Tag Archive: sin
We all grapple at various times in life to know what’s best and what’s true. And, then, often when we’ve found a particular truth, in say science or philosophy, we still find ourselves only in the shallow-end of fully grasping its value and potential.
Have you ever wondered if there is an author to this truth we search for? Someone who’ll help us find what we’re looking for and who can help us properly utilize what we find?
There is a man who makes an astonishing and all-encompassing declaration to be “the truth.” Such a claim implies that all truth starts with him no matter where it may now reside. It also implies that this truth is only really able to be truly held together by him. And, that only he knows the true way things work. This man is Jesus! If not, then where does truth come from?
When we separate truth from Jesus, both are distorted. Our view of Jesus is diminished and the full application of the truth squandered or misused. All truth is from Him and of Him and handled best by Him. An essential part of His truth is captured in God’s word, the Bible. Like a love letter, it serves as a means to knowing Him, and like a plumbline, it’s the guide for all other teaching.
Do you know the truth?!! Because, He knows you and loves you! Have you read His love letter lately?
How about these portions:
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to receive God’s punishment for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
Said another way:
“For our sake God made Jesus to be Everything Wrong who knew Nothing Wrong, so that in Jesus we might become what God calls Right.”
Christians in Bondage
As Christians, we teach on the wonderful truth of the freedom that’s found in Christ, yet, our lives often tell a different story. It appears to me that we’re often just as enslaved to wrong ideas, evil systems, traditions of men and even false religion as anyone else.
Any freedom that we have in Christ gets smothered by the nonsense that we think. Rather than experiencing freedom as a lifestyle, we’re left with only moments of knowing real freedom.
Captured in our Minds
Captured by thoughts that we haven’t renewed and by the negative influences from the world around us, we’re unable to access the freedom that Christ has given. Strongholds of thought so pervade our thinking that even scripture gets wrongly interpreted to slot in with our deep or current views on life.
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” aptly describes the fragility that people have to their thought life. Enslaved by wrong thinking, we become what we think.
Slavery that will Free You
Paradoxically, it’s by becoming a slave to Christ that we are completely freed. It’s therefore sadly ironic that Christians are, in some ways, often more enslaved than even before. Imagine the wasted sacrifice! Christ died to set us free and we create more bondage.
Sure, we are freed from the wrath of God and His judgment on sinners, but aren’t we also liberated from so much more – from sin, Satan and this world?
”Do not love the world or the things in the world” is pretty plain to understand, but often so untrue of our hearts. And, sadly, when we let our hearts run off after these desires, God’s word says of us that “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him”.
The Bondage of Religion
We were warned by Jesus to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”, yet we’ve become masters of speaking of freedom while baking with the leaven. You see, the solution to the things that easily entangle us is not in a religion which promises that if we keep the rules we will be blessed. Because we can’t!
Yet, don’t we put this on one another by the way we judge, rather than pray; scoff in our minds, rather than help; and by generally making anyone not making the grade feel unwelcome?
Bound for Freedom
Knowing that we are unable to keep His commandments, God’s solution was to give us a new life and join us to Christ, so that He can live His life through us. It’s here, in Him, that we can know true freedom.
Now that we are bound to Christ in spirit, let’s remain bound in heart and mind also. For, it’s only in this way that we will experience true freedom in all areas of our lives. Perhaps, by remembering what it means to be a slave, we can discover all the freedom Jesus has for us!
Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
One way or another we are all slaves. Who or what are you a slave to?
Mankind in the Eyes of God
The Bible is clear about how we as mankind stand before God. Romans 3:23 says,“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and Romans 3:11-12 says, “There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God… there is none that does good, no, not one.” Because of our sinful nature it is impossible for us to live up to God’s standards and be righteous in and of ourselves.
Despite our sinful condition, God, in His love, made a way to make us righteous so that we could forever be in His presence. He sent Jesus to take our sin upon Himself, and the penalty for our sin, death. In this way God could satisfy His holy anger toward sin and at the same time He could justify us and declare us righteous. But most of all He could satisfy His love for us.
So, through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be made righteous. And, righteousness is a free gift that is given, once and for all, to those who believe in Jesus Christ.
