Osama Bin Laden: An Example For Us All

Osama Bin Laden is killed.  All day long that was the news.

There has been has been all kinds of reactions to the death of this arch-terrorist: celebrations in the street, media frenzy and a plethora of conspiracy theories. People saw this as a major event in U.S. history when the mastermind of 9-11 finally was put out of the picture.

What caught my attention was one New York news paper that headlined his picture and the words “Rot in Hell.”  The newspaper obviously was not making a theological statement, but it reflects the mindset of many Americans that believe a place called hell is the exclusive punishment reserved for really bad or evil people and that there are other not so bad people or those that are good enough to escape hell.

I think that the headline should have read “Osama Bin Laden: An Example for us All.”  He is an example that not only genocidal maniacs, mass murderers and terrorists, but all those who commit treason against the Kingdom of God and all who break his laws will face God’s sentencing for eternity in a place called the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).  I do not say that in an unfeeling and careless manner.  One has to wince in pain thinking about this because of the danger in which many people live who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior.

The first thing I thought of amid all the rejoicing  were the words of Jesus Christ, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5 ESV). Yes, in this way Osama Bin Laden is an example for us all.  I was taken back for a moment, but long enough to think that the Lord Jesus was emphasizing that when we see others demise we should be warned ourselves that God’s justice has no favoritism (Rom 2:11) and we should use this time to turn away from soul damning sins (Isa. 55:6-7).

No matter how many tragedies we have experienced, no matter how many terrible things others have done compared to us, that does not exempt any human being  from facing God for their sins against him. 

Jesus emphasized this. If I could slightly paraphrase what he was saying,  “Do you think that these people who were killed by Pilate or the others who had the tower of Siloam fall on them were perhaps worse sinners, meriting more of God’s anger and scorn that they would die in such a manner?”  

Jesus says, “No way!” You will all face the bar of God. You will  be destroyed unless you change your ways. Wow. How could he say such a thing, even to his own disciples?

He says this because he knows that everything human beings do will exposed. Every thought they think will be revealed. Nothing will be hid.  God will judge the secrets of all people (Rom. 2:16) So you had better do a one hundred and eighty degree turn on the road of your life immediately away from your sin or you will perish in the same or should I say an even worse manner.

Osama Bin Laden was an example to us all because although he was religious he was deluded. He thought he was doing the work of Allah. How very sad.  He thought he was earning his salvation by killing those considered infidels and all those that oppose Islam. Now all he leaves is a legacy of death. He is killed by bullets to the head and chest using his wife as a human shield. His lifeless body is carried away, ritually washed and thrown into the sea. What is worse he waits in a place of torture for the final judgment of God for his sins, where he will be hurled into a worse place.   How many still believe like him? How many think he died a martyrs death and that they want to follow his example. How can we who are Christians not weep for the salvation of those like him and those who are his devotees.

I pray they will learn from his example. An example that eventually not only will the United States of America catch up with its enemies but God will punish those who are his.  I pray we will see that God is serious when it comes to his laws and that “the mills of God grind slowly but they grind sure.”

Christ can save you from the wrath of God and his punishment catching up to you. He died to purchase your pardon, to save you from the self deception that you can save yourself by being good, or at least thinking you are not as bad as others.

God says all have sinned against him (Rom 3:10, 23). He will only accept one payment for sin and that is the death of Christ for sin. Christ gives us an ultimatum, “repent or be destroyed” it is not a pretty invitation but it is a solid one.  He calls you to turn from sin to God’s son now before it is too late.

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GOD NEVER LOSES TRACK OF SIN

Technology can’t even keep up with sin and those that commit them.

The other day according to the news an electronic monitoring system run by BI Incorporated maxed out its storage capacity that tracked the location of 16,000 sex offenders, parolees, substance abusers and other offenders leaving law enforcement blind for 12 hours. They questionably detained 140 offenders as well.  This is amazing because apparently the technology can hold over 2 billion records and they are working on expanding the threshold to a monstrous one trillion records.

This is scary stuff.

