We sin for the same reason that Eve sinned – we believe that God’s way is NOT the way of joy and happiness. In short, we are tempted by a lie, the same lie the enemy told Eve: “God does not have your best in mind.” This is what the Serpent insinuated to Eve in the Garden:
“God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 (ESV)
Paraphrased, the enemy said: “Eve, the only reason God told you not to eat that fruit is because He is not on your side – He doesn’t want the best for you.”
In other words, He doesn’t love you.
In our day, the lie regarding God’s character forms the heart of Satan’s temptation in our lives. And we soon find ourselves leaning toward pride, impurity, deceit, anger, greed, and a mile long list of other sins. All because at heart, perhaps subconsciously, we don’t believe God’s heart toward us is kind, and therefore, living according to God’s ways is not in our best interest.
The Truth That Sets Us Free
But what if there were something that could convince us down deep in our hearts of God’s love? What if there was a truth that, applied to our hearts, convinced us once and for all that God did have good plans for us, that His ways are best? Might that truth enable us to say no again and again to the powerful but “passing pleasures of sin”? Well, I have good news (so to speak!). Jesus said that we would know the greatest kind of love – when someone substitutes himself for another so that the other might live…
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (ESV)
And ever after He said this, Jesus’ followers have been drawing our attention to the love of God found when Jesus offered Himself on our behalf…
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 (ESV)
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8 (ESV)
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
The truth stated over and over again in the New Testament is that the cross is THE WAY that God has demonstrated His love for us. The cross is a demonstration of God’s love because it is where Jesus substituted Himself for us. In other words, understanding the substitutionary atonement of Christ leads to understanding His objective love. Therefore, if you want to convince someone that God has their best in mind, point to the cross. And if you want to be convinced yourself of God’s kind intentions toward you, look at the cross…and remember His love. As Pastor Matt Chandler illustrates….
“It was the cross that wooed me out of depression after the oncologist told me I would have two years. (I thought), ‘Is God against me?’…And yet it was the cross that sits on the right hand of our stage that in our sanctuary, wrestling with the Lord, that I was reminded, ‘How can you for a second believe I am not for you?'”
Therefore, Calvary is not only the glorious act of God that takes our sins away; but contemplating it is also one of the great ways we avoid doubt and sin going forward. Now this kind of contemplation is not a quick-fix on Tuesday to stop sinning on Wednesday but a lifetime project to help us in our struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Since we so easily forget His love, we need to be reminded again and again throughout our lives. No wonder Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper – He wanted us to remember that we are forgiven…and he wanted us to remember that we are deeply loved.
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 (ESV)