Tag Archives: Sin

Can You Be A Christian And … ?

My last post, unsurprisingly, generated some questions. Which is great because it exposes me to different world views. But they also alerted me to the fact that perhaps my real point was misinterpreted, particularly by the younger generations. So I’d like to address a couple of questions here that were thrown my way in the hope of being a little clearer and to take the opportunity to expound a little bit on my own world views.

The first thing people usually take issue with or question is generalities and absolutes. These mostly come from younger generations, but older people sometimes take offense at them as well. As a simple example someone might say “Do you have any proof that all have sinned?”. Or someone might just say “You can’t say all.” But of course I can (and did – and do). Whether you find truth in it or agree with it is up to you, not me. As proof I could simply ask the world the question “Can anyone who has never committed a single sin please speak up?” Because I’d like to have a conversation with you. But I don’t have to generate any proof (really) because God said it (in His word), I believe it, and that’s that. It is an absolute.

The real tragedy here is that we’ve taught people you can no longer speak in absolutes. Of course you can. The Bible speaks in absolutes all the time. And it starts in Genesis Chapter 1. For the sake of brevity I’ll need to break this into a couple of posts, but allow me to point out one Biblical absolute in great controversy within our discussions today.

Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” KJV

That is an absolute. God created male and female. Not males that were cheated and belonged in a female body or females that were cheated and feel like they belong in a male body. You were created (made) a male or a female. You may feel like you are something else, but that is your choice. And your choice does not negate God’s creation or how he made you. And it doesn’t matter how many surgeries you have or hormone treatments you’ve had or whatever else you’ve done. You were either born a male or a female. That is God’s design. Even in cases of genetic mutations which are simply a result of sin in the world. Sin does have consequences in the world but God’s plan is still absolute.

So the Bible talks in absolutes and so can we. We may not like absolutes because it seems to exclude those that don’t want to be included in the absolute, however it does not change the fact of the absolute. The only thing that changes is our position relative to the absolute. My position is to accept the absolute.

And yes, sometimes I extrapolate those absolutes. Because there are divisions in the world. I acknowledge the grey areas, but encourage people to not be lukewarm. Pick a side and stand by it.

Which brings me to the second question people ask “Can’t Christians be Democrats?” Well obviously they can. Can a Christian be a murder? Sure they can. But is that in violation of God’s law? I believe it is. Is that a problem? We all know it is. But a Christian should be on a journey to placing Christ foremost in their life. And that does not mean perfection. It means walking closer and closer to Jesus each and every day. It means acknowledging His preeminence and not your own. And I would argue that it means not calling out all the sins of others in the world but being a little more concerned with your own. I’m not here to condemn the murders in the world. I’m simply echoing God’s word which says murder is sin. And your sin is between yourself and God. I’m right there with you as my own sins are great and I am the least of God’s servants. And neither does this mean that there are not consequences to sin. There are. And I have to deal with mine, and I’ll let you deal with yours.

So can a Christian be a member of the Democrat Party in the USA? Well of course they can. But I choose the Republican platform because it most closely aligns with what I find to be important in light of what aligns with my world view and Biblical understanding. Is it perfect? No. Of course not. But it is the best choice I can make. The weight of the evidence for me is who protects human life and who does not. The Democrat Party Platform does not protect human life. It seeks to murder unborn innocent children:

Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We will repeal the Title X domestic gag rule and restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides vital preventive and reproductive health care for millions of people, especially low-income people, and people of color, and LGBTQ+ people, including in underserved areas.

You may argue about all the other things the Democrat Party has planned, but will it really matter killing our children at the alarming rates we do? And are you willing to compromise a stance on murder for all of your other beliefs and ideals? Because by aligning yourself with the Democrat Party that is exactly what you are doing. You are providing them numbers, credence , an a louder voice.

I wasn’t saying that you cannot be a Christian and belong to the Democrat Party in my last post. I was saying if your are a Christian I’m sure you value life as the very gift from God, and that is greatly at odds with the Democrat Party Platform. And I just asked that you think about that.

