Tag Archives: sin

How Do We Know There is a God When There is so Much Evil in the World?

Many people struggle with the question of, ‘How can there be a loving God when there is evil in the world?’
Isn’t it funny how everyone can easily tell you when they see evil? How do they do that? I mean, how is it that they know what is good and what is evil? If God does not exists where do we even get the idea that some acts are good and some other acts are evil? It seems that we believe that there is some objective standard out there of good and evil. Not only do we think that there is a standard but we believe that it is obvious to everyone. Even more we believe that if the world were to work like it should that everyone should do the good all of the time.
We do make one exception. We believe that when we do evil that, well that is Okay. We really shouldn’t be judged too harshly.
So when we ask the question of, ‘How can there be a loving God when there is evil in the world?’ What we really mean is, ‘How can there be a loving God, when He allows other people’s evil to go unpunished?’ Well maybe that is not quite right, we really don’t want God to punish people for evil; we want Him to prevent them from doing evil. At the same time we don’t want a God that tells us what to do. We don’t want a God that is controlling and judging when it comes to our behavior.
Isn’t it odd that we would consider a judging and controlling God to be unloving, and yet we want that type of God for everyone else?
Isn’t it true that our ability to identify evil is an indication that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong, and God has written the standard on our hearts? Isn’t it true that even though there is evil in the world and in our lives we recognize that something is desperately wrong; it shouldn’t be that way? Isn’t it true that we yearn for a loving God that will not condemn us for our evil but rather fix the problem? Isn’t it true that the Bible is the only book that explains the problem of evil in a way that makes sense? Other religions fall short. Evolution has an explanation that is empty, unsatisfying and just doesn’t ring true to our experience.
The Bible explains a world as God intended; free of evil where all of creation lives in harmony with God the creator. The Bible explains why we have knowledge of good and evil. Satan coerced us into rebelling against God’s command and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Evil entered into the world and everything has been out of whack since then. But God didn’t let it remain that way. God intervened into the world. He sent His Son, Jesus the Christ, to take our evil on himself and to put it to death. The death of Jesus ended the grip of evil on the world. Now redemption is available to all of us. We can experience the love of a loving God rather than the condemnation of a Holy God. The choice is up to us. We look forward to the day that God will create a new heaven and a new earth; restoring it to the creation that He originally intended.
Only Christianity has a reasonable explanation for the existence of evil in the world. But we don’t really want an explanation what we want is a solution. Only Christ provides a remedy to the problem of evil.

Please Remember to Hold the Handrail

Image

I work in the petro-chemical industry. We are the ones that bring you the natural gas, gasoline, plastics and many other products that make modern civilization possible. When you are working with highly explosive chemicals, safety is your first and most important priority. One small mistake, oversight, cutting of corners, by-passing of procedures—and you can have a major catastrophe on your hands. The cost to life, health and the environment can be tremendous. So we spend a lot of time, effort and training to make sure our designs and practices are safe.

I work in an engineering office where the potential hazards are minimal, but we place the same level of effort on safety. In the office the big safety issues are things like, put a lid on your coffee cup so you won’t spill any and create a slip hazard, or cross the street only when the light says “walk”. Everyone’s favorite is “Please remember to hold the handrail when doing down stairs”. They hammered on the handrail issue so much that it became the office joke. Every meeting started with a safety moment about the staircase. We had balloons tide to the handrail saying “hold the handrail”. We had signs to remind us. Someone even had cardboard cutouts of the chief officers of the building with these words coming out of their mouths, “Remember to hold the handrails”. We were encouraged to stop coworkers and remind them to hold the hand rails.

If you are like me, you are saying to yourself, “This is totally absurd. These are highly educated men and women, they are adults. You are treating them like kindergarteners. They have been walking since they were a one-year-old. They don’t need to be told how to cross the street, or walk without spilling things, or how to walk on the staircase.” Well that is how I feel. And I am not about to stop someone on the staircase and say, “Ah-ah-ah, you are not holding the hand rail”. It just seems so stupid to have to tell people something that they should already know, and they have already been warned about a thousand times.

Believe it or not we had two people fall within one month’s time. One of them missed the bottom step and fell face first, spread-eagle on the office lobby floor.

