Visit the Sick – A Simple Plan

Visiting the sick and shut-ins is one way to love Christ because it is one way to love other members of His body and sow seeds of the gospel to those who are not. Perhaps this way of serving is new to you. You might be encouraged by the first post in this series. It deals with impediments to visitation. Future posts will offer some ideas on conversation. For now, perhaps you would like to visit a sick, handicapped, aged, or otherwise impaired member of your church but you’re just not sure how to go about it. Try this simple approach.

Prepare

Pray. For God to be pleased, your service to the Lord must be dependent upon the Spirit, not on yourself. Therefore, in your morning devotion time, pray for the person and yourself. On the drive to the location, pray.

If you wish, call the hospital to confirm visiting hours and that the patient may have visitors. You may learn that the person has been released already.

Think of one or two conversation starters that would lead to ministering to the person’s heart. This provides you direction and confidence even if, when you arrive, you assess that the situation requires a complete shift of direction. You want one question to ask or one SHORT encouragement or verse to share. If it doesn’t fit this visit, it might in another. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Are you struggling with something for which I might pray?
  • How have you seen God at work in your situation?
  • May I tell you a Bible verse about God’s love for you?

Visit

Entering the room, introduce yourself.

Begin with sympathy and understanding. Ask about the sick person. What is her condition? What kinds of treatment is she receiving?

Ask about person’s family. Where do they live? Are they able to visit? Show interest in her situation and consideration of others involved.

Turn the conversation to minister according to the spiritual need. Since conversations can take a course of their own that never arrives at spiritual things don’t wait long before getting to the spiritual topic. You can discuss other topics after the spiritual ministry if you deduce that it’s appropriate to stay longer.

Ask how you can pray for her. Just this question may lead to more discussion on spiritual matters.

Pray with the person.

If appropriate to stay longer, enjoy conversation but keep it short. Sick people tire easily.

Be sensitive to the needs of others. Relax and be yourself. Minister grace.

Tip: You might find it helpful to carry 3×5 cards with you. If the patient is not available or is asleep you can write a note of encouragement on a blank card and leave it where she can simply look at it. Or, you might pre-print a verse (large print) on a card and then use the card to start a conversation about the verse, then leave the card with the sick one.

Afterward

On the way home, pray for the person and others involved–family, church members, medical staff.

Consider a follow-up phone call or another visit as appropriate.

~~~

Service to the Lord Jesus is a privilege and pleasing Him delights the heart. May you experience joy as you serve Him by serving others.

~~~~~

Sources: See end of this post.

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Visit the Sick

Last May on a study tour in Israel I snapped my radius (main arm bone) in two. In this rather jolting fashion my husband and I received the undesired privilege of an unexpected tour of an Israeli hospital ER and floor. A doctor in our tour group stayed with us until my arm was in a cast then rejoined the team while we stayed the night at the hospital. What a comfort he was! (By the way, the skill of the doctors who set my bone so impressed my stateside orthopedic surgeon that he sang their praises at my every subsequent appointment. If you plan to break your arm outside of the U.S., I suggest doing so in Caesarea, Israel.)

While I wouldn’t put a foreign hospital high on your list of travel attractions, it was a learning experience, adding nuance to “study” tour. For example, we observed the number of visitors with other patients–two, four, five–hanging around for hours. Just outside the hospital, a few patients held court with eight to ten visitors staying until well after dark on a summer night. It seemed to us that, for them, being in the hospital is a social event. In contrast, my husband and I were consigned all night to a no-frills hospital room in a foreign country cut off from family and friends, surrounded by foreign languages, with almost nothing to do but sit or walk the halls–all alone. If just one familiar face had stepped through the door to come sit with us…what that would have meant!

The incapacitation of the sick, injured, and aged creates difficulties, hinders or prevents normal activities, cuts people off from social contact, and may be discouraging or frightening. Visiting the sick can demonstrate love, convey encouragement, contribute prayer, reinforce faith, be the means of alerting others in the church to needs otherwise unknown, and provide us with opportunities to give grace to the sick and his or her family. It is one way we can “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). It is one way to love one another.