Are You The Redeemed of the Lord?

One of the more interesting dynamics of the Christian Faith to me is the argument that as the Elect of God, we are perfectly in his hands.  Never to have calamity or evil ever cross our paths again.  These are the “feel good” Christians.  The idea that “if God be for me, who can be against me?”

The opposite side of the coin however are the “daily struggle” Christians. The I must “work out my faith” Christians.  That every day of my life is a new challenge and I must face the Sin in the world against a constant barrage of ill will directed at me by Satan himself.

Both view points point to various Scripture to bolster their claims and to drive their points home.  They will preach that you should live your life secure in the knowledge that God only wants the best for you, or that you must constantly be on your guard and struggle in your faith.

What is interesting about these studies to me is that you never hear both sides at once (or so rarely that they are almost impossible to pinpoint).  You never hear someone preach “God wants to make you rich!” and “You have to put on the whole armor of God” at the same time.  And so you are left with the feeling that perhaps God wants to fight all your battles for you, but only if you take up the sword and do the fighting yourself.

There are many interesting concepts found within Scripture.  Some that are seemingly contradictory of each other.  But only when considered from humankind perspective.  When considered from God’s perspective, they begin to look a little differently to us.  I’ve talked about these Scriptural paradoxes in previous posts.  Perhaps the most famous one known is Calvinism vs, Arminianism, of which I have quoted Louie Giglio when he stated that it is a great mystery to man; that God is 100% in control and yet man has free will at exactly the same time.   I believe our “status” here in this world is exactly one of those cases.

Consider the words of Paul of Tarsus to Timothy in I Timothy 1:15.  Paul told Timothy that he was Chief amongst sinners.  He said “I am”.  I’ve looked up the Greek word for “I am” in this passage for you.  It literally means “to be”, in this case “to be found”.  It is present tense.  Paul was telling Timothy that he literally was the number one sinner in the world at that time.  Paul probably wrote this letter to Timothy somewhere between 58 and 64 AD.  Yet in his letter to the Roman’s Paul writes that it is not he who sins, but the sin that dwells in him: Romans 7:17.  Most scholars date the book of Romans to somewhere between 54 and 57 AD.  Before his letter to Timothy, where he is currently, at that time, Chief amongst sinners.

So which is it?  Is Paul confused?  Or do we have a Biblical paradox here?

I believe that both are true at exactly the same time.  At the same time Paul enjoys the completed work of Christ in him, and yet he remains Chief amongst sinners.  He is both redeemed, and within the sin struggle of this world at exactly the same time.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 8:17.  Paul is so bold as to point out that we are Joint Heirs with Jesus Christ, the Name above all names.  The Son of the living God.  But he points out that if we share in His Glory, surely we share in His suffering as well.  You might be considering that Christ’s suffering is over, and you are correct, but we should not be so naïve as to think that we can know Glory without also knowing Suffering.

So the question then comes “Does God own the Cattle on a thousand hills”?  Well of course he does.  He is God.  And “Does God want the best for our lives”?  Well of course he does.  He sent his only Son to die on a cross for our sin.  He plans to one day wipe away every tear and lift every burden.  But do we still have to put on the whole armor of God and take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus?  Well yes, we do.

Why?  Because there is little substitute for experience.  I was talking with a very well-educated person recently.  A person with many degrees and certificates.  But yet this person needed some advice, even with all of their studies and academic achievements, they needed some advice in life.  And the reason they needed advice is because they lacked experience.  You see, experience cannot be taught.  It must be gained though one’s own journey.  And God desires for us to experience Him.  He delights when we explore and strive to understand Him.  He delights when we come to Him in order to know Him more.

And that includes with both blessings and sorrow in our lives.  It includes when we struggle with sin in our lives and when we put on the armor of God and say No! to Satan.  We cannot know victory without knowing defeat.  And God’s blessings are all that much greater when they have been delivered in the midst of great sorrow.  It is when we are weak, that He can be strong in our lives.  Is it because we do not already have the Creator of all things living inside of us?  No, of course not!  If Christ be for me, who can stand against me?  No, it is because He wants us to stand in His strength and not our own.

