Saturday, September 19, 2020

20092 Reaching the World

 

Acts 1:6-11 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Most Christians believe (if they believe anything about it) that the Book of Acts is a record of the apostles carrying out the Lord’s command. In most translations Acts is called “The Acts of the Apostles”. The Lord’s command is usually referred to as the “Great Commission”. I certainly had that idea for much of my ministry. The truth is the book of Acts, edited by Luke Paul’s personal doctor, is a record of the resistance by church leaders to the command that was given to them by Jesus just before he ascended into heaven.

The way most churches operate indicate that the missionary command to go to all the world with the gospel is kind of an add-on.  It is treated as though it were an afterthought rather than a primary instruction from the beginning. Many Bible teachers would probably say that missionary outreach is not emphasized in the Old Testament. Let’s look at the Old Testament see what we can find. I will accept the idea that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are introductory material with a special purpose.

Genesis 12:1-4 lays the groundwork for understanding the missionary outreach in the Old Testament. Let’s read it and see, “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”               

There was a man in the city of Ur in Chaldea. He had no Bible – only the word of God himself. There are several promises in these few verses. First, if he would go, Abram would be shown the way as he went. Second, if he would go in obedience, God would make of him a great nation. Third, if he would go, God would bless him and make his name great! Fourth, if he would go, God would protect him and curse his enemies. And last, certainly not least, in Abram all the families of the earth will be blessed! This man, Abram, would have a new name, Abraham. He was one of two men in the Bible who were described as “a friend of God”! We haven’t time to give all of the examples in the Bible of that friendship. The point of this passage of Scripture is found in the last line of verse three: in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed!

The missionary mandate is put into effect with the calling of Abram who would become Abraham. Generation after generation the mandate would need to be repeated. The devil would lead most people to ignore it!

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians had this to say about it, (Galatians 3:6-9) “Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The gospel was preached in all its beauty and simplicity in the words given to Abram “in you shall all the nations be blessed”

Paul goes on to make everything clear for us. Verse 14 “in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles”. Jesus could then say to the Pharisees, before Abraham was “I Am!” I Am is the way God described himself to Moses from the burning bush. The Pharisees immediately knew that Jesus was claiming to be God. We know that’s true because they took up stones to kill him. Because what he spoke, if it were not true, would be blasphemy. The Pharisees and their followers could not accept the idea that Jesus spoke the truth. That God had come to Earth in human flesh.

This missionary mandate was begun about 2000 years before Jesus Christ was born. It was begun with the obedience of a man called Abram. The mandate did not have to wait on the coming of Christ. The blessing of Abraham would be passed on throughout the Old Testament. Let’s look at a few examples!

These are taken from: Eternity in Their Hearts, by Don Richardson.

1)   Joseph was a son of Abraham who made up for his forefather’s lack of a clear witness to the Egyptian nation! Joseph blessed Egyptians in truly amazing ways.

2)   The spies who entered Jericho before it was destroyed became a blessing to Rahab, a Canaanite harlot, and her family.

3)   Naomi, a daughter of Abraham, was a blessing to two Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah.

4)   Moses became a blessing to Jethro, his Midianite father-in-law.

5)   King David caused even his enemies, the Philistines, to acknowledge God’s greatness.  

6)   The prophet Elijah was a blessing to a Sidonian widow in Zarephath.  

7)   The prophet Elisha, likewise, was a blessing to Naaman, a Syrian.

8)   Jonah, however reluctantly, became a blessing to the Gentile population of Nineveh.

9)   King Solomon was a blessing to the Sabaean “Queen of the South.”

10)               Daniel and his three colleagues, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were a blessing to Babylonians.

The disciples of Jesus had read all these stories, and many more. These stories were part of the training of all Jewish boys leading up to their bar mitzvah. Obviously they really did not get it. They, along with everyone else in Jewish society, were very resistant to associating with anyone who was not a Jew. They did not understand Jesus’ cross-cultural ministry. Let’s look at a few examples.

