Tag Archives: Sin

Two Sins That All People Deal With

In Romans 2:3-4 The Apostle Paul lays out an outline for the rest of the chapter in which he describes two primary ways in which people try to make themselves right with God, and fail.

But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Related: True Preaching vs Health & Wealth

The rest of Romans 2 deals with the points raised in these verses.

First is the belief that we can please God by simply being better than other people. Many people like to pass judgement on others in order to feel better about themselves. This does not make you right with God.

Second is the belief that since God is full of kindness, tolerance and patience, we can therefore do whatever we want and God will never punish us and only reward us. Many people think that because Jesus died for their sins, they can do whatever they please and sin all the more because God will always forgive them.

Both of these ideas are wrong. Very wrong.

First, Paul says there is a very common temptation to make ourselves look better by judging others and putting them down. It is very easy to feel better about yourself if you can look at someone who is doing something wrong and think to yourself “I would never do that.”

You can feel a little better about yourself if you only focus on your own strengths and judge others for their weaknesses. However, you cannot actually make yourself better this way. In fact, this attitude is what led the Pharisees to murder Jesus. This attitude makes you worse, not better. It makes you a more sinful person. It is so dangerous that it turned the Pharisees, who were among the most perfectionist people in the world, into thuggish murderers.

The other dangerous attitude is to take God’s grace flippantly and use it as a permission slip for sin. Since Jesus will forgive you for anything, many people take that to mean they can do whatever they please and do not need to take sin seriously.

This is dangerously flawed reasoning.  If you aren’t taking sin seriously, then by definition you also are not taking Jesus’s death seriously. Jesus did not die on the cross so that you could keep on sinning whenever you feel like it. If you think of his death as a permission slip to sin more, then you are among those who spit on him and insulted him while he hung on the cross.

Jesus did not just die to forgive your sins. He died to defeat sin and take it away.  He died to make you righteous in place of sinful. If he wanted you to keep on sinning he would have stayed in heaven looking down in judgement on you, and letting you do whatever you please all the way to Hell.

Jesus is the solution to both of these problems. First, if you are tempted to look down on others in self-righteous judgement, you have to remember Jesus, who really was righteous, and yet was not self-righteous. He could have judged us for our sins, because he was truly perfect, but he chose to become one of us and take our sin upon himself. There is no room for pride and arrogance and looking down on others when you remember what Jesus did for you.

Likewise, when you remember what Jesus did for you, there is no room for continuing to live in sin either. He died to take sin away. Why would you go on living in it?

Do not fall into these traps. Do not sin by looking down on others and comparing yourself to them. Do not sin by spitting on Jesus’s death and using it as an excuse for your sin.

Never fall into these traps.

Instead, look to Jesus and worship him. Pray to him. Say “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” When you pray that, he hears you, and the answer is always yes.

Remember his grace, and extend it to others. Spread righteousness instead of sin.

God’s Grace and Death

Following Jesus and Having Your Mind Blown

Forgiveness – The Mark of a Believer

 

Cain, Abel, and God’s Impossible Command

5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Did you see that? Cain grew angry and bitter against his brother Abel and against God. God warned him. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Question: Is that possible?

No. Its not.

Oh sure, sin is crouching at the door. That is certainly possible. Sin is a living thing that hunts us down and kills us. It will gladly crouch at your door. Read Romans 7:7-13. “Sin sprang to life.” “Sin took opportunity,” “Sin deceived me and killed me.”

Sin is alive, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Sin is alive. You have to understand that first of all for anything else to make sense.

Sin isn’t something you do. Sin is something that does you. It crouches at your door. It deceives you. It looks for opportunities, takes them, and kills you. Sin has a desire. Its “desire is to rule you.” Sin crouched at Cain’s door; its desire was for him.

God warned him about it. God told Cain in plain words that sin was there.

Then God said something impossible for Cain to do. “But you must rule over it.”

That command is perfectly fitting with weak theology. A Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Wiccan, an atheist, and any number of other false religions will tell you that you must “rule over” the evil in the world. You must use your will power to stay away from it.

But that doesn’t work. Not in a lasting and meaningful way. In reality, Cain could have stifled his anger and avoided murdering his brother, but he could not have mastered sin. Sin lives inside each of us. We are born with it like a virus or a genetic disorder. You didn’t choose it, it chooses you and now its there inside you. We aren’t sinners because we we do bad things. We do bad things because we are sinners. Sin is always there, and always crouching at the door ready to take us further down into its death spiral. Cain cannot rule over sin any more than you or I can rule over our own hearts. You can kill it, but you will die in the process, and death is a result of sin, so even if you kill yourself to avoid sin, you really are playing into its desire to rule you.

The only way to defeat and master sin is to die and then come back from the dead. Cain can’t do that. Neither can any of us.

But Jesus can. And he did.

God’s command to Cain is impossible for Cain to carry out. It foreshadows and introduces the need for someone to come along and truly master sin and defeat it. That man was not Cain. It is Jesus. Cain did not know Jesus. Cain was a few thousand years ahead of Jesus. But Cain did know God, and if Cain had turned back to God and asked for God’s direct intervention in his life, I’m sure God would have gladly given it. But Cain ignored God and killed his brother. He did not master sin any better that you or I can master it. He wasn’t the man for the job. I’m not either. Jesus is the only one.

Death no longer is master over him; the death that he died, he died to sin once and for all; but that life that he lives, he lives to God.” Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” “For sin shall no longer be master of you.” “For he who has died is freed from sin.”

Stop trying to master sin in your life. Stop blaming it on others or calling it “a mistake.” Stop trying to fix yourself, stop relying on others to fix you. You can’t do it any better than Cain could. You may avoid killing someone, but you won’t “rule over” sin until you accept the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You must give over your life to him, the one who died, rather, the one who was raised from the dead.