“I Would Not Sin if I Saw God”

We have lots of excuses for how we fail God in our lives. We say, oh that was beyond our control, or that was so small that it didn’t count. To our credit, we know we fail. But we also blame God when we try to make ourselves feel better by having problem-solving “methods”. We convince ourselves that “if only God did this or if he did that,” then we wouldn’t fail so miserably.

The thing is, God has given humanity a chance to try out these “methods” and it’s all been recorded down for us to read about.

The Top 5 “Methods” We Have For God… to keep ourselves from failing epically at life

  1. If only God walked with us here on earth….

Hate to break it to ya, but God tried this from the very beginning and is the one thing He so desperately wants with us. When God first created Adam and Eve, He walked with them, chatted with them, spent time with them like how an earthly father would physically spend time with his children. Adam and Eve could call upon God, and he’d show up.

But we know how that turned out. Adam and Eve were still not satisfied with that close intimacy with God. They fell prey to the serpents’ temptations and hence were forever separated from God. As result of their sin, their descendants, the human race, would occupy this world without God’s physical presence.

  1. If only God left us alone…

This is the opposite route from what we just talked about. Instead of having God keeping an eye out for us at every passing moment, some argue that if God just left us alone, without leaving us any rules, then we wouldn’t know what sin was, which means we wouldn’t sin. This is a stretch of a reason, I know. (At this point, I’m like, really? Even from a puny human mind, this logic doesn’t make sense. But no worries, God allows us to try this very logical moral reasoning as well…

If you look at the early chapters of Genesis, after Adam and Eve have been banished from the Garden of Eve, God more or less stays out of the humans’ business. He’s there but at a distance. Definitely not in the way as he was with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 6, the human race has gotten so evil that God decided to wipe everyone out with the Great Flood….

Clearly, this method of God leaving us alone to do our own things doesn’t work.

  1. If only God founded a nation ruled by him…

These people here are asking for a theocracy. A nation founded by God and for God. There is one clear picture of this example and it is what half our Bible is written on. Yes, the nation of Israel. But that didn’t turn out so well. Even with God has their leader, they still followed the sins of the surrounding nations. Through their idolatry and their disobedience to God, the nation of Israel was ultimately exiled by both the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and has still not really regained its freedom and received God’s promise for it to this day.

However, some may argue that they had actual kings so they don’t technically fall under a theocracy. However, let us be reminded that it was the people of Israel who ended up rejecting God as their king as asked for a human king, leading to the anointing of King Saul, then King David. So God adjusted his plans for us to give us what we wanted, advising through these kings.

  1. If only God could speak to us through dreams…

I think this is a much more common one. I have often thought this myself, if only I could hear God speak then I would be less willing to sin. I think we come to this reasoning because we know God won’t walk with us on earth, not at this time anyway. But dreams is something we experience to this day and is more “practical” than walking with God.

Unfortunately, God speaks to people through dreams throughout the Bible. Too numerous to record. But a notable instance of God speaking to a man through a dream is the promising of a great nation to Abraham. God tells him that this will happen through his own offspring, his own flesh and blood (Gen. 15). And even despite Abraham’s great faith, he does not fully believe the Lord and rather takes Hagar, a servant in his household to sleep with her in an effort to speed up this promise. This was not God’s original plan, and this decision caused rifts in his marriage with Sarah, leading to abandonment of Hagar and her son, Ismael, and would eventually pave the way for unrest lack of peace between the descendants of his two sons.

God spoke to Abraham through a dream, much in the manner that we ask him to today, but he still sinned in an effort to bring about this fulfillment in his own way rather than waiting on God’s timing.

  1. If only God gave me everything I wanted…

If we were all honest with ourselves, I believe this is the request that God hears most of us. Because of this reasoning we convince ourselves that if only God had given it to us, then we wouldn’t have sinned to try to get it on our own.

Yet, God provides us with the perfect example that even this would not stop us from sinning. King Solomon, the son of King David, from the bloodline of whom Jesus would come from, was a man known throughout the world at that time and now. God gave him everything that anybody could ever want- riches, women, fame. Unfortunately, the end of Solomon is a tragic one. Once so wise and a man after God died with his kingdom shattered and given to another man not of the line of David and died at only the age of 60, most likely alone.

Again, the riches of this life did nothing to prevent him from sinning. Rather, it kept him wanting more, leading him to giving up a little bit of God each time he chose the worldly desires instead.

These five excuses we give God are only some that we offer to him when we mess up. But we often forget that God has heard all of it and allowed humanity to try it all already. It’s all been written down for us so that we don’t have to go through that pain of failing again.Those in the Bible and us still today believe that we can gain the same result without following God’s plan. But we forget he already has the best laid out for us.


Pain, but Still No Gain

Doesn’t it say in the Bible somewhere that once we give our lives to Jesus, we become a new creation? That the old has gone, and the new has come? I always thought, YES, now I’ll have power to say no to sin, I’ll be able to do right in everything I do, and I won’t have to experience any more consequences from my wrong doings.

Yet, as I grew older through the years, I found that wasn’t the case at all. Rather, it seemed like the temptations got bigger and badder. And the ability to say no to sin got weaker. Where’s that new creation that was promised, huh Jesus? We try and try to change, to be better, to be like Christ. We don’t forgive ourselves, even our Heavenly Father already has. It seems like we’re trapped in this never-ending cycle of sin, feel bad, repent, “okay, I got it this time”, fail. And again and again.

Anybody else have that feeling?

I take great comfort in the fact that Paul felt exactly the same way and even wrote about it.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do ,but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:15b,18-19.

