Sometimes life can get hot. Heated, I mean. Heavy, difficult–hard. And sometimes you have to walk through some seriously challenging things. But I don’t suppose you’ve ever walked through a gigantic bonfire.
The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar made a giant gold statue of himself and made people worship it. The punishment for any person not worshiping the statue was being thrown into a huge, blazing furnace. Naturally, God really didn’t like that the king made a huge statue of himself. That, and he kind of had an entire kingdom which he gave himself all the credit for. The Israelites Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all knew the right person to worship–rather than a giant gold statue–God. So what happened when they told that to Nebuchadnezzar?
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”” Daniel 3:16-18
The three men were thrown into the furnace and King Nebuchadnezzar ordered it to be seven times hotter than it originally was. In fact, it was hot enough to kill the soldiers that took them into the furnace, and those soldiers were some of the strongest of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, one of the biggest in the world. There were only three men in the furnace, but those present saw four men in the fire. Nebuchadnezzar said that the fourth man looked like a son of the gods (or the son of God), for he was actually Jesus. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all walked out of the flames unscathed. Later King Nebuchadnezzar basically lived like an animal until he had humility enough to respect God, upon which he returned to Babylon.
We can all live through the fiery furnace of a sinful life if we turn to God just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. If they could walk through an actual fire, you can walk through a figurative one, right?
There are a lot of people out there who may not be accustomed to living anywhere but a lie. Not just criminals or thieves, but ordinary people. And that’s the way the Israelites lived when they fell away from God.
The description God gives of Israel at the time of Jeremiah 9 is shows how the Israelites lived in their lie and their sin. He describes it as a place of deceit and lies (9:4-6), with people who act one way and are another way at heart. They live without honesty or truth–and so many people live their lives this way:
With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.” Jeremiah 9:8
Sound like you or someone you know? It’s easy to get caught up in this. God said, “…it is not by truth that they triumph in the Lord.” Living the lie means you’re not living in God’s truth. It means you’re denying him and living the way you see fit. But there’s always consequences.
I have a saying: “It’s not karma. It’s life.” The Israelites became like they were because of their own actions–because they weren’t following God’s plan. And how did that start? You don’t follow God’s commands in the little things, and it keeps getting bigger. It grows.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Call it the inverse of the conditional, but Matthew 5:8 makes it clear that without a pure heart, you won’t see God. The tiniest sin can escalate to blind us from seeing God, and that’s exactly what happened to the Israelites.
That’s why, every time we sin, we need to remember God has redeemed our sins, and ask him for forgiveness and redemption for our actions, so our heart will be pure. It is because of our sin that we blindly make mistakes that end up hurting ourselves.
Jeremiah 9:13 should have new meaning for you now. As God is talking about the terrible place that Israel is to live in, he says knowingly:
It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.”
End those habits before they start. Ask for forgiveness, and ask that God will help you succeed next time.
We all know of the Steven Spielberg hit, Jaws, where a giant great white shark attacks a popular coast chocked full of tourists, and I’m pretty sure most of us are thankful that isn’t real, at least when we go to the beach. But there is something quite like it we face everyday. As we go through life, we all kind of wish things could be like a day at the beach. But our big white shark is sin, which it tears us to pieces, with its jaws, trying to separate us from God. Those who are controlled by sin are what sin uses, to get us to turn from God. As I talked about in my post last week, sin uses world pollution to control us and get us to turn away from God–hence, we suffer the ultimate punishment and go to hell. The believers throw out the sin where there is gnashing of teeth.
Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13
The jaws of sin are impossible to break free of, unless you have asked Jesus into your heart, and you do what he asks you to. Sin can control us and when that happens, we can do some horrible stuff to ourselves and to others.
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Romans 7:17
As Christians, we must learn to let Jesus forgive our sins, so that we can have a relationship with him. When we accept him and his Spirit, we gain power through him to combat sin. And, I think, once we have the power of God on our side, sin won’t be quite the big scary shark it once was.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the stories of the world and all in it. That’s why I want to start this post out by saying this:
I’m not perfect, and I absolutely do not know everything. I am not a lunatic who claims to know anything and everything about God.
All right, now that that’s over and done with, we can get started on today’s refresh on the how and why of sin.
First of all, sin came into the world, as we all know with Adam and Eve. It was with the wrong choices they made that they were separated. They fell into temptation and ruined it for all of us. But surely God didn’t base everything on two people’s choice. And he didn’t. We choose to separate ourselves.
But you’ve heard about that. Sin is here in our world and causing pain as evil is so prominent in our society and throughout our planet.
But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting.” Romans 7:8
This is a description about one case of sin encouraging someone to sin.
We all face evil of three kinds:
The Flesh – Our natural tendency to sin, along with our desires which are sometimes out of place.
The World – The societies of our planet are filled with temptations and terrible examples for how to live our lives.
The Devil – Spiritual forces of darkness are acting against us all the time, whether the devil or his demons. (Note that God guarantees that with him in our heart, we are protected!)
We are faced constantly by sin, and we have to understand that that is a natural part of our world, and we have to overcome it through Jesus.