So it has been quite a while since I have written a post here, and I wish I could say that a lot has happened since then. But I can't, I have just been busy. First with classes, studying non-stop to fight hard to get the grade I needed in each class, but I ended up making a 3.0 for the semester, so it paid off. And after that I came home for Christmas, and haven't been doing too much. I made a custom wooden Settlers of Catan board, which took all of my time for a solid week, but it looks really awesome. I also took a night and tried my hand at painting a waterfall free-hand, and I am really proud of my work there as well. But apart from all that, I have just been spending time with my family and celebrating the holidays.
But one thing that has happened recently is that my brother has denied Christ as Lord and Savior: he has turned to atheism. This has really hurt my family, but I have seen God working in incredible ways through this, bringing my whole family closer to Christ and teaching me much as well. And one thing he has been showing me this break, in no small part due to old podcasts by Ben Stuart at Breakaway, has just been the character of God and how we can understand who God is by looking at who we are. So that is what the next few posts are going to be about, just looking at various metaphors that helped me to more fully know God this break, and in this pray that my brother will read these at some point and see God in a brand new light.
The first one I want to look at is about sin and what it really means to God. I'm sure most of us have heard Romans 3:10, "There is no one righteous, not even one," which explains itself. We are all sinners, we are born into sin, and that sin separates us from a life with God. We sin and we don't even know it, but God in his love told us what exactly was sinful so that we would turn away from it. But when we realize that it is impossible for us to uphold the law, that "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilt of breaking all of it" (James 2:10), our only course of action to be freed from this sin is to turn to God and seek His righteousness to gain the strength to resist Satan.
But this doesn't exactly tell us why sin is bad, and why we should run away from all sin. And it doesn't tell us how God deals with those who do break his law.
Think of a man in this world who breaks the law. And lets say that it is not just a petty crime, but it is something REALLY bad; lets pick a psychopathic serial killer. Now lets break this situation down a bit, and look at how everything in this helps to explain out sinful nature.
He has killed several people and he doesn't think twice about it. In his messed-up mind, he has done no wrong, and he feels no sorrow for those he killed and no remorse for what he has done. But us, as people who are not mentally disturbed, look at this man and what he has done in horror. He didn't even directly affect me or those I love, but I still look at him like a monster for the simple fact that he not only broke the law, but that he repeatedly broke it, knowing full well that he was breaking the law. This is exactly how God sees our sin; he alone is righteous and is able to look at us and see that we are breaking his law. But us humans look at sin as though there is nothing wrong with what we are doing. It's just a white lie; I just want to try it once; but he hurt me first; just one more time looking at porn. Think of each of these--and so much more--as a murder, because to God they are all equally sinful as murder. God does not say "murder is a worse sin than a small lie," he says "a lie is breaking my covenant law" and that's it. To God, our minds are just as messed up as a psychopath's is to our society; we break the law repeatedly and think nothing of who our crimes are hurting.
So what do we do in America to people who kill multiple people? In some states we kill them publicly, and in others we throw them into a maximum-security prison for life. For multiple victims, they are given multiple life-sentences in prison, even though it is obvious that they can only live a single one of those lifetimes. They go on public trial and are plastered all over the news, bringing to them public disgrace and popular hatred of them. (As an aside, sometimes all this media coverage encourages other psychopaths to do their own horrible deeds. In short, sin is contagious, once you see someone else sinning, it is much easier to find yourself caught in sin, justifying your sin against theirs. But again, all sin is equally inexcusable.) With any of these psychopaths, we don't simply punish them, we make an example to them. We show the world exactly what happens when you break the law repeatedly, and it is not fun. But do we enjoy locking people away for the rest of their life? No, we would much rather have them enjoy the fullness of life that the government has offered them, but they decided that their self-destructive way of life was better. In the end, however, living a few years running from the law to pursue your own wicked passions equates to the rest of your life locked up, separated from society and treated poorly.
And the same is again true of sin, God doesn't just punish sinners, he makes an example of them. He lets them fall to wickedness while on this earth, showing the world how awful life is apart from Him. But he also punishes them after this life, locking them in Hell to spend an eternity separated from God knowing that they messed up, but also in physical and mental turmoil. Sin is nothing that God takes lightly; for is God were to sin he would no longer be God, because sin literally means "separated from God." Because of the height of the stakes here, if God were to allow sin to enter his perfect and Holy Kingdom, then it would no longer be holy. Holy means set apart, as from sin, so is sin entered the Holy place, then it is no longer Holy, and God is no longer God. But praise God that this cannot happen! (Hebrews 6:18 and James 1:17) As such, drastic measures must be taken to ensure that sin is separated from himself, and this is locking away sin for all eternity in the pit of Hell at the end of the age. But God loves us and wants us to enjoy life. John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." 1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice always." God wants us to have the fullness of life that he will provide, but he cant give it to us if we are locked away because of sin. In order to receive his perfect, unending joy, we must agree to abide by his laws, but being sinful in our nature, we must hold onto God to break the chains of sin and allow Him to pull us up out of the pit.
But there is only one way that we can be brought close enough to God that he might help us in our sinfulness, and his name is Jesus Christ. God saw us in our sinfulness and his heart broke for us. He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us; he wants us to live in freedom, not in prison. But our sin kept us locked away. So that is why God created the key that would open the locks, freeing us from our prison. Jesus Christ, God's perfect Son, and fully God in human flesh, alone holds this key, and he alone has the power to judge someone worthy of God's Kingdom of Heaven, and he has this power because he was the only one able to live a perfect life on this earth. He never sinned, and thus the power of sin could not hold him down in death. But he didn't just live a life without sin, but on the day he died, he took upon himself the weight of all the sins of the world, and he carried them to the cross, where he was tortured and publicly murdered. And not even all the sins of the world could keep him dead, for even with this weight of all the world literally resting on him, so much so that the Father has to turn away from him and Jesus cries out "Eli, Eli, lema sanachtani?" My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) But even all the sins of the world could not keep him, because God has infinitely more power than Satan, and on the third day Jesus rose from the grave triumphantly; "I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." (Revelation 1:18) Now that Jesus hold the keys that can break us from death, God was able to reunite himself with us humans, His most beautiful creation. We alone cannot defeat sin, but only by professing our love for Christ and inviting him into our lives to change us, to free us from our sin and death.
And it is never too late, and no one is too far gone, to receive the love of Christ. Moses, the man whom God used to free the Israelites from Egypt, was a murderer. Paul, the man whom God used to spread the Gospel across all of Asia and beyond, murdered Christians. The apostle Peter denied Christ three times! Is your short life of sin truly worth an eternity in Hell? Well these people didn't think so either, for they all repented and allowed God to work wonders in their lives. Just put your faith in Christ, and tell God that you believe in His Word and His works, and ask Him to send you the power of the Holy Spirit, God's promise of your salvation and the key to your freedom. Let 2013 be the year that God moves in you and through you, it is a decision that you will never regret.