Sunday, January 19, 2020

Confess our sins to God. God always forgives us!


Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  



God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them.  It took six days for God to complete His creation.  Among His creation, human beings were unique.   God created human beings in His own image.   God loved human beings so much, and God gave everything to human beings to govern and rule over all the other creatures.   God was so much pleased with His creation.   Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good! 

The first man and woman were Adam and Eve, and God placed them in the Garden of Eden.  It was a paradise for both Adam and Eve, and they had a truly blessed time with God and all of God’s creation in the garden including trees, animals, birds, etc.  The serpent who was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made came to Eve, the first women, to tempt her and to make Eve deviate from God and His command.  Eve was deceived by the servant, and committed a sin because she was complete sold to the serpent’s lie.  In fact, even before the deception, Eve herself had been already sold to her own desire of eating the forbidden fruit.   Indeed, it was just a matter of time before Eve took and ate the forbidden fruit.   She was craving for the forbidden fruit.   The serpent knew this.  The serpent did not lose the perfect opportunity, and Eve powerless surrendered.   Eve reached out her hand, took the forbidden fruit, and ate it.   Eve did not stop there.   She brought the forbidden fruit to Adam, her husband.   Adam, without questioning, took it and ate it.   Of course, Adam knew it was a forbidden fruit.  Adam should have challenged Eve against breaking the God’s command.   Adam didn’t.   This gives us a great insight about how vulnerable we are to a sin, and how contagious a sin is.   One person’s sin is easily transmitted to another person, especially those whom we love.  Then how to resist and overcome temptations coming at us to make us sin?  We need to do exactly opposite that Adam and Eve did:
  
1.      We should not harbor a temptation in our heart.    Eve did, and Eve failed.
2.      We should ask God’s help when confronting a temptation.   Adam didn’t, and Adam failed.


Both Adam and Eve took and ate the forbidden fruit.   It tasted really good and truly delicious.  Together they indulged in the fruit while breaking the God’s command.   However, as soon as they ate, the sin took over them, and the weight of the sin fell on them.  Their joy of eating the fruit short-lived, and immediately, the power of the sin took hostage them by throwing into a completely different world that they had never been experienced.   In fact, they had never felt shame before in the paradise, but they became shameful, which was just a prelude of the power of the sin.   The real cost of the sin was the terrible separation between them and God.   Adam and Eve used to live together with God while enjoying His presence as God’s children dearly loved by God.   They talked to God everyday about what had happened in their daily lives.   God joyfully heard their story, and God told His pleasure and love to them.  They listened to God, and their hearts were filled with joy.  In the Garden of Eden, they had the most blessed life.   It was a paradise for both Adam and Eve.  However, the most beautiful relationship with God was suddenly stopped.  Then God became the source of fear instead of loving Father.   They hid from God in fear.   Was God changed?  No.  God was the same loving God, but Adam and Eve just became fearful to God.   All were caused by their sin.   Although they wanted to continue the blessed relationship with God, their sin did not allow.   They hid themselves from God.   Knowing this, God loving Adam and Eve could not let them alone.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, Adam and Eve, his wife heard God walking about in the garden.   So they hid from God among the trees. Then God called to Adam,

“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)


Yes, God came to Adam and Eve who were hiding from God.   Didn’t God know where they were?   No.  God knew exactly where they were.   Like loving parents, God wanted let them realize where they were,  what they did, and why they were hiding from God.   Loving parents never give up their children no matter what their children did.   Our God was same.   God came to Adam and Eve as their loving Father.   God called them with the most comforting voice to Adam and Eve, who were hiding in extreme fear.  Yes, God loved them and came to them because God was love.   

Adam replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

Adam used to never be afraid of God walking in the garden, but the day was different.   He expressed his fearful heart.  He was vulnerably exposed to his own sin and put him in darkness.  Thus, he could not stand before God, who was holy without any darkness at all.  

“Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

Again, God knew exactly what Adam did, and God gave an opportunity for Adam to say what he did.   Have we had felt a burden of sin in our heart before?    How heavy it was?    Sometimes, the weight of the sin was unbearable heavy.   Can we remember what was the most effective way to unload the burden?   Yes, it was confessing our sin.   Especially, verbalizing our sin that we committed to God as our prayer is the first step.  Through our prayer, we can clearly hear our sin by our own voice while we are presenting our sins and weakness to God while asking His merciful forgiveness.

On the contrary, Adam replied,


 “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12b)

Adam did not cross the point of God yet.   God came to help God by unloading his sin burden, but Adam was defensive.   Rather than confessing his sin, and asking God’s forgiveness, Adam actually blamed God as the ultimate source of his sin.    Here is the logic:
1.      Eve fell and sinned.  Then the women gave me the fruit, and I ate.   Thus, the woman could be seen as the immediate cause of his sin.
2.      However, God gave him the woman (i.e., Eve), who caused him to sin.   In fact, Adam did not ask Eve, but God gave Eve to Adam.  
3.      Thus, God is the ultimate source of his sin.

If we were God, how would we have responded to Adam?   Some of us, who are short-tempered like Peter, one of the twelve disciples, might have had punished Adam for his obnoxious logic pointing God as the ultimate source of his sin.   God did not.  

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9)

God is patient and long suffering toward us, and God was toward Adam also.

Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

What was the answer of Eve to God?   Eve transferred all of her fault to the serpent.   She did nothing wrong.   The serpent was bad, and the serpent deceived Eve.   Thus, she was innocent.  If there were no serpent, Eve would have not sinned.   Thus, the serpent should have been punished, not Eve.   Was it a truthful description about what had happened?    No.  As described above, Eve was already sold to her temptation, and her heart was ready to sin.   She just needed a small push for her to actually sin.   The serpent gave the small push, and she sinned.   If she were upright before God by holding tightly God’s command, she would have not been sinned at all by resisting against the serpent’s temptation and lie.  

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
       for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
       my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
       He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
       Pour out your heart to him,
       for God is our refuge.  (Psalm 62:5-8)

Then how can we resist against temptations constantly coming at us?   We have to come to God.  God is our rock and our fortress.  In Him, we will not be shaken.   Our victory is sure, and our honor comes from God because He is our refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach us.

Then God turned to the serpent, and God punished the serpent.  Please note that the serpent was not one of His beloved children like us, human being created in His image.  The serpent was cursed more than all animals. 

“Because you have done this, you are cursed
       more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
       groveling in the dust as long as you live.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
       and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
       and you will strike his heel.”  (Genesis 3:14b)

God also foretold the evil that would come from the serpent’s offspring, which would strike the heel of the woman’s offspring, but the woman’s offspring would strike back the head of the serpent’s offspring.  This is the prophesy of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  When Jesus Christ was crucified, it looked as a victory for the evil.  But the cross actually led to a complete destruction of the evil by making all of God’s children released from their sins and restoring the precious relationship with God as His beloved children forever.   In fact, this is the Good News given to all man kinds, ever lived, living and to come.   Yes, God is longsuffering, and His steadfast love saves all of His children.  Then He restores the beautiful relationship with God, which for this time will not be taken away forever.


Due to their fear of God, Adam and Eve could not live any longer in the garden.  The source of fear was their sin.  As a result, they had to leave the garden.  Is there anyone of us who wants to live together with a person whom we are fearful of?    No.   Then it would be living in hell.   God, out of His love, decided to send them out of the garden.    Again, like loving parents, God’s heart was breaking because God had to send their children away, not because of lacking of love of them, but because of their children’s sin and fear of God, the loving Father.   Before sending them again, God gave a protection on their shame by making clothing from animal skins for Adam and Eve.  

And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.  (Genesis 3:21)

The clothing from animal skins holds God’s true nature of His love, and at the same time, His Law of atonement.  

