sin

Good Lessons From The Flower Garden: Sin

Last week I mentioned that I had a new and completely healthy looking flower in the flower garden up and die for no apparent reason. We then looked at the fact that sometimes things in life happen that we cannot always explain.

Life is a blessing without a doubt, but with an earthly life comes many curves with the same sign at the end. God’s word teaches us to trust in His will and understanding over our own (Romans 8:28). As I said last week, that is not all that I have learned from taking care of the flower garden, so let’s quickly look at another spiritual lesson.

As I began to mess with the plants at the beginning of the season and get the garden ready for the new flowers, one of the things that had to be taken care of were the weeds. In the spring time it seems that the only thing that grows faster than the flowers and grass are the weeds!

Some may not know it, but weeds are much more than an eyesore; they are bad for the health of the flowers. They steal the nutrients, fertilizer and water from the soil that should be going to the flowers. Weeds literally pull the life from the soil and rob from the potential the flowers have.

Well, you do not leave something in there like that when you are trying to care for the plants so they can bloom and be healthy – you pull out the weeds! As you know, some weeds have shallow roots and some have tap-roots that go several inches into the ground…at least you’ll learn this if you ever start weeding a flower garden. As I began to pull up some of the weeds the hard soil made it easy for part of the root to break off in the ground – that’s not good. If you leave part of the root, it can grow right back in the spot you plucked it from.

What’s the solution to such a problem? Make the soil softer! If you pull on the weeds after a good rain or a little while after you water the garden, the weeds (roots and all) are much easier to pull out. There’s definitely a spiritual lesson in there.

If we allow our hearts to stay hardened as we read, study and listen to God’s inspired word (and as people attempt to help us grow spiritually) we will never get the root of sin completely out. Just as hard soil gives the root of a weed something to hold on to, so it is with sin. Our hearts must be soft to allow God to remove the sin from our lives. The book of Hebrews urgently reminds us to not allow our hearts to be hardened and to learn from the experience of the children of Israel (Hebrews 3:8, 15; 4:7).

While we may never have a completely “weed free garden,” we are responsible for what is growing there and we must remember that weeds can be deceptive with flowers of their own. If it starts as a weed, it will end as a weed! Sin in its deceptive way, robs us of our blessings, our enjoyment and our spiritual awareness, potential and care for God and His word out of our life.

We must allow our heart to be softened by God’s word and let Him pull out the sin and replace it with the roots of faith in Jesus Christ. EA

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:6-10)

Why did God Require Animals to be Sacrificed?

There are times in the Bible when a person can miss the blessing of something because they don’t understand the purpose or point of God’s command. This is especially true when it comes to understanding why God had people do certain things in regards to their sin. 

Many Christians today take for granted what God was trying to teach his people under the Old Testament. Some look at the Old Testament as old, and unworthy of study or care; but if a person misses why God had his people do certain things under the Old Covenant, they’ll never come to a fuller appreciation of what God has accomplished for us under the New Covenant of today! And there are very few places where this is more true than when it comes to the animal sacrifices found from Genesis to Malachi and right on into the gospels we read.

Let’s think about why God required what he required under the Old Testament, and how it can better help us understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on behalf of humanity when he established the New Covenant.

So the first question is, “Why did God have animals sacrificed?” If we’re not required to sacrifice them anymore, why were they ever sacrificed to begin with??? If God was going to send Jesus all along, then why didn’t he have people just say they were sorry and then forgive them when Jesus died? Why did God have people do something when it seems like it was useless in dealing with sin? Did God even care whether or not someone sacrificed an animal? If He did, then why did he say he didn’t sometimes? These are some of the issues and questions a person can have when they read about these things in the Old Testament and New Testament.
So did God really ask for, require and even command animal sacrifices? Contrary to what some try to teach, he sure did! When Adam and Eve sinned and they made fig-leaf bikinis, and God said that wouldn’t do, what did He give them? He gave them clothes to wear! Now, you don’t have to be a tanner to know that you can’t get an animal-hide outfit to wear without the animal losing its life. Right from the get go with sin, a sacrifice was made. From the garden, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses and all throughout the history of the children of Israel you will find God requiring the sacrifice of animals for sin. There’s even a book called Leviticus that deals with the intricacies of how to properly deal with the sacrificing of burnt offerings, peace offerings, guilt offerings and sin offerings that God commanded.

