What does it take to gain salvation–that is, to have our sins forgiven and be made ready for heaven? To start with, it takes a special act of God because we cannot save ourselves. In fact, God has already taken the first step to make our salvation possible. He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross taking the blame and punishment for our sins on himself. It took the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ–that sinless one–to make our salvation possible.
Why did God have to sacrifice a person so dear to himself? It is because no mere human can pay for the sins of another. Each one has his own sins to deal with; as the Scripture tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Though Jesus has suffered and died for your sins it is necessary for you to personally accept this sacrifice and to allow Jesus to come into your heart and life, to clean you up and to make you a new creature in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17). “Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” This leads to a new life. None of this could happen without God’s wonderful grace (unearned kindness and favor) but when we receive this free gift we cannot live in the same sinful manner.
The apostle Paul asks this critical question: “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2) (A changed heart leads to a changed life.) Living a godly life may seem hard but God who saved us from sin can also keep us from sin. I Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Nothing could be worse than remaining under sin’s bondage for truly we were once slaves to sin, but when a slave is set free why would he want to serve the same cruel master? As redeemed sin-slaves we are now free to be love slaves of Jesus Christ–the one who set us free from our former slavery.
If you have not already done so, pray a simple prayer to God. Acknowledge your sins and the fact that you cannot deal with them yourself. Ask God to take them away and to cleanse your heart. Then invite Jesus to come into your heart to “live there” and keep it clean.
If we stumble, God is ready to help us even then. I John 2:1 tells us, “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ the Righteous One.”
Written by Paul Herr