A Series on Sin Part 3: The Effects of Sin

Image by Joey Kyber

When we go against the will of God—when we sin—we are doing things that destroy ourselves and others. For a person to understand the effects of sin, we must come to terms with the reality of our sinful natures.

It seems that our culture is full of declarations of positive self-image. We tell ourselves that we are good people. We are kind-hearted. We deserve more. We are enough just as we are. And so on.

I understand the temptation to do this, and there could be many causes. Here are a few according to my own limited experience and view of the world:

In part, we have a backlash of positivity after a generation of Christians that shamed people for their sins in a mean-spirited manner (I get that too. It’s easy when our values are targeted by those who hate us. We are called to be better than that though). Many Christians also attempted to push righteousness through law instead of through compassion, understanding, and setting a good example (Jesus teaches us that law is not the way, but a change of heart).

Many Christians did not have faith that Jesus would handle things, so we took vengeance into our own hands. That did not work out so well.

Another reason for the self-affirming culture is shame inducing parenting that was typical of that generation along with high divorce rates and the destruction of healthy homes and traditional family values.

Pair all of this with strong media influences that constantly made people feel inadequate unless they had the best this or that, and you have a generation that was starving for someone to love them.

Since they had no one, they decided to love themselves.

This is understandable, but it is very dangerous.

This is dangerous because we begin to deny our natural sinful state.

Many do not like the word, “sin.” It’s taboo and carries the connotation of religious oppression. That is a sad and very unfortunate thing because when we sin we are doing things that bring death.

In denying sin, we begin to call sinful things good or we compare ourselves to others and think that sin is just a normal part of human nature that should be embraced.

However, if we think someone is sinning against us, then we feel fully justified in hating them.

We are a very blind, self-righteous and hypocritical generation because of this.

The generation before us needs to own up to what they did to cause this mess, and our generation needs to grow up and own up to our mistakes.

If we continue to view ourselves as victims, then we will not get to a place of healing and empowerment. We will not get to a place of self-accountability, and that is something that we so desperately need!

Sins have consequences—deadly consequences—that should not be ignored or considered good or something to be proud of.

When faced with the consequences of sin, it is important that we consider our wrongs and own up to it.

If we don’t, but instead have been blinded by our self-affirming and sin-praising culture, then we are at a great risk. Why?

Because we do not regret our sin and decide to do better for ourselves. Instead, we blame others. We curse others. We curse God. There is little to no hope for us then.

It is important for a person to find some understanding of the destructive nature of sin. It is important for a person to understand their natural tendency towards sin. It is important to know that the punishment for sin is death, and this is right because sin brings death. Death to our minds. Death to our bodies. Death to our relationships. Death to our culture. Death to our nation.

Sin is serious, and sin is killing our generation. We are neck deep in it, all the while praising it. We are dying because of our sin, yet we curse others and God. This is not good. We are inviting Destruction into our world. We are going to die because of our need to hold onto a positive self-image.

Once we begin to understand these things, what should we do next?

The most important thing is to seek Jesus and learn about what He stands for. We can talk to Jesus, even if it feels strange at first. We can begin the scary and saddening task of looking at ourselves honestly. We can try to remedy our behavior to the best of our ability and seek Jesus for the strength to overcome.

We can meet other Christians who are further along in the faith and form relationships. We can ask Jesus to send us the Holy Spirit so that we find better insight into sin and greater power to overcome sin.

The effects of sin ties into the promises we receive through our salvation in Jesus. The next article in this series will focus on sin as it relates to the gospel.

Considering Proverbs 1:20-22

20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

The passages concerning wisdom are loaded with symbolism and meaning, and I think there could be multiple ways to look at this.

First, I want to re-write these passages in a sense. The wording in the King James can be confusing, so I looked up the meaning of some of the words so that I could understand better. I think the first verse is clear to me.

As for the second, we could also say something like: she cries out in the leading places of contention and dispute (chief place of concourse). Or in other words, concerning all the things people are commonly fighting over.

What about the openings of the gates and in the city? When I think of the gates of a city, I think of protection and a place of defense against enemy threats. When I think of the city, I think of that which is precious and requires protecting.

