Monday, December 20, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 5

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the fifth part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

The fifth line in the song is:

When we were gone astray

Please bear with me as I labor this point because it is so important that we grasp what this line is saying.

People often ask the question that if there is a loving God then why is there so much evil in the world today? The problem with this question is that it is built upon a wrong view of humanity. The Bible tells us that many men “proclaim their own goodness” (Proverbs 20:6) and are “clean in their own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2) but that we have all “sinned and fallen short” (Romans 3:23) of God’s standard. This is far more serious than most of us realise. God, being good, is a just and righteous judge and He must punish the Hitlers, Stalins, and Bin Ladins of this world, otherwise He would be corrupt. Because we are all made in God’s image we crave justice to be done with the wrong things we see in this world. An infinite God must punish infinitely and that is why there is a Hell, and why Jesus warned so much about it (Matthew 10:28).

But when God’s judgement comes to this earth it won’t stop with murderers, rapists, and paedophiles. He must also deal with liars, thieves, blasphemers…… even every wrong thought. As painful as it is, it is always good to examine ourselves in the light of God’s justice system. Martin Luther said that we should hold up the mirror of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) so we can see ourselves as we really are and what our real need is.

Have you ever lied? The Bible says that all liars will end up in Hell(Revelation 21:8). If that seems overly harsh then consider this: If I lie to my daughter there is nothing she can do to me. But if I lie to my wife then my sleeping arrangements are likely to shift from the bedroom to the garage. If I lie to my employer then I’ll probably get fired. If I lie to the government then I can end up in jail. Though the crime never changed in each situation, the level of punishment did in proportion to the level of authority being dealt with. How serious is it then to lie to an infinite and perfect God?

Have you ever stolen anything? The Bible says that no thief can inherit God’s kingdom (I Corinthians 6:10).

Have you ever used God’s name as a swear word? The Bible tells us that God will not hold anyone guiltless who blasphemes His Holy Name (Exodus 20:7). God will judge every word spoken.

Have you ever committed sexual immorality outside of the confines of marriage? Jesus took it even further to tell us that even a lustful thought makes us guilty of adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:28). God will even judge our thought life. Nothing is hidden from Him (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

If you are anything like me and have broken those four commandments then you are a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, and an adulterer at heart. And that is just four of the Ten Commandments. And here’s the killer punch, if you break just one commandment then you are guilty of all of them anyway (James 2:10). The line of the song “when we had gone astray” means that every single person has strayed from God because of our own exceeding sinfulness (Isaiah 53:6).

It was when I examined myself in the light of God’s standard that I realized that if God is good then He should send me to Hell for my crimes against Him. I stopped asking why there is so much evil in the world, and started asking why God has not yet poured out His judgement and justice on me already. And this is why, because it is not God’s will to send anyone to Hell (II Peter 3:9). God is holding back His judgement because He is merciful and giving us time to repent of our crimes against Him. He loves us so much that He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him and be “Saved” from His judgement (John 3:16). This is the amazing “good news”.

But how can we possibly be reconciled in the light of our crimes against God?

Continued tomorrow . . .

Go On To Day 6
Go Back To Day 4
Go Back To Day 1

1 comment:

Cameron Buettel said...

When we were gone astray. A failure to explain this is one of the great tragedies of many modern pulpits.