Religion Still Doesn’t Work

Since nearly the beginning, sin has separated man from God and with it has brought sorrow, sickness, and emptiness in the heart of man. Throughout time, man has sought to overcome these troubles in his life and to accomplish it created religious acts or rituals, which were intended to appease God of his wrath or at the least turn away the consequences of sin that he faced.

These acts involved offering to God everything from crops to human sacrifices, the punishment of sinners or the punishment of themselves. Always, the results were unsuccessful. David described it best when he spoke to the Lord concerning his own condition.

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. (Psalms 38:4)

The load of sin that looms over the head of every man is so great that no religious act could ever remove the effect or its debt.

Several decades ago, a teenaged girl attended a local carnival. When she failed to return home, a search was made and eventually her lifeless body was found. For more than 30 years, law-enforcement searched for the suspected killer: who was eventually found. Should he be held for trial? Of course he should! Regardless of how long ago the event occurred, he should still be held accountable.

But what if he was found living a respectable life? What if he, for the last 20 years, had been doing a great humanitarian work? Should he still be held for trial? Should he still be charged even if he has been so sorry for his crime? The answer is a resounding, Yes! He committed a crime and the penalty for that crime must be paid.

For the last 6,000 years, man has been trying to avoid paying the penalty for his sin. But regardless of what he does, the holy righteous God still requires complete payment for sins committed. The only hope for all men would be for God to determine a way for someone else to pay the debt that man owed. God did and that person was himself. He came to earth as human. Born of a virgin, he live a lonely life and yet did not sin. Throughout his entire life he did not commit one sin. For the remaining three years of his life, he taught and performed miracles to declare who it was and the purpose for his coming to earth. Then as foretold by God, he was rejected by his people, judged by the government and punished on the cross.

However God’s purpose for allowing all this to occur was so that he could place all the sin of humanity upon himself as he hung on the cross. The beatings and torture done to Jesus were extremely grave, but nothing in comparison to the punishment that God, while still yet also in heaven, punished himself as he lived as a human hanging on the cross.

Only until Jesus cried, “It is finished!” was mankind given any hope. When Jesus finished, he was finished paying the wages for our sins – yours and mine.

For those, who continue striving to pay for their own sins or are relying on religious acts to appease God’s wrath for sin will continue to fall short and carry the burden of their sin debt. Those who call upon Christ to bear there sin, will find the relief that they need. No longer is the burden of sin going over their head or too much to bear, the burden has been removed and the payment has been made. None of their sins committed have gone unpunished. Instead of them paying the debt, someone else paid the debt for them.

In America, we have discovered that countless people have been falsely charged, found guilty and sentenced for crimes that they had never committed. Society, unknowing of their wrong, was still satisfied because the penalty of the crime was being paid.  

In your case, Jesus willingly took the charge, allowed himself to be found guilty and then paid your complete payment for sin. So that your salvation could take place when you call out to Jesus and trust that he will save you.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)


Propped Up (Psalm 37:23-24)

A number of years ago, my son came to me for help. It seemed that through a series of wrong decisions, he had found himself in a very poor state spiritually: sin seems to do that. Although I was greatly disappointed, I willfully stepped in to help. My support was not based on the severity of his situation, but instead on my love for him.   

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24

From this passage, we can see that good men, walking in the direction of the Lord, will fall and it is not of their own volition that they get back up and continue on for the Lord. They don’t get up: in fact it is the Lord who lifts them up and supports them to stand again.

You have seen card board cut outs of people, which contain a prop in the back to keep it standing. This item illustrates what the Lord does for us. When we can’t get up, he picks us up. When we cannot stand, he props us up. Whatever victory we get, it will not be based on our self will or determination. It will be based on the goodness of God and his support and strength in our lives.

When you fall, instead of trying harder, look to God for the support and strength you need. He will be there for you and do the work that only he can do.

As for my son, he too found strength that only God could bring to him. He stood him up, established his feet and has been guiding him to victory ever since.

Love not the World (1 John 2:15)

What is loving the world?  Simply stated, it is the opposite of loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  The question is, what in the world should I not love?  I love flowers, gardens, dogs, etc. They are in the world, but are they that part of the world to which I should avoid?  What were the first century Christians admonished to avoid?  It wasn’t cell phones, the Internet, or TV?  How can I tell what this passage means?

So many have attempted to answer this by creating lists of items, things or actions that they deem to be “of this world”.  They created more of a problem than a help.  For the moment, forget about the lists and consider what God says.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  (1 John 2:15-16)

God defines loving the world with the examples of lust and pride.  The contents of “the world” are things we lust after.  We lust after that which is not God’s will for our lives.  Lusting for a woman who is not your wife, coveting or lusting after the possessions of your neighbor or even lusting after a $500,000 house are some typical examples of this behavior. 

So, what must I do to keep from loving the world?  Love God and be content with what he has provided and you will be fine.  However, be dissatisfied or look over the proverbial fence for what you think may bring satisfaction to your soul in place of God and his provision and you will be guilty of this principle.

It is fine to have nice clothes, a new car and a beautiful house to live in: just keep them in the proper perspective.

Prayers Not Heard (Psalm 66:18)

Why is it that sometimes God hears my prayers and at other times does not? What determines if God will hear them? When I need God, I want to make sure that he is attentive to my requests. As a sinner, I know that I sin daily, but there have been times that God seemed to hear my prayers in spite of me sinning. Why is that so?

The affection of your heart determines God’s attention to your prayer. (If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Psalms 66:18). It is not so much the sin, but the affection that our heart has towards it that motivates his response. When we regard sin in our heart, we are holding it dear to ourselves. Our heart’s focus is on the sin and our desire to keep and enjoy it. It is this heart condition that is really divided against God, which causes him not to be attentive to our prayers.

Remember when you were lost in your sin? You then heard the gospel and your heart was changed. Instead of wanting to hold on to your sin or have regard for it, you disdained it. You experienced what the bible calls repentance. It was that change of heart that brought attention to your call to the savior. I remember calling out to Jesus throughout my entire childhood to have him as savior. I believed he was the savior. I knew he died on the cross to pay for my sins, but my heart kept getting in the way. It was not until I was nearly 22 years of age before my heart was changed and that change made all the difference with my prayer. No longer was I regarding sin in my heart and finally my prayer was answered.

Remember, it isn’t any different today. We still sin and we still need God to answer our prayers. Thankfully we do not need to live a sinless life in order to get prayers answered. What we do need is a heart that wants God instead of wanting to hold on to sin.