Are you the Redeemed of the Lord?  I pray today that you are.  But if you are, I pray that you will recall that it is only because of what God has done for you and not what you have done for God.  Can God grant you all the blessings of Job in your life and much more?  Well of course he can.  However I, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, say that if God so chooses NOT to bless me, NOT to shower my life with all the peace, joy, and love, that only He can give, He is still God.  And He is still upon His throne.  God may choose to deliver me from the fiery furnace or He may not.  But He is still God.

I Am No Saint

I have a sermon entitled My 10 Greatest Sins.  It is actually a discourse on The Ten Commandments, however I talk about them personally and how they apply directly to my life.  I explore them from the standpoint of how I am guilty of each.

I’ve only preached this particular sermon a couple of times in two different places.  I ought to bring it out more.  The interesting thing about this particular sermon is, that it is illustrated (verb, definition 2) by sin in my life.

And the thing that makes that interesting is that every single course on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I’ve taken, every great preacher that I’ve discussed sermon delivery with, every instructional work I’ve read on the topic of sermon delivery, has told me (and will tell you) that you never, ever, talk about your own sin.  Let alone illustrate points of sin out of your own experiences.

And I understand why that instruction is there, however, I have one small problem with it.  And that is Paul of Tarsus.  Paul did not shy away from informing Timothy that he was Chief amongst sinners (I Timothy 1:14-16).  Paul was straight forward with the early Church because he knew they were aware of his past (Acts 7:57-59).

You may not personally be aware of my past (though there are those that are), but you should not assume that my sins are few and my transgressions lite (just as I do not assume that for anyone else in the world).  Paul of Tarsus may have been foremost amongst sinners when he walked the Earth, but today, I tell you that I am Chief amongst sinners.

You may inquire of me who I have murdered and why I am not in jail for it, but you should consider that one does not have to physically end a life in order to take a life.  You and I impact people around us every single day.  And given the chance, we impose our will on others.  And where we win, we rob others.  And where we hate with an intense hatred, we murder those people in our hearts.

So yes, I assure you, even though the breaking of God’s law may not meet your particular definition, I have broken them all.  And I believe that is by His definition, not mine, and I don’t believe I could stand before the Throne of God and defend any one of them were He to chose to charge me with any of the 10.

So I am Chief amongst sinners.  You may ask, so what is my point?  How does myself being the biggest transgressor of God’s law in the world today have any meaning or effect in anyone else’s life or the world around me?

Well you are (hopefully) reading this blog, are you not?  Are you not contemplating your own arguments, defenses, introspection, and evaluation of your own world view at this very moment in time?  I believe you are, whether you admit it or not.

And it is important, because by doing so you evaluate my positions and arguments and use that information to conclude your own agreement or disagreement.

You see, the dirty little secret is: I could really care less if you agree or disagree with me that I really am Chief amongst sinners.  That is really my position before a Holy God and how I approach my own world view.  I understand that when my sin is great, His Mercy is greater.  When my transgressions are  not loveable, His Love loves more.  When I am pathetic and hopeless, He finds Value and Hope.

It is not that I make myself a great sinner in order that His Salvation becomes greater, it is I recognize that I am great sinner so that His Great Salvation is not diminished.  And I believe the great songwriter/theologian William R. Newell understood this principle when he penned the words (At Calvary):

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!

No, it doesn’t really matter to me much at all if you agree or disagree with my self characterization.  What matters to me is that you understand that I believe it, and that it then becomes part of your evaluation of your own understanding for the purpose of the discussion.

Which brings me to the thing that is pressing heavily upon my soul, and that is the pending elections for the President/Vice President of the United States of America.

Within the last 48 hours or so, we’ve now discovered the so-called October SurpriseDonald J. Trump has expressed some pretty ugly views about women and used some very vulgar language.

And now, apparently, the entire Republican Party leadership wants to abandon him.  Many prominent leaders have called for him to step down, to abandon the race (story here).

