Saturday, May 28, 2011

Too Sinful to be Saved?

We have studied how Jesus was able to forgive, cleanse, heal and raise up those who were sinful, unclean, diseased, and even dead (Luke 7,8; John 11) without in any way corrupting or defiling His own holiness and purity (Hebrews 4:15). Before Jesus drove out devils from the demon-possessed man (Luke 8:27-35; Matt. 8:24-32; Mark 5:1-20), this man was in a state of nakedness, which in the Garden of Eden was first a sign of innocence (Gen. 2:25), but then of shame since Adam and Eve sinned (Gen. 3:7).

Man’s attempts to deal with his sin are woefully inadequate. His nakedness was not properly clothed until God covered him with animal skins (Gen. 3:21), which meant that animals had to be killed. There was no death until sin entered in by the fall (Rom. 5:12), but this first recorded death foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, that would not just cover our sins but remove them for all time (John 1:29).

The demon-possessed man was not only naked, but outcast from the city and from society, living among the tombs, which the Jews considered to be unclean. He was possessed by so many evil spirits that they called themselves Legion (Luke 8:30), referring to a Roman army division that would consist of about 6,000 warriors, and they were cast into a herd of about 2000 swine (Mark 5:13).

Interestingly, these evil spirits immediately recognized Jesus as the Holy Son of God (Luke 8:28), with power to cast them into hell (Luke 8:31, Rev. 20: 1-3, 2 Pet. 2:4). This shows that salvation comes not by believing in God alone (James 2:19), but by repenting of sins (2 Corinthians 7:10) and trusting Christ as Savior (John 3:16).

Can someone be too sinful to be saved? The recent capture and execution of Bin Laden gives the civilized world cause to rejoice that he will no longer commit evil acts of cold-blooded murder and terrorism. Yet as Christians, we should be saddened, not necessarily by his physical death, but by the absence of any outward sign that he had repented of his sins and trusted Christ, which would have kept him from being doomed to hell.

Even Bin Laden or Hitler or Stalin were not beyond the all-cleansing, all-forgiving, gift of grace and eternal life so freely given by Jesus as He died on the cross to pay the sin debt, in full, of all sinners, past, present and future (1 Cor 15). Yet that gift must be accepted to be valid, and, although only God knows the heart (Ps. 44:21), sadly, there is no evidence that any of these did so.

The apostle Paul, who was Saul before he trusted Christ, described himself as chief among sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) because he zealously persecuted, imprisoned and even executed Christians (Acts 22). Yet God used him to write a large part of the New Testament, to evangelize the Gentiles, and to plant many churches. Thank God that no one is beyond His saving grace (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13), and that no matter what our past before we repent and trust Jesus, He can use us for His glory. As we saw in the case of the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed them with costly ointment, the person who is forgiven much will love Christ all the more (Luke 7:38-50).

Even a man formerly ruled by 6,000 demons can be restored to his right mind, his sins forgiven and sitting humbly at Jesus’ feet in right fellowship to Him. When Christ changes us it should be obvious to everyone who knew us before. Praise God that by grace through faith we can leave behind our nakedness and be clothed with His righteousness (Rev. 9:7-9; Isaiah 61:10).

Because Jesus paid our sin debt by suffering and dying on the cross and being separated from His Father, in our place, we can leave behind the nakedness of sin and shame and the filthy rags of our own righteousness, which does nothing to counteract our sin or the laws we have broken. Instead, when we come to the end of our own strength and realize that without Him we are nothing, we have nothing, and we can do nothing (John 15:5), He covers us with His salvation and His righteousness (Romans 5:6-21).

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Love in Him,

Laurie Collett

Clothed in His Righteousness

As we have studied, Jesus was able to bear the punishment for all our sin so that it would be imputed to His account, while His perfect righteousness was attributed to our account. When Holy God, the righteous Judge, looks at those who trust Christ as their Savior, He therefore sees the perfect righteousness of His Son, and not our sins that would otherwise separate us from His holiness. Jesus, while completely divine and also perfectly holy, was able throughout His earthly ministry to mingle with, touch, heal, and raise the unclean, sick, wicked and even the dead without ever being corrupted or defiled by them.

