Posts Tagged ‘ Sin ’

The Hard Knocks Life: Choosing Trouble

Choose to find some wisdom through the commentary over at Proverbial Thought.

We have been looking at why we may experience difficulty in this life. Last week I discussed how God puts us through things in life and even allows our horrors to persist for a time so that we may show His mercy, compassion, and love to others going through similar circumstances. Two weeks ago I started off with describing how a life following God can bring troubles, through persecution or, like last week’s post said, circumstances to grow our faith and understanding.

This little post is about when we bring about our own troubles. It really is quite simple.

Each moment of each day we have a choice. It is basically the same choice offered to the Israelites after taking the promised land.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15, NIV

More Simple Than We Think

Here is how simple it is:

Every morning we are faced with a decision. Every time we have to make a choice, we have two options (though those two options may have multiple choices, as well).

Do I serve God or my own selfish desires?

Do I act in love or for personal comfort and gain?

It is our own selfish choices that lead to fights and arguments.

It is our own selfish choices that lead to loss and confusion.

It is our own selfish choices that lead to pain and difficulty.

It is our own selfish choices that lead to sin and death.

Yet even these God can use for His glory and redeem for good, when we choose Him daily.

Ask any (ex-)con, any thief, any adulterer, any violent or gossiping or lying person who has been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and they will tell you the same.

This is not that all our troubles simply go away. Many times, we must still live with the consequences of our decisions.

We may not get our money returned to us.

We may not get our health returned to us.

We may not see justice served (at least, not they way we expect).

Though we can find peace.

We can learn to love.

We can become wise and compassionate.

We may even see our lives restored to greater than they were.

It will certainly be greater in the next life, which is what we earn through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

After all, it was all of the selfish choices of each and every person who ever lived who put Jesus on the cross.

It was also shows that God chose to go to the cross for us.

Then Holy Spirit empowers us with strength, faith, wisdom, and grace to change, to choose God.

Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve: God or your own selfish desires.

Another Adulterous Wife and the God Who Loves Her

Once again, I remind you to get some wisdom from those inspired by God’s wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

There was a man who was called by God to speak out against the wrongs and injustices in his nation.

He spoke out against the nation turning away from God to follow its own lusts. He spoke out against the rising violence. He spoke out against the rise in crime. He spoke out against the rise of disrespect for parents. He spoke out against the lies of the government leaders as well as the religious leaders. He spoke out against the partnership of those leaders with different religions and hostile governments.

While this could be someone from any moment in the past fifty years in pretty much any part of the world, you probably already guessed that this person is in the Bible.

The First Adulterous Wife

Hosea was told by God to take a wife who was little more than a prostitute. Even though Hosea and Gomer had three children together – a son, a daughter, and another son – Gomer began to live and sleep with another man.

When things began to go badly for Gomer and she found herself on the auction block as a slave, God told Hosea “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1) Hosea essentially paid his entire savings to buy his adulterous wife from prostitution and slavery.

The message was and is clear: Just like Gomer, Israel had sinned by turning from God to the false gods of other nations. They neglected their relationship with God, they neglected their children and parents, and they neglected common decency.

God’s punishment for these sins was exile. But God loves His people.

He brought the nation, at that time divided in two, back to the Promised Land as a united people.

Beyond that, and this is where the Christian Church comes in, God sent His own Son as payment for the sins of not only Israel but of the whole world! In essence, God sacrificed Himself in payment for the sin we are all guilty of committing: worshiping anything other than God!

Another Adulterous Wife

If only those who believe the truth of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins never strayed!

If you look around our world today, especially within the Western World of Europe and North America, there is much corruption.

Leave governments out of this. Except for the mini-nation of Vatican City, national governments are not of God. He may have established the governments of the world for this time (Romans 13:1), but they do not govern the matters of God. They govern the matters of people. (Regardless of what most of the world and the Conservative Right say of the United States of America, it is not a Christian nation.)

Read the newspapers and watch the news on TV. Hardly a week goes by without hearing of some sex scandal, controversy, or fraud from some church or denomination. Many congregations, leaders, and denominations choose to work more with governments and other religions than with other congregations, leaders, and denominations. Many compromise their beliefs to appease the masses, the government, other religions, or simply passing fads or ideas.

Looking around today seems to show a Church which has left its Groom (Christ) to have relations with those who do not believe in or even mock the God of the Universe.

God’s Love

Even with all of the sins the people within the Church of our Lord continue to commit, He still loves her.