In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.   (Hebrews 9:22)


The wage of sin is death because the sin separates us from God.   Not being connected to God, our inner being is dying out.  Why?   If we are not spiritually connected to God, our inner being is no longer spiritually nourished.  Then how to avoid this tragedy?   We need to get rid of our sin, which is the source of our spiritual death.  How to get rid of the sin in our heart?    The answer is blood for our atonement, because blood cleans our sin.    This is the reason why the Israelites sacrificed animals before God as an atonement of their sins regularly.   However, none of the animals was not a perfect sacrifice to clean all our sins completely and forever.   Only is the perfect sacrifice a perfect human with no sin.    There is no man ever lived without sin, except Jesus Christ.    Jesus Christ, the perfect human and the perfect God, became the perfect sacrifice for all by dying on the cross to forgive all our sins.   This is the reason why we don’t fear God anymore as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our savior who died for us for our sins as our ultimate atonement.   In Him, all of our sins are forgiven, and we are no longer under a curse of sin and death.  As a result, our blessed relationship with God is restored as His beloved children again.  We will forever enjoy the most blessed relationship with God because of Jesus Christ.    

Give thinks, God, for giving us Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son as the perfect sacrifice for all!   God had never left Adam and Eve although they directly sinned against God.  The exactly same God is with us today no matter what happens in our lives and even we might fall in a terrible sin.   Yes, God is waiting for us with His wide-open arms to embrace us in His bosom.   Just come to God.   Ask His forgiveness.  He will give His forgiveness and restore the broken relationship with Him forever.  



But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.   (1 John 1:9)



Sunday, January 12, 2020

Pray and Win Over Sins. Receive the Holy Spirit!


Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”  (Genesis 3:1b)


 

God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them.  In the sky, God created the sun and the moon and the stars for the day and night.  He also created all living creatures on the ground, in the air, and under the sea so that His creation be filled with all kinds of trees, plants, animals, birds and fish.   All were created in the first five days, and on the sixth day, God created human beings in His own image.   God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.  Are there any other creatures that God gave His own breath of life?   None expect human beings.  Human beings were so special to God, and God loved human beings most among all of His creations including the powerful sun, the clear moon, the beautiful stars, the earth filled with all living creatures.  Out of His love, He gave everything, and asked to govern and rule over the rest of His creations.   

Then God blessed them [human beings] and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”   (Genesis 1:28)

God was extremely pleased with His creation, not because of the magnitude of the His creation of the stars, the moon, the sun, the earth, the heavens, and all of the living creatures, but because of the human beings specially created in His own image.    

Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!  (Genesis 1:31a)

On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.   



God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit.  The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.   There was no pain, no sorrow and no agony, but God was with them in paradise.  Adam and Eve’s daily life was truly blessed, which was like living in Heaven.  

There were many kinds of trees in the garden, and In the middle of the garden there were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil also.   God warned Adam,

“You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”   (Genesis 2:16b-17)

Thus, Adam and Eve enjoyed all of God’s creation in the garden, and they kept what they were told by God like good children who keep what is told by their parents, and respect and obey their parents.

However, this precious, beautiful and blessed relationship with God did not last forever.  One day, the serpent came to Eve.   The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals God had made.  The serpent asked the woman,

“Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”  (Genesis 3:1b)

The serpent’s question looked ridiculous or even stupid.  It was obvious that Eve ate fruits and products from the trees in the garden everyday.  If not, how could Eve survive?    In fact, the question was fully loaded with the serpent’s vicious intent to trick Eve.   It was the first step to deceive Eve, and eventually destroy both Eve and Adam.   Eve did not know the true intent of the malicious serpent.   Eve should have asked to herself why the smart serpent made the stupid question.   This gives us a lesson.   If someone known to be a smart person comes and asks a stupid and absurd question, then we’d better ask to ourselves the motive of the person.  It could be a trap.  


