SIN - The Wages Of Sin Is Death.
SINS OF MAN.
The following is another excerpt from my END OF DAYS article, with a few more things added.
It’s a sad thing that in the age we live, so few care about God, or about each other, very few care about the starving, the rising love of money and greed, they murder and care not – all of which is increasing. There are more natural disasters, more tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, famines – but most of all, ungodliness is everywhere and getting worse. Jeremiah 6: 10 is a good example of this and is good reading. There are many who blame God for what are the world’s problems – the oppressed and the starving, yet the affluent collectively have more than enough wealth to alleviate these things. Mark 7: 14 says in part, For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good. But how many do it and it’s easier to blame God, so they blame Him instead. If every person who can afford the little it costs were to sponsor a child in poverty throughout the world, starvation could be eliminated. Many try to link this with what Jesus said to His disciples in part in Matthew 10: 8 - freely ye have received, freely give - which is not about money, do you know how many times that scripture has been twisted by the clergy?
Looking at the world, ¼ of the world is starving, ¼ of the world is constantly at war and the other ½ is chasing political power and monetary gain. What a shameful imbalance. These events have always existed but never before has there been a time when all these events are happening in so many places with such frequency and intensity.
There will come a time in our lives when we will all have to make a decision about whose side we are on and do something about it and that MUST happen before we die, as there is ‘no hope beyond the grave’ Isaiah 38: 18. And any of us could die by natural causes or accidents before the prophesied events of Tribulation come to pass. This scripture is for those who know that God is, but all those living or dead, who had never heard of Christ or read the Bible, may still be saved – God knows the hearts of all. Are you going to waste the little time that is left and find yourself numbered with the lost? Everyone must understand there are only two forces in this world that determine how we act – good and evil. There is no middle ground with God, so there is really only two choices in life to follow; you cannot just be a ‘fence sitter’ and say I haven’t made up my mind yet. There is no salvation in that, you either want salvation or you don’t. There will be many who will say I’m a good person, I’ve never done anything really bad and I believe in God – I will be saved. They are the spiritually unprepared, which is exactly the same as a fence sitter and even Satan, who knows and believes has no hope at all. If you are still an unbeliever, the problem isn’t that He has rejected you, you have rejected Him.
It beggars belief to understand why so many won’t accept His free gift??? Only those who have made a firm choice and given their hearts and minds and their lives to God have a hope, those who refuse, sadly have no hope. 2nd Thessalonians 2: 10, they perish because they refuse to believe. It’s far better to ‘have a realised and acted on belief’ – at least with a hope of salvation, than those who continue blindly along saying I believe, but by mouth only and not living it. The rewards for those who truly believe, in far excess, outweighs everything of those who reject it.
There are so many who have chosen not to live for God and is plain to see all around us – also by the things that are accepted today in the name of equality, which, not that long ago were hidden from view behind closed doors and sadly reflect the degradation of man and will only get worse. It says to love the sinner but not the sin.
The day is coming when we will suffer persecution for our belief, perhaps even death, which Jesus has already told us about and may not only come from complete strangers but from those we love as well. Because of man’s predisposition towards sin, it will become even harder to resist the pressures that will surround us to fall away in apostasy, particularly in the second half of Tribulation. He gave His all for us; shouldn’t we give our all for Him?
Romans 10: 9 & 10 tells us what we need to do in very simple terms and everyone who allow themselves can come to it: If you confess with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord, (which is telling others) and believe in your own heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Of course, there is a little more to it than just that, there are some conditions (true and full repentance being possibly the hardest for some, myself included) but these conditions are not hard to meet and it is full time, which is demonstrating by our words or actions who we are living for and is not part time or anything in between. God isn’t interested in part time soldiers – it’s all or nothing. You cannot serve two masters. Salvation is not complicated, it is simple. Man makes things complicated. God did not make salvation a difficult or unobtainable thing; He made it so simple and free to all and the cost was to Him, not us – Ephesians 2: 8. When I think on this point, I often think of the pain and anguish that all parents must go through at the loss of a much loved child, I don’t think we could even enter into what God’s pain was in those 3 hours of darkness – knowing that in those 3 hours Jesus bore a spiritual death for our sins before His physical death in order for the reconciliation of man to be acceptable to God. And we know that God cannot look upon sin, which explains the darkness. In those 3 hours Jesus was separated from God and must have been unbearable in the worst possible way, and then He gave up His spirit.
