How Does God Relate to Sin?

There are four ways God relates to sin.

1. God can put a stop to sin – at times God prevents men from sinning.
 

Genesis 20:6: Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.

2. God can allow sin – God often allows men to commit the sins that they are determined to do in order to bring glory upon Himself.

Romans 1:24: Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

3. God can use sin – because God is sovereignly in control of His creation He is able to permit sin, and use that sin to accomplish His holy purpose.

Genesis 50:20: As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 

4. God can limit sin – in many cases God restrains the sin of men. This common grace is experienced by all, and it is the reason that despite being totally sinful we are not absolutely sinful.

 Job 1:12: Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.

Chinks in the Armor?

There has been a lot of buzz about Mike Huckabee over the last few weeks. Personally, Huckabee is the candidate that I am currently leaning toward. However, Huckabee will have to withstand the scrutiny of being a major player in the race if he his is going to have any chance. As his popularity grows, so to does the criticism against him. Yesterday Fox News put out a story tracing some of the major criticisms that have been leveled against him. Since I have posted several positive articles about Huckabee I think that it is only fair that I link to this story which brings forth the criticisms against Huckabee. I am still trying to learn about the candidates, and this story may be helpful to you as you do the same. Just remember there are two sides to every story.  The difficult task is determining which side is the truth. 

You can read the story HERE.

John 7 – A Picture of Unbelief (pt. 6)

V. An Unbelieving Response (vv. 40-52)

a. Ignorant Unbelief (vv. 40-44)

Upon hearing Jesus’ message the majority of people remained unbelieving. Some wrongly thought that He was just a prophet. Some did believe that He was the Christ. But the majority of people ignorantly rejected Jesus and His message. Again the crowds pointed to where Jesus came from to discredit Him. This time they did so quite ignorantly. They claimed that Jesus could not be the Messiah because He was from Galilee not Bethlehem. They were right in asserting the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. However, what they did not know is the Jesus was born in Bethlehem. If they simply would have taken the time to judge with right judgment, as Jesus had commanded them to do, then they would have know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. However, because of their unbelief they did not even bother to look at the facts. In their hearts they were biased against Jesus. This same bias exists in the hearts of men today. So many people reject Jesus on the basis of their own biased perceptions of Jesus; they refuse to submit to what God’s revealed will (the Bible) says about Him. As a result, they reject Jesus just as the massed did in these verses.

b. Hostile Unbelief (vv. 45-52)

In addition to this ignorant unbelief, John also tells us of the hostile unbelief of Jesus’ enemies. In verse 45 the officers sent to wait for Jesus to slip up came back empty handed. Their response reveals why they failed to arrest Jesus. Simply put, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The officers were simply unable to trap Jesus in anything that He said. How ironic that these trained officers were unable to trap the teacher who had “never studied.”
 The failure of these officers incensed the Pharisees. They proceeded to “chew out” the officers and belittle those in the crowd who were sympathetic toward Jesus. Their response reveals their character. They viewed themselves as the final authority. In their minds Jesus could not have been the Messiah because they had not accepted Him as the Messiah. Additionally, they viewed themselves as the final authority on the interpretation of the Law. The crowd could not be right about the Law, because the crowd disagreed with them. These remarkable statements are illustrative of the pride that existed in the hearts of these Pharisees. What is so ironic is that they were so quick to judge Jesus that they ignored their own legal process. Nicodemus points this very thing out when he says, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” To this the Pharisees quickly replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search the Scriptures and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” In other words, they wanted nothing to do with what Nicodemus had to say. They did not believe in Jesus, and nothing was going to change their minds. They were the final authorities; if a teacher was going to come from anywhere it would be from them not Galilee. Again, in their haste to reject Jesus the Pharisees made another foolish statement. They failed to remember that Jonah, the prophet, was from Galilee. Their hearts were so hard, and their unbelief so biased that they could not see the truth.

Conclusion:

There are two things that are very clear in John chapter 7. First, Jesus is the Messiah. This is verified by the fact that He sought the glory of the Father rather than Himself (v. 17-18); that He was sent by the Father (vv. 28-29); and finally because He is the giver of salvation (vv. 37-38)
Second, unbelief is a very dangerous thing. The heart of man is biased and inclined toward unbelief. If you don’t believe the claims that Jesus has made then you will be like the Pharisees, and you will ultimately face judgment. However, Jesus’ invitation is for you to come and drink – to believe in Him. If you already have believed in Jesus then you still must be careful to avoid unbelief. Unbelief can creep into our hearts in many ways, and lead us into all kinds of sins. Our prayer must be the same as man in Mark 9:24 who cried out to Jesus “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

In the News

Here are a few stories that I found to be quite interesting over the weekend:

Florida over FSU 45 -12

The sophomore quarterback threw three touchdown passes, ran for two scores and carried the 12th-ranked Gators to a 45-12 victory over the Seminoles on Saturday night.

“We could not get him down,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. “If he doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy, it’s because of the sophomore thing. But if he doesn’t, he should win the next two years.”


