new and the shackles of our old slavery have been broken. We can now, by the power of the Holy Spirit (which was given us at the moment of our salvation), walk in newness of life and victory. We are free. In this important sense, the Lord has already “cleared away” our enemies. Even the macabre and frightful enemy of death has lost its sting for we are guaranteed the same resurrection which Jesus experienced.
But again, through unbelief, rebellion, cowardice, selfishness, and other sins, we surrender over and over to our old enemies. Our aching need is to live free, to live for the Lord, to live like the people He has created us to be. And, one great day, we will do so without any stumbling or backsliding. Ah, yes…this is why we can “rejoice and exult with all our heart” as Zephaniah bids us. For in that glorious day of Christ’s triumph, all of our enemies will be “cleared away” completely and forever!
4) Fears of disaster regularly assail us in this life and drain us of confidence and joy. They deter us from lives of selflessness and mercy. We fear failure, sickness, loneliness, shame, disability, disappointment, the seeming victory of evildoers, and so much more. Yet here too we rejoice in the twofold nature of God’s promise. On the one hand, we look forward with great hope and happiness to that glorious day when all disasters are defeated, when all fears are swallowed up in our eternal bliss. O rejoice indeed!
And because of that splendid future, we can so much more confidently deal with the disasters of this life. This is not all there is. We have a future. We have an inheritance that is glorious and liberating and beautiful. And it is forever. And why can this be? Zephaniah tells us, it is because “the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.” Yes, the Lord is with us at this very moment as our Savior, Advocate, and Helper, But the day will soon be here when we will join our Sovereign Conqueror and Almighty Lord in the New Jerusalem with all sin, all enemies, all fears defeated and destroyed forevermore.
“Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away his judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.” (Zephaniah 3: 14,15)