Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2 is a  power chapter where Paul breaks down the reality of life with and without Christ. His statements are long with a lot of words and pacted with truth, but they give us a true picture of how things truly are. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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”.  Based on our own efforts, we are toast.  We are sinners following an enemy in a life of disobedience without a future or a hope.

But God offered us a different option.  Not because He had to, but because He loves us.  “But God, being  rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”.  How does God love us?  With His mercy (not giving us what we deserve) and His grace (giving us what we don’t deserve).  That’s His love in a nutshell.

Then Paul shares the simplest reality of salvation in all of scripture.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”.  God’s offer of salvation is freely given and can only be received through accepting it as the gift through which it was offered – a faith relationship through Jesus Christ.  There is nothing we can do to earn or achieve salvation on our own – no matter how hard we try.  Salvation does not result from how hard we work or what we do.  It comes only through faith and personally receiving Christ as God’s gift of grace to cover the penalty of our sin.

Does that mean we can just receive Christ through faith and then sit around until we die?  Not hardly.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.  Doing things don’t save us, but are certainly a result of being saved.  When we receive Christ, our heart becomes focused on serving God and others – fulfilling the Great Commandments that Jesus taught – and we are motivated to serve others.  We transition from being “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” to a place where everything changes when we are saved.  “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”.

 Paul shares the reality of life with Jesus.  “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility….For  through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and  members of the household of God….In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit”.  When we receive Jesus He tears down the walls that keep us from God because of our sin, and builds in us a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.  But it only happens when we make the step of receiving Christ as Savior and Lord.  We have to make God’s gift of grace and mercy our own.  Until then, we live lost and apart from God’s glorious plan for our life!


Galatians 6

Paul wraps up his letter to the church at Galatia by focusing on the interaction between people and the church.  He begins by reminding them that we need to hold each other accountable, but to do it God’s way.  “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness”.  That seems simple enough, but is actually far from it.  The easy part is catching another in sin.  We’re all guilty, so it’s just a matter of watching and waiting.  But first realize that this verse applies only to Christ Followers – not the world at large – when Paul begins with ‘brothers’.  Secondly, the sin has to be caught, not something heard about or assumed.  Third, restoration should only come from a fellow Christ Follower who is spiritually mature and walking consistently with Christ.  Restoring another is not about raising our own status or making us feel better because we caught someone else sinning.  It requires one to be spiritual mature and growing.  And finally, Paul tells us that the restoration – not correction – should be done with a spirit of gentleness.  It isn’t a 2X4 to the side of the head – it is gently teaching and walking with someone to bring them back to their walk with Jesus.  It’s messy, hard work, and requires commitment on our part if we are going to be a spiritual mentor who restores another.

He goes on to remind us that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”.  What law  you may ask?  The one where He tells us to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’.  We are not to live in isolation focused on ourselves, but in community where we are loving those in our patch.  Selfishness or self focus is not part of God’s design for us as a Christ Follower.  “For  if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself”.  Life is not about you or me.  Life is completely about living out Christ’s commandments to love God and love our neighbors.  It isn’t about building our own kingdom or accumulating stuff.

The laws of God’s world are pretty simple.  “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life”.  God’s economy isn’t complicated at all – certainly not rocket science.  We will receive in life based on how we live.  If we sow blessing and goodness, that’s what we will reap.  So we should stay focused on being sowers of good seed and make sure our lives are filled with good soil so we reap the goodness that God desires within us.

It’s hard work, but Paul tells us to stay the course.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”.  What should our life consist of?  Walking with Christ and loving those in our patch.  Life isn’t about making money or seeing how much stuff we can accumulate.  It is about loving people and doing good where God has planted us as we minister to our neighbors and the Body of Christ we are part of.  Paul is careful to keep the main thing the main thing.  “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”.  Life is ultimately about Jesus, not us, and we need to keep Him as the message and main focus. Nothing else ultimately matters!

