The first thing we need to realize about ourselves and God is that He is GOD. He says this in Exodus chapter 20, verse 2: "I am the Lord your God". Now, if God is GOD…who or what is Jesus? Jesus is God’s Son, sent to earth by God to become a sacrifice for our sins. The book of Romans chapter 8, verses 3 and 4 say:
"For what the law could not do in that it was weak through
the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness
of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the
flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be
fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but
according to the Spirit."
Romans chapter 8, verse 9 says: "So, then, those who are in the flesh can not please God." What does this mean?
These words mean that the law (Old Testament Law of God, namely the 10 Commandments) couldn’t do what God could do. God condemned sin in the flesh (this was what the law couldn’t do) – and the flesh that became condemned was His Son, Jesus. His Son came to earth in the likeness of all of us on earth – HUMAN – so that the law would be fulfilled and those who accept this would not have the burden of sin anymore. Those who sin CAN NOT please God. This would include everyone.
Romans chapter 2, verses 5 to 11 tell us that:
"in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent
(unrepentant) heart, you are treasuring up for yourself
wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous
judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to
his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance
in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to
those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but
obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation
and anguish on every soul of man who does evil, to the Jew
first and also to the Greek, but glory, honor, and peace to
everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and
also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God."
This means that those who sin, those who break every commandment and don’t care, will feel God’s indignation and wrath, and experience tribulation and anguish, when God judges them. As well, those who obey God’s word and repent of their plentiful sin, and accept Jesus’ sacrifice, will experience glory, honor, and peace. Yes, I know. The words say "Jew and Greek." These were the two dominant cultural groups in the area at the time of this writing. But…also remember that God’s Word is for ALL MAN – THERE IS NO PARTIALITY WITH GOD!
In the Old Testament, we were given the "Ten Commandments." They are found in the Book of Exodus, chapter 20, verses 3-17.
1 – You shall have no other gods before Me (God).
Do you place ANYTHING in your life ahead of God? It can be anything at all. God is to be the FIRST in our lives.
2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol (anything that you bow down to and worship). This is ANYTHING that we allow to take prominence in our lives. This can be not only other gods from other religions, but also things like money, family, jobs, school, activities, people…the list goes on.
This is ANYTHING that we allow to take prominence in our lives. This can be not only other gods from other religions, but also things like money, family, jobs, school, activities, people…the list goes on.
3 – You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.
This can be using God’s Name as an idle expression of emotion rather than addressing God by name, OR it can be swearing/cursing (these are words usually spoken in anger). Even the common slang for swears counts – the intent to curse was there. Do you do this at all?
4 – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Do you remember that God commands us to set aside a day to "keep holy," to worship and not worry about the stresses of this world?
5 – Honor your father and mother.
Who of us has ALWAYS thought good of our parents and treated them with the respect God commands (or any other respect, for that matter)?
6 – You shall not murder.
This is not only the traditional concept of murder, but also hatred. Jesus said this, and it is written in the Book of Matthew chapter 5, verses 21-22: " you have heard it said to those of old: ‘you shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment." Do you have people in your life that you hate?
7 – You shall not commit adultery.
Have you ever even THOUGHT about cheating on your spouse? If you have, the desire is there in your heart…and the Bible says that thinking about it is the same as doing it. (Matthew, chapter 5 verses 27-28: "You have heard it said to those of old, ‘you shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.")
8 – You shall not steal.
Have you ever stolen? This includes ANYTHING – even paperclips or pushpins. God does not care WHAT you steal. He just commands that you NOT steal.
9 – You shall not lie.
Have you ever told a lie, even out of good motives? ANY lie is still a lie, and God will judge all lies the same way.
10 – You shall not covet (want) your neighbor’s possessions, or his wife, or anything that he owns.
Isn’t it too easy to see, for example, someone’s new Corvette and just HAVE to have it? THIS is the concept of coveting – have you ever done this?
How did you measure up? I didn’t do so well when I looked at these before I knew God. But, do you know what else? If you break EVEN ONE commandment, you’ve broken them all. (Matthew chapter 9, verse 19 – "whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in Heaven.) Let me illustrate this for you, using an example from my childhood. Notice the snowball effect that even ONE sin has in our lives.
I wanted my sister’s cinnamon bun, and she wasn’t around. I wanted it SO much (I coveted it), that I began to hate her (murder) for not having one when I didn't have one myself. So, I took it and ate it quickly (theft). My mother came in because my sister was busy tidying her toys before her nap and wanted her cinnamon bun. Mom couldn’t find it anywhere. She asked me, the only person around, where it was – and I LIED and told her I didn’t know (2 sins in one – I lied AND I dishonored my mom). I was sent to my room, which is common punishment for a child when Mom sees through your lies, and I was to think about what I had done. I thought intensely, instead, about the cinnamon bun (idolatry).
In this small situation, a 6 year old child (myself) broke 6 commandments! Need I say more? This showed me that, if I could be so very bad while thinking I was a good girl, then I have no hope for my eternity in Heaven with God if I am left alone, to my own devices. I’d sin every time without God!
God did give a command in the Bible about how people could atone for their sins and remain in fellowship with Him, but it’s pretty gruesome. Leviticus chapter 4, verses 13 to 18 speaks of the use of blood in sacrifice.
"Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Now if the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which should not be done and are guilty; when the sin they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin, and bring it before the tabernacle of meeting. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord. Then the bull shall be killed before the Lord. The anointed priest shall bring some of the bull’s blood to the tabernacle of meeting. Then the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, in front of the veil. And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood at the base of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.’"
I am not endorsing that we should all go out and kill calves to atone for our sin. I see it in the Bible, and know that it is there, but this sacrifice was replaced by the most important event in history. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, became a "blood sacrifice" for our sins (as we will discuss on the next page). Know this – He bled, and died, to take our sins from us. The fact that Jesus was a sacrifice was part of a "prophecy," in the Book of Isaiah. Even in the Old Testament, it was made known that this was His fate. "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent so He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah chapter 53, verse 7b)