His Bride continues to allow many sins to be committed in His name, but I think there are good reasons He has not brought the same judgment on the Church as He did on Israel.

For starters, His faithful are still loving the least of these and showing God’s love.

Among those who rob God are those who give more than their fair share.
Among those who compromise their bodies are those who remain chaste and pure.
Among those who compromise their beliefs are those who remain steadfast in faith.

Secondly, God holds back His wrath because of His promises.

He has promised that His wrath was poured out on His Son.
He has promised that His wrath is not for His faithful.
He has promised that He will wait until He separates His faithful from the world.

Lastly, God holds back His wrath because of His love.

If God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), would He not give us time to repent, to choose His love in our hearts?

Hear the Truth and Turn

We each, in our own time, sin against God, yet He so desires to be with us that He died on a cross for our forgiveness and waits to destroy the world until His proper time.

As Peter said:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
2 Peter 3:10-15

Let us not worry about the sins going on around us in the name of the Lord. Instead, let us focus on our own relationship with God. In the process, God working in our lives will either cause guilt leading to repentance or guilt leading to further sin.

In any event, we are to remain pure to God to the glory of God.

“The One Who Bites Your Skin Is Dead”

For more than a week I have been sick with a cold. It is rather miserable, but if this is the biggest of my worries then life is pretty good.

Now for an intimate confession.

In this last week I also had to confess to my wife that in my tiredness and even exhaustion from work, ministry, and school, I have struggled with lust for the past few weeks. This is something that was “defeated” years ago, so you can imagine my surprise to finding it an issue. The thing that usually brought me back to my senses was the thought of my wife.

When I got sick enough to have to miss work last week, I had a lot of time to focus on prayer. One of my prayers was “Lord, there is so much going on in life. I do not need this temptation attacking me again. Take me back to that place of repentance, learning what it really means. Help me daily to defeat this lust.”

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I had trouble sleeping due to my congestion and headaches, but I had a lot of dreams. They were interesting and even silly, and I woke myself (and my wife) up because of acting out the end (running) and talking out loud.

Throughout, however, I kept hearing this one line, kind of like from the movie-voice-over guy:

“The one who bites your skin is dead.”

I did not know what it meant. It made absolutely no sense to me, whatsoever. Simultaneously, I was tired and disoriented from my head cold-induced dream-filled, sleep-deprived night.

It was not until Saturday night (after watching The Avengers!) that it finally occurred to me.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[g]

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[h]

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Firstly, God definitely heard my prayer. My lust has not been a problem since last week.

The initial thought is not a sin. Entertaining the thought and then acting on the thought is a sin. Yes, our thoughts can be a sin, but only when we dwell on them.
God has given me the way out promised, but He has also given me His strength and healing.

Secondly, I was reminded of this passage.

It is through Jesus Christ we have victory! Our Lord and God deserves all the praise.

Also, I have little problem with universalists, but this is one of their prized passages showing all people will enter paradise someday. However, this is written to believers. If I were to write a letter to my youth group saying “we all get to go on a retreat this summer because the fee has been paid,” everyone not in the youth group (children, adults, non-attendees/people from other churches) who read the letter and assumed they were going would be understandably laughed at (in love, of course) as misunderstanding the context. I firmly believe this to be the case.

(I do not “laugh at” universalists because I disagree with them. They are still brothers and sisters in Christ unless God says otherwise or their conduct proves otherwise. In fact, I understand where they are coming from, but I think they are missing the full context. I know there are times I do the same, so I have grace as I know our Lord does.)

However, this is not the point of today’s posting. This is:

We have freedom from sin through our Lord’s sacrifice, and He gives us the strength to endure temptation.

At the end of history we will be free from temptation, and our Lord can help us with temptation during this life. But we must also remember we will have temptation in this life. We were never promised freedom from temptation until Christ Jesus returns in glory.

I am evidence that we still fail. Peter and Paul admitted to failing. This is why we are told to take every thought captive. I failed for a time, but our God is full of grace and mercy.

Do you trust God to help you? Do you believe He has enough grace and forgiveness for you?

He does.

It may be hard to believe at times, but He helps our faith grow through practice and endurance.

Endure, brothers and sisters.

Causing Another To Sin

First of all, a reminder to head on over to Proverbial Thought. Amazing commentary on Proverbs that blows my mind every day is sure to be a blessing to you. Read Pastor Baker’s words for today, and make sure to catch mine tomorrow. Again, every contributor is amazing (apparently even this simple man), but only because of the Amazing One who dwells within us!