After Jesus’s birth, his parents brought him to the Temple to offer a sacrifice according to the law of the Lord. There was a man there named Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. When he saw the child, Jesus, he took him in his arms and praised God! Luke wrote the words. “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).

Within the first few days of his life the promise was given that Jesus would be a light for the Gentiles as well as glory for the people of Israel. We are told that Mary treasured up all these things in her heart concerning her son. The gospel of Luke probably records Mary’s memories.

It was fitting that Jesus, the Messiah, would have some Gentile blood in him. The gospel according to Matthew begins with Jesus’ genealogy. Significantly, it begins with Abraham, God’s friend, the one who was promised he would be a blessing for everyone in the world. Matthew notes that one of Jesus’ ancestors, Judah, had a child by Tamar, a Canaanite. The next woman mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy is Rahab a Canaanite harlot. The next woman mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy is Ruth, whose home was Moab! And the fourth woman in Jesus’ genealogy is Bathsheba who may have been a Hittite. She had been married to Uriah who was a Hittite!

When Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, began his preaching ministry one of his sermon texts was taken from Isaiah 52:10. All flesh shall see the salvation of God. Not just the Jews but “all flesh” — or all nations. The Missionary Mandate is clearly documented in the Old Testament as well as the New!

Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b). Obviously, John was introducing Jesus as more than the Jewish Messiah. He was the one who would take away the sin Of the World! So at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry he was recognized as the deliverer of everyone who would come to him by faith.

Twice he went to the Temple and cleaned it out. John tells us about the time of cleansing the temple at the beginning of his ministry.  (John 2:13-17) It was the first Passover after Jesus began his public ministry. When he walked into the temple area he found that it had been turned into a commercial enterprise! At least some of it had. People were there selling animals that would be used in sacrifice. At that time of year the area would have been very busy. People who traveled any distance to Jerusalem for the Passover would not have brought with them animals to sacrifice. They did not have to go all over the city of Jerusalem to find these animals they were right there at the temple! There was also people there to exchange money. You see, they could not use Roman money in the temple area. Roman money had the image of Caesar on it. That could not be allowed! It would have been idolatry to have these images used in worship. Jesus’ problem with these people was not so much what they were doing but where they were doing it. These things were being conducted in the courtyard of the Gentiles. This courtyard was set aside to teach the Gentiles (all non-Jews) and allow them to worship God. Obviously, there was no need for such a courtyard since the Jews did not intend Gentiles to worship God.

All of the Old Testament examples they knew about, as they understood them, did not open their hearts to the nations.

As we look through the Gospels there are many examples of Jesus proclaiming The Missionary Mandate. Matthew quotes Isaiah, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:15-16). At that time Jesus began to preach in that region that bordered on the Gentiles. In Galilee Jesus taught and healed. Great crowds followed him there were mixed Jews with Gentiles in that region.

As he expanded his ministry he established a home base in Capernaum. There, he was met by a Roman centurion begging for his help. Matthew recorded the event in chapter 8, verses 6-13: “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Do you see The Missionary Mandate being fulfilled? Not just a Gentile but a Roman. The Romans had their boots on the necks of the Jews and were hated because of that. Not only was this Roman asking for help he exercised faith that Jesus had not seen in Israel. He told Jesus that it was unnecessary for him to come to his house. He only had to speak the word and the authority he had from God would allow his servant to be healed. Jesus used this as an opportunity to say that many people would come from the east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven!

Matthew recorded another instance where Jesus responded to the spiritual need of a Canaanite woman and the physical need of her daughter.  He traveled north into the district to Tyre and Sidon. One of the local women became aware of his presence and came out of her home and was following Jesus. She was begging for healing. This offended the disciples. She explained that her daughter was oppressed by a demon. The disciples tried to get rid of her. It seems the disciples were embarrassed that this Gentile should be asking Jesus for help. Rather than send her away, Jesus told her that he came only to the lost sheep of Israel. She knelt before him and begged even more. When Jesus spoke to her words that would’ve offended many people. He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

She could care less what Jesus had to say, she wanted her child released of the demon oppression she was experiencing. She answered, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table.” To that Jesus gave an amazing reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire. The story is found in Matthew 15 21-28.

