There is a good, better, best pattern to the Christian life. To be in Christ is good. To be with Christ is better, better by far. But even for those who are with Christ now, the best is yet to be. I want to encourage you as we look together at what the Bible...
Sin runs in the blood; grace does not.
Many churches are actively erasing this truth. Confession of sin is quietly dropped from worship services. Massive tracts of Scripture that repeat this foundational truth are silently glossed over. There is an active movement today to rewrite the great hymns and erase this truth, because some believe that it is not positive enough for Sunday morning.
But I plead with you to take this truth seriously today: Sin is a vicious enemy, and it leaves us needing the intervention of God.
The Crayon and the Mold
Suppose you put fresh paint on a wall in your house, and a child marks a line of crayon over it. You can wash the wall and get rid of the crayon. If it’s really bad, you can paint over the wall—not that big a deal.
But suppose you have mold in your house. Painting over the mold won’t help.
A crayon leaves a mark that is easily dealt with. But mold is a living thing. It spreads—it will take your health. It will destroy your house. Some folks think that sin is like the crayon. When you mess up, cover it over, clean up the mess and move on.
But sin is not like a crayon—it is like the mold. The crayon is static; the mold is on the move—it spreads. It needs to be cut out or it’ll destroy your house. Sin is more than a list of things you’ve done wrong. If this is your notion of sin, you have not understood it from the Bible. It’s a living power, a vicious enemy, and it is at work in you and it is at work in me.
Are you taking the power of sin seriously in your life?
The Intervention of God
“At that time, men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).
This is the first mention of prayer in the entire Bible, “At that time…” What time? What was it that caused men to pray for the first time? When the destructive effects of sin became obvious in the world—broken families, violence, murder. Men saw evil in its ugly colors, and they began to ask God for help.
It doesn’t say that all men did this. All men will not ask God for help. But some did. They saw what sin was doing, and they knew that they needed to pray, “God we need your help. We’re facing incredible darkness. This is bigger than me.” What does God do? Two things.
1. God restrains sin.
This world is not as bad as it could be. God restrains sin. If God took His hand away, it would be hell itself. As a matter of fact, that’s what hell is. How does God do that?
God restrains sin through law: If there were no laws our streets would not be safe. The law restrains sin. It is a good gift from God. Thank a policeman. Tell him or her they are a gift of God in a fallen world.
God restrains sin through conscience: Adam was a law to himself. He did not need the law because God wrote it in his heart. Even among those who do not acknowledge God, there is some residue of that impression. We call it “conscience.” So Paul says, “Their consciences bear witness” (Romans 2:15).
God restrains sin through common grace: This is not the same thing as saving grace. Common grace is the kindness of God to all people, just as He causes the sun to rise on all people, not just on those who love Him. When you see a woman who has no time for God, but she is a good mother, you should thank God. Or when you see an atheist who shows kindness to an elderly neighbor, thank God for him.
God restrains sin through judgment: Sin is like a massive weed that would destroy the world except that God, in His kindness, cuts it back. That is what happened in the flood. When nations become intolerably evil, God sends revival or He causes that nation to fall. That is why the Bible says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to a people” (Proverbs 14:34).
2. God redeems sinners.
God cuts back the weed of sin. But the day is coming when He will pull it up by the root and cast the whole thing into the fire. Sin will be no more. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Suffering came into the world on the coat tails of sin. And when sin is excluded from the planet, suffering will go out on its coat tails, too. There will be no death, mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). God will wipe away all tears from the eyes of His people.
How can sinners be in the home of righteousness? There’s only one way. When John the Baptist began his ministry, he pointed to Jesus and he said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The hope of the world lies in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. We need to learn to live in this world in such a way as to be prepared for the next.