Advent 2017: Joy to the World: Day 12

An All-Sufficient Sacrifice

by

Today's Text: Isaiah 1:11,18, Isaiah 53:4-5, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 10:1-14

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 1:11,18, Isaiah 53:4-5, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 10:1-14

I forgot the gospel again today. I forget it all the time. I have salvation amnesia, persistent forgetfulness, dementia of the gospel sort. It starts out like every other day, waking in the still dark morning, shuffling around the kitchen for coffee, disoriented until I have it. I try to read my Bible, try to look at my to-do list, try to will myself over to the broom and the mop. I am glassy-eyed, tired, and all I can see is my litany of morning failures—already and already I have forgotten the gospel.

As much as I know, theologically speaking, that Christ died for all the sins of the world (John 1:29), I still find myself spending the beginning and middle and end of every day, trying to save my own self from my own self. I’m convinced, constantly, that I am not enough or somehow too much, that I will never be worthy. A friend once said the way to stop sinning is to stop looking at your sin and look instead at the cross. But I am like Narcissus of old, enraptured by my own reflection—gross as it is. I cannot look away, and so, glutted on the insufficiency of myself, I forget the gospel.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us get caught up in our dead works: sacrifices and sin offerings with the hope of self-purifying our flesh; bargaining chips and weak promises; repeated attempts to confess but not truly repent or actually change. The prophet Isaiah’s words still stand for us today: God is unimpressed by our empty and useless offerings (Isaiah 1:11-18). Even more, He is disgusted by them.

The reason I think He is disgusted is because I think I am disgusting. I think my fear makes me putrid, my brokenness makes me weak, and my sin has stained me crimson. I am right about the latter; my sin is deep. But I am wrong about the former; God is not disgusted with me. And all my attempts to clean myself only prove I still don’t see Christ’s sacrifice as all-sufficient for all my brokenness and for all time. The Father has inserted the image of Christ between me and my reflection, yet I still try to look around Him, forgetting that He is there and that He is sufficient.

In one way or another, we all have various empty reflections we run back to, thinking, When God said this He must have meant that. We struggle to believe that when He said “once for all,” He really meant it: one sacrifice for all time and all people who would believe (Hebrews 10:1-14).

What would it mean for you today, to believe your attempts at self-redemption are vain, meaningless, and empty? How might your day-to-day life change if you were to keep your eyes fixed on the cross, instead of on your sin and circumstances? As a child of God, what would it be like to truly believe that “the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of this world!” (John 1:29) also came to wash your sins away?

“Come, let us settle this,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are crimson red,
they will be like wool.”
- Isaiah 1:18

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • For me, when I️ get into seasons where I️ am not moving as fast as I️ want to, or seasons that feel desert – like Jesus is taking me the hard, long way – i question what i did to get there. I question His love for me, or that i am good enough – i question if all of the truths and words that have been spoken to me are truly from Him. I am thankful for this study because I too forget the gospel! I forget that when He sacrificed Himself for us, it was once and for all! It was life unto us, it was truth and light for our journey and all of the ways that i May feel do nothing but devalue the things He has done for me. I am thankful for this community to speak truth and life into us each day and point us toward Jesus. The one who is standing in the middle of my reflection to the Father. That is so powerful for me today!

  • ablessedmess

    it’s as if I wrote the first half myself. what a glimpse into the mind of our flesh. thank you for this reminder. … my sin had left this crimson stain. He washed it white as snow

  • Lauralee AlegríaEspinosa

    This. Is. Me. “He has inserted the image of Christ in between me and my reflection” Jesus.

  • Where is my other comment?

  • Test

  • Even as I prayed before reading today, My thoughts wondered toward what I did wrong yesterday, what I said that wasn’t quite right and what I should do about it. Thank you for reminding me of the gospel, because I forget it every second!

    • Rebekah

      I did the exact same thing. And it’s so funny and wonderful how intentional God is with us. We’re both behind in this study but we both needed this when we read it. He truly is a loving Father!

