Looking at Sin (from Idolatry, Lust, Anger, and Jealousy)
By Benjamin H. Liles
There are things in my life I have done, said, lived out, possibly planned and carried out, and even do that I never on intending to do. Paul said this, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I? would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15, New American Standard). Have you ever woken up after doing this "one thing" you said you wouldn't do and find out you've done exactly that? I know I have. If you ever had the thought, "I will not get angry. I will not give into this being mad for no reason. I know if I do it will be bad." And then yet you do it, and the next day you wake up, even though you apologized for it you still feel bad over it. Is that God reprimanding you for the sin, or is that now guilt which the enemy uses on you?
Idolatry has the same effect. Idolatry can best be defined as "anything that takes the place of God." When idolatry is put into effect it says that what God does truly doesn't mean anything, and that this "idol" that has been served is certainly more important than God. And therein lies the real heartache. Idolatry in itself is the thing God hates.
If you think about serving God it brings this love of God into the open fully, and truly brings your heart before God that says, "Anything that is not of you, Lord, must go, in the name of Jesus. Anything that takes precedence over you, I want You to remove it." And He starts dealing with it, whether it's money, television, computer (gasp! Wait, I'm on mine helping you out), tablet, money, sex (oh, geez, I need that to procreate!), and anything that usurps God's authority.
I've lived it too, my friend. As heart-wrenching as it is for me to tell you, it's best for certain things to be gone. If you find yourself doing things that don't honor God it's best to deal with it. When I say what I do it's not because I'm getting after you, it's because I love you as Christ would want me to love you as He does. We can enjoy certain things in life and in our lives. But if it's taking over God's place on your heart, you're taking Him off the throne of your heart. You're telling Him, "Oh, I know better." But do you?
Believe me when I say this next part: sometimes I do the very same thing. There are times I have to take a break from my computer, from doing certain things to show Him I do love Him. Even though part of my business is helping people find their ancestors (yes, you can find some of the information online anymore thanks to people sharing information they have found on their family, but DNA also helps), I have to take breaks from being on this computer. Lately, it has taken a toll on me even giving you what I know God desires of me to do.
God tells us, even the Israelites, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:2-6, New King James).
God tells us a great deal even though these are the first two commands He gives us. do they still apply, however? I contend that they do and that they also do not. They do still apply in the sense that if we say we love God, we need to do all we can to show that love to Him. It means, first things first: put God where He matters; on our hearts and minds. There's a reason He told the sons of Israel, "Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads" (Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18, Holman Christian Standard).
Let's be honest, what the Old Testament is saying here, is what Christ visibly lived out. He stood before God, on our behalf, showing us what loving God means. He had God's laws be His every thought, His every move. Every touch He gave, every eye He opened, every heart He touched, every foot and leg He healed to walk again; Christ did it to show God's favor was on the people--if they would choose to believe. If only we saw Jesus Christ as He truly is, the Son of God, the Most High, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who brings us out of slavery and death to life everlasting in the Son.
So, the whole point is to get re-centered under God. It is to allow God to be our Guide, and more than that, our Master, our Keeper. He doesn't tell us to "not do this" and "not do that" to be ugly acting. He does it because He has our best interests at heart. He wants to keep us from "certain things" even though they look "good and desirous" they aren't. Anger in its primary form is hatred. Jealousy in its form is the same thing, because from hatred comes murder and all sorts of deception. Lust isn't simply looking at someone to "be with," it's a combination of jealousy, of hatred, contempt, and simply desiring something you can't have.
But you can always have God. Access to Him is within reach. Jesus Christ went to the cross on your behalf, not just to give God's mercy to you, but to put to death sin and death. He put sin and death on display to show us the reality of what it does. Recall Jesus saying two things on the cross? "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do?" He also cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This is the Son, His gift to us, on the cross, making sin to be what it is, death being lived out; and death is on display as well. It separates us from the love of God.
Yes, Christ is asking God to forgive those who have crucified Him in that moment, but He's praying for God's hand not to be upon them in His justice. He's asking God, the Father, to keep His wrath off the people. And if we look at the "My God" statement, He's feeling separated from the Father, even though Him and the Father are One. I have thought on this a long time and on one hand I can grasp this, and at the same time it boggles my mind, as though I can't fully understand it.
How can God stand on the cross and cry out to God saying, "You left me here and I feel abandoned?" The way it comes across to me is that Christ put Himself there, in our place, so in the end we would never feel the kind of abandonment He felt. Let's think on the phrase one more time: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?" I've heard it said once before, in my younger years, that scripture is circular in nature. Scripture will always fulfill scripture. If it doesn't do this, then there's a chink, a flaw in God's word.
God tells us, His children, as well as the children of Israel, "I will never leave nor forsake you." He says it a great deal from Exodus to Revelation, even in Israel's defiant sin against Him. Even when we sin against Him, He's till with us. So why would He abandon the Son on the cross? Paul quotes Deuteronomy, explaining thusly, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13, Berean Study).
Deuteronomy says this, "his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance" (Deuteronomy 21:23). Christ fulfilled this command God gave. "When they had fulfilled all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and put Him in a tomb" (Acts 13:29, Holman Christian Standard). So, scripture was fulfilled both by Jesus and by those who laid him in a tomb, before the last light of the day had passed. So, how does this all fit in with idolatry?
If God, who gave us His word fulfilled everything through Jesus Christ, from his birth to his death, and we have witnesses to the matter (the Bible), why would God keep from doing His word about "giving to each man his just reward?" (Romans 2:6, New American Standard). We have God's word, the Bible, because those who saw their sin and asked God to deal with them and their sin, gave us God's exact word so that we would not have to stumble through life without having a sure foot, a guide.
And the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is just that. He's not just our Creator. He is our Guide-everlasting. He is with us! He desires to take our sins and cast them from the east to the west, remembering them no more. But it means we have to put off those things He hates. He hates sin, He cannot look on it. He refuses to look at filth. And I don't blame Him. With all of that said, God loves you to take you right where you are at. Allow him to use His word to cleanse you. Allow Him to bring you back from the pig-sty you once lived in. Allow God to be the Father to you your own biological father never could be to you. Do you think God wants to visit His wrath, His justice on you, or do you believe He wants to extend His merciful grace to you through Jesus Christ His Son? That's it, put down those sins. Put off idolatry, put off jealousy, and anger, and lust. Let God do His part. All you have to do is come to Him. In the name of Jesus I pray this for you. Amen.