January 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.” (Psalm 61:1-8 NIV)
I read this psalm when I was feeling my lowest. It had been a difficult week full of obligations, responsibilities, homework, and constant interaction. My introverted, exhausted self just couldn’t handle it any more. I holed myself up in my room on that Friday night (I had decided not to go to vespers) and cried. I cried at my exhaustion, my constant running around, my need for relaxation. But the Sabbath was approaching and I couldn’t just not read God’s Word because I was feeling down. In fact, I knew having my own personal Bible study would take me out of that slump.
So I Googled “bible studies for depression” (don’t worry, I’m not depressed; I just knew that that search would give me comforting passages) and found Psalm 61. I recognized and could directly relate to the first verse. It was my plea to God as I was in my room.
I read the Psalm 61 a few times and took down observations, interpreted them, and applied the interpretations to my present situation. From the chapter, I received three main points:
1. When we are distressed, the best thing for us to do is to go to God. Only He can truly help us, only He can give us the strength we need to get through a tough time, and only He will never fail us. He can lead us to himself, a higher, stronger Rock, Jesus. But because He is not tangible, we forget that here is there to help us. We forget that it is He who first loved us and who has our best interests in mind. Of course, we have friends and family who care and who are more than willing to help. And they can indeed be sent from God to help us, so there’s no reason to disregard their care or love. But only God can work with our distress and give us the hope that we need, whether it is directly or indirectly from him.
2. We mustn’t forget about God’s goodness in our times of distress. When we are in tough times, we may be tempted to doubt God’s strength and goodness, maybe even curse God because of the hard times we’re going through. But even in those difficult times, praise should come out of our mouths. Remember Job? God saw his faithfulness and allowed Satan to test Job. All these calamities befell on Job and yet he still praised God. So remember to praise him for his goodness and his protection in the past and for his coming blessings, even when you’re in the midst of your hardest times.
3. Long to be in God’s presence. We should of course hope to be with Him eternally and live our lives preparing for that. But long to be with him right now. For he is all around us right now. He longs to dwell with us, we need only let him in. He longs to shelter us in His wings, we need only allow Him to. Sometimes, just knowing God is near and that He cares can be the most comforting thing in the world. But sometimes, for me definitely, I don’t feel Him near me. I know He’s there, I remember that He said that He will always be near, but because I don’t feel or see something tangible, I get discouraged and I feel lonely. It’s in those times that I cry out to God and ask Him to hear my prayer because my heart is growing faint. And then God gives me peace and comfort, and I praise Him for that peace. And now each time I feel discouraged, I know God can hear me, and I don’t hesitate to call out to Him because I know He will answer. But probably the best way to not have those discouraging times at all is to rely on God always and to put Him first in everything.
As I was reading this Psalm, I was especially reminded of the illustration of the footsteps in the sand. It’s a well-known story in Christian circles. In a dream, a man sees footprints in the sand as he sees scenes from his life. He notices that during the good times in his life, he sees two pairs of feet walking in the sand, but during the trying times of life, he only sees one pair. In disbelief, the man asks Jesus, “Why is it that during the hardest times in my life, You left me alone?” And Jesus replies, “My child, I didn’t leave you during your hardest times. For it is in those times that I carried you.” And remembering the Jesus carries us during this difficult times, knowing that God is there for us throughout our trials is so encouraging, especially for me.
With the Psalm and the reminders it gave, I hope and pray that those depressing moments become fewer and further between.
December 27, 2013 § 1 Comment
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV)
What is love? It’s an age-old question with a usually elaborate answer. In fact, there are many definitions for love. I just looked up the definition on dictionary.com and found about 28 entries on the definition of love. Love is an abstract concept, like trying to describe the taste of water. People say that even if you can’t describe it, you’ll know it when you feel it. It can be instantaneous, like the love a mother feels for her newborn child, or it can take years to form, like that between lovers or close friends. But what is love?
But here’s another definition that’s seldom thought about about when people think of love (it was actually the eighth entry on dictionary.com); “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7, 8 NIV). I’ll repeat, God is love. He doesn’t just give love or show love or embody love. He is love. His very character is love. Everything He does is out of love.