And I have but one question: Has the entire conservative electorate (in the United States of America) lost their collective mind!?!  The election clock is ticking and we have less than 30 days until the people of the United States of America vote for (ostensibly) the leader of the free World and somehow the answer to lewd and insensitive talk (I am sure that there have been recent examples, but what is currently being put forth is 10/11 years old) is for the nominee to step down?  And do what?  Hold another Republican Primary?  Have those in charge place their presumptive candidate forward?  Less than 30 days before the election is to be held?

AMERICA: If I, whom am Chief amongst sinners, am allowed by a Holy and Righteous God, to preach His word, to espouse on this blog, to represent Him here in this life, can we not find it in our hearts to be a little more civil towards the person the majority selected as their nominee?

Consider the alternative.  The opponent doesn’t face her mistakes (sure she said she made a mistake having a private Email server, but that didn’t address the issue).  She has always skirted her own accusers and condemned those who have brought the spotlight to bear on her transgressions.

The fact is, America just cannot afford Hillary Clinton as President.  The Nation is probably near bankruptcy as it is.  And she is certainly not the one to be casting any stones.

Donald J. Trump has sinned in the past, and he will sin in the future, but he is still the best choice for America, and he is my choice.  And I pray that God will spare the United States of America by placing him in office.  And I pray you will join me in that prayer.

By-the-way – I lied.  I titled this post I Am No Saint.  But I am a saint.  Not because of anything I’ve done, or will do, or ever could do, but because Jesus Christ has redeemed me through his work upon the Cross.  But when you look at me you will not see a saint.  You will see anything but saintliness and you would agree with my post title.

Hopefully when you look at Donald J. Trump, you will not see the sinner, but rather a President.

Are You Good Enough To Get Into Heaven?

A question that I have asked a few times in the past on this blog deals with exploring why there is evil in the world.  I’ve asked this question both from the standpoint of why God allows bad things to happen to good people and why God allows evil in the world if he is indeed a good and gracious God.

However, a question that is seldom explored, and one that I have rarely, if ever, heard espoused from a theological standpoint is Can an evil person commit good acts?  Most purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ seek to point out mankind’s sin.  That we are fallen creatures.  And that we are separated from a Just and Holy God.

The Bible explains that we cannot have any hope of eternal life save from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  And the entire reason that sacrifice was (and is) necessary is because we are a fallen creation.  That is, all of humankind is sinful.  We have violated God’s law, and are worthy of death, which is an eternity in Hell.

And thus evangelists, those that seek to spread the Good News that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope of winning souls (changing lives) for His Kingdom and His Glory, are apt to explain the state of mankind.  And that state is a separated, sinful state.  But the Good News is that we need not suffer the penalty of that state because the price has already been paid for us.  By God himself.  As only he could.

I’ll return to that in a moment.  But before I do, perhaps you are one of the many who has wondered what in the world you have ever done to deserve God’s wrath.  Perhaps you have wondered, if indeed the Bible is true (and I assure you it is), why God’s standard is so high as to condemn all who have lived, who live, or who ever will live.

In other words, why would God’s grand design be one in which we cannot win?

The genesis of this question, whether we recognize it or not, comes from putting ourselves (humankind) at the center of the equation and not God.  We want to consider things from our point of view and not His.  But the creation should never try and explain the rules to the Creator.  Rather we should seek to understand Him and His purpose, His plan, and His grand design.  We can never understand it apart from Him because He is the one who put it all into motion.  Not us.

And when we consider things from our point of view we begin to reason that yes, perhaps I have lied, but they were only little white lies.  No one got hurt by them.  They were not some atrocious acts of evil that altered the world.  After all, the vast majority of us who have ever lived can honestly say that we have not murdered anyone.  And therefore we are mostly good and only a little bad, and thus we are not really deserving of Hell, and if there is a God (and I assure you there is) He will look favorably on us because we tried really hard and did more good than we ever did bad.

