Right or Righteous?

Thursday February 26, 2015

Today’s Topic: Who Will Carry Our Sin?

Today’s Scripture:  Genesis 4: 13-14 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

We have a weight problem. We may be carrying around far too much weight: much more than are supposed to be carrying. You’ve probably not noticed mine, but it is a big problem for me. I’m not talking about my large belly. You’ve seen that, and it is a problem I am addressing in my new fitness program. But I’m talking about another weight problem we have – a much more serious one. I’m talking about the weight of sin and unforgiveness we carry.

This morning in my daily chronological reading of the Bible, the schedule called for reading several chapters in the book of Numbers. I came across an interesting principle based on the holy nature of God.

Moses is being given some of the laws for community life as the chosen people of Israel. He is specifically addressing the requirements of the Nazarite vow, a vow that could be taken to declare oneself completely separated unto God.

One of the requirements of the separation was that the person making the vow was never allowed to be in the presence of a dead person, not even if his wife, children, or parents died. This would make him unclean and the vow would be broken.

Then, in Numbers 6:9 we read an additional requirement concerning the dead. “And if any man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. Even if the Nazarite accidentally came in contact with a dead person, he was declared unclean.

Well that seems harsh. It wasn’t the Nazarite’s fault that someone near him died. He couldn’t help it. But the eternal principle at work here isn’t about whether or not we think we are right, but whether or not we highly respect the righteousness of God.

The point is this: God’s holiness is not to be taken lightly. We who claim to be in Christ have been called to be separated unto Christ. Therefore, absolutely anything that we do that is contrary to the righteousness of God is sin and places a huge weight on our lives.

Over the next few days or weeks, I am compelled to update a series a devotionals I wrote in 2007 on the subject of forgiveness. The Hebrew word translated forgive is used some 650 times in its root form in the Old Testament. The word means to lift, to carry, and to take away.  The first time the word is used in the Bible is in Genesis 4:13, where following the murder of his brother Abel, Cain is punished by God and responds to Him by saying, My punishment is more than I can bear.” 

The weight of sin in our lives is more than we can lift or carry. Our attempts to be free from the burden are varied. We may deny that the sin really exists, as Cain did when God rejected his offering and he became angry at God. God gave Cain a chance to do the right thing, but Cain rejected God’s offer of acceptance. We sometimes do the same. We choose to believe that our way is right even when God calls it wrong. We try to convince ourselves and others that what we are doing is not sin. We try to earn our acceptance by making ourselves right, even if it means eliminating from our lives those that make us feel guilty for what we are doing.

Sometimes we lie in an attempt to cover our guilt and personal responsibility for our choices. When God asked Cain where his brother was, Cain responded, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”  He lied about what he had done. Denial is of the Devil. Satan is the father of lies. Lying begins in the heart of a self-centered person who requires approval and acceptance from people. Lying is the product of pride. Lies are designed by a deceived person in an attempt to avoid rejection and protect image. We fail to understand that the lie is yet another sin which adds to the weight of the burden we cannot lift. We quickly fall into the humanly inescapable quicksand of sin. The more we try to struggle against it, the deeper we sink.

Sometimes we seek the comfort of the world to relieve the pain of our sin. When Cain was expelled from the presence of the Lord because of his choice to protect his position rather than repent, he began to build a city. He put all of his energy into finding satisfaction from what the world had to offer. He even named the city after his son. He did not include God in any of his plans. The world became his opiate. The world offers many empty promises of relief from sin: promises we quickly and easily accept as truth. Financial success, social status, sex, alcohol, drugs, and on goes the list. Each promise proves itself addictive to the process of pursuing more promises. The temporary relief we may experience ultimately compounds the burden of our sin because we have failed to realize that each promise is itself another sin.

But in the middle of all of this was a promise from God to Cain that is made to all of us as well – “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” 

There is a solution to our weight problem. God will carry the total weight of our sin if we will release it to Him and do what is right. It is in that moment of repentance that we find forgiveness. In the days ahead we will dig out many nuggets of treasured truth from the mine of forgiveness, but the first and foundational lesson we must learn is this – the weight of our sin is more than we can carry. We cannot take it away by ourselves. We must give it to the One who can carry it, and once we do, we NEVER have to carry it again. That means surrendering our rights, telling the truth, and living according to God’s purpose and not the world’s pursuits.

Isn’t it time to have the weight of sin lifted off of your life? God wants to do it, and He can. Turn to Jesus today and sincerely ask for forgiveness. Then accept His forgiveness as a done deal. Then offer the same forgiveness to others.

Pastor John

 

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