will never change their power or purpose.
“Repent and Live!” declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 18:32), however today only “Live!” remains and resounds in our vocabulary. There is power in words and, in God’s living Word, it is power to renew, restore, and resurrect. “The Word became flesh and for a while lived among us”. The Word of God defines the fall of man, what keeps him separated from God, (Isaiah 59:1-2) and that which would restore and reconcile him to his Maker (Galatians 1:4). Separation from God aligns us with the spirit of this world – the very spirit that “sets himself up as god” and continually baits our pride with the ancient seduction of sin: “you will be like God”. As ‘gods’ we reinvent the Lord’s proclamations, decrees, and promises into that which circumvents acknowledgment and submission to Sovereign God, elevating our knowledge and wisdom against His truth.
Toward this, we tolerate and broadcast the most profane words and phrases – many that enflame our flesh with corrupt imagery while, at the same time, systematically eradicating the very words that usher our minds toward Almighty God. Who today calls for repentance? Words that evoke life changing decisions are erased from our culture. With near success, we have eliminated “sin” from our vocabulary, our thinking – our entire belief system. In fact, the Oxford Junior Dictionary, grooming the next generation, has removed the word ‘sin’ because “it has fallen into disuse, is obsolete, and is not recognized by the younger generation”.
It has been aptly said,
“All moral engineering is preceded by verbal engineering.”
This reality was heralded by renowned psychiatrist Karl Menninger in his acclaimed book, “What Ever Became of Sin.” The very word ‘sin’, he expounds, “was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word…It has almost disappeared – the word along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore?” Dr. Menninger predicted that sin would be replaced with symptoms of illness and disorders. He foresaw a day where practically everyone would be considered sick with little or no personal accountability for choice and willful conduct. Biological and psychiatric terms, even environment, would define deviant behavior.
That ‘day’ is here. Redefining and reinventing ‘sin’, we have rendered ‘repentance’ obsolete and offensive, scorning God’s sacrifice for remission of sin and the gift of reconciliation through our Savior. Ultimately, it is a collective rejection of God as our reference point in life.
Changing our reference point, framework, and jargon however cannot change the truth, neither can it alter the damage and guaranteed consequences of sin. No matter what we call it, “The wages of sin is death…” Yet God’s call to repentance is the deepest call of mercy to man, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) At the heart of our refusal is rebellion – intuitively we know that to receive a gift from God we must acknowledge that He is God.
Sin unleashed, driven by lust and corruption, bears such reprehensible fruit that we label it uncontrollable – a mental defect or disease. While mental illness is a painful condition in all its forms, are we oftentimes diagnosing the consequences of sin – those we commit and those committed against us? Can layers of guilt and self condemnation ever be lifted by an ‘anti-depressant’? Will a laboratory find the balm for the deep wounds of abuse and betrayal? The Bible defines sin in Old Testament law and New Testament, such as the ‘obvious’ acts noted in Galatians 5:19-21 and the condition of man today, II Timothy 3:1-4. Against this hopeless array, the Lord offers unmatchable promises, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” the relief of forgiveness and the joy of new beginning.
Jesus calls out,
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
The launching pad for every sin is the refusal to go to God.
Satan finds no threat in manmade programs that exclude God yet propose to remedy the sure damage and destruction of sin, he knows their futility. Deleting words cannot diminish their strength – sin is a powerful stronghold which man CANNOT master, an ensnaring deceit that man CANNOT outsmart or resolve. Pride, confidence in the ‘human spirit’, encourages us to address ‘drunkenness, debaucheries, sexual immoralities and violence, lack of self-control, rage, hatred, jealousies, and the like’ with programs, prisons, therapies and medications that ultimately yield no freedom, reform, relief, or cure….no inner peace.
Sin is a cruel taskmaster, ‘taking us farther than we planned to go…costing more than we ever thought to pay’. Calling us ‘dead in sin and trespasses’, God Himself initiates our repentance, drawing us and quickening our hearts with truth through the Holy Spirit. Worldly regret, remorse and tormenting guilt are a downward deadly spiral but godly sorrow, repentance, leads to life. (II Corinthians 7:10) The Lord did not die for our sins to be treated, improved, or morphed into something acceptable. He came to save us, deliver us from our sins, cleanse us completely, and in doing so, create new life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Corinthians 5:17)
“Repent” come under the authority of God “and live!”