Many people get bogged down in religion. Religion consists of rites and rules. Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s faith. Unfortunately, many people have perverted the Gospel by bringing in the doctrines of men. What is the Gospel? It’s Good News. To appreciate the Good News, you first need to understand the bad news.
Human beings are sinners. You are and I am. We don’t like to admit that fact, and mostly we judge our actions by human terms. “I’m as good as the next guy.” That’s not good enough to allow you to stand in the presence of God Almighty. The “next guy” is a sinner just like you.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;“ (Romans 3:23).
We don’t recognize our sin for a couple of reasons. We can justify our own sins and we don’t look at sin through the eyes of God.
Sin is rebellion to God. Only His opinion matters and there’s no negotiating with Him. If that seems unfair to you, then that’s a sign that you’re in rebellion to Him. You want life on your own terms with no thought to consequences of your actions.
Sin always causes damage. God gave us rules to protect us from ourselves. All things in life have rules, but we only rebel against God’s rules. Have you ever played baseball? The rules say you only get three strikes. Do you have to be at work by a certain time or be fired? If you break the rules, you face the consequences. These are rules that we just accept. Why, then, do we rebel against God when the rules He gave us are to protect us?
“For the wages of sin is death…“ (Romans 6:23a).
When we rebel against God, we choose our own destruction. The death referred to isn’t just moving from this mortal life to the next one. The death referred to is eternal death. When a human dies, the mortal body goes to the grave but their spirit lives eternally. We all make our own choice as to where we spend that eternity.
“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord“ (Romans 6:23b).
That’s good news.
The first rebellion against God was when Lucifer/Satan/the devil decided he wanted to be like God. He led a band of angels in rebellion; and when he couldn’t prevail against God, he decided to convince Adam and Eve to rebel.
God had placed them in the Garden of Eden where they had everything they could possibly want. Satan convinced Eve to eat the one thing that God had forbidden them to eat. He told her God had lied when He said that they would die if they ate the fruit… that God knew they would become gods if they ate it. Satan lied. By eating the forbidden fruit Adam caused the fall of mankind; and today we’re under the curse of death.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned“ (Romans 5:12).
Adam’s sin broke fellowship with God, but it didn’t stop God from loving His creation.
Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, and their life became full of heartache and toil. They watched as their son Cain murdered his brother Abel. They watched as their daughters and granddaughters mated with rebellious angels and saw all of God’s creation corrupted. God judged this rebellion by sending the Flood. Today we’re living in the same rebellion to God that has existed since Adam chose to eat that fruit.
None of this surprised God. God exists outside of time, and He knew that the rebellion would happen. He didn’t want it to happen but He loved His creation enough to allow free will. Each and every person has the choice to follow God’s ways or the ways of the world controlled by Satan.
Only eight genetically pure humans entered the Ark. Their genes weren’t corrupted through mating with the fallen angels. What Noah and his family had witnessed prior to the Flood should have convinced them to follow God’s laws without question, but the sin nature was still there. It wasn’t long before sin was rampant. When the time was right God called a man out of a pagan culture to follow God and become the father of His chosen people.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went“ (Hebrews 11:8).
By faith the Hebrew nation began.
Many years after Abraham lived, God’s chosen people would go into Egyptian captivity. When the time was right, God called another man to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses was born Hebrew but was raised in the pagan culture of Egyptian royalty. Eventually Moses had to flee to Midian, and there he met God. This encounter was life-changing. God directed him to return to Egypt and petition Pharaoh to set the Hebrews free from the slavery they had been living in for centuries.
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured as seeing him who is invisible“ (Hebrews 11:27).
Instead of looking to the pagan world for answers, Moses had faith in God. That faith caused him to confront Pharaoh, and eventually the Hebrews were set free. In faith Moses led them to Mt. Sinai where God made His laws clear. Most people can name one or two of the Ten Commandments, but those are just a small part of the entire Law.
The first Commandment is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me“ (Exodus 20).
Satan wanted to be like God and convinced Eve that sinning would make her like God. There is no God but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and no god is to be put before Him. Not the god of self, riches, greed, or any other idol that causes us to turn from Him. Still, people rebel. We listen to Satan’s lies rather than God’s truth and then blame God when we run into trouble and get hurt. The Law was given as protection. If followed, it would separate the Israelites from the pagan culture around them.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster“ (Galatians 3:24-25).
The Law was just one step in the perfect plan of salvation that God had devised before the foundation of the Earth was laid.
The Jewish Law is recorded in the Torah—the first five books of the Bible. Nobody can follow that Law perfectly. It was given to the Jewish people, but it is the rules for all of mankind. We might think we can follow it, but people have lower standards than God.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire“ (Matthew 5:21-22).
God’s standards are much higher than humans who follow the god of this world.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart“ (Matthew 5:27-28).
Do you watch movies which are designed to provoke lust? Do you ogle every woman who walks by you? God’s plan is that one man and one woman come together as man and wife and cleave to one another. Anything other than that is sin. Don’t think this is limited to men looking at women; it pertains to every lust of the flesh.
Is there any hope for us?
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?“ (Romans 7:24).
It was never God’s will that humans be separated from Him. Still, He gave Adam and Eve the right to choose to obey Him or to rebel. Eve followed the wrong rules and allowed Satan to talk her into choosing death. Adam could have chosen not to join in the sin, but he also chose rebellion against God. Through Adam, humans have inherited the sin nature. Through it all, God had a plan to heal that separation.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins“ (Hebrews 10:4).
The Law stipulated blood sacrifices of animals to cover sin, but only the pure blood of God, untainted by sin, can take sin away. God Himself entered His creation and shed His perfect blood for our redemption.
Listen carefully. There is only one way for you to be reconciled to God. Only one. That is faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Law taught God’s expectations, but He knew that people wouldn’t be able to live up to those standards. If God lowered His standards, then He wouldn’t be God….sovereign and holy. The once for all sacrifice was made by God Himself…Jesus Christ.
God’s love is perfect. There’s no sin that’s beyond His forgiveness. Most of us know this verse, but let’s say it together:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life“ (John 3:16).
We all need to understand those words. God loves us. God gave His only begotten Son to pay the price for our sin.
Jesus came because He loves us; He didn’t come to condemn us. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God“ (John 3:17-18).
God doesn’t condemn us…we condemn ourselves. The only unforgivable sin is rejection of Jesus Christ. If we choose not to believe in Jesus Christ, then we choose eternal death. That choice has to be made while you live on this side of Heaven.
That’s the Gospel…that’s the Good News. Our sins are forgiven by faith in Jesus.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures“ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
No ritual can bring salvation…not following the Jewish Law, Catholic guidelines, or any other religion not based upon faith in Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is an individual choice. If someone baptized you when you were a baby, you need to make your own choice today.
God’s Law hasn’t changed. Sin as disclosed by Scripture is still sin today. There’s only one way for your sin to be forgiven, and that’s first to recognize that you’re a sinner and then accept the shed blood of Jesus Christ for your redemption. Do that today…right now. Tomorrow may be too late. That’s the Gospel truth.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.
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