‘What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:31-39
‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ James 1:12.
The word blessed in this verse is used in the same sense as in Psalm 1 and it expresses the happy condition of the one who endures trials through trust in the Lord. The ability to persevere under trial comes from an unwavering resolution to follow the Savior whatever life throws at us.
This helps us understand the part of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. This is not different from when he asked the questions in Romans 8:35, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?’
Simply put, will trials through these various dimensions take us away from the Lord and His love? If we count it all joy James 2:1, nothing shall separate us from Christ’s love.
Paul also provided an answer to these questions in later verses when he says: ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:37-39.
Basically, because of our steadfastness and perseverance, we can be Joyful in Christ in spite of trials and we will stand firmly on the promises of Christ whatever life’s circumstances bring.
‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ James 1:12
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.’ John 10:10-15
The lyrics of the hymn written by T.C. O’Kane entitled ‘There stands a rock’ emphasizes that the hope of the Christian is on the rock that shall stand forever though some people build their hopes on the ever-drifting sand while some build theirs on their fame or their treasure or their land. Indeed, most people often think that these transient items give joy but the wisdom from above instructs us otherwise.
A number of Christians often put up sad countenances thinking that a true Christian life is one devoid of joy. There is certainly a world of difference between being self-controlled and being sad.
A self-controlled life is one which is based on sound principles of love, justice, mercy and faithfulness in obedience to the will of the Master. It is one which puts God first and seeks as a priority, His Kingdom and righteousness. From this viewpoint, Christians ought to be the happiest people on earth.
A sad life is one without Christ. Jesus came to give us abundant life. An abundant life in Christ is certainly not a sad one. In the beatitudes, our Lord pronounced blessedness (or happiness) on us when we do His glorious will.
The beatitudes say in Matthew 5:12a ‘Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven ……’ There is no better reason to be joyful in this world than the truth that we have a great reward in heaven which has been made possible by Christ’s redemptive work. Praise God!
‘Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ Matthew 5:1-12
‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’ Galatians 5:16-24
A joyful life in Christ is one that is characterized by walking by the Spirit. It is disciplined enough not to gratify the desires of the flesh. It is a life where the fruit of the Spirit is made visible.
In His letter to the Galatians, Paul listed the essential parts of the fruit of the Spirit. Oftentimes, I hear Christians mis-read this part of Paul’s letter to the Galatians as the fruits (plural) of the Spirit, but it clearly says the fruit (singular) of the Spirit.
The singular sense of the word ‘fruit’ suggests that the fruit of the Spirit is just one but it consists of all the listed virtues which are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’, Galatians 5:22-23.
It is a complete package of virtues that should be evident in our lives as God’s children. This again implies that the life of a Christian is such that should constantly radiate the joy of the Lord as much as it does not preclude self-control from being an essential aspect. Christ told His disciples to be joyful because their names are written in heaven. This is the right reason to be joyful as people of God.
Nehemiah told the people of God that the joy of the Lord is their strength, Nehemiah 8:10. If this is true, why should God’s people not be joyful?
To the Romans, Paul says ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’, Romans 8:1. If there is no condemnation, then this calls for constant joy.
‘The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.’ Proverbs 10:28
‘The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ Luke 10:17-20
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
James 1:2–4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trials of life come in various forms, shapes and sizes and it is extremely difficult to be joyful when faced with various trials, but the outcome makes it inevitably important and hence, we should count it all joy because by the help the Spirit provides, we shall be victorious.
Steadfastness is inevitable to a viable Christian life. Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to be steadfast (or immovable). This suggests the idea of consistency in faith and in our resolve.
A rock-solid faith is one that demonstrates steadfastness in upholding the truth in word and in deed. However, steadfastness does not come by accident!
Most times, it is produced through the ability to endure trials. James persuades us to allow steadfastness to have its full effect as this brings completeness. Paul admonished the Christians at Philippi to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’.
This is critically important that it necessitates emphasis. He goes ahead to repeat it: ‘I will say it again, rejoice!’ The word ‘always’ implies that our rejoicing should be all the time. This includes times of trial because we know that the Lord will never forsake us and He will see us through just as He saw Job through.
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’
Every Christian will face hard times and trials, this is inevitable. However, how we face those trails and what we learn from them help us grow and builds our faith. Life is like a bed of roses, in the beauty of it all there are thorns. Don’t allow those thorns to scar you for life. Heal them through Jesus and come back stronger.
