I’ve had like a billion people ask me since yesterday what I’m giving up for Lent this year. These people know I’m a Christian and they assume that because I am Christian that we all give up something for Lent. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my life so I didn’t plan on starting this year. It is largely a Catholic tradition of honoring the fact that Jesus died so that we would be freed from our sins so in response, faithful Catholics willingly give up a part of their own lives to acknowledge what Jesus gave up on our behalf. I am not Catholic, and while I do respect the tradition of Lent, when done with a pure motive and true heart, I find no need to make any sacrifices above and beyond the daily sacrifice of worship that my life is supposed to be. However, I think that I’ve come up with a pretty witty response for the next time if someone asks me what I’m giving up for Lent. I’m going to tell them that I’m giving up sinning. I want to see the look on someone’s face when they hear that! But then I thought about it for a minute and it hit me that I’m just an idiot. I’m supposed to be giving up sin everyday of my life! Regardless of what month it is Christ died for my sins and I’ve been freed from them and live for a new Master. How can I go back to the filth I used to lay in when I’ve tasted of the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ? Dying daily is our call as Christians and living holy like Jesus is holy should be our aim at all times.
So this year for Lent I am going to give up sinning. Not by my own power, but by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Not because it is the month before Easter, but because Jesus Christ died for my sins and gave me His righteousness and my killing of sin is the right response for the unspeakable amount of love He showed me on the cross. By God’s grace poured out through Jesus Christ I will stop sinning each and every day for the rest of my life. I know there will be plenty of times when I fail and fall short of God’s standard of holiness but that’s why Jesus came to Earth in the first place. Jesus lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died. He now is my perfect righteousness before the throne of God in heaven. It is my joy to mortify my flesh each and every day in praise and thankfulness of the awesome work God has done for me!
I spent some time on the internet yesterday watching parts of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and I had a very profound moment in my thoughts of Jesus and my sin. The Bible teaches us that Jesus was fully God and fully man on earth and that He managed to live without sin in every aspect of His life. I’ve always known that to be true but the full magnitude of that truth hit me while I was watching those clips. In particular, the scene where Jesus is carrying His cross on the way to Golgatha. Our Lord has already been beaten severely and has had a crown of thorns pressed onto His head. He is barely recognizable from the torture and is now forced to carry an immensely heavy piece of lumber for several hundred yards. All the while angry mobs follow Him and shout profanities at Him and try to get their hands on Him to strike Him. Jesus collapses under the weight of the cross several times and barely has the strength to get back on His feet. Here is where my moment came: so pervasive is the nature of sin and so desperately it tries to gain mastery over us that it penetrates every aspect of our lives. Not just our actions and deeds, but our thought as well. The success of the atonement depends on one crucial element: that Jesus be guilty of no sin Himself.
The concept of substitution is one man’s guilt-free life for another’s guilty life. I’m sure Satan was trying desperately to gain control over Jesus’ mind during that long walk to Golgatha, because if he did the redemptive mission of Jesus’ life would amount to nothing. All that needed to happen was for Jesus to think one unrighteous thought towards the angry mob or His torturers in malice, hatred, self-righteousness, or pride and the mission would have been a failure. There would have been no atonement for sins, no resurrection, no forgiveness of sins, and mankind would be forever lost and without hope for all eternity. Because if the Son of God had a single stain of sin on Him He would never be able to atone for anything and He Himself would be damned as well. But this reminds me that the power of sin is great and terrible, but the power of God is far greater than sin and it overcomes sin and Satan.
My own sin is constantly waging war against me and fighting to gain mastery over my soul (while I was writing this I got angry at my web browser and WordPress because every time it tried to save this post my computer froze up) and it follows me around wherever I go. But Jesus Christ conquered my sin on the cross because He lived with no sin. He was silent before His accusers like a lamb is silent before its shearers. 2 Cor. 5:21 says,
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him
Let your soul rejoice today in the knowledge that Jesus overcame your curse because He Himself was cursed by God in order that you might go free and come to know your Savior! His unfailing love for us sustained Him in His darkest moments before His death and now in light of all that His death has accomplished for us, let your most intimate love for Him carry you through your darkest moments and your happiest of days, through all your peaks and valleys!
“‘Ask what thou wilt, and it shall be given thee’, said Herod to the daughter of Herodias. Well, you are liberal in spending treasures upon your lusts; and believe it, God will spend treasures of wrath to punish you for your lusts. It had been a thousand times better for you if you had never had an estate, that you had begged your bread from door to door, than to have such a sad reckoning as you shall shortly have for it.” — Flavel on Lust 20-21
Sin promises a lot of things that are lies. If you ever want a clear depiction of what sin really promises but will never tell you, think about this quote. The consequences of sin is death in the physical body and death in the spiritual state as well. The Bible says that on the Day of the LORD the when Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven and comes to judge the world the wicked will cry out for the mountains to fall on them to hide them from the horror of their impending wrath. God will punish all sin and it will be better for sinners to have never been born than to be faced with the terror of the LORD on judgement day. But praise be to God that we know a Name! A name that promises that if we call on Him in faith we will be saved from that horrible holocaust. Jesus Christ is our savior for all who believe on Him and believe that He took our sins away and bore the punishment for them on the cross. Even the most wicked sins are forgiven through the cross because “with God all things are possible”!