I think he was pulling his hair out over this because he almost made it into a tongue twister. I mean, look at the repetitiveness of it. But I think that shows even more with how he struggled and how much he wanted to be right with God.

But in the end, he comes to this revelation and offers up hope in this endless cycle of feeling trapped by our guilt and sin. He writes,

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!…Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 7:24-25a; 8:1-2.

In our times of feeling guilt and without worth, let us be reminded that we are not condemned by the Father because through Jesus, we have been set free. Our bodies are not yet free from the confines of this sinful human flesh, but our hearts and minds are free. Remember this, despite everything, He loves us so, so much. Let us never forget that.


All One Story: The Law and the Prophets

We’ve always heard that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus said it himself.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Matthew 5:17

But what exactly does it mean to fulfill the Law? To answer this question, we must start from the very beginning of the Old Testament, to the section on Laws, also known as the Torah in Hebrew. In the book of Exodus, God first gave Israelites their commandments on Mount Sinai. Yet, before Moses had even carried the Commandments down the mountain, the Israelites already disobeyed rule number one and two by making and bowing down to a golden calf. Yet, God was gracious and chose not to wipe them out. Soon, He gave them more rules just to make it a little more clear what it is He wanted, ya know, just in case there was any confusion. A total of 613 commandments were given. Not surprisingly, the Israelites broke those too. This is a cycle that continues through the books of the law and the prophets. God gives a command, and the Israelites break them. Finally, God has enough of it all and sends them to exile under the Babylonians. During this time, God uses a man named Jeremiah to tell them that not all hope is lost.

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

We’ve all heard this verse, whether it be on our graduation cards, or when we’re going through a really hard time, or even said to those who are on their death beds. But if we actually see it in its context, this verse has been widely taken out of context. If we study the verses above it, we see God telling this to people in exile. God tells them that during these 70 years in captivity, they are to grow food and eat of it. They are to continue to increase as a people and not to decrease. Because soon, they will be taken out of exile and back to the land God promised them, hence this “hope and a future”. God’s basically telling them to not worry, they won’t die out as a people!

So can we use this verse in today’s society? Are any of us exiled? I’m going to guess no for the majority of us. Keep this question in the back of your mind; I’ll come back to it later.

Finally, after generations of people breaking the law for thousands of years, a man who gets it all appears. This man is Jesus. He fulfilled the law by doing what no other man could do, by obeying every single one. If anyone can obey all of God’s commands, He is holy as God. Yet, as a man, only Jesus could do this. He is the final piece to this.

Okay, so He probably figured out that 613 commandments was too many, a little overwhelming, personally. So He narrows it down to just two: Love God, and Love People. But have you noticed that it’s impossible to even follow just two?  That’s because our hearts are at a default to not follow these commands. For example, it’s easier to hate someone than to forgive them. So really, the new solution is simple. We need a new heart. And only Jesus can give that. With a transplant of our hearts, we are able to do this, and to have a hope and a future.

So is Jeremiah 29:11 wrongly used when we say it to a dying cancer patient? Well, it depends what our hope and a future is. If our longing is for the presence of Christ in heaven, then that absolutely is the ultimate hope we can yearn for and which God promises.

The apostle Paul said it best.

“To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Philippians 1:21

If we have given everything to Christ, surrendered it all to the One who can truly fulfill the law, then we are, in a way, exiled here on this Earth. God tells us that we are not to decrease but to marry, to seek peace and prosperity, to grow and eat (Jer. 29:4-7). But let us not get too comfortable in our average life span of 70 years here on this Earth, this isn’t all of it, and most certainly not our home.

This quote concludes best.

“We don’t plant flowers in Motel 6. This is a temporary place.”

  A Question for Reflection:

If heaven was all you imagined, with all your friends, with all your pleasures, with no pain and death, no tears or blood, but with no Christ, will you still be satisfied?

Scribbles from the Scraps

The name of the blog is called Mathetis, which is Greek for pupil. I have found that over the last few years of going to Sunday school, there have been too many precious lessons learned. Each week, I learn how little we actually know about God. He has given us His word, but that is only a glimpse of who He is. It is no wonder pastors who go to seminary still study the same book their entire lifetimes. I mean, seriously, the book isn’t that thick.

Oftentimes, I find that oh, that’s a pretty good phrase or word. Let me just write that down real quick. But as we all know, once we scribble that little piece of wisdom on that scrap piece of paper, we stick it right back into our pockets to be lost again in that load of laundry. Occasionally, we might try to be good and start a notebook. But I can’t even tell you how many notebooks I’ve started. I even tried to start notebooks based on genre, like one for my diary, one for notes from camp, notes from sunday school, notes from whatever other conference I went to. Let’s face it, not one of those books have been filled. But then I was like, why don’t I keep a blog? I can enter keywords in to find what I need in the future (because handwritten notebooks don’t have that function yet…). I type faster than I write, AND someone else can get that same lesson that I just thought it was worth to write down.

Thus, the birth of this blog. This blog is not meant to be my diary. It will simply be a collection of my notes from Sunday school, Sunday service, basically advice from people who know a lot more than me about everything. I’m glad we’re entering into that digital age because these blogs will be saved FOREVER. And if one of my little grandchildren need advice, I can just flip on through here and find it. I’m kidding with myself. This probably won’t last that long. Grandchildren are like 40 years later because I’m only 24…But here’s to hoping for a month of lessons. Then I can up that goal later. If I make that. These posts won’t be long (because I don’t want to write that long. I know myself too well. The longer they are, the less likely I’m going to make this goal) They may just serve as a 5 minute read everyday.

Here’s to becoming mathetis of His word together.