Dead sunflower after a blizzard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sin is broken

I realized something pretty cool over the weekend. You know how you know things but you sometimes forget what those things mean to your life? I’ve been in church all my life, and–maybe it sounds strange–but sometimes I forget how to apply Scripture to real-life situations. If you haven’t grown up in church, you may not know what I’m talking about. But the Bible is so extraordinary it becomes ordinary, something you take for granted. A Bible verse, though you know it’s full of truth and God’s amazing grace, becomes just a Bible verse and not a method you should use to live your life.

One of the songs we sang this weekend at church is an older one, “Stronger” by Hillsong. And I’ve sung this song so many, many times over the years, and it’s one of my favorites, but a lyric stood out to me in a way it never had before: “Sin is broken.”

What does that mean to you? Sin is broken. The good churchy answer that I’ve honestly applied to that statement is that sin, which is our natural inclination to do what God hates, no longer has any power in our lives because of what Christ did on the cross. And that’s not wrong, by any means. That’s what it means. But that’s not all that it means.

Dead sunflower after a blizzard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Dead sunflower after a blizzard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says it over and over again that the result of sin is death. Not necessarily physical death, although that is possible, but spiritual death, death being defined as separation from God.

When sin has the authority in our lives, when we’re living under the authority of the Law, there’s nothing we can do to escape our death sentence. There’s nothing we can do to make peace with God because we can’t be perfect, and the Law requires perfection from the moment we understand that we are sinners to the day we die. And no one is good enough to accomplish that.

But what Jesus did, sacrificing Himself for us, paid that price and forged a new covenant with us, so that we don’t have to live under the Law anymore. Believing in Him covers us with grace.

Sin has no power over us. Sin is broken.

And I’d never really thought about it that way. Sin has always been that ethereal, not-quite-solid concept of the actions that we sometimes choose to do that make God sad. But when you go deeper, sin is the reason we die.

But thanks to Christ, sin is broken.  Death is defeated.

We don’t have to be afraid of death, and we don’t have to be afraid of life. We don’t have to be afraid of anything. We can choose not to. Just like we don’t have to sin. We know better. We know that God wants something better for us and that He will reward those faithful enough to endure through temptation.

So how is your fear of sin or death controlling you today? What role does it play in your decision making? In how you treat people? In how you see God? In how you see yourself? Don’t be ashamed to admit it. Everyone struggles with this.

Just remember that because of what Christ did for us sin is like a pebble in your shoe. It’s annoying. It’s something we have to deal with. But it’s not something that should direct the course of our entire life. Take your shoe off and dump it out. You don’t have to live with it. It has no power over you, and Christ has given us the strength to overcome both sin and death.

Sin can’t control us. Death can’t defeat us. Keep that in mind this Monday morning and go for the win. The war’s already won.

The second Adam

I’m so thankful God gives us second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances. And 100th chances. No matter how hard I try, I still end up doing what I know is wrong. So knowing that He will always be there for me is comforting, especially when I’m struggling with guilt in the aftermath.

I get so frustrated with myself because it’s so easy to think any sin I commit isn’t as big a deal as other people (there’s my pride issue creeping back in again). But Jesus said even thinking about committing a sin is just as bad as if you had done it. If you look down on murderers, have you ever hated someone? If you look down on adulterers, have you ever had an innappropriate thought? Just thinking about it is tantamount to doing it.

We’re all the same. And all our sin is the same. Just because some of us think about it instead of doing it doesn’t make us any different. Or any better.

Many people curse Adam, the first Man, for the sin he committed in Eden — eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when he knew he wasn’t supposed to. And even when I was little, I wondered why he had done it. Why he had sacrificed all of us for a piece of fruit. But the truth is, folks, Adam didn’t know about us. He didn’t know that there would be uncountable billions of people who descended from him thousands and thousands of years later. He was human. He had no clue about the consequences of his sin. Just like us.

We stumble along in life doing what we want to do because we want to do it, and we have no idea how our actions are going to affect our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children. But we don’t think about that because it’s too big for us to wrap our heads around.

And we curse Adam for failing us in the garden? Adam did the best he could. He was the best shot we had. Otherwise, God would have made someone else instead of Adam.

Our sin deserved death. People think death means something it doesn’t most of the time. In our normal human connotation, death means the end of life as we see it. But death in the Bible just means separation. Physical death is separation of the Soul and Spirit from the body. Spiritual death is separation of the spirit from God. With Adam’s sin, because all of us are descended from Adam, we were all born spiritually dead, doomed to spend the rest of eternity separated from God when our bodies die.

That’s why God sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus was the second Adam, the second chance for the human race to have a relationship with God.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22

20But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

Adam was the best hope we had, and he blew it. Not because he was a bad person. On the contrary, I’m sure he was a great guy. I’m excited to meet him someday soon. But he was still human.

Jesus was human, but He was also God. Able to feel everything a human feels, to struggle with everything a human struggles with. But God enough to overcome all of it. And Jesus didn’t fail. He triumphed victoriously, and because of His sacrifice on the cross, anyone who believes in Him can be restored to a one-on-one relationship with God.

Does that mean that those who believe are automatically perfect?

Yeah, right. I wish.

Believing makes us right with God, but it doesn’t get rid of our smelly old sin nature. We’ll still struggle with that until the day Jesus comes back to take us home.

But even though we still sin, it doesn’t mean that we forfeit the new life we’ve been given through Christ. He paid for all our sins with His one sacrifice. I don’t know about some of you, but all my sins were in the future when Christ died for me. So any sin I commit tomorrow is already paid for. Nothing I do or say or think is enough to separate me from God again now. It’s out of my hands. And I’m glad. After all, my hands don’t really accomplish a lot when left to their own devices.

So if you’re creeping back before the throne of God today like I am, asking for your 490th chance, remember that the price has already been paid. No matter the sin, no matter the severity, no matter how many other chances you’ve already had, it’s taken care of.