Tag Archives: sin

Lent Day #37 | Redemption

We have interacted with the idea of redemption at various times during this series of reflections (here, here, here, and here). Today, as we draw closer to Easter morning we will take some time to explore what it means that God has redeemed us.

Redemption is a financial term. Many of us have used coupons before. We go to a store with the coupon and when we redeem it we get what it offers at the time of check-out. The reality of this transaction is included in our salvation. When Jesus came to earth, his mission was to redeem that which was lost. In what way was it lost? It was lost to sin and sinfulness. No man or woman who has ever lived can rise up to God. Our blood has been tainted by the sin of Adam and Eve. When they disobeyed God and decided to do their own thing, they damned their ancestors to a life of struggle, strife and strain.

Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus

I want to correct a common misconception here. There are some who believe (and teach) that Jesus redeemed us from the devil. The idea being the enemy of God was holding us captive. This does not make any sense because he too is captive. The devil must still submit to the will of God, even though God is waiting to pronounce his final judgment! So, if we were not redeemed from the devil, who are we in debt too? We are in debt to ourselves. The reason we are stuck in our predicament is because we keep making withdrawals from the account and have been overdrawn for millennia. The debt of sin is the belief we can live independent of God. This however is not the case. If it were not for God we would have nothing. Paul, said it this way,

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for, ‘In him we live and move and have our being’.” (Acts 17:24-28a, ESV)

If it is true that “in Him we live,” then we need someone to redeem our debt and make a deposit into our account of unrighteousness. The only one who could do that was Jesus. When we came into this world, he lived the life we could not live; he died the death we deserved; was raised to life from the grave so we could stand before God forgiven–not perfect. We will never be perfect, but we are being perfected.

Redemption is what Jesus has done to remove the burden of our sin debt. He was submitted the coupon of his blood for the balance of sin in the world. The hymn writer was correct when they said

        What can wash away my sin?
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        What can make me whole again?
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

                Refrain

                Oh! precious is the flow
                That makes me white as snow;
                No other fount I know,
                Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

        For my pardon, this I see,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        For my cleansing this my plea,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

        Refrain

        Nothing can for sin atone,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        Naught of good that I have done,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

        Refrain

        This is all my hope and peace,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
        This is all my righteousness,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
        (Source)

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Lent Day #20 | Repentance

This is a word far too often used by those who have not fully understood its meaning (or even experienced its reality). The underlying reality of this word has escaped many of us because we have thought of it in degrees rather than as a simple, completed whole. What does this mean? It means we think we have more time to “get it right,” when the truth of the matter would frighten us. Repentance is not something to get better at over time. It is a pivot point in our lives.

John 8:11 - Image of woman

The original intent of repentance has been described a change of mind. We are not talking about a curious thought crossing through our minds or something to just sit and mull over. When we encounter the truth of the Gospel of Jesus we have a choice to make. We can turn around or we can keep moving forward. Repentance is turning away from anything and everything not in line with God’s word and will. This is what God is expecting and calling us to. We must turn from sin, not with the indifference of an distasteful odor, but with the intentionality and seriousness of a death inducing threat.

jesus-writing-in-the-dirt

Maybe this is the problem. We have lost our fear of sin and thereby lost our fear of God. As I write this I am moved by my tendency to minimize my sin because I know how marvelous God’s grace is. This may be what Paul meant when he said the following in Romans 6.

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

What I have come to see is that repentance is not a one time choice. It is a constant act. One requiring the heart and mind to work toward holiness. What we have to see is that the only reason we do this is due to the work of the Holy Spirit of God as he moves us to such an act of obedience. As we move to closer Easter we must seek as clear an understanding as we can of what it means to be a citizen of God’s kingdom. My prayer is that you will join me on this journey.

The Tragedy at Sandy Hook | “The Depth of Human Sin Has Reared Its Head… Again!”

NewtownMapPic-500x281

This morning the town of Newtown, CT, was ravaged by the news that an elementary school was taken hostage and the lives of over 25 people were ended, some before they had even had a chance to really begin. When news like this hits it spreads quickly because that is what bad news does. So many thoughts comes to mind about how bad this event is. None of them are good and most of them remind me of what is wrong with the world. A world without love and hope will lead to death and chaos.

As a man of faith I am further convinced that the world does not have the answers to the brokenness of the human heart and soul. Life devoid of God and faith divorced from Jesus will never lead to the kind of peace people hope the government to provide. Followers of Jesus must refrain from placing any faith in the systems of this world. They are broken, tainted and governed by principles that are anathema to the Kingdom of God.