1st John 1: 9 also appeals: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive our sins, (no matter what they are) and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Many don’t understand what this gift of salvation really is, which is a stumbling block to them. Salvation is a free gift already won for us by the sacrifice of Jesus; all we have to do is accept Jesus as our saviour, which begins with a simple prayer from the heart – and afterwards, confess our sins to God daily and repent, which is changing direction. 2nd Corinthians 7: 10 says in part, For Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of. Confessed sins don’t have to be confessed again because they’ve been dealt with. And if we’re truly sincere, He will forgive us. THAT’S IT. And we only have to ask once for all those past sins to be forgiven, where else can we get forgiveness like that? There isn’t one who hasn’t sinned in some form every day, at times without even knowing it and sinful thoughts can assail us the moment we wake – hence the reason for daily confession. (It’s not my past sins that worry me; it’s sin in the future, which could cause me to fall away.) It is now up to us to avoid turning back – He is very serious in giving forgiveness; we must be serious in deserving it.
Just on that last point of confessing our sins, because of our human nature it can be difficult to keep a tight rein on sin and even though we all fall - and we all will - we must try as hard as we can to overcome the serious ones, and that doesn't mean to forget about the not-so-serious ones, (if there is such a thing) they must also be confessed as they too, all add up. I'm not saying to confess each sin separately - you won't remember all of them, confess them as a whole. Remember what was serious sin yesterday is considered minor by the world today because of the desensitising of human behaviour and thoughts, which is why we all should try to get into the habit of daily confession no matter how we view them and anyone who thinks otherwise is not being honest with themselves. And in saying that, I am guilty too but just remember, Jesus died for all of mankind and for every one our our sins no matter what they are and in His unfathomable mercy, He has forgiven us in a love that knows no bounds. Because of that mercy, doesn't He have the right to expect us to confess our sins on a daily basis? I certainly think so.
Sometimes it can be difficult to separate testing from correction and even though in times of Godly testing, many could mistake the difference between the two - and they ARE two different things. As a believer matures in mind and spirit, he/she will be tested from time to time as a testament to spiritual progress and how we behave before others, as it is not only God who is observing you - and you may not even be aware of who around you is watching you as well. 1st Corinthians 10: 13 tells us there is no temptation that isn't 'common to man' but He 'will not allow us to be tempted above that which ye are able'. Think about Job. That is not to say that God tempts us - He will never do that, it is saying He allows us to be tempted, which brings about a refining. (I remember a story about a woman who was watching a silversmith refine silver and being curious about the amount of refining needed, she asked 'How do you know when it's pure.' He smiled and replied - 'That's easy, when I can see my image in it'.) I'm sure you understand that analogy. Students are tested to show their progress in education, believers are tested to show spiritual progress but the testing will not be as severe as when the Tribulation arrives. When those tests come our spiritual preparation will need to be up to scratch as it is not only God who will test us. Faith is such a fragile thing - it's easy to maintain when things are good but when the storms come it's so easily lost. Human nature is so weak with things we can't see.
Correction is just that - discipline by God and must not be confused with testing. As we are ALL sinners, and all fall short of Godly behaviour, and if we continue to fall to the same things time after time - then we can expect correction and the discipline may be severe or light, depending on the circumstances. But rest assured - just as a parents love for their children doesn't diminish during correction - neither does God's.
Once having made the decision to walk in Jesus' footsteps, we will come 'under fire' from the one who wants to take everything away from us and that can and will happen on a daily basis even as we become mature in faith, simply because we are in enemy territory while we are here. When under these attacks, which happen in our mind, it is our mind that has to be kept under control and just as the heart is sinful, so is the mind. But we can defeat him if we resist him. Just remember, nothing in this world however good it may seem can compare to what is promised in Eternity. That isn't to say that un-Godly people around us won't cause us pain - that will and is happening everyday and increasing, I'm talking about Satanic attack. In dying for our sins He was tempted of every sin possible and He overcame all, even though He was in the form of a man with a divine nature, yet we are mainly tempted in one or three. It is so important to keep alert at all times - and it's not just in the waking hours that Satan attacks us, he does so in our sleep as well, which makes him a coward of the lowest order. And as it's the mind that is vulnerable - that is what we have to guard. Whenever we are doing something that demands attention we are usually safe but in the quiet times when you're 'on your own' that you are at most risk. If you develop the habit of meditation, inviting the Spirit - thinking of Jesus whenever and as much as you can, you are less likely to fall to temptation. And this is never easy; Paul found it difficult too, he asked Jesus 3 times for the thorn in his flesh to be removed and Jesus answered him saying: My grace is sufficient for thee: my strength is made perfect in weakness. The thorn was a metaphor designed to keep Paul humble and if we are to preach Jesus, we must be humble as well.
