Sin and Glory
God created us in His image. Perfect, righteous, and holy with the ability to perfectly love God and love each other.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, as our representatives and our direct ancestors, failed to trust God and keep His command, but instead listened to Satan’s lie and became corrupted.
God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they would die.
God was telling the truth because He is righteous, perfect and good; and because He loves us, seeks our everlasting wellbeing and cannot lie.
Satan said they would not die because he is evil, and this was the sinister lie which caused sin to enter into the very core of our being and lose our perfect relationship with God and with each other.
We were the perfect people in the perfect environment, yet evil entered through the lie of Satan, who promised us glory, but deceived us and resulted in eternal death.
The exact same scenario is played out in every human life through history up to today. We disobey God by not trusting in what He says and we believe the lies of Satan to our eternal hurt.
The message we must firmly commit to - is that God is always right, good and perfect, and deeply loves us. God can be trusted with our very lives and more so with our eternal destination.
Therefore, it is imperative for us to wholeheartedly listen and learn to trust and obey God. What God says is the one and only truth. The more we believe and accept this, the more we will know Him and be transformed into His image.
Every person born into the world is contaminated with original sin because of the events which took place in the Garden of Eden, so that we instinctively rebel against God. Original sin has made us naturally biased towards sinful thoughts and rebellion against God, which leads to sinful behavior and all the evil, pain and suffering in the world.
It is into this condition that God introduced the Law to show us that we are fallen beings, no longer able to function as originally created. The Law was to demonstrate our sinful and fallen condition, and lead us to Jesus for salvation.
“...the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
God Himself came to our rescue to saved us. He saw our helpless condition, which came about as a consequence of our rebellion against Him; and yet, He shows us great compassion and mercy, seeing there was no way for us to save ourselves.
So He Himself went to great efforts, pain and suffering in order to redeem and reconcile us back to Himself.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God died in our place. He took our punishment and substituted Himself for us.
He gave all of Himself to us with great passion and zeal. He held nothing back to secure our salvation and gave Jesus, His most precious possession, to take us back to a perfect relationship with Him and with each other.
The cross of Christ is the central event in history, demonstrating the incomprehensible love of God for us. That God would die our death, pay our debt and do for us what we could not do for ourselves, is the greatest act of love eternity will ever see.
And He did this, while we were His enemies and completely unworthy to receive such loving-kindness from Him; after we provoked Him to wrath and judgment by our rebellion, and consciously choose to disobey Him.
God has proved Himself, and is proving Himself to all created beings in heaven and on earth, that only He can be God, and that life cannot function and will not function without perfect submission to His will because He perfectly knows what is best for us, and wants us to experience the same love and perfection which He already enjoys.
This is the call, the promise and the message that transforms us into the image of Jesus and the means by which God initiates His salvation in the world.
God wants us to become like Himself because that is where will we find our complete fulfillment.
To know Him is to reflect His glory and enjoy Him forever.
It is up to us to receive and accept the call of God in Christ and commit to continually submitting ourselves to completely trust in who God is and what He commands.
And His commandment is that we believe, trust, and have faith in His One and Only Son, Jesus.
“Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29).
As a result, we will love people created in the image of God with the love God has shown us and become a blessing to our world, holding out the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Grace Before Judgment
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5-7).
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. "For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).
There is a time of grace and mercy before God’s judgment falls. Judgment is the last thing God what’s to do but due to our hopeless sinful condition, we cannot be allowed to continue in our rebellion and evil forever.
God is grieved in His heart because of our malicious and unloving thoughts, and the selfish and sinful desires of our hearts; which lead to all the pain and suffering in the world. A direct consequence of our unrighteous actions which originate in the sinful and selfish thoughts and intentions of our heart.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
Every human being is accountable for their actions and will give an account to God for every word and action in this life. No one will be able to stand blameless before God, apart by being covered with the sacrificial atonement of Jesus - either we pay for our sins or Jesus pays for them.
When we believe in Jesus, we are placing our trust that He has accomplished our salvation through the complete forgiveness of our sins.
This is the only way to guarantee our acceptance with God because our faith does not depend on ourselves to save us, but on the finished work of Jesus which He accomplished on the cross on our behalf.
Salvation is not based on our faith as a subjective action or individual virtue but on our faith in Jesus to keep His promise.
Jesus is the object on which our faith rests, and our salvation depends of Jesus fulfilling His promise to us not on us achieving our own righteousness.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The promise of Jesus is that - whoever believes in Him (trusts in what Jesus says) shall not perish (will not be condemned to eternal damnation - hell) but have eternal life (will be accepted into heaven to be with Jesus forever).
Jesus paid our debt and died our death so that we will not have to. He substituted Himself for us and through faith in Him, we enter into a covenant relationship with Him - which will place us in a position of complete safety in the promises of God.
Because God cannot break His promise, our salvation is secured and guaranteed. Our confidence rests in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and not in any merit within us to meet the demands of God’s righteousness.
Only Jesus can fulfill the demands of God and only those who are in Christ can obtain the righteousness God requires.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” (Romans 1:16-17).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing! "Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!' ” (Luke 13:34-35).