      • Elisa

        And as I sit here, late in reading it too, my mind wanders to the laundry piled up, the guilt of being a stay at home Mom and feeling like I’m spending too much money while my husband works too hard for it, and the weariness from it all. These feelings usually push me to work harder, spend less (if that’s possible with 3 kids 4 and under), and “earn my keep”. Then, usually when I feel like things are in order, thanks to me, I’ll “remember” to spend a little time with God. But the reality of Jesus and the Gospel and the new mercies that come every single morning hit me hard in this devo. I needed it at this moment!

  • Ann Hedberg

    Wow! I am speechless.

  • Lauren Stegen

    Does anyone else relate this not only to sin but to obsessive self-improvement? Of course, there is nothing wrong with setting goals, trying to better yourself, taking care of your body, etc. but often I find that I am making lists of things I do not like about myself and want to change, rather than recognizing myself as God’s beautiful creation and simply wanting to be a good steward of the body and the life he has given me.

    • Laura

      Lauren – I so hear you on this one. I have recently gained weight due to some other health issues, and I cannot stop fixating on it. I studied exercise science and sport nutrition in graduate school and generally love healthy living but this weight gain is constantly taking more and more of my focus, and sucking my self-esteem right along with it. I was recently convicted to start appreciating that my body is God’s temple and that I was created in His image, and as such, should thank God for what my body is capable of and not what it isn’t. I don’t want to say this is easy and I still notice those extra lbs every time I look at myself, but I am trying to pray more about accepting my body as God’s creation as well as praying for confidence in other aspects of my personality (my joyful spirit, sense of humor, etc). I will pray for you and other sisters reading this comment that we can all begin to appreciate our bodies as God made them, strive to improve our bodies in a healthy way that glorifies God, and that we begin to recognize that we are made in His image.

      • Melisse

        I can completely understand that. 1 Timothy 4:8 has helped me in this area at times. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” It’s a good reminder to me that while yes it’s great to be healthy, it’s not the utmost important. I can get down on myself for excess weight gain and how I look at times, how I’m not this great athlete…or even making it to the gym often….but then I remember while those are good goals, God is the one goal I should be truly training towards. Hope that helps you as it has me!

    • Natalie Ellis

      Lauren, thank you so much for bringing this up. I often find a reason to believe that I need to change (physically, emotionally, successfully) which stems from a belief that I am not enough. However, God made us perfect in his image and we ARE enough!

  • I’m also catching up today, and this one really caught me in the heart… in my season of busy, of constant moving, of constant striving, I easily fall into the trap of forgetting the gospel. I’m going to put my focus this week into dwelling on Jesus – His whole story from birth to death – and see if I can do a better job of finding peace in one of the most beautiful seasons of the year!

  • Gracie Brim

    It is such a powerful reminder that He alone is in control and that ALL of my shortcomings, flaws and disappointments are things I do not need to worry about. I am washed clean by the one true savior; forgiven of all sins and short comings. He has a plan for me and will always lead me in the right direction. I simply have to pause and listen to Him calling.

  • Shelby Spence

    Glad I’m not catching up alone! God’s timing is perfect, so maybe there is even a reason for us all being behind today :)

  • “What would it mean for you today, to believe your attempts at self-redemption are vain, meaningless, and empty?”

    Freedom. Faith. Love. Joy.

  • Jennifer Griffith

    Shelby, I agree with you as well. I also tend to get behind on studies and it frustrates me. The funny thing is that today when I picked it back up, the study was exactly what I needed. Sometimes we try to plan our lives, but God has other plans for us. Maybe I got behind because that study was truly meant for and needed today.

  • Shelby Spence

    I hate being behind on these studies, but man am I glad to have the chance to even read this one today- what a powerful devotional to read this morning!