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Verse 9 Luke also described this event in his Gospel (Luke 24:50-53). Jesus had showed his disciples that he was alive, over a period of 40 days. The cloud contained God’s glory. The last time when the disciples saw Jesus on earth, God’s glory surrounded him.
Verse 10 They were ‘staring up at the sky’. Some students say that Jesus did not actually rise up to heaven. But Luke uses words like ‘watched’, ‘see’, ‘staring’, ‘look’ and ‘seen’. With their own eyes, the disciples saw everything that happened!
The ‘two men in white clothes’ were angels with a message. Two men also appeared in front of the women in Luke 24:4. These men in Acts were like them. Luke wants us to consider them as witnesses. There had to be two witnesses that saw an event. (Two was the minimum number.) Only then, people would believe that the event had happened (Deuteronomy 19:15).
Verse 11 Jesus went from the earth in power. And he went with glory. He will return to the earth in power. And he will return with glory. Nobody knows when that will be. Until then, the Holy Spirit is here. The Holy Spirit lives in people believe in Jesus and they trust in him. Our Lord is alive and he is in heaven. We can talk to him. We can do this by means of the Holy Spirit.
Stop and think about the impact of these 3 verses. Jesus had died for our sins and come back for 40 days. Now He has returned to heaven, but that is not the end, he is coming back. Praise God! Jesus is Coming Back!
If you read the Bible study on Ruth, you know I had to memorize this section of scripture as a teen. Genealogies can be tedious and hard to read. However, I challenge you while reading this to look for people you know. Link their stories in your mind to Jesus’ birth.
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
The stories about Jesus in the Gospels are true. They really happened. They tell us how God completed his plan. His plan was to save men and women. He wanted to save them from the power and the results of their sin.
Before Matthew wrote the first book of the New Testament, he was a disciple of Christ. Before that his job was to collect taxes. He became one of Jesus’ best friends. (Read Matthew 9:9–13. Then read Mark 2:13–17 and Luke 5:27–32.)
Matthew was writing down what actually happened. He wanted his readers to understand this. Look at the first words of his book. They seem to just tell Jesus’ family history. But it is probably more than this. Matthew was introducing the whole book. He was saying, ‘This book gives the history of Jesus Christ.’
Many of us know the word, Messiah. It is a common term for Christians today. However, the Jews of this time had been waiting for the Messiah for generations and generations. To a Jew, this meant the one who would save them.
The Old Testament is full of promises and prophecies about the Messiah who would come. Jews in Matthew’s time knew about the Messiah. The Romans had been their rulers for many years. Jews hoped that the ‘Christ’ would save them from the power of the Romans.
The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘he will certainly save’. Matthew 1:21 says, ” She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins . Jews expected the Christ to have the name of Jesus. So, many mothers gave this name to their sons. They hoped that their child would be the Messiah. This Jesus was the son of Mary.
But, Jesus came to save the Jews from much more than the Romans. He came to save them from the results and power of their sin. He came to establish a kingdom. His kingdom would be much greater than any other one.
2 Samuel 7:16
16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[a]; your throne will be established forever.’”
The Jews knew these passages. They are about the Messiah who would come. He would save them. The Jews would know him when he came. They were sure about this. Christ would come from the families of both Abraham and David. Matthew tells us that this was true about Jesus. He was ‘the son of David’. He was ‘the son of Abraham’.
The beginnings of families
People want to discover who their past family members were. The word for them is ‘ancestors’. Today, there are huge businesses created to help you connect with your ancestors. In many parts of the world, it has always been vital. The Jews kept careful records. Either the oldest members of the family would remember, or, they would write down the names. Matthew was writing especially to Jews. So, it was important to give proof. He must show that his claims about Jesus were true.
Matthew began his book with a list of names. He divided it into three sections. Each section has 14 names.
The first section begins with Abraham. He was the first man to have a promise like this from God. The promise was that God would send someone special. This person would be from Abraham’s family. He would come to save people. Genesis 12:1–3
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]
The first section ends with David. He was the Jews’ greatest king (1:2–6a). So, Matthew showed the human part of God’s promise. David was the greatest member of Abraham’s family. This was true until the time when Matthew lived. But, after David had died, his kingdom divided. It became two separate parts. Then, it stopped being a great kingdom. But God gave greater promises to David in 2 Samuel 7. The person who would save them would be greater than David.
