Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Doing What God Gives You to Do

Lent Midweek 2
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Acts 3:26

Lent is a time of repentance. The entire Christian life, in fact, is one of repentance. By nature we are turned in on ourselves. Daily we must repent and look outward. Toward the cross.

How do we see this, that we are turned in on ourselves? If we are despondent or going through difficult times, what is our focus? Ourselves. If we are helping others out and we feel good about that, who are we thinking about? Not just them, but also ourselves. If we are talking about the Christian life or the Bible or how we should live, what does the conversation usually revolve around? Us. What we need to do for God, how we are to live, what we must not do.

Not that we can’t ever think about ourselves. The problem usually comes in, however, in that when we are thinking about ourselves, we tend to focus on ourselves.

For the second sermon in a row now from Acts we are met with the unnerving condemnation that we crucify our Lord. Our sins have brought Him to that cross. Yes, we try to please God with our behavior. We make an effort not to do those things God forbids.

Try as we might, our sins are what we continue going back to. In other words, we constantly go back to ourselves, our sinful nature. We turn in on ourselves. But those very sins that nailed Jesus to the cross are the ones He died for on the cross. That’s why in repentance we look to the cross.

We don’t try to do better. We don’t resolve to cut out certain bad things we do out of our life. We don’t try to get our act together, be more positive, stop being negative.

We repent. What does that mean? It means we look to the cross. It means we do with our sins what Christ has done with them. Bury them. Put them away. They don’t exist. He does not count them against us. We shouldn’t either. We shouldn’t turn repentance into something we do. Something we must come up with.

It is wholly a thing that Christ does. What did Peter say? “God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Why would He die on the cross for your salvation only to turn around and say, “Oh yeah, but you gotta do such and such. And you have to be such and such a way. And you better not slip up.”

Christ died on the cross to do away with our sins. Yes, we continue to sin, but that’s why we daily repent. That’s why every day we look to that cross where He has dealt with our sins. God the Father sent His Son to us to bless us; to turn us away from our wickedness. Repent. Look to that cross where He was sent, where He blesses us, where He turns us away from our wickedness.

You see, we have to keep things straight. We’re prone to thinking we need to do what we think God wants us to do. We ought to be doing what God gives us to do. And there’s a reason that I didn’t say what God wants us to do. We know what He wants us to do, it’s spelled out in the Ten Commandments.

We need to repent. We need to do what God gives us to do. Because that’s really what it’s all about. It’s about His giving to us what we do. Everything from Him is a gift. When He calls us to repentance He doesn’t call on us to muster up more good works and a greater resolve to stop sinning. He calls us to be filled up with His Son. That’s why we look to the cross. Because it’s all about Him. It’s about what He has done for us. He turns us away from our sin because He does away with our sin.

If repentance is about what we do then we’re still muddied up in our sin. If we look to that glorious cross where our Savior hangs then we see no longer our sin but life that is filled up with Him. We actually end up seeing ourselves, but as God Almighty sees us—people who have been redeemed by what the eternal God has done for them in the Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


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