Thursday, September 8, 2016

Seven Deadly Sins - #8 - LAST THINGS

Thursday, September 8, 2016
 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.  Philippians 1:10(NLT)

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it.  The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.  I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.  And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead.  And all were judged according to their deeds.  Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire.  This lake of fire is the second death.  And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:11-15(NLT)

The “Deadly” part of Deadly Sins is our focus today as we end this series.  Paul writes to the church at Philippi to encourage them to live pure and blameless lives.  And this is not just so Paul will have a model group which he can hold up as his trophy.  Rather it is because Christ will one day judge everything, and Paul wants them to be on the right side of that judgment.

Pictured in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting is the risen Lord, Jesus Christ on the Judgment Seat; there are angels blowing the trumpets announcing the judgment, apostles and saints meeting Christ in the air, and those who will remain condemned forever below. 

These pictures place before us all of the issues of life which really matter; simply put, we have before us the challenge and consequences of Eden:  fall and redemption.

The serpent’s temptation to Eve centered on the choice to obey God, or go one’s own way.  Consider how the seven deadly sins are wrapped up in the microcosm of original sin:

Greed, sloth, lust, envy, gluttony, pride and anger are the possibilities contained in any temptation.  For Eve, the debate began with Satan’s question, poking the elephant in the room, namely that God had something (knowledge and power) which He was holding back from the mortals.  Scripture doesn’t specifically name this, but who couldn’t imagine the anger rising over such a realization? 

The longer the conversation developed between the serpent and the woman, the more the pride of life became the festering issues of:  greed to possess, lust to gain power, gluttony to have it now, sloth to harvest without working, all driven by envy and anger over Eve thinking she had somehow been short-changed by God.

The reality which Eve missed, and, apparently Adam never even considered as he joined his mate in sinning, was that God wasn’t holding anything back.  God had placed them in a perfect environment with everything working and beautiful.  Chief among the gifts wasn’t knowledge contained in the central tree’s forbidden fruit, but rather free will which God had lovingly granted to His creation, so that they could choose love.  The command of God to abstain from eating that fruit was all the knowledge mankind needed, and the one thing mankind wouldn’t do without! 

You cannot miss the way this still plays out today when a mother, wanting to preserve the child’s appetite for supper, tells her two year old to stay out of the cookie jar; you know what will happen!  With that first step towards the forbidden ground something is spoiled.  The mother placed a prohibition around that cookie jar; the child loses not only his appetite for supper, but the ability to freely embrace or be embraced by his mother.  Choosing selfishly, children blunt the ability to receive or give love.

Sin causes separation…deadly separation from a loving God.  And we choose it!  And then we are helpless to do anything to UN-choose it.  Hence the nail-prints in the hands and feet of our Lord – the pierced side and crown of thorns.  We chose that as well when we cried crucifyAnd yet, he still chose to take the death of our sins on himself.

For You Today

Have you any praise for the One who knew your sins, and loved you anyway?

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image:  Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) or follower [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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