Posts belonging to Category Sin

4 Things God Does with Forgiven Sin

What does God do with our sin after he forgives us?

1) He covers our sin.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)

2) He removes our sin.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.” (Isaiah 44:22)

“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

3) He cleanses our conscience.

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin … Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:2,7)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

4) He forgets our sin.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

(From Erwin Lutzer, After You’ve Blown It, pp. 46-51)

What’s Worse Than Committing the Unforgivable Sin?

Here is one more quote from Sunday’s message:

Sometimes people worry that they may have committed the unforgivable sin. But I would say if you are worried about it, then you haven’t done it. If you had truly blasphemed the Holy Spirit, your heart would be so completely hardened against God that you wouldn’t be worrying about whether God could forgive you.

What I would be more concerned about are forgivable sins. You know what’s worse than committing the unforgivable sin? Committing forgivable sins but never turning to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. That’s really sad.

Related posts:
    • What Is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
    • Can an Atheist Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

Can an Atheist Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

We explored this question in church on Sunday. Here is an excerpt from Sunday’s sermon on Choosing Sides:

A couple years ago a certain atheist web site presented what they called “The Blasphemy Challenge,” where they challenged people to upload YouTube videos of themselves denying the Holy Spirit. A whole lot of atheists responded to the challenge and uploaded their videos, saying “I deny the Holy Spirit.” It was very sad to see and meant to be shocking, but ironically enough, I am not sure they were actually blaspheming the Holy Spirit as Jesus defined it. They were certainly committing serious sin, but they were not attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life to Satan.

In fact, I’m not sure if an atheist is even capable of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. If blasphemy of the Holy Spirit means believing that Jesus was doing supernatural works by the power of Satan rather than God, how can you do that when you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit, Satan or God?

What these atheists did is sad, it is wrong, and if they never come to Christ for forgiveness, they will be judged for their sin, but I do not believe they have actually put themselves beyond God’s forgiveness. By definition it would seem that an atheist cannot commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (However, I would still recommend that you stay as far away from this sin as possible!)

Related posts:
    • What Is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
    • What’s Worse Than Committing the Unforgivable Sin?

What Is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

We talked about this in Sunday’s sermon from the gospel of Mark. Here is an excerpt from the message:

Jesus said, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29) Here we come to the unforgivable sin – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If all other blasphemies can be forgiven, this must be exceptionally bad to be singled out as an eternal sin that is beyond forgiveness.

What exactly is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? It is only mentioned here and in the parallel accounts of the gospels, so we need to get the context from this particular event. Mark tells us that Jesus said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” (Mark 3:30)

And so it would appear that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life to Satan. It is the blasphemous belief that Jesus was not empowered by God through the Holy Spirit, but that he was in fact a servant of darkness and received his power from Satan. Such a hardening of the heart towards God’s work in Christ through the Holy Spirit that you would call it the work of Satan is a blasphemy that will not be forgiven. The person who does so is guilty of an eternal sin.

Sometimes people worry that they may have committed the unforgivable sin. But I would say if you are worried about it, then you haven’t done it. If you had truly blasphemed the Holy Spirit, your heart would be so completely hardened against God that you wouldn’t be worrying about whether God could forgive you.

What I would be more concerned about are forgivable sins. You know what’s worse than committing the unforgivable sin? Committing forgivable sins but never turning to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. That’s really sad.

Related posts:
    • Can an Atheist Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?
    • What’s Worse Than Committing the Unforgivable Sin?

Madoff Finally Admits Guilt

The New York Times quotation of the day:

“I knew what I was doing was wrong, indeed criminal,” he said. “When I began the Ponzi scheme, I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients.”

