Tuesday, January 28, 2014

“… through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin ...” (Romans 5:12

Why are things the way they are in our world? Why is there so much violence and misery? Our history is marked by oppression and wars. In fact, we generally trace history through powerful empires who have exerted their will upon others by force. But where does greed, hatred, violence or anger come from? We teach our children to “be good” but where do they learn to “be bad”?

The Bible tells us that we are the way we are because we inherit the basic nature of our forefather Adam. “Through one man [Adam] sin entered the world.” We don’t learn immorality greed, violence etc. because we don’t have to. It’s in us! It will always come out given the right set of circumstances.

Rules (don’t steal, don’t lie etc) can’t address this basic problem. Rules may “control” behavior but they can’t change “me.” There is something fundamentally wrong with human nature and “religious soap” can’t clean us up. When Jesus said “You must be born again” (John 3:7) He was addressing mans’ greatest need; a new nature, a new life!

We cannot “fix” sin by dealing with the symptoms (drugs, sex, anger etc). Remember, God’s standard for “good” is Himself … perfection!! Are you that “good”? There is a “root” problem. “You must be born again.”

Monday, January 13, 2014

" the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering” (Geneses 4:2-5)

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering” (Geneses  4:2-5)

Animal sacrifice pointed to the cross of the Lord Jesus.  It foreshadowed His sacrifice. From the very beginning, any man seeking to approach the LORD came by way of a sacrifice. Abel offered the “firstborn of his flock” and was accepted but, Cain was rejected. He did make an offering “of the fruit of the ground” (he was a farmer after all) and perhaps felt that this would suffice. Surely the LORD would appreciate his sincerity and attempt to approach Him? Surely his offering would count for something? But he was wrong! Sincerity can replace obedience.

The story of Cain and Abel illustrates a common and serious error concerning that which is required to be accepted by God. It is generally held that there are “many roads” to God but this is contrary to the Bible.  Jesus taught otherwise when He said “I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). There is only “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5)

Do you approach God through Christ’s sacrifice? He will accept nothing else.

“Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

Tunics of skin” came from an animal that died a violent death. Its blood was shed that they might have a covering. But surely, it would have been a trivial matter for the LORD to provide coverings without such an act. The creator of the universe can surely manufacture clothing of wool, cotton or some other material. Why “Tunics of skin”? Why the violent death?

There is nothing pleasant in what took place here. We naturally recoil at the very thought of shed blood. It is violent, gory and offensive. To be unaffected is to have a rather callous and cold heart. And yet the LORD, whom we believe is filled with goodness and love, is responsible.

Animal sacrifice, which will become common place in the Bible, points to the cross. It prefigures the violent and bloody death of the Son of God. Though man nailed Christ to the Cross it is seldom appreciated that it is the Father who ordained His death. “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23). The violent death of the Son reveals God’s passionate hatred of sin.

We will never value the love of God until we first appreciate the His holiness.

“...In the Day you eat of it [the tree] you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17)

The LORD warned Adam that he would “surely die.” The root meaning of death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of the spirit from God. When Adam disobeyed, he immediately died spiritually. His physical death would not take place for many years. In a similar fashion, a flower dies the moment its stem is cut but will appear alive in all its loveliness for several days.

Adam’s descendants come into this world separated from God. In other words, man is born spiritually dead and will die physically as a natural consequence. Thus the apostle Paul wrote, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses....” (Colossians 2:13). The only remedy for our desperate condition is to be made alive spiritually. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “you must be born AGAIN” (John 3:7). This is something that Man cannot accomplish. The spiritually dead cannot bring about spiritual life through “good works” or religious activities, no matter how sincere. God must intervene.  This is why Christ came.

What is your condition? Jesus’ words to Nicodemus are still true today, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)