If you’ve never visited the sick, the idea may make you uneasy, especially at the thought of visiting someone you don’t know well. You’re not alone. I’d like to help, so in a series of posts I plan to look at the practice of visiting people who, due to physical incapacitation, are in medical facilities or home as shut-ins. Why would you visit? What are the behavioral expectations in the patient’s room? What if you’re not silver-tongued; what do you say? How could you serve the Lord Jesus and your church family by visitation?

While I don’t plan to cover every topic that could be discussed, the series will answer many common questions and, hopefully, help you in your efforts. I’ve put ideas together from a variety of sources which are listed at the end of this post in addition to what I’ve learned as I’ve applied the counsel from those sources. Future posts will include a short easy plan for getting started, basic room etiquette, how to minister in conversation, and what you might say in place of some common statements better left unsaid. Primarily, I’d like to encourage you to participate in this avenue of ministry.

What might keep you from visiting? Perhaps if we uncover and answer some typical reasons for avoidance it might ease your discomfort and energize you to visit someone so as to minister the grace of Christ to him or her.

Possible reasons some people avoid visiting the sick

One reason for avoiding visitation is discomfort with unfamiliar roads and location. Your first or second trip to the location may require navigating unfamiliar roads and congested traffic, missing turns, hunting for a parking space, and wandering through a parking garage. If you don’t get lost on the drive, you might in the facility. In one hospital, I’ve been lost trying to find the room, then lost again trying to backtrack to the parking garage–all in one visit. And the next visit. I’ve come to expect it at that hospital. No worries, nurses are great at giving directions with a smile!

The unfamiliar atmosphere can make people uncomfortable. There are unfamiliar sights, like all kinds of equipment, long plain halls, people dressed in scrubs, and patients not exactly dressed for a photo shoot. Sounds are unfamiliar–beeps, coughs, clanks, moans, cries of people in pain. Smells may be both unfamiliar and unpleasant.

People might be uncomfortable with unfamiliar behavioral expectations. If there is no chair, where do I sit? Do I hug the person or do I generally avoid touch lest I cause pain? Dare I pray with the patient when the family members are present? What if the nurse is in the room?

Sometimes people are afraid they might say the wrong thing. “How are you?” seems a bit unsuitable; in a hospital patients aren’t “Fine.” Are there questions we shouldn’t ask? Will we seem uncaring if certain questions are not asked? A future post will address conversation. Meanwhile, don’t let this fear stop you from going to comfort another.

Sometimes people don’t want to be reminded of their own vulnerability to illness or pain. For example, visiting in assisted living facilities reminds me that I may one day live in such a facility. I don’t like that thought and it would come to mind far less often if I simply avoided going to any.

Many people don’t want a reminder of death. We know intuitively that illness can be a precursor to death. If the reason a Christian refuses to minister to another person is avoidance of the fact of death then the avoider has an unbiblical view of death.

Many may regard visiting the sick as the pastor’s job and leave it to him. Perhaps you don’t know the fellow church member well so it seems like it isn’t your responsibility. While visitation is a part of the pastor’s shepherding responsibility Ephesians 4:12 says that it is the saints–us John and Jane Doe church members–who are to be doing “the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” Pastors already have such a heavy load equipping us to do that ministry. We can help our pastors by doing some visitation for them. Think how much such work might encourage your pastor.

Some simply don’t take the time. We’re busy. We have other things we want to do. I’ve thought, “It’s a forty-minute drive to the hospital with another ten minutes to find the room, all for a five or ten minute visit–that’s an inefficient use of time.” By whose measure? Who owns time?

The best reason to visit

I am not intending to lobby for altruism. Social activism in good deeds is extremely popular these days, but it isn’t Christianity. Mere altruism is humanism, service to other people on a purely human level. Anybody from any religion can do that and feel good about himself. Anybody can (and should) do his duty as a family member, friend, neighbor, or clergyman. Doing an unselfish act does engender good feelings, but if that all it is then we have our reward–good feelings toward Self.

People may visit out of love for the patient–a very good reason. People’s motivations are mixed bags, so we may have a variety of reasons for going. Whatever our reasons, if the glory of God is not the dominating theme then even our good reasons are insufficient. One, it fails to fully minister to the patient. Without the desire to exalt Christ there is no motivation to share the gospel, to minister His Word, to draw the sufferer’s attention to Christ. By default we leave God out of it; conversation remains on an earthly level. Two, it fails to credit God. Good deeds without the gospel defaults the credit for goodness to ourselves.