But finding an exit “proved difficult, and ultimately impossible,” he continued, stumbling slightly in his prepared remarks. “As the years went by I realized this day, and my arrest, would inevitably come.” (Bernie Madoff, pleading guilty to a Ponzi scheme involving billions of dollars)

This quote is a sad reminder of how yielding to sin seems like a small thing in the beginning but eventually can take over and ruin a life. It also brings to mind Proverbs 21:6: “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare,” and 1 Timothy 6:9: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

Those are some hard verses to come to terms with. My prayer is that Madoff would also come to experience the truth of these precious verses from the Psalms:

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:1-5)

Daily Encouragement and the Deceitfulness of Sin

We need to encourage one another daily in this battle against sin. The book of Hebrews tells us:

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)

Did you get that? Sin is deceitful. Sin never comes right out and advertises itself or its consequences. Sin sneaks into our lives unawares and takes us down slowly one heart decision at a time. But the cumulative effect of all those decisions can be deadly. It is like hardening of the arteries. It doesn’t happen all at once; it takes place over a period of time and often in places unseen. But the damage is building, the danger is real, and all of a sudden you find your heart hardened towards God.

How do you guard against this gradual hardening of your heart? By the daily encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ. “Encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

(From this past Sunday’s message: Called to Community)

The Sins of the Fathers Quotes

The concept of God punishing the children for the sin of the fathers is troublesome to many people. If you would like to learn more about this, I encourage you to look at last week’s message called The Sins of the Fathers, taken from Exodus 20:5. You can also find a quick outline of the message at Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 9/30/2007.

Here are some quotes from the message:

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exodus 20:5)

“Sin is hereditary. Sin gets passed down from one generation to the next. That is a weight most of us would rather not bear. But we will not overcome this burden by ignoring or denying it. We must face the terrible truth of generational sin in order to deal with it, so that we may indeed break the cycle of sin for ourselves and for our children who follow.” (RF)

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

“The law of the harvest says that you will reap what you sow. The law of the generational harvest says that others will also reap what you sow, especially your children and grandchildren, your family and immediate descendants.” (RF)

“The curse of the Lord righteously rests not only on the person of an impious man, but also on the whole of his family.” (John Calvin)

“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

“When Adam and Eve fell into sin, the whole human race fell into sin. The most precious, sweetest-looking innocent baby has a sinful nature just waiting to break out. Sin is a congenital disease which within a few years of birth presents itself in every human being born on the planet.” (RF)

“The collective consequences of a father’s sin . . . does not eliminate the personal responsibility of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.” (Jochem Douma)

“There are two ways that God punishes for sin. There is what we might call active or direct punishment, where God punishes a person directly for the sins he has committed. And then there is punishment by consequence, where God allows the person to suffer the natural consequences for his sin.” (RF)

“The sanction of the second commandment can never be used as an excuse by children who argue that they are suffering judgment for what their fathers did. On the other hand, the sanction does contain a serious warning to fathers: Consider the destruction your sin can cause, not only in your life, but also in the life of your family!” (Jochem Douma)

“Who can avoid the sins of the fathers?
But you go ahead kid
It’s your turn to walk on water
Do your best to undo the sins of the fathers
Go ahead kid
It’s your turn to walk on water.”
(Terry Taylor; Daniel Amos; Songs of the Heart)

“Remind me of this, Lord, with every decision:
Generations will reap what I sow.
I can pass down a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know,
To those I will never know.”
(Sara Groves; Conversations)

“Every new generation has the capacity in Christ to break the cycle of generational sin. We read in Philippians 4:13 – ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ Colossians 1:13 tells us that God ‘has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.’ There is hope in Jesus Christ to overcome any and all sin in our lives, and to break the chains that bind us. Praise God!” (RF)

Billy Graham Preaches Jonathan Edwards

The Jonathan Edwards Center has posted a (temporary?) digital exhibit called Billy Graham & Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In the fall of 1949 during his historic 8-week “Canvas Cathedral” Crusade in Los Angeles, Billy Graham preached Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

In retrospect, it was a fascinating set of circumstances: the man who would become the most famous preacher of the 20th century preaching America’s most famous sermon to a new audience many generations later.

There are numerous interesting theological, rhetorical, and stylistic questions that arise from this preaching event. For the first time since its preaching, we are able to make audio portions of this sermon available to the general public on our website for a limited time. Please join us in exploring this fascinating piece of American religious history.