Below are some verses from the Bible that tell us this:
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight …But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation(satisfying God’s anger) by his blood, to be received by faith…For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:20-28).
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God …” (1Peter 3:18).
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Empowered to Succeed
At the point that we are made right with God, our nature is also changed and His Spirit comes to live inside of us enabling us to love Jesus and keep His commandments.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Apart from this grace we could never love Him properly nor keep His commandments.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will never fulfill the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you do not do what you want to do. But if you are being led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16-25).
God is Approachable
Hebrews 12:1 speaks of “the sin that so easily entangles us”. Essentially, we sin when we fail to walk in the power of the Spirit. Yet, despite sinning, we are forever called the righteousness of God! This, however, doesn’t mean that we are licensed to freely sin. Nor does it mean that sin doesn’t have consequences. What it does mean is that we can forever freely enter God’s presence where we can enjoy His love and friendship and be enabled to satisfy a new inner desire to love God and those around us.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Let’s continue to look at just how good the Good News really is!!!
(Go here for The Good News of an Exchanged Life – Part 1)
I was Dead, but am now Alive
- But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5).
I have God as my Owner
- Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price… (1Cor. 6:19-20).
I have a New Responsibilty
- So glorify God in your body (1Cor. 6:20).
I have a New Leader
- And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air… (Eph 2:1-2).
- But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5).
I have a New Path
- … you once walked, following the course of this world (Eph. 2:2).
- Jesus said …, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Joh 14:6).
I have a New Function
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them(Eph 2:10).
I have a New Perspective
- …and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:6).
I was a Victim, but now I’m a showpiece of God’s Grace
- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Joh. 10:10).
- … so that in the coming ages he (God) might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).
Once a week I have the wonderful opportunity to teach a group of 11-12 year olds about God and the Bible and what Christianity is really about. Recently, I challenged their views on how God sees each of them and I believe God blessed many with a fresh realization of the GOOD NEWS!
I started the class by asking them why Jesus came. Quickly, and somewhat expectedly, I got the answer, “To die for our sins.” I agreed, but wanted to expand on this truth. The verse that came to my mind was 2 Cor. 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” and I wrote it on the board. I then explained its meaning and, although everyone seemed satisfied, I wanted to see if they really understood what it meant to them individually. So, just as we had agreed upon in previous sessions, I had them again recognize that we have all sinned and still often do sin. And, that in fact, we had all probably fallen into sin a number of times over recent days.
Sinner or Righteous
Then, I wrote two headings on the board, RIGHTEOUS and SINNERS. I asked if Jesus were to return today and separate the RIGHTEOUS from the SINNERS, would they know what group they belong to. It seemed without a blink that each put themselves in the group of SINNERS. Now, I am sure that among them there were some not yet born again and that answer would be true for them. However, the believers among them also classified themselves as SINNERS. It seemed, both groups needed to hear the GOOD NEWS again. The SINNERS for salvation and the RIGHTEOUS (who called themselves SINNERS) for realization of what they had received in Christ.
Undoubtedly, the focus that the Christians in the group had was on their behavior rather than on their pardon for sin and new identity in Christ. And, the non-believers probably had a blurred grasp of the GOOD NEWS. Using the above verse I again explained the good news, only in this instance I took the time to show them what the verse really meant to them PERSONALLY. I showed that Jesus who hadn’t sinned actually became SIN, that all of our personal sin and that of the world was put upon Him. And, that He did this, so that we could be called RIGHTEOUS and not SINNERS anymore. That’s GOOD NEWS!!!
Three Men Crucified
Then, to bring it home, I spoke of the three men who had been crucified (Jesus being one of them) and how the whole message of the GOOD NEWS for mankind is seen played out through what happened. In the middle was Jesus, having been charged as a criminal along with the other two criminals. Yet, we know that Jesus hadn’t ever sinned. One of the criminals scoffed at Jesus, not realizing who He was. The other one, realizing who Jesus was, turned to Him and said, “Remember me when YOU come into your kingdom.” We agreed that he had been a bad man, a SINNER, as he even said of himself. And yet, despite this, Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
What happened at the cross then was that three died. One, a criminal, a SINNER, and he died a SINNER. In the middle was Jesus who was RIGHTEOUS, but who was made to be SIN and He died as a SINNER. Then on Jesus’ other side was another criminal, also a SINNER, who recognized that through Jesus, God was offering pardon for sin and a new life. Through faith in Jesus he was made RIGHTEOUS.
