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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ivy - and sin (Part 3).

At the back of the house in Gardonne are some fruit trees.  We have a pear tree (sorry, no partridge!); a cherry tree; and two apricot trees!  They all need some TLC, and both pruning and feeding but, next year,we hope that we might have a reasonable crop.  Actually,  I started the pruning of the pear tree, yesterday - and gathered 27lbs of pears in the process.  That is without any care!

However, while one of the apricot trees has a reasonable amount of fruit, the other has next to nothing.  The reason for this is, I suspect (I make no claim to any level of horticultural expertise!) the fact that the bottom half of the trunk was smothered with ivy!  I have managed to remove all of it but, if I am correct, then this demonstrates another aspect of sin.

Perhaps, at this point, I should remind you of the definition of sin!  According to the Shorter Catechism, "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God."  In other words, sin is not simply 'breaking the law' - although, for example, if I rob a bank; commit murder, or rape; or give false testimony in a court of law; I have sinned.  However, there is much that I do - and much that I fail to do - that does not break human law, but is still sin in the sight of Almighty God!

A major problem with sin is that it usually appears to be attractive!  I am not going to be tempted into a sinful sexual liaison with someone whom I consider to be ugly!  I am not going to be tempted to break into a toy-shop, and steal all of the Monopoly money!  I am not going to car-jack 30-year-old rust-bucket with smoke billowing from the exhaust!  I am only going to be tempted if the woman is, in my eyes, beautiful; if the money that I am able to steal is in a recognised currency; if the car is a latest model of an expensive marque!

However, as the old adage has it "All that glisters is not gold", and that is never more true than when we sin.  I start that affair - and then discover that it costs me my marriage, my home, my family, my personal integrity.  I steal that money - and then realise that I am going to have to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life.  I take that car - and find out that I am unable to handle such a high-powered vehicle, as I take a bend in the road at too fast a speed, and end up in hospital (if not the Morgue!).

Just as the ivy sucks the life out of a tree, so sin sucks the very life out of we human beings.  Praise God that there is an answer.  He has promised that "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (I Cor 10:13).

When the Lord Jesus hung on the cross at Calvary, He not only bore your sins, and mine, in His own body (see I Pet.2:24), but He actually became sin (II Cor.5:21), in all of its putrefaction, and ugliness, and nastiness, and blackness.  I believe that it was at that moment in human time that He uttered what is usually referred to as 'the cry of dereliction' - "E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:34).  But Mark continues his account: "And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom."  That great cry was a single word: "Tetelestai" - "Finished"!  This was not the weak whimper of one who had decided to give up!  It was the mighty shout of triumph of One Who had completed the work that the Father had given Him to do.  And, with the veil of the Temple ripped in two, the way was made open for you, and for me, to enter directly into the presence of the Almighty, Creator God.

Don't let sin suck the life out of you!  You see, it's not just your natural life that is effected, but also your eternal destiny.  The choice is yours - eternity in His nearer presence; or eternity cut off from Him - and aware, too late, of your own foolishness in rejecting, or even neglecting, His claim upon you.  May you, if you have not already done so, "Come to Him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (I Peter 2:4-5).

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