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Sin Plain and Simple

“Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips , and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5 [NASB]

Image result for broken bridgeGod is transcendent. That is He exists outside of His Creation and He is not subject to its constraints. He is also holy. There is no sin in Him.

Just as He is infinitely above the caterpillar and the archangel, so He is infinitely above all sin. As much as food chains, corporate ladders, caste systems and authority hierarchies are leveled before Him, so every shade of sin stretches out to separate us from our God [Isaiah 59:2; 1 John 3:9].

Individual sins are indistinct from sin’s totality. The parts equal to the whole rather than the reverse.

As humans though, we tend to classify and, often times, justify sins by ranking them according to our perception of not-so-bad to absolutely-horrible. Lies are little and white, hence, not-so-bad. Murder, especially obsessive serial killings or mass genocides are absolutely-horrible. We don’t want to accept that while some sins seem harmless or invisible, only earning a human slap on the wrist, that they could in any way equate to unspeakable, violent crimes against humanity.

But in God’s eyes, sin is sin. Every act of moral disobedience that stems from the spirit of self-as-god–that foundational thought that says I am basically good, so therefore I should be allowed to choose all things for myself. [And, by the way, we are each allowed to choose all things for ourselves; Joshua 24:15. But therein lies the rub! Because everybody choosing for themselves leads to problems. No government would ever stand with such a willy-nilly system. There would be no end of conflict and no resolution either.] Every  godless, irreverent, shake-a-fist-at-heaven or deny God’s existence defiance. Every perversion of His design for us–whether in word or deed, whether in body or in spirit, whether in self or in another–all is sin. Plain and simple.

All of it separates us from our holy God. All of it was pardoned by Christ’s blood shed on the cross.

But we have to recognize our distance from our Creator God. We have to understand that the gap between us is called sin. We have to know that all we like sheep have gone astray, everyone turning to their own ways [Isaiah 53:6]. That all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. That we are each born in sin, with the proclivity to do what is right in our own eyes [Judges 17:6 & 21:25].

For it is from the honest recognition of our true sinful station that we can understand our need for Christ and Him crucified [John 3:16].

Do you see sins in shades of grey? Ask the Holy Spirit to sharpen your focus on God’s holiness. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal divine transcendence to you in light of the truth of eternity.



Divine Transcendence

“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on heaven and earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of His people.” Psalm 113:4-8

hand animal wildlife finger green insect macro butterfly invertebrate caterpillar crawling worm larva macro photography moths and butterfliesGod is transcendent. He exists outside of His Creation and He is not subject to its constraints.

As theologian A.W. Tozer put it, “[God] is as high above an archangel as He is above a caterpillar, for the gulf which separates the archangel from the caterpillar is but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite.” He goes on to explain that both caterpillar and archangel are created and, therefore, they themselves are not God. So God is infinitely above them both as He is infinitely above all things.

Hierarchies exist only in creature understanding. We rank things in our mind as a means of prioritizing or categorizing. We view levels of authority in this life. But all of this is just a dress up game in light of eternity.

God does not show favoritism because all is subject to Him [Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11]. When humans show favoritism it’s a jockeying of position within the hierarchy–you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or if I’m seen with someone more popular, then I will appear more popular too.

But God has no need of favors or ego and popularity boosts. He transcends, exists outside of the social strata-sphere. Regardless of what people think of Him, He will always continue to be everything that He is–perfectly and infinitely. No one and no thing will ever compare to our great God.

Is God limited by your imaginations of Him? Is He confined to the highest rank on your finite hierarchy of authority? Or do you know Him to exist outside all created limits?


Plans and Purposes

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

Pillar, Church, Sun, Sunlight, Light, Afternoon, SunsetIf predestination is not an actual thing, then how can God’s purposes prevail over mans plans and man still have free will?

All of our plans concern the temporal, or time-bound world in which we live. From a young age, we dream and scheme about our future–houses, cars, jobs, vacations, having lots of money, getting married and having children or not. We love to plan about what we will do with our time, talent and money when we are old enough to choose for ourselves.

But God’s purposes exist outside of our time parameters. For His purpose is one, to redeem His Creation to Himself. None of the earthly effects that we gain or achieve will last, for none of them can pass with us into eternity. But many of them will bind up our hearts and minds in this life so that we lose sight of what we were truly made for.

Look at the life of Samson. Before he was born, an angel of the Lord announced the purpose of Samson’s life to his parents. He would deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines [Judges 13:1-5]. Did that mean that Samson wasn’t free to choose his own way?

Absolutely not!

Just look at how his story ends. He chose to carouse with a Philistine woman. He chose to indulge her and tell the secret of his strength. He chose to then fall asleep while trusting her after she’d already proved herself untrustworthy on three previous occasions. And as a result of Samson’s choices–made in his own free will–Samson gets captured, put in prison and his eyes gouged out by his enemies [Judges 16:1-22].

