Posts Tagged ‘grace’

In Romans 11:22 Paul says, “note then the kindness and the severity of God . . ..” He goes on to speak of God’s severity toward those that walk in unbelief and sin, but kindness to those who choose God’s way.

I want to focus on two things: I want to show you the danger of walking in sin. It’s dangerous because of the severity of God’s judgment on us when we do, not just on the final day – but even now. I want to show you why you should fear sin, even dabbling with it. But I also want to show you the depth of God’s kindness and mercy to those who turn from their sin to walk in God’s way. I want to encourage you to turn from any sin in your life and come to God so that you will know this kindness.

First –

God’s severity

There are seven stages in a downward spiral of judgment and destruction on us when we continue in sin.

1. Our sin separates us from God. As Jesus says in Mark 7:23, our sin comes from our heart’s wrong desires and when we act on them, we are defiled. We become filthy and unfit to be in God’s presence.

  • As Ephesians 4:18 says, we are “alienated” from God
  • Isaiah 59:2 says, “your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear you.”

Our relationship with God is broken.

2. God gives us over to the power of sin. We see this in Romans 1. It says several times that God “gave them up” to their sin. This is our judgment. God says, “You want sin? You can have it! And that’s your judgment.”

Just like the Israelites of old, when they desired to be like the nations around them and worship their gods. God gave them over to those nations and their gods and they suffered greatly under them.

So it is with us. Jesus said in John 8:34, “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” In Romans 6 Paul portrays sin as a “power,” a god or a master that enslaves us so that we do its will.

When we sin, we think, “I can do my own thing! I’m free! All those ‘rules’ God wants to put on me . . . not anymore!” But in fact, sin masters us, just like a drug addiction. It rules us and it ruins our lives under its tyranny. Romans 7:15 portrays this well. Here, even though the person wants to stop sinning, they can’t. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” Sin becomes our master.

3. The spirit of Satan comes into our lives. When we remain in sin, we grieve the Spirit of God. We quench the Spirit. We drive the Spirit of God out of our lives. But not only that, we open our lives to Satan to work in and through us. We are in effect saying, “Satan, I agree with you and your way; the way of rebellion.”

Judas is our example here. Just before he betrayed Jesus it says, “Satan entered into him” – John 13:27. Ephesians 2:2 says that Satan is “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” This refers to anyone who walks in sin. As 2 Timothy 2:26 says, we are held captive by the devil “to do his will.”

4. We suffer brokenness and pain. The power of sin and Satan gradually destroys us in one way or another. Sin is like a vicious, malignant cancer in our inner person that brings destruction and death to every part of us.

We lose our wholeness:

  • Our soul is wounded and disfigured.
  • Our physical and mental health suffers.
  • Our relationships with others become broken.

This is the irony of sin: we choose it because we think it will make us happy. We think that God’s way is too hard. Sin is easier; our way is better. But in reality it makes us miserable and destroys us.

Now we come to the lower end of this downward spiral of judgment and destruction. When we cling to our sin in rebellion against God . . .

5. Our minds are darkened. We come to think that our sin is a good thing; even though it’s destroying us. We become deluded in our thinking and blind to the truth. This is a fearful judgment from God!

Several texts describe this reality: Ephesians 4:17-18 says, “you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God.” Romans 1:21 says, “for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.”

God makes fools out of us! We who think we are so wise that we can choose our own way! We come to think that good is evil and evil is good and laugh at anyone who disagrees with us. We think the very thing that is destroying us is what we need.

6. God hardens our hearts. God gives us an obstinate heart that desires more and more sin. Ephesians 4:19 speaks of those with a hardened heart. It says, “they have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

We become stubborn in our sin. No one can tell us that what we choose is wrong. When we walk in the flesh we become hostile to God’s way – Romans 8:7. We can’t stand to listen to God’s word to us.

This is also a fearful judgment from God because it keeps us in our sin so that, if there is no intervention, we will be destroyed.

7. Finally, we receive eternal death. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” James 1:15 says, “when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

Don’t even begin to think that this doesn’t apply to you because of this or that. It does. There are no exceptions to these Scriptures. If you continue in your sin you will die.

On that final day, we will hear from Jesus, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41)

Behold the severity of God! Realize the danger of sin. Fear it! Don’t even dabble with it.

But also recognize –

God’s Kindness

 – so that you might turn to him and be saved.

When we continue in our sin we are separated from God. But the kindness of God is this: 1. God provides his Son to reconcile us to himself. We can be cleansed and forgiven so that we can be in relationship to God. Romans 5:10 says, “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

When we continue in sin we are given over to the power of sin. But the kindness of God is this: 2. God delivers us from the power of sin. As Jesus said in John 8:35, “If the Son sets you free you are free indeed.” And there is no power of sin that is more powerful than the Lord Jesus. He can set us free!