What I dread is the fact that some will being posturing and positioning this horrible tragedy to make a point that neither considers the victims or their families. Some politicians will use this (eventually) to mark some points with someone about needing more gun control. Second Amendment folks will argue that we can’t blame the guns. I have to be honest, I could care less. The only thing that hurts my heart is thinking of all those families (moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and others) who have had their lives, not just turned upside down, but destroyed. Life as we all know it has changed… again.

This is why I write. These kinds of tragedies just keep happening and they will continue to happen because we are not living in a utopia. That place does not exist! It never will because the people who would make it up are irreparably flawed. The only cure is the heart transplant the comes from a relationship with God in Christ. I am not trying to be trite or overly simplistic. I am trying to point to the only solution that I have found and is available to solve the human predicament.

There will never be an explanation satisfying enough to help the hurting hearts and souls of those who have lost today. No answers will make what has happened go away or feel better. The wound that was inflicted this morning may never truly heal. Time may dull the pain, but it will never remove the memory. The pain of loss, and that of a child, will linger in the dark corners of the heart for as long as blood courses through vein and artery.

praying-at-alter

Now is the time to invite God in and even to invite him to come. Only then will there be an end to senseless and unconscionable acts of violence. There was something more than innocence destroyed today. We are losing our ability to imagine a better world. The illusion of a good world is being chipped at by the evil that lays potential within the human heart. I am losing my faith in humanity. And maybe I should be. Humanity has never had to power to save itself. Something we seem to have forgotten.

People of God, pray. Pray for peace and comfort. Pray for the strength to love and continue to live. Pray that hope would come in the morning after the dark night of this day. Pray. Pray. Pray.

The Dark Night Rises In Colorado

If anyone needed a reminder of the reality of suffering and sin, we have seen another example this morning in the early hours of The Dark Knight Rises premier. Reports are still being clarified, but the alleged suspect arrived and threw a tear gas like gas in the theater and then proceed to fire an unknown number of weapons and rounds of ammunition. As of this writing twelve are reported dead and over forty injured in a variety of ways. As many may be asking at this point in the day, “What was the point?”

The sad truth is that there may never be an answer that will satisfy those of us that are wondering. There will never be an answer that will ease the pain of the loss of life. Events like this occur far too often, but it is not until a sensational event takes place, like the one this morning that our attentions are sharply drawn. I am frustrated by this. I am angry that this has happened again. But, some of my frustration and some of my anger is pointed at a culture that insists that it understands the deepest longings of the human heart, mind and soul. We have become so enlightened that we are more ignorant and more perverse than ever before.

I find it somewhat ironic that James Holmes, the suspect that was arrested, was released from the University of Colorado where he was a PH.D. student in neuroscience.

While I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I had to read The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It is an interesting tale of a man by the name of Tomáš. His defining characteristic is that he has an insatiable sexual appetite. And yet, he never seems to find any peace or satisfaction. Instead of finding a weightiness to his existence, Tomáš realizes that his being is unbearable light. There is no substance, no significance, nothing of value or worth to his life. As you read the book you find that it is not in the abundance of pleasure that you find meaning. This is the strange existential reality of life. While many of us who heard about this terrible event feel sorrow and mourn with those that have lost; and while we feel a righteous anger toward the one who committed these heinous acts, we eventually all turn our attentions inward.

We turn inward because we think about what we would have done if we had been there. We turn inward wondering how we would feel if we had been injured, known someone who died or second guessed our decision to get out without helping others. We turn inward because we all are faced with the undying and unrelenting question, “Am I doing anything with my life worth remembering?” This is a fundamental reality.

If we were honest with ourselves we would have to acknowledge the general self-centeredness of our lives. I hate to even admit it, but it is true. We more often than not are looking out for “good ole #1.” What do we have in our lives that helps us to counteract this? The only example we have is Jesus’ self-less love for sinners. Jesus died for those that deserved it least. We are the reason for his death and suffering and he is the reason for our life and joy.

Paul says it this way in Philippians 2:

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NKJV)

The mind of Christ, as Paul calls it describes the change that takes place within those who follow Jesus. This change affects everything that we do, especially how we see and respond to tragedies like the one that occurred this morning. I do not make any claims in knowing how Jesus would respond to this event. I do think that it would include sorrow, weeping and a desire to serve those affected.

A dark night rose last night. It just was not the one that everyone was looking forward to.