Jesus freely gave forgiveness of sins, peace, and eternal life to the sinful woman who washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and poured out her earthly treasure, in the form of perfumed ointment in an alabaster box (Luke 7:37-50). Jesus cast out demons from a naked man who lived in the tombs, and healed Him rather than rejecting this outcast whom society considered to be crazed, wicked, and unclean (Luke 8:27-36).

What is the significance of this man's nakedness? Before the Fall, nakedness was a sign of innocence. God created us in His own image, and before sin entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve, they were naked yet not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). The first couple were literally one flesh, as God created Eve from Adam’s side (Gen.2: 21-24). This first marriage was not only God’s example of what every marriage thereafter should be – an intimate, exclusive union of man and woman (Matt. 19:3–6) but also a beautiful foreshadowing of the mystery of Christ’s union with the church, or body of believers (Eph. 5: 30-33).

After the fall, when Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their nudity took on a different meaning because they became aware of sin, they realized the role that sexual temptation can play in sin, and they attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7-8). Before this they had enjoyed perfect fellowship with God; now their sin separated them from that fellowship and gave them reason to fear God (Gen. 3:10).

In the Garden, there was no death until sin entered in by the fall. For that reason Adam and Eve and all the animals were herbivores, eating only fruit and plants. Once Adam and Eve sinned, the first death occurred when God killed animals to clothe Adam and Eve and hide their nakedness, or cover their sin (Gen. 3:21). This sacrifice was a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that would not just cover our sins but remove them for all time.

From that day forth, man has had a sense of modesty and shame resulting in the wearing of clothing to cover nakedness. When man rebels against God and instead of being ashamed of his sin is proud of it, as is so often the case today, modesty tends to disappear. In the case of the demon-possessed man, we see it in the extreme, where the indwelling evil is completely unchecked by the Holy Spirit or any Godly influence and he runs around in public completely naked.

Thank God that Jesus does not reject us in our sinful state, but that He seeks us out where we are, casting out our wickedness to restore us to our right mind and to fellowship with Him, so that we can sit humbly at His feet (Luke 8:27-36) and unite with Him spiritually as the bride of Christ. Praise God that by grace through faith we can leave behind our nakedness and be clothed with His righteousness.

Rev. 19: 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Love in Him,

Laurie Collett

Jesus Feels Your Pain

As we have been studying, Jesus was fully divine while being fully human, yet completely holy and without sin. As He mingled with sinners in His earthly ministry, He shared their griefs and sorrows, and He felt hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue as they did, tempted in all ways as we are yet without ever yielding to temptation or sinning (Hebrews 4:15). In no way was His perfect virtue corrupted by encountering, touching, healing, forgiving and raising unclean, sinful, diseased, and even dead people.

Jesus had compassion on the widow who lost her only son (Luke 7:12-16). He was unmistakeably dead, and Jesus unequivocally raised him so that he immediately sat up and began to speak! Jesus felt sorrow and compassion for His friends Mary and Martha, and He raised their brother Lazarus from the dead (John 11). It is such a comfort to any of us who is grieving over any loss, whether rejection or betrayal from others or even loss of a loved one to death, to know that Jesus Himself sees our sorrow and has compassion on us even when we turn away from Him.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Mark 1:41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

Jesus touched and forever changed the lives of outcasts by giving them physical and spiritual healing. Praise God that He allowed His Son to walk among us, entering this world not in the form of the King of Kings that He truly is (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14), or as the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) who would not lower Himself to enter our sinful, filthy and corrupt world. Rather, Jesus came as the Son of Man who took on the form of a humble servant and became the perfect sacrifice to pay our sin debt that all who believe in Him are justified by His righteousness and have eternal life.