In doing so, we fail to consider things from God’s point of view.  God never, ever, once (that I am aware of) asked if we had told an egregious lie, only if we had lied.  Whatever that lie may have been.  And God never, ever, once applied some scale of good and evil to our state of sin.  Only whether we had, or had not sinned.  And the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned (and thus come short of the Glory of God).

This then creates what many may think is a paradox.  How is it, that humankind, who is sinful in nature, can do so much good in the world?  If I am so bad, why is it I am so good?  Can one who is evil in nature, find it in their heart to do good in the world?

The Bible, not surprisingly, has an answer to that question.  No one would disagree that there is good in the world.  Of course there is.  But to place ourselves at the center of that good is a fallacy and leads us down a very dangerous path.

Paul of Tarsus explained it this way in Romans 8:18-24:  We are told that it is God who shows mercy and lifts up those who falter.  Even when we sin against God himself, God works His plan for good: Genesis 50:20.  Paul further asks the question:

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:21-24, KJV).

Paul, after telling us in Romans chapter 8 that we are all sinners who have fallen short of the Glory of God, tells us in Romans chapter 9 that we cannot even lay claim to the good that is in the world as it is God, and God alone, that shows His mercy in us by allowing His good works to be wrought in us.

So are we good enough to get into Heaven?  Most decidedly No.  Not when perceived from God’s point of view.  But are we without hope, being placed in a no-win situation by the very Creator who set His great plan into motion in the first place?  Of course not.  You, and I, and everyone else, have been given the free choice of belief.  We simply need to believe in Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the great work he did upon the Cross in order to redeem us from our sin.

Why?  Because it is all about Him, and not about us.  It is for His Honor, and His Glory, and for Him to receive Praise.

We simply need to stop making it about ourselves, and start making it all about Him.

Further Considerations of Hell

Yesterday I left you with my belief that God, The God, The One True God, Jehovah God, created Sin. and that he actually allowed evil to come into existence by design.  I also stated that I believe he did this by creating Satan (the Angel Lucifer) as a vessel of dishonor for the purpose of bringing evil into existence.

This thought probably does not sit well with most non Christians and quite a few Christians as well.  But let me ask you a couple more questions.  Did God create the Angel Lucifer (Satan)?  Of course he did.  We know from Scripture that God and God alone is the only being outside of time and space (meaning he just IS and always HAS BEEN).  And did God know that Satan was going to rebel (Sin) against him and take one-third of the Heavenly host with him at the time (at the exact moment) He created him?  Of course He did.  He absolutely knew what would occur.  To think that God did not know what Satan’s actions would be in advance of his creation would be to limit God.  And if you limit God against his nature, he would no longer be God.  In other words, God is either omniscient (all-knowing) or else he is not God.  You can not have it both ways.  If an attribute of God is that he is all-knowing (and this is a base characteristic of God for me), then he has to have full knowledge of the actions and their consequences that He is taking.  And by-the-way, if you want to bring a god to the table that is somehow only partially omniscient, I’ll tell you that is not my God or else your understanding of my God is incomplete.  My God is in full control, including in control of all of the evil in the world today, or that ever has been in the world, or ever will be in the world.

If you are with me up to this point, we are at the shocking (for some) realization that God carried through with a certain set of plans knowing that those plans were going to result in evil and Sin (that which is against the nature of God).  And that he did so with intent and that it is part of his great plan.

I believe the next question most reasonable people ask at this point is: Why?  Why would God allow evil, and pain, and suffering, and hurt, and Sin to come into the world?  Why would he do that?  And some might even ask (or state): Doesn’t that make Him a bad God?  Paul addressed this in Romans Chapter 9.  He asks this very question in Romans 9:14.  I hope you take time to read the whole chapter very carefully, but here Paul acknowledges that some would come to the conclusion that there is unrighteousness in God.  And if I may paraphrase his answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I have on many occasions mentioned Dr. Ravi Zacharias here.  I sincerely hope you take some time to follow this man’s ministry.  I can only hope to say this as eloquently as he would, but consider this:

Without evil how would you ever know good?  Without pain how would you know sorrow?  Without sadness how would you know happiness?  Without loss how would you ever know gain?  Without lows how would you ever know highs?  Without unrighteousness how would you ever know righteousness?  Without God’s great plan how would you ever, ever know of His great mercy and love?

