Falling Short of God's Glory
Greed and idols
The Way Up Is Down
Road Rage and the Cross
Freedom to Sin vs. Freedom from Sin
The Wicked Fall Into Their Own Pit
By Beholding We Become Changed
September 11, 2001. The whole world knows what happened on that day. That day changed our lives forever.
Nineteen terrorists damaged the pentagon, destroyed the twin towers, killed
thousands of innocent people, violated our trust, our privacy, and, to an
ever-increasing degree, caused us to loose our freedom.
Why did they do it? Some contend that they were jealous of
our wealth and ease. Some maintain that they did it because of our hard-nosed
favoritism of the Israelis over the Palestinians. Some suggest they were angered
by our corrupting influence on world morality. Others say because of American
arrogance and disregard of other nation's rights. Yet others say mostly just
because of the hatred that filled the terrorists hearts. Each of these
rationales probably has some truth to it. Yet none of these rationales speaks to
the fundamental reason, though the last one heads in the right direction.
These terrorists came from an extremist Islamic sect that
paints Allah as vengeful and violent, who will shower his wrath on infidels. By
beholding we become changed. Our view of God determines what our character
becomes. By beholding a wrathful image of God, these men became changed into the
image of God that their leaders had painted.
Certainly, one cannot doubt their sincerity, seeing that
they were willing to sacrifice their lives to carry out what they considered to
be God's will. They felt that it was their duty to attack the United States,
which in their minds was evil, or the great Satan.
Each person's view of God has a powerful impact on their
personal philosophy and their character. An evil picture of God leads to evil
feelings, then evil words, followed by evil actions. A beautiful picture of God,
on the other hand leads to loving feelings, then to loving words, followed by
loving actions. Much of the sin in our world comes from a warped view of God.
Matthew 10:24, 25 A disciple is not greater than his master,
or a servant than his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he may be as his
master, and the servant as his lord. If they have given the name Beelzebub to
the master of the house, how much more to those of his house! (BBE)
Every Christian battles sin in his life. We all desire to
overcome sin. It is helpful to identify the characteristics of the enemy that we
The Bible writers use various words for sin. Essentially,
there are four basic concepts.
1. Breaking the Law
This basic Bible concept of sin is found in 1John 3:4:
"Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of
the law." (NKJ). The law that John refers to is the Ten Commandments, God's law
of love. Our words and actions flow from our heart. The prophet Jeremiah
proclaims that the human heart "is deceitful above all things, And desperately
wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV). Only as we allow God to write
his law of love in our hearts can we keep the Ten Commandments.
Jesus is the only one that, with perfect confidence, could
ask the question "Which of you convicts Me of sin?" John 8:46, (KJV). Jesus kept
the Ten Commandments, revealed the self-sacrificing love (glory) of God, lived
an unselfish life, and under the worst possible circumstances trusted (had faith
in) God. The life and death of Christ as told in the Bible present to us the
standard of behavior. Anything less is sin. Jesus never sinned.
Hebrews 4:14, 15 "Seeing then that we have a great High
Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold
fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with
our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (NKJ)
He kept the law, The Ten Commandments. He is our example.
We must walk in his footsteps.
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My
love, even as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (MKJV)
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or
the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto
you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass
from the law, till all be fulfilled. (KJV)
Jesus always pleased God by living according to the law of
God's love. John 8:29 "And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone,
because I always do what pleases him" (TEV).
2. Falling Short of God's Glory
The apostle Paul gives us this Bible definition of sin in
Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (KJV).
Paul asserts that to fall short of the glory of God is sin. That's a high
standard. The glory of God is his law of love, his character as revealed by the
life and death of Jesus Christ. (See also Exodus 33:18-20 and 1Corinthians 13.)
