Monday, May 4, 2009

Smoking or Non?

I met someone yesterday unlike anyone else I've ever met. He is over 60 and looking for purpose in life. He believes in God, but has a relationship based on fear instead of faith.

He tries to live perfectly so that he can stand before God one day and receive commendation instead of condemnation. He is strong, determined, admirable, and impressive. But the foundation is beginning to crack.

Let's assume he has been successful at not sinning for 60 years (based on his definition of what constitutes sin). As strong as he is, and as successful as he has been in attempting the impossible, he's only one "oops" away from a forever fall.

I wrestled with two main concerns as I met with this man. The first is quite important: It doesn't matter what your definition or my definition of sin is. God decides what is sinful. This man seems to believe that sin is immoral activity only. That sin is somehow confined only to outward activities. God says sin is in the heart, the mind, the mouth, and the life. A single impure thought can strap you into the eternal southbound rocket. The Bible reveals that the greatest sin is the rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

My second concern is for this man's uphill battle to the top of Mt. Impossible. We each have a choice in this life concerning God's laws of righteousness. We can choose to fulfill the law of God on our own, living perfectly without committing a sin. Or we can choose the grace that God has extended to each of us as a gift in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to read Galatians 3:10-14 in your Bible, but I also want you to hear it from The Message:

"Anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: 'Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the Law.'
"The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in a right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you."

God doesn't grade on a curve. He doesn't do make-up exams. There are no excused absences. It doesn't matter if your dog ate your homework. If you are going to choose to live by the law of God instead of the grace of God, then you have to score 100 every time. You can't pick and choose. Selective obedience isn't one of the selections. Sporadic obedience isn't obedience.

You have to live 100% perfect 100% of the time. One "oops" condemns you to an eternal hell.

Here is where people want to take issue with God. "How could God send people to hell?" While all the time they miss the most important truth of life ---- Jesus took your place and made 100 for you. If you will place your trust and eternity in Him, God will welcome you into His eternal home in heaven and seat you at His dining room table. If you reject that gift, you paddle your own canoe to hell.

It's your choice. Live by the law and fail or receive God's gift of grace and succeed.

I choose grace...gladly!
Perry Crisp

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