So the last post kinda turned into an extremely long introduction to this post. I tried (I dunno if I succeeded) to outline what I was responding to, the issue, and my take based on what I’ve read in the Bible. That may not have come across in the post itself – it was kinda late…
So this time I’m going in with a plan. I’m to start off, as all things should, with the Gospel and how we will live in response to it. Then I’ll talk about the nature of forgiveness and social welfare. Our rights and responsibilities as citizens of “free” countries (under God) is an important topic to discuss, and I’ll think about it especially in how it relates responsible voting. Finally, of course, it’s always important to visit practical application, and I’ll discuss how to respond to those who take advantage of the government’s generosity (as it were).
And as always, I welcome comments. Just be sure to read my comment policy.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
I’m sure this is nothing new to you; in fact, other than John 3:16, I think this may be the most well-know verse of the Bible. Few people, however, realise the full implications of what it says. The big bang theory was formulated because only a large event could have blown the universe into existence. If we accept that God created the universe, which, as Christians, we do, then we must accept also that He is big and powerful.
So God is the creator of the universe and everything in it. And He created us, too, man and woman, for different but complementary roles (see Genesis 2). And He pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). But the first humans, Adam and the Woman, were deceived by Satan in the form of a serpent and chose to reject God’s rule and His good plan for their lives, the “original sin”, as many call it. What many people don’t understand is that there are two types of “sin”. First is what I call “big S” Sin, which is the rejection of a relationship with our Lord and Saviour. “Small S” sins are the symptoms of this larger problem.
In a recent post, I described the situation like this:
Imagine with me for a moment a father and his children. They have an amazing relationship, until one day, out of the blue, the children (let’s say there’s three of them) decide that they hate their father, who has given them everything they could ever want and need. They never want to speak to him again, and teach their children to feel the same way. And out of under the guidance, care and advice of their father, the child and their children live their life however they want, though it hurts them, but even more, know it hurts their father.
Now put God, who is the Father of all mankind, in the place of the metaphorical father and us (mankind) in the place of the children and you kind of come close to how God feels. He doesn’t want us to be estranged from Him. And so He devises a way that we can be fully restored to a right and personal relationship with Him. You see, God requires perfection. Not “I do my best to do the right thing”, or “I am generally a nice person”, but “in my life, I have never, ever done anything that is contrary to what my Lord and Father has commanded in His Word”.
Quite obviously, this impossible.
But God is so great! He knows how hard is is to live up to His standard. That is where Jesus comes in. Jesus is a unique person. He is fully human – He suffered every temptation we do, and He was hated and hurt by those He loved. But He wasn’t just human – He was also fully God, God in human form. You see God knew that we needed an out. That we couldn’t live up to His standards on our own. The only person to live up to them is God, and so He sent Himself as Jesus, to live on the earth.
But the punishment for Sin (remember – big S equals lack of a relationship with God) is death (Romans 6:23), and we all must pay the price for our rebellion if we cannot be reconciled with God.
So how does He solve this?
Let me remind you of Matthew 1:21:
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
The Resurrection, the day that all Christians cheer. You see, Jesus lived a perfect life. He was blameless and whole, and life His life in perfect relationship with God His Father. This set Him up as the perfect redeeming sacrifice for our salvation.
In His death, on the cross, Jesus took on all our sin and rebellion and hatred of God, and removed it from us. This Man who was perfect and whole sacrificed Himself and took on all of God’s anger at our betrayal. He gave his life so that we could live ours and be reconciled to God our Father. And His resurrection means that the sacrifice was accepted, and that we can live with God, fully reconciled to Him.
What an amazing gift! As Christians, we live with the guarantee that one day, no matter how hard this life gets, we will be reunited with the Father who loves and redeems us, reborn into the perfect relationship with God that we were meant for. But since we have been saved by grace, does that mean that we can now live as we want to? Since all the sins we commit as a symptom of our rejection are forgiven, does that mean we don’t have to worry about our actions?
Many people think yes, but they are so wrong.
In fact, the sixth chapter of Romans warns against this very thing. 6:8-14:
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Basically if we are saved we will live differently. But what does this look like? Galations 5:22-23:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The most important – but hardest thing – is love (1 Corinthians 13). Over the years, many hundreds of authors, poets, songwriters and artists have tried and failed to define it, but the key thing they forget is that love is primarily an action. So many people mix up the feeling of lust with love. In fact, that feeling is said to only last two years at the most. It is the action of caring for each other that cements and maintains a relationship. So love is:
- Caring for a friend/partner/spouse/family member when they are sick/unhappy/injured etc.
- Spending time with them in conversation.
- Being loyal to them.
- Not gossiping.
- Being concerned for the everyday needs of others.
- Speaking kindly to, and about, others.
Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the gist.
There are some sins that are committed that seem to affect only us; one in particular, sexual misuse. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” This is pretty clear. I will go into the specifics of this some other time, but superficially, sexual misuse includes any sexual act that is not within the purpose that God designed sex for. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 clearly states that the purpose of sex is found in the way that God created us; man and woman, different, complementary. And sex was to bring them together as husband and wife, to make them “one flesh” (1 Cor 6:16). Anything other that that is outside purpose.
Finally, forgiveness is key. As we are forgiven, so must we forgive others. God forgave us all for rejecting Him; we cannot hold anything against another person. Someone defamed you? By rejecting God, you essentially said that He is less than what He is. Someone cheated on you? You cheated on God by putting other things, people or goals higher on the priority list than Him. Etc, etc.
I’m going to stop here, as this is getting long. The (hopefully) last post will be up in the next couple days.
As always, I’d love your thoughts.