Jesus glorified his Father by suffering for our sin and guilt. Jesus showed us
the glory, or character, of his Father. In John 17:3-5, Jesus declares:
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only
true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. "I have glorified You on the
earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O
Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You
before the world was." (NKJ)
Jesus never fell short of the glory of God. He always died
to self and lived for others. Everything he did, from his birth to his last
breath, displayed the holy beauty of God's love. To glorify God, then, is to be
willing to suffer and die for those that hate and misunderstand you. It also
means that we should willingly live to serve others, making our desires
subservient to those around us. Living for others takes more effort than to
physically die for others. Jesus did all this and more.
The Hebrew word iniquity means bent, or warped. In the
beginning, God created man to be a channel for his love. Love would flow outward
from the heart of man to all those around him. When Adam and Eve fell, God's
perfect, unselfish love did a U-turn. Now, each human naturally loves only
himself unconditionally. We all instinctively look out for number one. In other
words, iniquity is selfishness. Our hearts are naturally selfish.
Jesus had absolutely no iniquity (selfishness) in Him.
Consider the contrast between Jesus and Lucifer (Satan). Earlier we saw that
iniquity (selfishness) started in the heart of Lucifer, the covering cherub. The
covering cherub stood in the presence of God among the stones of fire, the
highest position any angel can have.
Because of his vanity, Lucifer started to desire the very
throne of God. He desired the worship of the other angels. Lucifer wanted to
exalt himself. He imagined climbing higher and higher, surpassing God. He would
stop at nothing to grasp the position and honor he wanted. Lucifer would destroy
anything and anyone to get what he wanted.
Even if Lucifer had attained the throne of God, he would
not have been satisfied. Warped, selfish ambition can never be satisfied.
Iniquity causes an emptiness of soul that cannot be filled by any material
object or social status. Owning the entire universe (heaven) wouldn't have been
enough. Having all power and authority over the entire universe would not make
Jesus, on the other hand, willingly gave up his status as
King in Heaven to become a servant here on earth. Jesus had no selfishness, that
is to say, no iniquity, in Him. John 14:30 "I will no longer talk much with you,
for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me" (NKJ).
Jesus did not have to go to the cross. His love for each of
us was and is stronger than death. Listen to Jesus as the Roman soldiers nailed
Him to the cross.
Luke 23:32-34 And there were also two other, malefactors,
led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is
called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right
hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they
know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (KJV)
The Holy Spirit inspired my favorite poet, David, to share
some insights on sin with us. After David had Uriah the Hittite killed to take
his wife Bathsheba, he repented of his sin and wrote these powerful words.
Psalms 51:1-3, 9, 10, 16, 17 Have mercy upon me, O God,
according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender
mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and
cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever
before me. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create
in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. For thou
desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt
offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite
heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)
A fourth Biblical concept of sin is to not believe in
John 16:7-9 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is
expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not
come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come,
he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin,
because they believe not on me;" (KJV)
Here Jesus defines sin as not believing in Him. "Believe"
and "faith" come from the same Greek root word. Sin is lack of faith in Jesus.
In Hebrews 11:6 we read that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Faith
means knowing God well enough to trust Him with your life. Faith is not blind,
but rather based on experience and knowledge. Faith is a matter of the heart and
In Hebrews, Paul applies the principle that unbelief equals
sin in regard to Israel as they wandered forty years in the wilderness.
Hebrews 3:10-12 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation,
and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So
I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren,
lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the
living God. (KJV)
Hebrews 3:17-19 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was
it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to
whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that
believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (KJV)
Unbelief kept one generation of Israelites out of the
Promised Land. Unbelief is what keeps the wicked out of Heaven. Jesus'
temptation in the wilderness provides another perspective on sin. After Jesus
had fasted for 40 days, Satan tried four basic temptations against Him. We face
these same four basic temptations today.
Satan attacked Jesus first by using the phrase, "If You are
the Son of God."
Matthew 4:1-4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the
wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil. And when He had fasted forty days and
forty nights, He was afterwards hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he
said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." But
He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by
every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" (MKJV)
Satan tempted Jesus to doubt that he was the Son of God.