The best reason to visit others is for love of our Savior and, because of that, love for the person. True love for another doesn’t settle for only earthly relief exclusive of the One who is their only hope for eternally satisfying comfort and joy. And because we love Christ, we want to see Him be the One to receive glory for our good deeds–“do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). He receives glory when we love one another by helping each other love Him better.

Go and visit

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Think of the patient in his bed. He doesn’t feel well, doesn’t feel comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, is frustrated at inability to do what he used to do, may be bored, may be worried, misses his family and feels helpless to solve his problems. All day long those who enter his room are doctors or nursing staff, people there to help but all unknown and busy with other cares. Now apply Jesus’ teaching “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” Put yourself in the patient’s place. Then imagine hearing a knock on the door and looking up to see someone other than staff stepping through the door, someone coming just for you–what a lift! How much more so if that person helps you think on the beauty of Christ.

Please consider incorporating visitation of the sick into your service to your church. A card conveys love and encouragement–do send them. A phone call is better than nothing–do call. But a visit is best. Go and visit.

~~~~~

Sources that have helped me:

Brian Croft, Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness. Zondervan. https://www.amazon.com/Visit-Sick-Ministering-Practical-Shepherding/dp/0310517141/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1476714055&sr=8-5&keywords=brian+croft

Ernie Baker, in a conversation on visitation. Dr. Baker is a professor at The Master’s University, author of Marry Wisely, Marry Well, and active in Peacemaker Ministries.

Phil Manly and Jon Scott, “Manners in Ministry to the Sick and Dying,” lecture at Grace Community Church, Series Sundays in July, 7/5/2015, https://www.gracechurch.org/sermons/11098

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Perspective on Problems

Huffing and puffing up the mountain trail, every stride had been shortened to a mere foot, just enough inches to keep making a bit of progress without the lungs giving out. Every large rock in the way was to be avoided or surmounted by the aid of a handhold and arm strength. Finally, huff-puff finally, we broke out on top and looked down. Wow! What a change in perspective! From the top, those huff-and-puff hills looked like mere berms. From up high, vehicles look like toy cars, moving people like ants or, as the prophet Isaiah put it, like grasshoppers.

It is He who sits above the vault of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. (Is 40:22-23)

This passage is intended to give hope. The bad news was that the nation of Israel was going to be disciplined severely by seventy years of exile in Babylon. The good news was that the Lord would deliver them. So when the time for chastisement came they ought not despair but take comfort in God’s will and ability to deliver them at the right time.

How could they believe this? From the perspective of Israel, the Babylonian empire would appear to be an invincible giant. So God wanted them to see it from His perspective. He is so powerful and vast that He not only made all of creation, He sits above it. From His vantage point men appear to be mere grasshoppers. Could any mighty emperor, being a mere grasshopper, prevent God from carrying out His divine plan? How silly! “He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.”

Perspective shapes our understanding of reality and, therefore, of trials. It molds our hopes and prayers. From ground level, the troublous weeds of living in our day can look immense, shrinking hope and erasing praise from prayers.

I don’t know about you but I too often see difficulties from a grasshopper view. I’m too quick to magnify my problems bigger than they are to God. That’s why I wanted to focus on this passage awhile and ask myself some questions.

So whose perspective of reality is accurate?

All we see is an eye-level view and at that not even all the details. It is God who sees reality with perfect perspective and, therefore, God’s viewpoint that is accurate.

How do we attain God’s perspective?

Our problems can seem larger and more difficult to surmount than Mt. Everest. We need to read in the Bible God’s view of trials so that we can look down upon our troubles rather than up at them. Rather than believe our feelings or experiences, we choose to believe what God says about troubles and about Himself. Rather than doubt God’s goodness we remember His love. Those who follow Christ may be as small and insignificant as grasshoppers, but God loves us and will take care of us and one day make all things right. Christ loved so much that He came and endured the ultimate suffering to pay the penalty of sin on our behalf. Rather than imagine that the world is out of control we believe the Bible’s message that God is in control. One way to renew our minds is to memorize and meditate on passages like Isaiah 40 and others than magnify the greatness of God. Easy? No, but the hard work of changing our perspective to match God’s produces rest and joy.

How might this apply to trials in our lives?

