Showing posts with the label Sin

No longer...

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. (Romans 8:1-3) If you have ever stopped to wonder why Jesus had to take on the form of a man, there's your answer. He came to this earth in a body 'like the body we sinners have', so that he could be the sacrifice for our sins. In all he did in that one action, he provided an END to sin's control in our lives - so we are no longer controlled by our sin nature - we have been given a new one - Christ's. Paul has just explained that he desires to do what is right - what the commandments

Bedraggled and Maimed

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3) When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down. There is much said in those words, isn't there?  When he had - it is a finished work, nothing else is required, the job is done. Cleansed us from our sins - it was not his sins that took him to the cross, but ours. The mission was complete when he lifted his eyes to heaven and breathed his last breath on that cross. He sat down - in a place of honor, authority, and oversight. He continues to watch over all of mankind, having completed it all on our behalf, waiting for us to join him there through faith in his finished work. He sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. That 'sustaining power' is what we can count on when we say 'yes'

Go gloveless

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "A pure hand needs no glove to cover it." A pure heart needs no covering, either. It becomes evident no matter how hard the journey - purity is something we cannot (and should not) ever try to hide. Some might want to shun such purity, probably because it pricks at their conscience just a bit more than they'd like. Regardless of society's norms, we need to remain true to those God lays out in his Word. Only then will we realize purity of heart, mind, spirit, and soul. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. (Psalm 24:3-9) Be a generation that seeks him. If we want to see God move across our city, we might just be the first one to seek him. It takes one

The cost

Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. (Anonymous) “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) It's easy to travel the broad road, enjoying the pleasures all along the way. It's the most popular road: lots of people are on it. The real problem is where the road ends. The beginning may not seem 'all that bad', but the end is where we find much regret, sadness, and 'spoiled lives'. Whatever enticed us down that wide road may not ever be worth the challenge we face when we finally realize the destination! Farther than you ever wanted to go. Can that describe some 'journey' you may have taken in life? It can describe more than one for me! What

Lavish Grace

Socrates reminded us that "the unexamined life is not worth living" - when we only allow others to examine our lives, we might just get a 'warped perception' of how we are doing. Human opinion about our choices is not always the wisest thing for us to latch onto as the standard by which we will live our lives. In fact, it could just allow for some things clearly not good for us, while excluding things we desperately need! Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. (Psalm 26:1-3) Proverbs 16:2 reminds us that people may be pure in their own eyes, but until the Lord examines the heart, we can be living by an unrealistic standard. Why? Our own opinion of how we are to live isn't always influenced by the right values or standards. If we go only

The sins of the parent

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:4-6) I was asked how God could lay the sins of the parents upon their children. Isn't God a loving God and children innocent of their parents' sin? God wasn't saying he would 'count' the parents' sin against the children over generations to come, but rather than the effects of their sin would be evident to the children. Taken in context, God is reminding Israel (and us) that he is a 'jealous God' - he will not allow us to bow down

With haste!

He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil... (Romans 2:6-9) I believe one of the greatest things God does for us is extend his kindness toward us, giving us a chance to turn from our independent choices (choices that often lead us into sin), and turn toward him. God's judgment against sin isn't a thing to be trifled with, but neither is his grace! Grace is given freely to all who seek it, but with grace comes the responsibility on our part to allow God to change our heart's attitude toward sin in our lives.  It is a matter of us determining to walk away from sin and toward God - not once, but repeatedly. Why do I say

Have I corrected for that?

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:21-25) When I want this, I do that. Sound familiar? It is a real struggle for all of us. No one is without some struggle with wanting to do what is right and somehow struggling to 'hit' that mark. Don't miss what Paul is saying - the battle or struggle is really within our minds. Our hearts are sure we want to do what is right, but our minds get all muddled up in the temptation that is pulling us in the opposite direction. When I was in high school, I took an archery course. It taught me one thing - aiming for the bullseye didn't ensure

A curb appeal

Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn’t by obeying the Law of Moses. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26) I live in a neighborhood with regular trash pick-ups. Each week we put out the black can for our regular household trash and the blue can for everything we will recycle. One day a month, we put out all our "bulk" trash, such as large limbs from the trees, bro

Beware the foxes

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5,8) John Calvin said a dog barks when he sees his master attacked. Why would we ever think God wouldn't raise a ruckus when the enemy of our soul even attempts to snatch away one of his own? Those who remain in him can always be assured of his protective oversight in their lives. We have a protected relationship and one that is intended to be quite productive. It is no wonder our enemy wants so badly to get at us!  To remain indicates a specific state is met and maintained. In other words, we don't move from where are because it is a place specifically designed for us - a place designed for his presence to dwell. If we want to go beyond that protection, we will find ourselves kind of on our own - outside of the place where the best fruit can be developed in our lives. Maybe this is why we haven't produced fruit - we have

Barriers need a foundation

Sin cannot offer security! But if you live right, you will be as secure as a tree with deep roots. (Proverbs 12:3) Security is really feeling like you are in a place where the "risks" are minimized - steps have been taken to reduce the possibility of something happening.  This is why those folks install locks, buy security doors, install cameras, and put bars on the windows - to minimize the risks. I want to challenge us to begin to think of security as not just minimization of risk, but the deep sense of confidence which comes from knowing we have a good foundation to whatever it is we are trusting in. If the foundation is faulty, then everything else is just not going to cut it when it comes to keeping us safe. Too many times we find ourselves setting out to accomplish one thing that we think will add security to our lives, but our "foundation" is just not secure! Sin doesn't offer us much security in life, even though it appears to be something which would st

The other 'or'

But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.” (Genesis 19:4-8) The sad story of Lot's compromises continues. Having taken in the two angels God had sent to warn him to leave Sodom before judgment came down on the township, the men of the town now demand to have their way with the 'men he had taken in'. The men of the town did not recognize them as angels, did not know of their purpose in being within their township, and were intent on committi

Is it really 'choice ground'?

