May, 2017

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Is there any good reason for sin?

Is there any good reason for sin to have started in the first place and is there any good reason for it to continue?  If we say no, then we need to at least offer some reasonable explanation as to why it has continued.  The general belief among professed Christians is that God does not want sin to continue.  Yet God is also perceived as being almighty, which is understood to mean that God can do anything.  So the big question is why does God seem to tolerate sin for so long if He doesn’t like it and He is powerful enough to stop it?  Could it be that we do not fully understand what sin is and what is required to stop it?  These are the issues that we now seek to consider.

It is a common belief that when the Bible says that we were born in sin and shaped in iniquity, it is saying that sin is wrapped up in our very existence.  So sin will continue just by virtue of the fact that we exist.  But if that is true, and we cannot help but sinning because of who we are and how we were made, then how fair is it to expect us to not sin?  That would appear to be an unreasonable expectation.  But then, we say that Christ has taken away our sins by His death on the cross.  But we still commit sin.  So how is the sin taken away, which is to say that it is gone, but yet it is still here?  Is it that we have a part to play in getting rid of sin, while we are here thinking that it is all left up to God?

We say that Christ has conquered sin at Calvary and all we need to do is to accept the work that has already been done on our behalf.  All over the world, billions of people who claim to be Christians claim to have accepted this work that supposedly has already been done on their behalf, yet hardly any one of them will claim that sin is no longer in them.  In fact they do the very same sinful things that the so-called sinner does.  Quite contrary to such assertions, that all we need to do is to accept that the work of putting away sin has already been done on our behalf by Christ and we are saved, we see Christ himself declaring to people, who claim to have accepted Him, that He never knew them and that they are workers of iniquity! – Matt. 7:21-23.  If we cannot help but work iniquity, can Christ then turn and blame us, even when we are claiming Him and saying, “Lord, Lord”?

We have a part to play

The truth is that we have a part to play in putting away sin.  Christ cannot put away our sin unless we want to get rid of it.  Putting away sin means that we are not only released from the guilt and penalty of past sins but we will no longer live a life of committing sin.  It seems hard to accept as being possible but that is because we think that everything is sin.  Everything is not sin!  This is one of the main fallacies that make people feel hopeless and give up trying to live above sin because they think it is a futile effort.  So they come up with the notion that we need not try.  It is better to think that Christ has done it for us even though we see it not done.

In reality, there is no good reason for sin.  Sin is rebellion against God.  The process of putting away sin involves convincing the universe that there is no reason for sin.  The process involves, first and foremost, discrediting Satan’s excuses for sin – proving that Satan is a liar and that he had no reason to rebel in the first place – hence, there is no reason to follow him.  Calvary provides the argument.  It proves that God is not selfish and that Satan killed the Son of God for no reason.  Secondly, it has to be shown that God’s requirements are reasonable and not in any way onerous or out of reach – that God asks us to do nothing except to love others as we love ourselves and to love and respect him for who He is.  If we love Him, we will keep His commandments For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).  In other words we will not sin, as sin is disobeying what God says, that is, transgressing God’s law or His instructions (1 John 3:4).  When we recognize that God loves us, means us well and that He is infinitely wiser than us and know best how to run the universe, we will be motivated to do what He says.

 God is unselfish and requires very little

 God’s unselfishness is manifested in the fact that He gave up His only begotten Son and bore the anguish of seeing His only begotten Son suffer at the hands of sinners. The Bible says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).  God’s unselfishness was also manifested in God’s only begotten Son, who is exactly like God in character, being willing to give up His very life.  His Father loves Him even more for doing it.  That is why Jesus said: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17).  In honour of Jesus willingly giving up His life, His Father not only raised Him from the dead (Gal. 1:1), but has “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9).

If we consider what God asks us to do, without adding anything to it, we will recognize that living without sinning is actually easy.  All the commandments of God are summarized in two simple instructions: love God supremely and love your neighbour as yourself (Matt. 22:37-40).  The Ten Commandments are simply an expanded version of the same concept – the first four commandments briefly describe love to God and the last six commandments describe love to our fellowmen.  If we consider the way in which the commandments are given, God does not ask us to do anything that we can claim that it is beyond us to do.  The commandments simply state the evil that we should not do.   Are we saying that we must murder, dishonour our parents, tell lies on our neighbour, rob people, covet other people’s things, adulterate other men’s seed by going into their wives, can’t refrain from working one day, must worship other gods, blaspheme God and worship graven images?  Oh, we may say it’s not that simple.  But where did we get that from?  Oh, we may say that Jesus said we sin even in our thoughts.  Yes, so do we have to embrace doing any of those things in our hearts?  We don’t have to.  Let no one fool us by complicating what God asks for.