It is before God alone that we sin and confession is to Him alone – though we may feel guilty to another for committing the sin but once confession is made to God we are to press on toward the prize because we have been forgiven. No man on earth has the power to forgive sin. There is only one sin that is not forgiven and that is rejecting Jesus. Blasphemy against the Spirit is the same thing – all 3 are one and the same in spirit.
Salvation is given the moment we believe in Jesus; ALL our names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life and were there from the very beginning, even unbelievers names. Revelation 3: 5 says in part: and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, which is a promise, a believers name will remain there, even in death, an unbelievers name is also there until, either by the wilful act of accepting the mark or remaining an unbeliever until death. Some will say why is an unbelievers name there when Jesus knows all - He allows it to be there in His grace right up to the end, not wanting any to lose opportunity for salvation. It's up to you whether it stays there.
And over in 13: 8 it says in part: And all those (unbelievers) that dwell on the earth shall worship him (Satan in the anti-Christ's body) whose names are not written in the book of life (of the Lamb slain) from the foundation of the world.
Jesus is telling us ahead of time that unbelievers names are removed - He knows who will and who won't, but as mentioned above, opportunity is still given in mercy. There is a difference between not blot out and not written. Once we believe, not blot out is meaning as long as we remain a believer, not written means they were there until you crossed the line or in death. We just have to make certain that our name isn’t erased by turning away after salvation is given, which is in two parts. Firstly while here on earth, which is positional and we remain here as a witness, then fully after death, if that’s before or during Tribulation, or if we’re raised alive at the end. We all receive the Holy Spirit by grace, the moment we believe (2nd Corinthians 2: 22) and also God’s seal, which will protect us from certain events in the coming Tribulation. But don’t think that ‘once saved is always saved’ – that is very dangerous thinking. Jesus knows all of our weaknesses, as does Satan – we all fall and we all will at times as he is always nipping at our heels and if we suffer a defeat, He doesn’t want us to dwell on it endlessly but to push on – if we approach the mercy seat, pleading with fear and trembling, with a broken and a sorrowful heart, it appeals to Him. If you know that you've fallen, don't just wait until your 'end of the day prayer' to confess as you will only agonise over it - confess as quickly as you can to recover and continue on. That is NOT to say you shouldn't feel remorseful - far from it, just don't dwell on it.
Salvation is a gifted thing, given free by Jesus who is unseen but the lusts of the flesh (meaning all) are all around us, seen by all and so easily beset us and we are constantly swayed by them. How much easier is it to follow or give in to the things that are seen in preference to that which is unseen? It now becomes a matter of how much we value salvation and it is the most valuable thing we could ever acquire. And until you realise that, not much will change.
Remembering Job: Though He slay me, yet shall I trust in Him.
Romans 8: 24, 25 says: For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we see not, then do we wait with patience for it. This is faith.
It is our sinful disposition that makes us vulnerable - we are all born into sin through Adam, which is why the virgin birth of Jesus was necessary so that He wasn't tainted with a sin nature. Jesus didn't have a human father, so the sin nature wasn't passed down to Him. However, since He had a human mother, (who also carried the sin nature) He was fully human but without the sin nature because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. You need to remember that it is God who made you so we are not 'our own' and it is to Him we belong. When we die our body returns to dust but our spirit - (which only God can kill), returns to Him. That is, only believer's spirits but an unbeliever's spirit goes to a very different place to await judgement. It is at this point upon death that our spirit is given an interim body, which is only temporary. Our spirit, which is the life within us, is who we are and our body is just the vehicle that carries it around. After Adam, we are all formed indirectly through natural procreation, not directly by instant creation as He formed Adam but the pattern of the body is formed first and on birth, the life-giving spirit, which is the 'breath of life' is imparted at that point by God - exactly the same as He did to Adam. As this point is debated by many, you might consider this: From conception, the body with all the parts, including the heart and blood and everything else, for all intents and purposes it is 'live' (i.e. it has movement) but it is not yet "alive" because the spirit is only 'installed' at birth. So because it is a two-part operation, in which we do the physical bit, God does the spiritual bit, and all at the right time. And He does everything in the same manner so that He doesn't create confusion or division - He first formed Adam from dust, and then put the 'spirit of life' within him after - and not the other way round. Now you know how everyone's name is in the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world. Thinking about it further, a child that is stillborn, God knows when and if that will happen and that being so, I don't think God would impart a spirit at conception only to retrieve it at the loss of the child while still within the mother. And as it was through procreation that our bodies were created by our parents who disciplined us and we obeyed them - shouldn't we all the more submit ourselves to the father of our spirit and live? Hebrews 12: 9. Thinking about this, we are the custodians of our spirit and God wants us to be mindful of it and do the very best we can so that we can return it in a condition that is acceptable to Him. He will help us if we only allow Him.