The exhibit includes a historical background to the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, audio clips from the message, as well as various transcripts. Here is a link to a full transcript of Edwards’ message marked up with Graham’s omissions and additions for purposes of comparison.

Jonathan Edwards and Billy Graham are two of my heroes, so I found this a fascinating exhibit.

HT: Jonathan Edwards Center Blog

Joe Carter is a Jerk

Don’t take my word for it – read Joe’s article yourself! 🙂 Here is an excerpt:

How can I be a Christian for over three decades (since the age of six) and still be such a jerk? The only response I can give is that if I wasn’t a Christian I’d be much, much worse. As Evelyn Waugh–another Christian who recognized he was a nasty chap–once said, “If not for my faith I would be barely human.”

While true, that answer seems a bit of a cop-out. I don’t like being a jerk and I don’t like making excuses for my nasty behavior. So I attempt to be nicer, more likable. I pretend to be genial and gregarious in the hope that I’ll eventually become less of a jerk.

But it doesn’t work. The more I pose and pretend that I’m something I’m not, the more I appear to be a hypocritical jerk.

The main problem is that I go about it all wrong. Instead of trying to be more likable I should focus on being more loving.

He follows with a great quote from C. S. Lewis on the difference between loving our neighbors and liking or affection.

I can relate to Joe’s post. Give me enough time and exposure, and I will be sure to let you down. Do you ever feel like you’re a jerk, that it is just a matter of time until people discover the real you? Thank God for his grace, and pray for other people’s!

3 Freedoms from Sin That All Christians Share

Here are three freedoms from sin that all Christians share:

1) Freedom from the penalty of sin. This freedom is rooted in the Christian’s past and relates to the believer’s justification. The penalty for sin is death, both physical death and spiritual death (i.e. separation from God). When we put our faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sin, however, we were justified – that is, declared righteous in God’s sight by faith. We were thus freed from the penalty for sin and granted new life with God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

2) Freedom from the power of sin. This freedom is operational in the Christian’s present and relates to the believer’s sanctification. Before we come to Christ, we are dead in transgressions and sins and are in fact slaves to sin. When we receive new life in Christ, however, we are sanctified – that is, set apart for God and holiness rather than for sin and death. We are thus set free from the power of sin and through the Holy Spirit are given the ability to live a holy life. “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:20-22)

3) Freedom from the presence of sin. This freedom will be fulfilled in the Christian’s future and relates to the believer’s glorification. Although we may be free from the power of sin in the present, we still struggle with a sinful nature in the midst of a sinful world. When we enter God’s presence in heaven, however, we will be glorified – that is, changed to be like Jesus Christ in true righteousness and placed in a perfect environment of righteousness and holiness. We will thus be free from the presence of sin both within us and around us. “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Praise God for the freedoms we share as believers in Jesus Christ!

John Piper on “Is It Ever Right to Lie?”

John Piper explores the question, “Is it ever right to lie?” After affirming that the Scriptures clearly present lying and falsehood as sin, Piper reviews the lies that the Hebrew midwives told to Pharoah in Exodus 1 and that Rahab told to the king’s men in Joshua 2. He notes that both the midwives and Rahab were faced with extreme, life-threatening situations. He also notes that, although the midwives were commended for not obeying the king, and Rahab was commended for her faith, Scripture nowhere condones their actual instances of lying. And yet neither does Scripture come right out and condemn their lying in these specific instances either.

Rather than give a direct “yes” or “no” answer to the question, Piper concludes:

“What I’ve simply decided to say is this: There are worthy and godly saints who have in their struggle with evil felt constrained to lie in order to oppose life-threatening wickedness. And they were not condemned for it. That much I can say on the authority of Scripture.”

I remember first being exposed to this difficult question when seeing the film, “The Hiding Place.” The specific situation faced there was, “Should Corrie Ten Boom (or was it Betsy?) have told the Nazi soldiers that they were hiding Jews in the home?” What are your thoughts on this? Scripturally, is it ever right to lie?