  • Sarah Sandel

    SUCH a great devotional piece accompanying scripture today – really grateful for her words…

  • Sarah Keene

    So powerful. Thank you

  • Wendy RobbinsRoseman

    He is all sufficient. Done. Finished. All is all. The longer we focus on something, the bigger it gets. When we focus on every fault of our loved ones, that’s all we ever see. It’s the same when we focus on our sins, they get bigger and, believe it or not, we will sin more because we have a conscience of sin because that’s what we think about. Hebrews 10:2-3 speaks to this. When we focus on what Christ, what he accomplished on the cross, who he says we are, those things get magnified and grace, oh sweet grace, becomes our song!

  • This is so accurate to my feelings! Thank you!!

  • Ann Erwin

    How might your day to day life change if you fix your eyes on the cross instead of your sin and circumstances? BOOM – that hit me hard!

  • Catching up this morning…. black coffee in hand, quickly reminded of my own inabilities, yet comforted by His Word, may I fix my eyes on Him today, all day. Thank you, Lori…

  • Ashley Baber

    This is exactly what I needed to read right now.

  • Amanda Riedel

    What a wake up call this invoked in me today…

  • I’ve never encountered an exposition I identify with more!

  • Natalie Larson

    Lore, thanks for this post. I was about 6 days behind and almost didn’t read this one, and as soon as I read your opening paragraph I was in tears. The Lord spoke to me through your story and reminded me of the grace He has for me as a parent- the grace I too stubbornly and selfishly (and forgetfully) don’t give myself. Thank you!

  • Diane Huntsman

    I almost skipped this one today.. all the holly jolly interferences kept me busy busy today.. to think I almost missed reading the one devotion that was actually written specifically for me.. I mean I think God gave her exert single jot and tittle just for my heat! I’m sure there are many who are seeing it this way, but I am so grateful I read this devotion for I am so enthralled my all of it and can’t wait to reread it in days to come to be reminded that I have to stop looking past Him and stop being a narcissist.. thank you thank you thank you SRT! My heart is full!

  • Crystal Brewer

    Wow, I believe that Christ’s atonement was once for all, but do my doubts about my sufficiency lead my pharisee heart to prove that I can help?
    Thank you sweet Redeemer for this reminder that I am not enough because You are and the work is FINISHED.

  • Wow I needed this. I’m in the depths of this struggle at the moment. I’m starting to crack from the pressure!
    The thing I struggle with the most is figuring out HOW to implement this. How to I stop obsessing over being perfect and making sure I’m the best I can be? How to I stop trying to ‘self-sanctify’? How to I look through God’s image in my reflection instead of around it?
    It’s honestly so hard!

    • Clare

      Georgia, I don’t know if you will see this as I’m a little behind my readings but honestly, I feel the same. I totally believe that Christ is all sufficient, but I too keep looking past him at my reflection which is so far from perfect. Praying for you that you will see his heart for you and know that he has done it and he is enough x

  • Ashley Gibson

    Hi Songbird, I️ agree with what you say but am thinking there must be a middle ground. If I stop being aware of my sins than I️ fear I️ will slip into sinful habits and excuse it as “this is just the way I️ am”. Also, when she says to let go of her ideals? Is that Biblical? I’m not sure! Is Proverbs 31 not full of Biblical ideals? Are we not to strive to be more Christ like through his grace? I️ feel like this is a difficult topic. It’s easy to get caught up in an accidental work gospel when you focus on your sins, but there is also a danger of not pursuing Christ or being a good witness for him if we “forgive ourselves” all our shortcomings. Losing weight not included haha.

    • Annissa Hackney

      For me, I feel like this is about daily (hourly, minutely) submission to God’s will. This doesn’t mean that when I sin, I just say “oh well, the Gospel covers that it is okay.” If I am focused on being Christlike and submitting my heart, thoughts, and actions to His will, I find, I am less likely to focus on comparing myself to the World’s standards. We need to be aware of our actions but also the motive of the heart is just as important. The “why” we do things. Are we doing it to please God or man? (did that help?)

