3 John 2
Beloved, in regard to all things I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
In a previous post I outlined one of the main reasons for the existence of pain, how it alerts us to the fact that something is wrong, that change is required. I also pointed out from the Scripture how God is a good God who wants to bless us. I began to show that God begins by working with us to put our soul – that is our mind, will and emotions in order so that He can then fulfil His desire to prosper us in all things. The chief root problem we face is SIN, which is the rejection of God, the rejection of his loving authority, which is motivated by the idolization of SELF. We want to look at God’s solution for sin and the problems that flow from it, but first its important to have a more thorough understanding of the nature of sin and what makes it so very wrong.
Sin is anything in which we violate the commandment to love God with all we’ve got, and to love our neighbour as ourself. I think all would agree that the world would be better if all people loved others as much as themselves. To break this commandment of love or any of the other commandments that flow from it – such as the Ten Commandments – is sin. The ways people despise others, reject people, hurt them, cheat them and fail to help them when they need it are all a reflection of the ugliness of sin. God is against sin not only because it hurts Him. He is against it because it hurts people, including the sinner.
How does sin express itself? It does so in many ways, and many of these ways are revealed in the Bible. Some things are sins that are done, other things are sins because we should have done them and have not done them.
Murder is a serious sin, but Jesus taught that you can murder in your heart just by hating a person. Adultery is a sin, since it destroys the love relationship of marriage – but Jesus taught that just looking at a woman to lust for her is adultery in the heart. To reject God’s Word is sin, to refuse to consider it and believe it is sin, to be ungrateful for all God has provided is sin, to be proud and independent of God is sin, to worship anything apart from the true God is sin, to envy, to hate, to lie, to steal, to cheat people – all this is sin. To dishonor God, to fail to give time and money to God, to neglect the poor, to dishonor parents and to be greedy for possessions – all this is sin. All of this things are wrong. God says they are wrong and our consciences if they are still working tell us they are wrong. A truly good God, a truly righteous God, cannot accept sin.
Unless sin is dealt with a person can never be re-united with God.
Sin is an extremely serious problem. According to the Bible, sin can never be forgiven except for a blood sacrifice. If a persons sins are not forgiven, they will be cut off from God and all His blessings forever. In the Old Testament, the blood of innocent lambs, goats and bulls was shed to cover the sin of the people of God and enable God to deal mercifully with them. However, this was not God’s final solution for sin. Otherwise we would still need to be sacrificing animals in order to approach God.
For hundreds of years the chosen people of God, the people of Israel,Â waited for their promised Messiah – God’s anointed man who would set them free. Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah, but He was not exactly what they were expecting. They were expecting someone to free them from the occupying Roman army, but Jesus came to set people free firstly from their most serious problem – sin. What good is it to enjoy political and economic freedom for a few years if for all eternity your sin destroys you? God’s priority in sending a Messiah was to rescue people from their sins. Along with that, God broke the power of sin’s curse for all who will come to God in faith and meet His conditions for deliverance.
According to God’s law sin requires the death penalty. That is why animals were formerly sacrificed. It was their life in exchange for the life of the sinner. What surprised everyone was that God’s strategy for finally defeating sin was not firstly in some display of supernatural power, but rather in BECOMING THE SACRIFICE to pay for sin. The death penalty must be executed for your sin. The good news for you is that it was executed on Jesus the Messiah. Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross by Romans at the instigation of the religious leaders of the day, and died the death of a worthless criminal in your place. He died your death, he paid the price for your sin, he took your curse. This was done because
“God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.
Having done this, God can offer you forgiveness, a new life, and freedom from all the evil things that belong to the old life – like a broken heart, a broken mind, a sick body, a tormented soul, a guilty conscience, a corrupt nature. Freedom from all this is available to those who will turn away from their sin and put God first.
This is confirmed by the following Scriptures amongst many.
1Pe 3:18Â For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.
If we can be reunited with God, then we can enjoy the love of the Father, who desires that we might prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers.
Rom 3:23Â for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24Â being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;
Rom 3:25Â whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness through the passing by of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God;
If we understand the meaning of these verses we will understand the heart of the Christian message.
Its important to know that Jesus’ death was not like the death of some great man only, because Jesus was in fact raised from the dead, something witnessed by hundreds of people afterwards, and something which is proved by the way Jesus works today through His people and in response to prayer.
God purchased us from our spiritual enemy when Jesus died.
If we give ourselves to Jesus Christ, and come to belong to Him, then we receive the forgiveness offered by God. If we don’t receive the forgiveness or pardon, it doesn’t do us any good. But once we receive this pardon, God declares us legally NOT GUILTY. He can do this because the full anger for our sin was meted out to Jesus in a horrific punishment which affected every part of Jesus’ being – spirit, soul and body. Jesus was made sin so that we could be righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took the punishment we deserve.
Therefore the way back to God is open. Sin has been paid for, and through the cross, the power of sin has been destroyed. We can receive this through faith and then it works for us in our practical life experience, as we relearn how to live with God.
Jesus not only took the sin barrier away. He also took our sicknesses upon Himself when He was cruelly lashed by the romans before his crucifixion. The Bible declares that “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4,5).
If you have faith in Jesus, and trust in Him, and call upon Him, He will do something for you. You may be healed, you may be delivered, you may be touched by the power of God. To receive healing you may first need to forgive the others who have done wrong to you (Matthew 6:13,14; Mark 11:25). Just as something in us cries out for justice and wrong to be punished, so God himself wants justice. But because He paid for our sins, we can have forgiveness without God being unjust. If we are wise we will certainly take this offer of forgiveness. We can be forgiven, but we must recognise that God has the right to all our life and if our intention is to go on rejecting God forgiveness is not possible. We must give the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, His rightful place in our life. And when we have done this we must forgive others who have hurt us just as God has forgiven us. We must renounce our claim to receive recompense from those who did us wrong.
It is not possible to explain in a few lines just how great this Jesus Christ is, but it should help you if you know that He was eternally pre-existent, and that through Him the Universe was created. This is the One who out of love came and died for you. Believe on Him, and you will be saved. Go on rejecting Him, and God will ultimately reject you forever, and cut you off from every good thing, and punish you and leave you in your sin for all eternity. Don’t let that happen to you. Call upon Jesus while there is still time. If you seek after Him He promises to reveal Himself to you and make you know true salvation.
Please contact us if you do want to know more about what it means to follow Jesus.