But if God required the sacrifice of animals then why did he at times say he didn’t want them??? I mean there are multiple places in the Old Testament where God plainly says, “NO!!!” Read them for yourselves:

  • To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.” Isaiah 1:11
  • For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9:13, 12:7)
  • For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.” Psalm 51:16

As if that’s not enough, the New Testament says this about sacrificing animals as well:

  • But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.Hebrews 10:3-4

If this is true then what was the whole point of it all? The point has to do with the context that all these verses are given in. There was, and still is, a big lesson about sin and the human heart behind all that sacrificing that God called for! The majority of the time, God’s people in the past, like His people of today, were missing the whole point of worship, sacrifice and sin.

When blood gets spilt – God takes notice! He noticed Abel’s blood (Genesis 4:10). He warns all men to take notice (Genesis 9:6). Judgment was pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees because of bloodshed (Matthew 23:34-35). Even when an animal dies, God takes notice (Matthew 10:29b). When an animal was killed or sacrificed, God commanded that the utmost respect be shown toward the blood (Leviticus 17).

Why does God take notice of every drop of blood that gets spilt? Because life is in the blood: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul’” (Leviticus 17:11). God called for the blood sacrifice of animals because He was teaching His people about the cost of sin. (more…)

Freedom Rings And The Death Bell Tolls

Men and women in this country for the last couple of centuries have sacrificed a lot for this nation (a large number giving all) to continue to provide the freedoms and blessings we have as American citizens. The efforts, love and convictions of these leaders, soldiers and citizens have helped shape and form our country into the bastion of liberty that many in the world today desperately want to live in. Taking these facts into consideration, I sadly believe this country has forgotten where an essential element of victory comes from – God!

In Acts 17:26 the Bible reads, “And (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” The blessings of a nation comes not from the will of man alone, but from the nation’s willingness to recognize and praise God for who He is, and for what He has given them (Acts 17:27). Through the providence of God and the ultimate sacrifice of others, the bells of freedom ring for the ears of some, while the death bells toll for the life of others.

On the contrary, our nation is starting to hear the death bell toll louder and louder under the guise of “ringing freedom.” Many today advocate “freedoms” that are tearing our country apart thread by thread and condemning us. According to some, the Constitution gives a woman the “right” to end the life of her child while “it” is still inside of her. Let her give birth and then kill “it” and she will be charged with murder. According to some, the Constitution gives a person the “right” to look at pornography on the Internet at a public library where children are present, but let them ride down the road viewing the same garbage on a TV screen where the public can see it, and they can be charged with a crime. In some people’s minds the Constitution can make a “Civil Right” trump a moral wrong. The common decency cannot be so common, nor so decent due to liberty???

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial contains the following engraving: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

We are sorely misunderstanding what liberty frees us from and what it frees us for today! If we confuse having liberty with taking liberties then we do so to our own peril! The Bible and history itself shows us that nations with a rotten core will collapse from the inside. If our country insists on ignoring God Almighty, He’ll ring a bell alright, but it won’t be freedoms’!  EA

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 2 – The Bible Simply Does Not Teach We’re Born Sinners!

From Genesis to Revelation you won’t find a single verse that teaches all of mankind is born completely corrupt and incapable of anything good spiritually the moment we’re born! You would think that would settle the issue, but sadly it doesn’t. Despite the fact that the Bible doesn’t teach Total Hereditary Depravity there are some people who still love to try to make it do so!