  • Sarah Rivera

    This devotional reminded me a lot of Jennie Allen’s book “Nothing to Prove.” I am part of a mother’s Bible study group and we just finished Allen’s Bible study “Proven.” What an amazing book and study! It’s all about realizing that Christ has completely covered your sins and that your identity is completely found in Him, so you have nothing to prove. Be set free from ideals and works, you are whole in Christ!

  • Amia Wheatley

    I needed this reminder today. I constantly worry about myself and the sins I’m committing but I don’t always look to the cross for comfort on a daily basis. This is something I need to work on.

  • Daniella Moore

    Favorite line of God: Come, let us settle this.

    Trinity unveiled- The same way that God let us listen in on a conversation between the Trinity during the creation of mankind, he is allowing us to listen in on a conversation between the trinity planning out the reconciliation of his bride.

  • Jennifer Sullivan

    So deeply encouraged by these truths this morning and challenged by the thought, do I desire to look more like the things the world tells me I should look like (skinny, successful, smart, perfect wife, etc) or do I deeply desire to look more and more like Christ? Yet, in all of this it’s not more striving that’s needed, it’s more of accepting the gift of the gospel and applying it daily.

  • Alanna Davis

    The verse that hit me hard today was Hebrews 10:12 “But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins FOREVER, sat down at the right hand of God.” Guys, Jesus came down as the perfect sacrifice, all-encompassing, lived his life perfectly according to Gods will, DIED as the last, final sacrifice for US, and then was RESTORED back to Gods side!! This is exactly what God offers us in his gracious salvation. I am left in awe of my Holy Father this morning.

  • Suzanne Shirley

    Amen! ❤️

  • Practically speaking, how do you know you are not doing things in “your own strength”? By keeping in prayer as you go about the busy-ness of daily life?

    • Morgan Hunka

      Yes! Lately I’ve been struggling to do this, but in the past when I walk through the day with God I’ve looked back surprised at how many things I did where it was his strength not mine. It might sound silly but I have found thanking God little things keeps me connected to him and ready for the “big things”. Thanking him for a great cup of coffee, a good laugh, and that song that makes your heart sing.

  • Crystal Mendez

    “The Father has inserted the image of Christ between me and my reflection, yet I still try to look around, forgetting that He is there and that He is sufficient.” Wow. This hit me in the heart this morning! Thank you for sharing.

  • Marissa Willette

    I don’t know what it would look like, I feel like if I didn’t remember I’m a sinner and I have to stop habitually sinning in this one area then I would go and do it. I think if I keep my eyes on the cross then I’ll remember how much he loves me no matter what. But I still think I have to remember my son in order to stop. Iv felt so confused with this lately.

    • Lizzieb85

      I’m struggling with this too. For like months I’ve been wrestling with this.

      Here’s what I’m slowly coming to specifically with regards to your question:
      Keeping my eyes on the cross & allowing the Holy Spirit to show me my sin.
      Here’s what I know: we cannot do anything on our own. We can not save ourselves- only Christ saves us. We can not keep the law- only the power of the Holy Spirit can help us say no to sin. Why should identifying & stopping myself from sinning be any different? I must depend on Him to show me my sin & even depend on Him to give me the heart to obey. I’m NOT saying I have no responsibility. I’m saying I can’t do it on my own. I can’t even keep my eyes on the cross without Jesus calling my attention back! Whether I look or not is up to me.
      Does that make sense? We are completely helpless on our own. We need God for everything. That includes remembering His love for us AND the ugliness of our sin. We must trust He will bring each remembrance to us when it is needed for our spiritual growth. He does the pruning & He produces the fruit.

      TL;DR Your comment has the undertones that you are doing it in your own power. And we can’t or we will fall short every time. I’m not accusing as it has taken me the last 3 mos to get here. Putting the burden on myself to keep my eyes on the cross, to identify my sin, to stop doing that sin, to repent, to do good, etc… It’s exhausting! I need to rest in Him & He will show me what I need & when.