One day, an expert the Jewish law asked Jesus a question hoping to trap him. The question was, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29-37). Jesus answered him. He told a story about a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. A gang of robbers attacked him, took away all of his possessions, and left him to die. A priest was going down that same road. When he saw the man you went by on the opposite side of the road. Also a Levite (Levites helped the priests) also went by on the other side! But a Samaritan saw the man and had compassion on him. The Samaritan but the man on his own animal to him to the nearby inn.

The next, morning when it was time for the Samaritan to leave, he gave the innkeeper money and told the innkeeper to take care of the injured man. Any expense should be added to his bill!

Another story Jesus told continued to push the Missionary Mandate against the popular prejudice of his day. The story is found in the gospel of John chapter 4. It begins with John recording, “Now he had to go through Samaria”. Something no normal Jew of the day would have said. Prejudice caused them to go around Samaria rather than through it. At the middle of the day they arrived at the well at Sychar.

By the way, that well is still there. A church has been built over it. For a small fee you can have a drink.

Jesus sent his disciples into the nearby town to buy food since it was near lunch. He really wasn’t hungry he just wanted some privacy. He sat down beside the well and in a few moments a Samaritan woman arrived. This was not the time of day most of the women came to draw water. I suspect this woman had a bad reputation and did not want to spend time with the other women. Jesus asked her to give him a drink. She was very surprised because Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. He told her that he could give her living water. She entered into a theological debate. Jesus brought it to an end by saying, “Go, call your husband and come here.”

She said that she did not have a husband. Jesus then let her know that he knew she had had five husbands and was now living with a man she was not married to. From that seemingly unpromising beginning, Jesus went on to pierce the armor of that Samaritan woman’s resistance to everything Jewish. He even managed to make the statement “salvation is from the Jews” and got away with it! The Samaritan woman believed Him. Totally enthused, she left her water jar by the well, ran into Sychar, rallied the townsfolk and brought them to meet Jesus.

When his disciples returned they offered him some food. He said he had food to eat they did not know about. Then he added, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

Next week, we will follow through with the record of the Missionary Mandate. Let’s finish up today with a walk down the Roman road.

All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory — Romans 3:23

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord — Romans 6:23.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. – Romans 10:9.

 

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. — 2 Corinthians 5:20.

Sin always has evil consequences. Just as Adam and Eve were promised a wonderful world of knowledge by disobeying God. Satan promises good things for us. The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season. But seasons always come to an end.

Have you trusted Jesus for your salvation? Today could be your day.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

200913 The Price of Sin

 Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

Well, let’s look at the initial charges related to sin. Paul is very clear that sin came into the world through Adam and became the original pandemic! In fact, the curse of sin is inescapable. In a medical pandemic many people are affected by the disease others seem to escape. In the sin pandemic everyone is impacted. How did sin begin and what has it cost?

We turn to the very beginning. Genesis 2:15-17, The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The word “sin” does not appear in this passage. But it is certainly referenced by the terms laid out. Last week I gave a definition for the word “sin”. Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in action or attitude. The Lord God gave the man one negative command. You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was included in a statement that gave to the man every plant and its fruit as food. There was a magnificent variety of food available. Only one fruit was denied to Adam. Just one! This is not a hard thing! Adam’s sin did not make sense. From the very first sin forward to every sin that will be committed — all sin is foolish. Adam chose to believe the serpent and that choice was a foolish act. Adam did not deny the existence of God. He could not have done so! He walked and talked with God continually. What he did was to deny the authority of God in his life.