People who teach we’re born sinners love to quote David when he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) They don’t love quoting it in context but they still love quoting it. But for some reason they don’t like to quote Job when he said, “But from my youth I reared him [the poor] as a father, And from my mother’s womb I guided her [the widow].” (Job 31:18) I wonder why not???

When did Job say he began guiding the widow??? So what did Job mean by that? Same thing David meant when he said he was conceived in sin! They were both speaking in hyperboles to describe the lifestyle they were living at that particular time. It’s not that David was literally conceived in sin any more than Job was literally serving the widow from the womb! They were symbolic phrases to describe the feeling they had in their heart.

People who teach we’re born sinners love to quote Paul when he said, “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3) They don’t love to quote it in context but they love to talk about how we’re children of wrath by nature – attempting to make Paul teach that we’re born that way. But they don’t like to quote Paul when he said, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,” (Romans 2:14). Again I wonder why not???

Never mind the context of Ephesians 2:3 that says the nature of wrath comes from disobedience in verse 2 or that the nature is actually talking about a learned nature, let’s pretend for a second that nature means we’re born completely corrupt, and by nature we can’t do anything good spiritually! If people are born with a nature that can’t do anything good spiritually then how did the Gentiles of the old world follow God’s law by nature??? If people are born with a nature that can’t do anything good spiritually and the heart is nothing but corrupt, then how did Jesus describe the heart as good and honest that the seed (God’s word – Luke 8:11) fell into in Luke 8:15?

How can any of that happen? It’s because we’re not born sinners! We’re not born spiritually depraved! Total Hereditary Depravity is totally wrong!!!

The Bible teaches that we are all born spiritually innocent and we become guilty like Adam when we choose sin over righteousness. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of “knowledge of GOOD and EVIL” – not the tree of “knowledge of EVIL and EVIL.” The heart of mankind goes astray from God – it’s not born astray from God! (more…)

Total Hereditary Depravity, Part 1 – What Kind of Seed Did the Fruit Lead To?

Ever heard of continental divides? They’re areas such as mountains that literally divide geographical regions by causing water to flow in two separate directions thus creating a continental division. Spiritually speaking, there are correlations to continental divides that I call doctrinal divides, and one of the greatest doctrinal divides around is called Calvinism, and once a person hits the waters of Calvinism the truth flows in a completely different direction. Calvinism is not just a doctrinal divide; it’s a “great” one! Why? Because Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Christ; and it all begins with Total Hereditary Depravity (a.k.a. being born a sinner).

Total Hereditary Depravity teaches the immediate lack of spiritual life and complete wickedness and lack of nature to do any good spiritually the moment one is born. It preaches that the moment we’re conceived, our spiritual heart is so completely fallen and full of sin that we can’t choose to listen to God. It means the moment a baby is born, they are spiritually lost and worthy of God’s judgment and condemnation!

But what does the Bible say about this idea??? Since it’s all blamed on Adam let’s go to the scene of the crime and investigate!

The scene of the crime is recorded in Genesis 3:1-11. There you’ll find that without a doubt Adam and Eve sinned! But the odd thing about it is that, contrary to Calvinism, I don’t see anything there about you and me!!! I see the “origin of sin” for sure – but not the famed “original sin” that I am supposedly guilty of when I’m born. From this point in the Bible, Calvinists say every single person born (except Jesus – which we’ll talk about in the next post) is born with a depraved soul! Why? Because we personally sinned in the garden? Nope. Because we’re born in “Adam’s image and likeness” we’re born the sinner that Adam was (Genesis 5:1-3). Calvinism says to be born in the image of Adam is to be born a sinner – no exceptions!!!

But there are more than a couple of problems with the above idea, but I want to quickly give two of them!

First off, whose image were Adam and Eve created in? (Genesis 1:26-27) It was God’s image! The same image that we bear to this day. Now if being in the “image of God” meant being without sin then why did they sin??? If the beginning of the human race could begin life without being sinners then why can’t we?