      • Bessie

        This brought to mind the verse “Come unto me all ye who labor and I will give you rest….for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. I’ve often thought that it doesn’t feel easy or light. That means I’m still carrying it. No wonder I’m exhausted. Your comments have helped me. I, too, have struggled with this for years and am beginning to see the light of dawn.

  • Wow I needed this today. I reverted back to a lustful sin yesterday. I think it is because I wanted to feel something other than stress. It is so easy to forget that the Living Water is so much better than the “toilet water” that Satan offers. And yet it is still a struggle. But today is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet. And the story of the victim ended at the cross and the story of the victor began at the empty grave (love that quote from Louie Giglio). I give it all to you Lord. My life is yours. Come and tear down my walls. Give me a heart abandoned after you and only you. I will still fail, but thank you Lord, that you will never give up on me. Never. Help me trust and say yes to all that you have for me.
    Also prayer request, I have my chemistry final today, would appreciate prayers that it would go well and I would remember what I’ve learned, so that I can pass this class! <3

  • anna mcneese

    Mmmmmmmm. Thank you, Lord!

  • Jessica M

    I just wanted to pop in and thank everyone who offered their prayers and comments yesterday. It means a lot to me.

  • This is my favorite , too.

  • Carleejanae

    Just wow! Rest in that fact that it is already done and taken care of no matter how your flesh feels about a specific “area” you need healing or work in. This is an awesome message and right on time. These past few days I find myself switching from grieving to worship because the Lord revealed to me an error I that has been affecting me since childhood, but I can rest assured that the Lord already has it in his hands. Whewww!!! So good ! Thank you Lord !

  • Maggie Anderson

    Best Advent study day! I loved this and how much truth is spoken.

  • Oh how I needed this today. Thank you.

  • Fantastic and timely reminder. Why do I try so hard to “better” myself, caught up in what i do rather then what’s been done?! Thank you Jesus!

  • To further help fight against spiritual amnesia, I can highly recommend the book, “Because He Loves Me” by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

  • The statement that “The Father has inserted the image of Christ between me and my reflection, yet I still try to look around Him, forgetting that He is there and that He is sufficient.” Hit me hard – how often do I do this! Lord help me keep the cross as my focus, not my continual failure at works to make me sufficient…I am only sufficient by the covering of the sufficient blood from my Lord! Good word – thank you I needed this this morning…

    • Emily B.

      That line really resonated with me, too. I don’t want to miss out on Christ’s sacrifice because I’m so focused on my own works.

  • Emily Lancaster

    This gave me the words to understand my own heart struggles, better see the day to day majesty in the gospel and I pray will guide my witness. Wonderful!

  • Cassie Williams

    Like these passages talk about, I often forget that I am already “fixed” from my brokenness. Jesus has fulfilled and redeemed me. But I often try to hide my broken life from others. I try to paint a picture that I am not broken and that what I do makes myself whole. I think if I let others in on my imperfections it would bring glory to the One who has made me whole. I am not called to fix my life, nor am I able to. I am called to fix my eyes on Him and to bring Him glory. And maybe by being open to others about my struggles and the strength I find in Christ, more people around me would come to know Him.

  • Carrie Rogers

    What a great way to start my day! Praise God!

  • Stephanie Hamilton

    This is so me and my struggle today and everday! Thank you Lord for using this to speak to me! What a wonderful reminder.

  • Kelly Sienicki

    Christ sat down because the work was complete. Praise God for His completed work!

  • anne jones

    In one way or another, we all have various empty reflections we run back to, thinking, When God said this He must have meant that. We struggle to believe that when He said “once for all,” He really meant it: one sacrifice for all time and all people who would believe (Hebrews 10:1-14).

  • I feel much like the conquerors we’re called to be in Romans 8 when I lift my eyes from my sin and circumstances to the cross. It almost makes me laugh, like is spoken of Proverbs 31. There is nothing the devil can throw at me that Christ hasn’t overcome. Such love for us to come down here as a babe and sacrifice it all so we could have such peace. Thank you, Jesus Christ.

