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Freedom from Sin, Preparation for EasterMarch 2, 2022
A committed Christian lady was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country. The postal clerk asked, “Is there anything breakable in here?” The lady answered, “Only the Ten Commandments.”
A pastor asked his caddy, "Do you think it is a sin to play golf on Sunday? The Caddy responded, “The way you play, sir, it’s a sin any day of the week!”
There are plenty of jokes about sin, but when it is our sin it is a serious matter. Some of our sins we know all too well. We commit other sins that we are blind to. Sin is a weight on our lives that drags us down, and steals our joy for living. Sin is any act on our part that separates us from God and others. Sin can include breaking God’s commandments or worshipping something other than God.
Ron had a long list of sins: alcohol and drug abuse, sexual sins, and gambling sins just to name a few. He had paid dearly with his family, his job, and his health. He knew he needed to make a change, but he didn’t know where to begin. He reached out to a pastor who told him about the love and forgiveness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Ron responded to the pastor’s call to faith, “I can’t understand it. I’ve done some awful things in my life. I’ve cheated on my wife. I’ve ignored my children. I made a lot of money using the people around me. Now you’re telling me that all I have to do to be forgiven is ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10), and I will be forgiven, and the gates of heaven will be opened for me? I just can’t understand how it can be that easy. Are you sure I don’t have to pay a certain amount of money, or work a certain amount of time helping others?” The pastor replied. “You don’t have to understand it. You are to believe it in your heart. There will be challenges to giving your life to Christ, but the freedom you experience will be worth every struggle.”
Some Christian traditions celebrate Ash Wednesday as the beginning of Lent this week. During Lent we remember the forty days Jesus fasted, prayed, and was tempted by the devil in the wilderness before His ministry began (Matthew 4:1-11). Though Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, it was originally a time to prepare candidates for baptism in the early church, and became a period of penitence for those who had been baptized. As a sign of our repentance an ashen cross is put on the forehead. Ashes are used because they are the Biblical symbol of purification (Numbers 19:9, Hebrews 9:13) and penitence (Luke 10:13). The ashes come from the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) from a previous year.
Ash Wednesday is a time of humility. It is about admitting to God that we are nothing but dust and ashes without the saving power of Jesus Christ in our lives. It’s about confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, and turning our whole lives over to Jesus Christ.
I invite you to do these spiritual exercises in preparation for the celebration of Easter in about forty days. Remember, God knows everything. He knows all about the sin you’ve tried to hide from the world. He knows the thoughts that run through your head. He knows that you can never be truly happy unless you turn your life over to Him.
When was the last time you asked God to forgive your sins? Were you specific about what you confessed? Do you know which sins you need to ask forgiveness for? To help you take an honest look at yourself I recommend reading Ephesians 4:25-32, Matthew 6:24, 1Peter 2:11, and I Thessalonians 5:12-19. Read each verse carefully, and write any sins God exposes in your life.
Read I Corinthians 13:4-8 and insert your name in place of the word for love, and reflect on how loving you are. Write down those areas you think you exhibit love and celebrate them. Write down those that you aren’t loving as well. Get on your knees and ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of all the sins you have listed. He will forgive every sin, so that you can start all over again. What is it like to be forgiven of your sins by Jesus? Have you forgiven yourself? What keeps you from forgiving yourself? When are you going to forgive yourself? If you are having trouble, ask God to help you forgive yourself?