A lot of people think of God as a tyrant or bully. But why would people think like that? God gave us life and breath, yet we are angry because He has rules or boundaries.
God gives us rules and boundaries to protect us. But He also gives them to us because we are prone to sin and wander. God wants us to be reconciled to Him, but we would rather do our own thing.
We are autonomous, which basically means we want to live our lives independent of God. When we sin, or break His laws, we know we have done wrong. We know that He will not be pleased, so we end up with guilt and shame. Not only that, but God will have to punish us for our sins and wrongdoings.
Jesus explained that there are two great commandments. One of them is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The other commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. If your love for yourself is small, then your love for your neighbor is small. But human beings don’t have that problem. Human beings do love themselves. But in comparison, we do not love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
If you received a check for $10,000, who would you share it with? Would you split it with your best friend, or would you evenly dole out the money to each or your children? I don’t think any of us would do that, unless it was in a will that was prepared beforehand. I doubt if any of us would share our newly acquired money. Plus, we would justify what we did with it by saying that we are going to invest it or use it toward our college tuitions for our children. There is nothing wrong with that either, but, the point is that it would probably never enter our minds to share it with others, especially those who are trying to pay their bills, yet always coming up short, or to give it to someone we know who is looking for a job, so they can buy an outfit to wear during the interview. I know how selfish I could be if I were to find money!
The 10 Commandments were designed for a couple of reasons, but one of them specifically has to do with today’s topic. God gave us the 10 Commandments so that we would be tutored and guided into understanding that God is completely holy and we are completely sinful. No one can study the 10 Commandments and have the assurance that they have always kept them perfectly. The 10 Commandments show us that we are sinners. We need to know we are sinners before we can be saved from sin. Let’s look at them briefly.
1. You (meaning the Israelites and us) shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make any graven images of God. (Idolatry)
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God, in vain. (Using God’s name as a cuss word).
4. You shall keep the Sabbath Day holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not kill (murder – anger can be murder of the heart)
7. You shall not commit adultery. (Stay faithful to one spouse. No lustful eyes allowed – Matt. 5:28)
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness (tell lies).
10.You shall not covet (wanting something so badly)
There are other rules and boundaries in the Bible, but you have to remember that we cannot keep those rules and when we break them, there is punishment. God punishes lawbreakers. God calls them ‘trespassers’.
Occasionally, there will be a yard or property that has a sign saying, ‘No Trespassing’. You are not allowed past the boundary onto the forbidden property. But that is exactly what we do when we sin. We go in territory that we don’t belong in.
Trespassers are lawbreakers. God gives us the boundaries, and we always go past them though. God created this world without flaw, in the beginning, yet, after Adam and Even sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, they were now trespassers. In fact, an angel with a flaming sword protected the Garden of Eden and stood in the front so Adam and Eve could not come back into the Garden.
Now we are all trespassers. But, there is One who holds the ‘pass’, so to speak. We have made a mess of God’s world because of our sin, but God in His mercy provided a cure for us, and a way was made so that we would no longer be trespassers in His land.
Around 2,000 years ago, God in His compassion sent His only Son to earth. His mother, a teenage girl, became pregnant without ever having a relationship with a man! God was the Father of this child who was born. This child grew up and although He spent only 33 years on this planet, the impact of His life has changed the whole course of the world.
This man lived a perfect life, and never, not even one time, broke any of the commandments. Yet, He was on trial for things that He was accused of doing, but in reality, He had not done. He died in our place because we needed an atonement.
An atonement is a covering for sin. Since God has to punish all sin, we always need a covering for our sins when we approach God. From the beginning of time, human beings have sacrificed animals to atone for their sins. When Adam and Eve sinned, they covered themselves with fig leaves, but God took an animal and killed it and they were covered with this animal’s skin instead of the fig leaves.
All the Old Testament Fathers (Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) knew that something had to cover over our sins. During the time of the first Passover, Moses was instructed by God to have all the Israelite families to kill a lamb (one without any blemishes) and to take the blood of the lamb and put it on the door posts in the houses. Any family that did not follow those directions would have a family member die that night when the Death Angel passed over the land. Israel was living in Egypt at that time, and the Egyptian rulers were very mean and defiant toward God. God was very patient with them but they did not repent, so, when the Death Angel came over the land that night, every home in Egypt had someone who died. The wailing was so loud because of the deaths that occurred. But those who put the blood of the lamb on the door posts were protected and did not have anyone die in their homes. God led the Israelites out of Egypt after that so they could go into their own land. This was the first Passover. It is called Passover because the Death Angel passed over the homes with the blood of the lamb on the door posts.
When Jesus came to earth, around 2,000 years ago, He became the ‘Passover Lamb’. In John 1:29, John the Baptist called Jesus ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. He lived a perfect, sinless life, yet He died because we our sinful and need an atonement for our sins. He also rose again from the grave and is alive today. One day He will return to earth to bring His own with Him, and to judge those who do not know Him and are still in their sins.
We sin whenever we break the commandments. We sin simply by not loving God perfectly. We sin by not loving our neighbors perfectly. (Neighbors are people who we know like friends, family, relatives, co-workers, cashiers, acquaintances, teachers, bosses, in-laws, those in our churches, etc.). We think we love God, but we can tell if we really do by looking at our schedules, check books, friends, activities, etc. Our words betray us and give us the evidence of what we really love and have affections for. What do your actions reveal about your heart and affections?
If we could perfectly love God, we would be able to keep the commandments all the time, without ever faltering. But since we can’t, that is why we need a Savior. That is why we need a covering for our sins. That is what Jesus provides for us today.
Having an atonement for our sins involves much more than just going to heaven after we die. God created each one of us to have a relationship with Him, and He wants us to be reconciled to Him, but we can’t be reconciled until our sin problem is taken care of. Jesus paid the price for our sins. We must respond to God by letting go of our sins and our ‘rights’ to ourselves and our selfishnesses. We also need to turn to God and trust in what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We do not have to find any lambs today to sacrifice for the covering for our sins. Jesus died one time, and that is enough for God to accept as a complete atonement that pays for every person’s sins, for all time. Each person must respond though, or it will do him or her no good. What will your choice be?