Baghdad’s Weary Start to Exhale as Security Improves:

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

U.N. to Say It Overstated H.I.V. Cases by Millions

The United Nations’ AIDS-fighting agency plans to issue a report today acknowledging that it overestimated the size of the epidemic and that new infections with the deadly virus have been dropping each year since they peaked in the late 1990s.

Thompson Fires at Giuliani Over Gun Control

(Giuliani) simply supported just about every gun control legislation that came down the pike. And I just disagree with him on that…. over the years and he’s been very outspoken about it. Of course he’s not outspoken about it anymore,” Thompson told reporters with a smile. “It’s a major differentiation. He relates everything to New York City … Well, New York City is not emblematic of the rest of the country.

Political crisis deepens in Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon awoke a republic without a president Saturday amid mounting worries over a power vacuum that has intensified the nation’s yearlong political turmoil.

Thanksgiving Help

Every year moms all over the country are busy sharing tips and recipes as they prepare for Thanksgiving.  There is nothing that I can add to that conversation, however I do have some helpful tips for those of you who will be attending more than one Thanksgiving dinner.  For years I have been stuffing my face at multiple sites — now it is time to share my wisdom.  Here are five tips that will get you through a multiple meal Thanksgiving:

  1. Breakfast – Making it through multiple meals at Thanksgiving starts with the first meal of the day.  Conventional wisdom would say to either skip breakfast, or sleep in late so that the big Lunch is your first meal.  This couldn’t be any further from the truth.  The real trick is is get up and eat a reasonable breakfast.  If you normally have a bagel, then eat a bagel.  You will need this meal for two reasons.  First, it will stretch your stomach out (don’t laugh I am serious).  Second, if you come to the first meal starving to death it will be impossible to pace yourself.
  2. Clothing – I am not one of those guys who has a hard and fast elastic pants rule.  Just wear something comfortable.
  3. Reconnaissance – Make sure that you do your recon work.  When you arrive at the first location know what to expect before the meal is served.  If your grandmother’s dressing is your favorite then make sure that she made it and make it a priority.  Also, know what deserts are available to you.  This will be the key to your success.  You will need to do desert at both locations so don’t over do it at the first location.  Figure out your options ahead of time, and choose one desert. 
  4. Coffee – Coffee drinkers will need to beware about over doing it on the coffee.  One cup with desert at the first locations will help to — how should I say it — move things along.  But too much coffee can be the downfall of a great day of eating. 
  5. Leftovers – If all goes well you will even have room for one last turkey sandwich, and maybe even some pumpkin pie.

*Warning! If you have a bad heart, high cholesterol, or diabetes then following Paul’s tips could make this your last Thanksgiving.  If you do not have any of the aforementioned conditions you will make it — but it will certainly reduce total number of Thanksgivings that you will be able to experience.*

John 7 – A Picture of Unbelief (pt. 5)

IV. A Call to Belief (vv. 37-38)

a. The Invitation (vv. 37-38)

In the face of this great unbelief John tells us that “on the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” This is the great climax of the entire chapter. Here Jesus gives the invitation to all who thirst to come and drink. By using thirst as a metaphor Jesus is referring to a spiritual need caused by sin and unbelief. As we have seen thus far, this is a great need for all men. We have all sinned, and the natural disposition of our hearts is unbelief. Here Jesus is offering to break through our hard hearts and provide us with the spiritual refreshment that we need. Verse 38 makes it clear that when Jesus says that we need “to come to [Him] and drink” it is a metaphor for believing in Him. This same figure of speech is found in Isaiah 12:3-4 where it says,

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.

Jesus is the Savior who has made this great salvation available, and His invitation to all is to believe in Him and receive salvation. As Romans 3:21-26 puts it,

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  Furthermore, by using water as an illustration of salvation Jesus was drawing on the very prominent place that water had in the Feast of Booths. On each day of the feast a special ritual involving water was preformed to commemorate God’s miraculous provision of water during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. This was not commanded in the Old Testament, however it had become an important ritual in the centuries leading up to Jesus’ earthly ministry. Each day the high priest would draw water and carry it back to the Temple in a procession. The water would then be poured out as a sacrifice to God. Here in John 7 Jesus is offering Himself to the people as the eternal thirst-quenching water that far exceeds the water used for the ritual in the feast.

b. The Benefit (v. 39)

In verses 38-39 Jesus reveals the result of coming to Him in belief when He says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John goes on in verse 39 to explain that Jesus was talking about the giving of the Holy Spirit. Thus, all who believe will receive the Spirit. This giving of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Jeremiah 31:31-33:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

It is through this giving of the Holy Spirit that God is going to write His laws upon the hearts of His people. And through the work of the Spirit God will be their God, and they will be His people. In fact, it is through the giving of the Holy Spirit that men are able to overcome their unbelief, and accept Jesus. This is exactly what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, and this is why we need to the Spirit to follow Jesus. As we consider the results of accepting Jesus’ invitation it is clear that Jesus’ offer it provide for every spiritual need that we have. Unfortunately there were still many in the crowds who did not believe what Jesus had to say.