God vs. Sin (Part Two)

October 21, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

God is not disinterested in sin. As I pointed out in Part One, He actively opposes it. Here are some of the figurative ways the Bible describes how God deals with sin:

1. God subdues and drowns sin in the depth of the sea.

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:19

To subdue something is to apprehend it, hold it down, control it, and keep it down. The “depths of the sea,” to an Old Testament Israelite, was a forbidden place, a place where no one would ever want to go. God throws sin into outer darkness, where the record of it against His people can not be retrieved or “brought up” again.

How does this image of God’s victory over sin help us? It reminds us to live our lives figuratively up in the open air of God’s presence, not down in the depth of darkness and despair.

2. God places sin beyond reach.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

The joining of the east to the west is a geographical impossibility. These destinations are never connected. There is an infinity of distance between them, and that is the type of removal that God does with the guilt caused by our sins.

How does this image of God’s removal of sin help us? It reminds us that we are free to move in all directions in the grace of God. We may go to places that remind us of our sins and past temptations, but they are no longer in the same hemisphere that we occupy in Christ.

3. God washes sin away.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Even the strongest detergent can not remove ALL dinginess from a white garment once it has been stained, but the blood of Christ is stronger than the strongest detergent. It completely removes the stain of sin, and grants believers the pure white robe of Christ’s righteousness.

How does this help us? We don’t have to feel the shame of defilement or believe that we are too “dirty” or that we are covered with too many telling stains to be of service to God.

4. God throws sin behind His back and covers it up.

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

Isaiah 38:17

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:7-8

While we have the comfort of knowing that – in Christ – our sins are behind us, here we are told that they are also behind God. He who covers his own sin will not prosper, but the person whose sins are covered by ANOTHER – specifically, by God – is truly blessed. He has placed them out of His view, back in what we think of as the past. We draw near to God, He draws near to us, and, because our sin is now behind Him, it is no longer between Him and us.

How does this help us? It reminds us that a life of Christian service is a life of moving forward. Things thrown behind us do not stand in our way. We are free to advance in our sanctification and out of our former comfort zones, as we stay active in serving Him. Everyone has a garbage can, but no one chooses to hang out near it. This is important in our relationships too. Getting hysterical is bad; getting historical is worse. Don’t retrieve things that God has thrown behind His back.

5. God blots out and forgets sin.

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Isaiah 43:25

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Colossians 2:14

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 8:12

This blotting-out has a connotation of an official notation made of and the satisfaction and cancellation of a debt in a bookkeeping or record-keeping context. Sin was taken by Jesus and nailed to His Cross. There it was covered by His blood and stamped “paid in full.” This is done not merely for our sakes, but for His own sake – His own glory. He divinely erases, cancels, and “forgets” the record of sin on our ledger and in His holy “books.”

How does this help us? We face an accuser who is quick to remind us of our sin, but God does not remember it. The official record has been erased as though it never existed. With a clean slate, we may serve the Lord with a clean conscience.

F. God expiates (takes away) sin.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29

God has thoroughly defeated sin. He has subdued it and drowned it in the depth of the sea. He has placed it beyond reach. He has washed it away. He has thrown it behind His back and covered it up. He has blotted it out and forgotten it.
He has expiated it by laying it upon Jesus who carried it away. He can therefore forgive us for it, demonstrating His grace, mercy, and love, while remaining holy, just, and righteous.

When We Can’t Wait to Celebrate

December 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

When the prodigal son returned to his father, there is no doubt that he was exceedingly sorrowful over not just the deplorable, debauched, and destitute condition into which he had fallen during his season of sin, but he was even more sorrowful over the fact that he HAD sinned against both his father and his God.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

Just as the son is beginning to address his own unworthiness, though, we get the impression that he is cut off, midthought, by his father, whose joy over the repentance and return of his son demands a joyful celebration, not a recounting of past wrongs.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

New clothes, feasting, and merriment are what he wants, not a trial period of wait-and-see probation to determine whether the wayward boy is truly sorry, or whether he is just hungry and manipulative.

If we take the father’s exuberance as our cue, how much more should we be ready and anxious to celebrate when someone we know returns from wandering in the fields of sin and despair, and comes back home to Christ? Let joy and praise be our default mode, rather than skepticism and wariness, if we wish to imitate our Heavenly Father Who delights in repentance!

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Luke 15:10

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Micah 7:18

Opportunities / Obstacles

June 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Opportunities

Opportunities are a great comfort. Many of us would like to get get a call from someone who says, “Hey, I’ve a got this great opportunity for you!” (Unless it turns out to be Amway.) Advertisers use the enticement, “Stayed tuned for an exciting opportunity!” America has even been called “the land of opportunity.” Opportunities are openings or events where, if you take advantage of a situation, you can really benefit.

God comforts us by giving opportunities. He gave you the opportunity to trust Him and be saved; the opportunity to obey Him in baptism; the opportunity to join a great church; the opportunity for free Bible instruction on Sunday mornings (we call it Sunday School at my church). Life is full of wonderful opportunities given to us by God.

The Bible says that no temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful in that – with every temptation – He has made a way to escape – an opportunity to do what’s right – so that you may be able to bear it and to get the victory over the temptation. That’s very comforting!

But there is a flip side to opportunity:

Obstacles

You’ve probably been there: You get stuck in a traffic jam. You’ve got three choices. You can turn around and go back. You can cheat and drive on the shoulder to the next exit. Or you can wait. I don’t have any advice for you when it comes to traffic jams (the older I get, the more I just decide to stay home), but I do have some advice concerning spiritual obstacles: Wait on the Lord.

