About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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God And Sin

 

It seems to me that in many Christian circles we  downplay some central elements of the gospel of Christ.  Sin and repentance are two examples.  Talk of sin and repentance is too negative for our "hyper-positive confession" churches.  It's too bad John the Baptist missed out on this "hyper- positive confession" teaching.  It would have made his life much easier.  Instead of being a lonely voice crying in the desert, he could have been a renowned conference speaker at the Jerusalem Hilton.  

 

The Greek word "hamartia" is translated as sin in the New Testament.  The simplest definition of this word is "to miss the mark".  We've all heard that before, but there's more to understanding a Greek word than its simplest meaning.  More often than not, the context of a word gives further clarity to its meaning.  With this in mind, "hamartia" is used three ways in the New Testament.  It's used in reference to specific sins; to an external power that has influence over us; and to our sinful nature.      

 

Adam and Eve's failure to obey God resulted in God pronouncing judgment, not only on them, but on everyone born after them.  Subsequently, all human beings are born sinful.  Our nature, right to the core of who we are, is sinful.  That's why God judged the earth with a flood.  That's why He wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah .  That's why Israel fell to Babylon.  God has judged both individuals and civilizations throughout history.  The "mother of all judgments" comes at the end of this age when God pours out his wrath on a sinful world.  God does hate sin.  

 

Many people don't think a loving God hates anything. Look up the word "hate" for yourself  in a concordance. You'll see that's not so.  Here are some examples. In Psalm 5:5 God hates all men who do wrong.  In Psalm 45:7 God hates unrighteousness.  In Isaiah 61:8 God hates robbery and iniquity.  In Malachi 2:16 God hates the unfaithfulness that results in divorce.  

 

Amos 5:21 and 22 reads, "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies Away with the noise of your songs!  I will not listen to the music of your harps!"   What?  Did I read that right?  God hates something religious.  Can that really be?   I wonder if He hates any of our religious gatherings today?  Anyway, you get my point.  In case you think that's just Old Testament, lets turn to Romans.   

 

If you want to understand the basic concepts of the gospel, you must study the New Testament book of Romans.  It won't take long for you to see that God hasn't changed since Old Testament days.  In Romans, Paul explain the gospel in a logical and systematic way.  He sets forth the important and central elements of the gospel that we should cherish.  The first element of the gospel he speaks about is God's wrath and our sin.  That's only logical.  If we don't know we're sinners, we won't know we need a Saviour.  That's why talking about God's wrath, our sin, and repentance is important, even though it's unpopular in some pulpits.  A "positive confession" that ignores God's wrath and sin might be fine for the Oprah Winfrey show, but it's not fine for the pulpit.  In today's world, the idea that God can be angry is seen as a relic from a polytheistic past period of time, when people viewed the gods as being angry.  That's not what the Bible teaches.  

 

After Paul's opening remarks, he begins his discussion in Romans 1:18.  The NIV reads, "the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and  wickedness of men ..."   Paul would have failed homiletics in Bible college for beginning his message with such a negative thought.  Homiletics is the art of preaching, and you're taught not to lose your audience in your opening statement. 

 

The Greek word translated as wrath in this verse and elsewhere in the New Testament doesn't simply mean being angry.  It implies an uncontrollable explosion, or outburst of "serious anger".  It's a much stronger word than simple anger.  Like a volcano, God's wrath can't be contained. It explodes with violent and devastating force.  That may be hard for us to understand, but the book of  Revelation shows this to be true.  God is just as capable of exploding with horrific wrath as He is capable of expressing unprecedented love.

 

Romans 1:21 and 22 state that man's thinking became futile, and his heart was darkened with foolishness.  Paul says we're foolish because we've exchanged the Biblical understanding of who God is for our own man-made understanding.  In times past this was expressed in stone and wooden idols.  Today it's expressed in our humanistic mental concepts of who God is that look nothing like the God of the Bible.  Both are equally sinful.     

 

Romans 1:24 says that God gives us over to sin.  Simply put, God says, "if you want to sin, go ahead and sin all you want.  Just remember the consequences."  Romans 1:28 says we have a "depraved mind".  Paul probably lost a few intellectuals with that one.  It looks like we're all mentally impaired to one degree or another. 

 

You might want to study Romans chapters 1 through 3 yourself.  I'm just hitting some high-lights, or should I say some "low-lights".  Romans 2:2 states that God will judge the sinner and that His judgment is based on truth.  There's the word truth again.  God does judge, and His judgment is according to truth, not love.

 

In Romans 2:5 Paul says that every time we sin, we store up wrath for the day of judgment.  Every time we sin, a bit more wrath is set aside for us.  Of course there is a way to escape this judgment.  I'll get to that later.  

 

In Romans 2:8 Paul says that those who are self-seeking, who follow evil instead of truth will experience both God's wrath and His anger. Paul clearly differentiates between wrath and anger here by noting they are two different things.        

 

From Romans 2:17, into chapter 3, Paul says that religious people aren't any better than the blatant sinner.  Romans 3: 8 and 9 says that the religious man is under the power of sin just as much as anyone else.  We're all in the same boat when it comes to sin, and that boat is in the process of sinking.              

 

If you think all that is bad, read the scathing report of man's condition found in Romans 3:8 through 18.  It paints a dismal picture of us.  The conclusion is found in Romans 3:20.  I know it's not socially acceptable, but Paul says we're all sinners.  You're a sinner.  I'm a sinner.  Everyone's a sinner.       

 

I've just pointed out a few verses from one passage of Scripture.  I could say more.  I'm sure you get the picture by now.  I hope you don't fall into a deep depression because of what I said, and please don't jump off a tall building.  There are some really unbelievable good things I will share later that should make your heart leap with exceeding joy.  I just want us to understand that the degree to which we can begin to understand the almighty, powerful, and just nature of God is the degree to which we can begin to understand and appreciate His love.                            

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