By: Dennis Stackhouse
A wayward young man ran away from home on one occasion. This boy didn't even bother to let his parents know where he was. As time went by, his father died. He happened to read about it in the newspaper and then came home. His mother received him kindly upon his return. The day came when the will was to be read. The family all gathered together and the lawyer began to read the deceased father's last will. To the great surprise of all who were present, the will spoke about the wayward career of the run away son in great detail. In anger, the boy rose up and stormed out of the room, left the house and was not heard from for three years. When he was eventually found, he was informed that after telling of his waywardness, the will went on to bequeath him a considerable sum of money. Can we imagine how much sorrow he would have been spared if he had only heard the reading of the will through to the end?
In a similar way, many people will only read half way or part of the way through the Bible before they turn from it in dissatisfaction. Most people do not like to be branded as a sinner and an enemy of God. But the Bible certainly makes this point very clear. Isaiah 59:2 reads: "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." Sin separates us from God. In James 4:4 we have this added bit of information: "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." Are we friends with the world or with God? Without question, people don't like to hear what the results of sin will be, and that is recorded for us in Romans 6:23: "The wages of sin is death." Now, if we were to leave it right there we would be staring at a very dismal picture. This leaves us with no hope, no reason to continue, no point in trying to live a good life. The encouraging news is that's only half the story.
After Paul said that the wages of sin is death in Romans 6:23, he went on to say: "But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." You see how much could be missed by only reading part of the story? Sin is a reality and God is deadly serious about the consequences awaiting those who continue in a sinful lifestyle. There will be no escape for the person who turns his back on God and goes merrily on his way down the path of sin. But God has made provisions by which one can escape the ravages of sin, if he or she chooses to do so. We are all familiar with the words of John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Such a love defies our understanding. Note as well what we have in Romans 5:6: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." And Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And again in Romans 5:10: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." While mankind was ungodly, still living as sinners and as enemies of God, Christ died for us.
The Bible truly paints a bleak picture in regard to sin and the fact that all men are sinners. Romans 3:23 verifies this: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." God will not allow sin to go unpunished. If a person persists in such a lifestyle, there will be eternal consequences. Speaking of the disobedient sinner, we read these words in 2 Thessalonians 1:9: "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." But again, that's only half the story. The other side is that God provided a way for those who love Him to go to heaven and live eternally there is His presence. This is pointed out in 1 Peter 1:4-5: "To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Don't stop reading or listening before you get the full picture. And, don't get mad about the fact that you are sinner, do something positive about it.
Gary L. Hutchens