What does it mean to be simple? What does it mean to be scornful?

I think simple is meant to be taken in terms of being naive, which is the perspective a young and inexperienced person might take on the world. That makes sense because the young and inexperienced naturally lack wisdom.

The scornful are those who mock. If we are naïve, yet we do not know it, it makes sense that we would mock that which is informed and wise.

I have another take on the gates and the city.

If we are wise, then we will look at the outer defenses that a person possesses, and we will consider them (the gates). We will see beyond the surface and consider the vulnerable parts of people that those outer layers of protection are trying to preserve in some way (the city).

Consider the many areas of contention today. If we are wise, then we will try to understand the matter from every side, and in so doing we are no longer naïve. We will not mock what is right. We also will not be scornful in the sense of wrath because in learning we find greater compassion.

What about the personification of wisdom?

Many things are personified in the scriptures and in other literary works throughout the ages. This is not something to get carried away with, but I think wisdom is made a woman for a reason.

In later chapters in the Proverbs, we see another woman who is very destructive and foolish, and we will get to that later.

I want to share with you a thought process I just went through, which is the reason why I am up at 2 am writing this.

I woke up at 1 am and my husband was still awake. His legs were bothering him because he works outside all day in the heat. I offered to massage his legs, and this helped him get to sleep.

This made me think. I could just go back to bed and ignore him, or I can get up and do this simple thing and help him sleep so that he can get up and work the next day with better rest.

Then I thought about the importance of women serving men. Talk about a topic of contention and hate these days!

Let’s see what lies at the gates and in the city, from a female perspective.

Women are afraid of strong men because they cannot differentiate strong, healthy masculinity from tyranny. This might be due to social misinformation or it could be due to experience with hurtful men. She develops a naïve idea of men and of relationships as a result (the city). Outwardly, she puts on a kind of strength (the gates). She might even adopt some of those masculine traits that she says she despises, because this is the only strength she knows of.

Here is the result:

When a woman is afraid of strong men, she will be drawn towards weak men. The problem is that weak men often become tyrannical men, and there are many reasons why. For one, weak men often lack proper assertion skills. They do not know how to be assertive without being abusive in some form. Pair that with a woman who behaves dominantly, and you have a problem. The woman ends up in relationships with the same kind of man she is afraid of and the man is miserable.

We perpetuate our own fears. Then what? Our families are in chaos.

It all stems from the home and the importance of women serving men.

Boys need mothers in order to grow into healthy men. Boys need to form healthy attachments to their mothers (of course girls do too). There is a whole branch of psychology related to attachment and the importance on life-long mental health.

Can a mother provide the proper care for her children if she is on her own? Not really.

A mother is vulnerable. A mother needs protection in order to be a good mother. This is not a bad thing. We NEED MEN. So, we serve them so that they can do what men are created to do!

Mothers need fathers who will provide and protect. Mothers need fathers who are strong examples of morality and discipline, not tyranny, so that the children will behave properly.

Mothers need fathers and children need fathers. Fathers need mothers. Women need to stop this masculinity-crushing nonsense and women need to stop shaming women for being women.

It takes a father and a mother to provide children with the best home life and emotional well-being possible. Another hot topic today, but I won’t get into that here. There is much “at the gates and in the city” that we can consider with understanding and compassion. Maybe another time, but I suppose that is very much related to what we discuss here.

It is a good and necessary thing for a woman to be at home raising children. It is a good and necessary thing for men to lead, provide, and protect. We are working together to protect that which is precious and valuable: our children and our future!

Women and men today are extremely naïve. We are fed unrealistic, selfish ideas about relationships and marriage. We belittle and hate natural differences between men and women. We belittle and hate traditional families. We are destroying our country!

We need to cry at the gates of our country! We need to understand the defenses that men and women carry, young and old, concerning this important issue of the family. We need to understand the wounds and the misconceptions that lie within.

I’m not a man, so I will speak to the women and I include myself.

