Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer may seem obvious. Consider the facts.

Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer seems obvious – No!

But hear me out.

I have a story that can help us answer that question — a question we each need to ponder.

Just to warn you a little, this is not a chicken nugget post. It’s more like filet. By that, I mean this question is meaty.

Worst Decision Ever

Many years ago I made the worst decision of my life.

I sat on a vinyl-covered barstool and walked away from God.

We’d come to an impasse.

The life I wanted didn’t match the life He seemed to want for me. So I told Him the time had come for us to part ways . . . at least for now.

I hadn’t stopped loving God. But He wanted me to surrender to Him, and I wanted Him to surrender to me.

Since we both refused to give in, I made the worst decision of my life.

Two years and painful scars later, I found my way back to God.

With relief and joy, I fell into His welcoming arms and surrendered to His will.

At least I thought I’d surrendered.

Here We Go Again

While my renewed relationship with God exhilarated me, my repeated failure to walk free from sin frustrated me.

Want what God wants. Want what I want.

Gain victory. Fall on my face.

Stand against sin. Run after sin.

Before long, I was digging my heels in with God. Again.

“You always get Your way,” I cried. “Please, this time, just do what I’m asking!”

The Pangs of Death

Ever patient, God spoke through His Word into my aching heart and clouded mind.

“Your way leads to destruction. Your path is paved with lies. Believe Me when I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

I’d been feeling the pangs of death, sure enough, but not the kind God meant.

I was killing my fellowship with God. I was fighting a battle I knew I’d ultimately regret but couldn’t seem to stop fighting.

As they say, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

They are so right sometimes.

Except it was like I had two hearts.

Two Hearts – One Battle

One heart wanted what God wanted as it overflowed with love for Him. The other heart wanted what my sin wanted, as it overflowed with desire for it.

I begged for relief. “Change me, God! Change my heart!”

Silence.

I understood why suicide seems appealing. Relief from pain and struggle in an instant.

God knew I didn’t need relief, though. I needed power. Resurrection power to follow the heart that desired God more than sin.

The funny thing about resurrection, though, is it only comes after death.

Finally, on a warm spring day, I sat on the soft grass in the shade of my Vitex tree and died.

“You win, God,” I said. “I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want You. I don’t care about anything else. Just give me You. I’ll do whatever You want, no matter what it costs me, even if You never bless me again. I don’t care. Just give me You.”

In utter weakness, I died that day. Yet, I rose up and walked into my house stronger and freer than I’d ever been.

God had won the battle, and I gained the victory.

The Verdict

It’s time for a verdict on whether sin can be good.

But first, let’s review the facts of my story.

Facts:

My love for God – as strong as it felt – didn’t draw me back to Him. The pain of my sin did.

My desire to please God didn’t open my eyes to the reality of how good He is or how perfect His law is. My sin did.

It was the devastating “rewards” of my sin that shook me awake to the truth that the path I was walking led only to destruction.

Sin’s agony sent me fleeing to Truth. Running back to God.

Without sin’s wretched grip, I may never have become desperate for relief. I may never have died that day and fully surrendered to God.

Instead, at the very best, I might have lived the rest of my life in exasperation, feeling doomed to a rollercoaster existence of failure, victory, failure, victory.

In view of the facts, I ask again: Can sin ever be good?

Verdict:

No!

No, it can’t.

Sin can never be good. It is unadulterated evil bent on destruction.

But God is good.

God is so good and powerful that He can and does use everything, including our most hideous sin, for His perfect purposes.

He used my wretched sin to draw me to Himself and teach me the truth we all must learn:

Jesus paid the full price (penalty) for our sin on the cross, BUT sin isn’t gone. It lives on inside us, and we are powerless to defeat it – by ourselves. But thanks be to God for His resurrection power over sin through His Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian.

Sin is Never Good. But God Is.

If you’re struggling with sin and feel powerless to defeat it, you need to know that only God can, and He will. Abide in Christ.

Trust Him to be your strength and walk in that trust.

If you’ve already reached an impasse with God and walked away, I pray you’ll return. God is worth more than anything sin or this world has to offer.

Sin’s “rewards” lie perched on a mountain of crumbling lies.

Because sin can never be good.

But God always is.

