When do we need the Gospel? Is it a one-time thing? Does it have anything to do with our ongoing walk with God? Could focusing on it help us love God more? A better question might be, “How often do I sin and fall short of God’s standard?” For me, that’s every day and I’ve come to understand that’s how often I need to preach the gospel to myself. And as we learn to focus on it and preach it to ourselves, the result is transformative.
Leviticus 7 & 8
What Does It Mean to Preach the Gospel to Yourself?
Leviticus 7 & 8:
Walking in the Truth of the Gospel
We have been reading about all the offerings under the Levitical system. Notice that a sin offering had to be made for Aaron and his sons just like all the rest of the people (Leviticus 8.14).
Even those God has placed in the ministry as leaders today are imperfect men and women. They are neither sinless nor infallible.
All of us must walk constantly in the truth of the Gospel. You might think, “Well, I accepted the Gospel once so that has nothing to do with me any longer.” It is true that when we accept the Gospel (the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, His forgiveness and cleansing, and are made His sons and daughters), it’s a one-time decision. But it is, also, true that until we get to heaven, we will have the pull of sin constantly at work in us (Rom. 7.13-25).
We need to run back to the cross and remember that it’s only by His grace that we are able to walk in obedience, and not any inherent goodness in us. The Apostle Paul said:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Rom. 7.18).
When we realize we have sinned, we can run back to the cross. The same grace that saved us is available to help us live the Christian life. God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sin (1 Jn. 1.9).
Some have called this “preaching the Gospel to yourself.” We need to remind ourselves that He died for all of our sins: past, present, and future.
The more we contemplate that and understand His goodness, mercy, and grace, rather than giving us a license to sin, it should give us a greater desire to please Him in return.
For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk.7.47 NASB).
It took me a while to even begin to understand the importance of this and how transformative it is. I heard it but mentally brushed it away for a while. Yet, I kept coming back to it and trying to understand. Finally, the lightbulb started to come on. One thing that helped is a little book by Joe Thorn entitled Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself. You can read more about it below.
Today’s Other Readings:
The King of Glory
Verse 7, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.”
According to Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, this pictures Christ’s ascension into heaven after His death and resurrection, and the welcome He received there. He paid the price with His blood for entry, not just for Himself, but for us, also, so that we can enter in with Him! What good news!
Truth & Lies, Wisdom & Scoffing
Verse 12 says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”
We are constantly reminded in Scripture that we alone are responsible for our acceptance or rejection of truth (Ezek. 18.20; 2 Cor. 5.10). We can’t blame our pastors or our teachers or our family. The Word and the wisdom that goes with it are there for all to see and to accept or reject.
That, also, means we are responsible for our own spiritual growth and for whether we are hearing solid biblical teaching. No matter where we attend church or whose teaching we sit under, we must be good Bereans.
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17).
While they were eager to hear what Paul and Silas had to say, they checked it out by reading the Scriptures for themselves.
Many people stay in churches where the truth is either watered down or taken out of context, because they don’t read the Bible for themselves and learn to be discerning.
There are several things I’d like to point out here. The first is in verses 9-11:
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”
Though the word “trinity” is not mentioned in Scripture, the concept is. Here we see Jesus coming to be baptized, the Father speaking and the Holy Spirit descending on Christ like a dove.
Repent & Believe
The second is in verse 15. Jesus is beginning His earthly ministry and immediately says:
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
As John MacArthur notes in his Daily Bible, “Repentance and faith are man’s required response to God’s gracious offer of salvation.”
“Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
That’s still our call today: to become His disciples, to go out and share the good news of the Gospel, and then to disciple others as we saw in Matthew 28.19-20 in yesterday’s reading.
Think about the Gospel and what it means in your daily on-going walk with God. Have you ever thought about the need to “preach the Gospel to yourself”? In what area of life do you need to apply Gospel truths, that we can run back to the cross and receive His forgiveness and grace when we need it?
If you have not repented of some sinful thoughts, words, or actions, go to Him, admit your sin, ask for His forgiveness, and walk in His forgiveness and grace.
“It is for this that Christ died.”*
*Elyse Fitzpatrick in one of her talks on the subject.
We need good preaching—preaching that challenges us by God’s Word and brings the comfort that comes from God’s promises. Yet many of us rely solely on others to preach to us and are not benefitting from the kind of preaching that should be most consistent and personal—preaching to ourselves.
Note to Self is a practical introduction to this daily discipline. Pastor Joe Thorn delivers fifty brief, devotional chapters that model preaching the gospel to ourselves and its practical implications. Readers will be challenged by the book’s direct, personal exhortations to apply the law and the gospel to their own lives. Part of the Re:Lit series.
“This is my personal daily Bible. I have been reading it for years. Pastor MacArthur’s notes are invaluable and provide great insight into God’s Word,” Donna.
“Some years ago I started hearing the statement, “You’ve got to preach the Gospel to yourself every day.” I just couldn’t get my brain around that idea at first. But slowly, I started to understand, in part, because of great resources like this and Elyse’s book below. We truly need the Gospel everyday. It’s the Gospel that saves us, but it’s in going back to the cross and remembering His grace and forgiveness that we have the hope and courage to live for Him … EVERYDAY!” Donna.
“Elyse has great insight into what it means to ‘Preach the Gospel to yourself’ and how that understanding can help us fully understand His amazing grace,” Donna.
In the coming days, we’ll talk about the need to get the logs out of our eyes, how Islam intends to conquer the West largely through cultural invasion, and about the contagious nature of many sins.
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