Notice that Satan had insinuated doubt about the goodness and truthfulness of
God to tempt Eve.
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the
creatures the Lord God had made. "Really?" he asked the woman. "Did God really
say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?"
"Of course we may eat it," the woman told him. "It's only
the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to
eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die."
"You won't die!" the serpent hissed. "God knows that your
eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing
everything, both good and evil." (NLT)
Doubt, or unbelief, then, is one of the four basic
temptations we face as well. When we hang on to sin we support Satan's claims
against God. We also strengthen our doubts. Love for sin crowds out love for
God. Faith rests on our love for God. Every time we sin we make it easier to
We have never had to face as strong a temptation to doubt
God's goodness as Jesus did. Moreover, Jesus faced that temptation while
carrying the whole worlds sins. Today, doubt seems to be a badge of honor, or a
symbol of free thought. It seems to me that false tolerance has led to the
acceptance of the concept that all ideas are equal. Relativity of morals has
overshadowed God's law in our society. The results are not good.
Satan combined the temptation to doubt with that of
appetite. Appetite, combined with doubts about the goodness of God, took Adam
and Eve down. Sticking with a previous pattern of success, Satan hit Jesus at
his weakest moment, after he had fasted forty days. I rarely fast more than one
day at a time. I can't imagine forty days. After forty days of fasting, food
would be attractive. Certainly even plain bread would have tasted good to Jesus
after forty days of fasting.
Even so, Jesus did not give in to appetite, but answered
Satan by quoting Scripture. Jesus didn't go by his feelings. He made his
decisions based on principles. Biblical principles. Jesus was more sensitive and
had stronger feelings than any other man. Yet he made his feelings subservient
to reason and principle.
Today appetite seems to rule the world. Science News
"Since the mid-1960s, the rate of obesity in the United
States has nearly tripled to one in three adults. Over the same period, U.S.
citizens have deducted, on average, about 2 hours from their nightly slumber. Is
there a connection? Endocrinologist Eve Van Cauter strongly suspects that there
is. She points to seven studies that have linked body weight to how long people
God has designed us with the need for love. We try to fill
that empty spot in our hearts with food, television, sports, sex, drugs, and
rock and roll, as well as the outward forms of religion. Of course it doesn't
work. That empty spot can only be filled by Jesus' love, through the word of
I think that it is useful to know that we need the proper
amount of sleep in order to resist the temptation to eat more than we need. I
wonder if there might be a relationship between lack of sleep and a reduced
ability to resist other temptations as well. Satan knows about the relation of
rest to spiritual strength. God spoke to Pharaoh through Moses and Aaron,
requesting that he allow the Israelites to go out into the wilderness to worship
Him. Listen to how Pharaoh, Satan's spokesman, reacts:
Exodus 5:6-9 "Who do you think you are," Pharaoh shouted,
"distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! Look, there are many
people here in Egypt, and you are stopping them from doing their work." That
same day Pharaoh sent this order to the slave drivers and foremen he had set
over the people of Israel: "Do not supply the people with any more straw for
making bricks. Let them get it themselves! But don't reduce their production
quotas by a single brick. They obviously don't have enough to do. If they did,
they wouldn't be talking about going into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to
their God. Load them down with more work. Make them sweat! (NLT)
Satan knows that if he can keep us busy that we won't have
time for God. We need our daily physical rest in order to battle temptation. We
also need our daily spiritual rest in order to keep our friendship with our
heavenly Father. Jesus took time for communion with his Father. Mark 1:35 "And
in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed
into a solitary place, and there prayed" (KJV). We also need a weekly time of
spiritual rest to keep our relationship with Jesus alive.
Another aspect of appetite is the desire to accumulate
material goods. Sexual appetite is yet another area that Satan tempts fallen
humanity with great success. Jesus passed the test on every aspect of appetite.
Satan had more temptations up his sleeve, though. He
encouraged Jesus to doubt and presume on God's protection.
