Many of you have studied the life of Jesus. You see the Son of God give up his throne on high to come to earth not as a conqueror or as a king or prince. As John most beautifully put it, he became flesh and lived among us. His birth was a simple one. There was no fanfare of trumpets or a national holiday declared. He came into this world in an animal feeding trough surrounded by smelly farm animals and worshiped by even smellier shepherds. Those that came were the common folk. Simple people marveling at the birth of Jesus.
It is from this humble beginning that Jesus walked among the people and taught them about the love of God and God’s ability to forgive sin. He had no problem or issue with talking with tax collectors, prostitutes or any other outcast of society. In every encounter with those of low social ranking, Jesus showed great compassion and love for them. His mission was to reach out to all people and tell them of God’s love and salvation. However, there was one class of individuals he was extremely harsh to and was brutally honest with. That group of people were the religious leaders of the day. These individuals knew God’s message and taught it to others and, in many cases, they abused their position for their own desires.
In chapter twenty-three of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus called the religious leaders “snakes” and “sons of vipers”. Jesus called them out, because they knew better but did what they wanted out of their own desire. They taught and said one thing to the people and didn’t follow their own teachings. Jesus called them, “hypocrites”.
Paul did the same thing when it came to the church in Rome. Paul, early in chapter one of his letter, is thankful for each in the church in Rome and wants to visit them again to not only encourage their faith but also his own. As he continues, his tone changes and begins to call out their wickedness.
Paul, in chapter two, writes, “Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. No wonder the Scriptures say, ‘The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.’”
As Christians, we teach others about God and how to be obedient by avoiding sin, but those words are empty when we, ourselves, commit the same sins that we taught others to shun. People will look at our example and call us the same thing that Jesus called the religious leaders who failed to follow the laws they taught to others, “hypocrites”.
When we continue to live our lives in a sinful way after accepting God’s undeserved gift of salvation, are we truly saved by God’s grace?
Over the past couple of decades, church attendance has dropped in Europe and that trend is happening in the United States. Many have given up their faith for the things of this world. New idols and thoughts have replaced our faith and moral principles. We have accepted the things of this world as gospel and have failed to live by the true Gospel.
Look at our society. What was once considered taboo and sinful has slowly, over time, become acceptable. We are no longer united as a Judeo-Christian nation based on the foundation of Christian values. Murder, rape and other sins have become commonplace. We have ignored our faith and no longer look to God. He has been replaced with our own gods and idols. What happens when a God-fearing nation turns away from their faith and from God?
Paul, in chapter one of his epistle to the Romans, writes, “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So, they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires.”
By allowing our sinful desires to get the better of us and cause us to drift away from God, God gives us over to those desires. If this is what we want, that is exactly what we will get. God is very patient with His children to an extent, but when we move away from Him and the teachings of His son, then that is our own decision and God will allow that. God gave us free will to make our own choices. If we choose to return to our sinful nature, God will not stop us from doing that.
For me, the most painfully hard part of this is that we know better. We have been taught and, yet, we have decided to go down the path of sin that only leads to destruction, death and damnation. It is so easy today for us to wander away from our faith. Sin is all around us each day. We see things we cannot unsee and internalize them. Then, one day, we accept those things as just what they are. Is there a way back?
The answer is “yes”. There is a way back to God. We must accept and live by our faith and return to the path of righteousness. However, there is a time limit. In time, the last trumpet will sound and the judgment of the Lord will be laid upon us. Saints and sinners alike will stand before God’s throne and the Book of Life will be opened.
Will your name be in the book? For those whose names aren’t in the book, they will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.
I implore you today to examine your life. Are you living your faith or have you accepted the way of this world as your path? It’s not too late. Give up sin and return to God’s arms. Ask for forgiveness and repent of your sins. God will gladly welcome you back to His kingdom and you can stand firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.