1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV84)
There are three spiritual forces by which all things operate: Faith, Hope, and Love. These three forces drive everything that endures. Reality itself is driven and sustained by these three eternal forces.
1 John 4:16
God is love. (NIV84)
The Bible tells us that God is love. It is not so much that he loves, but rather that he himself is love. So, then what is love? What is this love that defines God and is God? This next Scripture defines Love for us so that we can gain insight into what God is like. (Because God is love I have personalized love to God so that you can more easily see what I am saying.)
1 Corinthians 13:4–8
God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. 5 He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. 6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 God never fails. (NIV84)
Any understanding of God that does not agree with the above Scripture is wrong. To the rebellious, God might seem judgmental and vindictive, but actually the rebellious bring calamity down upon themselves. In fact, God is holding back the calamity in such a way as to make its destruction instructive so that as many as possible might escape their own doom. God is love and takes no pleasure in “smiting” anyone.
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! (NIV84)
God is all about life and not about death, even in the slightest degree. The Lord God has never, ever, killed any living being. God will never, ever, kill any living being. Death itself exists, but not by God’s hand. The dead are dead by their own actions and remain in that state also by their own refusal to turn from rebellion and embrace life. I am not playing with words here. This is how things actually and truly are. God is love and love hopes for the good of every being.
My friend, if you don’t see God this way then it is because you don’t know the truth about him.
Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also. (NIV84)
After reading the above passage you might think that God killed both Er and Onan, but actually he didn’t. Both Er and Onan were already dead in their sins before this event, and so that their destruction might service some value to those that would listen, God, removed his life from them. The way things like this work is like this. Death was upon Er and Onan because of their unrepentant hearts but God allowed them to live for a time on the earth anyway, but when their death would serve some purpose God brought it about, but spiritually they were already dead. God is holding back evil at this very moment, but he allows it to take its course whenever necessary. Again, I am not playing with words here. I am trying to inform you of how exactly this works.
Romans 9:14–18, 22–24
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (NIV84)
Again, like Er and Onan before him, Pharaoh was born in sin and remained in sin and had no interest in repenting sin, so when it served the purpose of eternal love God allowed his destruction to occur in a manner that would serve as an instructional lesson to those that could be saved from death. Pharaoh’s life and death were not wasted, because God used them to inform billions as to the consequences of separation from God. What I am saying is this: Pharaoh’s doom was a consequence of his own refusal to listen to God and God wanted to play out his demise in such a way that his destruction would serve as an example for those that would listen. God did not desire that Pharaoh be lost. God’s desire is that all men repent and come to the knowledge of life, but desiring doesn’t make it happen, not even for God, but why should anyone’s death be wasted if it can be used to save others?
1 Timothy 2:3–4
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV84)
The police are loved by those that are protected by them and are hated by the rebellious lawbreakers. Is it any wonder that those that refuse to repent accuse God of bringing death?
God’s nature is a nature of divine love as defined above. God’s nature is a nature that preserves, instructs, supports, and holds together. God is life. When a person lives in God they live in love, love becomes their nature too. Love is the only nature that can endure forever, and God is forever. Heaven is eternal and for it to endure it must endure in love. Love focuses on enduring life. Love focuses on health and everlasting peace between brothers.
Sin is really and truly anti-love. Let us look at the Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13 again but flopped over to see its opposite.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8
Sin is impatient, Sin is unkind. It envies, it boasts, it is proud. 5 It is rude, it is self-seeking, it is easily angered, it keeps records of wrongs. 6 Sin delights in evil and rejoices with deception. 7 It never protects, never trusts, never hopes, never perseveres.
8 Sin will never succeed. (NIV84)
Sin is really and truly anti-love. Sin’s outlook is pretty grim. Big-Bad-Sin, but what is sin? God is love, but where does sin come from? If God did not make it then who did? Sin is a consequence of being separated from the sustaining power of love. Sin is the process of corruption that occurs to any being that is separated from life, or in other words, is spiritually dead. Death in the spiritual sense means that you are no longer connected to God who is life. Physical death is an analogy that shows us what spiritual death means. When a person dies they can no longer exist in the community of the living, they must be removed and can no longer interact with the living. Death also starts a process of corruption that ends in dissolution. It is the same with spiritual death. A spiritually dead person is disconnected from life, that is, from God, and they can no longer interact with any of the spiritually alive beings, and they begin a process of self-dissolution. Spiritually dead people cannot remain in the place of the living, that is, in heaven, they are exiled to the void, as it were, that is, the place called Hell. Hell is not a torture chamber created by God. Hell was not created by God to be a place of punishment or torment but nonetheless does become that for its inhabitants. What Hell is, is a place of anti-God, a place where mutual faith, hope, and love do not exist, that is to say, a place where God is not. The nature of Hell is that it is not constrained by love. The nature of Hell is Sin, and Sin is ruled by Self. Hell is hellish because it is ruled without love’s power of preservation. Hell is an existence in which its inhabitants can do whatever they want to do without restraint. The inhabitants of Hell create their own punishment and torment.