This article is not just about holding the handrail. There are all kinds of areas where we know we should take precautions but we don’t because we feel stable. We have never fallen before, we go on with a false confidence that it will never happen to us. It is not all that unusual for a person on staff at a Church to become romantically involved with someone they are not married to. When the news comes out there are typically two reactions. First is, “How could this happen, they know better than that. Precautions in this area are one of the first things that they teach you when you are going into ministry.” The second response is, “I saw it! I saw all of the warning signs and I didn’t say anything. Why didn’t I warn them?”

When walking down a staircase there are simple precautions that you need to take to keep yourself from falling and hurting yourself. Often they seem unnecessary. They are things like, don’t be distracted, don’t carry things down on the stairs, they could compromise your stability (take the elevator instead), be self-aware you could be caught off balance, and hold the handrail.

When it comes to sexual integrity there are the same types of precautions. Pay attention to what you are doing, don’t be distracted. Be self-aware, pay attention to how you are feeling and respond appropriately. Don’t place yourself in compromising positions like being alone with someone of the opposite sex. Don’t believe that you can keep yourself from falling, remember to hold the handrail.

If you see someone that is not following the safety precautions, then you have an obligation to remind them of the simple safety rules. We don’t want anyone to fall and hurt themselves.

Medical Part Three

The Role of the Church in Healthcare

The Skimmer Version—Just the highlights—for those who won’t take the time to read the full article

  • Leading question: “Should the Church be involved in healthcare?”
  • Answer:
    If God is the source of Life, Health and Healing (see Medical Part One) and
    If all illness is the result of sin (see Medical Part Two) and
    If humans are body and spirit, rather than just animated bodies (see Medical Part Two)
    Then the Church is the only group properly equipped to deal with all aspects of human health
  • Historically the Church has been deeply involved in health care by training doctors, nurses and medical missionaries. We have also been responsible for building and running hospitals and medical clinics throughout the world.  It is only recently that the Church has withdrawn from medicine.
  • Warnings:
    The Church providing healthcare must supplement our overall goal of making disciples rather than detract from it.
    The Church must provide health care for the whole person physically and spiritually. We must not provide secular healthcare with a Christian name attached.

The Full Article

Should Churches be involved in health care?

The answer is quite simply—YES. If God is the source of Life, Health and Healing  (Medical Part One), and All illness is the Result of Sin (Medical Part Two), and humans are both body and spirit, then it follows that the Church should be at the center of health care. Not only should the Church be involved; we must be involved. No one else in all the world is equipped to deal with the whole person, body soul and spirit. No one else is equipped to deal with sin and extend forgiveness. No one else is a proper channel for the power of God’s healing. No one else is equipped to train people to be disciples of Christ and to live lives which honor Him, avoid sin and its consequences.

Not only should the Church be involved in health care, we have been, up until recently. Healing has been a part of what God does from way back. We can trace it back at least to the time that Moses fashioned a brazen serpent and placed it on a pole in the wilderness so the Children of Israel could look at it and be healed from poisonous snake bites. Later Jesus referred to that as a symbol of His death on the cross. Now it has become the symbol of the American Medical Association. Throughout the Old Testament prophets of God healed people. Men like Elijah and Elisha. In the New Testament Jesus healed the people before He preached the Gospel. He also showed the need to heal the whole man by calling people to repentance, forgiving their sin and healing their diseases.

Nursing traces back to Florence Nightingale.

The missionary movement of the 1800s often brought medical care and healing, hand in hand with the Gospel; and that trend continues all the way up to the present.

In my area of the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California there are a large number of hospitals. There is the Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora, the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, Queen of the Valley Hospital, founded by the Catholics, in West Covina. In fact if you look into the founding of the hospitals in the area you will find that nearly all of them were founded by Christian denominations or small groups of Christian Doctors.

It was understood that healing was part of the work of Christ and that the Church should continue to caring on that work. We understood that heath care is a Christian ministry to the community.

There were a number of things that reversed this trend. One is the deterioration of denominations. This happened in two ways. Many, not all, of the large denomination wandered from the truth and became much more liberal in their theology. This led them to deny the power of Christ and turn to secular means to solve community problems. The distinction between Christian medicine and secular medicine was lost. A second way that denominations deteriorated it that key churches cut their ties with the denominations. The denomination was viewed as dragging down the larger churches. The churches would contribute money to the denomination but they saw little benefit. Denominations began to break-up and the hospital and medical clinics went too. Without large amounts of money pooled together through the denomination the hospitals could not function. They were sold off.