Women need to understand the difference between strong, moral men and weak tyrants. We need to stop getting in the way of the men who are created by God to defend that which is most precious—our homes! We need to support our men. That is what God created us to do, and there is no shame in it!

We need to bring men up, not tear them down. If our men are immature, we help them mature by supporting them yet holding them accountable to perform that which a man should do. There is a delicate balance here, especially when dealing with today’s weak men. I’m not sure what that balance is.

I suspect that one thing we should do is take care of the children and the home, then our men are inspired to step up. That can be scary, especially for a woman with control and fear issues, but it needs to happen. We need to give men something worth maturing for! We need to give them something to defend and fight for! We need to care for the homes and children! We need to be loving and supportive!

Women can work. Wisdom works, as we will find later in Proverbs. However, children come first. The husband comes first. We serve so that our men can perform an even greater service—standing at the gates and being MEN!

Being a man is the greatest form of service, and any woman who has had to be the man or the father should appreciate this. IT IS HARD! Like Jesus, it is laying life down for those who need you most. Why do we want to take that over so badly? We praise being single and independent. Get real! We suffer. Our kids suffer. Men feel useless and they suffer!

Why should a man lay his life down for the sake of a woman who is naïve, scornful, adulterous, and thinks she can do it all on her own (the other women in Proverbs that we will get to later)? Why should a man lay his life down for unruly and disrespectful children?

There is so much to be said about this. And as a woman, I will not shy away from saying it. Christian sisters need to stand up. We need to be wise.

I will be thinking about what this means. I will be thinking more about what lies “at the gates” and “in the city” concerning these matters and others. I will be thinking about how our modern culture has caused me to view men and women in a naïve and scornful light. I will be thinking about what I might do about it.

Considering Proverbs 1:17-19

17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Do those who plot the destruction of others succeed? According to this proverb, if I’m reading it correctly, their plans are as useless as catching a bird with a net.

Although they hope to take away something of value from someone else, what they are robbed of in the end is their very own life.

That does not seem to be the case when we look at the world does it? Very often it seems like those who plan to destroy and rob others are successful. Not always, of course. The legal system is proof of that. In any case, when we consider this in terms of the wisdom of God, we can see that those who seem to get away with murder are eventually condemned.

God is just and He does not allow those who love violence and robbery to go unpunished forever. Jesus states, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” (Revelation 13:10)

It can be so difficult to wait on the justice of the Lord. However, it helps if we consider ourselves honestly. If the Lord were to come right now and judge us, apart from the blood of Jesus, how might that go for us? The Day of the Lord is a dreadful time, and we should not rush it.

We should strive to be thankful for the grace given to us and hold hope for others, no matter how difficult it can be to do so. In extreme cases, we might seek the Lord to either turn the hearts of our enemy towards Him or turn them away from us, but we can always hope for good.

I think it helps if we understand a bit more.

Violence and robbery can take many forms. Some people are threatened by the happiness, intelligence, compassion, beauty, prosperity, or sincere relationships that other people have. Some people are compelled to rob others of these things, either consciously or unconsciously. Why might a person do this?

From my understanding, however limited it might be, there are people with deep seeds of shame, self-loathing, resentment, and envy. Some people want to feel superior to others at any cost. Some people hold onto a false version of themselves and would do most anything to protect that image. Some people hate anything that they perceive as good or better than themselves, so they have to tear it down or take it for themselves.

As with all things, the manner in which this plays out can vary to a great degree. Some people have some of these traits because of early life trauma. They are aware of it and they work hard to overcome. If they are Christians, then the Lord will help them. So, we keep this in mind, knowing that some people are deeply wounded and no matter how sinful they are or have been, Jesus can work wonders in their life!

Some people are not granted this grace of God, so they rob and destroy to greater and lesser degrees depending on the circumstance and the power given to them. Some people tear people down emotionally or mentally, some physically. Some people act alone, and in other cases you have an entire group of people who plot to destroy another group.

If we encounter a person, a small group, or a massive-scale movement that is robbing and destroying others, there are things we can do. We can always pray. We can pray that the Lord turn their hearts or deliver us from them. We can pray that the things they plan in secret are brought to light. We can thank the Lord for His wise judgement, mercy, justice, and His perfect timing as we rest in the knowledge that God’s wisdom provides us: They will not ultimately succeed.