In thankfulness, therefore, let us pour out all we have to honor Christ by serving others, just as the sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed them with costly perfumed ointment (Luke 7:37-50). Let us trust Jesus, who cast demons out of those who were possessed, to cast out our wickedness so that we may be restored to our right mind and sit humbly at His feet (Luke 8:27-36).

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Pour Out Your Life for Jesus!

Not long ago we celebrated Mother’s Day, to honor our mothers, and all the women in our life who have been a Godly influence and support for us. What makes a mother’s love so special is her willingness to give herself sacrificially for her children. For this type of self-sacrificing love (known as “agape” in the Greek) we have no better role model than Jesus Himself.

As we have been studying, Jesus the Son is fully divine like God the Father, yet He is different in that He came to earth specifically to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. As He paid our sin debt in full by dying on the cross, He bridged the great gulf between sinful man and holy, righteous God. Now when God the Father looks at any believer who has trusted Christ as Savior, He sees not our sins, but the perfect righteousness of His Son which has been imputed or attributed to our account (Rom. 5:12-18; 2 Cor 5:18-21).

We can no doubt think of many sacrifices our own mother, or other Godly women who have nurtured us, have made for us and for their children. We thank them and bless them for that every day, as well as for being an example of how a woman should be industrious, providing for her children and her household, honoring and enhancing the reputation of her family, fearing the Lord and growing in faith, and being charitable and merciful to others (Prov. 31; 2 Tim 1:5).

Prov. 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.… 20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.… 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Because Christ suffered and died for us, we should willingly surrender all to Him. The Bible tells how a sinful woman, probably a prostitute, broke open her alabaster box filled with costly perfumed ointment and used it to anoint Jesus’ feet after she had washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:37-50). She poured it all out freely and lovingly to Him – her tears of sorrow from her life of heartbreak, her hair adorning her beauty that she may have misused for money or favor from men, and the alabaster and ointment that may have been the sum total of her worldly wealth, perhaps her dowry.

But as she spent all she had on Him, what she gained was priceless – the stability of faith in Him, forgiveness of all her many sins, and peace she could never have known before. Jesus left His heavenly throne to come to earth in the flesh, where He suffered and gave His life so that our sins have been forgiven.

Although Jesus is now back in Heaven, we can still pour out our lives to Him by serving and sacrificing for others (Matt. 10:42), whether for our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ, or for the unsaved who need to hear the Good News of the Gospel before it is too late.

Matthew 10:42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

Galatians 6: 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Don't let your faith be shaken!

As Christians, we should not expect that we will never suffer, but in fact we should expect that we will have to undergo trials and tribulations and even persecution or painful suffering, just as Christ did. That is part of our calling and our walk with Christ (1 Pet 2:21; 1 Thess 3: 3-4).

But we should not be moved, meaning shaken or disturbed, by our trials, because we should have faith that God is working them together for our good (Rom. 8:28). The fear of persecution should not lead us to give up our beliefs or lose faith. It is part of our inheritance as children of the King to undergo trials as He did, and preachers who tell listeners that once they are Christians, their troubles will be over, are not preaching the truth.

Paul tells us that he would give up anything imaginable, even his physical life, rather than not have Christ in his life (Phil 3:8). After he was born again he was not only beaten, shipwrecked, persecuted, and imprisoned (2 Cor 11: 24-27), but he was most likely excommunicated by the Jews and rejected by his own family.
At the day of judgment, Paul, and all believers, should depend on salvation only through belonging to Christ.

As a Pharisee, Paul tried before he was saved to becoming righteous by works, namely by keeping the law, which because of man’s sin nature is impossible. The righteousness of believers is only possible through God’s grace by their faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and in His resurrection.

Ephesians 2:8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

When we are saved, we have the mind of Christ within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our Christian walk, through prayer and studying the Word, should be to become more and more like Christ by knowing Him better, by putting aside our own fleshly desires and sin nature and yielding to God’s will, even if that means that He will allow us to suffer and to go through tribulation so that our character may be purified and our faith and compassion increase.

Phil 3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.

