Tag Archive: Praised



“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” -Romans 6:23

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Several months ago I began to ponder the relationship between grace and justice as it applies to God. We know that these are both attributes of God, but how does justice fit in, for if due to our sin, we require grace, and in this perfect forgiveness we don’t receive what we deserve, then would God’s abundant grace necessarily negate His justice? No, it does not!

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We are told the wages of sin is death, and because we are all sinners, this is what we deserve. This is not just in terms of a worldly death, but also an eternal one. We ourselves earn these wages and the just recompense is death. Yet, the opposite, eternal life, is not a wage we earn, but rather a gift from the Lord to all those that would believe upon Jesus Christ.

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God’s justice was satisfied when His Son hung upon the cross and descended into death. By this sacrifice, both His grace and justice were made manifest. Due to our sin, there is no such thing as a wage of eternal life outside Christ, who was blameless. For our sake He took our blame and guilt upon Himself and was crucified with it, that the gift may be offered to many. May His name be eternally praised!

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“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'” -Luke 9:62

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I’m sure on occasion poets look at the words of Christ and if they don’t admonish or worship Him, they must certainly salivate with envy. I half jest, but indeed Christ’s words are so beautiful they resonate throughout our lives and through all of creation. Yet, Christ came for much more than linguistical aesthetics. Christ’s words are remarkable in that, within such a phrase like this, there are found many different meanings and they hold untold riches for those who seek Him and the wisdom that is found in the Lord. This simple phrase spoken by Christ is anything but. It holds not only a warning for us, but also vast hope for the Christian in regards to their spiritual journey.

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"The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah," by John Martin. oil on canvas, c. 1852

Genesis Chapter 19 contains the infamous account concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two sister cities were the epicenter for all forms of detestable vileness and evil. The Las Vegas of its day. Or possibly worse. Maybe even Detroit (Kidding). Indeed, the cities were so disgusting that the Lord decided to purge them from the face of the earth forever. However, in Sodom there lived a man named Lot. Lot lived there with His family, and God, in His grace, decided to spare Lot and his family from the destruction that was coming, due in part to Lot’s sheltering of two angels He had sent into the city, and because he was indeed the nephew of Abraham, who was greatly beloved by God. Yet, there were strict conditions. The angels told Lot and his family in Genesis 19, Chapter 17:

“Flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Despite these pretty straight forward and urgent instructions, Lot’s wife looked back as they fled, and as the angels had warned, she was indeed turned into “a pillar of salt.” Explanations for how this could have occurred range from the natural, the miraculous, and even to ancient technology theories. Yet, the how isn’t as important as the why. Why simply by looking back did she perish and turn into a large pile of the mineral adored by horses the world over?

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Lot’s wife, who some scholars believe was named “Idis,” didn’t merely look back out of some fleeting uncontrollable curiosity, but rather she looked back on the city of Sodom with longing eyes. She saw the sinful city life she was accustomed to being razed to the ground and she felt sorrow and longing. Thus, becoming a large heap of a crystalline preservative was her fate. It is a little bit of a confounding situation, for though Lot was just, as 2 Peter tells us, one wonders why they dwelled in such a detestable place. Furthermore, by the mere fact she looked back, that alone suggests that “Idis” was indeed caught up in the sin of Sodom to some degree or fashion.

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Yet, be that as it may, this example gives us insight into one meaning behind Christ’s words, and that is, when we become a new creation in Him, we should not look back with desire to who we were before, for this can only lead to death. Why run back into the burning ruins of sin that the Lord Himself has delivered you out of according to His grace? You have been delivered, bought with a price, and the Lord has answered your prayer. Why fight the Lord and crawl back towards what would be your demise? A heart that longs for sin has no place in the Kingdom of God. Christ has granted us a reprieve that we may escape the destruction that is to come and even now it is ongoing, so on that date and time, which the Lord has set by His own authority, we may be long afar from that destruction which will cover the whole earth.

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"Sodom and Gomorrah," by Jan Brueghel The Elder

Secondly, realize that no matter where you were and what you were, your Lord has delivered you. You have been deemed worthy by grace to be covered in the blood of the Lamb, thus, again, do not turn around and regret your decisions or the bad choices of the past, for those too are forgiven. Such regrets are like a tether or lead, they may allow us to scamper about and even move forward somewhat, but essentially they still hold us firmly in place. Christ has cut these bonds from us and let not regret, nor worldly sorrow, keep you from partaking and drinking from the Cup of Life. Do not strive to place yourself back into bondage, but rather persevere. Do not tarry or grow weary, keep your eyes on Christ and the prize that is offered, for those who do, their paths will remain straight, but those whose eyes wander, so does the path of their plow, guiding them into rocky soil, danger and eventually death. May The Lord be praised that even wanderers such as myself can be set straight again by His grace and directed out of, and away from, the city of destruction.

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“I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.” -Leviticus 20:3

Molech was a pagan semitic god who was worshipped by the detestable act of child sacrifice. The alters were in the semblance of a bull or calf, a sacrificial animal itself, with a pit before it, or in the belly of the man made edifice. Within these pits, large fires would be built and children were tossed in as an offering to the god.

In this verse, we not only see God’s disgust in the worship of other gods, but also the abhorrent nature of human sacrifice. The Book of Judges, Chapter 11, contains the infamous account of Jephthah, who after making a vow to the Lord concerning the defeat of the Ammonites sacrificed his daughter to God. Atheists and non-believers,  like to distract Christians by citing this account, but nowhere does it say that God approved of Jephthah’s sacrifice of his only offspring. In fact, God’s displeasure could implicitly be contained in the account, for the Ammonites, whom Jephthah was fighting, were devout worshippers of Molech. Thus, it represents a veiled connection between the Judges account and God’s statement against such practices in Leviticus.

"Jephthah," by John Everett Millais. oil on canvas, c. 1867

Human sacrifice wasn’t a rare practice and every continent and almost every indigenous people seems to have engaged in it at one time or another, from the civilizations of Central America, to even the Native Americans. Yet, again, verses like this one, and those like it, show that God does not desire such offerings. Why did God include it in His word then? The account was provided to show the importance of oaths to the Lord (See my note on Matthew 5:37, “On Promises and Vows”).

Abraham, in Genesis Chapter 22, was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, which Abraham being a man of faith and obedience, was prepared to carry out. Yet, at the last minute an angel called from heaven and instructed him not to lay a hand on the boy. In verse 13 we find that a ram was caught by its horns in a thicket, provided by God, to take the place of Abraham’s son.

"The Sacrifice of Isaac," by Domenichino. oil on canvas, c. 1627-1628

The correlation between this account of Abraham and what was later to occur with Jesus Christ is apparent. As the ram was caught by its horns in a thicket, likewise Christ had a thicket of thorns placed upon His head, piercing deep into His flesh, as His eventual crucifixion approached. Though Christ was human, He was not a mere human, and He was provided by God, from the beginning, to take our place, to endure the punishment, and to pay the just wages for our sin, just as the ram had replaced Isaac. In short, we deserve to be nailed upon that cross, but Christ paid for sin in full on our account that salvation might be credited to us by faith and through grace.

May Christ be forever praised. Amen.

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