Those who plot to rob and destroy others, in lesser and in greater measure, will face their own destruction.

So, I want to consider myself.

Do I have hidden pain that causes me to lash out at others in any measure? Do I have personality traits that cause me to feel better by tearing other people down in any measure? Has the Lord shown me mercy and forgiveness for doing similar things in any measure? How should I respond, either literally or in my heart, to those who would tear me or those I love down? Do I have faith and patience that comes from knowing that Jesus will judge all things one day?

These are questions I will be thinking about today.

Considering Proverbs 1:10-16

10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

We should not keep company with people who plot to do others harm, and we certainly should not participate in their plans of violence.

It seems like most people would resist plans that are obviously violent, but sadly, that is not always the case.  

Why do these things happen?

Are people convinced that their violent actions are justified?

Jesus said there would come a time when many would kill thinking that they do God’s service.

Maybe that’s just it, and the way a person might rationalize violence greatly depends on who or what their god is.

Some people worship a societal goal. Some people worship a set of religious doctrines or ideas. Some people worship material possessions. Some people worship power and influence over others. Some people worship themselves and act out of self-preservation. The list of the gods of man can go on and on, and sadly, many people are all too eager to destroy others in the name of their god.

I sometimes wonder about the violent capacity of mankind. Sometimes I see things people will do to others and I’m in shock. I ask myself, what kind of person would do such a thing?

I think most of us are capable of greater violence and sin in general than we might realize. Given the right circumstances, there is no knowing what we could be capable of. If we think we are so much better, then maybe we should consider ourselves.

If we have ever slandered someone, even on a small scale, then we are participating in a plot to destroy another person. If we have ever listened to a person speak slander then supported that person or spread the slander to someone else, then we are doing the same thing.

On a larger scale, there are those who plan to ruin lives socially or in business. Maybe this happens in a workplace setting, among family, or in some other community.

On an even larger scale we have acts of violent protests or singling out a certain sect of people for destruction because they stand in the way of whatever the god demands.

There are many reasons why a person might participate in planned violence. What are the core motivations? Motivations could include fear, self-righteousness, pride, envy, or whatever it is that makes a person thoughtlessly jump into crowd induced violence simply because everyone else is doing the same.

How can we avoid participating with those who plot to destroy others?

On a small-scale, we should use caution when hearing the complaints of others. Maybe they are sincere and maybe they are slander. If we can investigate, maybe we should. If it is no big deal, then maybe we leave it alone but do not perpetuate the matter.

On a larger scale, we can educate ourselves and consider as many points of view as possible. We should consider the effects of actions taken, no matter how good the intent or proposed outcome is claimed to be. The ends do not justify the means. We can consider similar events in history, the patterns that might be repeating, and the potential consequences.

We should avoid an overly strict loyalty to any side, always remembering that our first allegiance is to Jesus. We should develop a strong sense of right and wrong according to the teachings of Jesus and stand our ground, no matter how much the opposing side attempts to sway us or portray us as the evildoers.

How can we avoid being targeted by violence?

Let’s consider Jesus. There were times when he simply walked away and escaped danger. There were times when Jesus refused to “cast pearls before swine.” There were times when Jesus spoke boldly and performed His work regardless of what the powers were saying and doing. In the end, however, Jesus suffered and gave up His life for the cause of others.

As with all things, we should seek the Lord often and He will give us what we need to handle any situation. Maybe we walk away and hold our peace. Maybe we speak boldly. Maybe we stand and defend ourselves and others. Maybe we give up our life. In the end what matters is that we do not give in to the pressure of the powers who lay in wait to destroy and we center our actions around the only true God.

How can I consider myself in this?

What capacity might I have for plotting the destruction of others? Do I carry the same motivations in any measure? Have I been used by murderous people as an ally for doing harm to someone else in any measure? Have I convinced others to join me in doing harm to someone else in any measure? Do I have any other gods than Jesus? How can I prepare myself and increase my relationship with Jesus so that I can stand against those who plot to destroy?

