Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 4


Rejoicing in Freedom

“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].

“My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 1:8-2:2, AMP).

~*~

Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we make the Father known to the world, continuing that work of Christ in our age. Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, we are not only tasked with continuing the work of Christ in building the church, but we are tasked with His work of unifying the body of Christ. Now we add that together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we spread the gospel message. In this work, I see several things that we are tasked with in our day.

First is cooperating with the Spirit in making distinction between sin and righteousness and the judgment (or consequences) that comes to each.

In our day, truth is too often seen as relative. Each person can decide for themselves what truth is, and therefore what is wrong and what is right as dictated by circumstance, according to their value system. To the world there is no absolute right or wrong and therefore, no absolute truth. But God has a different opinion and we are tasked with finding, portraying, and promoting His truth that makes sin as He sees it clear to the observer.

This responsibility in completing Christ’s afflictions includes being humble enough to admit our own sin nature, and surrendered to Him in not only turning from our own sin, but in allowing Him to use our experience of His grace as witness of His work in our lives to those who struggle as we do.

Our Minister of Evangelism at our church shared a visit they had with a young girl who said she never sins. Everything they suggested as a possibility, she said she never did. Her mother agreed that she was just a good kid. But this passage proves her sin, for those who refuse to recognize they are a sinner in need of a Savior call God a liar.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we just don’t always recognize our sin for His thoughts are higher than ours and His ways higher than our ways. Our sin may be so subtle that we do not realize it is sin, but it is there.

This is our task, to help others realize that we cannot be all that God desires and designed us to be in the limits of our fleshly nature, no matter how “good” we seem to the world’s ways. Thus we fall short of His glory and prove ourselves to be sinners in need of a Savior.

Second we are tasked with the gospel message: sharing with all who will hear that Christ chose to give His life as atoning sacrifice for all sin. The sin of the entire world is covered by His victory as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for all. That victory belongs to God alone. But it is passed on to all who will receive the work of the Spirit in imparting His freedom from sin and death to us who choose to believe by faith and surrender by grace.

Third, we are tasked with the responsibility to help people grow strong in faith and in the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to make disciples, students of Christ and the ways of God, of all who believe. Only as we begin to grow in the knowledge of the intricacies of the nature of God can we recognize deep underlying roots of sin that we would otherwise be unaware of possessing.

Fourth, we are tasked with the privilege of helping all who trust in Him to come into the assurance of His victory, gifted to them.

Though we are saved by grace through faith, made whole eternally in Christ, we are here and now a work in progress. Each of us, too often get caught off guard and stumble into sin’s traps. The enemy can defeat us through a spirit of condemnation if we are not walking in the assurance that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, who forever lives to intercede on our behalf. In the power of the Spirit, Father and Son “[continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].” We are tasked with helping the elect come into this assurance of faith in His finished work, and trust His continuous work in us as He leads us from sins grip and increasing degrees of glory as we surrender all to Him.

Working together with God’s Spirit in making sin and righteousness and judgment clear, rejoicing over one another comes to us. We become one another’s testimony of the work of God through us in encouraging and helping one another grow strong in faith and in assurance through Christ that we have died to sin and death and are raised to life in Him. Anyone who has children or other loved ones they have prayed long over and poured themselves out to in hope of seeing them grow in the Lord knows the joy of watching their faith and obedience blossom strong.

As I sought God in where to go with this portion of our study, He led me to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. The Amplified version of this passage seems a fitting close to this thought as it illustrates these points:

“Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].  In this way [our] witnessing concerning Christ (the Messiah) was so confirmed and established and made sure in you that you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [constantly living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

May we all be busy about the Father’s business, bearing witness of the Gospel message, and know the joy of seeing those we love come into their own strong and growing freedom from sin and assurance in Christ.

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