Lent 2021 Devotion: Week 4
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, God promises that we are a new creation if we are in Christ. The old has passed away and the new has come. But for some of us, this promise of God feels very distant, at times almost impossible to become believable. Pornography, lust, faithlessness, greed, laziness, evil thoughts, anger and more – sins that we still struggle with daily as a Christian. We frequently ask this question; “If we are a new creation in Christ, who do we still feel a bondage to a particular sin in our life?”
The Bible is very clear in that in our new identity in Christ, we will still wrestle with the remnants of our old nature and its sinful desires (Ephesians 4:22-24, 1 Peter 2:1-2, Colossians 3:7-9). Though we are not free from the deceitful temptations of the world, we must remember that our old self in Adam is crucified in Jesus Christ on the cross that we are no longer enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6). Our true identity is not of one who is free and bulletproof from the effects of sin in the world, but rather one who is free from the condemnation and ultimate punishment of SIN, the wrath of God. What this means for us is that we can finally say 'no' to sin, the war can be won and we do not have to keep saying 'yes' to sin.
As we reflect upon Hebrews 3:7-14 in preparation during Lent, let us "wake up from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So let us cast off the worlds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:11-14)
God’s people, the Israelites in the Old Testament failed to enter God’s promised land due to disobedience and unbelief. Similarly, as followers of Christ, we too must be careful not to repeat the same mistake the Israelites made, lest we too fail to enter God’s end-time rest.
We cannot do this Christian walk alone. The author of Hebrews urges us to exhort one another daily. What this means is that we have a divine responsibility to one another to keep each other accountable in Christ – that none of us may be hardened by sin’s deceitful lies. Let us, as a church, carry out our holy mandate to encourage and push each other on to continue living a life of repentance and renewal in the person of Jesus Christ.
Let's Pray: Heavenly father, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross, that we may be forgiven from the ultimate consequence of Sin, which is death.
We thank you for the church, through which we may encourage and strengthen each other to walk in the Light in repentance in our new Self in Jesus Christ.
We pray for a heart of conviction and faith, to believe that we are no longer in the bondage of Sin and are now given a heart that is able to say 'no' to Sin and 'yes' to You.
Give us the strength to persevere to the very end and say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is instore for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will aware to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
SUGGESTED FAST FOR THIS WEEK: CAFFEINE AND SWEETS Consider fasting from your favorite caffeinated beverages or candy this week. Think about placing sticky notes with Scripture or prayer requests on or near where you keep those items so you are reminded to refocus your heart and mind on the Lord throughout the day. Consider setting aside the money you would typically spend on those beverages and pray about where you could give it to help those in need.