The way we look at sin matters. And the lens through which we view sin matters. For example, a man committing adultery is said to be going through the stress of a mid-life crisis. The person addicted to drugs is said to be hostage to a chemical out of his control. A person who lies from time-to-time is just trying to make it through life. The fact is, humans do a "great" job of taking sin and, instead of seeing it as bad, wrong, and serious, turn it into something trivial and unworthy of lots of stress. But that's not the way God sees sin. As with all things, we must try to see sin the way God does and, according to His word, God sees sin as a very serious, very wrong thing.
First, sin is serious because it's a transgression of the law of God. John wrote, "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). Laws are in place in order to protect us and help us. When we disobey God's law through the transgression of His Holy edicts, we are not only seriously in violation of the law but we are also opening ourselves up to unnecessary danger.
Second, sin is serious because sin is the opposite of righteousness and we, as saints, have been called by God to be righteous. Peter wrote that we are to, "be holy" and in doing so, be more like God (1 Peter 1:16). Furthermore, the Bible instructs us that if we know what "right" is and then fail to "do" it, we are in sin (James 4:17).
Thirdly, we should see sin as a terribly sorrowful thing. In Psalm 38:18, David said that his sin caused him anguish. The same should be true of us but far too often, we pass over our sin without really thinking about the sorrowful nature of our actions and what it meant to disregard God's perfect will.
Fourth, sin is serious because of what it does to our relationship with God. According to the prophet, our sins cause us to be "separated" from God (Isaiah 59:2). The fact is that God doesn't want to be separated from us. After all, we are His creation which He specifically made in His own image (Genesis 1:26). But when we are no longer in a right relationship with Him, it is clearly of our own doing. In truth, we are the ones who move away from God by way of our choices and not the other way around!
Finally, we should grow to the place wherein we see sin seriously knowing that the ultimate result of sin is death. Paul wrote In Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. And elsewhere in the Bible we learn when sin goes unchecked and fully grows, the result is death (James 1:15). The notion that sin and death go hand-in-hand goes back to the beginning of time when God instructed Adam and Eve to refrain from sinning in the garden. We are privileged to serve a God who wants us to live and makes it possible for us to do so, if only by seeing the seriousness of sin as He has and always will.
I commend our brother Don's article not only for its good content but also for the kind and honest spirit in which it is written. The Lord tells us that part of fulfilling His law involves bearing the burdens of others (Galatians 6:2). It's a beautiful thought to consider that, even though we may not be able to do "great things" in the kingdom (at least as we see them...) God calls on us to simply be there for each other. In doing so, we are fulfilling His holy and divine law. Let us always be about our Father's business and always working to give and accept the assistance that's so key to our lives as saints in service to our perfect God.
By Don Case
My loving wife was a wonderful mother, active Christian, artist, and PTA president. At the age of 29 she was misdiagnosed as having arthritis (it was actually bone cancer). For nine months her bones were deteriorating and fracturing resulting in the worst pain her doctor had seen in any of his patients. With all of this going on, I realized that I faced tremendous difficulties being a single father of a six and nine year old daughters. During that difficult time, I received many offers of help but I believed that with God's help alone I could meet the challenges. Consequently, I routinely declined the many kind offers of brethren.
A friend told me that by declining offers of help I was interfering in God's plan and denying my fellow Christians the blessings of helping. After careful consideration I came to the conclusion that Christians want, need, and benefit from helping others. I believe that God was using His servants and my fellow brethren to help me and I was refusing it, not allowing His perfect plan to work. As Christians we all need help and need to help others. Throughout our lives we each will have times when assistance is beneficial and times when we can offer others love and support. We all have illnesses, lose those that we love, have issues related to our employment, and many other difficult situations. As Christians we realize we have our church family for loving support. Every time we are able to help someone we receive are richly blessed and feel a great sense of satisfaction. This ought not be a surprise as this is the way God has made us!
ASK YOURSELF... WHEN I HELP SOMEONE IN NEED, WHO BENEFITS?