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EXODUS ~ A Super-Short Summary (and a Less-Than-Super-Short Summary)

EXODUS - A Super-Short Summary and Less-Than-Super-Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

2. EXODUS

“The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”
~ Exodus 12:13

Super-Short Summary:

In Exodus, God shows what it looks like to be rescued from slavery to sin and the dominion of evil and raised to new life into the freedom and service of a loving and perfect Ruler.


Less-Than-Super-Short Summary:

Exodus begins where Genesis ended. The family of Israel was still living in Egypt, but Jacob and his sons had long since passed away.

The new Pharaoh didn’t remember Jacob’s famous son Joseph and all that he did for Egypt. He only noticed their massive size. They’d multiplied like stars in the sky.

He feared Israel might rise up against him, he enslaved them.

Moses, A Baby Born to Save

Exodus 1-10 – Exodus tells the dramatic account of how God chose Moses, an Israelite baby named by the daughter of the man who wanted him dead.

God chose Moses to save God’s people from slavery to Egypt. (Do you see a picture of Christ? A baby born to save people from slavery to sin – not to Egypt.)

The circumstances of Moses’ birth and childhood were remarkable.

The events that led him to run for his life and settle in Midian were disturbing.

And his call by God from inside a burning bush to return to Egypt was one of the greatest moments in history. And included one of my favorite verses.

FAVORITE VERSE: God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” ~ Exodus 3:14 NASB

God let Moses (and us) know that He is, has been, and will always be everything Moses needs (we need) for every moment.

Moses returned to Egypt and told Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Pharaoh said, “No,” so Egypt suffered ten terrifying plagues. God planned them to prove their gods weren’t gods at all.

The Blood of the Lamb Set Them Free

Exodus 11-13 – The final plague gave a dramatic picture of Jesus on the cross.

God told the Israelites to apply the blood of a perfect lamb to the top and sides of their door.

(If you picture the blood applied to the door, you can imagine Jesus on the cross. You can see the blood that dripped from the crown of thorns pressed onto Jesus’ head by the Roman guards. You can imagine the blood from His hands, which were nailed to the cross.)

The Israelites then were told to eat the Passover dinner inside their home and wait, ready to travel.

At midnight the LORD came. If He saw the blood on the door, He passed over the home, and the firstborn son didn’t have to die. (Just as God’s firstborn Son Jesus died on the cross in our place for our sin, the lamb of God died in the place of their firstborn sons.)

If the Lord didn’t see the blood on the door, death came. The firstborn son had to die, even in Pharaoh’s own home.

Pharaoh told Moses to take his Israelites and get out of town. So Moses did.

He followed the Lord, who led them from inside a pillar of clouds in the day and a pillar of fire at night. (Imagine how terrifying that must have looked.)

Through Giant Walls of Water

Exodus 14 – Even with all the miracles God had done in Egypt, the Israelites weren’t prepared for what He did next.

God parted the Red Sea. (Yes, really.)

The Israelites walked between two giant walls of water. They crossed over to freedom on dry ground.

Their passing out of slavery through the water and back out into freedom is a picture of the Believer’s identity with Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection to life.

After Pharaoh let all his free labor go, he flip-flopped his decision and ran after them with his army. (The man just won’t learn.)

But he lost that final stab at keeping Israel enslaved when the Red Sea crashed back into place over them. (Israel had already made it safely to the other side. Whew!)

Into the Wilderness

Exodus 15-23 – Moses led Israel into the wilderness on their way to a beautiful land of their own with God as their loving and perfect Ruler.

He soon discovered that despite having just been set free, they were an ungrateful, grouchy lot. (In other words, they acted like humans controlled by the sin in their hearts – like us.)

In the midst of their whining and rebellion, God gave them His Law – the Ten Commandments and a whole bunch of other rules. They served to reveal the sin that lurks in mankind’s heart and their hopelessness without a Savior.

The Tabernacle

Exodus 24-40 – Exodus ends with God giving Moses directions for building a Tabernacle, so He could live among them, and the Israelites building it.

The Tabernacle was a large portable tent (think portable church) where the priests and high priest brought God the sacrifice for sin. God’s presence would live over the Mercy Seat in the part of the Tabernacle known as the Most Holy Place. (That makes perfect sense, right?)

Exodus Shows Us Jesus

The Tabernacle and sacrifices gave Israel (and us) a powerful picture of the mercy of Jesus, our high priest, who came down to live among His people and sacrificed Himself to pay for our sin.