We no longer have to imagine or limit it to a sci-fi tale about  people having the power to track information about anyone at anytime. It is obvious we have that technology as imperfect as it is.  The idea of locating the whereabouts of incorrigible criminals is not what bothers me-but I wonder what it would be like if the government expands that power to any citizen.  I do not know of Orwellian conspiracies as of yet, but in the name of security freedom can be  lost. The search and seizure of information and the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution must remain a precious right to us in this country.

I chuckled at the company’s name “BI.” Some of you will remember when we used to say as kids: “Its none of your BI business!”  We used to purposely misspell the word business as “bizness”  to emphasize and intensify the “stay out of my business” idea.  It is not childish to have privacy and we should all be careful, very careful about who knows what about us. Something to think about. 

The BI information grid broke down with this company and the law enforcement with which it works were blind for 12 hours to any criminal activities. 

But God will never stay out your business. He is never blind. He keeps track of sin. There is no right to privacy with him.

The Bible says that, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5).

Did I read that right?  People treasuring the wrath of God?

The archaic word treasurest is the Greek word thēsaurizō  and in Latin thesaurizas where we get the word thesaurus. This is not referring to the book we use that groups similar and differing words together. It comes from a  root word that means a place where valuables and riches are stored.  Paul teaches those that refuse to repent and  make an 180 degree turn from thinking about and doing those things that the All seeing and All knowing God hates  despite God’s tender goodness and kindness to them are actually accumulating wrath, adding to God’s anger that will be vented against them one day.  He never loses one byte of information.

I know we do not hear much about God’s anger against sin and there are those who actually teach he does not become angry today. But God witnesses and weighs out sin (Jer 32:10). God says of those who refuse to repent, “Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deut 32:34-35).  He keeps in reserve and under lock and key the sins of men and women who refuse to repent.

In fact, Hosea the prophet said of Israel that,  “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.” (Hosea 13:12). This actually can be translated that his sin has been collected and kept in storage for punishment!  “Ephraim’s wickedness is on record. The record of the people’s sins is safely stored away.” (GWT).

John Calvin states that, “that the ungodly not only accumulate for themselves daily a heavier weight of God’s judgments, as long as they live here, but that the gifts of God also, which they continually enjoy, shall increase their condemnation; for an account of them all will be required: and it will then be found, that it will be justly imputed to them as an extreme wickedness, that they had been made worse through God’s bounty, by which they ought surely to have been improved. Let us then take heed, lest by unlawful use of blessings we lay up for ourselves this cursed treasure.”

Frightening information. But there is hope.

Only Christ can save you from God’s just, inflamed anger against you.  Divine Justice demanded a payment for sin and Christ made that payment on the behalf of his people. It can not be extorted by doing good works, it cannot be ignored by changing the rules.

One day you will stand before God for all you have done and there will be no escape unless you have run with all your might to the only place of safety and the person who can save you-Jesus Christ. He will expunge the record of sin that is against you. He made payment by pouring out his blood, the only one in the universe whose blood was untainted by sin. God only accepts that payment for sin.

He will not be bribed by how much good you do and weigh it against the bad you have done and let you off the hook. No. It cannot and will not happen. Every day he has been kind and merciful to you and you have spurned his love. Put your faith and trust in what Christ has done alone or face the horrible withdrawal of your sins and God’s unbearable justice one day soon.

Prayer Of the Soul Sick of Sin

Ezekiel prophesied of the new birth that was coming through Jesus Christ, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them…ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses…ye shall receive no more reproach… Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.” (from Ezek. 36:25-31)

It is important though we have been forgiven for our past sins that we take serious our bent and natural inclination toward future possibility of sin.  In our flesh “dwells no good thing” and there is an endless battle between the sinful and spiritual nature after we are saved (Gal 5: 16-18). This lah-dee-dah attitude church people have these days toward sin and temptation, shows not only a lack of fear for God, but a lack of respect toward sin’s influence and power.  We are to “put on Christ and not make provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.”  (Rom 13;14) Now to “put on” is to be clothed with Christ that is not “put on”  a show but to wear the new clothes designed by Christ and throw out of our closet all the old fat, “what not to wear”  clothes of sin. Don’t keep the fat clothes because you don’t want to fit in them again. Sin does not fit in or on our lives anymore. Sin’s power has been broken  by what Jesus did on the cross. But it is still around attempting to enslave us through temptation or the solicitation to do evil.

