Posted tagged ‘Sin’

Selfishness to Salvation

April 15, 2018

Depositphotos Image ID: 69572625 Copyright: Christin_Lola

Today someone spoke about going “from selfishness to salvation”. I have never heard anyone put it that way before, but it’s as accurate a statement as any I have heard.

Jesus said, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25) Loving and holding tightly to my own life, shutting God out, refusing to concede control to my Creator, desiring to go my own way is the life of a person without God. Marked by a desire to control my own destiny, to be captain of my own soul, so that I can say, at the end of the day, “I did it my way”, is a life lived without God.

The terrifying thing is that God will let us our own way. He didn’t prevent Adam and Eve from eating the forbidden fruit. They were tempted by the desire to “be like God”[a], championing their own lives, making their own choices and, ultimately, usurping God’s place of prominence in their lives.

The fruit they ate was “good”; it was delightful and even desirable.[b] The fruit, itself, wasn’t bad, but the choice to go their own ways, to assert their own wills over the will of God, was their downfall.

Without the choice of going our own way, we would, perhaps, live a seemingly idyllic life. We would forever be “perfect” little angels, but God obviously had something else in mind.  God had to know the choice we would make.

That initial choice doomed us to the imperfection of our humanness, but it also opened the door to something else completely. It opened up the opportunity for us to enter into a relationship with God we could never have known in that “perfect”, idyllic, innocent state.

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Where Do You Stand in Relation to God?

March 9, 2018

Depositphotos Image ID: 100613226 Copyright: tokkete

We live in a world that defies God. That is the point of the Adam and Eve story. The temptation to go our own way is great. In fact, like sheep wandering without guidance, ignorant of the dangers that lurk around us, we have all gone astray. That is our lot.

From Adam and Eve, throughout all of the Old Testament, this is the story of the world. This is the world into which God came, having reduced himself from the greatness of being our creator[1], to become one of us, in the form of the man Jesus[2].

That God loves us could not be more intimately or completely demonstrated for us than in the life of Jesus. Though he was God[3], he did not hold on to His privilege and power over us. He emptied himself for us. He came humbly and obedient to his own purpose, which was to lay down his own life for us[4] in a demonstration of love and compassion the world had never seen before and has never seen since.

God came into the world, and the world did not recognize him or receive Him[5]. Yet God was faithful to his purpose. He was faithful in his love for us. He was faithful to fulfill what he came to accomplish, which was to redeem us.

He came while we were yet sinners[6]. He didn’t wait until we became holy, righteous and good. He would have still been waiting. He came to heal us from all that makes us broken, which is our innate inclination to separate ourselves from God and to go our own ways.

This is the world and the reality in which we live. The world sets itself in opposition to its creator. Many people pay lip service to God, but their hearts are far from Him[7]. They deny Him in the way they live their daily lives. Though they honor Him with their lips, their actions belie them.

The good news, which is what Gospel means, is that God loves us anyway. He came for us while we were in this very condition, knowing the worst of us. God became man and lived among us knowing how corrupt we were, that we would reject him and knowing that we would attempt to put him to death. He came anyway. This is the extent of God’s love for us.

Our choice of how we will live in this world has consequences because of God’s love and the fact that He made us in His own image, to love him back. We are not compelled to love Him, but we are given the freedom to love Him. We are not robots or automatons who have no choice. But our choice is eternally significant.

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Judging the Church and Reconciling the World

September 22, 2017

Christianpics.co

Paul writes to the Corinthians “not to associate with sexually immoral people”, but he qualifies that statement to say that he is “not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters since you would need to go out of the world”. (1 Corinthians 5:9-10) What is Paul talking about here?

Paul goes on to clarify that he is writing to the Corinthians “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one.”

He is obviously talking about people within the church, and this is a point that I think we have generally gotten wrong in the modern church today, but maybe not in the way that one might suppose.

It seems to me that we have got these instructions from Paul to the Corinthians exactly backwards.

I think of the Moral Majority when I say this. I think of the efforts of Christians to try to impose “Christian values” on our world. I realize that I am departing from many Christian leaders to say something like this, but please hear me out.

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When Sin Crouches At the Door

May 20, 2017

depositphotos Image ID: 39910063 Copyright: ectorass

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7

We know the story of Cain & Abel. They were the sons of Adam & Eve. They both offered sacrifices to God. Cain gave an offering from “the fruit of the ground”, and Abel of the “fat portions”[1] from the “firstlings”[2] of his flock. (Genesis 4:3-4) All was good, right?

Well, no. God “regarded” Abel’s offering, but didn’t “regard” Cain’s offering, and that is when the problem started. Cain became angry[3], and his “countenance fell”. (Genesis 4:4-5) We know the rest of the story: Cain ends up killing Abel.

Lest we be tempted to think that we don’t need to pay attention to the details of this story because we aren’t like Cain – we would never kill anyone – consider these words of Jesus:

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court….” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Anyone who has ever been angry with another person, might do well to consider the details of the story of Cain and Abel.

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Are People Responsible for the Earth?

January 22, 2017
Photo by Randy Schoof

Photo by Randy Schoof

There is an irony at play today in regard to the way Christians see the world and the prevalent way modern westerners see the world. Modern westerners largely believe that human beings are affecting climate change and are arguing that we must change the way we do things because we are breaking the world.

Christians may or may not believe in climate change and may or may not believe that we can affect climate change, but Christians believe that human beings broke the world because of sin, because we rebelled against God, because we are flawed.

The irony is that modern westerners don’t believe in sin. They don’t believe in God or that we are opposed to God in our nature. They don’t believe that people are fundamentally flawed. They don’t believe that we are responsible for the brokenness of the world.

Aiming for Eternity

August 10, 2016

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God is from everlasting to everlasting. He sets eternity in the hearts of men (Ecc. 3.11), but our glimpse of eternity and our sense of God is often obscured by the every day realities of our lives.

That God set eternity into the hearts of men should tell us something. It should urge us to look beyond ourselves, to look to God for His purpose in our lives. Yet we are often given to walking with our heads down, driven with blinders on chasing after self-fulfillment or prone to obsessive self-reflection with eyes turned inward. We have a hard time seeing past our own noses, much less focusing on an eternal God  We have a hard time, wherever our gazes are set, letting go of self-direction.

The Bible calls that sin.

Take the morality out of sin, and sin is simply missing the mark. The mark is God, His character and His purpose. When our focus is on other things, when we are pursuing other things to the exclusion of God, we are missing the mark. We are missing the purpose of God in our lives.

God, of course, is the very reason for our existence. (more…)

The Temptation to Complain

May 9, 2016
Photo by Beth Drendel

Photo by Beth Drendel

Why should any living man complain?[i] You are alive! Therefore, you have hope.

Your life, no doubt, has not gone the way you hoped it would. Looking back, there may be many regrets. You may deeply wish that you had known then what you know now, and if only you had some foresight, some sheer luck perhaps, things would be much different.

But things are what they are, and no amount of wishful thinking will change the course of events that have happened to this point.

Have you made mistakes? Be honest! We all make mistakes, and not just mistakes of choice – we all do things we should not have done. We have all done things that we knew we should not have done because they were not right.

We try to “redeem” those mistakes. Sometimes, we try to redeem them by re-characterizing our actions, thoughts and decisions, owning them as if they were right because they are who we are.

That is the temptation of modern life. “Be who you are” – whatever that may be. “Never apologize for who you are”.

But who are you?

Are you your own person?

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