Who is the Real Criminal?

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” -Romans 2:1 (NIV)

Crime has become something characteristic of life in this fallen world. In every society, in every culture, and in every Google+Photoage, we are made aware of the prevalence of criminal activity. Whether it is through historical documents, popular movies, or even today’s news, we cannot escape the reality that deviance exists and will continue to exist as long as humans populate this world. Yet when we see images of thieves and murderers we become inflated by self-righteousness. Though we may acknowledge the depravity of their actions and look down upon them in disgust, we blind ourselves to our own innate wickedness. How many of us, in envy and jealousy, have desired to take that which was not ours to take? How many of us, in our rage, have wanted to act in violence toward another person? Sin according to Christ is not defined by sole outward action, but by the very thought, and under that definition we are all criminals.

To redeem us from our sinful nature, Christ came so that by His death and resurrection we may be free from the bondage of sin and clothed with His righteousness. But we often forget to put on these clothes which He has given us. While we may think that we are wearing these clothes and are standing up for the holy standards of Christ, we are actually naked if we have done so in a judgmental spirit. Usually we end up using our self-proclaimed righteousness as weapon to slander others and boost our own pride. Truly wearing the garments of purity Christ has given us means humbling ourselves knowing that while we were bound as sinners and still chose to indulge in sin, Christ has forgiven us in His love. Nothing will be able to snatch us from the love of God and He will continue to remain faithful to the redemptive work He wants to carry out in our lives. When we have submitted ourselves to Christ’s Spirit and have allowed His righteousness to be made manifest in our lives, we will remain unapologetic in His view of sin while at the same time displaying His love. He will prompt us to remember that just as He has forgiven us of much, we are to show mercy and love by His enabling; drawing others into the hope of being restored by Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

It Will Be Made Plain

“Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’” -Isaiah 29:15 (NIV)

What are we trying to hide from God? Human nature is drawn to sin. That is why our first reaction is to conceal our Google+Photowickedness instead of being honest about it. Though we may know that our sinful choices are inherently deplorable and destructive, we go to great lengths to indulge secretly in degrading pleasures simply because we do not want to let go. We feel that as long as we can keep up appearances and are careful to ensure that our hidden lives are not make known, we can hold tightly onto our sin without having to face tangible consequences. But while in our human wisdom we may think that we are clever in our efforts to obscure our sin from the eyes of others; to God our attempts are akin to those of a child who has sloppily tried to hide his deviant behavior when his parents have caught him red-handed.

Nothing can be hidden from God. We are truly fools if we believe that somehow His omnipotence is blind to our acts of depravity. He knows us intimately well; being able to perceive our thoughts even before they come to our minds. Therefore, He knows every act committed in secret, whether good or bad. If we have made it a practice of covertly holding onto sin in our lives, the light of His Truth will expel the darkness and expose our wickedness. Sin always has its consequences and although they do not always appear instantaneously, they will slowly manifest themselves, much to our horror, in our lives and attitudes. But while God’s Truth will reveal our innate corruption, He does not leave us in this state. He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may live as men free from our bondage to sin. Through our personal acceptance of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ and by allowing His Spirit to enter into our hearts, He will cleanse us and make us spotless before God. When we walk in obedience to His Spirit and permit Him to display His righteousness in our lives, we will have nothing to hide before God; enjoying the unshakable peace and wonder which comes from an unhindered relationship with Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

The Heart of the Law

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.” -Mark 3:4 (NIV)

The Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus of disobeying the Laws of God. When Jesus saw a man with a shriveled hand in the Google+Photosynagogue, the Pharisees took notice of this as well. They thought that this was their chance to finally trap Him, for it was the Sabbath and to do any work on the Sabbath was a direct violation of the Law. But Jesus knew of the Pharisees intentions full well. Before He healed the man with the shriveled hand, He asked those present which was more important; a legalistic obedience to the Law, or the restorative work of God Himself. His audience’s silence spoke volumes. The people deliberately chose to cling onto their own misconstrued interpretation of the Law instead of accepting the true heart of the Law as Christ Himself revealed.

Legalism is a dangerous idol. Our worship of it, like any other idol, can hamper the redemptive work of Christ in our lives. Legalism is particularly destructive because not only does it cripple us, it turns our faith into something ineffectual and venomous. Instead of bringing the restoration and healing which only Christ can offer, our blind devotion to tradition and needless regulation only serves to turn us into insular and unnecessarily judgmental people. This in turn affects our witness for Him and those around us obtain a colored view of who Christ is and what it truly means to be His children. In Matthew 22:40, Jesus says that the entire Law and the sayings of the Prophets can be summed up in two simple commandments; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”. When we accept Christ‘s redemptive sacrifice for us on the cross and allow Him to work in our hearts, He will fill us with His love. Only when we have His love overflowing from within us, will we be able to obey the Law in its truest sense and realize its purpose; to draw others to the holiness of God. Through Him we can partake of the wonderful hope of being free from sin and of being made pure through Christ’s restorative work.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.