Matthew 4:5-7 Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city
and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. And he said to Him, "If you are the
Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, 'He shall give His angels
charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any
time You dash Your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "It is written
again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" (MKJV)
Again, Satan tried to cause Jesus to doubt that he was the
Son of God. Again Satan combined two temptations, presumption and doubt. Faith
and presumption outwardly resemble one another. Presumption carries within it a
mixture of doubt and disregard for the principles of love. Satan tempted Jesus
to use God's promises to force his Father to prove his love for Jesus. Faith and
love need not resort to force.
In this modern age we can easily slide into presumption. We
can be tempted to feel that we will be saved no matter what we do. However,
faith and love show regard for other's feelings and desires. God wants us to
show our love for Him by allowing his principles into our hearts. Faith allows
God to create a new heart in us. A new heart speaks good, kind words. Kind words
lead to kind actions. Jesus spells it out for us.
Matthew 12:34-37 Your words show what is in your hearts. Good
people bring good things out of their hearts, but evil people bring evil things
out of their hearts. I promise you that on the day of judgment, everyone will
have to account for every careless word they have spoken. On that day they will
be told that they are either innocent or guilty because of the things they have
Presumption contends "God will save me in my sins. I don't
need a new heart." Faith says, "Please change it or I will die."
4. Greed and Idols
Closely related to presumption are greed, vanity, pride of
possession, the desire for power, and idol worship.
Matthew 4:8-11 Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high
mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he
said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship
me. Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the
Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." Then the Devil left him. And
behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (MKJV)
Satan tempted Jesus to enter into a business deal. "You
worship me and I will give up my claim to the earth and its inhabitants." Of
course Satan was lying. Satan tempted Jesus to follow the easy path. Reading
beneath the surface words, Satan insinuated to Jesus that he didn't have to go
to the cross in order to gain control of the world. Satan offered Jesus control
of the world, but at a cost. Satan tempted Jesus to enter into the principles of
force. However, if God had wanted to use force to gain control of the world, he
wouldn't have needed Satan's help to do it.
We too, face the temptation to use power, or force. Look at
the political races. People will do or say most anything to gain political
power. Some people will even break the law to obtain the political or corporate
position they want. Other people try to gain power through amassing money,
persuasive speaking, fraud, or other means of climbing the corporate ladder.
That is why we see so many accounting scandals and other types of fraud in the
large corporations. People are trying to move up the ladder, at any cost to
others or even themselves.
Even those who have large amounts of money and power seek
more. Greed is never satisfied. Power, prestige, and pride of possession
hypnotize many, causing them to sell their soul for fleeting pleasures. This
same principle occurs on a smaller scale as well. I have found myself in that
mode of thought. In the past, I have convinced myself that a new car would make
me happy. Then it was a new computer. After that it was getting a new, more
powerful stereo system that I thought would make me happy. Ecclesiastes 5:10, 12
"If you love money, you will never be satisfied; if you long to be rich, you
will never get all you want. It is useless. The rich, however, have so much that
they stay awake worrying" (TEV).
Church board meetings can bring out the satanic principle
of force. People want control, power over others, and over the material
structures of the church. If you have ever sat on a church board, or know
someone who has, you likely have heard of the battles that occur over such
weighty matters as the color of the carpet, curtains, or the paint on the walls.
One church board I know of even voted not to have an evangelistic series because
they had just installed new carpet! They didn't want to get it dirty, or wear it
out too quickly. Often, Patience slips out of the boardroom just after Christian
Kindness and the Spirit of Listening have left.
The Way Up Is Down
Lucifer thought he would be happy if he could have the
throne of God. He thought he could have the status and worship without the
character of self-sacrificing love. He was wrong. The end of the path of
self-exaltation is dishonor, death, and destruction. Matthew 23:12 "And
whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself
shall be exalted" (KJV). This is not an arbitrary law that God enforces, but
rather a natural principle that God himself has chosen to live by.
