Posts tagged ‘sin’

Beginnings

There are many things and people in the Old Testament that are types and shadows of things in the New Testament. For example, the Tabernacle in the Old is shown in the Letter to the Hebrews to be a type of Christ. An interesting parallel can also be found between Genesis 1 and John 1 when it comes to new creations.

Interestingly, both books begin with the same phrase — “In the beginning”. With Genesis it is “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and in John we start out with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God”. John continues on with

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3 NKJV)

So, through the fuller revelation of the New Testament, we see the Jesus was the one who is the Creator.

Later in Genesis 1, the inspired narrative continues with the creation of light.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:3-5)

In the same way, John continues with he’s description of Jesus Christ.
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n Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:4, 5, 9 NKJV)

In His earthly ministry, Jesus even describes Himself as “the light of the World”

In Genesis, we see the Spirit hovering over the waters of creation (Genesis 1:2) and in John we see the Spirit hovering over the waters of baptism, where a new creation now takes place.

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

The apostle Paul draws a further parallel between Genesis and the Gospel by comparing Jesus and Adam.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. (Romans 5:14, 15 NKJV)

Paul goes further and calls Jesus the Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49). Both were tempted in a garden (Eden and Gethsemane). Through the failure of the first Adam sin and death entered the world. Through the obedience of the second Adam life and redemption have come to the world. Adam sinned at a tree, realized he was naked, and brought sin and its shame. Jesus was stripped naked, crucified on a tree, and paid the penalty for our sin, bearing our shame. The early Christians called the creation account the “protoevangellium” or first gospel for that very reason.

The Old Testament becomes so rich when we read it while asking what it is telling us about Jesus. It also illustrates how Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the Law. It also shows how the Bible fits so well as a revelation. Only God could orchestrate a collection of 66 books with 47 authors and have it fit so well together!

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Of Sin and Diaper Disposal

I heard an illustration the other day, and was so impressed by it that I thought I would put it here and maybe expand on it a bit. Perhaps it was because the illustration was from something that was so familiar. In fact, it was more familiar than I wanted it to be. So thanks, Landon, for the powerful (in many ways) word picture.

Have you ever had one of those diaper machines? I remember having one called a Diaper Genie, and it was a very useful little invention. When a diaper became “soiled” I would lift up the lid, place the offensive object inside, twist, and close it again. The diaper was surrounded by a plastic bag, and was safely inside. Eventually, though, I would be accosted by an ever increasing odor when I would open the lid. Thankfully, I could take it outside and empty what looked like a chain of sausage, into the trash to be left at the curb. Early in the morning the garbage truck would come by and take it away forever, and it would be buried.

What that illustrates very powerfully is the difference between our sins under the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. Under the former system of sacrifices of animals, our sins were covered over, kind of like a diaper inside a diaper pail. Every year the sins of the people were covered.

Under the New Covenant, it is different. We now have the remission of sins. Just like when we take the sausage chain of corruption to the curb, we bring our sin to Jesus and forsake them. We leave them there and don’t come back to them, just like we would never think of reusing a diaper pail roll. Jesus has promised to take them away and remember them no more. He takes them away instead of covering them up. He is able to do this because He has entered into the heavenly temple and offered His own blood once and for all and sat down at the Father’s right hand.

And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet . For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. (Hebrews 10:11-14 NET)

So remember, those of you with diaper genie machines, our sins are no longer covered and wrapped up, have have been taken away by Jesus. And then hurry out and empty that thing!

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The Parable of the Operating Room

The Parable Of The Operating Room
I don’t know anybody that relishes the idea of surgery, especially major surgery. But when it is a matter of life and death, most will submit to it willingly because it still beats dying. Well I want to talk about another operating room. In fact, I call it “The Parable of the Operating Room”.

There was once a young man who, as far as he could tell, was leading a fairly normal and healthy life. Nothing seemed amiss, he wasn’t suffering from any maladies that he knew of, and he had every expectation for a long life. But at the insistence of a friend, he decided to have a physical examination anyway. If for no other reason than to be able to tell everyone around him that he was in perfect health.
At the doctor’s office, many tests were run, and everything was checked to make sure nothing was overlooked. The young man was not nervous at all while waiting for the test results, because he felt fine. To his surprise, the doctor entered the room with a very concerned look on his face. He was looking over the test results and slowly shaking his head.

