Sharing by: Pam Crawford
Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV)
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must noteat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
“Blessed are those that wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 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 Morning Start.”
MAKING A U-TURN
If I have learned anything over the past ten years of studying the Word of God, it is that we cannot pick and choose what we’re going to obey if we desire to experience Heaven. Although God has certainly given us a choice to either accept His Word, or reject it; I would caution you and me that there are hefty consequences awaiting those who willfully choose to discard or adjust the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) to fit our personal desires. Please don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. You can begin with Revelation 20:15, “If anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The Bible teaches that on the “Day of Judgment” the books will be opened. In these books both good and evil will be recorded. There will be a clear account of my life and yours. I envision the ledger sheet inside the book will list a detailed description of the good and evil we have done while on this earth. Some of you might prefer to envision this as a modern day Excel spreadsheet showing different columns. What I want you to notice here is that the “Book of Life” is going to contain the names of those who have put their trust in Christ to save them. If that is not you, this will probably make no sense at all. But please, do not stop reading. In fact, maybe you could just ask the God of the Holy Bible to help you understand what I am sharing today. I know He can and I know He wants your name written in that book. Maybe you would just look up John 3:16 in the New Testament and let it resonate deep in your heart before reading on.
It is important that we stop here to define this “good and evil” we’re referencing. I’m not going to Webster’s or dictionary.com; I am just going to offer a good “common sense” definition for the column marked “good” and the column marked “evil.” Are you ready? “Good” is the detailed information indicating obedience to God, and “evil” is the detailed information indicating disobedience to God. You might have been expecting “good” to refer to a list of all the “good things” you have done, and the evil to list all the “bad things,” like stealing little Jimmy’s eraser in the 1st grade and lying about it. Hang in there as this is not about causing condemnation, this is about learning. I want us to focus on the column next to “evil” marked “grace.” Above this column is a check mark. It’s a mark we receive when we move from “evil” to “good,” disobedience to obedience. It might be better understood as the mark of repentance. Because I finally admitted to taking that eraser from Jimmy, there would be a check mark under the “grace” column. Even though stealing an eraser as an example was for humor, there is nothing funny about minimizing sin. Whether it was an eraser or embezzling millions of dollars, Biblically, God considers it all sin.
So often we associate God’s wrath with disobedience. If we don’t do what God says, He’s going to be angry. You’re right to think that He is not happy when we are disobedient, but we cannot overlook the grace that is offered when one repents. Today I want us to associate the word hope with the word repentance. When we choose to turn from our sins, God has something to work with. I am not saying that there will not be consequences for sin, but when we have a repentant heart we are willing to learn from our mistakes and hopefully work at not repeating them. When God begins to show you something and you’re willing to work at it, you are in process of obedience. This should be a goal for all of us.
I have a challenge for us. Let’s take some time today to really look within. Let’s see this lesson as life and death. Too many people are walking around this earth today with a false sense of security; I was one of them for a very long time. Having your name in the “Book of Life” is more than just saying a salvation prayer. My friends it’s about more than being a “good person” or doing the church thing. It’s about being obedient as a result of the gift of grace. Genuine salvation will have the check mark of repentance. You will be different. When you find yourself sinning, you will recognize it as something that grieves your Heavenly Father and you will desire to turn from it. Honoring God is an action. You won’t be perfect, but you’ll be in progress.
At this point in my life I am at a place where I now grieve over my sin. It certainly wasn’t always that way. Yes, I use to feel bad, but that’s about how far it went. I know there is something different in me today. I now view my sin as hurting the One who loves me so much that He would give up His life so that I could live. I wish I could tell you that I have conquered sin, but that would be more sin. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have to come before God to ask for forgiveness for something I may have thought, spoke, or did wrong in my day. Some days are better than others, but my human nature and living in this fallen world is tough. I have to learn daily to put away my bad choices (Ephesians 4:31) and live faithfully before God. Although I have not yet arrived, I am grateful that the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) is available to help me every step of the way. I know I will be called to answer for my “evils,” but I smile when I think that God added that column of grace for me. He is interested in seeing that we got the lessons as painful as they might be. Friends, when we admit that we are sinners we get to live. Praise God!
Willful sin will keep us separated from God. If you discover that you have been walking in the wrong direction, may I please urge you to turn around today. Let God put your name in His Book. Go before Him with a genuine heart of repentance and receive your mark. Take the gift of grace and be blessed.
Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
"What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?"
In Christ by grace,
In Christ by grace,