In fact, God used every one of the Israelites’ escapades to point to Christ and expose the truth about the nature of their (and our) heart, as well as His amazing faithfulness, grace, and mercy.

When we look closely at the Israelites, we see a startling reflection of ourselves. We’re equally inclined toward going our own way – the way of sin. But God continually drew His people toward Himself, and He draws us, too. Will we listen better than they?

Dip your toes into Exodus and see Jesus in dramatic fashion. #Biblestudy #Jesus Click To Tweet




Genesis ~ A Super-Short Summary (and a Less-Than-Super-Short Summary)

Genesis - A Super-Short Summary and Less-Than-Super-Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

1. GENESIS

“In the beginning, God created…”
~ Genesis 1:1

Super-Short Summary:

In Genesis, God created mankind to know and enjoy Him forever. But since we’d rather be our own God than serve the one true God, sin entered the world and set in motion God’s perfect plan of salvation through His chosen people Israel.

Less-Than-Super-Short Summary: 

Genesis introduces the world as God created it and sets the stage for everything that follows.

We meet God’s beloved Adam and Eve, the first man and woman.

God’s enemy Satan then slithers onto the scene and believes he’s bested God by tricking Adam and Eve into rebelling against Him.

Adam and Eve’s disobedience ushers sin into the world and destroys man’s relationship with God.

But God…

Fun Fact: “But God…” is one of the best phrases ever. No matter how we mess things up, God is always able to rescue us. “Man sinned, but God…”

When Adam and Eve sinned, Satan no doubt thought he’d won, but God set him straight.

Before God had even created this big terrestrial ball we call home, God had already planned to use Satan’s prideful heart against him. Along with Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God used Satan’s evil plot to set His great plan for man’s redemption in motion and seal Satan’s eternal doom.

In Genesis 3:15, God speaks to Satan and promises He’ll send a Savior who will redeem man and destroy Satan.

And I [God] will put enmity [hostility] between you [Satan] and the woman [Eve], and between your offspring and hershe [Jesus] will crush your [Satan’s] head [God promises Jesus will deal a fatal blow to Satan one day], and you [Satan] will strike his [Jesus’] heel [Satan will strike a NON-fatal blow when Jesus dies on the cross for our sin but He’ll rise again].”  ~ Genesis 3:15, NIV

All who trust in the promised Savior, Jesus Christ His only Son, receive forgiveness from sin and new life in Him forever, free from even the possibility of sin. One day. (Clearly not yet.)

Adam and Eve’s Family

Genesis follows Adam and Eve’s family, and things get worse fast. (The first murder was fratricide.)

Their descendants become so evil God brings judgment through a global flood. But He saves Noah and his family because Noah believes and obeys God.

God reconfirms His promise of a Savior and creates a nation for Himself through a childless man named Abraham. God chooses this ancient man and his geriatric wife, Sarah, to birth a nation through their son, Isaac, in the land of Canaan.

But first, barren Sarah gave Abraham her maid, which resulted in a different son, Ishmael, but not the promised son, Isaac. Sarah eventually had Isaac, just as God promised.

In a powerful picture of God the Father offering His Son Jesus Christ on the cross, God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

Abraham set his heart to obey because he believed God would raise Isaac — the promised son — back from the dead if necessary.

God credited Abraham’s faith as blamelessness, and God didn’t require Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac. Instead, God provided a substitute for the offering for sin — and another picture of Jesus Christ.

Isaac grew up, married Rebekah, and had twins boys, Esau and Jacob.

Jacob and His Twelve Sons

Like Isaac, God chose Jacob to be the son of the promise before he was born, obviously not based on anything the boys had done.

Jacob turns out to be a cheater, but he loves God. Esau doesn’t cheat, but he doesn’t care about God’s promise.

Jacob marries and has 12 sons – the 12 tribes of Israel. Some aren’t the greatest guys on the planet.

They sell their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt, but God was with Joseph, and his life gets way more interesting – as does theirs. The dramatic events move the family to Egypt, and that’s where they are at the end of Genesis.

God Gives Us a Picture

Through the family of Israel, God shows us what it looks like to belong to Him rather than to the world. And He gives us glimpses of the promised Savior, Jesus.

God also shows us the shocking depth of evil in man’s heart through the fantastical, yet true, events.

Genesis’ mindboggling stories confirm and reconfirm that, unless we set our hearts on following Him, we’d rather be our own God than serve the one true God.

