No One Is Without Sin

Let’s wrap up this study on the Negatives in the Bible. There are many more I could cover, but I feel it’s time to move on, so this will be the last post about it for now. Let’s begin with the story of the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
— John 8:1-11

We’re all familiar with the story. This poor woman—guilty of sin—was singled out and brought before Jesus for sentencing. What really gets me in this story is that these “religious” leaders used this woman as a pawn in their plans. They didn’t care about her. They had no problem humiliating her in front of everyone. They were only concerned with their agenda, which was to trick Jesus. But it was Jesus who had the last word.

We don’t know what He wrote in the sand that day, but whatever it was—combined with His previous statement—sent the men melting into the shadows. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Who, in their right mind, would be presumptuous or cocky enough to throw a stone after such a comment? To do so would be an open declaration that the person throwing the rock was without sin, and according to the Scripture, there’s no such thing.

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;
— II Chronicles 6:36
The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
— Psalm 14:2-3
God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
— Psalm 53:2-3
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
— Romans 3:10-12

Not once or twice, but repeatedly, God reminds us that none of us are without sin. We all mess up. We all make poor choices. We all tend to serve the flesh rather than the Lord. And sometimes we seem to forget that, especially when we’re busy focusing on the faults of others like the religious leaders were in the story above.

These men were proud of their rank and position and bitter at Jesus for drawing people toward the truth. But they were so busy trying to trip up Jesus, they were blind to their faults. They conveniently caught this woman in the act of adultery (which makes me wonder why they were following this woman around in the first place) and quickly pointed the finger at her sin. Again, no mention of their own crimes. No thought for how often they had failed God. They were too busy casting blame to examine their own hearts, and if we’re not careful, we can do the same.

Most of the negatives we’ve explored in this study have actually been positive messages for us. They have served as reminders that nothing is impossible for God, that He never breaks His promises, and that none of His servants will go unrewarded. Today’s negative, on the other hand, seems to be just that—negative. No one is without sin. That’s terrible news, right? Yes, but keeping that principle in mind is a good thing, especially when we’re tempted to point the finger at someone else. No one includes us. While we may not be guilty of the same sin as someone else, we each have our own faults and failures. How about we deal with those instead of worrying about the sins of others? That was Jesus’ message to the religious leaders, and it’s a good reminder to us.

No One Opens or Closes Doors Outside God's Will

God opens doors no one can shut and shuts doors no one can open!.png

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. - Revelation 3:7-8

Let the glory bumps roll!  What a great verse for those of us who are weary in well doing.  God opens doors no one can shut and shuts doors no one can open.  He’s in complete control.  He will open the doors of opportunity as He sees fit and close doors that He doesn’t want us going through.  We may not understand His reasoning, but that’s okay as long as we follow His guidance.  We must let Him lead.  After all, He has the key.

We’ve been in the process of upgrading some of our home functions to smart functions.  On the whole, I’m happy with the upgrades, but there are still a few things that need a little tweaking.  For example, the smart lock on the side door doesn’t seem to be any more intelligent than the “dumb lock” we were using before.  It’s having some issues syncing with the rest of the system, which makes it unreliable at best and downright frustrating at worst.

With this particular smart lock, we are supposed to be able to approach the door (with our cell phones in our possession), at which point, the door automatically unlocks.  Sometimes it does, and other times, we’re left standing on the step, pushing buttons on our phones and eventually pulling the keys out of our pockets to open the stupid door.  Jason is trying (in his spare time) to work out the kinks in the system, and once he does, I believe the lock will be an asset rather than a nuisance.

Sometimes in life, we stumble upon doors with “smart locks” that are tuned to God’s programming.  We stand at the door, pushing buttons and wringing our hands, but all to no avail.  The doors won’t open.  So, why do we keep pounding on them?  The Bible makes it clear that God will open the right doors at the right time.  If the door in front of us isn’t opening, it’s either not the right door or not the right time.  Either way, we’re not getting in.

Other times, we come upon doors standing wide open, but we don’t enter for fear of the unknown.  What if we don’t like what’s on the other side?  What if life on that side of the door is tougher than life on this side?  Yes, the what-ifs hold us back and keep us from God’s best.  I’m not saying we should jump through every open door because that would be unwise.  That being said, if we come upon an open door, we should at least consider the possibility that God placed it there for us and seek His guidance on the matter.

