Ezekiel 23:35 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: since you have forgotten me and thrust me behind your back, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution.”
Isaiah 51:7 “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.”
Philippians 3:17-18 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there the Lord Jesus Christ…”
It is undeniable that we live under the law of grace, as Paul writes about countless times in the New Testament (I need no reference for this – just open up one of the epistles.) Christians celebrate this every Sunday: we have no need to fear death any longer, because we have been saved by grace. Like a strapping superhero, grace will swoop in every time we’re in trouble and save the day. At least, that’s what we’d like to think.
It’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot of Christians, I believe, that, despite grace, we are responsible for our sins. We are going to see the consequences for sin, regardless of our state of salvation, even if grace is leaping over a tall building in a single bound to save our butts from total death.
This does not mean we will LOSE our salvation BECAUSE of our sin. Our names are written in ink in the book of life, and Jesus says in John 10 that no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. If we have made the decision to live forever by embracing the salvation of Jesus Christ, a whole-hearted surrender to what He’s done instead of carrying on in our selfish behavior, we cannot lose.
But it does mean that what we do here on earth is on us. The universe is God’s domain, but the earth is the realm of the devil. If you’re not convinced, watch the news for about 5 minutes. Or check a website and read about the great carnage and inhumane activity occurring worldwide. There is something very wrong.
And at this, people say, “Where is God? Why would He allow this?” It seems like a pivotal philosophical question, because it contests the sovereign nature of God. But the question itself also removes us from personal responsibility for our own destructive behavior.
We can choose whether we’d like to live a holy life or a self-driven life. This choice was granted to us, for better or worse, upon our very existence. Most Christians would also acknowledge this truth. Adam and Eve. Yadda yadda.
So, to say that we live in a “fallen world” is an understatement often times. I can’t stand that expression. Fallen? It’s like we’re laying down crying all time. How about bleeding? We live in a bleeding world. Blood flows through the streets, out of the noble and ignoble, and blood even pools in our own homes sometimes. To ignore this truth is ridiculous.
When Paul writes in Philippians that our “citizenship is in heaven,” he is only making a reference to the idea that we belong to Christ, not that we’re automatically going to behave like Him. If we could emulate Christ perfectly, His work on this earth is voided. The following sentence would be pointless: we would be without the need of a Savior.
Everyone understands what is right – this is what makes Christ so attractive. He is the benchmark for utmost, impossibly lofty morality, despite religious alignment. However, our desire is to do the opposite. Some philosophers believe that humans are basically good – but realistically, we are only “good” for the sake of selfishness. Our decision to do what is right has to do with a contention to overcome the flesh, not necessarily an automatic proclivity toward good behavior via the Holy Spirit.
Briefly, the Holy Spirit is to help us recognize how sinful we really are. It is God within us making us aware of how unholy the temple He embodies truly is.
We cannot help it. Our flesh is insatiable until our very day of death. Our only hope is to know the voice of our Lord and to nod and follow His orders. But the nature of the Lord is both justice and love. We are reconciled to Him through His Son, but we’re still His children who need to be disciplined.
Don’t forget that what you do matters. Don’t take simple sins lightly, especially if you’re conscious of them. We should be in a constant state of total surrender – only then will we follow the pattern that Paul is referring to.