Now, understanding that love is of God, let’s return to how we as humans should experience love. 1 Corinthians 13, aka the “love chapter”, is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Recently, I’ve asked myself about love. For those that I say I love, whether out loud or in my head, do I really love them? Or is it just a nominal love? How do I know when I love someone romantically vs. platonically? Is there a change somewhere? Can someone tell that I’m “in love” before I even know? With all of these questions in tow, I was led to read 1 Corinthians 13, multiple times.
Paul starts out the love chapter by outlining the necessity of love. He described all these magnificent and heroic actions: giving all his possessions to the poor, having the gift of prophecy, suffering for His beliefs, even having enough faith to move mountains. But all of those things are meaningless without love. He would be useless noise, he would gain nothing, he would be nothing, if he does those things without love. And of course, it’s the same with us.
He then goes on to describe what love is. He doesn’t give one definition, but several definitions or characteristics of love. And it’s this part that helps to know if you truly love someone. Are you patient and kind to them? When it comes to that person, are you selfish or selfless? Do you easily anger when they do wrong, or hold grudges against them? Are your feelings fleeting or do they last in the midst if trouble? These questions can apply to romantic or platonic or familial love. In answering them, I saw my imperfect definition of love; I mostly thought of it just as a feeling, a feeling that comes during certain times. A feeling that’s only noticeable in certain, mostly favorable, circumstances.
But it’s not just a feeling. It’s an action. It’s a mindset.
It’s not just a funny feeling or butterflies in your stomach or a tolerance for someone’s presence or occasional gifts. It’s being patient, kind, selfless, forgiving, trusting, honoring, persevering, and protecting. That’s love. And because God is love, He displays all of these characteristics to His creation. He also calls us to love as He does (see 1 John 4:7-8).
The third part in this passage is a bit confusing, at least to me. I remember that I would keep reading this passage to make sense of it. Paul seems to talk about something else besides love. But love is still in the background. Paul writes, “But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” He is saying that many things will pass away or will cease, but love won’t. What we do here on Earth we do in part, or without seeing the whole picture. We may not know how our actions influence others. We might not know just how much a small act if kindness affected someone until the “completeness comes”. As children, we demand attention and love. We are selfish in our actions and we want to be gratified now. But as we grow older, Paul encourages that we act as men and women who love selflessly and put selfish, childish ways behind us.
Paul ends the love chapter in a remarkable way, in my opinion. There are many virtues in this world, and Paul chooses to focus on three, faith, hope, and love. These three virtues are essential to the Christian life; you need faith in God, hope in His promises, and love for Him and for those around you. But love is the greatest. For it is with love that we have faith in God, that we trust in Him. And when we trust Him and know that He loves us unconditionally, we can hope for and claim His promises. Love is most important thing to have, and it leads to everything else.
So about those questions that I asked myself about love. An incomplete answer to them would be to analyze my intentions and motives for my actions and make sure they are selfless. A better answer would be to look at how God loves us and emulate that love, the agape love. And I have to admit, having shown agape love to people is quite wonderful.
December 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
It’s after the flood. Noah has built an altar in praise for God’s mercy. God has just erected a rainbow in the sky and formed a covenant with us humans: never again would He destroy the Earth by flood. He then gives Noah and his family a charge to “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1 NIV).
Now, also be reminded that this family was the remnant, the few who stayed faithful to God. But notice how quickly sin entered the remnant family. At some point after the flood, Noah planted a vineyard, became drunk off of its produce (which in itself is a bit of a problem), and as a result was lying naked in his tent. Then comes his son, Ham, who disrespects his father looking at his naked father and then telling his brothers about it. Shem and Japheth, out of respect for their father, walk into the tent backwards and then cover him with a sheet. Once Noah is sobered up and is told what had happened, he curses Ham and blesses Shem and Japheth. However, note that “the prophecy of Noah was no arbitrary denunciation of wrath or declaration of favor. It did not fix the character and destiny of his sons. But it showed what would be the result of the course of life they had severally chosen and the character they had developed.” (PP ch. 9). Here are revealed the true characters of Noah’s sons. Through their lineages, you can see the effects of the respective curse and blessings.
