To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”—Genesis 3:17
Christians tend to categorize sins, rating some as small and inconsequential, and others as huge and far-reaching in the damage they cause. In reality, no one sins in isolation. Each act of disobedience affects not only the sinner but also others in both the present and the future.
If we were to separate Adam and Eve’s sin from its context, few of us would convict them of great transgression. All they did was swallow some fruit from a tree with a “do not eat” sign. Today people think nothing of ignoring commands—even biblical ones.
But God has a totally different view of our sins. Each one is followed by negative consequences. Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to pain and frustration in two basic areas of fulfillment—relationships and meaningful work. The whole earth fell under sin’s curse, and all people born since then have entered the world with a sin nature that alienates them from the Lord.
That first rebellion plunged humanity into a terrible condition. Civilization is now plagued by ramifications of the sins committed by millions of human beings throughout the ages. Is it any wonder the world is in such sad shape? Sin not only causes suffering; it also robs us of God’s best. The Garden of Eden is closed and locked to sinful mankind.
The good news of Christ’s grace and forgiveness is our only real hope in this fallen world. Though unpleasant, focusing on sin’s consequences is necessary at times to remind us of the greatness of our salvation and to move us to obey God, even in the small things.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“So, you think you’re pretty special?” the father asked the child. “Well, you know what? You are!”
God thinks of us the same way. In His eyes we are special and unique in so many ways. He made us in His own image. That’s pretty special don’t you think? We are all God’s children and because of that He loves us without end. No strings attached. He loves us so much that He also disciplines us when the need arises.
Fathers love their children without measure. No matter how big the mistake, the father loves the child anyway. God loves us the same way. He also knows when we sin and He knew that there was no way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins except through the blood of His own son Jesus.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s a very special love don’t you think? God sacrificed His own son so that we could be free from our sins. Wow!
Remember. The next time you start feeling as if you are unloved or that no one cares, Jesus is right there whispering in your ear, “I love you so much that I died for you. Take my hand and let’s walk together forever.”
What would an X-ray of your interior reveal? Remorse over a poor choice? Shame about the marriage that didn’t work or the temptation you didn’t resist? Guilt lies hidden beneath the surface, festering, and irritating. Sometimes it’s so deeply embedded you don’t know the cause of your pain. And you can be touchy, you know. Understandable, since you have a shank of shame lodged in your soul.
Would you like an extraction? Here’s what you do. Confess! Ask God to help you. Psalm 139:23-24 is a model prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Confession. Confessors find a freedom that deniers don’t. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins! He will cleanse us. Not might, could, would, or even should. He WILL!
Seven times in the book of Matthew, Jesus encountered people with sickness or infirmities and healed them with a touch. Although He had the power to simply speak a word or command illness to leave, He often chose a more hands-on approach. In the case of the leper in today’s passage, Jesus’ personal touch must have been something the man rarely experienced, since he was considered untouchable. In fact, that may be why Jesus chose this avenue of healing.
The need for a touch from a fellow human being has not disappeared in the 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth. Yet in a world dominated by social media and technology, we are now more isolated than ever before. Physical contact is being replaced with “likes” on Facebook. And when we do think of touch, it’s often associated with scandal, impropriety, or immorality. How did this wonderful word become so maligned?
As Christians, we have the opportunity to “touch” people in a variety of ways, including by our words—for example, the proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ can transform a person’s life and eternal destiny. However, ministry is also accomplished with our hands through service, compassion, and the encouragement of a hug or loving pat on the shoulder.
Our heart, mouth, and hands must be cooperating in order to fully minister in Jesus’ name. And whether alone or gathered with others, we have the privilege of touching lives through prayer. Jesus touched people both physically and spiritually, and as His followers, we must do likewise. Look for opportunities in which God might use you for His glory.
(reprinted with permission | Charles Stanley | In Touch)
One of the concerns often heard from believers is the fear that God has not forgiven them. Despite having confessed their sins, they’re still uncertain of their cleansing and wonder if they didn’t feel sorry enough. Instead of rising from their knees purified and restored, they feel as if a cloud of God’s disapproval and disappointment is covering them.
This kind of thinking is based on feelings, not truth. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus and His death as payment for our sins. The moment we believe, God declares us righteous in His eyes, and all our sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven. Romans 8:1 reassures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It’s not our confession of wrongdoing but the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Another reason some doubt God’s forgiveness is the erroneous belief that confession maintains our salvation. If we think any unconfessed sin leaves us open to the Lord’s condemnation, we’ll continually wonder if we’ve forgotten some transgression or haven’t confessed quickly enough.
Both of these misconceptions are caused by a faulty understanding of what confession is. Confession means agreeing with God that what we have done is sinful and doesn’t fit who we are in Christ. As the Holy Spirit brings conviction, we begin to feel inner discomfort and guilt. Although we are still God’s children, our disobedience disrupts our fellowship with Him. The solution is to go to our heavenly Father and confess our wrong so we can be cleansed and restored to the peace and joy of our relationship with Him.
Is it easier to say Your sins are forgiven,’ or Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
— Matthew 9:5-6 NLT
It’s easy to tell someone his sins are forgiven; it’s a lot more difficult to reverse a case of paralysis! Jesus backed up his words by healing the man’s legs. Jesus’ action showed that his words were true; he had the power to forgive as well as to heal. Talk is cheap, but our words lack meaning if our actions do not back them up.
We can say we love God or others, but if we are not taking practical steps to demonstrate that love, our words are empty and meaningless. How well do your actions back up what you say?
In 2018 we lost a living legend in Billy Graham. People have been using variations of that phrase for nearly 60 years! Phrases like that point to the way God used Billy Graham, who maintained his humility, integrity, and focus on the gospel. Billy Graham’s message was “Christ is the only answer to the deepest needs of the human heart.”
So, why would anyone think Billy Graham was intolerant? In part, it is because Billy Graham would preach the Bible, preach against sin, and call people to Christ as the only answer to lasting peace and joy in the human heart. People think he was intolerant in part because he believed what the Bible has to say about human sinfulness.
In our world, it is easier than ever to make divisive, critical, and blanket statements about others. We think we can say whatever we want without spiritual consequences. But the Bible calls us to a different way of speaking and living.
Truth is not always popular. Sometimes the truth gets you in trouble. But God calls us to walk in both his love and his truth, no matter the consequences.