(more…)

Some Things Are Scarier Than They Sound

“Attack of The…Chiggers!!!” Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound too intimidating…but it should!

Even though they’re after your blood, you can’t see them coming and they will drive you crazy when they get you, I guess chiggers just do not sound as scary as aliens, living zombies or some creature that lives inside the spooky cave. I mean really, what kind of name is chigger? It sounds about as scary as “fluffy.” That is, unless you have actually dealt with them.

I have yet to come across any mysterious flying objects with “death-rays.” And while I have seen some scary people in caves, all living by the way, that’s about the extent of it. But when it comes to chiggers, now that is a whole different ballgame. If you have ever dealt with them as I have, then you know that even the sound of the word “CHIGGER” can bring back memories of non-stop awful scratching. Laugh if you like, but when chiggers attack, those little guys mean business!

The point that I’m making with the chigger illustration is just because something doesn’t sound scary, that doesn’t mean it’s not!

Sometimes when a person with a little more life experience tries to warn younger people about the dangers of sin, the word “SIN” just does not sound as intimidating as it actually is in reality. Sin is not some fairytale boogey man, and it does not come from the imagination of people. Sin is real. And when it comes to the effect of sin there are no happy endings because sin is serious business! (1st John 3:4; James 1:14-16)

The young people who are warned about the sin and dangers of drinking sometimes laugh it off until one day they or one of their friends end up being paralyzed or killed in a wreck (I have personal experience with both). Then they understand how scary sin is.

The young person that is warned about the sin of partying, doing drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd may roll their eyes until one day they or one of their friends get assaulted or raped. Then they understand how scary sin is.

The young person that is warned about the sin and irresponsibility of fornication may think that it is no big deal until one day the “protection” doesn’t protect, and then they are looking at raising a child alone because their “lover” didn’t really love them, much less want to be their friend! Sadly, the “boyfriend” may be pressured into agreeing to an abortion or the “girlfriend” may be pressured to get one because the other party involved refuses to take the responsibility that they helped to create. Yes, then they understand how scary sin is.

While I understand that bad things happen to good people quite often (1 Peter 5:7-9) these are only a few of the almost unlimited examples that can be given when a person ignores the heartbreaking consequences of sin, and the reality of these situations should speak for themselves.

To some people the word “SIN” may not be that scary; that is until we have to deal with it up close and personally. Then we realize that some things really are scarier than they sound. EA

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Where’s Purgatory Again?

Read, “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to unto him” (Matthew 18:34) and some read into it the doctrine known as “purgatory.” Read purgatory into it and you’re not reading the whole lesson Jesus gave.

The man who was thrown into prison in the parable only avoided prison because his lord had compassion on him to begin with. He was facing a life sentence with no chance of parole. The debt he owed was un-payable and only his lord’s grace made forgiveness possible!

When a person sins we face a sentence that we can’t afford. The debt of sin we owe is un-payable and only forgivable by the grace of God through Jesus (Romans 6:23). Jesus either pays the whole price or he pays no price. If a person can’t work his or her way into Heaven (and they can’t – Ephesians 2:8-9) then logic teaches that they cannot work their way out of Hell.

The Bible teaches nothing about a “place” or a “state of being” between Heaven and Hell where someone “serves time while being purged of their sins” before going on to Heaven. The Bible teaches nothing about praying to Mary or other “saints” to intercede for those who have passed on. The Bible teaches nothing about paying the church for its prayers or any other benefits. The Bible teaches nothing because there is nothing to teach.

When the Bible talks about the price that was paid to keep us out of Hell it never refers to “indulgences!” It refers to the blood of Christ that purchased our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

When the Bible talks about our sins being purged so that we may be given an entrance into Heaven it never refers to a place of “purification!” It refers to the blood of Christ that purged sin from our soul (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:7).