Every scientific discipline I know of in the world today creates baselines of study.  In other words they collect data to establish what is normal.  They then conduct their experiments with-respect-to that baseline.  Looking for good deviations and bad deviations.  Without establishing the baseline first, the results are meaningless.  I need the baseline in order to determine what my data actually means.

Could God have created a perfect utopia without sin or pain?  Sure, he could have.  But then you and I would have not had any reference point when God told us about the suffering he had kept us from.  We would have existed without a baseline, without a reference point, and would have never, ever known God’s Mercy or his Love.

With this line of reasoning, Paul of Tarsus has brought us to the realization of two things.  One is that God is completely in control.  There is nothing more freeing (in my experience) than the understanding that Satan, Sin, Evil cannot (and will not) win.  This world can throw all the pain and hurt and sadness it possibly can at me and it simply does not matter.  In the end, God wins and I am his child.  The second is that God has established for us a baseline.  We can now know His Mercy, His Righteousness, His Love, His Grace, and we can know it experientially because he has shown us the unmerciful, the unrighteous, the hateful and the scornful.  We now KNOW what God means when He says He Loves us.  We understand His Mercy and His Grace.  We can fully praise Him for His Righteousness because we were unrighteous and He made us Righteous before Him.

But now that God has created the baseline, the contrast, the experiential part of this creation what do we think he will do with it?  Is it going to go away?  I believe the answer to that is No.  Humanity is a fickle set of creatures.  We need to constantly refer to our baselines and update our reference points.  No, I believe God is going to keep the Sin and the Unrighteousness around.

And He has a place for the Sin and the Unrighteous.  And that place is HellHell is where he will lock away Sin for all of eternity.  A constant contrast and an ever-present reminder of His Mercy and His Grace.

And now, from that perspective, Hell suddenly becomes a very real place.  Hell: Fantasy or Reality?  I assure you, very, very REAL.

What Are You Going To Hell For?

Normally a good apologetics case for the truth of the Bible would be built upon a logical foundation.  One might start with the question “Is there a God?” and build from there.  Given the premise that there is a God, one might ask the question “Which god is the God?” or they might ask “Who is God?”  Once a particular god has been settled upon one might ask the questions “What is the personality of God?” or “What is the nature of God?“.  We might progress to the point of asking the question “Do I owe anything to God?” or “Does God expect anything from me?”  And finally we might ask the question “Are there any consequences to not meeting God’s expectations?

I haven’t quite built that case over the past couple of years but I need to jump to the end game here.  Hopefully you will see why in a minute.  I would like to consider the question “Are there any consequences to not meeting God’s expectations?” and allow me to express my belief that there are.

The other day a group of us were sitting around discussing this story about an 18 year old woman who wants to marry her biological father (this story garnered overseas attention here).  This prompted one of the members of the group to make the, rather emphatic, statement “Don’t they know they will go to Hell for that!?!

This is always an interesting statement to me because people (all of us here on this earth) tend to establish different levels of criteria for what will get us into Hell and what won’t.  I would like to say a whole lot more about Hell later on.  I believe it is a place.  A very real place.  But for the sake of time in this particular post, lets just agree that Hell (whatever your definition of Hell is – you will note that I have intentionally not provided any links to a definition or description of Hell, this is because I wish to revisit this topic in the future) is the consequence to not meeting God’s expectation.  So if we may agree, for the time being, that Hell is the consequence to not meeting God’s expectations, and it is obvious that we all establish different levels of criteria for what will cause us to end up in Hell, then the obvious question that arises is do we really understand what God’s expectations are?

In the particular case of the referenced story, some of the group either held a preconceived belief, or else had decided that their own threshold level for going to Hell was incest (this definition is a little broad.  I’m fairly certain the level of impact meant by the statement was sexual intercourse between immediate biological family members).  The implication of the statement is “Hey!  If you engage in this activity you ARE GOING TO HELL!!!” as opposed to some lesser (or perceived to be less offensive) activity.

