A girl's innocence is destroyed and two boys face rape charges. There's accusation of corruption and volatile unrest. A common denominator? Sin. Not just heinous acts or disgusting images and tweets, but the determination for the world to know sordid details by posting Internet gossip; being judge, jury and executioner in a court of public opinion; or boasting who should be punished because we heard something. That's not justice, it's gossip. Sin separates from God. God isn't in that behavior. Christians want truth, justice, mercy, peace and healing. Pursuing these is righteous; not at any cost. We can't inspire order with chaos; uphold law by breaking it; produce peace with anger or lead others to light from shadows. It's right to be broken for victims and disheartened while people slander our community. Do our reactions point to Jesus? Our faith needs revival!
2 Chronicles 7:14 - If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Satan is real - (1 Peter 5) Be self-controlled and alert, our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.
Sin is real - (Ephesians 6) Our struggle isn't against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.
Sin is obvious - (Galatians 5) Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry; witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy; drunkenesss, orgies, and the like.
Satan packages sin - (2 Corinthians 11), "Satan masquerades as an angel of light"; so do masquerading vigilantes. Whatever is almost true, is false, and among the most dangerous of errors; being so near truth, it's more likely to lead astray. If loyalty to anything -community, school, gossip - trumps God's truth, it's idolatry.
Sin causes division - (Galatians 5) Don't use our freedom to indulge our sinful nature. If we keep biting and devouring each other, we'll be destroyed by each other.
We choose to sin - (James 1) We can't say, "God's tempting me." God can't be tempted by evil and doesn't tempt anyone. We're tempted when dragged away by our own evil desire.
Sin affects everyone (Romans 3) All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Sin leads to death - (Romans 6) The wages of sin is death. What is death for eternal beings? Scripture says that hell is eternal torment. Before Jesus, no sacrifice sufficed. What's the good news?
God loves you! (John 3) - God so loved the world, he gave his only Son; whoever believes in him will have eternal life. Jesus, God in flesh, came to his creation pure and humble, tempted and vulnerable. He lived sinless, glorified God and suffered a horrible death on a cross in exchange for sin. He lives today confirming he is Lord! He sent the Holy Spirit, God living inside and all around us, to counsel. His unconditional love produces our heartfelt desire to display commitment through baptism; willingly worship, fellowship with Christians and serve others; while sharing his good news. He molds us inwardly, to be like him.
Jesus' grace is enough - (2 Corinthians), The Lord says his grace is sufficient. When we allow God to purge us of our own willpower and surrender it to his will, then his power becomes evident, in spite of and because of our weakness.
Jesus' grace is free! - (Ephesians 2) We're saved by grace, through faith, not from ourselves. It's the gift of God, not by works, so we can't boast.
Forgiving is required -(Matthew 6) If we forgive others when they sin against us, God forgives us. If we don't forgive others their sins, God won't forgive our sins. We repent, or turn from sin, to God. Forgiveness with an unrepentant heart is vanity and we can't consistently or unrepentantly sin with grace as an excuse.
Give everything to God - (Romans 12) Offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Don't conform to the pattern of the world, be transformed by renewing our minds. Not just Sundays, every day all day.
Obey authority - (Romans 13) Be subject to governing authorities. Rebelling against authority is rebelling against what God institutes. I'm not suggesting we ignore and enable corruption, but first exhaust biblical and legal protocol for civilized dispute. Paul penned Romans during the rule of Emperor Nero, who became so corrupt as to kill many Christians. God still commanded obedience, knowing Nero's predisposition.
Prayer works - (James 5) The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Miracles from prayer permeate the Bible and many of our lives. Pray frequently within the precepts of God's will: God shows what's good. (Micah 6) Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God. Jesus provides focus. (Philippians 4) - Whatever's true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy-think about those things. The Holy Spirit blesses faith. (Galatians 5) - The fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. God wants our all. (Matthew 22) The greatest commandment - love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Truth - (John 14) Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
Justice - (Revelation 16). True and just are your judgments.
Mercy - (Lamentations 3) His compassion never fails.
Peace - (John 14) Jesus leaves his peace with us.
Healing - (Jeremiah 17) Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed.
Judge, jury and executioner - (James 4). There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.
Seek God's will and pray without ceasing. Our desires are only found in Jesus Christ. If you haven't dedicated your life to Jesus or are unsure of your eternal future, I urge you to message me.
(Prichard is an elder at Crossroads Christian Church in Wintersville.)