Of course there were a number of other factors, businesses moving in to medicine, Doctors looking for new ways to make money, health insurance coming in and driving up the cost of medical services, lawyers deciding that they can make money by targeting doctors and hospitals with malpractice law suits, the development of expensive diagnostic equipment, and pharmaceutical companies developing new high price drug treatments. Everyone recognized the medicine was a growing field, full of new opportunities. The business of greed took over. The Church unknowingly surrendered to business.

Healthcare is primarily a ministry, not a business. Business cannot do something that only the Church is equipped to do. Healthcare will only continue to deteriorate unless the Church provides clear direction and leadership to fix the problem.

A Word of Warning

The Church has only one mandate; “To go into all the world and make disciples”. We are not called to create hospitals or to run medical clinics. That is not the goal of the Church. It is true that the Church being involved in healthcare could lead us away from our primary objective and that must be guarded against. Another danger is that we would provide healthcare according to the popular naturalistic secular model, instead of following a Biblical approach to healthcare. We have been away from the Biblical approach for so long that we need to learn it all over again.

We are called to make disciples. All too often that statement is simplified down to mean “make converts”. A disciple is much more than a convert. A disciple is a fully devoted follower of Christ. A disciple wants to emulate Christ in all he does. He studies God’s word and knows how to apply it to all of life’s issues. If the Church is making true disciples wouldn’t we see it in how Christian doctors do medicine? Wouldn’t we see it in how Christian hospital administrators do their work? Wouldn’t we seek to minister to the whole person rather than just their body? Wouldn’t we deal with the problem of sin? Wouldn’t we demonstrate to the world God’s plan for life, health, and healing?

We, the Church, have become very small in our thinking. God has the answers to all of life’s issues. It is time we learn the answers and apply them to everything we touch. Those areas that we have surrendered we need to retake. Medicine is one of those areas.

Medical Part Two

All Illness is the Result of Sin

Skimmer Version—Just the main points for those who won’t take the time to read the full article

  • All illness is the result of sin
  • Original sin which entered the world through Adam and resulted in a curse on all the earth, including the introduction of illness and disease into the environment.
  •  Personal sin leads to disease. Obvious sins which lead to disease would be STDs which are passed by not following Gods standards for sexual behavior. Other more subtle sins would include things like, gluttony, greed, worry (lack of faith), anger, bitterness, selfishness and others.
  •  Personal sin which affects and infects others. Personal sin not only affects the person sinning, it also impacts those around them and society in general. Disease doesn’t stay with one person. It spreads. “Good people” suffer because of the sins of others.
  •  Jesus not only healed people’s illnesses, He also dealt with their sin.
  • James teaches us to call for the Elders, confess our sin, and pray for healing.
  •  God formed a nation from the Children of Israel. He taught them how to live and promised them healthy lives if they followed His laws.
  • A Naturalistic World View tries to deal with illness apart from sin.
  • A Christian World View demands that we deal with sin as the root cause of illness.

The Full Article

All illness is the result of sin. That statement makes a lot of people bristle. The response is, ‘You mean to tell me that I am sick because I have sinned?’ Well yes and no. So let me explain.

The Bible teaches that in the Garden of Eden the Serpent deceived Eve and Eve ate the forbidden fruit then Adam willing ate the fruit along with her. That is known as original sin. In chapter 3 of Genesis God deal out His judgment for sin. For the woman it means that she will experience pain in child birth and her desire shall be for her husband and he shall rule over her. The curse for Adam was not directly on him but rather it was on all that God gave him to rule over making his ability to subdue the earth much more difficult. It says that the earth would bring forth thorns and thistles and that he would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Most theologians see this as a general cures that puts the world into a system of decay which includes the advent of all diseases. So the first way that all illness is the result of sin is that original sin led to original disease.

Some will say, “That is not fair. Why should I suffer for some sin done by Adam?” Paul explains this in Romans. He says that we were all in Adam when Adam sinned. Quite literally all of mankind was present in Adam when Adam sinned.  So that when Adam sinned we all sinned.

There is a second way in which sin causes illness. That is personal sin. We know this well. The most obvious examples come from sexual immorality. There are more than 30 different venereal diseases. All of these are spread almost exclusively by personal sin. If people would follow God’s design of sex exclusively between a man and a woman in marriage then these diseases would virtually disappear. Of course extramarital sex is just one example. There are numerous other examples of more subtle sins which directly contribute to illnesses. One example would be gluttony, which we seem to view as a virtue rather than a sin. We even have food TV shows where people are rewarded for gluttony.