Will Good People Go To Heaven
The general idea that most of the 11-12 year olds seem to have had is that although we all do wrong, “good people” will go to heaven. This is typical of how many people think. Yet, “good people” are also SINNERS and as such don’t qualify. What everyone does qualify for is God’s wrath. Not wanting to pour this out on us, God instead poured it out on Jesus, so that we could be freed. The response of these two criminals (with Jesus in the middle), in a way, represent everyone.
It seems that entrenched into many church members is the idea that as Christians we are SINNERS, but the message of Christianity is that through believing (realizing and receiving) who Jesus is, and what He did for us, we are made RIGHTEOUS.
In believing in Jesus, the issue of righteousness (standing acquitted before God) is settled at the cross once and for all and no amount of error on my part can untangle that. Not only am I acquitted for life, but I am placed into Christ’s death and resurrection, immediately dying to sin and to God’s law, and rising again to a new life. I am born again and made into a new person. And, what’s more, I am joined irreversibly to Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to live in me, giving me the ability to do what I used to fail to do. He also comes teach me and enable me to live the life that Jesus has planned for me.
Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension have made forgiveness of our sins, re-birth to a new life and His empowering of us possible so that we can have productive lives for God’s kingdom. Only, I need to remember that I cannot live apart from Him as my source. In actual fact, living from Jesus as my source is my sole purpose in life. It’s in Him that I get His vision for my life and His strength to carry it out.
So, focus on building your relationship with God as your new source of life. Then, if you should sin, and you probably will, simply recognize that you have lost touch with God as your new source of life and start relying on Him again. Remember, as far as our sin is concerned, both God’s wrath and the law have been satisfied through Christ’s death so that we can be free to enjoy life by the Spirit. No matter how often you fail don’t let your errors stop you. Rather relish in the abounding mercy and grace that there is to pick you up and empower you to succeed again.
So, living in the Spirit is the Bible Code for Life. “…we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6 ).
(If you haven’t yet, THE GOOD NEWS is that you can receive Jesus as your savior. He is God’s free gift to acquit you from sin and give you a new life in the Spirit. This, despite the life that you have led, because He loves you! You see, the Bible says in 1Timothy 1:15, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” Go to God and ask to be forgiven and for a new life in Him).
You know those times when your kids press your buttons and you react really badly? Well guess what, your chief problem is not that you reacted badly, but that you are living from the wrong source. If you are a Christian, then you have either moved away from walking with the Spirit of God as your source of life, or you have never learned that He was your resource for all of life. You see, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control and the only alternative is our natural self, which, although can act civilized, needs only the right provocation to show its true colors.
Now, you know all those nice people out there who behave better than most of us Christians do (especially me)? They are doing a pretty good job of living from their natural ability, but trust me, or rather trust God’s word, they have all the sinful characteristics within their nature to behave badly under the right, or should I say “wrong”, conditions. Worse for them is that they are at a disadvantage, only able to live from their natural selves. Although they can be lovely people, nevertheless, they are in essence just the same as the worst criminal, having themselves rather than God as their resource for right living. It’s kind of like having that pet snake that you feel is safe to have around children, only to come home one day and have to wrestle your child from its clutches.
Christians are not people who don’t sin. The Bible speaks honestly of “sin that so easily entangles us.” This happens because we all too easily reject God as the Living Water and instead choose ourselves as the source in a situation. The cycle of self-effort to accomplish or achieve is followed by our eventual and inevitable defeat. This in turn is followed by despair and our crying out to God, only to rediscover God’s mercy and grace, and that all along His gentleness was at work bringing us to repentance. The cycle will repeat whenever we exchange His strength for our own. It is in repenting of this, our chief sin, and turning toward Jesus as our life (and by his grace staying turned) that we enjoy life.
