Category Archives: Sin

(Jeremiah 5-9) His Heart Is Breaking

People who have the audacity to question God’s love on the basis of evil in the world and judgment for those who deny Him, haven’t allowed themselves to hear God’s heart in Scripture. Reading these chapters today, I cannot help but recognize His pain as He watches His children make choices that will end up destroying them.

Yes, that destruction will come from His hand. Yes, that judgment is inevitable. But our Holy God – who can’t NOT be holy – wants us to know He will only go so far before judgment comes. He loves us enough to warn us about the dangers.

He’ll send people to speak the Truth. He’ll show Himself in nature, His power in circumstances of life. He’s given us His Word. But He won’t make you love Him. He won’t force you to obey Him.

He’s very clear to tell us if you don’t choose Him, He won’t relent and simply suspend your death sentence. You will pay severely for your rejection, and your rejection will (and does) break His heart.

If you listen, you can hear His heart breaking in the pages of the Bible.

(Jeremiah 4) You’d Be Foolish

God’s judgment is real – and without mercy. He doesn’t want to sentence anyone for crimes committed against Him. In fact, we know He Himself paid our penalty, took on Himself the sentence our sins deserve. But He will judge those who reject Him, and they will be found guilty.

As devastating as impending judgment will be, God is anxious and willing to forgive anyone at any time – if they surrender to Him. Obedience, a repentant heart, putting on the righteousness of Jesus renders my guilty sentence paid in full. Someone paid my debt!

Chapter 4 likens surrendering to God by five actions. It’s like plowing the ground to receive the seeds, like performing heart surgery, joining the army, taking a bath, like growing up. In each instance, the person is changed. And God demands we change. (from Warren Wiersbe’s With The Word, Chapter by Chapter Bible Handbook; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 499)

God wants to be very clear – judgment is inevitable. It’s coming for you. The question is – are you going to take it on your own, or are you going to surrender to the Judge and allow His Son to take your death sentence for you? That is a decision you need to make BEFORE you meet the judge. Standing before Him after you are dead will be too late.

Don’t be foolish. You don’t want to take your own punishment. You don’t want to serve your own death sentence. That is one sentence from which there is no parole. And there is no need to serve it, if you only surrender to God and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as your own.

He’s willing to make that happen. Choose Jesus! You’d be foolish not to.

(Isaiah 61-64) A Loving God

How can a loving God send anyone to hell? If God really loved us, why is there so much evil in the world? Isaiah seems to get what so many of us don’t.

Would it have been more loving if God had created you without the ability to make choices? Would it be love if we HAD to love Him, if we were incapable of not loving Him?

When I was a child I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. Barbie didn’t move without me. She only spoke the words I said. I loved playing Barbie dolls. But that love was not returned. Barbie was not created with the ability to choose love.

We are not Barbie dolls.

God is much more loving that He’s given credit for. Without Him there would be no love. God expresses His love to good people as well as to bad people, and really no one deserves His love considering the way we treat Him. Yet God loves us enough to want us with Him. And He loves us enough to let us choose to be with Him. He won’t make us love Him.

Read Isaiah and hear what rejecting Him costs. Read Isaiah and hear what obedience gains. God, in His love, has spelled it all out. There are no hidden rules. No secret punishments. Choose God and live forever. Choose anything else and suffer the consequences. He won’t send anyone to hell who doesn’t reject Him.

It’s a loving God who lets us choose.

(Isaiah 60) Everlasting Light

I long for heaven. I long to be where God’s splendor outshines the sun and moon. I long to be where there is no war, no threats of harm, no illness, no hate, a place where peace reigns and righteousness describes our conduct. I long to be caressed by God like a mother holding her nursing child.

Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. The sun will no longer by your light by day, and the brightest of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. (vs 18-19)

I long for heaven. And I know that one day I will be there, because I have repented of my sin and accepted Jesus’ work on the cross, the penalty I deserved for my sin. I am as sure of my future life in heaven as I am of my life today on earth.

I pray you can say the same. This amazingly peaceful, safe, pure, holy, place filled with love, and void of sorrow is real. It’s reserved for those who know God according to the words He inspired men to write, to those who come to Him through Jesus.

I hope to see you there, where God Himself is our everlasting light.

(Isaiah 53) It Is Enough

God has hidden many of the gory details of Jesus’ suffering. Yet He has given us enough of a glimpse to understand the horror, the excruciating pain Jesus must have endured in order to save each of us.

The New Testament tells us Jesus’ captors beat Him, pulled out His beard, thrashed His back with scourges. Isaiah tells us Jesus was beaten so severely He no longer even looked like a human. I think Jesus must have gone through much more than any of us realize.

Did you watch “The Passion of the Christ” without looking away during the scene depicting Jesus’ beating? I couldn’t watch it. But as I sit here today I remember the sounds of those lashes tearing His flesh. It haunts me. And that was merely Hollywood’s imagination as to what went on.