No good reason

The bottom line is that there is no good reason to sin and we can live without sinning, based on what God says that sin is.  If we complicate the matter and think that everything is sin, we will think that we might as well do evil things because even if we try not to sin, we still can’t please God.  That is a lie from the pit of hell.  That was the thinking of the Scribes and Pharisees, why they accused Jesus of being a sinner.  By their definition, Jesus was not only a sinner, but they went as far as to claim that he had a devil and was the son of Beelzebub, the chief of devils.  And what did He do to justify such accusations?  Did He worship any other God but the Father in heaven?  Did He bow down and worship Satan or any image representing anything? Did He curse God?  Did He work on the Sabbath?  Did He dishonour His mother or Joseph? Did He rob anybody?  Did He take away any man’s wife?  Did He tell lies on anybody or kill anybody?  Did He covet anybody’s things? No, He did not!  He was kind, and went out of His way to help people.  He loved and worshipped God, His Father.  Yet they said He was a sinner.  And now, through the same thinking, people are being told that they cannot stop sinning.

Whether or not we want to accept it, one day human probation will close and God will declare some unjust, some filthy, some righteous and some holy (Rev. 22:11)It is our decision where we will fall.  Many will be killed – beheaded, because they will not worship the Beast and his Image neither will they receive the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 20:4).  Notwithstanding, a hundred and forty and four thousand people will be found to be without guile and without fault when Jesus Christ returns (Rev. 14:5) because they would have washed their robes and made them white, quite distinct from those who would have died and received white robes (Rev. 7:14; Rev. 6:11).  May the Lord help us to recognize that there is no good reason for sin.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)

Previous presentations can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

The real Jesus and how He conquered

To ask the question, “Who is Jesus and what has He done?” might evoke an answer such as, “Jesus is Lord and He saved us from our sins”.  But what do these things really mean?  When asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).  To this response, Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17).  Jesus later spoke of the great achievement that He would make and how his Father would respond, in the following words: Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17).  It is not that the Father did not love His Son before His Son laid down His life, but the Father loves Him even more, on account of this great achievement.  The result was that the Father has “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9) – so Jesus is indeed Lord.  We’ll elaborate a little more on the great achievement of Christ and His present position.

Everyone likes to identify with winners.  So it’s easy to identify with Christ when we are told that Jesus is Lord.  But have we stopped and thought of the real conquering achievement of Christ?  Apart from the fact that He is the Son of God and before He came to earth He had, “by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”, the angels, (Heb. 1:4), have we thought of the main reason why He is now exalted in heaven? Let’s hear the inhabitants of heaven speak.

John was weeping when he saw that no man “in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth” was worthy to take a book and open it from the hand of “him that sat on the throne” (Rev. 5:1-4). But then, John was told: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book” (Rev. 5:5).  When John looked, this conquering “Lion” was really “a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).  The Lamb came to “him that sat on the throne” and took the book.   Immediately, the inhabitants of heaven burst out in rejoicing, saying:

9Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” – (Rev. 5:9-13).

 The conquering Lion had prevailed and was therefore, worthy.  But what was the great achievement that qualified Him?  The answer was that He died – He yielded His life to the powers of earth and the powers of darkness, allowing himself to be killed, when He could have delivered himself (Matt. 26:53).  By doing so, He provided the one irrefutable argument that discredits Satan’s rule on this earth, since there was absolutely no justifiable reason for Him to have been killed.  It all happened under Satan’s watch, as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Satan must answer to God the Father, who “sits on the throne” as the Creator and King of the universe.

Remember, when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6, 7).  In the wilderness of temptation also, Satan took Jesus up into an exceeding high mountain and “sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – (Matt. 4:8, 9).

