Today, we commemorate Cyprian of Carthage, and our devotional reading comes from Treasury of Daily Prayer.
God promises to forgive all the sins of those who believe in Him. With the Law, He calls us to repentence, and with the Gospel, He comforts us with His grace. We thank God for using Cyprian to preach this message to the people of Carthage, and we thank Him for all other pastors who faithfully share His Word.
Cyprian (ca. AD 200–258) was acclaimed bishop of the North African city of Carthage around AD 248. During the persecution of Roman Emperor Decius, Cyprian fled Carthage but returned two years later. He was then forced to deal with the problem of Christians who had lapsed from their faith under persecution and now wanted to return to the Church. It was decided that these lapsed Christians could be restored but that their restoration could take place only after a period of penance that demonstrated their faithfulness. During the persecution under Emperor Valerian, Cyprian at first went into hiding but later gave himself up to the authorities. He was beheaded for the faith in Carthage in AD 258.
Vices and carnal sins must be trampled down, beloved brothers, and the corrupting plague of the earthly body must be trodden underfoot with spiritual vigor, lest, while we are turned back again to the conversation of the old man, we become entangled in deadly snares, even as the apostle, with foresight and wholesomeness, forewarned us and said: “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” [Romans 8:12–14]. If we are the sons of God; if we are already beginning to be His temples; if having received the Holy Spirit, we are living holy and spiritually; if we have raised our eyes from earth to heaven; if we have lifted our hearts, filled with God and Christ, to things above and divine, let us do nothing but what is worthy of God and Christ, even as the apostle arouses and exhorts us, saying: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” [Colossians 3:1–4]. Let us, then, who in Baptism have both died and been buried in respect to the carnal sins of the old man, who have risen again with Christ in the heavenly regeneration, both think upon and do the things that are Christ’s.
Almighty God, You gave Your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, before the rulers of this world and courage to die for the faith he proclaimed. Give us strength always to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
“About Cyprian” section, devotional reading, and prayer are from Treasury of Daily Prayer, pages 727–28 © 2008 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.