I looked up what constituted a scourging (truthmagazine.com, The Scourging of Jesus, by David McClister). Maybe you know this. Three leather straps about three feet long were tied together, each with either a sharp stone or bone attached to the end. It was designed to lacerate, to cut deep. The victim was tied to a pole, stripped of his clothing, and a strong man would begin to swing the scourge at the back of the one being scourged.

The victim was “lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15)

They ripped open Jesus’ back and exposed His internal organs. No wonder He was unable to carry His cross. We know that after this brutal beating, they crucified Him, nailed Him to a cross and watched Him die a slow and painful death.

Now, in my thinking, this is what makes what Jesus did so incredible: at any moment He could have disappeared. He could have struck down the soldier wielding the scourge, turned those leather and stone straps into spaghetti. He could have called ten thousand angels to wipe out the entire city of Jerusalem. Yet He chose to stay. He chose to feel each wound. He wanted to save you more than He wanted to escape.

In fact, I don’t think escaping ever even crossed His mind. He loves you that much.

So my question is, why would anyone think what Jesus did isn’t enough to save? Why would anyone think you need the cross plus something else: baptism, church attendance, good deeds? Can you seriously look Jesus in the eye and tell Him what He did was not enough?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say except through me plus anything.

If you have not yet looked upon the wounded Jesus and known He did that for love of you, I pray you will do that today. God is able to forgive your sins because Jesus paid your account in full. Jesus took upon Himself your sins and took those lashes you deserved so that when you repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, you will be saved.

Because what He did that night is enough.

(Isaiah 47-59) Go Ahead And Choose

Throughout Scripture we are told that, since we have the God-given ability to choose, we must choose wisely or face the consequences. We see that played out in the history of God in Israel in the Old Testament: the Exodus, the taking of the Promised Land, the years Israel was led by one king after another, etc.

We hear it from the mouths of the prophets of God. And we hear it in the New Testament from the mouth of God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ:

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Isaiah tells us to go ahead and make the choice to follow our own way, make up our own rules, live by our own wisdom and means. That is our privilege as people created by God in His image. But Isaiah, speaking for God, also warns us that if we choose to do our own thing, we won’t like what comes next.

Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with torches; walk in the light of your fire and of the torches you have lit! This is what you’ll get from my hand; you will lie down in a place of torment. (50:11)

You can argue all day about whether or not there even is a God. You can twist Scripture to fit your world-view, to justify and tolerate sin. You can even flat out reject the whole thing. That, in God’s Sovereignty, is your privilege.

But your choice is not without rewards and/or consequences. God is very clear about that. You can choose Him and obey His rules and receive His blessings both now and eternally. Or you can choose something else, and receive His punishment.

Choose obedience. Choose Truth. Choose God.

If you have read this today, you WILL make a choice. Not choosing IS choosing to reject Him. Right now, this minute, you are faced with a life-changing choice.

Go ahead and choose.

(Isaiah 36-39) One And Done

Satan is never one and done. And his tactics haven’t changed since the days of Hezekiah.

First, the evil one tried intimidation to get Hezekiah to surrender to him. Hezekiah went to the Lord, and stood firm.

But the devil isn’t easily deflected. He sent his army. This was war! Hezekiah went to God and in one night 185,000 of Satan’s soldiers were killed as easily as I can wipe out an entire ant colony by stepping on it.

So Satan attacked Hezekiah’s body. The king was sure he was going to die. But instead of giving up on God, Hezekiah went to God. And God gave the king fifteen more years of life.

Take THAT, Satan!

Intimidation, war, physical illness, – none of those altered Hezekiah’s devotion to God. But Satan is never one and done (or three and done). This time Satan used flattery.

No threats. No arrows. Satan used a smooth-talking group of his representatives, and made Hezekiah feel important. Their flattery awakened pride in Hezekiah and he couldn’t wait to show off his accomplishments. More flattery.

Hezekiah never went to God when the Babylonian envoy came for an “innocent” visit. Why would he? It certainly didn’t look like an attack. It didn’t sound like threats. There could be no harm in being cordial, right? Satan (and God) were the furthest things from Hezekiah’s mind.

But this led to Hezekiah’s sin. A sin that would not only effect him, but his family, and the nation for years to come. Big mistake, Hezekiah.

Don’t think Satan isn’t interested in bringing you down, either. You might not be at war, you might not feel threatened. You might be in the best physical shape of your life, successful, respected, adored by many. But beware.

If you aren’t going to God every day, in every situation, if you aren’t discerning and on high alert for Satan’s tactics, you need to stop. There is danger ahead that could take you by surprise, and bring you down.

Because Satan isn’t one and done in your life or mine.

(Isaiah 9-12) That’s Fair

God is fair. He is patient and loving. He calls us to Himself and blesses us when we obey.

God is demanding. He will accept nothing short of complete obedience and holiness. And just like He blesses us when we obey, He punishes us when we disobey.

