Lately I have had a problem with sin. Being involved in a Bible Study deep into the Book of Leviticus hasn’t helped either. It isn’t that I have been sinning any more than usual (at least I hope not); it’s just that there is no escape from sin. I am doomed before the sun comes up.
“You are a sinner! You are not welcome in the community, let alone Kingdom of God!” Condemnation presses down on my head like a lead sewage plate. How will I make my way out of my stench?
Prayer (the twenty-four questions a day kind), long talks with my grandson, and a message given by my pastor led me to the red ribbon – the lifeline, so to speak. If you have struggled with questions that have made you feel condemned, let me share…
My prayer – Because I sin, am I in a constant state of condemnation? In other words, “Show me the Hope.”
My grandson’s counsel – “Sin is absolute demolition. Think BB gun at a plate of glass. Shattered.”
My pastor’s message – “Unless we are unified in Christ’s Love, our church is not His Church.”
Condemnation puts a noose around our necks and yanks us straight out of the presence of God and everything good He wants to give us. Separated from God, we become disoriented and weak. This is what the beast of condemnation does – presses down, squeezes in, and diminishes hope. Damning our ego, it separates us from truth, productivity, and worst of all, unity. Before long, the lies take over, offense chokes the Spirit, and the sinning begins.
When I read Leviticus and saw the word sin in a thousand places, I wondered how the Israelites ever had any hope at all. I confess; I worried about me, too. What about my sin nature? God had been adamant about the transgressions of those naughty people. They had to be purified from every sin they had committed or even thought of committing. He detailed sacrifice after bloody sacrifice to insure their penitent obedience.
All of those Laws directed toward sins were designed to cleanse an unholy people to make them holy for a Holy God. God loved His Children with such a vengeance that He demanded the blood of unblemished animals for their sins.
“For the life of the flesh is the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls…” (Leviticus17: 11)
But the Israelites kept sinning. It was not a good time for livestock.
Is sin that nefarious and condemnation so cancerous? Has God ever become tired of chasing our sinful backsides? Probably, but His wrath has never wavered in His pursuit of every soul. Why? Because God knows that the consequences of sin is death and eternal separation from Him.
When we condemn ourselves, other persons, or groups of people, we immediately disconnect from the holiness of God. We become distracted and disturbed by the weird nasty business of the world around us. We feel unbalanced, estranged, and insecure. Rather than feeling freed and fulfilled, loved and encouraged, we become stymied and offended by what others do differently, like speaking in a foreign language, dressing inappropriately, eating too much or not enough, chewing too loud, or parking in the wrong spot. Then we think what others must be saying about us is distorted, unfair, and downright outrageous.
Condemnation makes us the victim of whomever we suspect, or of ourselves. Sometimes it even seems God is the attacker. Condemnation is a conspiracy and the devil’s work. It builds walls and divides us.
“As for You, O Lord, You will not restrain Your mercy from me. Your steadfast love and faithfulness will forever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs on my head, my heart fails me.” (Psalm 40:11-12)
We do not have to sink in a manhole or scream for deliverance from sin’s condemnation. We do not have to slaughter our pets, dress for dozens of ceremonial festivals, tear out our hair, wear sackcloth, or ride a wretched goat outside the neighborhood. When we believe what God revealed to us through the Cross, we are forgiven. Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to atone for our sins once and for all. This is the gift of Grace we are given through faith, not because of how much we regret our sins or how sad we are because we know we will fail again tomorrow, or in five minutes. Because of the Cross, we are no longer condemned. We are not separated from God; we are separated to Him. We are One!
We just have to hold out our dirty crooked hand, and He will grab on tight. In His mysterious and miraculous way, God takes the broken and victimized spirit within us and creates a whole new person, one who is “becoming holy as I am Holy.”
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9)