We need to stay focused on Jesus and his love for us. We
have never faced the level of temptation that Jesus did. He overcame, even while
carrying the weight of the world's sin and guilt!
Jesus is the Antidote to sin. How did Jesus overcome
temptation? And how can we?
Jesus was the King of Kings. Though he was the Creator God,
Jesus left the honor, security, and pleasures of Heaven that were rightfully
his. Jesus laid aside his royal robes and his divine prerogatives to combine his
divinity with our humanity. God became a human baby! He grew up in a city
renowned for its sinfulness. He lived to serve others. He worked as a carpenter
until he was thirty years old. And Jesus had to deal with temptation on a daily
During his ministry, Jesus often prayed. Prayer
strengthened Jesus. Jesus felt the need for prayer, even though he was perfect.
Or, perhaps it was because Jesus was perfect that he felt the need to pray. The
closer we come to God, the more we will feel our need to pray. Mark 1:35 "And in
the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into
a solitary place, and there prayed" (KJV). Luke 6:12 "And it came to pass in
those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in
prayer to God" (KJV).
We too, must pray for strength to overcome sin in our
lives. Jesus instructed his followers, "Keep watch and pray that you will not
fall into temptation" (Matthew 26:41 TEV). Paul advised Christians to, "Pray
without ceasing" (1Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is vital to overcoming temptation
Jesus healed others. Jesus fed others. By serving others,
we enter into the Spirit of Jesus and become more resistant to sin.
Jesus forgave others' sins. Jesus didn't judge others. When
we forgive others of their sins against us, God strengthens us. When we refrain
from judging others, we partake of the Spirit of God's mercy and thereby avoid
one of the most grievous of sins.
Would you like to know one of the most powerful weapons
against sin? Jesus used it. Moses used it. Paul used it. Now you can use it.
1Peter 4:8 "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other,
for love covers a multitude of sins" (NLT). Imagine that, love covers a
multitude of sins. Love cuts a wide swath through the sin problem. Love is the
answer to sin. God's love through Jesus destroyed the power of sin. The cross
OK. How do you get love for God and others? By meditating
on Jesus, you will become more like Him. Spend time in the word every day. First
thing in the morning is best. Prayer and meditation on God's great love will
change your heart. Also, putting his love into practice will speed the whole
process. Find ways to serve others. Jesus served us.
Jesus took the path that went down, down, down. Jesus would
stop at nothing to rescue others. He sacrificed everything. He would rather take
destruction upon himself than to allow it to fall on us. The end of the path of
humility, self-sacrifice, and service is honor, happiness, and life. Jesus
revealed that his Father is the greatest Servant. Jesus wants us to be like Him.
Often, like Lucifer, we are more concerned with ourselves
than with others. However, God loves others more than he loves himself! That is
the source of his power. That kind of love can change hearts. That kind of power
can overcome sin. Sin shows itself in the little things of life.
Road Rage and the Cross
How do we feel when someone tries to cut us off on the
freeway? Do we automatically and graciously slow down to make room for the
aggressive or careless driver? Or are we instead tempted to speed up, and try to
stay ahead of the other guy and thereby save two or three seconds? Remember,
love covers a multitude of sins.
The contrast between our selfishness and the glory of God's
love becomes very clear in the light of the cross of Jesus. In the cross we see
that God was willing to die to save everyone, even those that hated Him, and
whipped, punched, and spit on Him, and finally nailed Him to the cross.
Would we be willing to die for a man that had just spit on
us? No, I don't think so. Our natural reaction would be at least to respond with
some harsh words, or depending on his size, slap him, or perhaps spit back. How
few of even professed Christians would react with a humble kindness and
forgiveness and a desire to love him as Christ did. Humility versus pride. Pride
is one of the most dangerous sins. It suggests that we don't need God's power in
our lives. Pride of opinion can keep us from growing in knowledge and experience
How do we feel when someone disagrees with us in Bible
study? How do we react when someone criticizes us? Do we thank them for the new
information and their concern for our happiness? Or do we perceive them as
critical, judgmental, and legalistic? Did Jesus become defensive? Would you give
your life for someone that you perceive as being critical and legalistic? Jesus
did. Meditate on Jesus.