Galatians 4

Galatians 4 has Paul talking about our status as Christ Followers in relationship to God.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born  of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons”.  This is no small thing that God has done for us.  He gave His only Son to redeem us as sinners to His righteous standards.  But more than that, He adopted us as His very own children. We’re not outsiders granted a gift, we are taken in as His very own and become part of His family and He becomes our Father!

What an amazing gift of grace. But the impact of God’s decision to love us that way and adopt us as His very own means we will always be a child of His.  Our future is not dependent on how we act or live.  As an earthly father, if my kids do things that are not what I want, the relationship may become strained, but they will always be my children.  That same truth exists about our relationship with God as a Christ Follower.  We become His kids, and as such, will always be part of His family.  We can make choices that strain our relationship with Him, but never change our status as a child of His once we make the step of receiving Christ as our Savior.  “And because you are sons, God has sent  the Spirit of his Son into our hearts”.

Our entire status changes when we receive God’s gift of grace through Christ.  “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God”.  We are not just a child of God – we become a joint heir to the Father’s world with Christ.  “But now that you have come to know God, or rather  to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more….I entreat you, become as I am”.  God has given us this amazing gift and Paul encourages us to live as a child of the King just as he is.  That doesn’t mean someone entitled and lazy, but serving as part of God’s body to tell the story of Jesus to those in our patch.

We have a new status as a child of God.  We are an heir, but also we are free from our sin.  “So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman”.  Sin doesn’t go away, but it no longer has control of us.  We no longer are a slave to it.  God has set us free from all that sin can do to us in destroying our present and future.  We are child of the King and son of a free woman.  Our future is secure if we will only receive the free gift God has provided us through Jesus Christ.  What an amazing story He has written that we can join and be part of as His son and joint heir with the King!

Romans 7

Romans 7 has Paul continuing to talk about sin and the law and the state of mankind related to those two things.  He told us in the last chapter that we are no longer under law, but are now under grace.  That doesn’t mean the law has gone away at all, merely that God’s got a new way of dealing with the sin that we all have in our life.  “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead,  in order that we may bear fruit for God”.  Jesus is the One who sets us free from the law.  We died with Jesus and we also rose with Him as Christ Followers.

The law is very important.  “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin”.  Remember that sin is ‘missing the mark’ or falling short of God’s standards and requirements.  God gave us clarity around those things through the law and His Word.  The problem came when spiritual leaders long ago began to interpret and add to and adjust the law to their own liking.  So it isn’t that the law is bad. Paul reminds us “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good”.  This isn’t a problem on God’s side, but how mankind dealt with the law, thus Jesus was sent to give us a new way to address the sin we all face.

Often we get down on ourselves about sin in our life.  But Paul wrestled with it too.  Every human does.  “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”.  Often sin isn’t something we pursue – it may in fact be pursuing us.  We know we should not do it, but we struggle to stop. It is part of the human condition. “For 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”.  We want to do what’s right, but we are filled with the allure sin has to:

  • Promise satisfaction
  • Provide justification
  • Convince us we will escape punishment

It convinces us that it will be ok. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing”.  And it gets us in its grip and just hangs on and we struggle to overcome those desires.  Paul wrestled with sin just like we do today.  All humans do.  We have a very real enemy who is there every step of the way telling us it will be ok.  It truly is a battle of the mind. “I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin”.  Thankfully God loved us enough to send Jesus to the Cross to set us free from the penalty of sin, if we receive His free offer of grace through Christ.  That sets us free from the penalty of sin.  But we’ll struggle with the power of sin, just as Paul did, until the end of our life.  We have to fight the good fight and walk with Jesus daily to resist the temptation of sin and follow Him!

Romans 6

Romans 6 is about one topic – sin.  Scripture defines sin as ‘missing the mark’ and the result is that it separates us from God.  Paul is challenging believers and their view of sin.  “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound”?  Just because Jesus death covers our sin – it isn’t a ticket to just do whatever we want because we’ll be forgiven anyway.  “By no means! How can  we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us  who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were  buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”.