These are the questions I will be thinking about today.

Considering Proverbs 1:8-9 (Revised)

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Several things come to mind when I read this verse. First, what does this verse literally mean?

I want to look at the beginning verse. Who and what is the instruction of the father and law of the mother? If this was written by Solomon to his son, Rehoboam, then the meaning might be straight-forward.

In the previous verse, we read that fools disregard instruction. We also read that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. If we tie that in with this verse, then what Solomon is saying makes sense. He is encouraging his son to pay attention to the instruction he is about to receive.

If we take what Solomon is writing in a non-literal sense, then maybe he is talking about the nation of Israel as the father. God’s covenant was made with Abraham. His decedent Jacob was named Israel, and Israel’s sons formed the original tribes of Israel. So, maybe these are the nation’s fathers in a sense. As God’s people, they received laws that they should follow as a set-apart nation. Could these laws be the mother? Could Solomon be encouraging his son to lay hold of his heritage as the chosen people of God?

I also think about what Jesus teaches. He said once that those who do the will of His Father in heaven are His mother, brother, and sister. Of course, Jesus did not mention father because God is the Father of Jesus. However, this makes me think of someone I know.

Jesus teaches us that if we forsake our mother, father, brothers, and sisters for His sake, then we will receive more again in the kingdom of God. This is true.

I know someone who cannot look to her natural father and mother for instruction and guidance because they are prone to ungodly ways. For most of her life, she felt orphaned in a sense because of this. She had no one she could really count on or look up to. Other than the Lord Himself, she had no father or mother in the faith. God provided her with mentors in the faith, and they have been exceedingly helpful and comforting to her. The Lord provides us with people who will lead us and help us grow in His ways, and that is a blessed thing.

This verse also makes me think of our current situation here in the United States. We should remember the instruction of our founding fathers and the blood they shed to make us a free nation. We should remember the laws of Lady Liberty that instruct us in self-government and living an upright life.

Our nation is at great risk of forgetting these things, it seems. Here in the United States, every individual is a king. We are the leaders and the government is supposed to work for us—not control us and rule us. It seems like we want to do like Israel did when they went astray.

God was their king. In following God, each man was responsible for himself. They rejected God and made Saul king. In so doing, the nation of Israel was eventually divided and conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians.  

Saul was the first king of Israel. David was the second. David’s son, Solomon was the third. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam was next. The people rebelled against the unjust rule of Rehoboam, and this lead to the splitting of the nation and the formation of the northern and southern kingdoms. In just a few short generations, having a king in place of God resulted in catastrophe.

It would seem that Solomon’s son did not follow the advice of his father after-all.

Are we going to establish a king that resembles other nations? Are we giving up the liberty and responsibility of the individual that governs themselves in order to obtain slavery and oppression wrapped in the guise of protection and security?

The individuals in our nation need to return to a fear of the Lord. Then they can return to an appreciation for the liberty and responsibility of self-government. If we reject the instruction of our father and the law of our mother, our nation will perish.

If our nation does perish, then we have hope in another kingdom. We have hope in an eternal kingdom in which God is the Father and the laws of the Lord from Jerusalem, who is “the mother of us all” will provide us with guidance as stated in the prophets.

That is something to hold on to. No matter how terrible things might get, bind this promise to you and let it guide you. Remember the grace of God. His favor towards us will keep us and raise us up. His favor towards us will give us strength, peace, and freedom from death.

As Solomon—and the One who is greater that Solomon—instructs, we should not forsake our fore-fathers and the laws of righteousness they swore to protect. We should also remember that ultimately, we serve an eternal kingdom. We should bind Father God to us and wear the Lord’s grace as a crown of victory! We should embrace the laws of the kingdom of God and allow them to strengthen and guide us.

We do not cower in fear. We do not lose hope. We do not give into the powers of darkness no matter how bleak it all seems.  

We will overcome because the Lord Jesus our God has promised it. Trust in Him. Sing praises to the Lord and He will lift us up!