If we follow this logic we are left to conclude that if one engages in incest, they are destined to go to Hell.  But is that really the case?  I don’t care what your Life foundations are, if you are an Evolutionist or a Creationist, we are all faced with the fact that at some point in the distant past of human existence, we all gained our bloodlines from a single set of parents.  Actually, if you are a Christian, you should believe this happened twice in human history because you should believe that the great flood wiped out all humans except for Noah and his immediate family.  And from both the initial creation, and the flood, all human existence grew from a very limited set of parents.  Hence, incest, on a fairly large scale.

The question then becomes, if incest is the criteria for failing to meet God’s expectations and thus ending up in Hell, what about all of those people in the beginning?  It would be a very cruel God to establish one set of rules for one person and a completely different set for another person.  So what are we to believe here?  Did incest used to be OK and pass God’s “stay out of Hell” test and now incest is not OK and actually fails God’s “stay out of Hell” test?  And is that the only criteria?  Because we, as human’s, want to believe that incest will send us to Hell, but a small lie, while not the right thing to do, is not quite enough to send us to Hell.

Now please don’t get me wrong here.  I am definitely not advocating, nor making a case for incest.  It was only the topic of conversation.  I could use any heinous sin such as murder to make the case.  The fact is, there is a line drawn in the sand with the belief being that when that line is crossed, you have failed God’s expectations and thus are destined to face the consequences of Hell.

I could make the same arguments about any SIN you want to put before the group for conversation.  There are examples of those that have committed great sin and yet God himself has brought to light their redemption.  Moses committed murder.  He killed a man in a fit of anger and rage.  And yet God himself buried Moses when he died, and when Jesus stood on the mount of transfiguration the disciples looked and recognized him (Matthew 17:1-4).  So here we have a murderer, and Jesus is standing with him on the mount.  That is quite a paradox.

Rather than focus on what we can, or cannot do to avoid Hell, it might be better to focus on exactly what God’s expectations are with-respect-to our response to him and try and determine if there is a level of expectation that avoids Hell.

One thing I can absolutely guarantee you of is that we all have met the threshold of SIN to deserve Hell (Romans 3:22-24).  No, I’ve never engaged in incest nor physically murdered anyone, but even that small lie, that moment of ill will toward another, those times when I’ve rebelled against God, those are more than enough to seal my place in Hell.  And you and I are in the exact same boat.  We are ALL headed for Hell from the day we are born.

So what then is the answer?  It is actually found in Romans 3:22, the beginning of the point where Paul tells us we’ve all sinned and are deserving of Hell.  The answer to the righteousness of God (meeting his expectations) is through Jesus Christ and is upon those that believe.

Jesus Christ himself told Nicodemus that those who believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

It is what we do with the person of Jesus Christ that determines whether or not we meet God’s expectations and avoid Hell.  Not who we lie to or whom we lie with.  We can live our lives by all the guidelines we can possibly establish, but if we miss the person of Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, God in the Flesh, and that he died on the Cross paying the penalty for our sins, that he and he alone is our answer to meeting the expectations of God and thus avoiding Hell, that our belief and our faith must be in and through him, then we have missed the mark.

So what are you going to Hell for?  Because if you feel safe having never committed murder or engaged in incest, you’ve missed the mark.  The one thing in life that will determine whether or not you meet God’s expectations and avoid Hell, is what you do with the person of Jesus Christ.



I Am Chief Amongst Sinners

Let me just be brutally honest with the rest of the world here for a brief moment in time.  I am the worst person I know.  By this I mean that I AM THE FOREMOST SINNER IN THE WORLD.

And let me be clear as to exactly what I am saying here.  Dictionary.com defines sin as: “transgression of divine law“, which is a fair definition.  Merriam-Webster eventually gets to that in their definition here (see 2a).  A slightly better definition might be Sin: anything that offends God.  A slightly more refined definition might be: Sin: that which is against the nature of God.