Sin is breaking God’s law or lawlessness and Ezekiel called this iniquity and sins are also called abominations or the things God hates. That is what we used to let run our lives. We were out of control sinners and we did the things God hates.  Jesus propitiated (appeased) God’s wrath toward sin and sinners and expiated (made amends for) our sins by his death on Calvary’s cross. God hated and was offended by sin and he could easily send the sinner to hell without a second thought.  “But this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came to save sinners…” (1 Tim 1:15).  Not only did God make provision for past and present sins but future sins as well. It only makes sense. The cross had to secure the salvation of God’s people or else all would be lost. 

It is important that we clarify that the scriptures teaching about justification (or being made right with God) is by faith alone  and while are still people who have a propensity to sin, God sees us as saints.  Justification is external, outside the sinner. God legally removes the guilt of sin, the culpability, fault and responsibility of sin. Justification and is an act which is complete at once and for all time.  Thank God for that because of the times, more often than we want to mention, even after we know the Jesus Christ as our Savior, there are outbreaks of sin in our lives.  We repent by saying the same thing that God says about our sin: that we have broken his law and done something he hates. God then says, “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). He deals with the fruit of sin in the sense of forgiving us in God’s sight.

God says in Ezekiel I will not only cleanse you from your filthiness but from your idols.  God justifies us by faith in Christ by cleaning our filthiness as he sanctifies or purifies us by cleansing us from our idols. Sanctification is internal, inside the sinner and deals with and removes the pollution, contamination, defilement of sin, and is an uninterrupted process that takes place over a lifetime. Idols were images set up in the place of God.  But the idols in our lives are the images or thoughts, and emotions that lead to words and actions. Idols attempt to lead us away from God. The Bible says, “And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.” (Ps 106:36).  Idols are the devices of our enemy Satan who wants to catch and enslave us.  There is a lifelong idol bashing or iconoclasm going on in the Christian heart. God will give the genuinely saved person a hatred for sin and a love for God.  It is important that we take aim at our sin and fortify our faith against temptation, realizing the seduction to act out sin is ever-present.  God by his Spirit  deals with the root of sin exposing and eradicating the idols out of our hearts by the preaching and study of his Word and cooperating with his Spirit’s correction of our lives.  

The repentance I speak of is long after a sin has been committed and forgiven. It can be before or in memory of that sin and the desire never to go back to it.  It is brokenness over that sin. Too often Christian men and women confess their sins and then hope and wish the sinful desire and thoughts go away.  That is not genuine compunction for sin. We recognize that though we are Spirit led people we also have many “crooked ways” and “rough places”  that need to be straightened and smoothed out by the purifying work of the Spirit (Luke 3:5).  We are priests of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:9)  but we still need to be cleansed from presumptuous sins and secret faults (Ps 19:12-13) that lurk in the heart as latent evil.  God has not called us to live under the load of condemnation for sins that have been forgiven (Rom 8:1). He does not want us to beat our breasts asking for mercy already given and wallowing in guilt that has been washed away. Your sins are forgiven, dear brother and sister.  Trust in Christ and stand fast in his promises.  God says, “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses…that ye shall receive no more reproach.” (Ezek 36: 29-30).

The psalmist cries out, “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!”  He was praying,   Oh that the steps of my life were settled and steady keeping to the course you set.  This is a prayer from the psalmist that expresses strong emotion.  Adam Clarke paraphrases it saying, “Without thee I can do nothing; my soul is unstable and fickle; and it will continue weak and uncertain till thou strengthen and establish it.” (Clarke).  When we see our need to obey God’s law, we cry out to him because in our own strength we cannot obey him. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So God answers our prayer and he gives us but James speaks of! I love this verse, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6; Prov. 3:34; Job 22:29; Isa. 57:15).  Oh his grace is yours dear child of God. In our weakness he is strong! He gives greater grace as we humble ourselves in prayer. 

