Theme: Our Need for Deliverance
In this week’s lessons, we see that all creation is called upon to praise the Lord.
Scripture: Psalm 98:1-9
Each of the three stanzas of this psalm calls on one part of creation to praise God, and in the first stanza this is Israel (vv. 1-3). This is because, “He [God] has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel” (v. 3).
Since the verb is in the past tense (“has remembered”), we are probably to understand that the psalmist is thinking of some great act of deliverance of the people by God. We are not told what this was and have no sure way of finding out, though commentators who believe that the psalms in this section are late compositions generally suppose that it was God’s deliverance of the people from their Babylonian captivity, bringing them back to their own land. What is certain is that the deliverance was a victory in some sense. The word translated “salvation” (the word occurs in each of the first three verses) includes the idea of “victory” and is so translated in verse 1 in the King James Version. It is because of this new act of deliverance or new victory that the people are to sing “a new song.”1
It is probably good from our perspective that we do not know what this deliverance was, because if we did, we would spend our time discussing it and it is far more important that we think of deliverance in terms of the victories God has provided for us through Jesus Christ. The New Testament reveals three kinds of deliverance.
1. Deliverance from sin. The single greatest problem you and I have is our sin, not a lack of self-esteem or accomplishment or whatever, but our sin. This is because sin both separates and destroys. It separates us from God, who is the source of all good, and it destroys relationships. In the end it will bring us to that final place of all separation, which is hell.
Who is to save us from sin? We look to the world, and we find no help there. The world is unable to solve its own problems, and even if it could, this would mean nothing in terms of deliverance from the punishment of God due to each of us for our many transgressions of God’s law and the harm we have done to other people. We look to ourselves, and we find no help there either. If we could conquer sin, we would do it. But we cannot. Sin lives in us and drags us down. The Apostle Paul wrestled with sin, crying, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me…what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
The next verse gives the answer: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:21, 24, 25)! How does God do it? Paul explains:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-4).
This deliverance is in three stages. First, there is deliverance from sin’s penalty. Jesus died for our sin, in our place. So there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Second, deliverance from sin’s power. Jesus saved us so that now “the righteous requirements of the law might be met in us.” Finally, as Paul says later in the chapter, there is deliverance even from sin’s presence. For the end of all God’s working for us and in us is that we might be “glorified” (v. 30). We, above all people, can sing “a new song” for this deliverance (see Rev. 5:9, 10).
1Compare what was said about “a new song” in the study of Psalm 96.
To whom is the first stanza calling?
What does sin do to us? How can we be victorious?
For what should we rejoice?
What is our greatest problem? Why?
Application: Do you agonize over sin, as did the Apostle Paul? How do you find relief?
Review: Explain the three stages of deliverance from sin.