Back to the issue of sex; some people will say, “What about the woman that is faithful to her husband, but he has an affair and ends up bringing home a venereal disease”. That is a great point. In that situation the illness is not due to the wife’s sin; it is due to her husband’s sin. It is still due to personal sin. It is the husband’s personal sin. So often we forget that the problem with sin isn’t that guilty people are hurt by it. The real problem with sin is that everyone is hurt by it. A person’s infidelity destroys whole families. A person’s alcoholism or drug addiction doesn’t stop with them. It affects their family, friends, coworkers and those in society who pays for and cleans up the damage. Sin affects everyone. The illnesses that result from sin don’t just affect the sinners the illnesses spread into the environment and affect everyone.

Our current medical system doesn’t address the issue of sin at all. In fact now we go to extremes to not address sin. This became most apparent when AIDS started to make the news. At the time it was normal to have contact tracing for many sexually transmitted diseases. This was done to try to control the spread of the disease. People would reveal the persons with whom they had recently had sex. Those people would be contacted and informed that they had been exposed to a dangerous disease. They would be tested and discouraged from further spreading the disease. They would also reveal their sex partners and the further actions would be taken to curtail the spread. That is not how it happened with AIDS. Instead personal privacy (the right to hide one’s sin) took priority over public health. Contact tracing was abandoned. Even spouses would not be informed that they were in danger of being infected. Amazing!

The focus in the medical community is to cure the consequences of sin without addressing the sin itself. If all illness is the result of sin shouldn’t we be addressing the root cause? Instead we are doing everything we can to continue sinning.

It is important to address a common misinterpretation of sin. Some have the attitude that the problem with sin is that it produces negative consequences. With that viewpoint the goal becomes removing the negative effects of sin. If promiscuous sex leads to unwanted pregnancy and STDs then condoms and abortions are the solution. If sin leads to feelings of guilt, shame, rejection and worthlessness then maybe the answer is psychotherapy. Or the problem is society. We need to celebrate our sin and get society to accept us and our sin as valuable contributions to a diverse culture. Gluttony is dealt with by pills, surgery and insulin injections.

The Bible doesn’t see the consequences of sin as the problem. No! Sin is the problem. In a way the consequences of sin are a blessing. They are a protective mechanism put in place by God to make sin less appealing. It is the fear of the consequences of sin that helps us to avoid sin.

If we truly understand that all illness is the result of sin it should lead us to want to rid ourselves and our communities of sin. Illness is not something to be treated it is something to be prevented. The Books of the Law in the Bible (the first five books of the Bible) were written in the time between the Children of Israel coming out of Slavery in Egypt and before they entered the Promised Land. They were between two civilizations. During this time God formed a new nation with new Laws. He taught them everything they needed to know to be successful. He even purged a whole generation of people. This was a totally new beginning. In Deuteronomy 27 and 28 God gives the Children of Israel a pep talk. It is a list of blessings and cursing. It is done as “If—Then” statements. Part of it goes something like this. If you will obey My Laws and Statutes then you will experience none of the diseases that you experienced in Egypt. IF you disobey Me then I will visit upon you all of the same illnesses of Egypt.

There is another aspect to this. The Children of Israel were not only leaving Egypt behind they were also entering The Promised Land. This land was populated by an extremely wicked people, the Canaanites. This was not just one group of people it was actually ten nations. God had given them plenty of time to repent and reform, He actually gave them an extra forty years, but they didn’t change. They only got worse. By the time the Israelites came to the edge of the Promised Land God had determined that the Canaanites would need to be totally exterminated. They were not to be driven out. No. They were to be killed; all of them, men, women, elderly and children; not only the people, but the animals too. And everything was to be burned. Why so much destruction? Why complete annihilation? Could it be that their sin was so great that everything was affected and infected? Could it be that the only way to rid the land of sin and illness was to wipe it totally clean? I think so. God was setting the stage for a people to live righteous lives and to be free of disease.

There is a popular verse that is often used to call the nation to repentance. Most of you have heard it but you probably never noticed what it says about healing. It is found in 2 Chronicles. It is God’s response to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple.

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 heal their land.

God’s pattern is prayer, repentance, reform, forgiveness and healing.

All illness is the result of sin. We will never have good health or a good health care system until we are willing to address the problem of sin.