By Jesus allowing himself to be killed by Satan and his evil host, Satan has been discredited.  Hence, in the judgement, the dominion over this earth will be taken away from Satan (Dan. 7:26).  Christ appears before the Father – the “Ancient of Days” and, as the Son of Man, Christ receives the kingdom or entitlement to rule on this earth (Dan. 7:13, 14).  Satan had usurped the authority that God originally gave to Adam but Christ came as the second Adam, the new head of the human race, to claim back the dominion and be our King (Heb. 2:6-9).  So, we will be kings and priests, and Jesus will be our King – King of kings and Lord of lords, subject to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

In conclusion, let us know the real Jesus and how He conquered.  He came from heaven where He was the Son of the Sovereign God and King of the universe.  He came to earth as a human being, where He conquered through a life of humility and ultimate death as a Lamb to the slaughter.  He was raised from the dead by His Father (Gal. 1:1) and has now been “highly exalted” at the right hand of His Father where He intercedes for us.  He will soon be given the kingdoms of this world and He will be our King.  We will live with God and Christ forever, in the newly restored earth, after we are changed from mortal to immortality and would have spent a thousand years in heaven.  May the Lord help us to know the real Jesus and how He has conquered.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)

If you are saved do you need to repent again?

To accept Christ, people are encouraged to say a simple prayer indicating that they have repented of their sins and to ask Christ to come and live in their hearts.  Having done that, persons are given the assurance that they are saved.  A few questions now arise; do they need to repent of future sins?  What if they don’t?  Do they lose salvation?  If they do, was the salvation conditional?  We’ll now examine these questions.

There was a time when priests used to offer what were called indulgences.  These were said to provide pardon for sins that people committed.  A problem arose in that people were obtaining indulgences even before they committed the sins.  This gave them a sense of security, such that, there was no need to repent of sins that they committed afterwards or seek forgiveness for those sins as long as they already had an indulgence or previously secured pardon.  This matter caused conscientious people to protest.  The result was what was called the Protestant Reformation.

The indulgences were being sold by the priests but that is not the aspect of the matter that is now being looked at.  We can establish that forgiveness cannot be bought with money.  There is also the issue of whether a human priest can pardon sins but that is a different discussion as well, which we will not get into just now.  The issue at hand is simply whether or not forgiveness for sins of the past provides forgiveness for sins of the future or whether forgiveness can be obtained for sins before those sins are committed.  If we say that we have repented and we are saved, are we clear of all future condemnation even if we sin after that?  Someone may say if you are saved you will repent.  But that does not answer the question.  Based on that argument, it would also be true to say that if you are saved and Christ lives in your heart you will not sin.  But we all sin.  So is it that nobody is saved?  Or is it that you are saved whether or not you continue to sin?  Surely, we would not be suggesting that there needs be no difference in behaviour between the saved and the unsaved.

The truth is that forgiveness for sins of the past does not provide forgiveness for sins of the future and it is not true to say that once forgiven you are always forgiven.  The Bible says that we should not sin but if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).  Additionally, Jesus says that if we do not forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us (Matt. 6:14, 15).  This was further explained by a parable in which Jesus spoke of a servant who was about to be sold along with his wife, his children and all his possessions in order to pay a debt that he owed (Matt. 18:21-35).  But he asked for forgiveness and his lord forgave him the entire debt.  The man then went out and saw a fellow servant who owed him a small sum.  He insisted that his fellow servant be sent to prison because he was unable to pay, even though his fellow servant asked him to be patient with him.  When his lord heard what he did to his fellow servant, his lord retracted his previous position of forgiving him his debts and ordered him to be delivered to the tormentors till he should pay all that he owed.  Jesus then went on to say that, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matt. 18:35).

This would indicate that forgiveness is on condition that you do not continue to sin.  Sin is disobedience to God’s instructions (1 John 3:4).  God’s moral instructions are summarized in the Ten Commandments.  God has made provision for us to live above sin.  We are told that the gifts of the spirit are given for the “perfecting of the saints” so that we can come to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13, 14).  Jesus has told us, further, that our Father in heaven will not withhold the Holy Spirit from us if we ask Him (Luke 11:13).  In the final analysis, we are admonished to be kind to one another and forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32).

  “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)

 

What does it mean to be saved?

It is very common to hear professed Christians say that they are saved or that they have been saved from sin.  But at the same time, they still consider themselves sinners and admit that they still fall into sin.  They will also admit that they are still affected negatively by sin around them.  So, what then does it mean to be saved?  In this presentation it will be shown that salvation has three parts to it and that atonement for past sins is only one part, which many professed Christians often refer to when they say that they are saved, without recognizing the other two parts.