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20) Do you remember the story of Abraham and Lot - both with growing flocks, herds, and wealth? The time came when they needed to separate their flocks and herds because of what ranchers might have called 'overcrowding' of the animals. They were 'over-grazing' the lands, so they needed to find 'independent' grazing grounds. As you may recall from the story, Lot chose what looked best for himself, his family, herds, and flocks. He moved lock, stock, and barrel into a land way to close to the sinful people of Sodom, a mistake that would cost him dearly. The company of fools soon rubs off on those who spend enough time with them. Before long, Lot was so accustomed to the 'culture' of the day that he didn't even confront sin any longer. His choice of grazing ground may have been a little self-centered as it was 'choice ground', but that 'choic

A crumbling pillar

Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. So Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord.

Confess, but repent

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. (Isaiah 1:16-17) I remember undertaking the task of repainting a dock on an empty pond at a Girl Scout camp in Southern California. You have to scrape the old paint before you put on the new, but you also have to use a very thick, oil-based paint to redo the dock. Why? It helps preserve it from rotting. As my friend and I undertook the task, the weather got warmer as the day progressed, the task was less than interesting at some point, and we got a little mischievous at some point. We were at the point of applying the paint when all of a sudden, an all-out 'let's paint each other' rebellious attitude overtook us. There we were, swiping oil-based blue marine paint across each other's faces, arms, legs, and even our painting clothes. We were a mess by the end, but we had a fe

Obey, Listen, and Cling

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. (Deuteronomy 13:4) Moses is sharing the commandments God had given him to give to the people - instructions that came to be known in religious circles as the Law of Moses. As he instructs them about those who would attempt to lure them away from a deep, meaningful relationship with God, he points out three basic groups: the false prophets, those within your circle of influence (better known as the family), and those who lived in neighboring communities. Do you know what he said to do when they were encountered by those 'influences' attempting to pull them away? The Israelites were told to kill them. In other words, they were to rid themselves of all those influences and sere only the Lord their God. How do we live in a world with so many 'influences' pulling us away from an intimate relationship with God and remain strong within that relationship? For one thing, we

Don't lament, repent

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! (Psalm 30 11-12)  If we stop to consider what sin does to the emotions, physical body, and even our spirit, perhaps we'd describe it much as being in a state of great loss and mourning. It strips us of our joy, but it also strips us of our hope. We wallow in our downfall much as the mourner 'wallows' in the extreme sorrow over their loss. Mourning involves a deep ache for what was lost - there is an internal agony that often makes its way to the surface. Sin has a way of stripping us down - laying us bare, causing us to bemoan our losses, agonizing that we don't have a 'way back'. We might be incapable of finding our 'way back', but God has already set the 'way back' into motion - we just need to call out for his mercy. As some may

Does Plan B negate Plan A

Do God's plans ever change? It is a question I have often asked when things seemed to be going one way and then all of a sudden, they are all headed the opposite direction. Is it possible the 'turn of events' that happened was really all of the original plan? Could it be that I just didn't see the 'whole plan' when I set out on the journey? Is it possible God's plans for us include much more than we see right now? Perhaps God has things more 'under control' than we might think because he frequently reminds us that even before we were born, the plans for our lives were already marked out. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5) But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. (Galatians 1:15-16) Home birth or h

In it, but not captive to it

When asked what some of my favorite passages are in the Bible, I generally reference the people or writers I connect with for some reason. For me, the Pauline epistles and the Book of Proverbs are probably some of my most 'frequented' reading. I have found much that I connect with when studying the life of David and have learned much about how to connect with the heart of God through simple, honest sharing of my heart as he did. I have to say that the Pauline epistles speak to me about how we should live, treat others, and the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Regardless of where you find your greatest connection in the Word, the most important thing is that the Word is taken in regularly, meditated upon with much thought, and allowed to change you from the inside out. That is what God intended by giving us such a magnificent book - the Bible. This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by

At the gate?

You can find lessons in the weirdest things or at the most unlikely spots in life. It helps us connect-the-dots spiritually to receive an object lesson. Imagine a gate that opens up for you to pass through that puts you in a cue in a long line where you are committing to stay in the line for as long as it takes because there is no other way out. One way in, one way out - no skirting the line, no turning around. It speaks of the way we enter into sin in our lives - there is some kind of gate which reminds us we are passing through into some place we may not want to be for very long, but when we do, we are there for the long haul! Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. (James 1:13-15)   All temptation comes with a stopping spot before we enter fully into sin. Just like the ga