“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”   (Genesis 3:2-3)

Eve, without knowing the true intent of the serpent, answered.   She started with “of course” in order to make a point that the serpent’s question was really dumb.   Of course, all living animals in the garden ate from the trees without exception.  In fact, Eve had never heard such a dumb question before.   But it was the serpent’s loaded question that tried to trick Eve.  Eve did not notice this at all.  

After naively answering the question by “Of course, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden.”   Then Eve should have had stopped at this point because she fully answered the specific question asked by the serpent.  But she did not, and she continued, “It’s only the fruit from the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.  God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”  

Unfortunately, her answer started deviating from what was really told by God.   She started adding her own words.   Specifically,
1.      “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.”
This is a partially truthful statement.  In fact, in the middle of the garden God placed two trees:  the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   But Eve told as if there were only one tree.   Why?   In her heart, only one tree was visible because she liked one tree over the other.  Remember that the serpent had never pointed one particular tree in the middle of the garden, but Eve only talked about one particular tree that was in her mind.  In fact, her heart had been craving for the fruit of the particular tree, not that of the other tree.   She was tempted, and gave in.  Her answer indirectly expressed her desire.

2.      God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
God had never told not to touch, but Eve added this in her answer to the serpent.  Indeed, God only forbid eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but she exaggerated.   Why?  Again, this reflects her strong desire to eat the forbidden fruit.   She knew she should not eat it.  In her mind, she said “if I cannot eat it, then I want to just touch it, which will quench my thirst for the fruit that I cannot eat.”  

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37)

Saying anything beyond “yes” and “no” reflects our hidden agenda of our desire to express our own intention rather than just stating a fact.   All our hidden agenda are not equally bad.   But in many cases, we added more words for our own gain by manipulating the minds of others who are hearing us.  Thus, Jesus said simply say “yes” or “no” without going beyond, which can easily lead us to sin.

After hearing the Eve’s answer, the serpent realized that the serpent’s plan worked well.   The serpent heard her strong desire through her answer exaggerating and slightly distorting the fact.   Yes, Eve really wanted to eat the fruit of the tree of wisdom.  Her heart was craving for the fruit despite of God’s command – not to eat.   What a wonderful opportunity presented to the serpent!

When a temptation comes into our heart by allowing it entering into, it makes our spiritual eyes blind and our eyes of desire focus on the sin object of the temptation.   Then the strong desire of sinning quickly spreads out to the entirety of our heart like a yeast in a warm flour dough.   Therefore, if we let a temptation come into our heart, it will quickly grow and spread out till completely corrupting us.   As a result, we become craving for the sin object of the temptation more and more till completely destroying us.  This is the power of a temptation and the sin following the temptation.

Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”  (Mark 8:15b)

The serpent could not pass on this excellent opportunity.   Now for the serpent, there is only one thing left to conquer Eve – just providing what Eve was carving for.  Eve was already sold to the temptation.   Just a small nudge was enough to trigger her to actually sin.  



 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”  (Genesis 3:5)

Finally, the serpent directly opposed the God’s command.  The serpent openly told to Eve “You won’t die.”   The serpent’s statement was an absolute lie.   “You will die” and “you won’t die” are not same, but completely opposite.   There is absolutely no compromise in between the two.   The serpent boldly stated this absolute lie that directly contradicted to what God told.   However, Eve was already completely sold to her own desire.   She had already knelt down before her desire of eating the fruit.  Even in her heart, she actually wanted to hear what she wanted to hear rather than what God told, which truly bothered her.   When she heard the serpent’s lie, it tasted so delicious like honey.   

Now, she was at the fork to take one of two choices – keeping the God’s command while fighting against her temptation or following her desire while ignoring the God’s command.   But she could not quickly make an action while hesitating.  Then the serpent put the final nail in the coffin.   The serpent injected a doubt in her heart about God and His character.   In other words, God was not whom you thought.   God hid something hiding from you.   Why did God hide something as important as the fact that the fruit would not kill Eve, but make Eve like God?    In fact, God misled Eve in order to prevent Eve from being equal to God.   All human beings including Eve are created in the image of God.   Thus, we all have a trait of desire of being like God.   Thus, when we hear we would be like God, we are easily tempted. The temptation is also very hard to resist. 