God didn’t desire any of that for him! But He did purpose that Samson would deliver Israel.

One day in prison, he remembered his purpose and, finding that his strength had returned, chose to fulfill what God had called him to do. Because of his previous choices, it cost Samson his life [Judges 16:23-30]. But even this was Samson’s choice. God didn’t make him decide to fulfill his purpose in this time and in this way. But God had always known how Samson would choose.

The thing about God is that, we are made in His image. And we were made to hope. The scriptures show us that God hopes too [Deuteronomy 5:29]. And just as our hope is in Him, His hope is in us. He knows that He knows that He knows what we will choose. But He hopes and He hopes and He hopes that we will choose life and to have it to the full [John 10:10]. Because He loves us.

Will you take a lesson from Samson? No doubt your plans are many, but God has a purpose for your life. Do you know what it is? Are you living out your purpose? Or are your choices all the things you want to do because you can?


What If?

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star.'” Revelation 22:16

Image result for book with no coverThe scriptures mention the angel of the Lord about seventy times [Genesis 16:7-11, 22:11-15; Exodus 3:2; Numbers 22:22-35; et al]. It is often said that this idea is difficult to translate accurately. Sometimes it seems like an angel, while other times it seems like a Christophany–Jesus Himself, in a pre-incarnate [before He was born in the flesh] appearance.

However, both Revelation 1:1 and 22:16 tell us that Jesus sent His angel to reveal these writings to John. Could it be that the angel of the Lord, then, is a title for a specific angel who is Jesus’ personal messenger to humankind?

Regardless of whether or not this is the case, the purpose of this message bearer to John is to testify to the churches. In John’s day, they were seven specific churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor [Revelation 1:4 & 1:20], but the letters were not to be dismantled because the truth therein was to be for all the church for all remaining earthly time [Revelation 22:9-10].

And in fact, the book of Revelation is extremely important for the authority of Scriptures. Yes, all of it is God-breathed [2 Timothy 3:16], that is not in question. But imagine a Bible without the book of Revelation. Imagine after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, if those same heavens fell quiet, the apostles carried on their earthly ministry and the New Testament ended with the letters of early church history.

But just as the God’s spoken Word began the Biblia or the sacred books, so the spoken Word of Christ brings them to the end. Christians living in the Roman Empire, and every believer after, needed to hear from their risen Savior about what they would experience and why–what was coming that transcended all of this earthly trouble. When and how we would one day be united with Him for eternity.

He is the beginning of our understanding and the end as well [Revelation 1:8, 22:13]. He did not come to bring us the light of truth, just to leave us in darkness about where everything leads [John 1:5]. Countless heresies had arisen in the first few decades after Jesus’ ascension–when He wasn’t physically present to set them to right, but He refused to leave the lies unaddressed, to allow us to fall back into the waywardness of our sinful predisposition.

As the long prophesied Root of Jesse and Offspring of David to the house of Israel [Isaiah 9:7, 11:1 & 10; Romans 15:12; Revelation 5:5], and as the true bright and morning star to the Gentile nations [Isaiah 14:12; 2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 2:28 & 22:16], He spoke into the confusion of sin that sought to overshadow His ascension. He remembered us–kept us in mind as worthy of consideration–loving us all the way to eternity and back just as He always has.

And He spoke. Light into the darkness. Life into the death consuming our heart and mind. Revelation into the confusion.

Satan again would leverage confusion about the understanding of scriptures and end times events to bar the faith-gates of our hearts. But what if God’s people returned to His Word for understanding? What if we received the Revelation that was so freely given to us? What if we let it penetrate everything that we are and we lived it to the fullest?


Now and For All

“Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.’ ‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.'” Revelation 22:10-12

See the source imageBooks, in John’s day, primarily referred to scrolls–though stitched codices of papyrus also existed which were more like modern books. Scrolls were sealed to ensure that only the intended recipient read what was written and so that it could not be tampered with. But the angel instructs John not to seal this letter before sending it to the churches.

Why not? Because the time to read it is now. And everyone is the intended recipient.

Unlike the prophetic visions given to Daniel which were to happen so long from when Daniel wrote that God commanded them to be sealed until the appropriate time [8:26]. Many fictions have been written, imagining how people in the past would respond to visitors, technology or information from the distant future. It never goes well. Mostly because sinful human beings can’t handle this kind of understanding. They exploit it for selfish gain, rather than use it to the glory of God as they ought.

Moreover, in Daniel’s day, people received the messianic prophecies and needed to focus their minds on understanding these so they would recognize Jesus when He came. Prophecies that concerned the end of the Creation–things that would happen well after the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry–were not easily processed since the Messiah hadn’t yet come.