Consider, in light of how big God is, how big can the problems of a grasshopper be? In light of eternity, how long do they last? In light of His power we can stop trying to control and instead trust God. In light of His immense love, we can submit to the trials He lovingly ordains for us. We can cooperate so as to bring Him glory. In light of the joys of seeing Christ in heaven, we can shift our gaze from the hardships here below to the beauty of Christ.

James 1:2-3 says to “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” When we see trials from God’s perspective we can count them a source of joy. We can assume the best of Him, that He is good and has a good purpose for this trial. We can commit to endure with attitudes and behaviors to glorify Him. That means putting off self-pity and putting on words of gratitude and actions of obedience and service. We can set our mind’s eye on the hope of being with Christ in heaven.

How might this apply to prayer?

Trials can discourage prayer. We don’t know what to ask. We ask for selfish things. Prayer seems futile. We let ourselves be discouraged from praying at all. But if God “sits above the vault of the earth” and is able to reduce rulers to nothing, we can choose to pray with faith. “He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). We might pray that we would see our problems as He does and that we would trust Him despite our lack of perspective. God sits above the vault of the earth, stretched out the heavens, yet inserts Himself into earthly history and overturns the declarations of kings and judges who think to rule the earth. With His greatness and our smallness in mind, in the midst of our trials we can trust Him and pray, “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus…forever and ever” (Eph. 3:21).

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A Visitor’s Guide to Hell

One doctrine upon which almost all religions agree throughout history is hell. They may not agree about the details, but they agree that there is a hell. In A Visitor’s Guide to Hell: A Manual for Temporary Entrants and Those Who Would Prefer to Avoid Eternal Damnation, Clint Archer describes what we can know about it.

I’ll say up front, I don’t know how to do this book justice. I had started writing a review while reading it (aloud to my husband). Then last night, after the last chapter and conclusion, my husband and I were speechless for a couple of minutes. You need to read this book! But please don’t read the end first. At only 141 pages in eight short chapters, you won’t have to wait long.

To write about hell, Dr. Archer bases his observations on the Bible, not ideas from philosophy and religions. He reasons that Jesus is the Authority on the topic. No one else has the knowledge or resources to know what they’re talking about. A few people claim to have been there and come back, but Jesus said that once you’re there you can’t escape. So we have no eye witnesses on earth, not in all of history. In contrast, Archer quotes verse after verse from the Bible to back what he writes with the testimony of the One who made hell.

Dr. Archer treats this hot topic respectfully while applying a few cold packs of humor to cool and lighten the atmosphere, at least for the reader on earth, starting with the table of contents. Here is a sampling to ignite your interest:

  • Introduction: Raising Hell
  • To Hell and Back: Who Has the T-shirt?
  • Downtown Abyss: Learning the Lay of the Land
  • The Gated Community: Hell’s Population
  • Dead-End Streets: How to Go to Hell
  • The Great Escape: Rescued from Hell

Starting with Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus, Archer then weaves that story throughout the book. It effectively engages the reader personally and practically. The rich man was surprised that he landed in hell. He couldn’t get out. He couldn’t even warn his family. What a cost for his lack of understanding about hell!

Archer mentions some common misconceptions about hell. One is that Satan is the head honcho there. What does the Bible say about that and other misconceptions? If you don’t know, Clint provides quotes of Scripture for you so you can see for yourself what the truth is.

All people begin life on the road to hell but, like the rich man, most don’t believe they’ll arrive. How do they think to avoid or escape it? In most cases, people take one of three avenues, all of which lead to the same surprise the rich man received. We all like to think we’re the exception. To find out if you’re on one of those “Dead-End Streets” read the book.

For those who want to avoid the heat, Archer tells you the Bible’s solution. How is God’s grace applied to us? Only Jesus is perfectly righteous and only He can rescue the sinner from hell. How? Read all about it in “The Great Escape: Rescued from Hell.”

Finally, there is a chapter on heaven and it is…well, heavenly! One Person especially makes it so. What a bright reprieve that chapter is. I hope that all readers of this post are rescued in “The Great Escape” so as to arrive safely in heaven.

My husband and I read A Visitor’s Guide together. Of all the crazy things to do, we read it at bedtime. Just before you close your peepers for sleep may not be the best time to scorch your mind with hell, but do read the book. It provides an unearthly tour from the horrors of hell to the heights of heaven and back. As you travel, you keep bumping into the poor rich man. Consider what he says. Don’t be in a hurry. Let each chapter simmer in your thoughts.

Finally, read chapter 8 and the conclusion in one sitting. The contrast is profitably sobering.

