In our evening service at Church, for the last few weeks, we have been studying Hebrews Ch. 12. A couple of weeks ago, I was honoured to be asked to give the sermon, on ‘Purity’. So here’s the gist of it….
The text of Hebrews 12:1 is of course a good starting point, ‘…let us throw off …. the sin that so easily entangles…’. Granted, most people’s thoughts when it comes to purity are going to be along the lines of doing away with sin in some fashion. And yes, there is a place for getting rid of things that are unhelpful in one’s walk of faith. God provides the power to do this. The sinful nature has been crucified with Christ on the Cross. Paul says in Galatians 2:20 that ‘I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’.
But, you know what? I get fed up of hearing believers proclaiming that they are ‘sinners’ and that they are not worthy of whatever. This is completely at odds with the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that ‘…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come!’ This is great news because it means that the Christian is actually a new creation. You are not a sinner any more! Sure, you can still sin, but this is no longer your true nature. Whereas before you had no choice but to sin due to the sinful nature, now you do have a choice because it is no longer you that lives, but Christ that lives in you. The old has gone; the new has come! To proclaim that you are a sinner is in fact to deny the fact of your new nature in Christ. Galatians 6:15 says that ‘[adherence to rules] does not count; what counts is the new creation.’ Just the new creation!
But I digress. ‘…let us throw off …. the sin that so easily entangles…’ does not entirely refer to getting rid of persistent sin. It also refers to getting rid of the effects of past sin which can also hold you back. Guilt – which in my mind should have no part in the Christian vocabulary – condemnation (ditto) – look, Romans 8:1-2 says that ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit if Life has set us free from the law of sin and death’. No condemnation. Isn’t that awesome?
This means that you can stop beating yourself up about your past failings! A couple of weeks ago I heard a wise man say that ‘you are more like Jesus than you can possibly imagine’. The Bible says that ‘if the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead is living in you, then He will give you life in your mortal bodies’ (Romans 8:11). Isn’t that brilliant? You can put your mistakes behind you and leave them there.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
You know something else? I actually think that Christians spend far too much time thinking about sin – their own, and that of others (which they shouldn’t be doing anyway!) – and not enough time thinking about Him and what He wants us to be doing. Look, your sin was nailed to the Cross! Leave it there! Don’t let it so easily entangle you – not only by doing it, or by trying, but also by looking and checking to see if you’re still walking a holy walk or whatever. Philippians 1:6 says that ‘I am confident of this very thing: that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’. This means that the job of making you pure and holy belongs entirely to Jesus. Not to you, and not to others either! Spend less time looking for things that are wrong in your life, and spend more time looking to the Master. God doesn’t want you be preoccupied with sin – because this is one of the ways in which it so easily entangles!
Life in the Spirit does not involve trying hard to be good. It involves merely letting God live His life through you. It really is that simple! This is the path to purity….the word ‘Holiness’ simply means being set apart for God; letting the Spirit live the life of Jesus through you is not only the way to purity, but also to holiness – because letting Him live through you is the ultimate expression of being set apart for God