I love the Old Testament. There are many truths and revelations of God’s character and nature within its pages. There is history. And there is powerful symbolism and imaginary that foreshadows the coming of Jesus, even giving us deeper insight into the power of the cross and resurrection that we would not see if we had the New Testament alone.
It is amazing to me, when I ponder the truths I am about to share, how easily we can actually slide into a relationship with God, based on the Old Covenant, as opposed to being under the New Covenant. Or perhaps even more dangerous, a mixture of the two, which Paul vehemently refuted in his letter to the Galatians!
For some, this virus is God’s judgment because of the great sins of the world. And how we view this will determine our vantage point of how we will pray. If it is from God, then our only option is to interceded and cry out for God’s mercy, in hope that He would forgive our sins and heal our land. This type of intercession could be seen in 2 Chronicles 7:14, and is modelled by both Daniel and Nehemiah as they repented not only of their own sins, but also the sin of their country as well. For much of my Christian adulthood (some 20 years plus), this is how I would often pray as well. But what if there was a better and more effective way to pray?
There are a lot of Scriptures that I could go through, that I won’t get into in this blog. I would encourage you to seek it out for yourself, but instead, I want to focus on one distinct difference between living under the Old and New Testament. Jesus took the penalty for our sins.
You see, the wrath of God was satisfied when Jesus went to the cross. We could go through a load of Scriptures to support that. Now…don’t get me wrong here. There are consequences for sin, and when we do sin, we open the door. That door is for the devil, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life and life with abundance.
Deuteronomy 28, is a chapter dedicated to God’s laws, the blessings for those who keep them, and curses for those who break them. There is a clause that if the people would return to the Lord after falling into the curses for sin, then He would forgive and heal and restore. And that is where Nehemiah and Daniel’s intercession came in. Again, there are truths that apply to us as we follow God. Obedience does result in blessings, but if we think that we are blessed because of our obedience, Scripture is very clear in the New Testament that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that if we “sin at one point of the law we are guilty of break all of it” (James 2:10).
There are those who preach that, therefore, every time you sin, you must ask for forgiveness to remove the anger or judgement of God. Others go even so far to say that if you sin too much, then you are backslidden and going to hell. There are countless Scriptures that point us to the fact that Jesus died once and for all, and that His forgiveness is accessed by faith and not by works lest any of us should boast. So all who approach the blessings and curses of God from a “works” mentality, the curses apply. Under the law, they apply to us. And that is why many, so many, struggle in their prayer life. Much of it is begging God for forgiveness, healing, and that He would relent from judgment and wrath. I have been there many times myself.
But Galatians 3:13 says that Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Our right standing with God is based upon Jesus. We access His grace through faith. Because of that, we inherit the blessings of God, because we stand in faith by who we are “in Christ” and not based upon what we do “for Christ.” Yes, obedience is important, but it is the result of who we are in Christ, and not because of what we do in our own strength and effort.
How does this apply to our prayers in time of need, such as this virus? We are not asking God for mercy, we are standing in the authority that God has given us! Ephesians chapter 6 tells us about when the enemy comes against us…We are to RESIST him! We are to stand in who we are in Christ, trust God in faith, and use the Word. Ephesians 1 & 3 are great prayers to pray over yourself and over your loved ones. Psalm 91 is powerful! God wants us to stand in the authority that we have as believers.
Some might add, well it may be the devil, but God allowed it, so it is His permissible will. God will allow you to go out and rob a bank, but that does not make it His permissible will or part of His plan for your life. There are things in life that happen, yes, because God allows it, but not necessarily for the reasons we think. He has given us the authority to stand against things, and therefore will not violate His own spiritual laws that the ball is in our court. Some things happen because we allow them.
I am not saying this is true in every case, nor am I saying that we are equal to God, or somehow can command Him to do our bidding or will. It is His power working through us that enables us to do anything. But we must be aware that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is inside of us. If you read the account of the disciples prayers, they were similar to that of Jesus. They commanded things! But not in their own ability, but through the Name of Jesus!
This blog is about encouraging us to get into the Word. Let us seek His face to know Him better. Let us grow in confidence of who we are in Him and STAND and RESIST the devil!