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. (Genesis 3:6a)

Eve was easily convinced.  Indeed, she was waiting for an opportunity to be convinced.  Then Eve directly looked at the tree and the fruit that she had been craving for.  On that that day,
1.      The tree was so beautiful to her eyes, although it was an ugly trap.
2.      Its fruit looked really delicious.  In fact, it was a poison.
3.      She wanted the wisdom it would give her.  She was fully convinced by the serpent.

Eve was like an ox going to the slaughter.  She was seduced by the serpent, and walked into the trap to sin.

So she seduced him with her pretty speech
       and enticed him with her flattery.
He followed her at once,
       like an ox going to the slaughter.
He was like a stag caught in a trap,  (Proverbs 7:21-22)


It was the serpent’s victory.  Eve actually sinned by eating the fruit.   Then, she did not stop.  She gave some to Adam, her husband, who was with Eve.   Adam, who loved Eve more than anything else, ate without asking even a single question.   Bible does not precisely tell whether Adam was with Eve when Eve was seduced and sinned or not, but it is clear that Adam did not question about Eve’s suggestion to break the God’s law by eating the forbidden fruit.   Based on what Adam did, in Adam’s heart, which is bigger, Eve or God?   Yes, it was Eve, not God.   Here is an important lesson from what Adam did  – one cannot serve equally two maters.    One is always greater than the other.  

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.  (Matthew 6:24)

We are bombarded by temptations everyday and everywhere.   It is a fact of life.  Unless we in Heaven, we cannot be completely free from such temptations.   Then what can we do?  

Eve failed because Eve let her temptation get into her heart and grow in her heart, which quickly occupied all of her heart.   Adam did not resist to Eve’s temptation of breaking the God’s law.  Why?   In his heart, the real mater was Eve, not God.   As a result, both Eve and Adam became powerless, and failed completely before God.   Then how to fight back to temptations, which are so powerful?

When he arrived at the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:40)

This is what Jesus told to His disciples.   Jesus prayed to God before taking up the cross, which was the most difficult one throughout His entire ministry on earth.   Jesus was in agony.  Therefore, Jesus put all thing to God as His prayer before taking up the cross and dying on it for all our sins.   It was also the moment of the greatest temptation for all His disciples.   The disciples did not pray except sleeping although Jesus was praying with a small distance from them.  Finally, the soldiers came and arrested Jesus to crucify Him.  Then all of His disciples fled.  At the moment, the disciples were not spiritually ready to fight against the temptation of saving their lives.  They ran and saved their own lives although all of them said they would die with Jesus before.  Without prayers, all failed.   Then how to win over temptations coming at us from all directions without ceasing?  The answer is simple -- we have to pray as Jesus told to His disciples.

Later the disciples realized their sins.  Peter, one of the disciples bitterly wept.   However, Jesus, after His resurrection, lovingly came to the disciples who betrayed Him.   Rather than point out the failure of His disciples, Jesus comforted them with His unfathomable love.  Then Jesus asked them to stay in Jerusalem while waiting for the Holy Spirit.   After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem and together prayed.   As promised, they received power as the Holy Spirit comes upon them.    The coward disciples completely transformed by the Holy Spirit.  They no longer had to hide themselves in fear.  Instead, they went out and boldly witness the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Yes, they were strong in the power of the Holy Spirit.   The act of the Holy Spirit was not for the disciples, but the power of the Holy Spirit equally acts on us.    Like the disciples, in the Holy Spirit, we are strong, and by Him, we will be His true witness, and for Him, we will overcome all temptations coming at us and be truly victorious.   This is our hope and faith.   Praise Him, who is always faithful and infinitely good to us!   We are His beloved children who win over all sins by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Praise Our Father, Son and The Holy Spirit!



But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”   (Acts 1:8)