God vs. Sin (Part One)

October 4, 2019 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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We may define sin as the breaking of God’s law. Sin first showed up in God’s universe when Lucifer, in his pride, rebelled against God, inducing one third of the Heavenly host to join him. Sin appears for the first time in the earth very early in the Bible, as the same Lucifer, now Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, and she in turn brought sin to Adam. He sinned too.

The word “sin” first occurs in Genesis 4:7: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” It plays a key role in the story of the Bible, and because it is our chief identification apart from Christ, and because it is the cause of the curse upon this world, including death, disease, misery, and the exhibition of God’s wrath against His creatures, it is a serious foe, opposing the glory of God, and one with which God must deal.

One little sin caused God to cast His entire “very good” universe into moral darkness and decay. That’s one example of how “bad” sin really is. Another example also comes early on in the Bible:

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Genesis 18:20

Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Genesis 19:24-28

Because God is just, He can not simply ignore sin, and, although we know He forgives sins, there must be some basis other than pure mercy for God to deal with sin in mercy while remaining just.

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 17:15

This is the great dilemma. God could “set aside” sin, in a manner of speaking, for a time, but His just and righteous wrath could not be done away with, only stored up.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts 17:30-31

The “winking” described Acts 17:30 is not a cutesy type of approval. It’s not an inside joke whereby God acknowledges that “boys will be boys” or that “sinners will be sinners, so what am I gonna do?” What it describes is a sort of judicial “overlooking” for the time being with the understanding that what is currently being allowed WILL be dealth with at the proper time.

When my oldest daughter was still learning to walk, my wife and I took her grocery shopping with us, and, one time, she wandered down the wine aisle without us noticing it while we were having a discussion. Before we knew it, she had hooked her finger into the glass ring on the neck of a huge jug of wine, lifted it from a bottom shelf, and begun precariously toddling toward us. Sure enough, before we could reach her, the jug slipped from her finger and smashed on the floor, sending dark red wine and shards of glass flowing in a rapidly expanding ring. Panicked over the thought that I had let my one-year-old break a bottle of wine, compounded by the embarassment that someone might think my wife and I were near the wine aisle because we were there to purchase wine (we weren’t!), my temptation was to “wink at” this accident – to overlook it and leave quietly, trusting some store employee to discover it and clean it up on his/her own. Thankfully, even back in those days, I had enough integrity to report the spill to the store manager and offer to pay for the damage. This is perhaps not that great of an analogy for what the Bible describes when it talks about God allowing the sins of his Old Testament people to be “passed over” until the day of Christ’s atonement, but it does give some idea of the meaning behind the idea of God “winking at the time of ignorance,” before we move on to some of the specific ways that God does deal with sin, which we will look at in Part Two.

The Top Story in Sodom

March 23, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Genesis | 18 Comments
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And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

Genesis 17:9-12

The covenant concerns Abraham’s seed. God was the Initiator of this covenant, and He also changed the names of Abram and Sarai, by adding “H’s” to their names. I’m no expert in Hebrew, but my understanding is that the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “H,” and that this letter represents grace.

Circumcision (“cutting around” the seed-multiplying instrument) was the outward show of God’s covenant people. Cutting off from – and setting aside unto – is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. True believers today are to be circumcised in their hearts.

In Genesis 18 the Lord comes to visit Abraham in disguise.

And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Genesis 18:1

Keep in mind Abraham was 99 years old when this happened. For him, the “heat of the day” probably was especially uncomfortable.

And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

Genesis 18:2

Abraham was known for tents and altars. He knew that this world was not his home, and he was devoted to God.

And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Genesis 18:3-8, emphasis added

Note the haste and desire to serve and wait upon the Lord that Abraham displays. He truly was the friend of God. The Lord had come to destroy Sodom. But first He stopped to talk with Abraham, His friend, about it. At least three times in Scripture Abraham is called the “friend of God” (II Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).