God is incredible. If there was ever an understatement, this would be one! Even with the frustration of explaining how great God is, we ought to never lose sight of the fact that He is really, really incredible. He has proven time and again that His abilities are profound and furthermore, that His grace is immense. Late in the powerful book of Nehemiah, the author records the following simple statement that should ring true for every person who sets out to follow our God: "Our God turned the curse into a blessing" (Nehemiah 13:2).
Time fails in this short article to fully summarize the events that were going on in the time of men like Nehemiah. The reader is encouraged to not only read this section of Nehemiah, but to also consider the story of Balaam in the book of Numbers that this text is referencing. What is possible in this short article is the ability to acknowledge this great truth about our incredible God -- He is able to turn curses into blessings. As saints, we should understand this to be vitally important and worthy of some valuable observations.
First, God has never promised that life would be "curse-less." The fact is, life is sometimes really rough. But, we must remember that life on earth is not so much about life on earth but rather in doing the will of God so that eternal life is gained. Remember that Peter twice referred to Christians like us as "pilgrims" who were, as we often sing, "just a passing through" (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). Keeping this perspective helps us see the bad things in life a little differently.
Secondly, one of the greatest things that Christians can do when we are faced with problems is to take the time to go to God and thank Him for the challenge. We know without any doubt that God allows us to go through challenges and rather than resenting God or getting angry with Him, maturing Christians thank Him. The great apostle Paul was not thrilled with his "thorn in the flesh" and asked for it to be removed three times. The answer was no (three times) and the apostle's reaction was to thank God and, "take pleasure" in the weaknesses that would eventually make him stronger (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Finally, Christians will do well to remember the central message of the inspired writer's statement in the Nehemiah text. God can make GREAT things happen even when dealing with tough things. As Christians mature, they're able to reflect on their pasts and consider all the times when something didn't quite go the way they wanted. Naturally, they were saddened, disappointed, even discouraged, Yet, as time progressed, those same servants were able to look back and appreciate how God took a tough situation and made something great come of it. That's God for you! He's incredible and we should be thankful for the kindness and grace He has consistently shown to His children.
By Don Case
Following Jesus does not guarantee us an easy journey through life. God gives all of us tests just as he did to biblical characters' throughout the Bible.
The Bible mentions God tested people in over thirty-five different passages. God is still testing people today and none of us may be exempt. Troubles and trials are in our past, present and future, at least until we enter heaven. Our suffering may come from God's judgment upon our sins, or Satan's assaults upon righteousness. Sometimes it is the result of our self-inflicted foolishness, a test God allows to help us mature and grow spiritually.
Adam was not only the first man but the first to fail God's test to see if he would be obedient or disobedient. One of the most significant recorded tests was when God told Abraham to give his son as a burnt offering. Abraham passed this test and became a great example of faith and obedience. Job lost practically everything while experiencing some of the most severe trials that men have ever faced, but he continued to trust and obey God. Satan killed Job's livestock, children, and most of his servants. Job remained a blameless, upright man fearing God and turning away from evil, he was rewarded by becoming even wealthier.
Paul was severely tested by the infliction of strips, being imprisoned, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, a time in the sea and faced many perils. In one of his letters, the apostle Paul said that he had, "fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith, in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."
These are extreme examples of tests God gave men in the Bible. We probably will never face these trials but many areas where we are tested today include addictions, severe health issues, disease, sexuality, bad influences etc... These situations affect us throughout our lives. These are tests to see if we continue to be faithful, obedient servants of Him. God is a testing God, depending on the outcome of our trials, he may reward, discipline, or punish. Faith means trusting God's promises in spite of what we see or how we feel or what our circumstances may be. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord." As free moral agents we will obey or disobey, remain faithful or drop out of the race.
Tempted and tried we're often made to wonder, why it should be thus all the day long. While there are others living about us, never molested though in the wrong. When death has come and taken our loved ones,, it leaves our home so lonely and drear. Then do we wonder why others prosper, living so wicked year after year. Faithful until death said our loving Master, a few more days to labor and wait. Toils of the road will then seem as nothing, as we sweep thru the beautiful gate. When we see Jesus coming in glory, when He comes from His home in the sky, then we shall meet Him in that bright mansion. We'll understand it all by-and-by.
Farther along we'll know all about it. Farther along we'll understand why. Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine. We'll understand it all by-and-by.