The Psalmist twice tells us, in Psalm 14 and 53, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’”.  Atheism, denying God’s existence, is basic to sin.  Looking back further, it really did not make sense for Satan to rebel against God expecting to be able to exalt himself above God. Why would Satan think he could defeat the Lord God? He had been present in Eden. He had been present on God’s holy mountain. He had walked among the stones of fire. He was blameless from the day he was created until unrighteousness was found in him. (Ezekiel 28). With a clear vision of the power of God and all the glory that surrounded him Satan still rebelled. At first consideration, this heavenly rebellion should not have had any effect on the human that had been placed in the garden of Eden. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, gave us a clear presentation of what the sin cost Adam. When Adam ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil he did not immediately die! But he did surely die! The process of death began in his physical body at that event. Not just in Adam but in all of us! Adam did not only begin to die physically, he died spiritually! He passed that condition of spiritual death to all his descendants. There is no way he could’ve understood the consequences of his sin. He would very soon see what he had released.

The story found in Genesis chapter 3 begins the process. First, their unique relationship to God ended. They were removed from the garden where they had enjoyed a wonderful life. They had walked and talked with God and gathered fruit anytime they were hungry. Shame entered their life and suddenly they were aware that they were naked. God made clothes for them out of animal skins. That meant the animals had to die through no fault of their own.

Having broken the one rule they now had to eat their food in the sweat of their brow. That was just a minor inconvenience compared to the fact that their first two sons, Cain and Abel, fought and Cain killed Abel. This certainly would not have happened had Adam obeyed God!

The history of the human race as presented in Scripture is a history of man in a state of sin and rebellion against God! All of that rebellion grew out of Adam’s sin. Let’s look at some scriptural examples.

The pandemic that began in the garden Eden led — in eight generations — to a condition described in Genesis chapter 6. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5. Only one man with his family survived the worldwide flood that God used to cleanse the earth. Noah and his family began the repopulating of the earth.

For example let’s look at one family and see the consequences of sin.

This is not a pretty story.

As David settled into his role as King his lifestyle changed. 2 Samuel chapter 11 begins with the words, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab…” Late one afternoon, David was bored. His troops were out fighting his battles for him he was lying on his couch with nothing to do. He went up on the roof of the palace and. On a nearby roof he saw a woman bathing. Folks, I’ve actually had people blame Bathsheba because she was bathing in public! I have also heard people refer to David’s sin as adultery – that’s not right! David’s sin was rape! Bathsheba had no choice. The resulting series of events were not Bathsheba’s fault! All the responsibility falls on David. First, David sent some of his household staff to see who this woman was. The report they gave was pretty clear. Her name was Bathsheba who was the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

Uriah was one of David’s mighty men. That’s not just a title! He was listed alongside 36 others as the best of the best — the toughest of the tough. As we’ll see in just a moment he was an honorable man and a faithful servant of the king.

David, having looked with lust, sent some of his servants and had the woman brought to his bed. A few weeks later she sent word to David that she was pregnant. David had lots of opportunities to do the right thing. First of all he should have been busy running the country. Second, he should have turned away from the scene. Perhaps he could not have prevented the first look but he certainly could have prevented the second. Third, he should’ve honored the relationship that he had with his warrior.

After he committed the rape he should have sent for Uriah and apologized. He should have done whatever was necessary to heal the relationships that he had damaged.

Instead, he sent for Uriah, and asked him to report on the battle. After he got the report he told Uriah to go to his own house for the evening. This would solve the problem. Uriah would be the father the child!

Uriah checked into the local barracks rather than going to his house. When David got this report he sent for Uriah and asked him why he did not go home. He gave David an answer that should have filled David with shame. He said, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” (2 Samuel 11:11) Under those conditions such a visit with his wife would’ve been dishonorable!