~~~~~~~~~

A Visitor’s Guide to Hell: A Manual for Temporary Entrants and Those Who Would Prefer to Avoid Eternal Damnation, Dr. Clint Archer, 2014

Barnes and Noble:  A Visitor’s Guide to Hell
Amazon: A Visitor’s Guide to Hell
Christianbook.com:  A Visitor’s Guide to Hell

 

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No Wiggle Room

Boston Herald sports headline, Sunday, July 24, 2016: “Suspension rules leave little wiggle room for Tom Brady.” The article discusses whether NFL quarterback Tom Brady will “keep his sanity” during four weeks of suspension from his team. He is supposed to have no contact with the team. No going to the stadium. No practicing passes with teammates. No discussions with teammates. Some have been hunting for loopholes, but there seems to be no wiggle room.

In the last post I did a short meditation on the significance of Adam’s one bite of forbidden fruit. for the smallest infraction, consequences both now and for eternity are enormous and certain. God leaves no wiggle room. Nor is there but one means of salvation that would grant eternal life; it has to be accomplished God’s way. But we don’t like the the terms. What are common loopholes we try? Following are common responses I have heard from both myself and others.

Good Deeds

Many people say something like, “I agree that sin deserves punishment, but I do a lot of good deeds. I’m a basically good person.”

By whose definition? According to God Adam was originally “very good”– which is much “gooder” than you or I. Yet when he ate (a merely normal activity) of a forbidden fruit, he was no longer good but corrupted. (It wasn’t even junk food.) If so, then how much worse for us.

On the Final Judgment scales, one sin far outweighs all the good a person does. If you’ve broken the law in one point, you’ve broken the whole (James 2:10). Paul said, “No one does good.”

“But I…”

“No, not one.” Not even you. Read it in Romans 3:10-18. Not one “good” deed done by a person outside of Christ is acceptable to God. Rather, every good deed is to Him filthy, like a reeking filthy rag (Is. 64:6). We cannot bifurcate our deeds from ourselves, and our selves are not good.

Not That Bad

“But really, I don’t think God would condemn me for one white lie, especially when my intentions were good.”

A lie with an adjective attached is still a lie. The adjective proves our lack of goodness. Rather than admit the truth, it seeks to avoid conviction and minimize the offense. It holds a low view of God’s perfect holiness.

While there are degrees of sin and punishment, when it comes to life or death a sin cannot be measured on a qualitative continuum as if a bank robbery is condemnable but taking a forbidden cookie is no big deal, as if vicious lies deserve hell but a white lie should be excused. No sin is insignificant because the issue, even in the smallest of offenses, is that God is King and we reject His rule.

Messing Up

“But everybody messes up.”

Proverbs 16:2 is right, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes.” We justify ourselves rather than looking at it through God’s eyes. What we call “mess up” God calls “sin.” Sin is a violation of God’s command, either actively or passively, either overtly or inadvertently. Leviticus 5:17 says that even unintentional sin merits guilt. Any failure to do absolutely everything God commands exactly in the way He commands it is a sin.

Faith

“But I have faith.”

The demons believe and yet do not know God. Of the Ephesian Christians Paul wrote, “By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, emphasis added). Oh, what right have we to boast about what is a gift? Would we thereby steal even faith? See the deceitfulness of sin!

Sincerity

“But I’m really sincere about what I believe.”

A suicide (homicide) bomber is as sincere as you can get, fatally sincere, murderously sincere–and sincerely wrong. Sincerity is not the standard for heaven, holiness is. Jesus said, “Be perfect as My heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). God’s standard is 100% perfection and not a thousandth of a percent less.

So when it comes to our culpability before God, there is no wiggle room.

Hope

The good news is, God provided for salvation from eternal punishment. It is abundant salvation and is gained by one way only–Jesus the Christ. One act of disobedience was so abhorrent to God that it required a curse on all men, but one act of obedience by Jesus gave much more. Jesus’ obedient self-sacrifice on the cross paid for not just one sin, but for all the sins of all the men who would trust in Him. One sin cursed all who are in Adam. One sacrifice overruled that curse and abundantly blessed all who are in Christ (Romans 5).