  • I struggle with the idea of sufficiency. Because in our culture, we are smacked in the face with the benefits of abundance every day. We are also told that each of us is at the center of our lives and can rely on ourselves to get out of every pickle and grow on our own merits. These are such gigantic lies! It is all a shiny marketing campaign designed to distract us from the One, from the truth that all we need is Christ. Our faith delivers the truth of sufficiency, that the only abundance that matters is daily grace. Lord, give me the wisdom to see through the lies and the marketing that diverts me from You, and give me the peace of grace. Amen.

  • You have described me and where I have been living for years to a “T”. I have been told by those in my circle that I am not enough for years, so you start to believe it and it is difficult to break free from that and really hear the voice of God through all the day to day lies that the enemy throws at me. Along with the study I am doing Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer, and desperately trying to focus on hearing God’s voice above all the other noises in my life. To turn my anxiety into prayers and not to let my circumstances rule my life but God. Be Thou My Vision Oh Lord of My Heart, this day and always.

  • Annissa Hackney

    Thank you Lord for this reminder today. I truly needed this as I have been wrestling with the exact same scenario for the last few months. I am not worthy or good enough, that much is fact. However, through Christ, I am perfect. I am fearfully and wonderfully made to serve and follow Him. When I turn my focus to His will and Him instead of my will and me, I am redeemed. I will have peace when I stop trying to fix me (and everyone and everything around me) and let Him work through me. Praise God for His love, grace, and sacrifice.

  • I don’t normally comment here, but I am moved to tears right now. I know I continually try to “save myself from my myself.” Even though I do not doubt my faith, I rarely rest in it.

    For weeks, I’ve been seeing the word “trust” in my world. So often now that I’ve decided to make it my focus word for 2018. Trust in myself yes, trust in others who should be trusted yes, but trust more in my God who wants me to be refined in His fire, not one of my own making everyday.

    • Theresa

      I love this…
      Even though I do not doubt my faith, I rarely rest in it.
      Thanks for sharing! Praying we will rest today in Christ’s love

    • Carol Mylin

      AMEN!!! Thanks for beautifully expressing my thoughts!

    • Kschweg

      Amen, love to you, sister!

    • Cynthia White

      Yes, I am my own worst enemy and need to trust through faith in our Lord.

  • Erin Recachinas

    Wow this spoke directly into my life today – I live with a constant feeling like I’m not enough even though my head knows the gospel. My heart rediscovers the gospel frequently, then forgets. Shifting my vision from my imperfections to Christ and the perfect creation he HAS made me already, and accepting my new identity and living it as my truth!

  • Churchmouse

    Our daughters would (still do on occasion) squabble. And sometimes do something that crossed over the line of our house rules. They were good about asking for forgiveness of me but not so good about accepting the forgiveness I offered. Repeatedly I would have to remind them that their offense was over and done with, that we could move on, that no grudge was being held. Such it sometimes is with children. Such it sometimes is with us adults. When Jesus said “It is finished!” He meant it. My sin is forgiven. The offense is forgotten. He bears no grudge. He wants me to move on and walk in freedom. So that’s what I try to do each day – put on my (snow) boots and walk on. He is happily right beside me.

  • Elisabeth7291

    I love today’s scripture – moving through Isaiah & then the New Testament showing the progression and fulfillment of Jesus’ sacrifice.

  • Catina Naegele

    I love the reminder that Jesus covers it all ❤️ And he covers me in my brokenness

  • Thank you for such an honest and helpful devotion today. I so needed to hear this.

    One thing I’ve always loved about that last verse is the peace in the words: ‘”come now, let us settle the matter” declares the Lord’ (before God tells us how he shall make us white as snow). He forces us to stop – stop worrying, stop fretting, stop looking at ourselves and in such simple words which are so patient and full of reassurance, “come now…”. So let’s cling to what we know to be true today, sister’s: Christ died for sinners, once and for ALL!

