August 8, 2006

The Greatness of God's Love

No one could possibly imagine the great price Jesus paid for their sins. Whenever temptation is beating heavily on a person's heart and mind to persuade a believer or a non-believer, to accept the temption and sin against God, they have immediately forgotten about the pain Christ received when He was scourged and beaten, when He was nailed to the cross and instead have become selfish for their own pleasure not considering the pain it caused the Lord.

Please, do not be misled, I have been guilty of allowing myself to sin against God because I was more interested in the pleasure for myself rather than remembering the pain it caused Christ to die for the sins I had committed, what I was about to do, or for the sins I would commit (hopefully not) in the future.

I once heard Dr. Charles Stanley say in one of his radio messages speaking about sexual sins when he said, "Sexual sin is powerful in its deceptive offer of immediate pleasure without penalty." That is so true! Even if it wasn't used to describe sexual sin, sin is still powerful in its deceptive offer of immediate gratification without penalty. How much would the divorce rate decrease if men and women who committed adultery realized this? Let's read this with a different perspective if God were speaking to us in plain and simple English. He might say, "Adultery is deceptive and powerful to make you think it will offer immediate pleasure without suffering any consequences for your actions, not only here and now, but eternally too. It's just not worth it."

That is just an example and one that people can identify with. Don't think that if you haven't actually physically committed adultery you are innocent. Jesus himself said,
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28.
It is a conscious decision to look continuously at a person of the opposite sex while having sexual thoughts of that person. The desire for something encourages one to continue looking, especially if it might be something they cannot have. No one is excluded either. Homosexuals as well as heterosexuals can be guilty if they have looked at someone with lust in their heart.

I cannot be thankful enough, to fully comprehend the weight of my sin that was placed on Jesus Christ, where the punishment of my sin was placed upon Him. The free gift of God's grace I now have because of something that God didn't even ask if it was ok for Him to do for me. He did it out of love. Though I have not seen the Lord physically yet, and though I love Him now, my love and gratitude for Him will multiply infinitely more on the day that I enter into Heaven for all of eternity.

A few verses of Scripture found in Romans chapter 8 really bring this home for me.

First, I'll have to start with verse 3, "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh," Since the Ten Commandments are supposed to be our boundaries to live safely from the temptation to sin, each and every person falls short of living perfectly according to the Ten Commandments. (Romans 3:23) God did not want any of us to realize the full effect of the punishment of sin because He loves us, so He placed the punishment of our sin upon His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of condemning us for the offense of our sin, He condemned it in the body of Jesus Christ. How is that for someone "taking a bullet for you"? The effect of that is greater than we realize because if a person recognizes this substitution payment of sin and give their lives to Christ, their eternal lives are secured and the judgment of sin by God is seen by the cross and not by the sin.

Next, I would have to mention verse 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." If a person is found in Christ, they will not be condemned because of their sin. How can I describe what it would mean to be in Christ? Well a few examples would be, you walk into a house, you get into a car, you put dirty dishes into a dishwasher...get the idea? One of Webster's definitions of the word into is, to the form, substance, or condition of. A person steps into a relationship with Jesus Christ to avoid being condemned of their sin. When a person becomes born-again, they first become a new person spiritually and as time progresses, through discipleship and fellowship with others, through small group bible studies, personal study and prayer, as well as regular fellowship and ministering of the Word of God in church, their lives will gradually turn into the form, substance or condition of becoming like Christ in their life.

Finally, there are verses 35, 38 and 39, where the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans,
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate a person on this earth, whom God created, from His love that is found in Christ.

The apostle Paul said he was the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) who had a warrant to arrest Christians and even permit them to be stoned to death. Yet, when Paul met Jesus on his way to Damascus he was not condemned when he met Jesus along the way.

"As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." (Acts 9:3-7)

How comforting it is to know the peace we have with God by His grace that has saved us, through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

"I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin."
Psalm 32:5

If you feel that what you have just read applies to you, I would encourage you to accept Jesus' death as the payment of your debt of sin against God. You can visit either of two websites to learn How to Know God or Steps to Peace with God, to begin a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

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