A week ago last weekend I joined many men from my church and many other churches at a Men’s Retreat. Out of 27 churches, less than a handful were not affiliated with any Baptist denomination.

I tell you that simply for this reason:

Some of the young men from our little church (including myself) decided to go play a game of cards and talk with each other. As we sat down, I jokingly said, “Guys, we can’t play cards! We are in a Baptist camp surrounded by Baptists!”

Now, keep in mind that we were not gambling. We were just playing a card game and talking, often needing to remind each other to actually play the game!

About an hour later, a man we dubbed “Squirrel-Hat Guy” because of a squirrel tail hanging from the back of his hat came up to our table. He asked “Are you all from the same church?”

“Yes.”

“What church are you from?”

“FHL – Faith, Hope, Love Community.”

“That explains a lot.”

And he walked away. (He did the exact same thing to another table of young men several feet away.)

We were kind of stunned.

A couple guys asked “Were we just judged?” There was some joking about asking him about his hat or asking what church he came with and then saying “That explains a lot.”

I later thought about more …

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
Matthew 18:6-7

Had I not warned them, albeit through a joke, that we might stir up trouble? Had we not willingly continued on a path knowing it might lead to others stumbling?

Who was more guilty here?

Granted, Squirrel-Hat Guy could have handled the situation better.

Granted, we could have played our games somewhere less likely to attract so much attention.

However, both parties (all three parties) involved could have controlled themselves better. Though we had the freedom to play a card game, we could have heeded my joking warning and done something different:

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. . . . So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:9, 11

And we could have done a better job of following the verse that says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV)

Further, he may not have been judging us for playing cards. He could have just thought we were playing the wrong kind of card game or were playing it like a bunch of n00bs!

In any event, while both parties are guilty of something, we definitely take the larger portion, for we set up the circumstance and then even continued to judge the perceived judger.

Now ask yourself:

How might I be causing others to sin/stumble?
How am I judging others, whether accurately or unfairly?
How do I lift up others?
How do I share God’s love and grace?

We are called to not judge, but to love unconditionally. I obviously still fail, but it just helps prove to you that I am a fellow human!

May we learn to rely on our risen Lord to make us ever more like Him, that we might love and give grace without making judgments. May we just love as He loves.

Undelightful Fools

Last week I offered some commentary on some of the turmoil caused over the Trayvon Martin shooting. The truth is that, while a lot of what I said was looking at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, it was about so much more. Honestly, those two demonstrate symptoms of underlying currents of various other problems in this nation.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:28-32

This is a story about our world, our nation … me.

I readily admit that, even though I may be quite amazing, I am really messed up without Christ.

I first believed in Jesus Christ as Lord in 2000. I had a lot of ups and downs in my walk with Christ. In 2003, I met a young woman. Our relationship also had a lot of ups and downs. I let her get between me and God. I let me get between me and God.

I became worse than I was before I first believed.

I made a lot of bad choices during this time: in my relationships, at work, with church.

I became a gossip.

I would share stories with more or less actual relation to reality than the true events.

I would cheat and steal.

I even considered cheating on that young woman on a few occasions.

I even considered suicide once.

I became cool, but people began liking me less. I became the life of the party, but I began caring less about people. I was a great listener, but I gave myself over to all sorts of the things listed in the passage above. I actually led people away from God and celebrated very sinful things.

I was just like most of our world.

Look around. Are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton the problem with our nation?

They get attention, because we willingly give it to them. We listen to people who cause more division than peace, because (though we may not always admit it) we enjoy the division.

It makes for great stories. We get to feel involved. We get to know the dirt on others. We get to share our opinions.

We like to entertain ourselves. We like to feel important. We like to have power. We like people paying attention to us.

Al and Jesse are not the problem. The problem is that the Church has not done what it should.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5

We are all called to seek and save the lost (see Matthew 28:18-20) and lift each other up in the Lord.

The problem is not Al and Jesse. It is not people killing each other. It is not people saying and doing horrible things to each other (or not doing good things, even).

The problem is I want to be the one in charge. We each want to be God. We each want to run the Church.

How about we let God do that?

The Fool’s Delight

This last week a friend of mine blogged about some of the silliness surrounding the Trayvon Martin killing, and I re-blogged it over here. Today, I look into it further.

An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
Proverbs 18:1-2

I often wonder if men such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton knew they would become such media lightning rods when they began public speaking. I like giving the benefit of the doubt that they truly began as individuals seeking equality and peace.

