Slaying the Beast Within

(Note to readers: these first few blogs are backlogs from my MySpace blog written over the past year, so if you’re a MySpace friend, give it about 10 posts for new material.)

I’m back!!! Here as promised.
I’ve done some research on blogs, and I’ve found that blogs are best kept more shorter than longer. I’ll try to work on that. I get carried away sometimes.
Okay, where were we. Yes, that ugly beast. Our selfish nature. Our unbridled egos. The bible calls it our flesh, or our sin nature. Ooooooooh, there I said it, the dreaded s-word. The four letter word condensed down to three. We like to sweep that one under the carpet because let’s face it, we all got a list of sins that we love. Those fun sins. Those little somethings that we love to indulge in. And those big ones, too. But , hey, supposedly size doesn’t matter, right? (Maybe another sermon for that one, if I can wrap my head around it.) Sin is our rebellion. Rebellion against God’s best for our lives. The word sin is actually an archery term. It means missing the mark, as in missing the bulls eye. We all do it. You know it.
Of course, you might not believe in God, or you might not believe the bible to be God’s word. Sorry, can’t convince you right now, don’t know if I could anyway. But you have to admit you’ve had some pretty crappy moments that if there was a God, you know you wouldn’t be up to snuff in His sight. (He still loved you and still loves you.)
So the point is, this raging beast is our sin nature. It’s not some imaginary thing within us that we are not responsible for. Sin is born out of our choices and decisions. We are responsible. It just certainly feels like a civil war inside us sometimes. But we can’t come out and say, “The devil made me do it.” Cop out.
Not only does this sin keep us from a fullness of life here on earth, but it keeps us from an eternal life after we’ve bit the big one. I’m not prepared to rage on about hell right now. Don’t know if that’s the best way to get your attention. But I’d rather share with you God’s solution to this sin problem.
Let me ask you a personal question, if I may. In your opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?
I don’t know how you answered that. But I would like to take the next 3 weeks or so to share with you how the Bible answers this question.
There is a word we can use to answer this question: F.A.I.T.H. That truly is the answer, but we can break it down a little further. Each letter of the word FAITH stands for another word. Bear with me, I know this seems a bit juvenile or over simplified for such a weighty subject. But it helps me get a handle on this weighty subject.
F is for Forgiveness.
We can not have eternal life or heaven without God’s forgiveness.
The bible says, in Ephesians 1:7a, “In Him (meaning Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
To make a long history short, back in the bible days, before Christ, the Jews had a religious ritual that required them to take an animal, like a bull, lamb, or dove, and sacrifice it. That animal was a substitute in that moment for the person offering it in sacrifice. I’m gonna suck if I sit here and try to explain this to you on the fly, so here is an excerpt from the Holman Bible Dictionary on the subject of blood sacrifice.
“Even when the Old Testament speaks of animal sacrifice and atonement, the sacredness of life is emphasized. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). Perhaps because an animal life was given up (and animals were a vital part of a person’s property), this action taken before God indicated how each person is estranged from God. In giving what was of great value, the person offering the sacrifice showed that reconciliation with God involved life—the basic element of human existence. How giving up an animal life brought about redemption and reconciliation is not clear. What is clear is that atonement was costly. Only the New Testament could show how costly it was.”
So, blood was required for this reconciliation between man and God. Seems kinda crude, I know, and I’m sure the PETA people would be up in arms, but that was what God required.
Let me explain two more words. In that excerpt from Holman’s, there’s the word atonement, which in a nutshell means reconciliation. Think of two parties estranged from each other making amends. The other word is in the verse Ephesians 1:7a, and that is redemption. To redeem means to purchase. Jesus Christ purchased our forgiveness by his death on the cross. All those animal sacrifices in the old testament times ultimately pointed the way to the death of Jesus on the cross. They were a symbol of things to come.
I know when I piss someone off by being a jerk, or when hurt I someone’s feelings, and when I genuinely recognize the hurt I’ve caused, it sure is assuring to hear the words, “I forgive you.” God wholeheartedly wants to offer that forgiveness to you.
So, in a nutshell, forgiveness is something that God wants to give to us, and it is a forgiveness that was purchased with a high price by God Himself, the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. A reconciliation takes place between God and ourselves.
Yes there is some more to this. Not a trick or small print, but this concept of eternal life is more than just an event that happened and therefore we’re all good with God. No, a transaction must take place. And that, my friends, is what we’ll talk about next week.
Sneak peek: This Forgiveness is Available, but not Automatic.
Tune in next week…..

11To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13″A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17″When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”‘
20″So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.£’
22″But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25″Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27’Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28″The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31″His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'”

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