Looking Unto JESUS, Part II
As a teenager, I remember struggling with certain things, not knowing how to live for God and telling Him, “God, I’m never going to do that again, and to show You that I mean business, I’m going to pray every day. I’m going to read Your Word every day.”
Nothing is wrong with doing either of those things, but I had put my faith in the doing of those religious disciplines and not in what Christ had already accomplished.
At 16, I was in high school, and found myself again, struggling. I prayed and gave the Lord my long list of things I was going to do. When it came time to make good on the list, I said, “Lord, I’m going to do it,” and I got down on my knees and started to pray. And I mean I was really praying. I looked up at the clock, and it had only been two minutes, and I’m thinking, Good Lord. I thought I’d been interceding for at least 15 minutes, and here it was, only two minutes! I whispered to myself, “Well I’m not sure if I’m going to reach 30 minutes or not. Let’s bring it down to 25 minutes,” and I kept going. After what seemed like a while, I looked back at the clock—it had only been seven minutes! When I finally got to 15 minutes, I said, “God, I think You’re good enough with that.” Then I sat down, grabbed my Bible, opened it to the book of Genesis, and started reading. All of a sudden, I told God that I was going to read 15 chapters a day. I hit page 4, and my mind started wandering. I didn’t realize what I was reading.
As the days went by it became more and more difficult to continue that regimen because my faith was in the doing of things. I thought I would earn something with God or He would be pleased with me if I did these things.
But God cannot really be pleased with us. He can only be pleased with His Son, Jesus Christ. At salvation, when a person is baptized into Christ, then he is in Christ, and God is pleased with that believer—in Christ.
Therefore, He’s pleased with me because I’m in Christ. As a teen in those times of struggle, I had been putting my faith in the wrong thing—in my works, my performance, and myself. No matter what I tried to not do the things that I told God I would never do again, I still found myself struggling, even more so, because my faith was misplaced. There were moments of weeping, I remember. Late at night I would tell God, “Please don’t come back because I don’t know if I’m ready. I’m struggling, and I don’t know what to do.”
I knew that victory was there, but I didn’t know how to obtain it. Most of the Christian world is following this same formula with their focus on works and their object of faith as performance: “Look at what I can do.” And the very moment that a believer’s object of faith is in performance, the result will be self-righteousness. And something to keep in mind, those who are the most self-righteous are probably the ones in the hardest struggle. Regardless, the result will be failure.
But there is a right way to live, and that’s what Paul is saying in Hebrews 12, that if we look away from our works and performance, and put our focus on Christ, then the object of our faith becomes the Cross. This gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to work in the believer’s life—take out the bad and put it in the good—which will lead him to victory.
Sin shall not have dominion over me. I’m not under law and focusing on what I do, but I’m under grace focusing on what Christ has already done. We’ve got to understand this. The believer’s eyes must be turned away from what he does. His works will not amount to anything in the eyes of God. There’s only one work that matters, and that’s the finished work of Jesus Christ. That’s the only work that matters!
You can depend upon works all you want to, but works will never cease; or you can depend on one work—a completed work, finished work—done at Calvary and never to be repeated ever again. Depend on that and experience the victory that you need. Everything that we need is found in the Cross. Without the cross, there is no victory. Without the cross, there is no Holy Spirit. Without the cross, there is no deliverance.
Without the cross, there is no salvation. That’s the most important part—the plan of God. We were not redeemed by corruptible things such as silver and gold, or the vain traditions of our fathers but by the shed blood of Jesus Christ—the shed blood of the Lamb that was ordained before the foundations of the world. The cross, the cross, the cross!
Our focus must be on Christ, not yourself. You can’t earn anything from God. Put your eyes on Christ; fix them on Christ and what He did. Let your object of faith be the cross. The power source then is the Holy Spirit, who works through the means of the finished work of Christ to bring about what is needed for the believer—and that’s victory. We can have victory; it’s obtainable. Victory’s not something that’s out there somewhere, far in the distance. It’s obtainable to us right now, but we’ve got to do it God’s way. We’ve got to look unto Jesus; we need to depend on Christ and what He did at Calvary.
Paul said, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.” The word author means that through the death of Jesus Christ, He bridged the gap between heaven and earth, between God and man. There was no way that man could ever hope to get to God based on his own righteousness. There was never a chance that man could ever approach God because man was a sinner, and God could not abide sin in any shape, form, or fashion. And so Jesus Christ would leave the splendors of glory, and He would come down to a sin-filled world for this one reason: to redeem mankind and bridge the gap between heaven and earth, between God and man.
You’ve heard about the partition—the curtain that separated the holy of holies, the most holy place. Man could not go into that place, only the great high priest could go in once a year, through the shedding of blood. But the very moment that Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross, the veil was torn from top to bottom. This signified that anybody could now enter into the holy of holies through the shed blood of Jesus. He’s the one who authored this.
When you think of an author, what do you think of? You think of someone who penned a work that hopefully scores of people will purchase and follow. Jesus Christ is the author. He started this work. He forged this path, and He was the only one who could. Man couldn’t do it but God could, and He did so through His Son, Jesus Christ.
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