Throughout Genesis, mankind shows sin ruling their hearts as they try to rule others. Yet God proves He rules supreme. He orchestrates events with precision to reveal mankind’s (and our) desperate need for a Savior and His ability to keep His promise to send Him.

God’s Promise in Genesis Fulfilled

God promised a Savior in Genesis 3:15. His chosen people, Israel, looked forward to the fulfillment — Jesus’ coming — but they didn’t see it in the days of Genesis.

At the right time, though, God fulfilled His promise. We get to read about it in the four books known as the Gospels, which are books #40, 41, 42, and 43. It’s going to be awhile before we get there.

Fun fact: The word gospel means “good news.” That’s an understatement.

The Gospels record the birth, death, and resurrection of God’s Son Jesus Christ.

That’s not just good news. It’s the best news.

The next book in the Bible is Exodus. Stay tuned!

Genesis in 43 words. And over 800 if you want more details. #Biblestudy #GodsWord Click To Tweet




The 66 Books of the Bible in 37 Words

The 66 Books of Bible in 37 Words (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

Dipping Our Toes Into Each Book of the Bible

To dive in and fully explain each book of the Bible would take, well, a book. Instead, we’re merely going to dip our toes into the 66 books of the Bible, not bathe in them.

I’ll give you a super-short summary of each book followed by a less-than-super-short summary.

But first, let’s consider the overarching message of the entire Bible.

Here’s what the Bible is about — its main message — in 37 words:

God created man so that we may glorify Him by knowing and enjoying Him forever. This was only made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Stories versus Purpose

Everything within the pages of the Bible either points forward, backward, or at Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, which He endured in order to set us free from sin and make us alive to Him. Forever.

As you read through the Bible, keep in mind that every book is another facet of this overarching story.

The purpose of each book is to serve as another part of God’s plan of salvation, in its own unique way.

For example, Genesis chronicles some of the most fascinating events in history – the creation of the world, a global flood, and a brother sold into slavery becoming second in command of the greatest nation on earth.

The stories are important and amazing, but Genesis’ purpose isn’t to tell the history of the world. That’s not what it’s about.

Genesis contains world history, but it’s not about world history.

Perhaps the following example will clarify.

The Proposal

When a man proposes to his beloved, no matter how he words his proposal, it’s about “Will you marry me?”

He may tell her about the first time he saw her, when he realized he loved her, and how she’s changed his life. These wonderful memories lead up to and support the purpose of his many words, but they aren’t the purpose.

He’s not just reminding her why and how much he loves her. He’s convincing her she ought to say, “YES, I’ll marry you!”

All 66 books of the Bible contain unique stories of the history of the world, its future, and God’s workings throughout time and events. But that’s not their purpose.

The Purpose

The words contained in each book support The Purpose, which is that God created man so we may glorify Him by knowing and enjoying Him forever, which was only made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.

I’ve tried to keep this purpose in mind as I give you a super short summary and a less-than-super-short summary of each book of the Bible.

Shall we start at the very beginning? I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start.

We shall, but you’ll have to wait until next time.

Until then, remember:

God created man so that we may glorify Him by knowing and enjoying Him forever. This was only made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.

I hope this truth encourages you. And I hope that you’ve embraced it, for there’s literally no other way to God than through Jesus Christ.

It’s only after we accept the salvation Jesus bought for us on the cross that we can know and enjoy Him forever.

We can know about Him, but we can’t know Him apart from a relationship with Him, which we only receive by God’s grace through our faith in Christ.

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Dine, Don’t Snack, on Scripture ~ Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 3


Does this ever happen to you?

Life gets busy. Too busy to do much more than the most urgent, like drink coffee so you can do everything else.

Reading the Bible falls off your plan for the day.

And the next day.

And the next.

Ugh.

You move through the week and lament that you haven’t had time to read your Bible. But you don’t do anything about it.


It used to happen to me a lot.

Then a well-meaning friend encouraged me to simply read a verse or two each day saying, “It’s better than nothing.”

Brilliant.

Instead of sitting down for an extended time of reading a few days a week, I faithfully read a verse or two every day.

It was better than nothing.

Or so I thought.

Over time I noticed my relationship with God growing more and more shallow.

I didn’t know why. I missed the connection.

The Enemy of Best

It seems logical that a verse or two is better than nothing. But sometimes better is the enemy of best.