Whereas Evil is defined as: morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked.  Evil IS sin, however in the humankind preponderance of things, Sin is not necessarily Evil.

That is to say a Sin is telling a lie.  Telling a lie is a transgression of God’s law.  However, depending on the lie, most people do not think of a lie, in and of itself, as evil.  A serial killer such as Ted Bundy is thought of as Evil, and usually (by most) as a sinner.  Ergo humans have a tendency to separate Evil and Sin, usually equating Sin with Evil, but not necessarily Evil with Sin.  But I’ll get back to this in just a minute.

To further clarify, just let me say that in order to Sin you must transgress God’s law or offend the nature of God.  And THE God I am referring to here is NOT Buddha, or Allah, or any of the gods of Hinduism, or Gaia, or any of the Greek gods, or any other god, but rather Jehovah God, the God of Abraham and Isaac.  The God of Israel.  The God of the Bible, the Word of God.  The God I refer to here is the great I AM, the one true God known to the world as a triune being in the parts of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, the One that was, and Who is, and Who is to come.

Now I realize that you may have a different god, or no god at all, or perhaps just not agree with my definition or identity of God.  And I need you to understand that I respect that, I really do.  However I need to be perfectly clear here in order for you to understand exactly what I mean when I say I AM CHIEF AMONGST SINNERS.  Because I mean specifically, not generally, and I mean I am a transgressor of God’s law.  THE God’s law.  Because when it comes right down to it, if your God is just a god, or some god, and not THE God, then what does it matter if you’ve sinned against him or not?  After all, eventually it is THE God that matters, not any other god in between.

So, as I keep saying, I AM CHIEF AMONGST SINNERS.  A violator of God’s law.  And God’s law, when you are referring to Jehovah God, would be the Ten Commandments.  In this context I would be found to be an Idolater, a Liar, a Thief, a Coveter, basically one who has violated all the laws of God.  I am the person on the face of the Earth who has grieved the heart of God more than any other.

And I constantly have some people who know me tell me “No you’re not.  There are EVIL people in the world.  There are much worse people in the world than you“.  But are there really?  From God’s perspective we are all sinners (Romans 5:11-13) and (from God’s perspective) Sin is Wicked (i.e. Evil) (2 Chronicles 7:13-15).  Note that in 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says that if his people shall turn from their WICKED ways … he will forgive their SIN.  God equates Sin to Wickedness (and recall that our definition of Evil was those that are wicked).  God goes as far as to declare that even though we speak righteousness, we harbor wickedness within our hearts (Psalm 58:1-3).  From God’s perspective, we have all sinned and come short of the Glory of God, and we are all wicked in our hearts.

OK, but what makes me the most sinful of all the sinners who have ever walked the face of the Earth or who ever will walk the face of the Earth?  Well some two thousand years ago another man, Paul of Tarsus, said that he was chief amongst sinners (I Timothy 1:14-16).  Look at verse 16 there.  The Apostle Paul says: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering …“.  The Apostle Paul said “in me first“.  And he said this because he knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that redemption must, by necessity, start with him FIRST.

You see, if I am championing YOUR redemption, if I am constantly judging YOU to be the biggest sinner, but I have not been redeemed myself, then all is lost for I have not only failed you, but I have also failed in and of myself.  When it comes to recognizing your need for redemption, it must start with you and nowhere else.

And thus, from my perspective, I AM CHIEF AMONGST SINNERS.  Because the one thing I do know, is that I NEED God’s redemption.  And it begins with me, and nowhere else.

One other thing about understanding your standing with God and the rest of the world.  And this goes to the heart of something I believe we have lost in today’s world.  And that is understanding the songwriter William R. Newell when he wrote “Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!  Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!  Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary!“, because the greater the understanding of my sinfulness, the greater that mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary.

However, here is the word of encouragement for YOU:  If God would span that gulf At Calvary for one who is Chief Amongst Sinners, as I am, then how much more would God be willing to go for YOURSELF?  I believe the answer is: ALL THE WAY.  I challenge you to check it out and see if I am right.