The time of spiritual cleansing is before death – not after! Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart”. The apostle addressed his words to Christians who were presently cleansed – not Christians who would be cleansed at a later time! (more…)

“I’m Tempted to…”

Have you ever caught yourself saying that you are tempted to do something? Be honest! Even if you have not said it I know you have thought it. Temptation is that tug at the sensual side we have. It can be unique to each of us but it can be very general to all of us (James 1:14, 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Some temptations are obvious while some have the tendency to sneak up on us. Some we see coming and others catch us by surprise. Some we know to stay away from and some refuse to stay away from us. I cannot say for certainty what tempts you personally, but I can with reasonable certainty think of something that tempts us all to one extent or another. Something God’s word talks about.

Giving into the temptation of getting even can be easy to do. Sometimes the temptation is to get even publicly because of embarrassment or sometimes privately because of pride. Sometimes we even want to get even on the behalf of others such as friends and family members. When we think “I’ll show them” we usually end up just showing our self!

Not retaliating takes spiritual discipline. A difficult discipline! A discipline we are called to emulate after the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:17-23). Getting even goes beyond physical or even verbal retaliation; it can extend to the withholding of something that we have from someone who is in need.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)

Let us all be able to say that we are tempted to let it go…and actually mean it. EA

THE UGLINESS OF SIN…

The world and the Devil do their best to put sin in the “best light” they can. When you look at their view on sin, it’s painted as a pretty picture without a blemish to be found.

Beer always equals fun in the sun right? Plus according to science, alcohol (wine) is healthy for you.

Sex outside of marriage is a blast. We live in a day when there are no risks, right?

Tired of your marriage? It’s not hard to start over; it’s like taking out the trash.

Go out for a night on the town with friends to dance clubs, its great exercise!

Hey, murder can actually be entertaining and not that bad…it’s not that shocking after you see it for the 1,000th time.

Jealous and hateful coworkers, neighbors and family members make great comedy.

Isn’t this the way most of the world views the works of the flesh? Now think about the ugly side of the afore-mentioned “attractive” sins.

It’s “funny” how you’ll never see the beer companies show the crime and accident photos caused by alcohol. I wonder if any of their employees have a MADD license plate? Drink for the health benefits you say? Try grape juice, you’ll get the same stuff!

A little “harmless” sex? I wonder if people who say that have ever visited an abortion mill? (more…)

The Gospel is for All…

Afraid you can’t become a Christian because you have a past?

Well, that didn’t stop the people who Peter wrote his letter to from becoming Christians. He told them, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1st Peter 2:9,10) Don’t let your past control your present; and don’t let your present ruin your future. Christ died because we all have a past, but He also died because He wants us all to have a future.

Afraid that God won’t accept you because of where you were born or because of the color of your skin?

Well, that didn’t stop the people who Paul wrote his letter to from becoming Christians. He told them, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Don’t let the negative opinion of others or your own doubts stop you from accepting the fact that Christ positively loves you. Jesus died to bring all of mankind back to God.

Afraid that you have waited too long and are too old to obey the gospel and become a Christian?

Well, Paul didn’t hold a person’s age against them when he instructed Titus to teach the church that “…the aged men be sober, grave [serious], temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness….” (Titus 2:2,3) As long as a person comes to God the way He has taught in His gospel you can become a Christian. Christ died so that no matter how old a person may be they can experience a new birth (John 3:3-5).

The gospel is for imperfect people. The gospel is for sinners. The gospel is for all.

And why is that? It’s because everyone needs it. Paul taught, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23). That’s why he said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek (gentiles). For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16,17).

When we’re willing to repent and obey the gospel of Christ then we can become a Christian exactly like the people who read the original letters that Peter and Paul sent. How did they do that? Read 1st Peter 3:21, Galatians 3:26,27 and Titus 3:3-6. These scriptures are apart of the same letters that teach the world that the gospel is for all. That includes you! EA