Imagine a pediatrician saying to the mother of a toddler, “You’re busy. It’s ok if you just feed your child a couple of bites of food a day. It’s better than nothing.”

Technically, the doctor would have a point. Two bites are better than no bites. But it’s not best.

Making time to feed children just enough food so they don’t starve to death is better than not making time to feed them at all. But this better situation is no friend of the child’s best.

Taking time out of a busy schedule to feed children well every day so they can grow strong and healthy is always best.

Surely every pediatrician would agree.

Chapters and Verses Entice Snacking

Because the Bible has been divided into chapters and verses, it’s easy for us to stop reading at the end of a verse.

The man-made divisions hint at a break in thought or action and make it easier to stop reading, but this isn’t the best way to read.

We don’t need to go back and remove the chapters and verses from our Bibles. We just need to resist the temptation to snack on Scripture rather than dine.

Should We Abandon All Snacking?

Snacking has its place – both in food and in verses.

Every day I read, pin, like, and heart memes of Bible verses on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

And some days there really is no time for me to read more than a Bible verse meme. Let’s don’t abandon all spiritual snacking.

And certainly not edible snacks. I count the minutes until my 4:00 pm coffee and snack time. Sometimes I have it at 3:00 pm.

Hot chocolate chip cookies or fresh blueberries with a mug of coffee = Happiness.

But if the only food I ate every day was my 4:00 pm snack, my health would fail no matter how healthy my snacks are.

When scriptural snacks were my only source of spiritual nutrition, my relationship with God grew small. My faith, wimpy.

But once I began reading the Bible in all-you-can-eat buffet portions (and in context), my understanding of God and His character expanded. My walk with Him took off.

Imagine that.

My love for and faith in God hasn’t starved since. And they’re still growing as I keep dining on large servings of Scripture rather than snacking.

BTW, there’s no magic formula. No one can tell you how many verses are enough — except God. Let Him lead your time in His Word.

Is It Ever Good To Study Just a Verse or Two?

Absolutely.

It’s a great habit to dig deep into individual verses. To get to the marrow of its meaning.

I’m currently working my way through Romans. One verse at a time.

It’s taking a long while, but I want (need) to understand it better. So I focus each day on a few passages while remembering that reading verses in isolation rather than in context can lead to misunderstanding God’s message.

As I study Romans verse by verse, I also read a chapter or two to let the bigger picture of Romans soak into my mind. And I read other books of the Bible as well.

We shouldn’t become legalistic about our daily reading. It’s not a measure of our spiritual worth. We don’t win points with God when we read. Nor does He hand down demerits when we miss.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 ESV.

No condemnation. None.

But God’s Word blesses us – changes us – when we read it.

You may have to force yourself to read it at first. But eventually, if you read the Bible in order to know the God of the Word, you’ll begin to long for the Word of the God.

Time in God’s Word will become as enticing as that morning cup of liquid heaven. (That’s coffee for me. I don’t know what you strange non-coffee drinkers enjoy.)

No Time? Pray and Make Time

Life is busy. It’s not likely to slow down.

Deal with it. (Was that too harsh? Sorry.)

Pray and ask God. He’ll make a way for you. He may wake you early to read. Or He may open up time for you to read during the day or evening.

We should all ask God to make us aware of the time we already have that we may be misspending watching TV, piddling on Social media, or catching a little extra shut-eye.

Trust God to enable you to accomplish all you need to do each day. Then walk by faith and make time for reading your Bible – even if you don’t think you have time.

God will provide all you need. But you have to trust Him by sitting down with your Bible.

Don’t wait for Him to sit you down. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you voluntarily sit down rather than having God sit you down.

My mom once told me I was too busy. “You need to drop some of your activities,” she said. I told her it was impossible. A couple of months later I had to have surgery. Somehow everything got done without me. She smirked, and I dropped some of my activities. I got sat down, and I listened.

Just as you’d make time to serve a child three full meals a day, make time every day to serve yourself one full meal of spiritual nourishment from God’s Word.

REMEMBER: Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining. Make time to serve yourself a full meal from God’s Word by reading large portions of Scripture every day.

The Word of God Endures Forever

Chapter and verse divisions may not last, but the Word of our God will stand forever.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
~ Isaiah 40:8 ESV

Dine - don't snack - on Scripture. Why you should read more than a verse or two a day. #Biblestudy #GodsWord Click To Tweet