|Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018||
Infants and little children have no sins (Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 18:1-4; 19:14). They are not able to understand the differences between right and wrong, good and evil.
As each person grows older, a time comes when he or she begins to understand right and wrong. When a person chooses to do what is wrong (what is against the will of God), he “sins.” There is no man or woman on earth who has lived a totally sinless life. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Sin separates us from God. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). Unless the guilt of a man’s sins is removed while he is living on earth, his soul will suffer eternal punishment and separation from God forever (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-48). The Bible uses the word “death” to describe this punishment. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
God wants us to be free from sin so we can have fellowship with Him. No man can remove his own sins. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ lived a totally sinless, righteous life. Therefore, He was the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins. He was innocent, but He took our place, suffering death on the cross for our sins. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). How can a person receive the benefit of the death of Jesus Christ?
Hear The sinner must hear the Gospel. The word “gospel” means “good news.” Jesus has “…brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). The Gospel includes the facts about the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Believe The sinner must believe in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In this verse, “believes in Him” does not mean it is enough if we merely agree in our mind that Jesus is the Son of God. If a person believes in Christ in his own mind, but never obeys Christ, that person will still be lost. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). Our belief (faith) in Christ will save us, but only when it is obedient faith.
Repent The sinner must repent of his sins. “Repentance” is a change of mind. It is a decision to turn from sin and turn toward righteousness. The Lord is “…longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Confess The sinner who has repented should confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. In the very first Gospel sermon after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). We should confess our faith in Christ, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). The Ethiopian eunuch confessed, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).
Be baptized When a sinner has heard the Gospel, believed, repented and confessed, he must then be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of his sins. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). The word “baptize” means “immerse.” Baptism is a “burial” in water. Writing to people who had already obeyed the Gospel, Paul said, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). The sinner goes into the water, allows someone to briefly “bury” him in the water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins, and then he is lifted out of the water. If he has “obeyed from the heart” (Romans 6:17), his sins are forgiven by the grace of God. He is now a Christian, a child of God!
Recently I heard this little quote: “For evil to win, good must do nothing.” I don’t remember where I heard this, but it stuck with me as I realized what a truism it is. Let’s examine the thought.
Too often, when evil becomes an overpowering force, we don’t see anyone standing up to fight the evil. It’s just too easy for good people to stand idly by and do nothing. Sometimes, this occurs because they feel too outnumbered, unprepared or just simply don’t want to get involved in whatever is happening. There are many excuses why Christians don’t step up to the plate and swing at the fast ball. Yes, Satan is fast in performing his evil and trickery.
Peter described Satan as “a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). A hungry lion is loud, overbearing and vicious. He threatens and intimidates everything around him and devours his prey quickly. Peter said the solution to Satan’s evils is to “Cast all your care upon God for He cares for you…be sober, be vigilant. Resist Satan steadfastly in the faith…the God of all grace will make you perfect, establish, strengthen and comfort you” (1 Peter 5:7-10).
I submit to you that being sober and vigilant is to guard against the sinful practices of the world and not to allow them to separate one from God’s care. There are people in the world who have only evil agendas. They teach and spread evil contamination and filth. If all Christians will take a stand for God and good, those who are spreading evil can be overcome. Good people must not be “overcome of evil but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). We must not submit to evil forces but stand our ground for the Lord. That means we can’t sit idly by. That’s what Satan hopes will happen when he threatens because it will make his work easier.
In reminding the Thessalonian brethren of their Christian heritage, Paul told them, “Our exhortation was not error, uncleanness nor guile but we were allowed of God to be entrusted with the gospel and so with it, we speak, not as pleasing men but God...we didn’t use flattering words nor a cloak of covetousness…nor did we seek glory…but we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-7). Christians must care for the souls of the lost and be ready to do whatever it takes to reach out to them with the truth. We can’t just sit idly and let evil triumph. We must be active in overcoming evil with good.
Sometimes doing good may seem like a daunting task and one that we think can’t be accomplished. True, we may not have the courage of Daniel or preach like Paul, but if what we are about is actually God’s goodness, we can rest in the assurance that “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). We will receive help from the Lord! We read in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world nor the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, are not of the Father but of the world. The world and the lust of it will pass away but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Jesus spoke out against sin and paid the ultimate physical price, but His spiritual soul is at rest with God. We must know what the Bible teaches about sin and “be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). We must speak out against sin, or we and our country will be overcome by it!