When we continue in sin the spirit of Satan comes into our lives. But the kindness of God is this: 3. God fills us with his own Spirit. Luke 11:13 says, “The heavenly Father (will) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” This is what God does for his children.

When we continue in sin we suffer brokenness and misery. But the kindness of God is this: 4. God brings us wholeness and peace. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is (about) peace” that is, shalom or wholeness. Not everything is fixed. There are remaining scars from our sin. But God is merciful and helps us with our weaknesses and one day we will be fully made whole in the resurrection.

When we continue in sin our minds are darkened. But the kindness of God is this: 5. God enlightens our minds to know his way. We receive what 1 Timothy 2:4 calls, “the knowledge of the truth.”

When we continue in sin our hearts are hardened. But the kindness of God is this: 6. God strengthens us to do what is right. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

When we continue in sin we receive eternal death. But the kindness of God is this: 7. God gives us eternal life. Although the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23 says, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We will hear these words from Jesus on that final day, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)

Let me end with these words from Ezekiel 18:30-32, that speak of both the kindness and the severity of God and is an invitation for each of us to deal with any sin in our lives:

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”






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Lord’s Supper Devotional

We are celebrating the Lord’s supper today. And as we do we see a picture of Jesus’ death: the bread is broken and the cup is poured out. This is a representation to us of how his body was broken and his blood was poured out on the cross.

So as we remember Jesus’ death this morning I want us to focus in on a question – ‘Where would I be if Jesus hadn’t died for me?’ or ‘Where would you be if Jesus hadn’t died for you?’

For some of us, this is kind of hard – at least to be specific. For instance I began walking with the Lord when I was 14 – that’s when I was baptized and really began to take God seriously. What would my life have been like without this?

Others of us lived long enough in sin to have good idea of what our life would be like without Jesus. So perhaps it’s a bit easier.

This is how we will go about it. First I want us to look at Paul’s life before Christ. Then I want to say a few words about myself. And finally I will invite you to share briefly as well on the question – ‘Where would I be if Jesus hadn’t died for me?’


Paul was a proud Israelite, a religious scholar and a devoted zealot for the cause of Judaism. In Philippians 3:5-6 he speaks of how he was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.”

In Galatians 1:13-14 he said, “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.”

We see in these verses that he was a person of exquisite credentials with regard to Judaism. He was zealous, so much so that since he felt Jewish Christians were apostates to Judaism he persecuted them. And he was righteous, at least according to one standard.

But even with all this, his credentials, zeal and right behavior, he was going in the wrong direction. So wrong in fact that he found himself opposing God. He was sinning against God.

In 1 Timothy 1:13 he says, “. . . formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” This is now looking back at his life from God’s point of view. And then in v. 15  he says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” And I believe he is specifically talking about himself.

Just like so many people today, he was successful and hard working – but he was working toward the wrong goal.

Without Jesus’ love and death for him he would still have been in this life – zealously going in the wrong direction; fighting God. But Jesus took him and made him an apostle among apostles – and one who did a great work for God.


Let me say a few words about my own life. If Jesus hadn’t died for me I would still be under the guilt and shame of all my evil deeds. Carrying around this burden or living in denial. I was not a particularly “bad” person outwardly, but I was under the sway of that twisted self-centeredness that all of us are born with, that leads us to sin.

If it wasn’t for Jesus I would be stuck in the brokenness of my flesh; stuck with all of my weaknesses. The Spirit of God wouldn’t have come into my heart and changed me and help me to be different. A specific example would be anger. I was angry  growing up – ready to fight with anyone verbally or otherwise

If Jesus hadn’t died for me, I wouldn’t know God. I wouldn’t have a relationship with God. I don’t know what life would be like without being able to come to God in prayer; without God speaking to me, comforting me and helping me.

If it weren’t for Jesus I would have no hope for the future; that is for a life beyond this one where what God always intended for us will actually come to pass. And not the suffering and evil of this world.

If Jesus’ hadn’t given his life for me, I wouldn’t have a sense of life direction and purpose. This is a big one for me. For instance, if it wasn’t for Jesus calling me, I wouldn’t be up in front of people all the time. If you think I am shy now, you should have seen me before. If I didn’t think this was God’s will, and that God wouldn’t help me, I wouldn’t do it.

Also, if it wasn’t for Jesus, I would never have gone through the schooling that I did – college, seminary and graduate school. I was an average student in high school. I didn’t really care about school. But I did all this, more than I thought I could, because I felt that Jesus wanted me to.

And also, if it wasn’t for Jesus I would not have moved all over the country following after his calling on my life.

I have purpose now. I know what my life is about. And it brings be contentment and joy. And it has eternal value. Without Jesus I wouldn’t have any of this.


And now I invite you to share – ‘Where would you be if Jesus hadn’t died for you?’

William Higgins

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