However, it would appear that, as it is said, “power corrupts.”

These are men who seem to enjoy the spotlight more than true justice to the point that they say some truly foolish things.

These are men who seem to enjoy saying what they think both before and after they understand what may be happening.

What is worse is that they are ordained ministers. They are ones who are to fight for peace and equality, yet we get statements that sound more like race-bating than many of the situations of which they speak.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
James 3:13-4:1

Men such as these are not following God. They delight in themselves and this world.

Pray you will not follow this path. Pray for the wisdom of God, that He will direct your heart. (And here is a reminder to go read Proverbial Thought and what the amazing contributors have to say. I am still amazed I am allowed to write with these amazing people!)

Pray for these men, as well, that they will truly seek God and become men of peace.

Misunderstood Identities

I just might do a series based on the teachings I have done the past couple Sunday nights. Today’s post is an adaptation from the first night, October 30th. The two lessons were titled “Masks: Judging others” and “Masks II: Living for others.”

                                                    

Everyone wears masks. Masks hide our emotions. Masks hide our true thoughts. Masks hide our face behind make-up, humor, and life-style.

It is how we use our masks which can cause so many problems between each other. Today’s focus is sexual identity.

Our culture has turned sexual activities and preferences into identities. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

  • The average homosexual will not tell you about struggles with same-sex attraction. He is a gay man. She is a lesbian. Life
    revolves around their same-sex attraction. There is no separation between sexual desires and life in general.
  • A “playah” (a.k.a. pervert … sorry, guys) only knows a life of chasing women. It carries over into every area of life. Think of Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS. If you have ever watched the show, you know that Barney is a sweet guy, but he hides it behind skirt-chasing and getting with babes.
  • Many feminists make empowerment of women and hatred toward men the only way they can live. Real feminism seeks equality with men with the understanding that there are differences between the two genders. So-called “radical feminism” is what gets people’s attention, because radical feminists are the loudest. Some at least have been honest enough to admit that they want to see the roles completely reversed, that women should be the ones in power if men are even necessary. Their entire lives become replacing men, not seeking equality.

This is a general group with only three sub-groups listed. For this general grouping, there is a tendency for Christians to just write them off as beyond help or just crazy. We either want nothing to do with them or spend the majority of our time telling them how sinful and evil they are, or, worse, talk about how sinful and evil they are behind their backs. Our understanding can be just as darkened as theirs is of God’s love, grace, and justice (this last one includes his strict laws and wrath as well as forgiveness through Christ).

For years I based my identity on being single. I sometimes went out of my way to alert others to my singleness. This is no different, and I know and know of many people who do or have done the same thing.

Marriage is understandably different, especially from a biblical perspective. This is because the Bible tells us “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31), and that means each person’s identity changes. They are not complete without the other.

David and Jonathan (Starting in 1 Samuel 18) demonstrated that marriage is not required for this kind of relationship, the kind in which one person is not complete without the other. It is not the same thing as marriage, but more importantly they did not base their entire lives on the other person. For both of them, their true devotion was to God.

This is not an argument about whether or not homosexuals, “loose” people, feminists (or chauvinist of any kind), or any other people who base their identity on sex and gender (or variations on gender) can be Christians or go to Heaven. The real argument here is that the problem has arisen that those who focus so much on “sexual identity” are not focused on God. Their understanding of God has been darkened.

The problem is selfishness. Sometimes selfishness can include others, including in a loving relationship. It reminds me of Terry Hoitz (played by Mark Wahlberg) in “The Other Guys”. He was so frustrated that his tagline was illogical (but quite hilarious): “I am a beautiful peacock! You have to let me fly!” ((If you are wondering why this is so funny, peacocks are semi-flightless, only able to go relatively short distances of a few hundred feet across land and fifty feet up.)) The reason I think of this line is that peacocks are often associated with pride and arrogance, and this line is slightly illogical as is basing your entire identity on how or with whom sex is or is not performed.

And just to make sure it is understood: None of my statements of the three sub-groups listed above are meant to be taken as universal. That would also be a logical fallacy and undermine my entire argument. All people, even Christians, can base their understanding of life on crazy, inappropriate, and sometimes weird things … not just sex (though you can see Christians and the religious right who focus on not practicing certain sexual act or preferences or whatever you want to call them).

So what say you? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I off the mark or right on? Any comments to help clarify, support, or debunk my claims?

