Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fast From the Efforts: Celebrate His Efforts

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

4Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high." (Isaiah 58: 3-4)

In the Old Testament, even then God was all about granting righteousness as a gift, apart from works.

The animal sacrifices were never intended as an effort from the Israelites to earn God's favor.

God instituted animal sacrifices as a means to atone for sin, so that God could freely bless without compromising His righteousness.

After God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses, He instructed him and the rest of His people about the sacrifices:

"An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon." (Exodus 20: 24-26)

Notice that the LORD makes mention of "nakedness", which speaks of man's sin, shame, and condemnation.

All of this has been taken away for us in Christ Jesus:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

He is the perfect sacrifice, where the animal sacrifices could not begin to compare:

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10: 1-4)

and then

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:12-14)

Today, let us give up this idea that all these religious duties are giving God something, or that we are earning anything through what we do.

For us, today - there is only one "sacrifice" left, one of praise, for Jesus has accomplished all things for us:

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)

and then

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." (Hebrews 13: 15)

Fast from your efforts. Take pleasure in all that Jesus did. Celebrate His efforts, finished at the Cross (John 19: 30).

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