The name Jesus is from the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.” Saves from what? — “He will save His people from their sins.” Note the “from.” The phrase "from their sins" has two primary meanings in the New Testament. Unfortunately, only the first is commonly preached.
The Bible encourages us to believe in Jesus as the divine Savior who shed His blood on the cross for our sins … to repent of our sins … and through that faith and repentance to be forgiven and to experience deliverance from the wrath of God that was due to our (now forgiven) sins. So that is the first sense in which “Jesus…will save his people from their sins.” Here is the second:
We’ve already seen that Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross for us to provide a way for us to be saved from the guilt of our sins and from the divine wrath due to them. And that way is to “turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).
But there is a second very important sense of Jesus saving us “from” our sins. And that is the Bible’s insistent teaching that we should live a life of ongoing victory over sin. Jesus can and will save us: 1) from the guilt of and wrath due to our sins, and 2) from the continual practice of sinning. The Bible is quite clear on this second sense.
Spiritually speaking, when we come to Jesus Christ the Savior in faith and repentance, we are said to be “crucified with Christ.” It’s as though we take our sins and deposit them forever at Christ’s cross, where He died to remedy our fatal sin problem. As Peter wrote (above), Jesus “bore our sins” on that cross. So when you came to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, consider yourself to have left all the guilt and shame of your sins at the cross. You are now “crucified with Christ” and have begun a new life as a forgiven son or daughter of God (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Verse 6, KJV, says that “our old man is crucified with Him,” as we saw in Galatians 2:20. Then in water baptism (vss. 3-4), we bury that old man of sin, and we rise from that watery “grave” to live a new life.
What kind of new life? Well, remember that your sinful “old man” was crucified with Christ and buried with Him in baptism, then you arose (as He did) to new life. Verses 7-8, KJV, tell us: “…he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” Our sins were left at His cross … our old man of sin was buried in baptism … and our new man (with sin crucified and buried) arose to “live a new life.” What kind? — “freed from sin” (vs. 7).
Recall our opening verse: Jesus will save us “from” our sins. If you have been born again in Him, you are free from the guilt of sin and the wrath formerly due to your sins. But you are also saved and “freed from” the ongoing continuance in sin. Crucified with Christ and having buried your sinful old man in baptism, you rise to a new life “freed from sin.” Let’s strengthen our understanding of this from some more Scriptures.
In John’s 5th chapter Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years! (vss. 5,8-9). Later Jesus found the healed man at the temple and said to him, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The cure for “something worse” than 38 years as an invalid was to stop sinning!
The crowd wanted to stone the adulterous woman. But Jesus forgave her. But He did one more thing — He ordered the forgiven woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Too many Christians are content just to rest in the fact that Jesus has forgiven their sins. That’s great, but it’s not all He came to save us from. He also commands all who follow Him: “stop sinning” and “leave your life of sin.”
Remember, Jesus came to save us: 1) from the guilt of and the wrath due to our sins; but also 2) from the ongoing committing of sins. Christian believers, thank God for your salvation from the eternal punishment that had been due to your sins. But go on to obey the Lord in that second “from” — that is, “stop sinning” and “leave your life of sin.” He came to save you “from your sins.”
Sadly, many Christians respond to this type of message with, “Oh, that’s bondage and legalism!” That’s a grievous attitude, because that sad excuse for loose conduct is accusing Jesus of teaching bondage and legalism. It was Jesus who said, “Stop sinning” and “Leave your life of sin.” What right do we, His followers, have to try to soften His clear teachings on the pursuit of holy living? None!
I am NOT saying that a Christian will never again sin, although that is certainly a commendable and biblical goal. The apostle Paul encouraged “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1) and “Aim for perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:10). But it would be difficult to attain. The apostle John wrote: “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus, Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2).
Our proper and biblical attitude is to be aiming for perfection and determining to perfect holiness in the fear of God. If we should falter and sin, thankfully we have a forgiving Advocate with the Father in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus. John assures us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9).
But take the high road! Aim for perfect holiness. After all, as the apostle Paul wrote, as Christians we are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). How holy? “Like God”!
We believers are called by Jesus Himself to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Paul reminds us that we live in the “midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” How are we to live among this lost world that so desperately needs a Savior? The answer — “be blameless and innocent … above reproach … appear[ing] as lights in the world.”
That is what lost people need to see in us who know and love Jesus. They should see a blameless walk, above reproach, shining with a light [Christ in us] that they don’t have. Will cussing, carousing, boozing Christians offer hope to a lost world? No. But many lost souls will notice their friends, neighbors, and coworkers who shine like lights, blameless and innocent, in this dark and lost world.
Make the right choice. Aim for the high road. As a forgiven, born-again son or daughter of God, choose to obey Jesus’ command to “stop sinning” and to “leave your life of sin.” Determine to live your life in obedience to the apostles’ Spirit-inspired biblical counsel — that is, keep the old man of sin fully crucified and buried, aiming to be like God in true holiness (as Paul wrote) … decide daily to die to sins and live for righteousness (as Peter wrote) … choose not to continue to sin, not to deliberately, knowingly, and habitually practice sin (as John wrote).
Turning from sin does not deprive you of a multitude of legitimate, joyful activities. Turning from sin is not drudgery. No! God sent His Son Jesus to “BLESS you.” How? “By turning each of you back FROM your sinful ways.” Through Jesus Christ, God has given us blessings for time and for eternity in saving us from our sins. When we come to Jesus in faith and repentance, we are forgiven, we are delivered from the wrath due to sin, we are born again and become a son or daughter of God, and we are enabled to live a victorious life that pleases God. And finally we enter the immeasurable joys of heaven after our time on this earth is done.
In closing, remember the words of the angel’s announcement of the coming Savior Jesus: “He will save His people FROM their sins” (Matthew 1:21). If you will permit Him, Jesus will do that excellently in your lives.
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©2018, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and
Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.