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God’s Shown Us That “WE are right!” (really?)

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Devotional Thought of the Day:

7 When you are full, you will refuse honey, but when you are hungry, even bitter food tastes sweet. Pr. 27:7 GNT

10 The LORD says, “My people shout, ‘The LORD has shown that we are in the right. Let’s go and tell the people in Jerusalem what the LORD our God has done.’ ” Jer 51:10 GNT

Last night I was half watching a football game when I heard cheering like someone had won the Superbowl. I looked up from the email I was reading, and saw the replay of a field goal kick that was good.

Really? That much cheering for a 3 point kick?

Then they showed how many kicks last year missed, or bounced off the field goal posts. One kick even hit the post and then the cross bar! The Bears fans were excited because of their past. They are like the people in the proverb – that even something bitter (they didn’t score a touchdown) can seem like an incredible victory.

I think that applies to the Christian faith, and how we read the Bible. A great example is how we select quotes without considering the context. The Jeremiah passage above is a great example.

I’ve heard people quote the first half of the verse – “WE ARE RIGHT! God says so!” We use that to back up some things where we are right, and somethings (like political views) that are at best questionable. And we triumphantly parade around like we’ve conquered the world.

Yet we overlook the second part of the passage, and indeed the context. There is say that we’ve got to tell every what God has done! Our being right has nothing to do with our actions, our works, our intelligence and logic. It has everything to do with God’s love for us, and the work He is doing.

You see that in the chapter before this. as God explains what will happen. Here is that verse from Isaiah 50,

20 When that time comes, no sin will be found in Israel and no wickedness in Judah, because I will forgive those people whose lives I have spared. I, the LORD, have spoken.” Jer. 50:20 GNT

Our we right? Are we free of sin? YES

Is it because we are perfect and don’t sin? NO

It is because God has spared us, that God has forgiven us and cleansed. He has spoken in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and in that declared we are sinless, that we are right.

This being “right” isn’t something to be proud of, it is something to be in awe of, because we know what it took to get us to be right!

And yes, we should go and tell everyone what God has done. Including a humble and loving approach to those who we think we have victory over. Look at Luther talks about praying for them.

The third petition: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Say, “Ah, dear Lord God and Father, you know how the world is. Where it cannot completely reduce your name to nothing and entirely destroy your kingdom, they go around day and night with evil thoughts and devious plots. They devise many snares and strange assaults, take counsel and conspire, comfort and strengthen themselves, rant and rave, and proceed full of evil intentions against your name, word, kingdom, and children as they murder them. Therefore, dear Lord God and Father, deter and convert them. Convert those who will yet come to recognize your good will, that they with us and we with them may obey your will and, further, that they may patiently and gladly suffer all evil, the cross, and adversity, and thereby recognize, explore, and consciously experience your good, gracious, and perfect will.

We need to grow, and desire that this victory is not just “ours.” We need to share the victory, this being right with everyone, so God can convert them by revealing to them His love and mercy, that we might be one.

Lord Jesus, help us to appreciate what You have accomplished for us, Your working in making us right, and making sure no sin is found in us sinners. Lord help us to realize that this is what it means when we declare we are “right” and help us to see others in need of this as well. AMEN!

Martin Luther, Luther’s Spirituality, ed. Philip D. W. Krey, Bernard McGinn, and Peter D. S. Krey, trans. Peter D. S. Krey and Philip D. W. Krey, The Classics of Western Spirituality (New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2007), 219.

Getting Past Betrayal: Finding Healing for That Which You Broke.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 6  We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7  For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8  If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Romans 6:6-8 (NAB)

6  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; 7  for he that hath died is justified from sin. 8  But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; Romans 6:6-8 (ASV) 

 18  For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. 19  In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, 20  who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. 21   This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22  who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NAB)

613 God has a special right over us, his children: it is the right to our response to his love, in spite of our failings. This inescapable truth puts us under an obligation which we cannot shirk. But it also gives us complete confidence: we are instruments in the hands of God, instruments that he relies on every day. That is why, every day, we struggle to serve him.  (1)

In my devotions today, I read of Peter’s denial of Jesus, and the grief that he dealt with, in realizing that he betrayed the promise that was made with all his heart, in realizing he betrayed Jesus. 

How do you go on, after betraying someone you depend upon, someone you care for, someone you told you would die for?  Do we just let the relationship fade into our past, even while we deal with the haunting guilt and the shame?

It maybe a family member you betrayed, or maybe an old friend, that person who you stood beside all those years.  Definitely, all of us have betrayed God, some perhaps as tragically as Peter did, the night before Christ’s crucifixion. At some point in most of our lives, we’ve cried those same tears as Peter.  We felt the pain and crushing anxiety of knowing that things will not be the same, ever again.  In order to deal with this, we find distractions, new relationships, new hobbies, we work more, even things that would numb us from our pain.

We need hope, even when we feel things have gone beyond any reasonable expectation of hope.

Peter found such hope, and restoration, a complete transformation.  Paul did as well.

Most translations in Romans 6:7 use the phrase “freed from sin” in translating dedikaiwtai apo tes amartias. I believe that this is a serious error, given the use of the root word’s ( dikaios ) multiple appearance in chapters 3-5. There it in its various forms is translated as righteious, made righteous, just or justified.  It is more than being freed, it is God’s judgment, saying that you have been counted not guilty, that He views you as righteous, a view that is possible because Christ took upon Himself our guilt.  This is more than just being freed from sin, it is declaring that sin has no claim on us, whatsoever.

The old ASV gets it right in saying we are declared justified, the NAB I think even makes it clearer with absolved from sin.  We are cleansed and declared righteous, just, because of what. God has done.

In both passages, this answer is our baptism. Baptism, not as our work, but the appeal to God because we’ve been unifed to Christ’s death and resurrection.  When we look at what God does, what He promises in baptism, we find the source of healing, of cleansing.  We’ve died with Christ and live in Him.  We have been absolved, counted righteous, cleansed, healed…

And it does something wonderful, it shapes us into God’s instruments, Our response to this work is to become God’s people, created to do good works, for we dwell in Christ.

How does Peter go from tears just before dawn on Good Friday, to the one who responds to others grief at their own betrayal of God?   How can Peter point them to Baptism, and the transformation of their souls?

Because of the confidence that dieing with Christ, and being raised with Him brings.  A confidence not in our ability to absolve us from sin, but His.

So rejoice in your baptism, may you grow in your knowledge of the extent of His love, mercy and healing given to you there.  

 

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