You’re right, you can’t help yourself. Neither can I. Enter Jesus Christ . . .
THE CULTURE WE LIVE IN HAS US CONDITIONED FOR REPLAY. Miss a sitcom? No worries, you can catch it on the internet. If it’s a popular series, stream it on the rebound and you’re on your way. But life isn’t like that. There are some things in life that if you miss them they are gone. Forever. There is no replay. No second chance.
In Luke 10:12, Jesus makes this striking statement: “I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.” (ESV). More bearable than Sodom? Are you kidding me? God annihilated the people of Sodom – and everything on the ground as well. He obliterated Sodom. (To learn why God destroyed Sodom, listen to the February 23, 2014 podcast, Miss This, Miss Everything). By the time God was done with Sodom, there was nothing left of it but a memory.
First, it’s important to note that Jesus considered the Old Testament account of Sodom to be literal (see Genesis 19). Jesus agrees that Sodom was a real place, with a real problem, and that it faced the real judgment of God. Some folks don’t think Jesus judged anyone, but those folks are not reading the Bible. This passage, as well as numerous other passages, make it clear that Jesus absolutely did judge people. In Luke 10:1-12, the whole passage is about God going out of His way to rescue people while all along He knew that some of those people would reject Him. The point of Luke 10:1-12 is that Jesus destroyed Sodom for their sexual perversity – yet there is a sin that will just as certainly seal the fate of anyone who commits it, every single time. That sin is rejecting Jesus as the Savior.
Yes, some people do not believe that the sin of Sodom was sexual perversion. But in order to reach this conclusion, one has to be completely selective in what the Bible specifically teaches on the subject. There is not much need for interpretation, because the biblical authors spell it out in black and white. You have to ignore entire sections of the Bible, repeatedly, and ignore the fact that multiple biblical authors continually interpreted the sin of Sodom to be sexual perversion, not merely a lack of kindness. When one reads Genesis 13:13, Genesis 19:1-26, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:18-36, 2 Peter 2:4-10 and Jude 6-8, it is the understatement of the century to suggest the sin of Sodom’s people was merely greed and a lack of kindness toward its visitors! If you really want to know what the Bible says on the topic, take some time to read the passages for yourself. They need no commentary from me – or anyone else, for that matter. They speak for themselves with a clarity that God ensured, having covered them from multiple angles, with multiple authors, over multiple generations.
It’s striking to note that Sodom is the example Jesus uses when discussing what God will do to those who reject Him. These are not the words of a weak leader, or of a man suffering from an identity crisis. They are not the words of a man trying to come to terms with His own life mission. They are the words of Jesus, who understood He was, and is, God’s Messiah for our problem of sin.
Is God a hater? Yes, he is. He hates sin. But does God hate people? Absolutely not. The cross is God’s definitive statement on the matter. If God hated people, He wouldn’t have pursued us and died for us on the cross. The justice of God, where He dealt with your sins and mine, was demonstrated on the cross of Christ. On His body. The mercy of God, where He decided, because of the cross, to not hold our sins against us, was displayed on the cross. In a very powerful way, we could say that the justice and mercy of God “kissed” at the cross. God’s hatred for sin, and his love for us, were demonstrated simultaneously through the death of Jesus on the cross.
Am I a hater? I am. I hate sin, beginning with my own. And you should, too, if you claim to follow Christ. The sin of Sodom was not that they simply were involved in sexual perversion. Their sin was that they approved of their perversion and refused to repent. It’s their lack of repentance that ultimately, eternally condemns a person. God doesn’t take one sin as more wicked than another – except the sin of refusing to repent. This is the sin He will not overlook. He never did and He never will. This was the ultimate sin of Sodom, the one that forced God’s hand and led to their destruction, the judgment of God. The same sin is what forces the hand of God today. A hardened heart toward God, a heart that will not repent, is the sin that condemns a person. There is no sin too big for God – except the sin of refusing to repent. Had Sodom repented, God would have relented. But they didn’t, and so Sodom is no more. God will deal with the perpetual liar, slanderer, gossip, thief, swindler, cheat, the same way. Refuse to accept God’s cure for lying, slandering, gossiping, stealing, cheating, and you too will go the way of Sodom.
The cure for a lifestyle of repentance is Jesus Christ. He’s not the cure for ensuring you’ll never sin again. But really getting serious about following Jesus, and asking Him to change your life will reduce your propensity to sin dramatically. Jesus is the cure to get life heading in the right direction – and this is what repentance of lifestyle is. It’s a new direction in a new way of living. Yes, you will stumble. But you will get back up, by the grace of God, and continue the journey in your new direction. This is what God offers us through faith in Jesus Christ. You’re right, you can’t help yourself. Enter Jesus Christ.
The same is true of you and me. We are not to make excuses for our sin. Doing so belittles the cross. It belittles Jesus’ mission. We need to take our sin seriously – because Jesus took it seriously. When you’ve repented of your sin, and when repentance becomes your lifestyle as a follower 0f Christ (it must), then you earn the fearful right to help others do the same. It’s not something to hold over the heads of others. It’s something we must approach with fear and trembling. We need to walk in a lifestyle of repentance from sin and a God-honoring approach to life. And then, we have an obligation and a clear calling from God (as did the 72 in Luke 10:1-12), to help others pursue the same.
A lack of repentance is hatred toward God. Think about it. Is it possible to love someone while ignoring what is most important to them? Again I say, think about this.
As Christ followers, we are to follow in His footsteps. We are to hate sin, beginning with our own. And, we are to love people – deeply. But loving people doesn’t mean we are to accept their sin. Did God accept the sin of Sodom? Of course not. Is it possible to separate sin from a person? Only when that sin is dealt with through saving faith in Jesus Christ. Only God can deal with the sin He hates while loving the person guilty of that sin. Only God can remove sin from a person – and this is what must happen if a relationship with God is to begin. Until sin is dealt with by Christ Himself, as a result of faith in Him and His payment for sin, it is impossible to separate the guilt of sin from the person who is guilty.
Miss Jesus and you miss the Big One. It makes little difference what else you may accomplish in life, but if you reject Jesus, you’ve missed everything that matters. What matters most in life is that you know your sins are forgiven, and that you have a real relationship with God. This is made possible through the death of Jesus Christ. As Sodom couldn’t escape the punishment of God, nobody who knows about Jesus, who hears the good news of God dealing with sin through the death of His son and rejects Him, can escape. If you really hate sin, and you really love God, then accepting Jesus is the obvious choice.
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