One of the marks of the new birth prophesied in Ezekiel was that not only would we have a new supple heart and a spirit made alive and conscious of God, “Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.” (Ezek. 36:31). The Word washes out our idols, “the washing of water by the word” and when the Word exposes the root not just the fruit of sin we are broken and the washing of our weeping takes place as we repent of the hidden idol. “The tears that accompany repentance, conversion and inward renewal are linked both in the scriptures and in the later Christian spiritual tradition with the concept of penthos, “mourning” that purifies the soul… penthos in the New Testament is also mourning with tears; but it is a grief that leads to a determination to act or change.” (I. Hausherr, Penthos, the Doctrine of Compunction in the Christian East, Cistercian publ, 1982)

Isaac Watts the great hymn writer penned, “Physician of my sin-sick soul, to thee I bring my case; my raging.”  malady control, and heal me by thy grace. Pity the anguish I endure, see how I mourn and pine; for never can I hope a cure, from any hand but thine. I would disclose my whole complaint, but where shall I begin? No words of mine can fully paint that worst distemper, sin. It lies not in a single part, but through my frame is spread; a burning fever in my heart, a palsy in my head. It makes me deaf, and dumb, and blind, and impotent and lame; and overclouds, and fills my mind, with folly, fear, and shame.  A thousand evil thoughts intrude tumultuous in my breast; which indispose me for my food, and rob me of my rest. Lord I am sick, regard my cry, and set my spirit free; say, canst thou let a sinner die, who longs to live to thee?”

This is not the sorrow of the world that works death, but repentance that leads to life (2 Cor. 7:10).  Paul wrote that to saved people who had an idol of sin exposed in them.  Regret is not enough. Penance cannot earn anything with God.  You can cover “the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out” (Mal 2:14).   Esau “found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Heb. 12;:7).  Even when someone dies we must not give into despair. We should not sorrow as those that have no hope (1 Thess 4:13) or weep with,  “the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter…” (Eccl. 4:1).  

God gives the gift of tears to you. Joy is mingled with sorrow! You may have many tears on your face, weeping in secret places, weeping in prayer on your bed at night, sometimes as you wake up. God allows trials and problems to expose the root of the idols that exploit us. You may eat the bread of tears and drink tears in great measure. But it is a blessed gift. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Like precious seed he has given you tears.  He that granted you the gift of repentance in salvation, has given you the gift of tears in a deeper compunction.  Like a storm of weeping that washes the earth of its filth,  the sun of grace shines causing a garden of grace to bloom! That healing of heart is the sweetest. The Lord is with you. He is on your side and in His mercy is driving out of your heart by His Spirit the devestating idols that rob your joy and your tears flood out the devices that bring sin and guilt and pain.

You feel hatred for your sin, and pure love for God, you desire to not only be forgiven but to know freedom from the cancer causing idol-agent in your heart. God says, “I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee.” (2 Kings 20:5).  You have washed the feet of Christ with these tears often in asking forgiveness, now the release from this root sin will be yours. Your sin will be sent away from your heart. He will comfort you. He will then save your eyes from tears because he keeps your from falling in this area of your life.  He will wipe away the tears from your face as he swallows up that deadly sinful idol  in victory. In your mourning you rejoice as sin is exposed and put out by the Holy Spirit.  “Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded..” (Jer 31:16). That is the precious collaboration of you and God in work of the heart and inner man who is so neglected, you will be rewarded by “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”

There Will Be No Peace

2971049198_1b0df8dd00Lately, the popular Playing for Peace concept has been gaining momentum, especially with the Ben E. King classic,  “Stand By Me” video on You Tube. It is an incredible effort by sound technicians and well done.  I have to give them credit. People from all over the world never having met each other and singing the same song. After watching and listening to the Stand by Me Video you will understand the hard work that goes into such a project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM

Mark Johnson the creator of Playing for Change (playingforchange.com)  has the idealistic concept and as he puts it, “desire to inspire each other and come together as the human race and music is the best way to do this is through music…and the belief that we can do a lot more for this world if we work together than we ever can apart.” 

