Batting Cleanup

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I’m delighted that God forgives me.  The fact that the blood of Jesus cleanses every sin is precious (1 John 1:7).  That said, sometimes I feel like a sin factory.  Even if I  apply the blood of Jesus 70 times seven times a day, it gets discouraging.  In fact, it gets worse than discouraging.  It gets old covenant.  Hebrews says old covenant priests offered the blood of animals to atone for sins.  Because these could never really cleanse sin they were more a reminder of sins (Heb. 10:3).  Sometimes, applying the blood of Jesus (AGAIN) reminds me of my sin more than cleansing my conscience.  Because, let’s face it, I’ll sin again.  If not in five minutes, then tomorrow; if not tomorrow, then the next day, and so on….

At such times, I’m grateful that the cross isn’t just “nothing but the blood of Jesus” (sorry about the double negative).  I can cleanse sins all day by the blood of Jesus.  Sins are not the problem.  *I* am the problem.  To myself I seem an endless fount of failure.  But scripture says I have died. I have an end: the cross (Col. 3:3).

This reality has two aspects.  The first is that the  power and motivation of sin in me has been disabled (Rom. 6:6).  Not sinning is possible.  Not only is sinful me dead but Christ is now my life, and He lives to God (Rom. 6:10).   I am as powerless to sin as a dead man is to overeat.  Avoiding sin is not a matter of will power.  It is a matter of believing the truth: I died to sin in Christ; I live to God in Christ (Rom. 6:11).

But I’ve already said I sin, sometimes more than others.  So what gives?   My faith isn’t perfect.  Only Jesus walked in unbroken faith-union with God.  This is where the other aspect of my death comes in.  When my own weakness swallows me like quicksand, the cross is still there, held out from the shore.  I need only remember that my stinking flesh has been put away and buried—out of sight, out of mind.  Its reign of sin ends as soon as I remember that I died and rose again in Christ.  I am new, living without reference to sin.

The blood of Jesus may do as much for some as connecting to my death in Christ does for me.  Maybe I’m just getting to the same place a different way.  Maybe your faith is stronger.  I don’t know.  I would submit, though, that the blood addresses behavior while Christ’s death and resurrection address the source of behavior.  The one addresses what I do.  The other addresses me.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.  But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22).  He said similar things about adultery, and other sins.  He was calling out the behavior but, more than that, addressing the source of that behavior within us.  It’s not enough to change behavior if the motivation leading to that behavior is untouched.  This is why He said our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees if we want to live in God’s kingdom (Matt. 5:20).  Many of them refrained from murder while stoning people to death in their hearts and minds.

So I would say the blood of Jesus washes away our acts.  But we need the cross to knock us out of the park altogether.  That’s what I call batting cleanup!  Thank you, Lord, that your works are complete!  You’ve left nothing undone!

 

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