The good [man] is perished out of the earth: and [there is] none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.

Micah 7:2

Micah prophesied in a time when nobody was doing what was right. It seemed like everything was working against God’s people. Everywhere they turned, there were obstacles.

That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge [asketh] for a reward; and the great [man], he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.

Micah 7:3

Sometimes this is how it seems to us. We look to the government for help, but we meet an obstacle. We don’t qualify or we’re left waiting on hold. We go to court, but we find out the law isn’t just. We appeal to wealthy or influential individuals, but they are unwilling to help.

The best of them [is] as a brier: the most upright [is sharper] than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen [and] thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.

Micah 7:4

We remind ourselves that God will make sure the wicked get what they deserve, and we turn to our close friends.

Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.

Micah 7:5

But even they are no help.

For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies [are] the men of his own house.

Micah 7:6

Even your family tuns out to be unreliable! So what do you do? Do you say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?” Do you cheat? Go around the obstacles unlawfully? Do you go back? Give up? Do you say, “This can’t be the opportunity I thought God was giving me, because it has turned out to be an insurmountable obstacle?” No.

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Instead, you wait on the Lord to turn your obstacle into an opportunity. If we are willing to wait upon the Lord, obstacles make great opportunities. When you are prosperous and healthy and well-loved by men, people in general don’t give God glory for that. They think you’re lucky or smart or strong. So, how are we going to give God glory? We are going to praise Him in our obstacles, and treat them like opportunities.

“I know God will deliver me when I’m poor, when I’m sick, when I’ve been betrayed.” That’s what we tell people when they ask us why or how we can be so happy just waiting. Then:

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD [shall be] a light unto me.

Micah 7:8

New lights don’t shine bright in already-existing light. New lights shine bright in the darkness. Now when you are delivered, the heathen and the pagans will know Who gets the credit.

Our Own Worst Enemy

March 21, 2014 at 9:47 am | Posted in Micah, parables | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Micah Chapters 1 and 2 contain warnings. Chapters 3 and 5 contain promises. Chapter 6 is a challenge. Micah sums up the attitude of the people when faced with the idea that God is displeased with their worship.

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Micah 6:6-7

You can’t build up a credit of good works with God while planning to sin. You can’t bargain with God: “If I do A, B, and C right, will You let me get away with X, Y, and Z?” The Lord is truly righteous. In Him is no sin at all.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14

No man will make God his debtor. The stealing of land or property by the rich and powerful from the poor and weak is a sin which seems to trigger God’s judgment.

Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Micah 6:13-14

God’s judgment sometimes begins slow like a train, but it always comes into the station right on time.

For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Micah 6:16 (emphasis added)

The sins of the “common” people are just as offensive to God as the sins of the leaders.

For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

Micah 7:6

Micah 7:6 is quoted in Matthew 10:36: “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Why would Jesus say this? There will be some families where some family members are saved and some are not. Those closest to you can be some of the worst stumbling blocks, and thereby your worst enemies. As Christians, we don’t hate our enemies – we love them – but there are times when our devotion to Christ calls us to separate from even parents or children.

According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.

Micah 7:15

When every enemy is united against God’s people – when we don’t have anyone else to trust – that’s when the Lord does great miracles of deliverance.

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19 (emphasis added)

The greatest victory God will ever win in your life will be the victory over you.

The Breathtaking Wonder of God

January 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Micah, Salvation | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19

Many times, when a person feels he is nearing the end of his life, he will begin to seriously consider his eternal soul. This will often lead to two main concerns, and, really, they are concerns that any reasonable person would have.

1. I understand that I am about to see God, and I have much for which to answer.

We should all be this honest – every day. For we all have a past. And not a one of us can go back in time and change that past. We have offended God with our sin.

In this world, when we offend someone more powerful than us, there is an instinct to run away from that person. This will not work with God. The only safe place to run when we have offended God is to God. Micah 7:18 asks, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” When you run to God for forgiveness, trusting in His Son, Jesus, He does not punish – He pardons. The Verse goes on to say that God passes by “the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” These are the people that He will make a part of His family.

A sense that we have offended God should lead to a desire to get right with God, and this does not anger God. “He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Take a moment to let that sink in: God delights in mercy. God is both just and loving. He is compassionate, forgiving, and merciful.

But that only answers one of our concerns:

Q. How will I get right with God when I can’t undo the past?
A. He will erase your sins from His accounting books for the sake of His Son if you believe the Gospel and trust in Christ, being born again.

The second concern is this:

2. How can I know He has done this?

The answer to that one is: You have God’s promise. He has given His Word. Jesus never lies. When He said He was God incarnate, He was telling the absolute complete truth. It wouldn’t make sense for every Word He ever said about Himself to be true – and then to lie to us about ourselves. Jesus was and is God, and God can not lie.

So, we have the assurance of His promise and the assurance of His victory over sin. When you find the power of sin broken in your life – when you find you can choose to love God more than you love sin – you will have additional assurance that you are truly God’s child.

In trusting Jesus Christ, you can claim the promise of Micah 7:19: “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

I once visited with an elderly gentleman in his home a few days before he died. He was battling an illness – I believe it was called COPD – which caused him to struggle for breath. It is heartbreaking to see a man struggling to breathe – to see such powerlessness over something most of us take for granted all day long. But it is so encouraging to see something more powerful come along and empower the powerless – and give them victory! I believe that I am going to see that man in God’s Holy City one day because of the saving power of Jesus Christ. I want to see him taking deep breaths of the breath of Life. I want to see every person reading this there one day, too. Whether we run for God, sing for God, or climb a mountain for God – we will never get short of breath there!


Entries and comments feeds.