But now in John’s day, the angel says to let everyone continue in their own way. The time is so near to Jesus’ return, that those who refuse to acknowledge God and live Godly lives–despite the light in the world–are to be left to their own demise. We are to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of the world, though they refuse to perceive it [John 1:5]. We are to learn and understand God’s Word. To study and show ourselves approved [2 Timothy 2:15]. To go into all nations making disciples and baptizing [Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16].

More than that, we are to let the Word of God permeate and wholly change our lives [James 1:24]. Those who accept and believe will be rewarded for the things the gospel works through them. But those who do not believe will be condemned [Mark 16:15-16].

The time to know, understand and live the Word of God is now. Do you?


Godly Litmus Test

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” Revelation 22:8-9

See the source imageNow John was already corrected once for falling down in worship before an angel [Revelation 19:10]. That angel had also been one of the seven who poured out a bowl of God’s final wrath just as this one did. That angel had taken John to show him what happened to Babylon and all those who made their beds with false religion. Whereas this angel shows John what will happen to the faithful, the bride of Christ, the redeemed of the Lord.

Falling down at someone’s feet, in John’s day, was the sign of highest respect and awe. Perhaps he thought that this second angel was somehow higher in the hierarchy of heavenly authority for showing him the wedding feast of the Lamb and the New Jerusalem–God’s blessing and reward rather than His wrath and punishment. Perhaps, he lost sight of the earlier prohibition in his excitement.

Whichever the reason, clearly John was swept up in great emotion, desiring to praise the one who had brought him such great news. Imagine someone telling you that the very thing you’ve always wanted is real and yours for the taking. Wouldn’t you want to jump up and down, cheering, and maybe even hug that person? In our day, that’s a sign of respect and awe in exciting situations.

But with God, there is no favoritism [Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6]–the angel who proclaims His wrath is not favored any more or any less than the one who proclaims His goodness.

Because we all have been created equal, and God is above all [Psalm 113:4], no created being should worship another. Only God, who created us both, is worthy to receive our praise and our worship.

And only a servant of God deflects worship from self to rightly direct it back to the Most High alone [Matthew 7:15-20].

Run this litmus test on the people, things and ideas in your life. Are they of God? Do they draw your attention from or direct your worship to God alone?


Makeshift Light

“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.'” Revelation 22:3-6

Image result for lamps at nightThe curse of sin will be wiped away [Genesis 3:14-19; Zechariah 14:11; Revelation 7:15-17], because God will dwell there with us. And where He is, sin cannot be also [1 John 3:8-10]. And in ancient times, criminals were banished from the presence of the king. They could never hope to have an audience with him.

But the New Jerusalem is the true Holy of Holies that was foreshadowed in the earthly tabernacle and temple, and, this time, everyone will be able to stand in His presence and live–not just a sanctified priest making a right sacrifice.

For only the pure in heart–the forgiven–will enter heaven and see God [Matthew 5:8]–we who have believed on His Son Jesus [John 3:16] and, by God’s grace, have been made righteous through that faith [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We will bear Christ’s name on our foreheads just as the one’s who were sealed in the Great Tribulation [Revelation 14:1]. And just as God commanded His chosen people nearly 3,400 years ago, we who love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength we who have His commands written on our hearts and bound to our foreheads, we who make our earthly dwelling with God will have our eternal dwelling with Him as well [Deuteronomy 6:4-8; John 14:2-3].

God Himself is our light–here on this earth and forevermore [Psalm 119:105; John 1:4-12; Revelation 21:23-25]. Every other light source is just a makeshift copy and pattern of God’s true splendor. And just as the shards of precious gems and gold in the earth should turn our eyes to the heaven for which we were made, so also should the sight of light turn our hearts to Him who is light. It should call to remembrance the eternity that God set in our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11] and, understanding, draw us closer to Him.

Everything points our attention back to our Creator and loving Father God, the Almighty, the Sovereign of all. Everything from rocks to light are here to remind every human being who we truly are–God’s Holy people, set apart from the Creation [Daniel 7:27] with the express intention that we should rule the earth [Revelation 20:4]. Instead, sin gives Satan the authority that is rightly ours. He becomes the prince and ruler of the air [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. In deceiving us to think that we can be our god [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14], the devil has actually set himself up as the god of this earthly age [2 Corinthians 4:4].

But the faithful will and have already overcome by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. We will no only inherit eternal life, but we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever, just as He always intended. And, these word are true, spoken by the One Who Is Truth [Revelation 19:9 & 21:5]. You can take them to the bank of heaven and live [Matthew 6:19-20].

Do you see by the makeshift lights of earth–lamps and torches, sun, moon and stars? Or are your eyes full of the light of truth [Matthew 6:22-23]?