Love is the opposite of sin. The standard of love that
Jesus reveals on the cross goes way beyond reluctantly letting someone cut in
front of you on the freeway. It goes beyond stopping a bullet for a friend or
enemy. Paul, in Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus tasted death for every man. Sin
is destructive. It brings guilt.
Every time we do something wrong we feel guilt. If we lie
to someone, steal some money from a friend, or gossip about a best friend, we
feel guilt, especially if we get caught. The shame, the guilt that we feel is
very uncomfortable. Remember that Jesus carried the shame and guilt of the whole
world. Sin, and the sense of separation from his Father broke the heart of
What is the problem with sin? If sin is such fun, why does
the Bible use such negative terms in describing sin? Why does God hate sin so
much? God wants us to enjoy life. God's law is the law of liberty. We know that
sin is transgression of God's law of life and love. God's law is wisdom. Wisdom
calls out to us, "But those who miss me have injured themselves. All who hate me
love death" (Proverbs 8:36 NLT).
Sin leads to death. That doesn't sound like much fun.
Selfishness may appear fun, but it causes loneliness, stress, and death. God
wants us to enjoy life. Talking with friends, rejoicing in the beauty of nature,
helping others, these are activities that God has designed for us to enjoy.
These bring true, lasting joy. Satan's counterfeits look exciting, glitzy, fun,
and sweet, but they are hollow, trite, and leave a bitter aftertaste.
God's law is not arbitrary. God's law brings true freedom.
James calls the Ten Commandments "the perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25 KJV).
God hates sin because it brings slavery. Take appetite, for example. If you let
children eat just what they want, many would find themselves enslaved to a
perverted appetite. They would eat chocolate cake and ice cream all day. But
that would lead to illness and death. Slavery to sin causes misery and at last,
leads to death. Tobacco. I don't need to spell it out, do I. The advertisers
make smoking look fun, but...
Have you, or someone you know struggled with a really bad
temper? Have you ever told anyone "You made me angry"? That is an admission that
someone else is in control of your temper! A bad temper controls many. That's
slavery. God can give you freedom. Anger only lasts three seconds, unless you
feed it. I've tried it, it's true. Hang on for three seconds without adding fuel
to the fire, without justifying your anger, and it goes away. That feels good!
Why should we let anger enslave us? Anger destroys.
Freedom to Sin vs. Freedom from Sin
Give control of your thoughts to Jesus. Make a habit of
guarding your thoughts. When negative thoughts and feelings come, pray and give
the thought or feeling to Jesus. And let it go. Each time you do this it will
get easier. Don't let sinful, negative thoughts dwell in your mind. Pray without
ceasing. Jesus can free us from slavery to our negative emotions and passions.
Jesus will fill us with positive emotions, such as joy, satisfaction, peace, and
many others. Freedom brings these emotions. Why let either Satan or your own
desires make you into a slave?
James 1:12-15 God will bless you, if you don't give up when
your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as he
rewards everyone who loves him. 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. (CEV)
Jesus died to rescue us from sin, not to enable us to live
in our sins. When, through the cross of Jesus, we see the high cost of sin and
God's great love for us, sin will become disgusting to us. The goodness of God
leads us to repentance. Our hearts will be filled with unselfish love rather
than selfishness and negative desires. We will choose faith, love, and life over
sin, doubt, and death. By taking the sins of the entire world on himself, Jesus
showed us the natural consequences of sin. Truly, the wages of sin is death.
Remember that God does not keep track of our sins. God is love.
1Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; it is not
jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;
love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy
with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never
fail. Love is eternal. (TEV)
God is not the source of death, but life. God is the
Creator, not the Destroyer. There is one who accuses, keeps track of sins, and
loves to destroy; it is Satan. Judging, keeping track of wrongs in order to
punish or take revenge is sin. God doesn't keep track of others sins. Neither
Another powerful tool in the fight against sin is nature.
God has placed healing power within his creation. We were designed to live in a
garden, the Garden of Eden. Cities contain many temptations that we could avoid
by living in the country. Spending time in nature can help us to overcome sin.
In God's handiwork as we observe the beautiful, living things we see more of
God's love. The songs of the birds, the fluffy white clouds against the blue
sky, the colorful flowers, and many other lovely, vibrant things testify to
We can walk with God and receive deep impressions of his
love for us by spending time in nature, his beautiful creation. By beholding God
in nature we will be changed into his image. To be sure, sin has tainted God's
perfect creation, as we can see in the thorns and decay, as well as in poisonous
and destructive things. Rather than dwelling on the negative, we can look for
God's love. The principle that we find what we look for holds true. We also know
that our Father will shortly recreate our world. We too, need to be recreated.
Mankind was the pinnacle of God's creation, so it is here
in our fallen, selfish humanity, in our body, mind, and character that we can
see most clearly the principles and results of sin and unbelief. It stains our
nature. Romans 7:5 "When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires
were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced
sinful deeds, resulting in death" (CEV).
The Wicked Fall Into Their Own Pit
Sin leads to a chain reaction of negative events
culminating in death. Don't add to your sin by blaming God for either temptation
or the death of the wicked. Psalm 9:16 "The LORD is known by the judgment He
executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (NKJ). This verse
shows us that God's idea of judgment is to allow the wicked to be caught in his
own trap. Psalm 34:21 "Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the
righteous shall be condemned" (NKJ). Notice what slays the wicked -"Evil."
King David experienced some of sin's destructive power in
his own life. David's sin with Bathsheba caused disharmony, disrespect,
rebellion, (Remember Absalom) and death. In Psalm 51 we read that David fully
repented of his sin. God forgave David. But God did not remove all the effects
of David's sin. David lost four of his sons just as he had passed judgment on
the rich man of Nathan's parable to repay four lambs for the lamb he had stolen.
God knows that we have been deceived. He doesn't hold our
sins against us. Yet in his mercy God allows us a small taste of the
consequences of sin, hoping that we will turn from sin. All the while he draws
us to himself with cords of love.
Because of his great mercy, God shields us from the full
consequences of sin, which is the second death. God longs for each of us to
clearly see the pain, sorrow, death, and destruction of sin, in full contrast
with the peace, joy, and eternal life of his holy law of love.
Our loving and merciful heavenly Father does not want any
of us to die for lack of instruction. He has abundantly provided instruction for
escaping from the trap of iniquity, and the cords of sin. This instruction is
found in the life and death of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit shared
these principles with all mankind. Proverbs 5:22,23 "His own iniquities entrap
the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack
of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray" (NKJ). As
we noted before, John makes it clear that condemnation doesn't come from God.
Paul reaffirms it too.
John 3:16,17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)
Romans 5:18-21 God's law was given so that all people could
see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful
kindness became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought
them to death, now God's wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right
standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (CEV)
Romans 7: 7-13 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Let it
not be! But I did not know sin except through law; for also I did not know lust
except the law said, "You shall not lust." But sin taking occasion through the
commandment worked every lust in me; for apart from law, sin is dead. And I was
alive apart from law once, but the commandment came, and sin came alive, and I
died. And the commandment which was to life, this was found to be death to me;
for sin taking occasion through the commandment deceived me, and through it
killed me. So indeed the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and
good. Then that which is good, has it become death to me? Let it not be! But
sin, that it might appear to be sin, having worked out death to me through the
good, in order that sin might become excessively sinful through the commandment.