  • Note : I apologize for the sloppy mistakes. I realized these mistakes and have fixed them. I will try to do better about relying too much on my memory when writing about history or scriptures in general, especially first thing in the morning. I pray the Lord will give me a sharper mind. I deleted the original article, but I will leave this note as a reminder of my mistakes and be thankful for a lesson learned.

Considering Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I think this verse goes with the prologue portion of Proverbs, but I want to look at this verse separately. The proverbs are wise sayings that provide lessons in wisdom that we can apply to our lives. The proverbs indicate throughout that the primary component of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Later in Proverbs Chapter 8 we are told that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. If we consider how powerful God is and the fact that God hates sin, then we should hate sin also. Of course, we cannot really consider this if we do not believe in God. So, could we could say that belief in God is where wisdom begins?

I think that makes sense when we contrast believers in God with the godless. Those who believe that there is a God know there is a higher power that they must answer to. This knowledge governs their actions to greater and lesser degrees, depending on their beliefs about God, and especially, their relationship with the one and true God through Jesus.

Those who do not believe in any higher power will only look to the will and power of man, and very often, their own self-interest is what governs them. A person who is only guided by their self-interest and the limited understanding of godless men will not behave in a wise way—at least not in a wisdom that is truly wise in the eyes of God.

There is a wisdom of this world, but that kind of wisdom is in opposition to the true wisdom that comes from God. The wisdom of this world is foolishness because it leads to sin and sin leads to destruction.

Those who are immersed in the wisdom of this world without any regard for God despise instruction in things that are truly upright.

They love their pride, vanity, and the things they do to maintain power over others. They love to consume the riches of this world no matter how many people they devour along the way. In-fact, the more people they can place in subjection, the better. To them, this is wise. To rebuke them leads to hatred. They do not want their evil deeds to be called evil, or they place the values of others in such low regard that they do not care what an upright person has to say whatsoever because upright people are weak and foolish in their eyes.

Of course, the wisdom of fools lies on a spectrum. There are those who have no regard for God or human life, then there is the average person who is by nature very foolish. We have all been very foolish when it comes to our ignorance of the will of God and our natural love for sin.

Fear of the Lord comes from God, and since we have all behaved as fools, we should not despise anyone or call someone a fool. To do so is hypocrisy and hypocrisy is sinful—and foolish—for many reasons.  

I think it is safe to assume that most of us could use more fear of the Lord. I think it is safe to assume that most of us could use more instruction in the righteous ways of God.

If we seek Jesus, we will be instructed. We will learn to identify sin more clearly. We will find guidance and strength to do what is right. We will begin to see the foolishness of sin and the wisdom of righteousness that can only come from God.

There is so much that we can think about when considering the fear of the Lord.

How can I cultivate a better fear of the Lord with help from Jesus ? Do I have sins that need to be repented of? In what ways might I be sinful and foolish without realizing it? Do I have sins that I once fought against but gave up on? Do I hate “the foolish” in my heart? Do I know when to help “the foolish” through correction and when to hold my peace? These are questions I will be thinking about today.

A Series on Sin Part 2: What is Sin?

Image by Joey Kyber

What is sin? I think most of us have some idea of what sin means. We know that sin is something considered to be wicked or against the will of God.

I was taught that the word sin means to “miss the mark.” If we miss this mark, then we are behaving in a manner that is not pleasing to God. There is a response to every situation that is perfectly pleasing to God, and we can miss the mark in lesser and greater ways.

Every situation we encounter provides choices that we must make. We are constantly making judgments about how we should handle our lives, our personal relationships, and our relationship with God. If we are conscientious and want to do what is right, then we are constantly throwing darts at a proverbial dart board, hoping to aim as close to the bullseye as possible.

For example, when someone angers us, we have a variety of unrighteous choices we might make such as replying with an insult or ending their life through physical violence. Jesus teaches that name calling or simply hating someone in our heart is in the same sin category as murder. We might go astray a little or a lot, but in any case, we are still missing the mark of perfect righteousness.

What is perfect righteousness?

