As we enter into the weeks leading to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we observe what is known as the Lenten Season or the time of Lent.
This period is the 40 days before Easter, plus the Sundays during this period. During this time, people direct their thoughts toward the final days of the life of Jesus Christ and his redemption work.
Some have felt obligated to fast or refrain from eating certain foods. Martin Luther believed that fasting may help man concentrate on the great happenings of Easter, but that it did not bring any special merit before God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
Jesus taught that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out. Other people may make personal sacrifices in their lives, such as pilgrimages or refraining from certain pleasures to show penitence. Apostle Paul taught that during our entire life, we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.
It seems somewhat hypocritical that some people will choose to live ungodly lives right up to the beginning of the Lenten season, and during Lent will outwardly show piety and remorse.
One example that surfaces every year is the carnival that concludes with Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. Here, all forms of ungodliness take place, such as drunkenness, parties, parades, reveling, nudity and everything contrary to godly life. They choose to ignore what the Scriptures teach - that adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, revilers, etc., shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it all ends and the people daub ashes on their foreheads or use similar signs of showing outward penitence.
In Jesus' day, he taught that no man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. The Apostle John wrote: "Love not the world or the things in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:15-16)
As we approach the time of Lent and of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection, we are again reminded of God's love toward sin-fallen mankind and how Christ died, so that we, even though completely sinful on our own part, could nevertheless find the assurance of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, who taught about the kingdom of God and of the need to repent and believe the gospel.
A person does not need to perish because of sin, but can believe by grace, the preached word of forgiveness through Christ's merits.
Moses once said: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live (Deuteronomy 30:19)."
Those choices are still before the face of each person. Jesus taught that we should above everything else seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. There, one can find peace of the conscience through the forgiveness of all sins because of Christ's redemption work. Then, one is able to walk in newness of life and experience the true righteousness, peace and joy that can be found in the resurrection victory of Easter morning.
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