    • Annie

      Today was the first time I read those seven words and really connected with them. There is so much love to reach down and invite us into a settlement for our sins that we do not deserve. Thank you for pointing this out!

    • Emily B.

      Ooh, that’s good! I hadn’t noticed that. Thanks for sharing!

  • Loved this! Thank you! I do tend to look at my sin rather than the cross. I can start to believe that I will never change when I keep looking at my sin. Keeping my eyes on him reminds me that the matter is settled and I can move forward ,with Him, to do the work the Father has for me to do today, telling others that they really are free if they believe.

  • Every word of this is a blessing to me. Thank you, Lore.

  • Alice Carroll

    ‘repeated attempts to confess but not truly repent or actually change’ – I do this all the time. The writer doesn’t really say how to stop doing this – how to truly repent and actually change. Any thoughts?

    • Dana

      Thatine so resonated with me as well. Would love some input here too.

    • Kathy

      This resonated with me, too, and made me think of Joel 2:12-13. “…return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your hearts and not your garments…” I wrote a comment in my Bible next to that verse that says, “Go deeper and search for the underlying cause. I must tear that out, not just utter an ‘I’m sorry’ and hope I don’t do it again. I must go deeper to really grieve my sin, realize it’s far reaching effects and most importantly what it cost Jesus on the cross.” Sometimes I think that I am too casual about my own sin. (Although I am quick to spot and condemn the sin in others!!) God is serious about sin – all of it; not just the ones we consider to be the big sins. He demands that we don’t just take a break from sin, from evil, or fast from it, or be sure to clean up after ourselves when we’re done. He wants us to stop doing evil. A relationship with Jesus is the only way we can do this. Looking at the cross reminds me of the seriousness of my sin – not to make me feel guilt, but to make me “rend my heart and not just my garments”.
      Kind of long and wordy and rambling. Be blessed, sister!

    • JennyBC

      I️ think Kathy hit on somethings. I️ just said last night that there have been times when I️ fell into the same sin over and over. I️ finally have to ask God what is I­t­ in me that I️ keep revisiting this. That is a game changer for me. I️ usually find a mindset or an action that I️ have not laid at the feet of Jesus. I️ keep trying to deal with that on my own instead of trusting God. That “spiritual surgery,” if you will, is not easy and often exposes me more than I️ am comfortable with. But praise, He has made the boundaries fall in pleasant places. I️ know that Jesus and I️ have done hard work together. I️ have rarely revisited those things again and I am much quicker to recognize where I️ am headed and how I️ need to bring I­t­ to Jesus quicker.

    • Christy

      My thoughts go to Ephesians 5 – God works to make us holy. Yes, we have to realize our sin and repent, but the work of sanctification and holiness belongs to God by “the washing of water by the Word.” Staying in the word works to cleanse our hearts and renew our commitments to Christ and His truth. Keeping the word on my heart will work to perfect me in Christ. I can’t really do it…I can only be committed to what can do it.

    • Rachel

      I often think of the words Jesus spoke to the paralytic: “do you want to be well?” Sometimes I live as if I do not want my soul to be well. Jerry Bridges calls the next steps the “discipline of choice”…will I CHOOSE to walk in obedience? Or in the flesh? Although it all required grace, it helped me to realize that I am not helpless in my sin. I have choices, and the victory is already mine.

    • Christy

      Repent is to turn not only away from sin but back to God. Maybe your struggle stems from relying too much on your own strength and willpower? Ask God to reveal to your heart the lie that you’ve believed that tempts you to sin, and ask him to reveal his truth. Let him change your heart in this process. Just my two cents based on my own thorny journey.