Nevertheless, we have the resources to live free of sin. Yet, it’s not in being conscious of whether you are sinning or not. “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6). It’s in enjoying a healthy relationship with God where His Spirit is our life’s supply and not us. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).
Christians often inadvertently live between two codes in order to live out the life that they believe they should be living. In most of our lives the change from one code to another happens regularly and sometimes unknowingly. You see, in some areas of our lives we are so aware of God’s presence and are so in touch with the Holy Spirit that error is impossible. Yet, in a moment, we can be facing a scenario where we are not so used to being in the Spirit’s presence and despite wanting to do what is right, we easily switch to relying on our own resources and fail.
Often we simply drift away from being aware of our need for the Holy Spirit to our old familiar pattern of relying on ourselves. Depending on who has become the most recent source of thought and action, the Spirit or us, will determine the response to any further provocation to sin. You see, we all want to do what’s right, and doing what is right makes us feel right, but whenever I begin with myself as the source of achieving what’s right, I’m already making the first error. My source is wrong. I presume that I am able to give life into a situation, when at best I can only mimic true life and temporarily hold things together.
Let’s look at the two codes:
Code 1: A standard that I must attain
Code 2: Jesus in me
Code 1: A demand
Code 2: A response
Code 1: A struggle
Code 2: A rest
Code 1: My apparent success
Code 2: My weakness embraced
Code 1: Ultimate failure
Code 2: Guaranteed success
Code 1: Disillusionment
Code 2: Impressed by His grace
Whenever we fail as a Christian, whether it’s intentional sin or not, it’s always because our source has been wrong. Whether you have simply given in to the passions of the flesh or whether you have attempted in your own strength not to give in (and maybe even succeeded not to sin), it’s one and the same problem. You see, although the second seems nobler, either way you have made yourself the source and have usurped God’s place. The cycle will repeat until we exchange our strength for His. It is in repenting of this, our chief sin, and turning toward Jesus as our life (and by his grace staying turned) that we really begin to live.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Flirting with Evolution – The Christian Alternative Considered
In order to try and satisfy the “science” of evolution and hold onto the Bible at the same time, some people attempt to fit in multiple generations to the Adam that is spoken about in the very beginning of Genesis. They do this, despite the fact that the book does not suggest it. However, suppose it was possible to do so, let’s consider this idea from a logical perspective.
It has been purported that the process to humanity over millions of years was so gradual that the first humans may not have even observed their differences to the previous generations. Now, if you will, indulge me with your imagination. During the proposed transition in evolution, the first men and women must have had their pre-human predecessors, presumably multiple in numbers, living around them. If the person, whom the Bible called Adam, and who it states singularly brought sin into the world, was in such a scenario, then he was either among many that became human, or he and Eve were the only two who evolved into humanity.
In the case that there were other humans around, when Adam existed, then he would have had to have influenced them all to sin too, because the Bible says that “all have sinned.” However, this would leave us with another problem. None of them would be included in salvation, because they are not direct descendants of Adam’s family tree. The virgin birth and the genealogy of Jesus show the necessity for the Savior to be both sinless and a blood descendant of Adam.
Now, in the scenario where Adam and Eve were the only two who evolved into humanity, we still have incompatibility with Scripture. The Bible allows us only approximately 6000 years of human history and gives no evidence of any pre-humans existing prior to or simultaneously with the first of mankind. Also, congruent with the stories in Genesis, the Bible shows that humanity had an immediate singular beginning. Jesus’ genealogy reads, “Jesus…the son of Joseph…who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God” (Luke 3:38). The Bible also says, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). And also, “The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
The logic of Scripture leaves us no other reasonable option but for a literal view of a singular first person called Adam, from whom all of humanity descends. Also, we have no historical literary evidence of mankind’s beginning that is as historically corroborative as that of the Bible. It has proved itself to be God’s word in countless ways. Why would it not be accurate in this too?
Flirting with a scientific theory that not only is clearly in argument against all of Scripture, but also has no proof, is absurd! Scientifically, macro-evolution, the changing from one species to another, will remain a theory and will ultimately dissipate as the broad opinion of science and culture. Not only is there no proof for this idea, it is also being shown more and more to be a scientific impossibility.