Israel was fortunate to have such a stark reminder as the Day of Atonement. And today, we lose much of the depth that should characterize our godliness if we never think of sin except to say, “Sin? It’s no big deal. God’s grace has got me covered.”
There is simply no force in the world more potent than love — and when love is a holy passion for God, it is a force that will move us to do what is right with fiery energy. “Love in its essence is spiritual fire” (Emanuel Swedenborg).
Is it any wonder that we see so many exhortations in the Scriptures to keep the faith. These warnings are greatly needed. We should not be doubtful about our salvation, but as long as Satan is still in business, we can’t afford to be complacent.
Despite the negative aspects of “warfare,” it is a fact that strength, as well as gratitude, is generally built up through struggle. Danger is certainly one of the “good and perfect gifts” that might come from a God who wants us to be strong.
Heaven won’t be for those who have earned it by their own success in being good people; it will be for those who have been rescued by the Great Redeemer. Will we accept this rescue or reject it? Answering that question is our most crucial challenge.
For all Job knew, he was going to die from his afflictions, but if so, he was unconcerned: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25,26). Job knew God would be waiting for him on the other side.
Confronting the awfulness of our sin, without self-pity or evasion of responsibility, we should grieve how we’ve rebelled against God’s love. And we should yearn to be with Him in eternity, whatever we may have lost by our sins in this life.
We tend to see people only through the lens of their past. And unfortunately, if a person’s past is so sinful that we deem them unfit candidates for God’s grace, then we probably won’t “waste the time” it takes to present the gospel to them.
Human beings have always faced an ultimate choice. Do we lay aside our self-sufficiency and trust in our Creator, or do we double down on our self-sufficiency and trust in human effort and ingenuity? This is the basic choice that we must make.
Rather than dismissing the distinction between godliness and ungodliness by saying, “Only God knows who His people are,” we need to be growing in our ability to make this distinction rightly. Yes, we must be humble. But we must also be honest.