As we have been studying, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice allowing reconciliation between sinful man and just, holy God. His physical suffering, humiliation, rejection by His people, His friends, and especially the separation from His Father (Matt. 27:46) as Christ took on all the sins of mankind -- past, present and future -- allows those who repent of their sins and trust in His finished work on the cross to have eternal life. As Christians, we will no doubt go through trials, but these serve to mold us more into Christ's image and to draw closer to Him

1 Pet 2: 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.

The Mysteries of the Cross

Here is an interesting paradox regarding the mysteries of the cross: Jesus died for our sins that we might have eternal life. Jesus is part of the Triune God, fully Divine, yet fully human in His earthly ministry and tempted in all ways as we are, yet He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

God is perfectly holy (1 John 1:5) and perfectly just. Although He is love (1 John 4:8), and has infinite love, He cannot allow sinners or sin to enter into His presence. So, in His perfect plan of salvation, He gave His only begotten Son as the perfect sacrifice (John 3:16), the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

In a transaction of infinite love, justice, holiness and perfection, Jesus took on, suffered and died for all the sins of the world, which were imputed to Him, or debited against His account. Simultaneously, His perfect righteousness and holiness were imputed to all believers, or credited to our account. (Rom 5:12-18; 2 Cor 5:18-21; Isa 53:4-11). He completely removed our sins from us, in a perfect transaction foreshadowed by the "scapegoat" in Old Testament times that carried the sins of Israel far away into the wilderness (Lev. 16:20-22).

Therefore, when Holy God the Father, the righteous Judge, looks at believers who have repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus' finished work on the cross, He sees not us and our filthy sins, but only the perfect holiness of His Son. Therefore, as joint heirs with Christ, just as Jesus was resurrected from the dead, believers will be resurrected to eternal life in Heaven with Christ (Rom. 6;8)

Yet, here is one of the mysteries: God the Father "turned His back" on Jesus as He suffered and died for our sins, because His perfect holiness could not look on sin. For that reason, Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46; Ps 22:1-8) because in that moment, He felt the agony of being separated from His Father with whom He had always known perfect, intimate fellowship. At that moment, Jesus related to God not as His Father, but as the righteous judge Who had to punish sin.

So, the conundrum is, given that both God the Father and Jesus the Son are both perfectly divine, how could Jesus bear all our sins while God the Father could not even look at them? I believe that is one of the mysteries we will not fully understand until we reach glory. However, one clue to this might be that while all three members of the Trinity are equally divine, they are different.

God the Father always demands perfection, whether through animal sacrifice in the Old Testament (Ex 12:5; 29:1; Lev. 1:3), which only covered sin, and ultimately in the perfect, sinless sacrifice of His Son (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 5:2), which removed us as far away from our sins as the East is from the West (Ps 103:12).

Jesus the Son was fully divine yet fully human in His earthly ministry (yet without sin; Heb 4:15), He came to earth expressly to save sinners (Luke 19:10), and He died for us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8). He was the perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament law (Matt. 5:17), yet He touched lepers, He allowed Himself to be touched by diseased and sinful women, He ate with sinners, He cast out demons, and He forgave sins.

Thank God that Jesus does not demand perfection from us, but that He died for us while we were yet sinners, and He freely gives salvation to all who repent and trust Him, taking us just as we are in our lowly and sinful state. Thank God that through the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 9), His righteousness is imputed to our account (1 Pet 2:21-25), and when God the Father looks at us, He sees not our sins, but only the perfect holiness of His Son.

Welcome to Saved by Grace!

Welcome to Saved by Grace, a Christian Bible study by Laurie Collett. Through His grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is my prayer that all who read this blog will be strengthened in their faith and encouraged to develop an intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to serve Him and one another.

If you do not yet know Jesus as your personal Savior, please follow this link:

to learn how your sins can be forgiven and you can be absolutely sure you will be in Heaven when you die.

Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome. If you would like to be included on our email list to receive our weekly devotional Bible Study, or if you have any prayer requests or I can help you in any other way, please email at

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Love in Him,

Laurie Collett