Whatever has been or is our own particular sin, which is usually the one we so easily fall to, (c/- Satan) there is one thing we can take comfort in and that is not only is the sin forgiven upon confession and repentance, it is also forgotten, the slate is wiped clean – who can fathom the grace of God or His tender mercies? Salvation is such a gracious gift, paid in full by Jesus and freely given to all but if we turn away after falling and don’t return back to Jesus who still holds out His hand in love, THEN SALVATION IS LOST. Sin can be so hard to resist because the desires of our mind can be very controlling but by stopping and thinking about what Jesus is holding out to us, it is really pale by comparison. There is so much more to lose than a brief moment of fanciful desire. And what we often see in others, sometimes we don’t see the very same thing in ourselves. Just as we so easily fall, others also fall and we should always be ready and willing to help another if we see that happen. Also if someone should trespass against us we should forgive them in loving kindness. Matthew 6: 14, 15 is very clear, if we can’t or don’t forgive others, how can we expect Him to forgive us? We should never be quick to judge or condemn another when we are sinners also. The world as we know it is more than ever a very unsafe place (in terms of losing salvation) and becoming ever darker by the minute, which is clearly seen all around us, yet so few choose to seek the truth and find it. Satan will always place things before us that are appealing to our own mind, and he speaks very loudly and convincingly to us – look what he did to Eve.
But have you ever noticed that God places an invitation in your heart to repent at every turning point? (His invitation may be in a number of different forms.) Or again, have you ever noticed when you’re about to do something you know is wrong but something is saying no? Or the Spirit intervenes in some unexplainable way and warns you? The Spirit is calling you back and working in you for your benefit and it took me some time before I realised this. If you ask for help it will happen – and that is promised but if your heart is unwilling it becomes easy to ignore the invitation and turn away without any remorse. You can always pray about an unwilling heart. God will always listen to a genuine plea for help. Even the very best of believers is not immune to temptation from Satan – it’s what you do after the event that counts but don’t think that gives you a licence to wilfully keep sinning and expecting His forgiveness, there is a cut-off point. The aim is to minimise the times we fall and the reasons that cause it. Satan cannot physically attack or hurt us, unless he is given specific parameters by God, (remembering Job) he can only hurt us by trying to control our minds. And it is our mind that is our ‘first line of defence’ and we must try very hard to guard it. (I like to think of Nehemiah, when the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and they were vulnerable to attack, he encouraged everyone to rebuild the wall and everyone had a sword in one hand and worked with the other.) Satan is the very worst kind of enemy we could ever have because he is invisible and is so subtle – he attacks you by stealth, mostly before you even realise it and the trap springs shut around you, which makes him a coward. He will always try to have mastery over us and he will never stop trying, because he has an agenda and wants to take us with him to his end but the more you resist him and trusting in God, the less he will attack you. Whatever your own particular affliction is (in our mind it can appear so large that it seems impossible to overcome because it completely overpowers good sense and reason) nothing at all is too hard for God to fix if we allow Him to work. For all believers, getting the 'weights and balances' right is never easy, the scales are tipped heavily against us but the more we submit to the Spirit's leadings and not relying on our own way, the scales can be adjusted in our favour. If serious correction is needed it may take some time, with a lot of breaking down of the problem or addiction but to recover from it you have to want the correction first. Don’t just give in and say I can’t do it or I can’t be helped. Again this is part of being given a free will – either to give in or refuse the sin. When the assaults come, and they will, if you really value what Jesus did to save us, picture Him in your mind nailed and bleeding on the cross – and keep it there. And I am speaking from personal, even painful experiences.
So great is His love for us, God inflicted the penalty for all the world’s sins on His obedient, yet innocent son. Jesus paid the highest price for our salvation and He did this in love for you and me – what have we done for Him? Surely the least we could do is try to change. We ALL fall from time to time but we only fail if we fail to try to do better. Make no mistake, we are in a war and the enemy we are all fighting is unseen, which only tends to lessen the actual significance of it but nevertheless, he is there and he is playing for keeps because he knows his days are numbered. He won’t stop or slow down, if anything he will intensify the battle as his end draws ever closer and as already mentioned, his mission is to take you and me with him to that end. In this war, so many will fall and if you think his attacks are hard to bear now, in the Tribulation it will be a very different story. This is not a game with him, unlike a game of football where we are just observers and we all go home at the end of the game, in this war we are the participants – and the stakes are much higher here, if we lose this battle ‘we won’t get to go home.’ So every day from now on we must put on all our armour when we rise. Forgetting to do so could end in a fatal wound. Ephesians 6: 11 – 17. It doesn't hurt to ask the Spirit to lead you through each day.
