Category Archives: sin

Reversing the fall of man

Tonight I was reading Genesis 3, the story of Eve’s temptation by the serpent. After Eve ate of the fruit and gave to her husband to do the same, scripture says “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”

Fast forward to Luke 24. Here we have the record of two disciples of  Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It is the evening of the third day after the Lord was crucified and they are very sad. You probably know the story. Jesus shows up walking beside them incognito and asks them what they’re so down about. They reply, “are you not from around here?” as if to say, how in the world could you not know what is going on? (This is funny, because in reality Jesus is the only person in the world at this point in time who really does know what is going on!) So beginning with Moses the Lord takes them all the way through the Old Testament, showing them how it all pointed to Him and was foretelling His suffering and subsequent glory.

As they come near the village the two disciples try to convince the Lord to stay with them for the evening. At first he refuses, then agrees. Once inside they sit down at the table to have some food. As soon as he breaks the bread and gives it so them scripture says “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”

Doesn’t this sound just like Genesis 3? Only now men’s eyes are being opened not to see their naked sinfulness but to see Christ! What can this mean but that the Lord Jesus Christ has reversed the fall of man with all its devastating effects?

Praise the Lord! There is now a new creation in Jesus Christ. The old things of sin, guilt, and fear have passed away, and all things have become new!

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Praying (all the way) through Psalm 139

I think if we’re honest we all have to admit that certain portions of the Old Testament are hard to swallow. Ever since it dawned upon me that God is good, and that Jesus Christ is the full and perfect expression of the Father, I have had to take a new look at the Old Testament writings. To go into everything that entails could easily span a whole volume’s worth of blogging material, but for this post let it suffice to say that I read and pray the scripture with a different mindset than I once did.

For instance, today I was reading Psalm 139. This psalm is beautiful in every respect, one might say, until you come to the final few verses. Here the writer begins to call down curses upon his enemies-“men of blood” who speak against God “with malicious intent” and take His name in vain. David is no holds barred here. “Kill them” is his prayer to God. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I just don’t see how such a mindset could ever hope to square with the words of Jesus, who said, “You have heard it said to hate your enemies, but I say that you should love them.” I trust you get my point!

But today I realized a new way to read and pray scriptures like this. I’m coming off a particulary difficult week, personally. Among other things, I’ve had a very heightened awareness of my sinfulness. And if you’re like me, the reason you hate your sin so much is because you like it!  It seems so much to be a part of you, even one with you, just like Paul describes in Romans 7 (read it for yourself). So I’ve been very humbled this week, even to the point of giving up. But I realize that these things in my flesh are common to all men. However it manifests in each person-whether your partiucular weakness is anger, lying, lust, or whatever-it’s a burden we all bear. And these things are enemies to God and His purpose. “The flesh and Spirit are at war with each other,” as Paul would say, for their desires are conflicting.

So when I came to the end of Psalm 139 today I suddenly had an instinct to direct it toward the Lord as a prayer against myself, or, I should say, the enemy within my own self. “Oh Lord, from this wickedness in my flesh, this man of blood who is hostile toward You and toward all men-deliver me! Slay this vile beast! This old man who masquerades as me, whom the enemy would have me identify with so as to come under his power and condemnation-away with him! I hate that part of me that stands in opposition to you, O Lord, and I side with you against myself!” 

Approaching the scriptures in this way allows me to take those otherwise difficult passages of holy Writ and touch the Lord through them.  While I may not be able to say amen to David’s wish that certain people would die a horrible death (except on a bad day maybe ;)), I certainly can and do identify with every man’s longing to be free from the control of sin which indwells our bodies. In the words of Paul-“O wretched man that I am!  Thank God that through Jesus Christ our Lord He has delivered me from this body of death!”


When a Christian sins (God’s final word on a failure)

(Just a note, this article is a re-post from a couple years ago. But this is its first appearance on this blog.)

Of all the sermons I’ve ever heard about Samson, pretty much all of them cast him in a negative light. The message is usually about sin, saying how it will “bind us, blind us, and lead us into bondage.”

Also, I recently watched a Christian movie. It was good. The main character was a man whose life was falling apart, then he came to faith in Christ and things got better. The thing with most of these movies is that they always end right there. They never broach the subject of what happens when the Christian sins again, or when he falls into despair on the other side of the cross.

Lately I have been very conscious of my own personal failure. As a Christian, as a man, as a husband, as a father. It’s been very difficult. My thoughts have gone to thinking about Samon. The fact that just about every sermon you hear in the churches today about Samson casts him in a negative light, making a bad example of his life, pretty much confirms to me that Samson is considered by most people as a failure. He was given anointing, power, authority, insight, and yet he seemed to squander so much of it. He did some good things with it, but the bad things are many in number as well.

But have you ever considered what was God’s final word on Samson? The final mention made of Samson in the scriptures is found in the letter to the Hebrews. It is very simple. It basically says, “by faith he overcame.”

Maybe somewhere one of the apostles made an example out of Samson to teach believers about sin, but in the small record we have I dont see that anyone ever did. What I do see is Samson being named among the list of the righteous, one of many who through faith “obtained promises, subdued kingdoms” and so forth.

This is comforting to me. Even in the Old Testament record of Samson’s life, though we see plenty of Samson’s personal failures, we see in the end, transcending it all, a revelation of Christ. For when Samson was led by the hand of a servant boy to the pillars of the Philistine temple, he prayed once more for God’s strength to turn back the hand of the enemy. The walls came crashing down on them all, and of Samson it was said that “in his death he slew more than he did in his life.” What is this but a picture of Christ, who in the days of his flesh “went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil” but who, in his death on the cross, destroyed all the wickedness of a fallen creation for all of time?

So, as I said, this is comforting to me. The great lesson of Samson’s life is not sin but faith. Through his failure, he believed. He fell, but he rose again. And again. And again. When I look at the story of Samson I am reminded of the proverb which says, “The righteous man may fall seven times, but he gets back up every time.”

When you have fallen, when you find it hard to believe the gospel in the light of your own failures, and when you are tempted to give in to the voice of the enemy, so convincing in the moment of temptation, that tells you to identify with the old man who was crucified with Christ upon the cross, think of Samson. Remember God’s final word on a failure.

“By faith he overcame.”