All Posts Tagged: sin
“We are saved by grace through faith—a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
“God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Humans were designed to love and be loved! Jesus confirmed this: “Love God … and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
The virus of sin has caused a major malfunction in the human spirit so that we “fall short” of loving God, others and self. We’re dis-eased and the disease is deadly! “We were dead because of our sins….” (Ephesians 2:5) We exist but are unable to fulfill our destiny!
“How helpful it is to see sin, like addictive behavior, as a dis-ease, a very destructive dis-ease instead of merely something that was culpable, punishable, or “made God unhappy,” If sin indeed made God unhappy, it is because God desires nothing more than our happiness. and wills the healing of our dis-ease.” (Breathing Under Water, p xv, Richard Rohr)Though our prognosis is extremely bleak, we’re not hopeless! Father has a medicine to cure our dis-ease.
Blood is red in appearance; yet it contains white blood cells. When your body is under a viral assault, white blood cells attack the virus. However, in gaining victory they die. Healing is won via death!
Father’s medicine is called GRACE: God’s Restoration At Christ Expense! “We are saved (the meaning of this word is “made whole”) by grace….” The old hymn calls it “amazing.” Why? Whereas grace is extremely costly (“You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19), yet, it’s “a gift from God”!
How does one obtain the Medicine Of Life? Jesus said, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” (Mark 2:17)
Have you been to the Doctor yet?
My wife’s sewing machine Instruction Booklet has a Troubleshooting section: condition, cause, reference page. For example, “the needle thread breaks.” Six possible causes along with reference pages are listed. The manufacturer assumes two facts: minor glitches may happen and the consumer can be guided to and through a solution.
Here’s a classic troubleshooting section of the Bible: “If we admit our sins, He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” Notice—our Father assumes that we’ll screw up. “The Lord is as kind to His followers as a father is to his children. He knows we are made of dust.” Case in point: Peter. In the Upper Room Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with You. I’d go to jail for You. I’d die for You!” However, in the Courtyard a few hours later he crumbled: “I don’t even know the Man!”
“If we admit our sins….” The first step in problem solving is identifying and admitting the problem. Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous is: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol…” If the problem is objective, acknowledgment is rather easy. However, it’s a different story if the malfunction is personal. Did you ever watch a young child in the throes of owning a failure? It can be rather humorous.
“He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” The Screw-Up in Luke 15 experienced this firsthand. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned ….’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. We’re going to celebrate!’”
They sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the God. (Genesis 3:7-8)
“Self-improvement represents a $10 billion per year industry in the U.S. alone. The New Statesman’s Barbara Gunnell forecasts a secure future for positive psychology, noting that ‘never has an age been so certain that it deserves not just freedom from distress, but positive well-being’” (Matthew Gilbert, in Self-Help Books and The Promise of Change).
Satan’s success produced dis-ease in humankind. A primary symptom of the ailment is delusion—“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands” (Martin Luther). This belief is lifted from the Monster’s playbook: “How you’ve fallen O morning star, son of the dawn! Remember how you thought: ‘I will make myself like the Most High’”? (Isaiah 14:14)
Genesis 3 reveals SELF-HELP to be the default setting of dis-eased humanity! After disconnecting from their Creator, Adam and Eve immediately attempt to heal their dis-ease. The therapy is covering and hiding: “Many of us strive to ‘fix our sin.’ We try to hide it and pretend like it isn’t there. But this only leads to more hiding, pretending and despair” (Bill Thrall, in TrueFaced). This is the delusion: the belief that hiding is an adequate remedy for dis-ease—that hiding can produce healing! Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”
“The ancient Greeks loved their theater. But the immensity of their amphitheaters made it impossible for many to see the actors’ faces. So, some director came up with the idea of having the actors deliver their lines from behind giant masks. The mask was always a caricature—an overdone, generalized, or idealized portrayal of the character. The actors played their roles behind a façade. The performers were called ‘hypocrites’ (literally ‘one who wears a mask’) rather than actors. We are all performers, and like the actors in ancient Greece, we don’t show our true faces. Because of sin, we’ve lost confidence that we can please the audience, so we feel compelled to hide and put on a mask. We have dozens of masks in our wardrobes!” (Thrall)
A simple illustration reveals the preposterous nature of our self-help therapy. In Hospice, morphine is often administered to terminally ill patients experiencing excruciating pain. Morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to decrease the feeling of pain. Notice: Morphine does nothing to address the source of the pain; rather, it merely hides the pain from the brain. So-called “pain killers” are a delusion!
“Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet” (Luke 24:40). “We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our wounded-ness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers” (Henri Nouwen).
Aaron shall take the two goats to the entrance of the Tent of the Lord’s presence. The goat chosen for Azazel shall be presented alive to the Lord. Aaron shall put both of his hands on the goat’s head, confess over it all the evils, sins, and rebellions of the people of Israel, and so transfer them to the goat’s head. Then the goat is to be driven off into the desert. The goat will carry all their sins away with him into some uninhabited land. (Leviticus 16)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God. He takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29)
It’s called the “Day of Atonement” or, in Hebrew “Yom Kippur.” It’s the most elevated day on the Jewish calendar … like Christmas and Easter on the Christian calendar. “Knee deep” is too deep; so, I’ll drastically simplify.
On Yom Kippur two goats were chosen by lot. The one that was kept alive was referred to as “the goat for Azazel” or the “scapegoat.” Note Aaron’s action relative to this goat: Having placed his hands on the goat’s head, Aaron “confessed all the evils, sins, and rebellions of the people of Israel, transferring all of it to the goat’s head.”
The next action is equally important: Weighted down with all of the “dis-eases” of the people, the goat is “driven off into the desert … some uninhabited land” never to be seen again. In other words “as far as the east is from the west—that’s how far He has removed our rebellious acts from Himself” (Psalm 103:12). WHO, in point of fact, is this Lamb? “Look, the Lamb of God. He takes away the sins of the world!” His name is JESUS!
We need to dig bit deeper—“The goat for Azazel carries all their sins into some inhabited land.” “Azazel” refers to none other than satan.
Hence, Jesus carries all of your sins to the place of Azazel; that is, Hell. In the presence of satan Jesus pays the price for your ransom: His blood. “It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb” (1 Peter 1:17-21). Consequently, satan doesn’t have a leg to stand on relative to any and all of your sins and guilt. “Now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Finally, the early church fathers clearly understood the action of Jesus in fulfilling the Day of Atonement. Note the words of the Apostles’ Creed, finalized in the 4th century: “Jesus descended into hell.” Bearing our sins, He went to hell for us, paying the price for our freedom which satan rightly demanded. In other words, at the Cross Jesus not only paid our bail; he got us off “scot free”!
The woman took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it. Immediately they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves. That evening they heard the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid from Him among the trees. But the Lord God called out to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard You in the garden; I was afraid and hid from You, because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat?” The man answered, “The woman You put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:1-12)
We’ve previously noted that Satan has many strategies: “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against ALL strategies of the devil.” His primary method is DECEPTION—“Your father, the devil, is the father of lies” (John 8:44). In this post we’ll explore the primary goal of deception: DISCONNECTION.
By embracing the lie of the Monster the first couple detached themselves from the Creator: They hid from Him among the trees. God says, “It is your sins that separate you from your God.” A.W. Tozer describes our situation like this: “We have broken with God. We have in guilt and fear fled as far as possible from His Presence. So the life of man upon the earth is a life away from the Presence, wrenched loose from our right and proper dwelling place, the loss of which is the cause of our unceasing restlessness.”
Second, the God-designed self was replaced with a false fabrication—“Realizing their nakedness, they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves.” After severing connection with his father, the Prodigal Son traveled to the far country. Note these words: “And when he came to himself, he said, ‘I will return to my father.’” You see, the young man lost his authentic self by separating from his father. “We don’t know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul” (Meister Eckhart).
Third, the relationship between Adam and Eve became disjointed. When confronted by God, Adam resorted to self-protection via blame shifting: “The woman You put here with me gave me the fruit.” Timothy Keller observes, “There are many ways to cover up our sin. We justify or minimize it by blaming other people.”
Finally, by disconnecting from the Creator, humankind also severed the bonds of harmonious connectedness with nature: “The ground will be under a curse because of what you did. As long as you live, you will have to struggle to grow enough food. Your food will be plants, but the ground will produce thorns and thistles. You will have to sweat to earn a living.”
But remember, this is the Father’s heart revealed in Jesus—“When the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.”