The second section continues with David’s family. It ends at the time of the exile.
Then there is the third section. This deals with the years from the exile to the birth of Jesus Christ. (This is in 1:12–17.) Some people claimed to be the Messiah. This happened even before the time of Matthew. But there was nobody who could convince the people. Then, Jesus came. Matthew shows that Jesus is the Messiah. All of God’s promises in the Old Testament come true in him.
Think about it.
Some people say that the stories about Jesus just contain truth. This religious truth is what matters. It is not important whether they actually happened. What would you say to these people?
What is the most important thing to tell non-Christians? What does your church group think? Matthew emphasised that ‘God saves’. Do you agree with him?
Jesus will establish a kingdom one day. Do you concentrate on this fact? Or, do you care more about what you can get from him now?
Can you see God’s plan running through history? Can you see how he laid it out from the beginning?
Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christianity. Without His life, death and resurrection, where would we be? Exactly, doomed to a life and eternity separated from God. So God has led me to a Bible study through the Gospel of Matthew to allow you and I to learn to be more like Jesus.
The writer of the book of Matthew
A disciple of Jesus, Matthew(Levi) wrote this Gospel. The words of the Gospel seem to agree with this. It is what we would expect a Jew to write. Matthew (Levi) respected authority. He was sure that Jesus Christ was King. So, the tradition is probably right.
The reason that the author wrote the Gospel
He probably wrote the book to Jews. He wanted to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. A careful study of the Gospel will show this. Some of these facts are:
He shows the family of Jesus. It was the same as the family of the Jews.
He claims that the Old Testament gave facts about Jesus’ birth. They were facts about the Messiah.
He has an interest in the Law.
He tells about other Jewish customs. (One example is in Matthew 15:1–9.)
All of this tells us that the Gospel was written to witness to the Jews. So is it important to the gentiles(non-Jews)? Yes! He insisted that it was for all nations too. (28:16–20.)
I believe that Matthew wrote to Jews, because he wanted them to know that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus would save them from the results of their sins. He would rescue them from the power of that sin in their lives.
What we can expect to learn from the Gospel of Matthew:
The Old Testament tells us about many hopes. It describes many things that people could expect. And Jesus is the answer to them all.
Jesus is the Messiah. He is God who became man. He shows this by the authority of His teaching. He shows it by the nature of His miracles, His love, His death and resurrection.
The stories about Jesus are facts of history. Matthew was recording the truth.
Jesus teaches about various subjects. There is the Kingdom of God. He tells what Christians should be like too. Also, there are specific matters. There is the matter of divorce. There is the subject of remarriage too.
Jesus is the hope of the world. Matthew shows how the Good News is for everyone.
Start praying today that God would speak to you during this study through the book of Matthew.
When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He walked and talked with His disciples. How they enjoyed His presence! But one day He told them that He would soon be leaving them. The disciples were saddened at the thought that the Lord Jesus was going to leave them. Jesus said,
“Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient (better) for you that I go away…” (John 16:6-7)
The disciples could not understand how it could possibly be better for them if Jesus went away. But Jesus explained to them that He would send them the Holy Spirit. He said, ” But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) He would come, not just to be with them, but to live in them. Jesus said,
“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to live in His disciples. They were filled with joy! They went everywhere telling the wonderful news that Jesus Christ was alive and that He was Lord of all.
Best of all, they knew Christ was living in them and they enjoyed living in God’s presence. The Holy Spirit made Christ as real to them as He had been when He was with them in His bodily presence.
Christ Dwells in Every Believer
Just as the Lord Jesus lived in the hearts of those first disciples, so He lives in the hearts of His believers today. Christ lives in us by the Holy Spirit.
What does the Holy Spirit do for us? He makes Christ real to us. He causes us to feel convicted or bad when we sin. He enables us to enjoy a life in His presence. He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us. The Lord Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit:
“He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.” John 16:14-15
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to make Christ as real to us as He was to His first disciples. Many Christians feel that God and Jesus are far away. They say, “I believe the Bible, I pray, I go to church, but I don’t feel close to God. Why is this?”
