Fatal Sins

It looks like in Colorado we are arriving at Halloween without any snow fall in lower elevations. As a matter of fact, the temperatures in Fort Collins probably felt warmer than we are experiencing in Atlanta. We got up before sunrise to go to another football game for Mason and Carter. The weather was on the cold side and our team played accordingly. They experienced their first loss of the season during their “homecoming” game.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  “‘This was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud and had plenty of food and lived in great comfort, but she did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49 NCV

Sodom in scripture became figurative of sin and God’s judgment. As the prophet addresses the idolatry and sins of God’s people he speaks of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. God views the idolatry of His people like the sin of prostitution. They had rejected the Lord who had rescued them from their slavery in Egypt and continually sought after other gods and gave themselves to all forms of disobedience and sin.

Their generations of idolatry and rebellion, and refusing to heed the warnings of the prophets led them experience captivity by evil nations whose lives and standards by which they lived. This time proved to be God’s discipline until they were brought back to the land. As Ezekiel speaks to the sins of Israel and Judah, the Lord point out the fatal sins beneath their rebellion.

What we in God’s people is what we find in many lives today; the issue isn’t always the issue. In my work with Teen Challenge we consistently found that substance abuse was related to some underlying causes rooted in family or personal history, crisis or other issues. For Judah, their sins made them as wicked as Sodom because of three underlying issues: pride, plenty of food and ease.

Those may not sound all that bad. Often pride comes from great accomplishments and proven, well-developed abilities. Having plenty of food, especially in an agrarian society provides a lot of security. Having a life of ease and comfort seems to be what people dream about and view with envy.

However, these formed the seedbed of sin and rebellion against the Lord. The believed they didn’t need God on one hand and on the other they became callous toward others who were in need. They were self focused, self-reliant and self-absorbed. They were narcissistic people in a narcissistic land.

In pointing to these faults, we find what the Lord’s plan and purpose is for our life, by considering the opposing conduct and attitude.

Scripture warns about pride. We read, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18 NIV) But we see the corollary, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (1 Peter 5:6 NLT) Pride focus on bringing honor to oneself, humility trust the Lord to bring the honor that comes from Him and others at the proper time and in the proper way.

We are not to live only for ourselves, but for others as well. Paul said, Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4 ESV) One of the consistent Biblical instructions of this outward focus is other believers and the poor. Paul told the Galatians, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10 NIV)

From the Old Testament to the New we see God’s heart and commitment to the poor. “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. (Proverbs 19:17 NIV) As Paul was released to proclaim the good news of Christ to the gentiles the apostles had only one request, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. (Galatians 2:10 NIV)

Scripture teaches us how to live through the record of good examples and poor examples. We can learn and be challenged by both. When it comes to the seminal sins Judah that brought God’s judgment, we are warned about a life of pride, reliance on own provisions and seeking a life of self-centered comfort. May we commit ourselves to “walk humbly before the Lord” to trust in the security He alone can provide and seek to invest our lives in God’s purposes for the good of others.