I mentioned that Satan speaks loudly to our minds, this is just a metaphor – a figure of speech and isn’t in audible speech but nevertheless it is real and it's a violation and an invasion of our mind and without our permission. The battle field is in your mind and Satan has access to it because of our free will and you just need to become more aware of how and when he attacks you. Don’t ever underestimate him, he is a very powerful enemy but we have one who is greater on our side. Satan can promise you anything but he can never deliver. There is a lot more I could say on this but I'm fearing I'll discourage you - I'll just add this: The past is where you learnt the lesson, the future is where you apply the lesson - don't give up in the present.
Just as Satan speaks loudly, the Spirit speaks softly and can easily be missed, he is speaking to your heart and he ‘causes you to know’ what Jesus wants for us. Have you ever wondered about a certain thing yet you know in your heart and mind that it's true, 'how do I know that' - this is the beginnings of the Spirit working in you and if you allow it further by not dismissing it, it will become obvious who it is. Just think about that again, you may not hear it audibly but ‘you will know’ by his promptings. Everyone that are His have been given at least one special gift of ministry, perhaps more and 1st Corinthians 12: 1 - 11 tells us what they are and it may take some time before it is clear what your own gift is. Once you become aware of what that gift is you can become a help to others and He often uses the most unlikely - you just need to be willing. Think about Paul, he wasn't gifted with eloquent speech but look how effective he was. He will give you guidance in all these things – when the Spirit speaks to your heart you need to listen and respond to it. This is mercy.
James 4: 7 says: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. All those living for God will come under attack simply because we have made a conscious decision for change; those who haven’t aren’t yet on Satan’s radar. It’s in your heart where the change occurs and believe me, the more he will attack you once he knows you’ve made a decision for God – and Satan works twice as hard on us because he has the rest comfortably asleep. 1st Corinthians 10: 13 says: God is faithful and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape. It is simply a matter of becoming more aware when Satan has broken our ‘first line of defence’ and stamp on it immediately. This is the method that God has given us - to be able to recognise it and stamp on it quickly to escape it. If we’re honest with ourselves, we all know the triggers that start things going, it’s then we have to walk away from whatever it is to avoid being caught in Satan’s snare. Whenever we allow ourselves to entertain any wrong thought or action, the longer we give in to it, (and don't we all at times) - the harder it becomes to escape it.
A couple of things we should all know about sin. It happens to all of us in two ways – either we have instigated it on our own volition and Satan will further encourage us, which makes us responsible. Or Satan has caused it, in which case he is directly responsible. But if we have knowingly set out to think, or say, or do something that we know isn’t right, then we have fallen badly and is, I believe, harder to escape because we were initially willing for it and must be fully addressed and dealt with on our part. These are the things that pull all of us down and in most cases you have to think it before you say it, you have to think it before you do it, so I believe thinking is the hardest one to keep under control because it's in the mind. If it is the result of an attack by Satan it is far easier to stamp on to escape it because we were caught unawares but you must be quick about recognising it and don’t let it grow. This isn’t to let Satan ‘off the hook’ in any way but we should know where to truthfully apportion the blame. And both ways are accountable. Without a secure grounding in faith, there is little in defence we can do to repel Satan’s attacks and we will fall every time. It is only by being grounded and committed in faith that we have any chance against him. That is our defence shield.
We only fail when we don’t recognise and admit we’ve fallen and then don’t plead for forgiveness and it’s not too long before we turn away from Him and it’s Satan who gets the victory and not us. The only way you can lose your salvation (and you can) is by rejecting the one who gave it to you. As long as you keep hold of His hand He won’t let go of yours.
As an analogy, remember when your own children held your hand when they were young, which is a beautiful sight, they begin to go their own way when they stop holding your hand. So encourage them to hold your hand as long as possible.
If we could look down on ourselves through God’s eyes and see the things we do, wouldn’t we try to do better, especially knowing He can observe us? We need to focus on the unspeakable joy that is already laid out for us ahead of time because we could miss out on all that’s promised with a careless attitude.
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