December 10, 2013

Sin is . . .

Some ask where did sin come from? If God created everything, did He also create sin? No, that is not possible. All that God created is “good” (Genesis 1) and “very good.” The New Testament also says . . .
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

Instead, sin comes from human beings determined to go our own way. Instead of using (and being) the good gifts of God as He intends and instead of living under His direction, we use good things our way, perverting their use and by doing so, changing that which was intended for good into sin.

God gives love; we make it possessive and self-gratifying. God gives prosperity; we grasp after it in greed. God gives our daily bread; we abuse our bodies with too much food or the wrong kind, or even not enough of it. God gives wine to warm our hearts; we abuse it with drunkenness. The list is long!

The bottom line is that sinners think we know better than God. We don’t need Him and refuse His rule in our lives. We set up the idol of self and in the process of abusing the goodness of God, we have created every evil imaginable in outright defiance. Perhaps even worse than the obvious evil is our pretense of religious piety that looks good on the outside but is full of hypocrisy and dead self-righteousness.

Into this world of rebels, the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10) This saving is not automatic. That is, the lost, even those who know they are lost in sin, are not zapped into people who stop worshiping themselves and begin to worship Almighty God. Only a few recognize they need saving, but even out of that few, only a few are saved.

And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13:23–24)  . . . For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14)

Most of the religious cults boast in the rapid growth of their membership. Like the world, they measure their importance with words like bigger, better, more, but God’s salvation of sinners is not that way. Few there be who say what John the Baptist said . . .

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Even fewer will say what the Apostle Paul said about himself . . .

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)

John Calvin said that our hearts are idol-making factories. With the saving power of Jesus Christ, we can choose to enjoy the goodness of God in submission and with a yielded heart, but God knows our hearts. This is why the Bible is full of instructions like, “You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:13–16).

These words are our daily bread for the soul, our reminder that we cannot and will not pick God over our own idols. The Word of God is also vital for strength needed to do battle with our daily encounter against the temptation to go our own way and abuse the goodness of God.

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