“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:7-8, NASB).
Recently in the men’s Sunday School class I attend, the lesson was from Hebrews 13. And, this lesson from Hebrews 13 helped me resolve a long-standing theological dilemma I had wrestled with from Romans 6-8.
“When you drive out the nations that live there, you must destroy all the places where they worship their gods… Break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars… Completely erase the names of their gods…. you must seek the Lord your God at the place of worship he himself will choose from among all the tribes—the place where his name will be honored.”(Deuteronomy 12:2-5, NLT).
When the Israelites were about to enter the land of Canaan, Moses instructed them on an important aspect of possessing the promised land. He said they must dispossess the evil that was in the land! They must completely eradicate it!
Because, God cannot cohabit with sin and evil. God’s glory and presence won’t abide where evil dwells!
“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48, NASB).
This saying of Jesus alludes to the very last verse of Isaiah, which speaks of the punishment for rebellion against God as endless destruction.
John had asked Jesus what to do about someone who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name but was not part of the group of His disciples. Jesus answered not to be so concerned about someone doing good in His name but be concerned about false teachers. Be more concerned about someone who causes others to stop trusting in God or prevents them from ever starting to trust in God.
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Rise, take up your bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he said to the paralytic—I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark 2:9-11, ESV).
Jesus was at His home in Capernaum (the base for His ministry) where many people were gathered listening to Him teach and preach. Four men carrying a paralytic man tried to bring him to Jesus for healing, but they were unable to get the disabled man near Jesus because there was no more room in the house. Then, they went up on the roof and removed some of the clay roof tiles (see Luke 5:19) and hoisted the paralytic man down near Jesus.
“Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you” (Psalm 51:9-11, NLT).
All of us commit sins and our sinning is usually accompanied by a personal sense of guilt. We’ve failed God…
While the psalmist understood that he needed absolution from the guilt of sin as legal consequence of God’s universal justice system, he also understood that guilt had serious and debilitating psychological and spiritual consequences for individuals that needed to be addressed before God.
“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ This is the declaration of the Lord God. ‘Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?'”
Sometimes people think that God is somehow out to get them.
In Chapter 18 the prophet Ezekiel provides a highly detailed explanation to refute the notion that God punishes the innocent for the sins of others. Ezekiel clarifies that each individual bears personal responsibility for his or her own sin (see also 33:7-20).
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.” (Romans 6:6, NLT).
When you are joined with Christ, your old source of power, sin, gets unplugged and you plug into a new source of power, the Holy Spirit.