The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF)  is attempting to raise funds for  the new Ntonga Music School in Guguletu, South Africa that will help children in extreme poverty. PFCF is also looking to build the Mehlo Arts Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Mehlo Arts Center is a creative writing school or “Talking Songs”” for the youth of Johannesburg. PFCF also is attempting to rebuild and enhance Tibetan refugee centers in Dharamsala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal. All of these things are incredibly important, especially creating a safe place for the persecuted and abused.

Music is powerful. There is no doubt about that.  Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. … I get most joy in life out of music.”  But music in its best form has no power to transform the human heart. We see the horrors of inhuman acts done to people and I applaud PFCF for wanting to do something about it.

That is is one problem that stands in the way of  PFCF: Human nature. No this is not cynicism talking, it is the undeniable evidence seen in the issues they confront. 

The scriptures say of people, “Their feet run to evil and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths they have made their roads crooked;  no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.” (Isaiah 59:7-9ESV).

I am sure  groups like PFCF see religion, politics and such creating war. Who can argue with that. But religion or politics is never the culprit. I think people use this argument to oversimplify the issue but create non entities at which they can throw stones. It is always the responsibility of the individual and a matter of the heart.  There are those of us recognize the enemy is not out there, it is within. A enemy so intelligently corrupt, deceitful, so frighteningly warlike unless it experiences a radical supernatural change, there will be no peace. That enemy is within, and music cannot pacify it. There is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22; 57:21).

The concept of music changing the world sounds good (and is not a new concept) on the surface but can it change the nature of people? Can Mark Johnson and PCFC  promise that? From my experience with people and especially in churches the style of music can  create great controversy and even division. Music is so diverse it represents entire sub cultures and people just are everything from stubborn to unpredictable even when it comes to the idea of taste in music.

Let me also state that words still have meaning. You cannot change that. Lyrics from the Christian worldview should reflect the truth about biblical doctrine. Are they singing the truth or do they need to focus on benign agreeable lyrics that gloss over reality-the reality that human beings are NOT inherently good and moral but there is some radically wrong with each individual. The fountain of their hearts is controlled by the sinful nature. they are radically depraved. Because of this they always will fight and have no peace. Marc and others like him unknowingly may be guilty of the error of the false prophets who offer superficial treatments for people’s mortal wound by giving assurances of peace when there is no peace. (Jer 6:14; 8:11). Music by itself cannot bring peace, or he would not have to use it to raise funds for his causes.

On the other hand, Jesus Christ is called, “the Prince of Peace” and unless the Jesus of the scriptures rules the hearts of people they will never manage their anger, and repent of their hostility or hate. I think churches and their preachers should focus more on the idea of peace, domestically and abroad.  But especially peace in the heart. Peace is the result and effect of righteous living (Isa. 32:17; 48:18). This would mean constant strife in the home, church and soceity shows that our heart are not right and we need to repent of the sin of anger. The Bible is clear, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18). 

May Christ give you the music of peace in your heart and you see his kingdom and his peace.

DID GOD KILL ADAM?

expulsion1Hamartiology is a theological term that refers to  the study of sin.  Yes, I said the word sin and the word theology. This article will be heavy theology to some by wade through the waters if you can. I am just a student attempting to learn more about our Lord. 

Sin means to miss the mark of God’s standard and perfection. I know it is an unfamiliar word in some circles but it is the most dangerous influence in the universe. The truth about sin is an acquired taste and it is definitely unpalatable to this generation and in times past. Sin is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Bible calls it the plague of the heart (1 Kings 8:38). People do not, cannot and will not become conformed to the will of God because they are deformed in their nature because of sin. Sin is not just a habit or an illness it is the punishment that  has brought spiritual death. We need to study about the radical depravity of humans because unless we know about the  nature, origin and consequences of sin we can never genuinely worship God for his mighty power to save and free us from its penalty, power and presence. 