We’ve seen this principle of God opening and closing doors at work in our mission endeavors.  On a particularly trying day, Jason and I were discussing how fruitless his efforts seemed.  He was making the calls, leaving messages, and sending emails, but he had nothing to show for it.  Then, a call came in from a pastor we hadn’t contacted.  We had been referred to him by a member of our mission board, and he wanted to book us for a meeting.  He even went so far as to mention that, after looking at their faith promises pledges, they were pretty sure they’d be able to take us on for support.  Talk about an open door!

Dear one, sometimes it may seem like “fate” is out to get you or like you can’t catch a break, but I want you to remember this promise—God is the doorkeeper.  If He’s closed a door in your life, there’s a reason.  Trust He has your best interest at heart and leave that door alone.  And be on the lookout for open doors and God’s guidance to go through them.  Blessings are in store for those who trust and obey, and no one can hinder that!

No One Who Works for the Lord Will Go Unrewarded

We must be on guard for how things seem or feel because that is seldom a good indicator of how things truly are..png

After taking a short break to cover the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, I want to get back into our study on the Negatives in the Bible and see if we can finish it up. We don’t have far to go (though if I covered all of them, we’d be doing this study for months.) Let’s pick back up with what the Bible has to say about “no one.”

Have you ever been disappointed when things didn’t turn out the way you had planned? I have. And probably the most disappointing of all are the situations where I’ve done all the right things in all the right ways with all the right motives, and things still didn’t work out. It’s enough to send this little redhead running toward chocolate cake!

Isn’t it frustrating to sow the seeds and feel like we’re not reaping the harvest? We diet and exercise but don’t lose the weight. We read our Bible and pray daily but still slip carelessly into sin. We take a restful vacation but come back more tired and stressed. The pastor puts his heart and soul into his preaching yet the people seem unaffected by what he has to say. The missionary spends years on the field, hard at work in the service of the Lord, yet has only a handful of converts to show for his efforts. What’s up with that?  

The Bible teaches the principle of sowing and reaping. We know how it’s supposed to work, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to apply to our lives or our current situation. So, we begin to doubt. Maybe this sowing and reaping stuff only works for certain people or at certain times. Perhaps I’m not doing all I should do or I’m not doing it the right way. Maybe I’ve missed something along the way, and that’s why I do not see results.

More than likely, it’s none of those things. It’s just that God doesn’t operate according to our schedule. We plant seeds today and expect to see a harvest by tomorrow or next week, but growth takes time. God won’t be rushed. He has a plan, and He will fulfill it in His own good time. This makes little sense to us.  After all, wouldn’t God want to see souls saved today? Doesn’t He long for us to have the desires of our hearts? Surely, He wants the pastor to feel appreciated and the missionary to be effective, right?

I’ve probably said this a million times in my writing and a million times more in my own life when trying to comfort my confused heart—God’s ways aren’t our ways, and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). What makes sense to Him often seems downright ridiculous to us because we can’t see the whole picture. And that can be discouraging. It’s disheartening when it seems our efforts aren’t paying off. Trust me, I know!

But God knows too, and He’s provided a promise for times like these—no one who acts in His name will be unrewarded. No one! If we have sowed in the name of the Lord, we will reap the rewards. If we have sacrificed our time or talents for Him, He’ll make sure we lack nothing. He’s keeping a record. He’s paying attention. He knows what seeds we are sowing, and He already has a plan on how He will reward those efforts. Check out these verses:

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
— Matthew 10:42
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
— Mark 10:28-30
 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
— Luke 18:28-30

Serving God will cost us something. It is a sacrifice. There’s no doubt about it. But it also reaps rewards beyond our comprehension. Now, let me add here, we should never serve God merely for compensation but rather out of our love for Him. Service is a natural outflow of love. But even so, it can become wearying when those efforts seem for naught. Note that sentence carefully—the efforts seem like they’re not making a difference. We must be on guard for how things seem or feel because that is seldom a good indicator of how things truly are. That’s why it’s so important to cling to the truth. God made it clear that when we work in His name and for His kingdom that our work will not be in vain. Let’s take Him at His word and rejoice in the waiting time!