Wednesday, March 8th
Devotional written by Pastor Brian Howard, Teaching Pastor
THE NATURE OF SIN
To read today: Zephaniah 3:14-15
The Lord has taken away your punishment; he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
There are two different kinds of good news.
The first kind requires no background information. For example, if you receive a check in the mail containing the inheritance left to you by a long, lost relative, you can simply rejoice and enjoy your windfall. If your sister calls to tell you she is getting a promotion, you don’t have to know much else to know that this is good news.
The second kind of good news, however, can only be fully appreciated against the backdrop of bad news. If, for example, the doctor calls to tell you that “They got all of it out,”; that kind of good news can only be understood fully against the backdrop of someone who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Or if you receive a message from your boss telling you, “Your job is now secure,”; that would only be good news if you had been under the impression that you might be laid off.
In short, there is good news that needs no additional information, and there is good news that cannot be appreciated without context. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the second kind.
The good news of the Gospel of Jesus has clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day….” But just as a defendant hearing “not guilty” from a judge is only good news in the context of a trial, the message of Jesus dying for our sins is only good news against the backdrop of God’s wrath. We cannot speak of the Gospel unless we are clear that through the cross and resurrection, God has, in the words of Zephaniah 3:15, “taken away our punishment.” Because of the finished work of Jesus, we do not need to fear death, condemnation, the wrath of God, or hell. This truly is good news!
There is a temptation in our world today to empty Christianity of any references to sin, God’s wrath, justice, and hell. Many would like Christianity to be a buffet where they take the things they like in the Bible and pass over the things they don’t like. But Christian faith is not a buffet; it is a plated meal, and if we want to rejoice in the truth of God’s mercy, we must steadfastly hold to the truth of God’s justice. Both are needed for a vibrant and thriving Christian faith. Only then can we appreciate the Good News of great joy for all people!
Final Thought: Thank God for saving you from the wages of your sin!