After the sermon, a guy goes up to the priest and says, "Father, thank you so much for giving that sermon. It meant so much to me, and I'll tell you why. I lost my hat last week and I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally decided to steal a new one from the store, but now that I heard your sermon, I'm not going to."
The priest smiles and says, "That's good, my son. The part about 'thou shalt not steal' moved you, did it?"
The guy says, "Nope. After that part about adultery, I remember where I left my hat."
When it comes to sin, the world tends to negate it or relinquish it to comedy or to a time which is no longer relevant today!
When it comes to sin today there are some universal sins which i think we’d all agree on as something which should be dealt with severely – for example; murder, rape, child abuse I think we can all agree on universally.
However what do we see of sin in scripture? I am currently reading through Isaiah, a book that deals with sin in the nation of Israel, as God clearly unfolds His salvation plan.
Firstly, we can see a clear contrast in the first 4 chapters of Isaiah, which contrasts between those who belong to the Lord and those who have been led astray – living in sin would be one way to describe it.
Consider this: that sin shown in Isaiah as the opposite of living in God’s security! Today people use the excuse that God is a killjoy and doesn’t want us to enjoy life’s pleasures, yet this is such a misunderstanding as to the character of God! Life is good with God! We have everything we need! But as soon as we run away and do our own thing we live outside of God’s protection!
Imagine for a moment you have your baby son or daughter, you care for them as parents, living under your roof offers them sure protection so you can keep them safe! So, in a similar way, when your child is a teenager they go out on their own, into the big wide world – you worry about them because they’re not living under your protection. In a similar way what if you leave your child outside in basket in a field, are they still in your protection? No of course not! The child is now open to consequences of being alone in the world outside of your control! This is scary as to what could happen!
Two Consequences of sin
In the same way leaving your child outside, when we choose to live outside of God’s purposes the consequence of that is we leave ourselves wide open to sin, in other words our own flesh desires, and that of the devil (Satan) who prowls around like a lion to see who he can devour – take captive. So lets briefly look at two areas where sin has consequences —
1. Flesh life
Selfishness it’s all about me! I can do this on my own and don’t need God! In Isaiah we see this played out and graphically describes how people live their lives according to themselves.
When we choose to live outside of God’s purpose we live outside of His protection. The bible says that sin so easily entangles and enslaves us. It gives Satan a foothold to further deceive us.
So, we see sin has consequences it puts a huge gap between God and people!
God has a plan!
Isaiah prophesied before Christ in the midst of a current crisis in the world (relating to Israel) who had wandered so far from God’s original plan.
“An ox recognizes its owner, a donkey recognizes where its owner puts its food; but Israel does not recognize me, my people do not understand.” The sinful nation is as good as dead, the people weighed down by evil deeds. They are offspring who do wrong, children who do wicked things. They have abandoned the Lord, and rejected the Holy One of Israel. They are alienated from him.”Isaiah 1:3-4 NET
Today how much do we see the effects of a world that basically chooses solutions to current global needs without even a thought to the God in heaven!?!
In Isaiah 3 we see a picture of the state of Jerusalem & Judah given over in their rebellion to: insecure leadership (3:4&6); unsound advice (3:2); lack of respect (3:5); rebellion against authority (3:8); misleading directions/confusion (3:12)
Does all this sound familiar? Is it hardly surprising then as a consequence all we’re left with is confusing directions, plenty of idle talk (conspiracy theory) and a seemingly no end to the current problems in the world!
What’s the answer?
Hey there is good news! Isaiah prophesied to those who were left who didn’t go with the flow but kept themselves in the Lord! (Isaiah 4:3)
Lets go to the end of the story. Isaiah prophesied God’s redemption plan found in Christ Jesus. The Bible says, if you have Christ you have life – Jesus went to the cross to die for our sin, at the cross he took upon himself the full consequence of our disobedience – death! Yet God rose him from death so that we might live!
“Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over its convocations a cloud and smoke by day and a bright flame of fire by night; indeed a canopy will accompany the Lord’s glorious presence.”Isaiah 4:5 NET
It’s a promise! The picture in Isaiah 4:5ff to those who are left who don’t follow the crowd! It’s a sharp contrast in these chapters between those who don’t follow God’s ways and those whom do. The bible often refers to those who do as a remnant — today, perhaps it feels increasingly that the Church is a remnant in the world, but it will rise up not for war but to proclaim the goodness of God and drawer people into the heart of the Father!
“By day it will be a shelter to provide shade from the heat, as well as safety and protection from the heavy downpour.”Isaiah 4:6 NET
Consider Isaiah 4:5-6, imagine a shelter, a canopy over His people set apart for the Lord. He will protect His people from the downpour, a place we can run too for protection.
Are you living today under the canopy of God’s protection? To know in life or death your future is certain?
“Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.””Hebrews 3:15 NLT (quote from Psalm 95:7-8)
No joke – Sin is real!
In conclusion, sin is not merely for comedy or an age gone-by but puts a real chasim between us & the living God and the only way to overcome is through coming to the cross of Christ. As we reflect and learn from what God spoke through the prophet Isaiah – did they listen – what about us?
Not listening, closing our ears and not responding certainly breaks God’s heart. When we choose to go our own way and live outside of God’s protection.
Therefore, a challenge for us – Today, when not if, you hear his voice prompting you not come to the cross, to acknowledge sin as real and receive his forgiveness.
Live life today in God’s protection!