  • Well, may I post a critical remark here? Reading today’s devotion I’m not sure whether I can relate to all she says. “Stop looking at sin, start looking at the cross”. In my personal experience ‘looking at the cross’ reminds me of my sin, and maybe I need that.
    Looking at myself makes me feel I’m ‘not-perfect-but-quite-ok-and-anyway-I-can’t-help-that-I-am-who-God-made-me’. Sure, there’s days that I feel worse and days that I feel better about myself…
    Sometimes in devotionals it feels as though everyone lives craving for a release of feelings of guilt and I wonder if I’m the only who doesn’t experience it so much like that either…

    • Melissa

      I would agree that my struggle is not usually that I’m looking at my sin and not at the cross. I’m just looking at me. Feeling self-righteous and as if I deserve something. I do need to look to the cross and be reminded of my sin but at the same time reminded that I can immediately walk free of the guilt or insecurity that can overcome all at once. It doesn’t come as a daily burden for me. It is more that something happens to make all the feelings of not being enough rush over me and forcing me to turn to my Savior. And then the days begin of striving to do everything well in my own strength and I forget my sinfulness all over again.

    • Karen From Virginia

      I love your honesty. The quote about looking at the cross and Not sin is about looking at the wonder what Jesus did for us perfectly. It is about studying we did not deserve yet can Receive as a gift. Some people or a lot of people struggle with a sense of guilt throughout the days. This sometimes is because of upbringing and sometimes because of personality. They need to learn to trust the finish work and rest in God‘s love. Others, which sounds like this is where you fit, don’t struggle with guilt so much or that they’re too bad. For those who don’t struggle with guilt as a normal overflow, the study of the cross and truly that I am a sinner who is not cute is precious. Because why can’t be missed is the beauty of you have received a gift that you did not deserve. It’s all two sides of the same coin. Hope truly is in the fact that Jesus is a redeemer and we need one.
      You are not the only one on the side of the coin so to speak. I pray God that he will reveal himself to you deeply so that you understand more and more how we really have been list and did not deserve to be forgiven, Beautiful song Bird (please forgive me for any confusion and when I’m writing as it is the middle of the night and I have been suffering with Insomnia)
      Grace to you

      • Yes. As a guilt ridden person, I soaked up every word of this. Obsessing over sin keeps us from the fullness we are promised in Christ Jesus. Guilt robs us of that.

    • Kristine L

      I don’t read your remark as critical, Songbird, I read it as honest. And I agree, many devotional are focused on forgiveness. Maybe because it’s the first step in drawing near to God. I’m like you, I don’t seem to struggle with the all-consuming guilt. And like someone else responded, the guilt might rush in as a response to a particular circumstance where I’ve failed. The idea that Jesus paid it all on the cross colors the background of my daily life, but it tends to not rise into my line of focus often. It’s nice in this advent season to be reminded and reflect on His gift of the cross.

    • Olivia Hemsworth

      This post spoke to me, but I don’t feel like I need a “release from feelings of guilt.” I just feel that we get caught up in the drudgery and mundaneness of life, and we find ourselves doing things in our own power. I don’t know about you,but I do find myself getting caught up in the busyness and focusing on getting through each day rather than taking my eyes off of myself and focusing on Christ, knowing that each day has a gospel-filled purpose in my life. I don’t feel like it’s about guilt, although we should feel guilt over sins we have not confessed and taken care of with God. It’s more about taking our eyes off of ourselves in general and seeing our lives and ourselves through the lens of Christ’s finished work on the cross.

    • Shannon Davison

      I agree, Songbird, in that, I don’t try and sanctify myself every day by good works or whatever. I honestly don’t look at myself all day long thinking “I’m such a sinner, I’ve got to fix this” — if anything I don’t put much thought into at all, which probably is worse. So I need to look to the cross to remind myself of all that Christ did for me, and that I, indeed, am not worthy and I’m in desperate need of a saviour.

    • Sarah D.

      I understand what you’re saying. For me, even though we should look at the cross, it doesn’t end there. One of my favorite quotes from Louie Giglio (from last years Passion conference) is that the story of the victim ends at the cross; the story of the VICTOR begins in the empty grave. I have to remind myself that the cross represents my past, but the empty grave is what I can walk in each and every day. I was dead in my sin, but now I am alive in Christ. I desperately need to remember that.

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