David had deteriorated he was no longer a man of honor! Needless to say he tried again to get Uriah to spend the night with his wife. When his plan failed he sent Uriah back to the Army with a special order for Joab his commander. Joab was to approach the enemy in battle with Uriah on the point and when the enemy killed Uriah he was to withdraw his army. David! God’s chosen King! How could he do such a thing? Such are the consequences of sin!

When the report of Uriah’s death came to his wife she went into mourning. When the time for mourning was over, David brought her to his house, she became his wife and bore him a son. I can imagine the king believing that it was all over. But the Scriptures tell us, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” 

(2 Samuel 11:27b).

The story goes on. There was a prophet by the name of Nathan! He came to the king and told him a story. There are two men who lived near each other one very rich the other was very poor. The rich man had everything you can imagine. The poor man only had one little ewe lamb. That lamb was a loving pet in the house of the poor man. One day the rich man had a visitor come to his house. The rich man took the poor man’s lamb and had it cooked and fed to is the visitor.

When David heard the story he was very angry. He pronounced judgment on the man. The man who did this deserved to die. He must restore the lamb fourfold.

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”. Nathen then told how God had blessed David. David repented of his sin and the prophet told him that God accepted his repentance nevertheless the child would die. For those who hold the idea that confession and forgiveness will stop the consequences of sin it’s just not true. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what was in God’s mind with regard to David’s baby boy. In my opinion, everyone knew what had happened. The soldiers in the Army knew about the death of Uriah. The people of Jerusalem knew about the rape of Bathsheba. If the king could get away with such things anybody could. There must be immediate consequences. There would surely be many more evil consequences.

The consequences David’s sin began immediately. Bathsheba bore a son. David loved him but he got sick. For seven days David fasted and prayed for the child to live. On the seventh day the child died. That was not all -- the judgment David proclaimed must be fourfold!

David repented and confessed his sin but that did not stop the consequences. After a period of time Bathsheba had another baby boy. David named him Jedidiah which means “beloved of the Lord”. His official name was Solomon!

As time went by one of David’s many sons named Amnon, raped his sister, Tamar! Another son of David named Absalom took Tamar into his home and comforted her with the assurance that he would take care of it! Absalom developed a plan and threw a party. During the party Absalom’s servants killed Amnon! The judgment was fourfold! Two down two to go.

Absalom left Jerusalem and waited to see what David would do. After a period of time Joab, David’s military commander developed a plan to bring Absalom back. Over a period of time, Absalom rose in power and led a rebellion against David. In the course of the rebellion Absalom was killed. It’s quite a story!

The judgment was fourfold! Three down and one to go.

As David grew old the palace intrigues got more intense. When he died who would be the king in his place?

Adonijah, born next after Absalom set a scheme in motion. When he traveled about the city he had 50 men who ran before him. He had chariots and horsemen. It looked as though the election was over.

Nathan the prophet came to Bathsheba and warned her about Adonijah’s plans. If he became king her life and Solomon’s would be in danger. Bathsheba went in to see the king and asked if it was David’s intention to put Adonijah on the throne? David had already promised that Solomon would be king after him. Then Nathan the prophet came to the king with the same story.

David was old but he was not stupid. He brought Solomon in and called for the chief priest. He had Solomon all decked out in finery had him put on David’s mule! And Zadok the priest anointed Solomon as King.

Immediately Adonijah knew his life was in danger. He pledged allegiance to Solomon and it looked as though everything was going to be all right. One day he came to Bathsheba and asked her to intercede on his behalf. David had a young woman as a caregiver during his last days on earth. Adonijah asked Bathsheba to ask Solomon to give him this young woman as a wife.

Solomon told Bathsheba that would be a very bad political mistake. As soon as Adonijah knew about Solomon’s reaction. King Solomon sent the commander of his guard to take Adonijah’s life. The judgment was fourfold!

Please don’t take this story mean that one has to be a king or a personal kingly power to have these bad things happen in their life. God will get our attention one way or another. We must remember that everyone is simple before God. David himself says, “no man living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2).