Every person is trapped in slavery by sin and both the religious and non-religious have not been able to escape from the slavery of sin and death. Wickedness abounds throughout all generations, with periods of judgment throughout history when God deems it necessary to suppress evil and establish righteousness.
The flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the cycle of sin in the time of Judges, and the exile into Assyria and Babylon; are all examples of God’s judgment with the purpose of redeeming those He graciously chooses to be a blessing in the world for good.
“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE." "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING," "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS"; "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN." "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES." Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin”
It is abundantly clear by the history of human experience, that every individual human being is born with a sinful nature and enslaved to sin. Not only to commit sin but also to instinctively reject God.
God, through the Law, has proven to humanity that there is no single human being able to function as originally created in a perfect, loving relationship with God and each other.
“...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This statement is central in understanding the heart of God in salvation.
So often the Law is misunderstood as being a means of salvation but that is not God’s intended purpose for the Law.
The Law is righteous and good and we should obey everything God commands, but the fact is - we cannot perform a perfect obedience and therefore fall short of God’s glory.
Perfectly loving God and loving people is the express requirement of meeting God's glory because this is who He originally created us to be. To reflect His glory.
Because of sin in us and because of our sinful nature, we are literally unable to keep the commands of God.
This places us in a state of complete condemnation before God. We are defective to the highest degree and we are completely offensive to God beyond our wildest imagination.
Yet! The good news, indeed the great news, is that God in His indescribable love, mercy and grace, has made a way to reconcile us to Himself. To save us from the condemnation of sin and death, and to eventually return us to a condition were we can perfectly love God and each other.
It is completely a free gift of grace which God Himself has accomplished to save us from ourselves.
It is not a perfection that we will see in ourselves in this life, but it is a positional perfection as seen in eternity. We are declared perfectly righteous before God by faith in Jesus. We receive the righteousness of God and are made right with God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
There is a point in time when we first place our trust in Jesus and at that point in time we are right with God, born again, redeemed, reconciled to God and saved. And as we continue in time until our death, or Jesus’ return, we are progressively being transformed into the image of God in Christ.
We are in the process of being made holy, and God works in us through the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus.
“...Now the LORD saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle” (Isaiah 59:15-17).
“A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever” (Isaiah 59:20-21).
Sin gives rise to more sin, not only in the individual but collectively in society. To the point where it is virtually impossible to live righteously as God desires and humanity is pushed further into corruption and evil, until all humanity is totally devoid of any resemblance of the glory of God.
“There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
God was “astonished that there was no one to intercede”.
This is God seeing our plight as lost beings engulfed in the darkness of our rebellion against Him and descending into ever increasing evil and unrighteousness.
And the beautiful thing is that God Himself took the initiative to intercede, intervene and save us.
To Him be all the glory, power, authority and praise because He is completely worthy of all our trust and adoration.
The conclusion to this study is the point that God has shown us amazing kindness in initiating our salvation. No one deserves to be saved and yet God has done so out of shear love for us.
To know the love of God in Christ is an essential part of our ability to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus which is the final objective of our faith.
The purpose of our faith in Jesus is to know Him, to have a personal and intimate relationship with Him. To speak to Him in our heart, to have Him in our thoughts and to seek to be like Him.
And the only way we can truly know Jesus is to read the Bible, and trust and obey God's word which contains all we need to know Him.
So often we get side-tracked with the things we want to accomplish in this life and seek fulfillment in our own endeavors instead of Jesus. We forget God is the source of all our endeavors in this life and has the perfect plan for us.
It may not be the plan we have for our life but it is the perfect plan for us, because God is a perfect Father to His children and will do what is best to prepare us in this life to spend eternity with Him.
And we do this remembering that this life is not the ultimate life, but we are strangers and aliens in a foreign world, hostile to God and full of sinful temptations which lead to eternal death.
Yet we hold the tension of engaging with the world as children of God, as lights and messengers of the gospel, and not as rebels walking away from God and His will. A tension which needs wisdom and grace to navigate.
And as we trust God and follow Jesus, denying ourselves and carrying our cross; God will guide and direct our path in this world and bring us safely into His heavenly kingdom.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4)
Everyday set our mind on the things of God by reading His word and praying.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Understand the temptations of this world will not bring us fulfillment and satisfaction but are a lie and temptation of Satan to get us to rebel against God.
Remember what happened in the Garden; it’s the same principle today.
Trust Jesus and resist the Devil.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
Trust Jesus and learn what is pleasing to God so we can resist the Devil and stand in the will of God.
“Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
Seek the things of God first and foremost in our life. Make Jesus our treasure and He will look after all our needs.
This does not mean we neglect the practical things in life but our main focus and most valuable time and effort is on the things of God.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Look to Jesus and people in the Bible as examples of pleasing God and living a life in accordance with the great grace and mercy we have been shown in Jesus.
“Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:17-21).
Paul and the Apostles are great examples of following Jesus, and to keep our focus on the reality of the limited time we have in this life and great joy of one day seeing Jesus face to face.
God bless us as we seek Him with all our heart...