Friday, November 06, 2009

God Calls It.....SIN!

I recently read an article by comedian Bill Cosby in which he, without apology, addressed the shortcomings of the Americans who share his same cultural background. He minced no words. He chose to tell it just like it was….refusing to soft-soap his peers. You can find it on the internet here:
In the media, another person who often says it like he sees it is the senior commentator, Andy Rooney. While I may not always agree with his viewpoints, I appreciate his honest candor. In our internet/media generation, we hear, see and read all kinds of information. Some of it is valid, and some of it is not. It is so important that we be discerning. It is even more important that Christians be spiritually discerning and learn to face the world in honest terms. We need a firm guide by which we can measure truth from error and deception from reality. We have that guide with us but how often do we choose to use Him? He will not soft-soap the truth. He will tell it to us just as it is.
The Promise
Jesus taught His disciples that after He was gone, He would send to them One who would guide them into all truth. (John 14:16-17) He would remind them of all that Jesus had taught them. He would not bring glory to Himself, but to Christ. Who is this? It is the person of the Holy Spirit. Read the whole chapter of John 14. It is the work of the Spirit to do so many valuable things for us as believers. Yet how often do we stumble along trying to figure it all out our own way. We read what this one and that one says. We listen to our friends and voices that seem confident on the TV or radio. Yet many of those voices do not speak the truth but instead promote their own ideas for their own agendas. Some seek financial gain. (That’s an automatic red flag.) Others seek fame and recognition. Others just like to gain followers. We are to only follow others as they follow Christ. What is worst of all, is a failure, even in the church, to call sin— “SIN.”
But how do we determine whether or not they are really following Christ? The Bible tells us we are to be fruit inspectors. If they fail to bear the fruit of the Spirit of God, they are not what they appear to be. What do they value most? Money, or lost souls? While many ministries do require finances in order to do the work of the Lord, it is important that finances don’t overshadow the ultimate goal...winning the lost. Personal comforts should be secondary to the divine directive to win the lost. So often it seems to come down to a problem of sin. It is sin that separates us from God. It is sin that causes spiritual leaders and Christians to fall.
The Sin
In today’s world, sin is a word no one wants to talk about. We call it everything except what it is. We call it a lapse in judgment, a mistake, a moral failure, a problem, a weakness, but we do not call it sin. In the Bible, the Lord does talk about it. Look again at John 14:15 “If you love me keep my commandments” These are the words of Jesus. He instructs his disciples to obey the law. In the Old Testament, those who disobeyed the law were considered ‘sinners’, and in rebellion against God. God warned Cain in Genesis 4:7 about sin waiting at his door, wanting to control him. "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.'' Sin is a problem we must face and deal with.
Today, the law is written on our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who convicts us of our sin. It is the Spirit who draws us to Christ and as we are confronted by His awesome holiness, we see such a stark contrast that we are compelled to do something about it…. repent. Yet how many who have renamed sin by other terms, think they are not sinners, just people that make mistakes. We are all sinners. The Bible tells us this...If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.1 John 1:8 (KJV) But there is One who Jesus sent to help us with the sin problem. “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” John 16:7-8 So you may feel the weight of that sin in your everyday life. You are continually attacked by the enemy of your soul, Satan, to give in to the power of sin. What is sin? It is anything that displeases and comes between you and a holy God. The Holy Spirit is continually prodding you to not do certain things. In your heart you know the difference between right and wrong and when you sin, you choose to deliberately disobey and do what you know is wrong. It may be as small as an unkind word, or thought. It may be watching something on TV or a DVD that you know God hates….but you do it anyhow. It may be a problem with sex—adultery or fornication. It may be using chemicals to help you forget the sin in the past….alcohol, drugs, etc. But the moment their affect wears off, the problem is still there.
There is only one way to be free. We are slaves to sin. But Jesus came to set us free. You don’t have to continually live a guilt filled life. If God chooses to forgive you when you come to Him and repent, then you can also forgive yourself. Jesus came to change the sin problem forever. “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21 In other words...where there was lots of sin, God’s favor and blessings were even more abundant, all because of the holiness that comes to us through Jesus Christ when we make Him Lord—in charge of it all. It does not just happen because Jesus died. It is up to each individual to accept the blessing for himself or herself. It means we must first repent of our sin, then put Christ in charge of our lives in everything we do. If we love Him, we will do what He says. A key chapter to read in the Bible is Romans 6. Here we learn to be slaves to a new taskmaster. Once we were slaves to sin and death. Now we can be love slaves to God who frees us from the sin that bound us. I love the way the Message Bible puts it here. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God. (Rom 6:12-14) This gives us something to be truly thankful for. It means you can do whatever GOD wants...instead of what YOU want. You may be thinking, “well, I’m a nice person, and I don’t have a huge sin problem. I’m not addicted to drugs and I don’t steal or hurt people.” Yet the Bible tells us we are all born in sin and the wages sin earns us is death, not just physical death, but spiritual death. Unless we all tell God we are sorry, we will die! “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4 Sin looks enticing for a moment, but sin has consequences. We must not die in our sin. God provided a way for every person to escape eternal death. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
The Choice
It is easy to follow the crowd, and do as they do. But inevitably, we all will come personally face to face with eternity. One hundred percent of us will die. What will you do? Is sin in control of your life? You and you alone can change things. You must choose life! Don’t wait until you cannot choose. Choose now to make it right with your Creator. You may say…” Well, I don’t know for sure if there is a God...or I don’t care about God…” But all the while, there is One who cares about YOU! He sent His only Son to die to free you from sin. You could struggle all your life trying to be good and never be good enough. Only God can make you truly ‘good’! But you must choose Him. Life is filled with choices. This is one choice that will truly transform your life and your eternity.
Many are living fear filled lives today, not knowing if they will get the H1N1 flu, or some other pandemic down the road. Some are facing death daily, as they serve their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others do not know if they will meet their Maker on the highways of life. We do not know what our tomorrow holds. That is why we must make plans now for the future. How many plan for their life here and now—a wedding, a baby, a home, a job—but fail to plan for their life eternal? We get the best education, save our money, try to make good decisions and plan for a happy retirement, but all we do does nothing to prepare us for our eternity. It’s not the nice things we do that will get us into heaven. Its only by His love and grace, and our acceptance of it, that will defeat death and open life eternal to us all.
The thing God calls sin can keep you from heaven! But God has made a way...and you can take full advantage of His free gift! It is available to all! With it comes guilt free living, peace of mine, a certainty about tomorrow and a happiness that overflows into everyday living. You don’t have to be a sinner. Forgiven sinners are saints!
As we face our eternity, let’s get serious about life! Pray this prayer and mean it from your heart today: “God, I know that I have sinned and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
J. Johnson