John, the beloved disciple, who was very close to Jesus said, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

John continues, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2).

Come with me in a walk down the Roman road.

All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory — Romans 3:23

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord — Romans 6:23.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. – Romans 10:9.

 

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. — 2 Corinthians 5:20.

 

Sin always has evil consequences. Just as Adam and Eve were promised a wonderful world of knowledge by disobeying God. Satan promises good things for us. The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season. But seasons always come to an end.

Have you trusted Jesus for your salvation? Today could be your day.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

200906 Where Did Sin Come from?

 

 The Bible tells us “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. This statement is followed by six days of activity and one day of rest.

A side issue is this. Were these seven long periods of time or seven twenty-four hour days? Since the Bible is our authority we must go with what it says. In each case the day ends with “And there was evening and there was morning,” indicating a normal day. There are lots of reasons why people would choose seven long periods of time. That construct would allow us to ignore God and the miraculous. We need to remember that it is very easy for our magnificent God to create each day’s activity in 24 hours.

The title of this message is “Where Did Sin Come from?” Let me explain the relationship between creation and sin. During the third day the Bible tells us twice, “God saw that it was good.  Again we are told “it was good” at the end of the fifth day. With the creation of mankind in the sixth day the statement was changed to, “behold, it was very good.”

We have every reason to assume that every part of creation was included in that statement. God created everything! The Psalmist (33:6) tells us       “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.”

After having created everything he then proclaimed that it was very good. Along with the physical creation was the angelic creation. Ezekiel tells us about an exchange between God and Satan. We find it in Ezekiel 28:13 where God says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God… On the day you were created…” He goes on in that same passage to tell us how Lucifer, or Satan, fell from his high place in the kingdom of God through pride and evil attitudes.

So, how could the creation end with “it was very good” if Satan was part of the creation? Something happened between Genesis 1:31 and 3:1 to bring about a change from everything being very good to the good being mixed with evil.

We need to be careful here! God did not create evil. It was man who sinned, and it was angels who sinned, and in both cases they did so by willful, voluntary choice. Blaming God for sin would be blasphemy against God’s character. God’s word says, “His work is perfect; for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Abraham asked the question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). And James, our Lord’s brother in the flesh, tells us, “God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). True, the serpent was in the Garden of Eden as a part of God’s creation. Until the snake was possessed by Satan it was just a snake! In an attempt to bring the man and woman down to the level of the fallen angels Satan possessed the serpent and spoke through it. We must never think that sin, as a subject or an event, ever surprised God! It is more our condition to wake up in the morning wondering what the day will hold! God does not! He knows the end from the beginning and has a plan to cover all issues. (Isaiah 46:10)

God did ordain that sin would come into the world. He does not delight in it even though he ordained it. It could only come about by the voluntary choice of moral creatures. God is “not a God who delights in wickedness” (Psalm 5:4). He is one who’se “soul hates the wicked and the one that loves violence” (Psalm 11:5). God certainly does not take pleasure in sin. Yet, for his own purposes, and in a way that still remains largely a mystery to us, God ordained that sin would come into the world.

We know sin was present in the rebellion of Satan and his demons an event that occured after the creation and before the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

Eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is typical of sin in general. The humans decided to doubt God’s word and conducted an experiment to see if God spoke the truth. What a dangerous choice!

Their sin gives a different answer to the question “What is right?” God said it was right to obey him. Satan said it would be right to eat the fruit. They would then become like God. Exactly what Satan, in his rebellion, desired for himself.

Their sin also gave a different answer to the question, “Who am I?” The correct answer to that question is humans were created in the image of God. In a denial of that statement Satan challenged them to eat the fruit so they could be like God. In so doing they were questioning the goodness of God.

It’s very important that we accept the account of the human fall as real history. If two real people, Adam and Eve, did not exist then the account of their rebellion did not occur. The very basis of our salvation rests on the historicity of Genesis 1-3. In order to test that let’s open our Bibles to Romans chapter 5.