When we become a believer, we are set free from the penalty of sin, but not its power.  We have to choose to walk in the new life we have as a Christ Follower.  “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin”.  The power of Jesus is in us, and through the Holy Spirit we can be overcomers of the sin that has plagued us.  “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin,  once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God”.  Jesus conquered sin once for all through his death, burial and resurrection.

But sin pursuits and the enemy continually chases us to attempt to get us to fall back to our old ways.  “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness”.  We are not controlled by our sin.  Sin is a choice.  The devil doesn’t make us do it.  We choose sin over righteousness.  And we can choose righteousness over sin.  Sin is a choice.

We are set free.  We just have to choose to live that way. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”.  Sin is a serious deal.  Society today has somewhat dismissed sin and doesn’t even like to admit it matters.  But in God’s economy, sin is a very big deal.  It has eternal consequences if we don’t deal with it.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  Sin is why Jesus had to go to the Cross.  It matters.  We have to address it.  Jesus is the way God has provided to be set free.

Romans 3

Romans 3 has Paul addressing the reality of sin.  “If through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying”.  There was an argument that some were making that since we are sinners, and God is good, why not just sin more so God’s goodness may come more.  It’s a silly argument to try and justify sin and make it something that is OK to do.  But in God’s economy, sin is never OK.  And sin applies to all of us.

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one”.  Not much wiggle room in those words.  We are all sinners who fall short of God’s standards and expectations.  We can find out what those are through His Word.  “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…. the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”.  We can’t work our way to salvation.  We’re just not good enough.  Jesus is the only way.

Here’s the status of all mankind.  “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”.  Here’s the gospel story in a few verses.

  1. All of us are sinners
  2. We fall short of God’s standards
  3. We face eternal separation from God
  4. God has a plan to deal with our sin – grace
  5. Jesus death of the cross is God’s grace revealed
  6. His blood was shed to cover our sin
  7. If we receive the gift of grace (Jesus Christ) and make it our own, we will be saved

It’s not rocket science.  We have a problem.  God has a solution.  We need to receive His grace and be set free from the penalty of sin.

As humans, and especially first world humans, we have bought into the idea that we should deal with things on our own.  We can work and become good enough to deal with our sin.  The Bible has a different answer.  “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law”.  Once again, just like the verses regarding each of us being sinners – there is no wiggle room.  All are sinners and no one is can earn their way to heaven. It is only through faith in Jesus that we can overcome sin through Christ’s shed blood and the forgiveness of sin.  Sin is an eternal problem.  If we don’t deal with it, we’ll spend eternity apart from God.  But there is a solution.  Jesus is the way!

John 17

John 17 has Jesus praying for His disciples and the rest of us who will follow Him.  He knows the end is near, and He wants to prepare those who have walked with Him the past three years for what is to come.  “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him”.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  He has authority over all things, yet He is under the authority of the Father.  He’s cared well for those who have followed Him, and now He is praying for God to take care of them as He leaves this earth.

He goes on to explain the foundation of eternal life for all.  “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”.  Salvation is about a relationship.  That’s how we receive the gift of eternal life.  It isn’t gained by what we do.  It isn’t about us at all.  It is about knowing Jesus Christ and receiving Him crucified – faith in the gift of grace God offers freely to all who will turn from their sin and receive it.  That’s why Jesus came.  He had to be the sacrificial Lamb that would take the sins of the world to the cross so we could have the possibility of eternal life.  Left to our own righteousness, we’re going to fall short.

Jesus has spent three years teaching the Twelve to know Him and God’s truth.  “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me”.  The Disciples have walked with Him and know that He is from God and came to take away the sin of the world.  Even so, they are at risk because the world and our spiritual enemy wants to destroy us.  So Jesus asks that they be protected.  “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me”.

Jesus makes a simple request of the Father.  “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”.  God’s desired outcome for each of us is to be sanctified.  First we are saved through faith, but then He begins the sanctification process which is when we start the path to becoming holy and set apart.  To do that, we have to know and choose to obey God’s truth, which comes from His Word.  We have to know and live scripture in our life.  Jesus ends with the truth that He’s prepared His followers.  “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”.

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