Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Royal Screw Ups"

1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles are packed with accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah and the events that occurred in their lifetimes.   It's sad to say that there is a longer list of kings who "did not do what what right in the eyes of the Lord" than there is of the kings who "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord".  It's actually fascinating to me to read these accounts and consider the kind depravity of mind these men had to have in order for them to do such horrible things as are written in these books.  If you study them you'll see what I mean.  

Most Christians know and live by the knowledge that every single one of us sins and that there is no one who always does right and never sins.  But I find it strange how by instinct all of humanity tends to qualify sin by degrees of wrongness.  We know from scripture that if even one commandment is broken we are guilty of breaking them all.  But in reality we all know by nature that some things we do are worse than others.  I can't help but believe it's because God Himself qualifies sin, even eluding to greater degrees of judgment for some.  For example:  

-Matthew 11:20-22 
“Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.  'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you . . . I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.'”
-Luke 12:47-48 
“And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
-John 19:11
“Jesus answered [Pilate], 'You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin.' ”
-Hebrews 10:29
“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

No matter how any of us qualifies our sin the fact remains that we're all guilty, and we all need The Fathers mercy.  It's one thing to say with our lips that we sin.  It's another entirely different thing to believe with our hearts that our sin is unquestionably disgusting to God. The kings of Israel and Judah were like a pendulum of good and evil.  But those who were evil were truly royal screw ups in every sense of the word.  They sinned in ways most of us would never consider sinning.  But did you know that for these men to be saved all it took was a repentant heart that was yielded to God?  Some of you may think you're a royal screw up, and maybe you actually are.  Maybe you've even killed your own children as many of the kings did.  Maybe you've given yourselves over to things you'd never want to admit to, but if you will repent and turn back to God, confessing all that you've done He will accept you in the name of Jesus as readily as He's ever accepted anyone who's sinned and repented.  

If you want to see this for yourself, just read the account of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33.  He was a very wicked king (yes, I'm qualifying his sin).  He was VERY evil and he lead the entire nation of Judah into sin with him.  But God brought such devastation upon him that his pride and rebellion were broken so that he sought the Lord and prayed for mercy.  You can do that too, no matter how great your sin.  When God heard Manasseh's prayer and saw how he humbled himself, God was "moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom".  Verse 13 says, "Manasseh knew that the Lord was God".  

It isn't necessary for any of us to be as wicked as Manasseh to understand God's great love for us.  But even if you are a person who has sinned as greatly as he did, God will have mercy if you repent and call upon Him.  God heard Manasseh and forgave him, even restoring him to his throne.  And after Manasseh was restored he purged the land of all the idolatry and wicked things he had set up and he lived a righteous life before God.   If God would save a man like Manasseh, He would save a person like you, if you repent and trust in Him.   We may qualify our sin, and be justified in doing so.  But God's mercy is unquestionably greater than our sin.  And all we need do is turn away from it, call upon Him and know that He is God.  Even after all you've done, your life can be restored to you and you can live a righteous life before God by His grace, even if you feel like the biggest royal screw up.   

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