Salvation means deliverance or rescue.  Atonement means reparation for an offense or injury.  When there is no offense or injury, there is no need for atonement.  But if one is in danger, whether or not one has offended, one needs salvation.  If Christ has forgiven you of all your past sins and you are saved from the penalty of those sins, you still need to be saved from the power of sin so that you are able to live without committing more sins.  Further, you still need to be saved from the presence of sin around you so that you are not in danger of being robbed, murdered or in any other way negatively affected by sin.  Hence, complete salvation from sin requires that we be saved from the three ‘p’s – the penalty, the power and the presence of sin.

Atonement – Salvation from the Penalty of Sin

Atonement is for the purpose of securing salvation from the penalty of sin – the first ‘p’.  The Bible speaks of atonement as the intercessory work that a priest does on behalf of someone who has done something wrong, for the purpose of securing forgiveness for that person – 27 And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; 28 Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge . . . . . 35 the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:27-35).

Christ earned the right to intercede on our behalf because He was tempted just as we are tempted and yet did not sin – 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).  Further, by allowing himself to be killed by Satan and his wicked agents without the slightest justification for Satan’s doing so, He has showed the extent of His love and His Father’s love for us and has exposed Satan to the entire universe as a liar and a murderer.  We are told:

13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

 “32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

 David’s weeping on account of the death of his son Absalom gives just a faint glimpse of what may have happened when God turned His face away from beholding the death of His only begotten Son – 33And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam. 18:33). “4But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam.19:4).

 Some people tend to think of God as an emotionless ethereal entity.  But God is a Person and He has feelings.  In vision, Ellen G. White saw God’s pain and described it as follows:

“The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind.”  (Review and Herald, July 9, 1895, pr.14).

Again, she wrote:

“Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father yielded up His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no.” It was even a struggle with the God of heaven  (Early Writings p. 127.).

By the death of Christ, Satan has been unmasked before the entire universe and his condemnation is ascertained.  In the judgement, he will be condemned and the kingdom of this world will be taken from him. (Dan. 7:26, 27).

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14).

15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15).

26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:26, 27).

The pagan concept of atonement is that of blood being shed to appease an angry god.  The Biblical concept of atonement, however, is that of Christ interceding on behalf of the sinner, presenting arguments for the sinner before God, and ultimately to the entire universe.  In the first instance, the argument is for the sinner to be forgiven based on two things: one, the sinner’s repentance and two, Christ taking the sin on Himself as the ‘responsible officer’, so to speak, being the second Adam, or the new head of humanity.  In the second instance, the argument is that Satan is the real instigator who deceived us and caused us to sin and therefore is the real culprit who should bear the responsibility and hence the penalty.  Thus, in the earthly sanctuary’s representation of the reality, after the priest makes an atonement for the sinner and the sinner is forgiven, at the end of the year, all sins that were previously confessed, were then placed, by the priest (representing Christ), on the head of the scapegoat (representing Satan) and the goat bearing the sins is removed from the camp (Lev. 16:20-22).

Salvation from the Power and Presence of Sin

Salvation from the power of sin – the second ‘p’, is secured by the gifts of the spirit.  We are told:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. . . . 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:8, 11-15).

Salvation from the presence of sin – the third ‘p’, is secured by God changing us from mortal to immortal at the second coming of Christ and afterwards creating a new heaven and a new earth for us to live in forever.  We are told:

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:51-54).

 Also:

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:1-5).

Some people think that God is dwelling with us now.  But God is in heaven.  He will dwell with us then.  Christ is gone to the Father in heaven and will return to take us to Him.  Then the Father and the Son will come back to earth to dwell with us.  In the meantime, Christ has not left us comfortless.  He is with us in the person of His representative, the Comforter, who will be with us until He returns.  The angels are ascending and descending between us and Christ, ministering to us and passing on to us the blessings that Christ secures from the Father for us.

May the Lord help us to repent of our sins so that we may be saved from the penalty of sin and may we pray to God for His Spirit that we might develop perfect characters and be saved from the power of sin in our lives so that when Christ returns we might be saved from the presence of sin and will live with God, with Christ, with the holy angels and with the host of the redeemed throughout eternity.

  “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)