Hell is a void in the fabric of Love. Imagine you were aboard a new type of spacecraft that could travel infinitely faster than light by opening a void in space/time itself. This spacecraft opens a “crack” in the physical universe and then you enter into it and get eternally stuck there. You find that your new existence exists in a place where the laws of the physical universe no longer apply. You still exist but are forever cut off from the life of all of your fellow humans. That is Hell. Hell is an existence separated from God, that is to say, cut off from life. Hell is an eternal void in the reality of Heaven.
The Father of Sin
So, how did Sin come about? Everyone that is in God is one with divine love, that is, they have complete faith in divine love. Love is the nature of existence. The “natural instinct” of one that lives in God is to do the things of love. For example, think of dogs and bears. Dogs are very social and reasonably obedient because that is their nature. Bears, on the other hand, are more solitary and have a very different nature. Well, God has a nature and everyone in him shares that same nature. This is how they can all live together in a society forever and ever. Now, I know that it is sad to contemplate it, but imagine that a dog has contracted rabies. Such a dog cannot be allowed to remain in society because that disease has materially changed its nature and if that dog is allowed to remain in the society it will infect others. The disease of rabies will eventually completely destroy the dog whether or not the animal is excluded from the general population, so it only makes sense to remove it from the healthy. Such is the nature of those infected with Sin. Sin is the rabies of the spiritual world.
Sin is a spiritual “disease” and not a natural disease, so how did it come about? Sin attacks the three spiritual forces. To understand how this is, you must first understand how love is maintained within the society of God. Love is the nature of God and in every being that exists in him. Beings that are in God have free will and as such they must remain in God by an act of their own free will. Beings that are in God are in him because they believe in God, that is, they believe in Love. They are all willing members of the Love society, which is just another way of saying that they have Faith in God, they believe in Love.
Satan is the father of sin, as it were, so let us look at how Satan became a sinner. It is critical that you understand the answer to this question.
Ezekiel 28:12, 14-15, 17
“ ‘You [Satan] were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (NIV84)
When God created Satan he was perfect in beauty and full of wisdom, but because of his beauty and splendor he became proud and pride led him to believe in himself above God. Self-pride gives birth to sin. Self-pride is the mother of all evil.
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (NIV84)
This passage from Isaiah holds the key to what causes sin. The key is in the word I. Because of pride, Satan saw himself as God’s equal if not superior and so he removed himself from under God and saw himself as being able to determine his own destiny. What this means is that Satan broke faith with Love and he put his faith in himself. Self with a capital “S” is the defining characteristic of Sin. We have already looked carefully at the definition of love and love is the definition of life and harmony, peace, gentleness, kindness and such. When you believe in love you believe in God and that puts you inside of God. His nature is your nature too. You too become love, and love endures. By contrast, Self works for its own benefit and as a result will eventually suck the life out of anything. Because of Sin’s self-destructive nature God said this about Satan…
By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. 19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’ ” (NIV84)
Sin is like a fire that consumes from within. Self is like a parasite that sucks the very life out of its host. Self is like spiritual cancer that takes and takes until the whole is utterly corrupt. When a person breaks faith with God and elevates themselves above God they have contracted the spiritual disease called sin. At first, the patient doesn’t even know that they have a terminal disease. The disease, however, will run its course until its host is killed off completely.
It is important to understand that Satan wasn’t a bad person when he fell. I would say that he was probably better than any human living today, but that actually was the problem. He was perfect in wisdom and beauty and his splendor and beauty caused him to become proud of himself and his pride led him to believe in himself. Understand though that Satan isn’t perfect in wisdom and beauty anymore. Sin is like a fire that consumes from within the quality of your person.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” (NIV84)
Notice that the Bible here informs us that Satan has control of all of the earthly kingdoms of the world. If you have issues concerning what has been happening on earth for the past six thousand years then understand that sin has caused all the evil. The world is dominated by sin. Almost all of the world’s population is firmly under sin’s power. You might wonder why God has allowed this. Jesus told us a parable to explain what is going on.
Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (NIV84)
God created the world and made it perfect for his beloved man, but mankind broke faith with God, at Satan’s urging, and the world became corrupted. God did not leave things that way but rather he spoke words of truth to the fallen man and told them that they would have to resist sin and seek love. God did not judge fallen man at the beginning for then there would be no harvest, instead, he has allowed the sons of God to grow up with the sons of evil and, at the time of the harvest, God will gather up his children to himself. It is the children of evil that make the world a sorry place to live. It is the devotees of self that have turned the paradise into a pseudo hell. We are now living in God’s field and we can be either sons and daughters of Love or of Self. We must choose. It is senselessness and ignorance that leads people to blame God for the situation in the world from antiquity to the present. The children of sin are to blame. The dreadful Sin disease is to blame. Separation from God is the most horrible situation possible.
A vast majority of the world’s population today openly opposes Jesus Christ. Even in the so-called Christian nations, only a small percentage of the people are actually God’s obedient children. The world today is very wicked. Worldwide wickedness has been on earth to this degree only once before and that world was washed away by the flood. Jesus alluded to the coming judgment above. Very soon the harvest will come and God will gather up his children and allow sin to burn away those devoted to it.
Granted, things are more complicated than that, but I don’t want to get into all of that in this article. The bottom line is that God is actively at work today revealing reality to anyone that will listen. Soon the time of grace will be over and the time of judgment will be upon the world. Understand that love is the only thing that can endure. Anti-love, that is, Sin is a spiritually rabid-cancer that eats away at its host until nothing remains. The longer you hold on to the lies of selfishness, the harder it will be to let go.
So, what we are seeing in all of this, is the way of love versus the way of self. We are seeing the way of humbling oneself versus the way of self-importance. We are seeing the way of God versus the way of Self. Love endures forever and Self self-destructs. That is just the way of things. This is God’s warning to you.
Faith is what you believe. Either you believe in God, that is, in divine Love, or self-denial, or you believe in the supremacy of Self. You cannot believe in both. These two philosophies are mutually incompatible.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV84)
Here is Jesus and he says that he is gentle and humble in heart, and he invites you to come along with him and his way.
So, why would you want to follow the gentle and humble in heart Jesus? Jesus never had a thing in this world. He lived his entire life as an outcast, poor as dirt, rejected by almost everyone. Why would anyone really want to walk his path? The reason that I want to walk his path is that I believe in the eternal nature of love and the self-destructive nature of self. I believe in Jesus Christ. I don’t mean to say that I believe in the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth (that’s a given), no I believe in everything that Jesus had to say about reality. I believe in the futility of life on earth and the ultimate promise of life with God in heaven. I can see what sin has done on the earth and I don’t want any part of that. I would much rather die this very day and go to be with Jesus than be the richest man in the world for a temporary time and end up without God forever.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (NIV84)
Moses, and in fact each and every believer, thinks the same way. There is no other way to sensibly think. This world and its ways are swiftly headed to destruction and everyone that believes in the world’s way will be destroyed along with it.
Your random acts of love and or sin do not define you, but rather what you put your ultimate faith in does. As a human, I live in a very selfish body that is always pulling me in self-destructive ways, but I am not my body. I find that I live in my body temporarily and will one day soon be freed of it. I believe in Love. I believe in Jesus Christ who showed me the way and provided a path for me to God.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (NIV84)
We believe the promises of God and this faith gives us hope in this doomed world. I see death and deceit and grabbing and taking and pride and filth, but by faith, I see a better way and that gives me hope in a hopeless world.
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. (NIV84)
God promised us freedom from sin. We know that it is impossible for God to lie so we have his promise as an anchor for our hope in a better place. We do not see that for which we hope, but we nonetheless hope for it because we know that the one that promised us cannot lie.
Love, Faith & Hope
You may have noticed that I have written quite a bit about love and not too much about faith and hope and that is because the greatest of these is love. Love is the essence of eternal life. It is the essence of God. Faith is simply believing in that love, and hope is waiting for the promise of it. I put my faith in the hope held out to me by the Word of God. I put my faith in the promise of Love. I believe in Love. Love is eternal.