Finally, the doctor looked up and broke the news to the young man. He said, “Young man, I hate to break this to you, but I am looking at these tests, and there are ten clear symptoms here that you are not only very ill, but are terminally ill.”
Starting to panic, the young man what these symptoms could possibly be. As the doctor ran down the list, the young man could only agree and wonder why he had never thought of the symptoms as a warning. The doctor said that everyone with these symptoms thinks they are normal untitled hey see the way the test results should have come out. Then it becomes painfully obvious that the condition is lethal.
“But, rest assured, young man,” the doctor said. “There is a cure that has been found and I can take care of this problem. All you need to do is submit to this operation and you will have a new life ahead of you. The procedure is very costly and you could never afford it, but I am willing to do it for free. Shall we proceed?”
Of course, now that the young man is aware of his true condition, he is more than willing to have the surgery. So the doctor has him admitted, has the young man wheeled into the operating room, and performs life saving surgery. All is well and the young man is eternally grateful for what the doctor has done. This is especially true since the doctor performed the surgery without charge.

So what is the meaning of my little parable? Glad you asked!
The young man is every one of us when we were without God. We were condemned by our sins, but had no idea that we were in any danger. All the while, we were in a spiritually terminal condition, doomed by the silent killer called sin. But at some point, often at the urging of a loved one, we are exposed to the Word of God. We looked into the Word and there, perhaps for the first time saw our true condition.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12, 13 NASB)

When the Holy Spirit, through the Word, convicted us of our sinful condition before God, we responded by gladly asking God to do whatever was required to cure our condition.
Please notice that the young man did not submit to this life altering surgery because the doctor had convinced him that, while he was okay, this procedure would make him even better and make his life easier. It was not until the young man was told of his true condition and its consequences that he gladly submitted the the master surgeon’s hands.
Jesus Christ is the doctor, and the tools of His surgery are grace, faith, and His own blood. Baptism is, if you will, the operating room. Now operating rooms never operated on anyone. Surgeons do that. And surgeons don’t use an operating room as the cure for anything. The scalpel and other tools do that, in conjunction with a supply of blood. But the operating room is where the surgery is supposed to take place! No surgeon, if given the choice, wants to operate on the hospital lawn. The proper place for surgery is in the operating room that was designed for that purpose. And when we try to omit the baptismal surgical suite, we are attempting an unnecessary shortcut that will endanger those we are trying to help.

Thus endeth the parable; thus endeth the lesson.

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Can You Be Sure?

I can’t stand that sinking feeling I have when I am going into a meeting unprepared. Can you imagine going into court to be judged and being unsure if you will be found innocent or guilty? Well the apostle John takes time in his first letter to reassure the persecuted disciples and to help them to be sure that they were in fact saved. Later on in chapter 5:13 John will state that we can know we have eternal life. At the end of chapter 2 he restates some things to emphasize his point.

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28, 29 ESV)

John revisits the promise God has given us from verse 25, which is eternal life. Eternal life is not just life that does not end, but rather includes a quality of life that is only possible in the presence of God. So we are not just talking about existing forever. But how do we know that we have that life now, and will also inherit that life in the end? By whether we “practice righteousness” or not.

First of all, we need to know what this does NOT mean. It does not mean constant sinless perfection. If that we’re the case, we would be constantly slipping in and out of salvation as we sin and then confess. If this were the case, our entire eternity would be based on the timing of our death. And you had better hope you never committed a sin and didn’t realize it, especially if you have forgotten about it!

John also is not saying that by the performance of one righteous deed we are saved. We can no more earn heaven than long jump to the moon. The righteousness we have is as the result of appropriating what Jesus Christ has done for us, and not trusting in our own merit for salvation. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul said:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

Our righteousness is the result of being in Christ. But you cannot be “in Christ” and not have it change you. But even as fruit requires growth, often slow growth, we must realize that we are not going to instantly be sinless, but will need time to mature as we bear steadily increasing fruit.

