I wonder if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve wronged someone and known it. You deliberately did something that you knew would hurt them and that knowledge burdens you. You desperately think of ways in which you could make it up to them. But then they offer you their forgiveness. “What you did was wrong, but I’m not going to hold it against you.” And suddenly the burden is lifted. Being forgiven is the most wonderful thing.
In this sermon we’re hearing a message from the apostle Paul. He’s preaching to Jews in a place called Antioch in Pisidia. As with our last two sermons, Paul again wants to stress the historical fact of Jesus. God’s Messiah has come, was killed, but has been raised to life. The punch-line today though is this: because of Jesus our sins are forgiven. Paul says that this was “a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (v39). The Jewish sacrificial system was God’s good way for his people to relate to him, but it could only go so far. It pointed people to the ultimate sacrifice that would be made by Jesus.
“Through him everyone is set free from every sin…” (v39). Every sin. Sometimes we can go on in our Christian life struggling with a particular sin. We try and cover it up, but know it’s there. Or a new sin that’s never been a temptation to us before suddenly begins to trip us up. Paul’s message is one of hope for us. Jesus offers us both forgiveness and freedom – a new start and power to live a new way. The first thing we need to do is get real about where we’re falling. It might help to talk and pray with a Christian friend we trust. Offer yourself to God as you are, name your sin to him, receive his forgiveness, pray for the power of the Spirit to strengthen you to live a new life, and live that out with other Christians around you.
Reflection: Paul speaks of forgiveness and freedom every sin. Is there something in your life that you’ve felt God couldn’t forgive? There is forgiveness for every sin.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you died for me. Thank you that you forgive every sin. Lord, may I live in the freedom that you’ve won for me today. Strengthen my brothers and sisters so that together we would all live in the freedom you give. Amen.
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