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Crime Pays

We should show others mercy because God shows us mercy. I think of how merciful God is to me when I consider my sin. In my lifetime, I sinned many times. Therefore, I consider this question: “What if God punished me every time I sinned?” What would my punishment be? Well, Scripture explicitly says that the punishment of my sin is death. As the apostle Paul writes, “the wages of sin is death” (1). Death is the reward for sin; death is sin’s compensation. Therefore, since I sinned many times and the wages of sin is death, I should die many times or die horrifically. Sometimes, I hear people say, “Crime doesn’t pay.” However, Scripture states the opposite. Scripture says crime pays and pays by killing us. Sinning, therefore, is a lousy job with lousy pay. But thanks be to Jesus Christ who saved us from our sins and former lifestyles. Because of Jesus, we don’t receive what we deserve. When we accept Jesus Christ, God forgives our crime and pardons our deserved punishment.

(1) Romans 6:23.

The Turnaround

One day, Hezekiah wanted God to show a sign to prove that God would heal him from a “sickness unto death.” After this request, the prophet Isaiah asked Hezekiah which sign he wanted to see. Should God 1) make the shadow on the sundial go forward 10 degrees or 2) go backward 10 degrees? Hezekiah responded by saying that making the shadow go forward 10 degrees was an easy thing to do but making the shadow go backward 10 degrees was difficult. Thus, Hezekiah asked for the shadow to go backward 10 degrees. The prophet Isaiah cried unto God for Hezekiah and God made the shadow go backward 10 degrees. (1)

It’s Easy with God

Hezekiah’s request suggests that he thought the more difficult sign was for the shadow to go backward 10 degrees. However, this sign was easy for God. Nothing is difficult or impossible with God. The difficulty to do anything comes not from God who is all-powerful but humans who are finite beings with limited power. We are limited beings, so changing our conditions, hearts, habits, minds, and circumstances can be a daunting task and appear impossible. Sometimes, we cannot change our lives’ circumstances. However, “with God all things are possible” (2).

The Turn

We might think we cannot turn our lives around from a life of sin to one of righteousness. We may feel that we cannot become good after doing so much bad. We may feel that bad habits have such a grip on us that we cannot stop them. These are all correct ways to think and feel because only God can redeem, transform, and cleanse us. We need God to do the humanly impossible for us. We need God to save us from our sins. As in the story about Hezekiah shows, making time go backward is humanly impossible. But if God can make time go backward, He can definitely turn our lives around as a sign of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Our salvation is possible only with Him.

(1) 2 Kings 20:1-12.
(2) Matthew 19:26.

What Can Harm Us?

In an earlier post (Message Out of Fear), we discussed how we should fear God instead of people. We also discussed how we should not fear losing our earthly ambitions. This post explains more about why we should not have fear.

Christians do not fear earthly harm because such “harm” cannot hurt them. But someone might say that many things harm Christians. Such things like diseases, violence, accidents, and death affect Christians like non-Christians. These events occur for many people, but just because they are undesirable events does not mean they harm Christians. Christians’ safety depends not on what happens to them but who happened to them. This person is Jesus, and he gives Christians sight into a reality that unbelievers are blind to. This insight gives Christians peace.

Today, we have insurance. In theory, insurance plans assure people that regardless of unfortunate events to something or someone, they will not suffer too much. Insurance compensates people to pay for damages, allows people to replace lost or stolen possessions, or gives people money to help pay and cope with losing loved ones. Insurance plans help with earthly events but not with spiritual events. Insurance plans, for instance, cannot keep these events from harming me. Insurance primarily deals with the aftermath of undesirable events.

Christians, however, have different “insurance.” Jesus Christ keeps everything and everyone from harming Christians. When undesirable events happen, Christians can think, “Who is he that will harm us if we are followers of that which is good? If we suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are we: We are not afraid of their terror, neither are we troubled” (1). This statement tells us that harm depends on what and who we follow. It also tells us we will suffer, but such suffering is not the worst harm.

The worst harm is hell, but Christians overcome hell (2). Hell is the reward of wicked people (3). Therefore, Christians should not fear earthly harm but God because they know that greater harm exists (4). When people have a correct view of harm, they do not fret over the same undesirable events that non-Christians fear.

(1) 1 Peter 3:13-14.
(2) Matthew 16:18.
(3) Psalm 91.
(4) Isaiah 8:12-13.

Ungodly Counsel

Ungodly counsel is our will to do evil. By will, I mean our determination to act according to our desires. Our desire is a primary part of the choices we make. After we desire, though, we should judge what is the right thing to do. However, such judgment is absent in the counsel of the ungodly. Ungodly counsel does not think about what’s right and follows an evil desire. 

Ungodly counsel is an internal word of evil advice, and Scripture calls it secret advice (1). Ungodly and godly counsel contrast. We sometimes see a cartoon character, for instance, consider advice on its shoulders from a devil and an angel. The angel gives wise and moral judgment, but the devil feeds off the character’s evil desires and passions. This scenario is not that different from reality. Reality presents us with similar choices between godly and ungodly counsel.

What does ungodly counsel look like? Ungodly counsel agrees with our evil passions. This primary evil passion is anger. Anger refers to a quick outburst of raw emotion. Such an outburst (boule) occurs without thinking or judgment (gnome). Outbursts of anger and punishment are definite signs of ungodly counsel. Sometimes, such outbursts lead to murder (2). We must remember that murder occurs physically and spiritually.

God blesses people who follow godly counsel. Godly counsel is the word of advice that gives us a sense of justice, morality, righteousness, long-suffering, and wisdom. The person who follows godly counsel always prospers (3). But such prosperity is not always external. The prosperity of the godly person is internal and eternal. The person who follows ungodly counsel, therefore, suffers an internal and eternal loss.

(1) Psalm 64:2-6.
(2) Genesis 49:5-7.
(3) Psalm 1:1-3.

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Dwight A. Lucas II. All rights reserved.