That doesn’t make Him unfair. In fact, the accepted belief today is what is unfair:

“What’s right for me doesn’t have to be right for you.”
“All roads lead to God.”
“I am master of my life and you are the master of yours.”
“I come first, and what I want trumps what you want.”
“Good people should go to heaven and bad people should go to hell. (But my definition of good and bad doesn’t have to be the same as your definition of good and bad).”

God has set the bar pretty hight – holiness. Then He inspired men to define His holiness so there would be no question as to what He demands. He was fair enough to also tell us in no uncertain terms the results of our obedience, and the punishment of our disobedience. We have no excuse. We don’t have to suppose, or learn by trial and error. God put the rules in place before we were born.

I played pickle ball for the first time this week. Even before I hit a ball, my sister went over the rules, pointed out the boundaries, explained the serve, and how to keep score. Even before I hit a ball, I knew what was required to play the game.

Now, had she handed me a paddle and served a ball to me and expected me to figure out the rules on my own while we played and kept score – that wouldn’t have been fair, would it?

Or if she had made up her own rules while we played, changed them with each serve so she’d have an advantage, and expected me to make up my own rules at the same time, would that have been fair?

Believe me, if I could have I would have made the serving area much bigger on her side of the net. But that wouldn’t have been fair.

You might not like God’s rules. Too bad. You aren’t going to change them, making up your own rules won’t work. He is very clear about that.

And that’s fair.

(Isaiah 1-3) I Feel Sorry For Him

God is always speaking to His children. He’s either revealing Himself through His Word, or through His creation, or sometimes in circumstances of life – both good and bad – and sometimes He speaks through the words of a friend.

God spoke to me through the words of a dear friend this week, and then reinforced what He wanted me to understand through the vision Isaiah wrote about in these chapters I read this morning. The other day my friend, who is reading in Genesis, said she realized how much sin breaks God heart; how He created a perfect world for Adam and Eve whose sin destroyed the perfection; how He started over with Noah and his family whose sin once again destroyed what could have been the perfect relationship with God.

My friend said she felt sorry for God because we just keep failing Him. I agreed with her, knowing I’m guilty of failing Him, too.

So when I read Isaiah this morning I read what God thinks about sin, and about His judgment. I heard anger and frustration in God’s voice. But then I read what Warren Wiersbe said on page 453 in “With the Word” (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 1991):

“Sin breaks God’s heart, cheapens a nation or an individual, and invites the judgment of God. God graciously offers His forgiveness if we will repent. (1:18-20)”

So I re-read what Isaiah shared in chapter one, and I heard God’s heart breaking. Instead of reading anger, I read a Father’s pleading with His children to come to Him, to obey and be blessed by Him rather than having to be punished by Him. And then to know that He Himself took on the punishment my sins deserve. I am overcome.

Sin breaks God’s heart. My sin. Your sin. The sin of a nation. Are you ok with that? Am I? We might think our sin is no big deal. Maybe we need to look at our sin through God’s eyes. Shame on us if we don’t. Shame on us if we allow our choices to break His heart.

(Proverbs 7) Temptation and Sin

Sex. Yes, I’ve said it. That intimate act designed by God as a uniting bond between a husband and wife, born of their love for each other; the physical fulfillment of that love intended to satisfy, to bring pleasure not meant to be shared with anyone else. It is the joyful uniting of two bodies which produces life.

Until it’s abused.

Solomon speaks of the temptations of a young man to have sex with another husband’s wife, the seductiive power of it, and the ultimate ruin it brings. Now, ladies, don’t think this doesn’t apply to us just because Solomon used a young man as an example. Sexual temptation is everywhere and touches all of us.

We could see the prostitute here as pornography, books we read, TV we watch, movies, the internet. Satan uses sex to tease, tempt, lure his victims into hell. And some people live a hell-like existence right here because they gave into the temptation.

I don’t think anyone watches that first sex scene in the movies, hoping it will lead to a sexual addiction. The first click on an x-rated website usually isn’t done with the intention that it will become a habit, just a quick peek and nothing more. No one begins reading a pornographic magazine hoping it will lead to becoming a rapist or child molester, or an unfaithful spouse that destroys a family. But those things happen, may have happened to you or someone you know.

The wisdom of Solomon tells us:

He follows her impulsively like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer bounding toward a trap until the arrow pierces its liver, like a bird darting into a snare – he doesn’t know it will cost him his life. (vs 22)

It will cost him his life.

How close do you think you can get to “the street near her corner,” or to her bed covered in perfume with “myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon” to cover the stench of her sin before it pulls you in? How close can you get to the sin before you fall in?

Her house is the road to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death. (vs 27)

You may not be tempted by sexual sin. But you are tempted every day to sin one way or another. These verses can apply to whatever tempts you. And yielding to that temptation, committing that sin, leads to hell. It’s nothing to play around with.

I think Solomon’s wisdom tells us to put distance between us and the temptation. Run!

PS. If you are in the snare of sin, let me assure you that God is ready to forgive. Repent. Ask Him to forgive you, and to help you resist the temptation, to turn from your sin. Let Him begin a work in you that will free you from the sin that has you imprisoned.