We commonly seek loopholes from guilt and escape on our terms. Impossible! Dear reader, trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone–no wiggle room.

Examine your own life. 

  • Do you consider yourself to be basically a good person who means well?
  • Do you paint your sins white?
  • Do you redefine sins as mess-ups?
  • Do you have faith in your faith (or in some profession you made back in the day)?
  • Do you take comfort in your sincerity?

Change your mind: 

  • View yourself as God does, corrupted by sin and unable to be good enough to please Him.
  • View sins like God does–egregious, having cost the death of His perfect, innocent Son.
  • Label sins biblically.
  • Confess sins for what they are in God’s eyes and turn from them.
  • Trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and grace to follow Him.
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It Was Only One Bite

In 1977 Wadi Haddad, a mastermind of terrorist hijackings, mysteriously died. According to Saul David in Operation Thunderbolt (and other sources) he ate some chocolates coated with an undetectable, slow-acting poison. A few weeks afterward he began to lose weight. His immune system failed and he died. The death process had actually begun months earlier. What a devastating result from a bite of chocolate!

Just One Bite

So also, for death to enter humanity by the poison of sin all it took was one bite. God had commanded Adam not to eat the fruit of a specific tree or he would die. Whether or not Adam ate the whole fruit, the first bite crossed the line. Romans 5:16 says that “the judgment arose from one transgression, resulting in condemnation.” That day Adam died spiritually even though the poison of sin took many years to kill him physically. Unless there was a way of redemption from the penalty, the ultimate death is eternity in hell. What devastating consequences from a bite of fruit!

Isn’t this a bit over the top? Why would one little bite of a fruit condemn a man for eternity? The reason I ask this question at all is because I don’t comprehend the sinfulness of sin. I don’t comprehend the sinfulness of sin because I don’t comprehend the holiness of God. Then, neither do I truly understand the value of the grace of God. I suspect I am not alone in this.

Offense Against Holiness

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” The horrendous consequences of such a “little” sin ought to increase our realization of the holiness of God.

One sin blemished the holy work of God. God made Adam to bear His image perfectly and one sin tainted the whole image. Sin is so vile that it corrupted man’s desires, thoughts, conscience, intentions, attitudes, words, and behaviors. He could never again do anything in total purity of heart. Adam passed the same corruption to his children. “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Billions of humans–every human in history but One–were corrupted by just one bite!

One sin is rebellion against the Holy Ruler. Even one sin says, “God, I want my way and I reject Your right to determine the rules.” Yet all Adam did was eat, and of a health food, too. That eternal condemnation resulted from the most mundane of actions with something good makes the vital issue clear. No sin is insignificant because the issue is that God is King and we reject His rule. Treason!

One sin attempts to destroy Holy God. Since God rules despite our rejection, He stands in the way of our autonomy, and so we would get rid of Him if we could. Indeed, we acted on that intent. When Jesus came to earth in human flesh He, as God, demanded worship and obedience. Mankind crucified Jesus to get rid of Him and be free of His demands. The crucifixion of Jesus can be traced back to just one bite.

One sin redefines what is good and holy. When we do what we want regardless of God, we demonstrate belief that what we want is good and right. We reject what God has said to be good and right. We declare holy what God declares wicked.

One sin violates infinite holiness. In determining the extremity of the sentence against sin the issue isn’t the type or size or intensity or extent or duration of the sin. The issue is the holiness and infinitude of God. Even one sin is infinitely offensive because it is made against an infinitely holy God, and so it deserves infinite punishment.

If “the wages of sin is death” how great must be the holiness of God.

Wonder at Grace

And if even one sin is so wicked and people have done far more than one sin, how great must be the grace of God because He has made the way for forgiveness. It is just one way, and it is God’s way and not ours, and it is a glorious way.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

While just one bite resulted in condemnation to all and completely incapacitated all men from saving themselves, just one payment is acceptable to God–a perfect sacrifice. Only God could provide a perfect sacrifice, so it was a gift. It was promised to Adam in the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). It was given in Christ, the Seed–“He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).

How great His grace! “If by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign through the one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17, emphasis added).

Lord, teach us to see how evil is just one sin. Teach us to delight in Your holiness and grace. Teach us to rejoice in Christ the Savior!

Posted in Christian Living, Salvation