The book of Genesis records that God created our planet in six 24 hour periods or days (Gen. 1-2). God created human beings in his image and breathed life into them (Gen. 1:26; 2:27).  Adam was a man who had a body which served as an earthly exterior and he was given “the breath of  lives” and given a spirit and soul or heavenly insides. God made a garden paradise for them to live in (Gen 2:8).

Grace or Work in The Garden

Certain theologians insist that adhering to the belief that God and Adam had a covenant of works-based on the obedience of Adam to God’s command as a test of whether you really have pure doctrine.  But John Murray says,

“Towards the end of the 16th century the administration dispensed to Adam in Eden, focused in the prohibition to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, had come to be interpreted as a covenant, frequently called the Covenant of Works, sometimes a covenant of life, or the Legal Covenant. It is, however, significant that the early covenant theologians did not construe this Adamic administration as a covenant, far less as a covenant of works. Reformed creeds of the 16th century such as the French Confession (1559), the Scottish Confession (1560), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Thirty-Nine Articles (1562), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Second Helvetic (1566) do not exhibit any such construction of the Edenic institution. After the pattern of the theological thought prevailing at the time of their preparation, the term ‘covenant,’ insofar as it pertained to God’s relations with men, was interpreted as designating the relation constituted by redemptive provisions and as belonging, therefore, to the sphere of saving grace.”  (John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: 4, Studies in Theology, “Covenant Theology,” (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), pp. 217-18).

But there is too much evidence of  grace and mercy in the Garden of Eden  as God condescended to the first couple.  Adam was not left to himself without help and and just because his decisions or his will were unfettered from evil desires does not mean he did not need God’s life and communion. He was made to fellowship with God.  Because Adam fell was he more dependant on God for mercy?  I do not think so. Adam needed God’s presence and life just in his glorious state of perfection as well.  God was the Creator and He was still the created. Eventually, we see the root of his sinful pride was that he did not want to depend on God alone. But Adam, holy and innocent as he was stood out as a specimen of the Sovereign grace of God. His wife was a gift by grace. His home, work and title were all gifts of grace.  He owed his very existence to God’s grace!   The biggest problem with the Covenant of Works is that it misconstrues God’s dealings with Adam. Does God legally deal with Adam on the basis of his works and obedience and then make another covenant of grace later that deals with us in mercy apart from our actions?   What did Adam fall from anyway? It was an awful apostasy and breakdown from the life, love and communion he had with God.  He fell from grace!

Wanted: Adam Dead or Alive

Adam was  promised life for obedience and threatened death for disobedience.  He has to obey God or he could not enjoy fellowship with God. As many preachers point out that he was free to eat from every tree except that one. The emphasis was on God’s grace and Adam’s status. Adam was a representative or federal head of all human beings (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:22, 47).  There is a biblical implication that God made a covenant with Adam but it was because of grace and steadfast love (Hosea 6:6-7). Then our first parents disobeyed God (Gen 3).  When he disobeyed things changed. When Adam sinned he died spiritually (Ezek. 18:20; Eph. 2:5) and He became a slave to sin (Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19) and the sin he sinned and the death he died was transmitted to all of humanity (Rom. 5:12). Simply put, total depravity means human beings are dead in sin and sold out to its power. Death and total depravity are synonymous.

The idea of God giving Adam the death penalty for his crime had somehow slipped our minds.  But it is clear as day. God’s justice and mercy are woven through the tapestry of scripture. God sentenced Adam to slavery to sin and spiritual death. Was God unrighteous to enforce this penalty as Creator and Lawgiver? His perfection, holiness and justice are limitless! He hates sin. All sin is against God (Psalm 51: 4).  This must never be forgotten. Adam countered God’s goodness, kindness and glory with violating his law! Adam was made for God’s glory and to serve him and Adam betrayed the God of heaven with what R.C. Sproul refers to as “cosmic treason.” Adam deliberately rebelled against God and defected to serve Satan and his lies. That is why God inflicted capital punishment upon him and sentenced him to death, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die!” (Gen 2:17).  God takes vengeance upon Adam and repays him to the face for his deed with spiritual and eventually physical death and also slavery to the sin Adam loved so much (Deut 7:10; Rom 12:19).