Misunderstanding Love, Muslims, and Americans in recent history

I have recently read some interesting things. In keeping with this week’s theme of whether or not you may be in love with someone, I refer to an article from USA Today last month. Hay El Nasser and Paul Overberg wrote and article titled “1990-2010: How America Changed” published on August 11, 2011.

There were some interesting facts such as the top five states with largest latino populations (1) California, 2) Texas, 3) New York, 4) Florida, 5) Illinois), we have the lowest ever proportion of those 18-years-old and younger in our population (24%), and 40 million more people living in suburbs.

The one that relates to this week: in 1990, 26% of births were by single women, as opposed to 41% in 2010. Almost half of the births in this nation last year happened outside of marriage. This tells us something of the state of our culture today.

  1. Marriage is being seen as an outdated institution.
  2. Women find less need for a father to help raise their children.
  3. Men are not as involved in child-rearing.
  4. Abortion is not quite as acceptable anymore.

The article continued by stating that single mothers are higher among Hispanics (53%) and blacks (73%), and in Europe between half and two-thirds of births are to single mothers. It reminds me of the recent fad of teenage girls wanting to have children or “Octo-mom” and others like her having multiple children “because they can.”

We have gained a misunderstanding of love.

Moving on, while some Americans think all Muslims are violent and want to kill all non-Muslims, and some think Islam is merely a religion of peace and tolerance, both of which are misunderstandings, but I read an article today about the people in Afghanistan. Apparently, the vast majority of Afghans have no idea why Americans and others are in their country, and that includes not understanding what happened on September 11, 2oo1. It not only shows that most Afghans had nothing to do with the attacks (very rural living, after all), but “we” have done a horrible job explaining ourselves to the locals.

This reminds me that the Western culture has massive misunderstanding of the rest of the world, and really of itself.

Overall lesson I am seeing: impatience, selfishness, and arrogance is a common theme among people in the West. As we see the Church continue to slide in influence in our culture, is it any wonder?

Black Mark

There is the belief among most Christians that since Adam and Eve all of humanity is under the curse of sin. Many argue that it is inherited through birth. Many others argue that it comes through our own decisions in life. Many others still do not care enough or feel they are not smart enough to grasp the concept; it is enough for them to know that the Bible says we are sinful (see Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20; Romans 3:9-12) and in need of a Savior.

How could it be possible to carry forward sin?

Is it not as though God is condemning everyone for the fault of two?

Consider:

A woman does drugs for years. In a time of desperation, she has sex with a dealer to get her drugs, and this act led to pregnancy. The woman is so dependent on drugs that she continues abusing them throughout her pregnancy. Her baby is then born addicted to those drugs. The child did nothing wrong, but must suffer for the sins of the mother. It was passed along.

A man acquires AIDS through his promiscuity, but he does not realize it until he is married. He and his wife now have AIDS and then have a child. This child is also born with AIDS, again at no personal fault. It was passed along.

A single dad plays the lottery with the dream of making the life of his family better. He squanders his money on lottery tickets to the point of neglecting bills. He dies as his child comes of legal age. The child inherits the father’s debt and follows the example given and gambles to attempt to raise the money needed. The child did not create the financial mess. It was passed along … as well as the behavior that created the mess.

Is sin something that is genetically passed on? Quite frankly, I do not know. However, we can see evidence that a sinful nature is present early on in the way our children only think of themselves. Granted, they cannot help it too much. Children are born rather powerless to change their situation and require a lot of help.

A friend of mine shared a story a few years ago. His family runs a business making plastics. People have to help the system along and inspect the final product. Part of the process is to move some containers from one part of the machine to another, but they have to be careful to not touch them with their hands otherwise a black mark appears on the plastic. It is also possible that touching part of the machine that handles the plastics can cause each of the containers to get identical black marks. Another part of the process is for the inspectors to watch for damaged, misshapen, or tarnished items and pull them off the line. If they miss one, it ends up going out on the market where someone buys it, takes it home, and discovers the problem. The only way to remove the stain or fix the impurities is to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of cleaning the machine and sending the product back to be melted down, refined, and sent through the process again.

Our actions always have consequences. Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are bad. Our ancestors took an action that they technically knew was bad. Ever since, we are all stained with a black mark. It is as though they took God’s creation, us, and handled it improperly. Their fingerprint stained us.

God, however, inspects every single one of us. He was not content to let us remain with that stain. He sent His Son to show just how rough the remaking process would be. He took the time and paid the price. His blood cleansed the dirt. Our part is to let Him work us through the furnace that removes that black mark we carry, to let Him reshape us in the image of His Son.