Until a few weeks ago, my wife Gemma and I attended a mid-week Bible study which recently looked at each of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. I had the privilege of leading the study looking at the command to honour our fathers and mothers. In preparing the study I was struck by the difference in our perception of sin as human beings and God’s. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21 you can read how a son who is rebellious and disobedient to his parents was to be treated within the community of Israel. His punishment was to be stoned to death. In our liberal western society such dishonouring behaviour of a son towards his parents might still be disapproved of but it probably wouldn’t be regarded as worthy of a court of law.
Many who read that passage in Deuteronomy, perhaps even some Christians, may regard God’s response to a rebellious son as way over the top and far too severe. We may not say it to His face but, in our heart, we may think that God is harsh. Such an opinion of Him has run throughout history, even among Christians, who have come to believe that somehow the God of the Old Testament is different to the God of the New, as revealed in Jesus.
The severity of the punishment for a rebellious son actually shows the seriousness of sin to a God who is holy and pure beyond our imagination. In Romans 6:23 the Apostle Paul writes that ‘the wages of sin is death’. That death is far more than the cessation of physical life – it’s the terrible prospect of spending a conscious eternity separated from the presence of God.
For anyone who thinks that God changed His attitude towards sin when Jesus came to the earth, we only need to look at Jesus suffering for our sin on the cross. There we see an obedient Son suffering in the place of all us disobedient human beings. We see the seriousness of sin portrayed in the agony of Jesus death, yet we also see the unfathomable depths of God’s love and grace as He makes a way for us to be reconciled to Him through that suffering. In the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘For our sake, He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Romans 6:23 begins with, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. But the second part of that verse says, ‘but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. This is the Gospel, the glorious Good News for each one of us, if we’ll receive it. Receiving that free gift of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ Jesus is the most important decision any of us will ever make. For anyone reading this Seed today who isn’t certain they have done that, the prayer below could be a first step towards beginning that relationship with God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You laid down Your life in my place. You paid the wages of sin that I had earned so that, by turning from my sin and trusting in You as my Lord and Saviour, I can be forgiven and go free. I receive that gift of forgiveness and freedom today and give You my life as my gift of gratitude. Amen.
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