The perfectly right response will vary depending on the unique circumstances. For example, if someone angers us, it might be best to walk away and pray for them. It might be best to offer a kind word that is sympathetic. It might be best to let the person know that they are behaving badly. We must consider the circumstances carefully and lean on our God-given understanding and the teachings of Jesus to help us make the best choice possible.

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of perfect righteousness. Jesus is called the Light of the World. He is Life. If we were able to follow Jesus perfectly, then our actions would be those that bring life and not death. So, we could also say that sin is an action that brings death.

When we sin, we are destroying people. We are harming them emotionally, physically, and mentally. When we sin, we are destroying ourselves. We are killing our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. When we sin, we are destroying truth. We are attempting to manipulate the reality that God has ordained so that we might fulfill a self-centered or delusional agenda.

When we sin, we are damaging the relationship between man and God—the Creator and bringer of Life.

It is no wonder that the punishment for sin is death. This is a fitting punishment, and one that none of us can escape without Jesus Christ.

There is no reason why anyone, least of all a Christian, should take sin lightly. Yet, many times we do. We are not fully aware of the destruction we cause, even with the smallest of sins. We are not always mindful of the presence of God who can see everything we do, think, and plot. We are not always mindful of the blood of Jesus that paid for our sins and all the suffering He endured on our behalf.

If we have taken sin lightly as no big deal or considered the righteous ways of God as outdated or inconvenient, then we should stop and think about our mindset. The ways of God are goodness and life. To go astray is no small thing, but there is hope found in Jesus Christ.

In the next article we will consider how sin relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Considering the Proverbs: Introduction

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

I want to begin each morning considering Proverbs, if the Lord is willing, for several reasons. I like the first few verses here. “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

These sound like good reasons to study Proverbs to me. I know I need to grow in these things. I also want to establish more consistency in my life and in service. Regular articles take more time because they are topically focused. I think considering a proverb a day is a reasonable goal and one that will help many areas of my life.  

If you would like to join me in considering and discussing Proverbs, follow or subscribe to this blog. I hope to have some thoughtful discussions.

A Series on Sin Part 1: Introduction

Image by Joey Kyber

For most of my teenage and adult life, the term “sin” made me think about pulpit pounding preachers and snooty church ladies wearing fancy clothes.

Other than this vague connotation that I carried around in the back of my mind somewhere, I did not think about sin that much.

I was not always that way.

As a child, I loved the Lord. I talked to Him all the time. I tried to read the bible and understand. I especially loved the Sermon on the Mount, and I wanted my life to reflect those teachings. I wanted to be like the Jesus I saw on those old 70’s movies at my grandma’s house. I did not know the Lord that well, but the idea of Him was very dear to me and I wanted to serve Him.

By the time teenage years were in full swing, the Jesus I loved was placed on a shelf somewhere in the recesses of my heart and mind, only to be taken out on occasion.

I believed that I was saved, that everyone sinned, and that I was forgiven no matter what I did. I always had a nagging feeling. Some part of me knew that I was not living for the Lord, but I pushed that aside until the nagging feeling went away. Then came the darkest years of my life.

In my late 20’s, I found myself in a hopeless situation. The sins I had thoughtlessly allowed to run and ruin my live were so detrimental to my mental health that I wanted to die. I had tried everything to stop the emotional torment, but nothing helped. I tried drinking, drugs, medication, and various “spiritual” and “religious” practices that were not Christian. I still considered myself a Christian, but I was on the brink of giving up the faith.

I prayed to Jesus and a series of events caused my life to change. I began to see my sin clearly and I took it very seriously. So seriously, that I fell into another sort of depression. I had been recently taught that receiving the Holy Spirit would help me overcome sin. I spent about a year and a half asking for the Holy Spirit, and in late January of 2016 my prayer was answered.

I did find that some sins were taken away and I received things that I did not expect. The change was so drastic, that at first, I thought that I might be sinless. I soon found out that I was not, but I believed that I could and should be. I believed that unless I found my way out of all sin I would not be saved. I became hard on myself, and at times, hard on others.

I became much like those pulpit pounding preachers and snooty church ladies I once hated. How did that happen?