First, we need to point out that there are some people that think they are Christians, but they have never been truly born again. Christ is not real to them because they do not belong to Him, and the Holy Spirit does not live in them. The Bible says,
“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9)
As for those who are truly born again, the reason God feels so distant to them is that they are grieving the Holy Spirit or they have not invested in their relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit is a being. He thinks, wills, enjoys, loves, desires, and suffers as any other beings would. He can be grieved. When we grieve the Holy Spirit, we create spiritual walls between God and ourselves. He can no longer show you Christ(because the wall is blocking it), and we lose our sense of the Lord’s presence. Christ never leaves us, but He does seem closer to us at times? Think about the times you felt close to God. What was happening. Chances are you were striving hard to live the best christian life. And when he felt far away, did were you living for God or yourself?
Many Christians do not know that they are grieving the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need to understand what grieves Him and how to avoid it.
What Grieves the Holy Spirit?
There are a number of things that grieve the Holy Spirit. Let us consider some of them.
The Bible says that if we confess our sins and turn from them, God will forgive us. But, if we do not confess our sins and give them up, these sins come between us and God, and the Holy Spirit is grieved. The Bible says,
“If I regard iniquity (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18
We may have offended someone but we refuse to apologize and make things right with that person. Or someone may have offended us, but we refuse to forgive him. We hold resentment against him. We are disobeying the Lord in some matter. There may be attitude sins such as pride, selfishness, or a rebellious spirit. Whatever sin it may be, if we hold on to it, we are grieving the Holy Spirit, and we cannot sense and enjoy the Lord’s presence.
Being taken up with the cares of this world.
The Holy Spirit wants to take the things of Christ and reveal them to us. We learn about the things of Christ in God’s Word. Therefore, we must spend time in prayer and the study of God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can teach us the things of Christ. This is also the building blocks of a good relationship with God. The more we talk and listen the stronger the relationship becomes.
It is very easy to become so involved with the problems and cares of this life that we do not take time for the things of God. Jesus said,
“but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. ” Mark 4:19
The Holy Spirit is grieved when we allow things to “choke” the Word of God. We can determine the level of our spiritual experience by asking ourselves, “How much do I love God’s Word? How much time do I spend with the Lord each day?”
Satan uses the world with all of its glitter to draw Christians away from God.
Someone has given this definition of worldliness: Anything that keeps me from enjoying God’s love and wanting to do God’s will.
Each day the Holy Spirit longs to open God’s Word to us, to reveal to us the riches of Christ, and to show us all that we have in Him. But many of God’s children do not take time for Him. Instead they spend hours and hours each week watching television, reading worldly literature, going to wrong places, and doing wrong things. They love the things of the world and devote their time to them. They constantly associate with people who do not know God or care about Him, or with Christians who are disobedient and have no desire to grow spiritually. It is no wonder that God is not real to them. The Bible says,
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
To enjoy the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart, we must stop doing those things that grieve the Holy Spirit. And we must start doing those things that please Him. The Bible says,
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30
Getting Right with God
God is holy and He cannot have fellowship with us when we have unconfessed sin in our life. Sin separates us from God. The Bible says,
“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
We receive eternal forgiveness when we are saved. When Jesus died on the cross, He bore all our sins—past, present and future. By His death on the cross, He paid for every sin we could possibly commit during our whole lifetime. When we are born again, we become God’s child forever.
But once we come into God’s family, there is the matter of our fellowship with our heavenly Father. Sin breaks our fellowship with Him. If a child of God should sin and continue in that sin without confessing it to God, he still remains God’s child, but his sins have broken his fellowship with the Father. He needs forgiveness to restore fellowship. We must deal with those sins which have come between us and our Father.
We cannot deal with our sins collectively by praying, “Lord, please forgive me of all my sins.” Our sins were committed one by one, and we must deal with them one by one.
Right now, get a sheet of paper. Start listing every sin in your life that you can think of, numbering them as you write them down. Be honest with God. The Bible says,
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8, 10
Do not take this lightly. You are doing business with God. Think over your life carefully and write down every sin you can think of. Be honest with yourself. No one need see this list but you and God. You may need to work on this list over a period of time.
When you have written down all the sins you can think of, ask God to show you the sins in your life that you have not thought of. This is what the psalmist was doing when he prayed,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
If you are sincere in this prayer, God will show you additional sins in your life. Add these to your list of sins. Give God time to go over your life and bring sins to your mind
After you have spent time on this first list, start a second list. On this list, write down the things you are doing that do not bring joy to God’s heart. There may be a number of things in your life that you do not regard as sins; yet you know that they are not pleasing to God. As God’s children, we have a responsibility to bring joy to His heart.