We have to realize why it says “practices” here. John is talking about a lifestyle characterized by trying to do what is right. Are we following after Jesus, or are we following after the world? Ae we acting in faith, or have we decided to define good and evil for ourselves? So let us test ourselves to see if we are growing in righteousness. In 2 Corinthians, Paul puts it this way:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5 NASB)

When reading the Bible, ask God to open your eyes to areas that need fixing in your life, but also see where you are doing well and begin to increase in those areas. But know this — don’t stay there constantly wondering if you are saved. Be about the Lords work and be confident that when he does appear, He will say to you “well done”.

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Forgiveness Requires Confession

People come from many different backgrounds. For many, the spiritual environment in which they were raised has a tremendous effect on their view of doctrinal tenets, religious practices, and definitions of religious terms. Such is the case with the word translated as “confession” in the New Testament. So when I say that confession is a necessary precondition for forgiveness I need to clarify some biblical concepts and terminology.

The Apostle John, in the first chapter of his general epistle says this:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)

So is John saying here that we must go before a priest and orally confess our sins in order to receive absolution? No, and here is why. Rather than meaning admitting what we have done, the Greek word used in 1 John 1:9 is “homologeo” which means “to say the same as”. So what is required is that we say the same thing about our sin that God says about it.

Rather than being a “get it of jail free” card, this confession entails changing our minds about our sin, so repentance is included in it since the word translated repent means to change your mind. This change must be deep enough that we begin saying the same thing about our sins that the Bible says. There is nothing biblical about just admitting what we have done, or even asking God to forgive us of our sins if we have not forsaken them. It’s not about saying the magic words. We need to not only forsake our sin, but actually hate it.

And our hatred of our sin, and the realization of our personal culpability of those sins being part of the reason Jesus was murdered, will also lead us to say what God says after we have been forgiven. When God has forgiven us, we have no authority to continue accusing ourselves before Him. To do so is to align ourselves with “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).

Our confession is also one which encourages accountability. James said we are to “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16) Our secret sins are the ones which entangle us like the little wooden chair left out in the living room at night that finds our shin and throws us to the ground. But being open and honest about our struggles with our fellow believers helps us to overcome those habitual sin patterns so that we can walk in the light, not the darkness.

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7).

As long as we walk in fear of being exposed, we will never know the freedom that could be ours in Christ. Jesus put it this way:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19, 20)

So let us hit sin with the very weapon that will cause it to shrink back — the light. King David discovered this secret thousands of years ago, and God has preserved it for us today in Psalm 32.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1-5 NASB)

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Living In Zoar

It sounds like a planet from a science fiction book, doesn’t it? But it was a little village in ancient Canaan located down on the plains of Sodom. It was so small that it would have passed into history and never have been remembered. But Lot and his family put it on the map of scripture for all time. Let’s see what we can learn from little Zoar from Genesis 19.

The angels of the Lord have condemned Sodom due to their sin, and are telling Lot to take his family and flee.

When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” (Genesis 19:15-17 NASB)

Notice that the angles tell Lot to get completely away from the Valley and to flee to the protection provided by the mountains so that they will not see what is about to happen. Here is where Lot makes a critical mistake. He is willing to leave the city, but he doesn’t want to go too far away. He is leaving, but his heart is still back with what they have just left. So Lot asks for permission to exercise partial obedience and just go to Zoar. The name Zoar means “smallness”.

But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. (Genesis 19:18-22 NASB)

This was another in a long line of foolish decisions for Lot. They began in Genesis 13:10-13 when he saw what looked like an easy life down in the Jordan Valley near to Sodom. A few years later in chapter 19, Lot has moved into town and has let the culture corrupt his thinking. This is evidenced by his offer of giving his two virgin daughters to a crowd to be sexually assaulted like it was normal practice.
And now, he takes the easy road again, and it will cost him dearly again. Rather than make the trek to get completely away, he begs to make the shorter journey and stop at Zoar. The problem with Zoar was that he would be able to look back and long for what they had just left.