Arthur Pink comments that man, “is like a murderer in the condemned cell awaiting execution…he is dead vitally, without a single spark of spiritual life. Thus he is totally dead to God and holiness, cast out of His favor, without any power to recover it.”  That is total depravity in a nutshell. Adam was put to death by God.  He was executed for his crime. The day he ate he died inside and he sat on death row until he died physically. The payback of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Human beings are so entrenched in sin they cannot produce anything that is equal to God’s standard for heaven.  The heart and will are dead. This does not mean he cannot feel guilt or is unable to discern right and wrong. This does not mean they cannot make day to day decisions or feel affection for others. What this means is that men are incapable of loving God in and of themselves and in their mind hate the truth of God are defiant against it. In everything humans do is tainted with sin. This truth should humble us.

A Love-Hate Relationship

God was angry at Adam for what he did.  American Christianity will avoid talking about God’s wrath or deny God has anger at all.  They think  it portrays God having some fault or blemish in his character. But he detests, loathes and has an aversion to evil and hates sin. God does not separate that anger toward those who live in sin either. People will say that God’s wrath was an Old Covenant issue, not in the New Covenant. Ridiculous! Right now God’s wrath is revealed from heaven (Rom. 1:18).  There is a day of wrath coming (Mt 3:7; Luke 3:7; Rom 2:5). For people who do not believe in Christ God’s wrath is upon them (John 3:36), they are ominously called “the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

God does love righteousness and hate iniquity (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1: 9). Let us be clear: God’s hatred for sin and the God’s passion for justice  are divinely foreign and transcend human emotions and affections. He does not love as we love, he does not hate as we hate-He is perfect love and perfect holiness! Many people point out that God is love (1 John 4:8) but He is not all loving and all forgiving. He also is holy and just. There are scriptures that teach God hates the unrepentant reprobate (Hosea 9:15; Ps. 5:5; 11:5; Lev. 20:23; Prov. 6:16-19; Mal. 1:3; Rom. 9:13)!  Does this shock you? How could this be? I know it is a lot to think about. We have always been taught that God does not hate anyone.   The Bible teaches this in contradiction to much preaching today. This is the most difficult truth for anyone to swallow because the majority of people especially church goers under spin doctor preaching or pop theology want unconditional acceptance from God no matter what they do. God giving people over to their desires such as Romans 1:18-32 is another truth that sours in their spiritual stomachs.

They also think in humanistic terms because what they do is not as bad as others. Notice the comparison they use, “not as bad as others.”  We hate (tolerantly, politely and sometimes angrily) those who commit awful crimes. The molester, child abuser or murderer are an object of hostility, abhorrence and revulsion. Whereas we know we should not take the law in our hands but when justice is served upon awful criminals, molesters, murderers-we loathe them and want to see justice served.  Those who we appoint to represent us and to deal with crime, are called God’s servants,  “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Rom 13: 4). But God’s wrath is free from anything tainted by sin and what are the sinful actions of we human beings contrasted with the thrice Holy God of the universe? Where angels since eternity involuntarily past spill out and never grow weary of crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” (Rev. 4:8).  What sin ticks God off? All sin  whether in thought, word or deed (James 2:10). Even taking a piece of fruit in the Garden angered him, because He commanded Adam not to do it.

Christ is the Only Hope For Sinners

In Genesis chapter three Adam and Eve were unable to clothe themselves, hide themselves, excuse themselves and unable to save themselves. The flimsy leaves of their self righteousness could not clear them of their deeds (Isaih 64:6). I believe that God acted in mercy toward the elect first parents by slaying the animal and clothing them with animal skins. Sin had to be punished and at the same time he wanted to save his creation! But how could he justify the ungodly without violating his own laws (Prov 17:15)? Only Jesus, the eternal Son of God was the only One who could save them.  His sacrifice was the only act that could save us. For Adam and Eve, Abel and others those who saw the shadow of the cross across their path were saved retroactively (Heb. 10:1).

