The One Year New Testament
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2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Not only does God’s reign bring victory over demons, but it also brings forgiveness of sins. Eventually, when the heavens and earth are fully healed of sin’s destructive influence, all death, mourning, crying, and pain will be gone forever (Rev. 21:4). For the paralyzed man, Jesus provides a powerful foretaste of the future kingdom. He graciously forgives his sins and restores him to health.
We continue to see the gracious nature of God’s kingdom as Jesus invites the tax collector Matthew to follow him (Matt. 9:9) and then joins a whole party of tax collectors and sinners for a meal (v. 10). Tax collection was a dirty business in Jesus’ time (see also 5:46; 11:19; 21:31–32; Luke 18:11) and frequently involved squeezing money from people who were already very poor (Luke 3:12–13; 19:8). However, God is merciful to the sinner who turns away from sin and embraces the salvation that Jesus brings (Luke 5:32; 19:5–10).
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
In Romans 7:7–25 Paul deals with the third of three possible distortions of gospel teaching (see also 6:1–14 and 6:15–7:6). Since our sinful desires are “aroused by the law” (7:5), is it correct to say that “the law is sin” (7:7)? No, the law is certainly not sin; it is holy and righteous and good (v. 12). One of the reasons God gave the law to his people was to lovingly reveal to us our flaws so that we will realize that we need a Savior. Paul illustrates this with the example of God’s command, “You shall not covet” (v. 7). Our sin is so bad, that when we hear this command, we actually find ourselves desiring to do the very thing God forbids. It’s like the boy whose mother says, “Stay out of the cookie jar!” Suddenly, all he can think about is cookies.
This passage emphasizes the profound and perplexing illness that sin introduces into humanity. We do not have the natural ability to do the things God commands. In fact, if we are relying on our own human strength, we will find ourselves unable to resist doing things that we know are evil. Sin has severely spoiled our existence. This disorder can be healed only by the mighty grace of God that is offered to us in the gospel (the good news about Jesus).
Lord, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Thoughts For Prayer
The restoration of all things is coming soon, with the return of Jesus. As you await that tremendous promise, pray for God’s strength to be active in the present work of the kingdom as he forgives sins and restores souls through the message of his grace in the gospel.
Missions Prayer Requests More
January 20, 2018
Supported Workers: Emily Ackerson
Country: United States of America
They are thankful for the approximately 30 international students who went to the annual Bridges Vision conference (this year in Baltimore) at the end of December. Pray for God to continue to do a significant work in these students’ lives. They have challenged the believers who went to follow-up with those who don't know Christ, and invite them to a discovery Bible study on campus in January, as well as continue to get to know them. Pray that the students who went would be interested in continuing to learn about Jesus. A new semester brings in new students! Please pray with them that they would be able to meet incoming international students who are already believers, and who are open to discipleship and learning how to share their faith.
Northern Ireland. Segregation and sectarianism remain, despite the prevalent peace. Separate confessions, separate churches, separate schools, separated communities keep Ulster a divided land. Northern Ireland’s history has long been used as an example of religion’s destructive influence; pray that it may become a testimony of faith’s power to heal and restore.
The One Year New Testament Copyright Tyndale House Publishers, used by Permission. NIV Bible copyright International Bible Society.