The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:23-26 NASB)

So what lessons are there for us in this story?
First of all, the will of God is rarely, if ever, the easy way. In Genesis 13 Lot had chosen to live by Sodom without ever praying and asking God what he should do. How often do we make decisions we have not prayed about just based on how wise it looks in our own eyes.

This is also a story with application to repentance. Lot started by getting close to sin. Finally, he was comfortable moving in with it. He became so used to it that when he left, he wanted to keep it close by, just in case. So often our repentance can be the same if we are not intentional about it. We decide to leave a sin, but give it our forwarding address, too.

Christ has called us to be holy. That simply means to be set apart for Him. We cannot do that if we insist and keeping our favorite sins close by. Lot had been told to completely leave and forsake Sodom. Instead he settled for smallness in Zoar. So instead of dwelling in the place of protection, he tried to see how close he could stay without actually being inside the city. And yet Christians have a bad habit of seeing how close we can get to sin without crossing over the line. When instead we should be getting as far away from it as we can. And we are not the only ones who suffer the consequences of our decisions. In Lot’s case, it cost the life of his wife. There are no victimless sins. Someone is going to be hurt. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) so why are we hanging out with it? Satan is a serial killer and there will always be a price to pay for compromising with sin.

Christians, let’s go all the way with God and forsake out sin completely. Let’s go to the protection of the mountain of the Lord. God has wonderful good works prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). There is no need (indeed there is real danger) to settle for a Christian life of smallness in Zoar.

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19 NASB)

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Getting Stoned?

How do you feel about your personal sins. Are some of them not too bad? Are there some we have given up on trying to totally weed out of our lives, and have just learned to keep secret? Are there some that, if anyone else knew about them, we would die of shame? Or are you rooting every sin in your life and gaining victory over it?

In the Gospel According to John, there is the familiar account of the woman caught in adultery. Unfortunately, it is too familiar to us and we are tempted to skim over it, sure that we have gleaned all that we could out of it. But take another look and see if there may be more there for us today.

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say? This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more. (John 8:2-11 NKJV)

There are two sets of people addressed by Jesus here. The first are the scribes and Pharisees. The interrupt Jesus while he is teaching and cast her down on front of him. One wonders how a woman can be in the act of adultery and yet be alone. Ever wonder where the man who was also guilty? And how were they able, as religious leaders, to catch them in the act? I am just speculating, but I think the man was one of the scribes or Pharisees and they were covering this up for him. By trying to get Jesus to condemn her, they could kill the only witness and trap Jesus at the same time. In their eyes, it was a win-win proposition.

Jesus ignores them because he knows that she is already condemned, but that he would soon pay for her sin while shedding his blood on the cross. But rather than get into an intellectual debate with the religious scholars, he goes around there intellect and heads straight for their consciences. He forces them to reflect on their own sinfullness instead of that of the woman. And that is the initial reaction we should have as well when we hear about the sins of another. We have to remember that we, too, have sinned and deserve to condemned. The weight of their guilt becomes too heavy, and they can no longer hold their stones, and file away by age group — those with a lifetime of sin, followed by those just getting started.

The other me who is addressed is the woman caught in adultery and asks where her accusers are. That is just what he does when our sins are remitted at baptism. Satan, whose very name means “slanderer and accuser” has nothing with which to rail against us, for the blood of Christ has cleansed us from all sin. And based on the penalty that he would soon pay for her, he lets her leave. But he doesn’t just leave it at that. Unlike the religious leaders, she was already aware of her sinful state. Jesus tells her to go and sin no more. Implied in the original Greek is that he means to go and not do this sin any more. In effect, he tells her to repent. Forgiveness is not just a “get out of jail free” card. Change is expected. Not in order to be forgiven, but because we have been forgiven. That’s why he says it last, so she won’t think that her forgiveness must be earned.

We also, according to 1 John 1:9, can walk in a continually cleansed relationship with God. But that is not so that we can sin without consequence (see Romans 6), but so that we can start a fresh walk of obedience without condemnation from our past hanging over us.

So about those sins we spoke of at the beginning. Let’s get them taken care of at the feet of our Savior and go on with God!

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