Christ removes spiritual death and the last enemy to be destroyed has already been dealt a death blow (1 Cor 15:26).  The God-man was the perfect once-for-all sacrifice (Heb 10:10). King Jesus, the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8) left his throne above to come and die in the place of sinful men, to satisfy a God who was offended at the despicable acts of man. This was a type of what the predicted “seed of the woman” would do (Gen 3:15). He would be sacrificed to appease the anger of  God. That is the meaning of the word propitiation and atonement. Only in Christ can we be saved from God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10). 

Jesus Christ came into this world for lawbreakers and sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and they can only be saved by the power of the Spirit of God drawing them to foot of Calvary’s cross (John 6:44).  Jesus died saying, “Father forgive them!” (Luke 23:34) in making covenant in his blood (Heb 13:20). he not only made the covenant but he  was the Covenant (Isaiah 42:6)  and he sealed these people as he died for them to give them eternal life (Eph4:30).  Jesus could look at  the people given to him by the Father and say, “because I live ye shall live also.” (John 14:19).  The last Adam was a life giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45) who came and resurrected the lost souls of his elect people by his own resurrection.  He is the first of the harvest of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:23). Jesus will resurrect human beings from their graves notonly physically (John 5:28) but he gives new birth to those whom he breathes on and speaks life to (John 3:5; 20:22; Eph 2:1, 5). He will give life, eternal life to believers, those ordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48).  He sees people in their dead condition and he says, “Come forth!” (Luke 11:43). 

Notice what Jesus says, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John 16:27). “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph 5:25).  Jesus loves us, he comes as God’s answer not ours. He died in love for his church, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1). He stooped down to wash their sins away and to remove the reason for God’s wrath against them!  He loves the justified sinner (John 14:21). The blood of Jesus Christ washed their sins away (Rev. 1:5). He lavishly, abundantly poured out the riches of his grace and forgiveness “in love” upon his own, those he has saved (Eph 1:4-7). We are rooted and grounded in that love (Eph3:17) and Christ is the sole hope of salvation.

Must God Kill Us?

Some of you bristle still at the fact that God executed Adam for his crimes and sentenced him to return to the dust. But there is a death we all must die that is not physical. It is through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that the Word of God must kill us (John 16:8; Heb 4:12).  God says to Israel, “I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.” (Hosea 6:5NIV). Real biblical preaching  puts to death the pride of humans and exalts God! That is where surrender to God comes in the form of repentance. Why?  Repentance is the death to self that we all must die so that we come alive in Christ clothed in his righteousness not the tattered rags of our self righteousness. We must take up our cross and follow Christ.  Adam’s flimsy leaves, and taking cover behind the tree of his sins could not cover his sin.  Like him we cannot hide. All the church of today offers with its self improvement, motivational psycho-gospel  leaves us red faced and ashamed in the presence of the God whose piercing gaze cannot be bribed with the good works of man.  Humans must take on the robe of Christ and hide behind or in the rugged wood of the cross of Christ! 

Let me finish with the words of Charles Spurgeon:

“This downcasting and slaying is good for us. We take a deal of killing, and it is by being killed that we live. Many a man will never live till his proud self is slain. O proud Pharisee, if you are to live among those whom God accepts, you will have to come to the slaughterhouse and be cut in pieces as well as killed. “This is dreadful work,” saith one, “this dividing of joints and marrow, this spiritual dismemberment and destruction.” Assuredly it is painful, and yet it were a grievous loss to be denied it.  Alas, how many are so good and excellent, and strong and wise, and clever, and all that, that they cannot agree to be saved by grace through faith. If they could be reduced to less than nothing it would be the finest thing that ever happened to them. Remember what Solomon said might be done with the fool, and yet it would not answer–he was to be brayed in a mortar among wheat with a pestle,-pretty hard dealing that, and yet his folly would not depart from him. Not by that process alone, but through some such method, the Holy Spirit brings men away from their folly. Under his killing operations this may be their comfort that, if Jesus Christ rose literally from the dead (not from sickness, but from death), and lives again, even so will his people. “