Dead

Before zombie movies we never thought much about being dead. Do you remember being dead? Some people were dramatically deathly in their behaviors and they remember it quite clearly. Maybe you don’t remember it, but do you believe you were dead? God says we were dead until he made us alive (Colossians 2:13).

I don’t remember being very deathly. But I have been given the gift of saving faith and with it came deep confidence in the truth of what God says in the scriptures. Therefore, though I don’t remember being dead I sincerely believe that I was dead in my sins. There was a written code that proclaimed the fact of my sinfulness and the necessity that I be proclaimed guilty and suffer the consequence of eternal death.

God took that code, wrote “paid” across it and nailed it to the cross as Jesus Christ died there. On that cross he suffered the wrath of his father against sin and went to the grave in my place.

His resurrection made a spectacle of the powers and authorities that would condemn me to hell. He triumphed over them by the cross.

By giving me the faith to believe that was for me, God made me alive; he gave me spiritual life. The prize of eternal life now is mine! It can be yours. Want to talk about it?

(Scripture: Colossians 2:13-18)

Cycles

A cycle is something that is repeated over and over again. A vicious cycle is something that contains evil or unpleasantness while repeating over and over again. I came upon a vicious cycle as I was reading the scripture this morning.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior,” (Colossians 1:21). I’ve seen it happen in people I love but I hadn’t noticed Paul’s succinct statement about it before.

I’ve seen people proclaim their faithfulness to God and Christ for years and then be tempted by the evil desire residing within each of us. I’ve seen them dragged away and enticed, allowing the desire to conceive and give birth to sin. (James 1:14-15) I have been that person many times, and many times a day recently. At this point God’s grace can lead us to acknowledge our sin, repent, and value anew the grace of God which forgives. We can confess our dependence upon God’s grace for the power to obey.

If we choose to continue in the sin, when it is full-blown it gives birth to death – the death of relationship with God.

Which comes first in this vicious cycle, enmity in the mind or the choice to continue in sin (evil behavior)?

If the mind has chosen to disregard God the result is the absence of any effective moral compass, no real reason to deny ourselves the legitimate pleasures of sin. If we thought we had regard for God but then are “overcome” with desire for forbidden fruit that we determine is more desirable than right relationship with God, rationalization results in enmity within our mind. One leads to the other, leads to the other, leads to the other.

A vicious cycle, indeed, if it continues – leading to eternal death. That soul demonstrates it was never transformed by saving faith.

But God

I am captured by the two-word phrase “but God” in the scriptures. The human narrative is moving along, people going about their business, making decisions and acting on them But God… He steps in and changes everything. He takes responsibility for all of it!

In Gen. 45 Joseph talks with his brothers, those deceitful crooks who sold him into Egyptian slavery, and he says “It was not you who sent me here but God…” He goes on to acknowledge, in chapter 50, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

In the 73rd Psalm we have practical realism joined to glorious promise: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Wisdom clarifies something for us in Ecclesiastes 5:7. “When dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.”

Make no mistake about this fact stated in Mark 2:7, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

We are so guilty of comparing ourselves with ourselves so we come out looking good. “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.” (Luke 16:15)

Christ lived a sinless life and yielded up that life to pay my sin-debt. He was stone cold dead in the tomb, “but God raised him from the dead!” (Acts. 13:30)

And now Romans 5:8 tells us that “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We are so guilty of comparing ourselves with ourselves so we come out looking pretty good. “but God knows your hearts.” (Luke 16:15)

What prompted these thoughts was really another magnificent phrase I cam across this morning in Colossians 1:22. “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Wow! I am Thankful!!

Darkness

Darkness. There is a kingdom, a domain of darkness. When I look around I can’t help but see it if I’m looking for it. Not to be morbid, but it’s all around us. Remaining ignorant is anything but blissful. It leads to being enveloped in that kingdom, that domain, forever.

Every human being is born into that kingdom and will die in that kingdom unless rescued, redeemed from it. What an absolutely glorious statement is found in Colossians 1:12-14, “the Father has qualified you to share in the inheritance of saints in the kingdom of light. For he  has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

The sin nature we inherited from Adam, plus the sinful independence from God we ourselves have displayed, demonstrates our citizenship in the kingdom of darkness. God moves to provide transformation and transfer of citizenship, giving us faith and a new heart to love him and his Son as we enjoy the remainder of our earth life and all of eternity as citizens of the kingdom of light.

Have you ever played “Capture the Flag?” When a team member is being held captive in enemy territory someone from your team must go into enemy territory, all the way to the “jail” and touch the captive in order for them to be released.

The analogy is weak, but apt. Christ came all the way into the kingdom of darkness to become one of us so he could touch our hearts and release us into the kingdom of light.