A Just God (1/6/19)

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Please take a moment and honestly answer this question. What sins am I struggling with in my life right now? They comprise gossip, greed, uncontrolled anger, selfishness, sexual immorality including pornography or any other thing we do which goes against God’s will for our lives.

This brings us to a second question. Am I as concerned with my sins as God is? They bother him so much he sent his innocent Son to take the punishment for our sins. Jesus did this by dying for us on the cross.

Sin has always bothered God. After the serpent talked Adam and Eve into sinning at the beginning of Genesis 3, God immediately stated in verse 15 of that chapter he was going to send a God-man to redeem to world. Meanwhile, humans had to take responsibility for their actions.

Genesis 4:1-7 tells us, “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

God expected Cain to fight his sinful urges and do the right thing. But he didn’t. Cain killed his brother so God punished him. We see this same principle all throughout the Old Testament. There are numerous stories of God punishing people for their disobedience to him. Because people were evil, God sent a flood to kill every person on earth other than Noah and his family. Later God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of wickedness. God constantly sent foreign armies to attack Israel because of its sin.

This is what’s happening during Jeremiah 6:1-30. Let’s look at the first half of the chapter. It starts out with the Jeremiah telling the people of Jerusalem to flee. An enemy from the north is coming. It will encircle their city and then destroy them.

And starting at verse 6 –

6 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
“Cut down the trees
and build siege ramps against Jerusalem.
This city must be punished;
it is filled with oppression.
7 As a well pours out its water,
so she pours out her wickedness.
Violence and destruction resound in her;
her sickness and wounds are ever before me.
8 Take warning, Jerusalem,
or I will turn away from you
and make your land desolate
so no one can live in it.”

God says they’re going to be annihilated because they oppress others. They’re also violent and destructive. Yet he’s giving them a chance to repent. Verse 8 indicates he won’t bring destruction on them if they listen to him.

But he knows they won’t listen. He’ll have no choice but to pour out his wrath on them.

9 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
“Let them glean the remnant of Israel
as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
like one gathering grapes.”
10 To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD,
and I cannot hold it in.
“Pour it out on the children in the street
and on the young men gathered together;
both husband and wife will be caught in it,
and the old, those weighed down with years.
12 Their houses will be turned over to others,
together with their fields and their wives,
when I stretch out my hand
against those who live in the land,”
declares the LORD.
13 “From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
14 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.

Not only are they oppressive, violent and destructive, they’re also greedy, deceitful and prophesy peace when wrath is upon them.

Look at the question God now asks them.

15 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?

He already knows the answer.

No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.

Let’s take a moment and put ourselves in the place of those who received the prophecy from Jeremiah. Earlier I asked you to list your sins. As you think about them, do they make you blush as you sit here before God in his house of worship?

Since the Israelites didn’t care about their sins, God said,

So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the LORD.
16 This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Look at what verse 16 says happens when we choose to repent of our sins and walk with God. He gives us “rest for our souls.” Let’s ask ourselves one more question. As I think about my life right now, is my soul at rest?

If we take our sins so lightly they don’t make us blush when we come into God’s presence, then God isn’t going to give us supernatural rest for our souls.

Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, “Why does it matter if I sin? Jesus has forgiven me for every sin I’ve committed – past, present and future. I’m forgiven.” This statement is true. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise in Genesis 3:15. He is the God-man who has redeemed us from our sins. We’re no longer required to live by the rules, laws and regulations found in the Old Testament. But our sins still matter to God. This means they should matter to us as well.

Let’s look at three reasons we should be concerned with our sins.

1 – Once we’ve accepted the salvation Jesus Christ offers us, we’re no longer our own master. We belong to God. This means we represent God in this world. Not ourselves. God makes it very clear that he hates sin. We should be as concerned about it as God is. Romans 6:11b-14 – “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Saying we’re disciples of Jesus but ignoring our sins is like me dating other women even though I’m married to Stephanie. How do you think she would feel if I came home every evening and said, “Stephanie I love you but I don’t want to be totally committed to you? I want the benefits of being married to you but I don’t want the responsibility that goes with it. I want to keep doing the things I want to do even if it means breaking the covenant I made with you.” She wouldn’t like that.

This is how we treat God when we accept the salvation he offers us in Jesus yet choose to ignore the ways he wants us to live.

2 – Our sinful attitudes and unrested souls turn people off to Jesus. In his article, Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make About Christians, Thom Ranier writes that one thing they notice about us is, “Christians are against more things than they are for. ‘It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative that they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.’” Ouch!

3 – God is just. Even though we have forgiveness for our sins, we’re still held accountable for the results of our actions. Colossians 3:5-6 says, “ Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” God doesn’t turn a blind eye when we willfully sin against him.

It’s at this point we need to be honest with ourselves. We can have as much trouble mastering sin as Cain did. Yet, even though we have salvation in Jesus’ name, God holds us accountable for our actions just as he has throughout history.

So, how do we abstain from sin? Let’s look at two simple things we can do.

1-Repent of our sins. We have to ask God to forgive us and then make a conscious choice to quit doing the things God says we shouldn’t be doing. Our sinful habits won’t change until we quit justifying them in our minds.

2-Walk with God. This is important. Remember that Jeremiah 6:16 says that when we walk the right path, God gives us supernatural rest for our souls. The closer we walk with God, the more freedom he has to work in us. The more God works in us, the less we want to sin.

It’s so easy to turn a blind eye to the sins we have in our lives. But God doesn’t. Let’s remember that, repent and then walk with him. We’ll be glad we did on Judgment Day.