Jesus continued to work on my heart, and I believe to have a more balanced perspective on sin and Christian life in general. I’m still learning.  

In this series, I want to take some time to think and write about sin. What is sin? How does sin affect our lives? How does the gospel relate to our sin? Can a Christian live a sinless life in this present world? How should Christians treat sinners?

If this is something you’d like to discuss or learn more about, I welcome you to subscribe to this blog or leave a reply below.

Exhortation Against Violence Part 2

Is violence ever the answer? In the previous article, it was written that we should turn aside from all violence because God hates it. It was also written that vengeance belongs to God. So, it would seem that violence in all forms is strictly forbidden.

What about all the instances in the scriptures in which God instructed His people to perform violent actions, like cast plagues or conquer a heathen land? What about Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5 who lied to the Holy Spirit and were struck down dead? What about events in Revelation concerning the two witnesses? What about those violent acts?

Here is a good example of the problems that occur when we take things out of context—both scripturally and in our personal lives.

Should we love violence? No. We should love peace and strive to get along with everyone for the gospel’s sake. We should not be eager to do violence to anyone. However, there is a time for all things, and if God gives an instruction of violence then it is His vengeance that is being carried out.

Very often however, the enemies of God are instruments of His vengeance too. Consider the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and all the oppressive powers over the years. Consider the false prophet and the great whore in Revelation.

As Jesus said, many would do violence in His name and think they are doing God’s service.

Those who have a hateful heart that is quick to violence are not going to be on the righteous side of God’s vengeance coming about.

Consider all the violent-loving prophets so-called that we see today, online especially. So many are quick to condemn and proclaim God’s wrath upon the offenders. Are these doing the will of God in righteousness, or are they more like the enemies of God’s people?

Of course, there are those who are immature in the faith, and like the disciples of Jesus they desire to bring fire down from heaven to destroy the evil doers. If these are truly of God, they will learn better. They will learn that in proclaiming judgment and condemnation they only condemn themselves.

Remember what Jesus taught: with what judgement you judge you will be judged.

I can consider a time in which violence might be the righteous course. Maybe the cares of this life and deceitfulness of riches need to be taken away so that God’s people can remember His ways and return to Him. Maybe drastic measures need to be taken when things become so badly corrupted by antichrist that Christians and the world at large are headed to their doom.

We can speculate, but the point is this: those who love violence and are quick to become instruments of God’s vengeance will find themselves on the wrong side of God’s wrath.

God is patient and self-controlled. He is also wise and just. He will not give power to people who are not patient and self-controlled. Carrying out the vengeance of God should be a dreadful thing that brings sorrow. It should be a thing done in hopes of many turning back to Jesus, not a thing done out of self-righteous indignation and a desire to see people destroyed.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it has to do with context. When we take things out of context, we do not have the understanding to make a righteous judgment call. Making judgments out of context is another form of violence because it leads to false accusations and rash actions.

In all things, whether we are studying the scripture, considering Christian doctrine, considering a social or political issue, or handling personal matters of conflict, context is important. Take the time to listen to people who see differently than you do and have the humility to know that you could be mistaken. Take the time to understand. Take the time to pray and seek the will of God so that truth and peace are given a chance.

Context can undo much unnecessary and unrighteous violence. The violence that results from rashness, pride, and self-righteousness is the violence that will bring God’s vengeance about.

In the last days, there are two camps of violence. I could be wrong, but here is how I see it:

There are those, who out of a hateful and unrighteous heart, are killing while thinking they do righteously. Although they are instruments of God’s wrath towards the unfaithful church and the world at large, they are not righteous in what they do and they will be destroyed.

There are also those, who out of love and hope for the brethren and the world, are performing violent acts necessary to shake a world of corruption out of its complacency.

Can we tell the difference? If we cannot, we need to learn how, and Jesus will teach us.

For the record, it is not my belief that we are in the end-times in a final sense. These times could be far off. In any case, we only have one life to live, and there are many “end times” throughout history. The world powers change. Whatever comes our way, Jesus will keep us. This we can be certain of!