Monday, August 16, 2010

Rebel Restored

What is sin? What comes to your mind? Would you call yourself a sinner? If so, could you name three specific sins you committed today? Are there sinful actions or attitudes in your life recently? While many believe sin exists and would reluctantly acknowledge that we sin we are often slow to list the specific sins we are struggling with at the moment. Let’s ask another question and that is why do we struggle with sin?

In Psalm 32, David uses three words to describe his offense against God. He calls it transgression, sin and iniquity. Remember the psalms are poems and a poet is very intentional in word choice. David is not trying to avoid a redundant use of the word sin as he uses these three different words. He is trying to teach us a lesson.

The word transgression has a meaning of rebellion. It is open, undefiled rebellion against God. David simply did not want to obey God. He rejected God’s authority, command and leadership in his life and chose lust, adultery and murder instead.

The word sin has a meaning of disobeying the law of God. David was a student of God’s Word and he knew the commands of God. Yet, in his sinfulness he disregarded those commands and chose to do what he pleased. His desires became his law.

The final word, iniquity, has a sense of knowing deep down what is right and doing the opposite. We might understand this by thinking of times we went against our own common sense. God has stamped certain laws in the human heart and there is a universal understanding that certain actions are simply wrong. Ultimately, we disobey God when we reject these things we know to be right.

So what is sin? It is rebellion against God, rejecting what He commands and doing what we please. In essence, it is making us the god of our lives. We want to be king, lord and ruler. Sin is how we carry this out.

But there is hope. God promises forgiveness to those that seek it. Psalm 32 is not about sin only. It is also about forgiveness and the joy of obedience. David says the burdening weight of his disobedience was lifted off of him when he repented. He says God replaced it with comfort and rest. Not only those, but freedom from guilt and shame as well. Want to know this hope and peace? Surrender your rebellion, embrace Christ and find the rest He freely gives.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Real Hope for Real Life

Hope for hope’s sake is no hope at all. Do you ever hope for hope’s sake? Do you ever find yourself offering reassurance hoping that everything will somehow work out in the end? Your intentions are good; you just don’t have any basis for your faith. Sometimes we say these things because we don’t have anything else to say and we don’t want there to be empty air in a moment that seems really important. Hope, though, must be anchored to something real and powerful if it is going to bring true comfort.

Peter says in his New Testament letter of 1 Peter that Jesus Christ has lived, died and been resurrected so that He may give His followers a living hope. What is living hope you may ask? Well, Peter uses this phrase to help us see that God is actively at work in the lives of everyone that loves Him. It is not hope that simply points back to a time when one’s relationship with Jesus Christ began. It is not hope that simply points forward to a time when Jesus will return or a Christian dies and goes to Heaven. Living hope certainly includes those moments, but it includes much more. Living hope is the promise that God is aware of every aspect of the Christian’s life and, even more, is actively at work in every one of those aspects. God cares for those that love Him and follow Him.

The basis of this living hope is not just a hope that God is in Heaven looking down. No, it is wrapped in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are important facts. Jesus’ life stands as a substitute for His followers. Though we disobey and rebel, Jesus has lived perfectly and God allows His perfection to substitute for our disobedience when we follow Him. Jesus’ death stands as a substitute as well. The Bible says the punishment for our rebellion against God is death. But the Bible also says that Jesus died as a substitute for all those that will follow Him. Followers of Jesus can have the assurance of life now and forever with Christ because He died as our substitute. The resurrection of Jesus is significant because it shows the power of God to make these promises true. Through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead God proved that all things are indeed possible with Him.

While this is a short and basic explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is a basis for real hope. Hope must be rooted in something real and powerful if it is to offer hope at all. This hope is not a magic formula for your life. A life of real hope calls for commitment to Christ, seeking repentance of your sin, and a new life empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. But it is a life of hope. Powerful hope that is anchored to a real Savior.