Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sin is no joke

The Bible tells us it's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; our God is a consuming fire.

I think it's good that we Christians understand the Fatherhood of God so well. We understand his holiness so much that we alone think that no matter what holiness we do we can never be worthy of God.

And yet, this very understanding of love turns us into folks like Lamech Genesis 4
We constantly fall into presumptuous sins. We figure we won't go to hell, God loves us, God is our father, etc.

But in my life I have seen some serious stuff that makes me shake in my boots. Remember Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts.
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.

Acts 5:1-3

What did they do? All they did was lie and say they sold a piece of property for such and such a price. They pretended. That's really all they did. They were generous too. All they did was add a little lie to the gift. Let us seriously consider that.

This means that when God is among his people even a lie will cause death. That is how holy God is. Do we really want God working among us in power and glory? Can we really abide his holiness? And conversely, if we are lying or indulging in other sins (adultery, fornication, greed, unforgiveness) how can we say with a straight face that God is with us? Wouldn't God have done greater deeds in us if we were less selfish, less willful, less sinful?

The Bible tells us that it's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God. So is God still working among his people? When bad things happen, we have four choices: God caused it, the devil caused it, we caused it, it's the sin of the world and merely living on earth has caused this sorrow to come to us. When we ask God to repair some stuff in our lives and those things are not repaired we can say, God has not helped or guided us, the devil is preventing God's help from coming, we ourselves are preventing God's help from coming, or the ministers in our lives have not helped us.

Two true and scary stories. A minister in a local church in our town walked to the podium. After many years of telling people not to get divorced, he told everyone he was getting divorced because he wanted to be happy. Forget that his wife was really a good person. Upshot: he got divorced and married a cuter thing in the church. A year later he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Related? Perhaps. Another story. Another minister -- one I knew well-- was greedy, stealing money given to him by parishioners for his own pocket, a gossiper, a manipulator. Quite a good guy with a pastor's heart, mind you. But not having money he became a bit of a slave of mammon. Plus he had weird ideas of his own glory. I won't tell you how he died because it was terrible and if I describe it folks will know who I'm talking about.

Judgement begins at the house of God, and it often begins with ministers. Let us not forget what happened to Jimmy Swaggart and to other televangelists.

Okay, other folks sin and they don't get rebuked for sinning a sin unto death. So why did these guys get rebuked? Other folks don't die from their sins? Oh, that we don't know why other folks and ministers are allowed to live a long while while indulging in horrible sins. God chooses who to chastize and who not to. Oftentimes, as psalms 73 tells us he allows the worst of sinners to live. To save therm? To let them grow worse in their damnation? Who knows? St Paul talks about turning over certain folks to Satan so that their souls could be saved. Perhaps this is what happened to these pastors. Who knows? Many Christians die from sinning a sin unto death. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes states that because punishment for sins is delayed humans go on sinning. So who knows? It could be the person dying of some disease now began dying from a sin committed thirty years ago. Stress is behind much of disease. And Anger and unforgiveness is behind much of sin. Heart disease is stress-related but isn't that related to over-eating or to stress or to anger or to not learning how to rest once a week. We kill our immune system when we allow what comes from within us to defile the body. Sin is no joke.

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