What to do about your Sins
When you have spent time on the list of your sins and the list of the things that do not bring joy to God, you are ready to ask God to forgive you of all these sins. The Bible says,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
The only way to get right with God is to come to Him and humbly confess our sins. What does it mean “to confess our sins”? The word “confess” means to “say the same thing.” To confess our sins to God means that we are saying the same thing about them that God says about them. If we lied, we need to say that we lied. If we stole, we need to say that we stole. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from sins that we confess as sins, but it does not cleanse us from sins for which we make excuses.
What does it mean when it says that God is “faithful” to forgive our sins? It means that He keeps His Word. God has said that He will forgive us, and He always keeps His word.
What does it mean when it says that God is “just” in forgiving us our sins? It means that He is righteous in forgiving us because Christ has paid the penalty of our sins. God sees those sins as being placed on Christ on the cross. Because Christ died for our sins, God can righteously forgive us.
Now that we understand this, we are ready to confess our sins to God, one by one. Take the first sin on your list and say,
“Father, I have sinned against You by (name the sin). Right now I am confessing this sin to You and asking You to forgive me. I thank You that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for this sin.”
It may help you to think of placing that sin on Christ on the cross. That sin has now been transferred from you to Christ. It has been paid for by His death, and it is no longer on you.
Do the same thing with each sin on your list. Go down the entire list, one by one, confessing each sin to God and asking His forgiveness. Then go to the list of things that are not pleasing to God. One by one, confess these to God. When you have completed this, ask, “Lord, is there anything else in my life that needs to be confessed and forsaken?”
We want our hearts cleansed from all sin and all defilement of sin. Therefore, it is good to ask the Lord to cleanse us with the precious blood of Christ from anything that would hinder our fellowship with Him.
Every sin that you have confessed to God is now forgiven. When we confess our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God not only forgives us, but He also forgets these sins. He says,
“Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your Heart
If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit is in your heart. He has been there since the moment you were born again. But if you have had sin in your life, then He has been unable to fill your life. Instead He has been grieved. Start making changes today.
True Repentance means a Change in your Life
When God’s children have been grieving the Holy Spirit, God calls on them to repent. God says,
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19
To repent of your sins means that you are sorry enough for them that you want to stop doing them.
David said, “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.” (Psalm 119:59) David realized that his ways were wrong and that he was hurting God’s heart. He turned from his wrong ways to God’s ways. That was true repentance.
Many times we pray and tell God that we are sorry for our sins and that we truly want to please Him, but the question is: Do we really mean what we say? God is not impressed with pious words and lovely prayers. He looks to see if there is a change in our actions. The Bible says,
“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth. For the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.” 1 Samuel 2:3
If you have truly repented and you truly want Christ to be real in your life, here are some things you will do:
You will put God first in your life.
It is one thing to say that you are putting God first in your life; it is another thing to live it out. But God will not accept any place other than first place. He purchased us with His own blood and we belong to Him. If God is truly first in our life, we will not let business, pleasure, work, or anything else be our main interest. If we put God first, He will take care of our needs. Jesus said,
“Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
You will love the Lord.
Trying to serve the Lord without loving Him is like being married to someone you don’t love. The heart of the relationship is missing.
The Lord Jesus loves us with all His heart, and He wants us to love Him with all our heart. Jesus said that the first and great commandment is this:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
You will turn from worldliness.
The Lord Jesus loved you enough to die for you, and He hates anything that would steal your heart from Him.
You will spend time with God.
A Christian who is so busy that he doesn’t have time to spend with God is fooling himself. He is like a man on a long car trip and says he is in such a hurry that he doesn’t have time to stop for gas.
Whatever cares and responsibilities we may have, we cannot let them crowd God out of our life. We must spend time with God in prayer and the study of His Word each day. We cannot overemphasize the importance of this. The Bible says of the Lord Jesus,
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed.” Mark 1:35
If the Son of God Himself found it necessary to spend time with His heavenly Father, how much more should we! I feel it is far better to begin with the day with God this is my most important Job.
If we love the Lord, obey His commandments, and spend time with Him, He will be real to us. The Lord Jesus said,
“He who has My commandments, and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and MANIFEST MYSELF TO HIM.” John 14:21