February 26, 2015

Sin >>> Death?

Leviticus 20:1–22:33
John 9:35–41
Song of Solomon 8:1–5

In a world where sin is so rampant and largely goes unpunished, the Bible verses that claim those who sin must die seem to be hollow words. Here are some of them . . .

“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you. For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him. If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:6–10)

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you. If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13–16)

“You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:26-27)

God gave these and many other commands to His people saying, “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 22:31–33)

The Bible says that the soul that sins shall die. This is literal and very serious. So why do we not stone to death those who break these commands? First of all, they were given to God’s people in those early days in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. Second, and gloriously so, God’s people are now no longer under the law of sin and death, but under grace. This means that Jesus came to fulfill the demands of the Law. He did not sin. Instead, He reversed that curse and set His people free from the wages of sin.

Nonetheless, sin is a serious matter. That freedom and grace is only for those who give their lives to Jesus. But even under grace, Christians still sin and this seriously affects our lives. When I am filled with my I-wants, I cannot hear or answer the call of God to obedience. I lose the joy of seeing Him, walking with Him, knowing Him as my friend, my lover, my brother. All of the wonders of these relationships and more are lost when sin comes between Him and me.

As for death, the Bible says that I died with Christ, so sin did slay me. At first, sin created a spiritual separation from God so I was dead in my sin. Then, because of Christ, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

When that happened, it was as if I had been blind all my life, blind to spiritual realities. Then, because of Jesus, I was given sight. The next reading from John continues the story of the man born blind (just like I was born a sinful person). Jesus healed this man, but the religious people were enraged and tossed the man out of their place of worship.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:35–41)

Jesus condemns those who think they know and understand the things of God, and gives sight to those who are blinded by sin, in this man’s case literally, in my case spiritually. Once He opened my eyes and my heart, everything changed. I have new eyes and new life, eternal life.

I just smile at the metaphors in the last reading, thinking of Jesus and the intimacy of these words: “Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I found you outside, I would kiss you, and none would despise me.” (Song of Solomon 8:1)

Those who despise Christians give me no fear. No matter what threats they make or the lies they tell, I am my beloveds and He is mine. He gave me sight and nothing can change that. He also took me to the cross where I died and where He gave me new life, and nothing can change that either!

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