Here Paul explains that the law (Ten Commandments) arouses,
or makes us aware of, our evil, sinful, selfish desires. These evil desires (not
the law) produce sinful deeds that result in death. Notice that it is sin itself
that brings death. Our God loves sinners enough to lay down his life in order to
win our hearts and save us from sin. Our God is not a harsh dictator. And sin is
far more dangerous and destructive than any of us realize, or even like to
Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, however, understood and
experienced the destructive power of sin. In agony, Jesus pleaded with his
Father to see if there was any other way to save humanity then carrying the
destructive guilt and shame of sin. By his death on the cross of Calvary, Christ
demonstrated the incredibly destructive power of sin and guilt. Looking unto
Jesus, let us turn from sin.
Romans 6:12-23 Then do not let sin rule in your mortal body,
to obey it in its lusts. Neither present your members as instruments of
unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as one living from the
dead, and your members instruments of righteousness to God. For your sin shall
not lord it over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then?
Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Let it not be! Do
you not know that to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you
are slaves to whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or obedience to
righteousness? But thanks be to God that you were slaves of sin, but you obeyed
from the heart the form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been
set free from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness. I speak as a man on
account of the weakness of your flesh. For as you presented your members as
slaves to uncleanness and to lawless act unto lawless act, so now yield your
members as slaves to righteousness unto sanctification. For when you were slaves
of sin, you were free as to righteousness. Therefore what fruit did you have
then in the things over which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things
is death. But now being set free from sin, and being enslaved to God, you have
your fruit unto sanctification, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of
sin is death, but the free gift of God is everlasting life in Christ Jesus our
Wages are something that a person earns. Wages are the
result of work. Sin is hard work. Satan paints sin as exciting, glamorous, and
pleasant, but in reality it is bitter and destructive. Sin is the hard, lonely,
stressful work of being selfish. The result (wages) of selfishness (sin) is
death. "For the wages of sin is death," means that the natural consequence of
selfishness is death.
As we have seen before, the sacrifice of Jesus clearly
revealed the wages of sin in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of
Calvary. Jesus had unbroken fellowship with his heavenly Father from his birth
right up to Gethsemane. In the garden Jesus prayed three times that the "cup"
might be taken from him. He knew that if he drank from this cup (the sins of the
world) he would feel separated from his heavenly Father. Jesus would feel the
shame and guilt of the whole world's sins, even though he himself was perfect.
This struggle caused Him to sweat blood, (Luke 22:44). The wages of sin
horrified the Son of God. Our heavenly Father did not kill Jesus. The physical
violence of the cross did not kill Jesus. Sin killed Jesus. My sins and yours
killed Jesus. Jesus took the consequences of the sins of the whole world. The
burning, crushing weight of the guilt and shame of sin caused Jesus to feel an
infinitely deep sense of separation from the Father. That combination caused
Jesus to experience the second death. It is a fatal combination. And if sin and
a sense of separation from God killed Christ, the only begotten Son of God, how
much more so for sinners at the end of time! Our heavenly Father does not kill
sinners at the end of time. Sin, resulting in guilt, and separation from God
will destroy sinners at the end of time.
We mustn't hang onto sin, which is unbelief. Unbelief comes
from a dark picture of God and our own selfish desires. A dark picture of God
prevents us from having saving faith in God. We must see God's goodness so that
Jesus can change our hearts, or we will remain slaves to sin. If we remain
slaves to sin, we will be lost. Sin carries within it the seeds of death.
Through Jesus, God plants within us the seeds of life. The seed of life springs
from an understanding of Jesus' love for sinners. If we fertilize and water the
seed of life God will with rejoicing give us eternal life. However, if we
fertilize and water the seed of sin and death, the harvest will be death and God
will weep. "Dear reader, which will you choose?" "Heavenly Father, I pray that
each person who reads this book will not choose the insane path of selfishness,
empty pleasures, loneliness, guilt, stress, and eternal death. I pray each
precious soul will choose the beautiful path of unselfish love, fellowship,
service, fulfillment, joy, innocence, peace, rest from sin, and eternal life. Amen."