In verse 12 we are told sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”.

God thought of all of us as having sinned when Adam disobeyed. Look at verses 18-19. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

These verses teach us that all members of the human race were represented by Adam. In point of fact we were present in Adam’s DNA. When Adam sinned God thought of all of his descendants as having sinned. We did not commit the same sin as Adam instead we inherited the guilt and tendency to sin when we were conceived.

Humans today often resent the idea that we were counted guilty because of Adam’s sin. We are represented physically by Adam. Spiritually we were represented by Jesus Christ and have his righteousness given to us by God. Adam, our first representative, sinned and God counted us guilty. Jesus, representing all who believe in him, obeyed God perfectly and God counted us as righteous. That’s the way God set up the human race. God regards the human race as a complete unity with Adam as its head. We inherited the tendency to sin.

For example, King David recognized his inbred tendency to sin. True, it was shown to him through the sins of adultery and murder. In Psalm 51:1-5 King David wrote these words, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your Judgement. 5 I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” David is so overwhelmed with the consciousness of his own sin he looks back on his life and realized he was sinful from the beginning. As far back as he could imagine (his mother’s womb) he was brought forth in iniquity. And tended towards sin. David could not deliver himself. In verses 9-10, David calls on the only one who can help. “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Our inheritance includes a legal guilt that God credits to us. We have inherited from Adam corruption. Anyone who doubts the fact that the tendency towards sin is present at our birth only needs to spend a little more time with two-year-olds. I know, we tend to think of little babies as “cute”, “sweet”, and even “beautiful”! In spite of that our sin nature is obviously present in infancy. This is evident in the way babies treat their parents and/or one another. Put two two-year-olds in the same crib or playpen and you will hear “no”, “mine” and similar words. They did not have to learn that! However, they do learn a lot of it directly from us.

Our nature includes sinful tendencies. In the same way that we receive our human body from our parents we inherit, from them, the tendency to sin. We are bad but we are not as bad as we could be! Trust me on that. From childhood up we are constrained by civil law, family and society’s expectations. In his Ephesian letter, chapter 2:1-3, Paul recognized the problem. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

By God’s common grace people have been able to do much good. In the areas of education, civilization, scientific and technological progress, all grow out of common grace that God gives to all mankind. In spite of the ability to do good in many areas of life our inherited corruption and tendency to sin shows that as far as God is concerned, in our own strength, we are not able to do anything that pleases him. All of our righteousness is just filthy rags.

Every part of our being is affected by sin. Look at Romans 7:18, Paul says, I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” In the letter to Titus chapter 1 verse 15, 16, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

Moreover, Jeremiah (17:9) tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?”

These Scriptures do not deny that unbelievers can do good but they do deny that they cannot can do any “spiritual good” in terms of relationship with God. Paul describes the situation in Ephesians 4:18 “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

Apart from a relationship to Christ unbelievers are not able to understand the things of God because they are spiritually understood. If God gives anyone a desire to repent and trust in Christ they should be encouraged to do so immediately. The ability to repent is not naturally ours it is given by the Holy Spirit and it will not last forever.

Mankind’s history is primarily a record of sin and rebellion against God and God’s plan to bring man back to himself. A good working definition of sin is as follows: Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in action attitude or nature! Sin includes actions like stealing, lying, murder, adultery etc. the list is pretty much endless! If we look at the 10 Commandments, for example, they do not just forbid certain actions but also they condemn attitudes that lead to wrong actions.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Our heart must be filled with an attitude of love for God. Sin is a failure to conform to God’s moral law in action, in attitude — our very nature! Our understanding of sin must emphasize how serious sin is!

Sin is not just something that causes pain it is something that is clearly wrong! It is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God. Sin involves our actions,

James 4:17 “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

 

Have you trusted Jesus for your salvation? Today could be your day.

 

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.