Abraham was the friend of God and Lot was a friend of the world. Newspaper journalists have a technique they use to get a lot of information into the first paragraph of a news story. They focus on the “who, what, when, where, and why.”

“Police report that John Doe was shot last night in Metropolis while trying to rob a bank.”
The who: John Doe
The what: He was shot.
The when: last night
The where: Metropolis
The why: because he tried to rob a bank

I want to use this technique to compare the differences between the friend of God and the friend of the world.

The WHO for Abraham: Abraham talked with the Lord Himself.

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Genesis 18:16-19

The Lord knew that Abraham would command his household – that he would be a spiritual leader, a spiritual husband, father, and grandfather.

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Genesis 18:20-22

The WHO for Lot: The angels went on to Sodom to see Lot, but the Lord didn’t go in to fellowship with Lot in his sin – in his worldliness.

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Genesis 19:1

The WHAT for Abraham: The friend of God received the promise of the blessings.

Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Genesis 18:14

The WHAT for Lot: Lot, the friend of the world, received the warning of condemnation with the world.

For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

Genesis 19:13

The WHERE: Abraham was in a tent. Lot was in a city.

The WHEN: Abraham was visited in the day. Lot was visited at night.

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Genesis 19:1, emphasis added

Abraham, the friend of God, walked in light; Lot, the friend of the world, walked in darkness.

This may surprise you: Lot was a saved man.

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

II Peter 2:6-8

The Bible tells us this plainly, because we might have trouble believing it otherwise – especially considering what happened next with Lot:

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Genesis 19:4-8

This is often explained away as the extreme “hospitality” required in ancient Eastern nomadic culture when Bible commentators try to help us understand, but we need to take a hard honest look and ask ourselves, “How did Lot get to such a state? How could he offer his own daughters to satisfy the lusts of the world?” And before we get too excited and critical, we must ask ourselves, “Are we offering our daughters to the world?”

I doubt that you would throw your daughter to a mob of Sodomites… but what happens when you send your daughter out into the world unprotected? Many fathers let total strangers come to their home and pick up their daughters. (Maybe a real “strict” father will insist on meeting a young man for five minutes.) Has God commanded you to protect your daughter and defend her honor? Do you trust the world to protect her and protect her honor? How many fathers just “go along” with what everyone else is doing?

Ephesians 6 tells us that when the devil attacks we need to stand. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil.

When the devil attacks we are to fight. Is there a scarier enemy than the devil? Yet when it comes to a choice between standing and fighting versus running away, the Bible to tells me to stand and fight the devil, not to flee from him. What the Bible tells me to flee from is fornication (I Corinthians 6:18) and youthful lusts (II Timothy 2:22).

I would not let my daughters play with a hand grenade. If I did, somebody should call child protective services on me. But letting my daughters go off with strangers unchaperoned is more dangerous than playing with a hand grenade. I know many Christian parents who pray that God will protect their daughter while she’s out on a date with their approval, and I’m all for praying. But would you pray for me if I asked you to pray that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit so I would have the ability to knock over a liquor store? That would be foolish! You don’t send someone off with an encouragement to sin while telling them that you will pray for them to get away with it!

I know that we don’t live in the culture of the ancient East, and that our society is different. But I’m not answerable to society! I’m a Christian – I’m answerable to God.

The WHY: Abraham chose to be a “Hebrew” – a stranger – a pilgrim passing through this world. Lot and the people of Sodom considered this world to be the end-all – their final home. And they denied the power of God to destroy with fire.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to turn away from those that have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” (II Timothy 3:5). The next Sodom will be worldwide. I don’t want my family to see that day. I want my family looking forward to Heaven – not looking back to the world like Lot’s wife.

In the Bible narrative, Lot passes off the scene. Abraham – and as far as we know, the Lord – never got “a Lot out of the world.” Lot argued all the way from Sodom. He had to be literally taken by the hand and dragged out by God’s grace. He wound up getting drunk in a cave and committing incest with his daughters. Only the grace of God can save us from this present world.


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