Eventually, Abraham (and Jesus for that matter), the remnant of his generation, descended from Shem, while Babylon and Assyria and Nineveh and Canaan (cities that turned away from God) came from Ham. Early on, the distinction is made between those who follow God and those who don’t. This distinction is the same as that of Cain and Abel.
And now to the Tower of Babel.
Here we have a group of people settling down in one place and of one accord. But instead of being unified in obedience to God, they are unified in their dissension; “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’” (Genesis 11:4 NIV). This tower showed the character of the inhabitants; they didn’t believe that God wouldn’t flood the Earth again, they sought to find their own path to salvation, and they exhibited excessive pride. They also went completely against God’s command to be fruitful and fill the Earth. Their goal was to build this towering city and stay there and not be scattered.
Now sin had entered into the lives of these people in the same way it had entered into the lives of their descendants. And in the same way as in the past, we see God’s mercy; He gave them time to reveal their true character, this time through confounding their language. As the people gathered in groups according to language, they finally did what they we’re supposed to do, “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1 NIV) (I told you to remember that).
From here, the world begins to diversify, and Genesis lists the many people that inhabited the Earth. The distinction between good and evil is still apparent, and another remnant family soon comes, Abraham.
December 24, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’ve just read a most fascinating book. It’s entitled Tell It To The World, it’s by C. Mervyn Maxwell (son of Uncle Arthur), and it’s about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
For the most part, I’ve grown up Adventist. But I guess technically, I was an Adventist when my parents became Adventists. I was about 2 or 3 when my mom was baptized into the church and my dad joined a few years later. I was baptized when I was about 11 or 12. So I grew up with the standard SDA teachings and I accepted it. And now that I’m in college, I’m learning more about my faith and reaffirming and strengthening my relationship with God. I must say, it’s a wonderful journey.
The book starts off with William Miller. He is a key pioneer in the SDA movement. It was he who let God use him to spread the knowledge of Christ’s soon coming. And it was through the Great Disappointment of 1844 that people really studied their Bibles to find their mistakes and learn of even more truth with regard to our part in the great controversy between good and evil. Maxwell takes us through the ups and downs of the SDA movement and through the many people that were a part of it. Some, like Ellen White, were key to letting people know of God’s will. Some, like J. H. Kellogg, were a part of the faith but because of their lack of faith, turned away from God. Maxwell also describes key events in SDA history, how schools were established, how we grew with God’s power.
I don’t think I can fully describe the book without writing a book myself. So I fully recommend it. Whether or not you are Adventist.
July 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
While reading about the flood and the events leading up to it, I couldn’t help but notice that the situation surrounding the flood is the same one surrounding Christ’s Second Coming. Matthew and Paul also tells of this parallelism:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37-39)
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:3-7)
The situation then is the same as it is now before Christ comes back; the world will increase in evil, there will be scoffers and skeptics, and there will seem to be a delay.
During the time of Noah, mankind had succumbed to sin, “and…every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5). With their thoughts always on evil, one can only imagine what sorts of things were happening at that time (however, don’t forget that there were followers of God at this time as well). Humans were able to use the full capacity of their minds and bodies for centuries. Seeing the evil on Earth, God said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3). Today we live to be about 70-80 years old with a minority living past 100. And even then, we humans become feeble once we reach old age. These men and women during Noah’s time were spry multi-centennials, and “they sought only to gratify the desires of their own proud hearts…[reveling] in scenes of pleasure and wickedness.” (PP 91). Man’s wickedness was so bad that God repented making humans and wanted to destroy His creation, “but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). The prevalence of wickedness and the dwindling of God’s followers will be, and is, the same before Christ returns. As I’m sure you can see, the world is becoming more selfish, more evil, more corrupt, and this degeneration is seen everywhere, through the media, next door, on the other side of the world. And the corruption will continue to increase until Christ comes. But there will be a remnant, a minority, of people who believe in God and who follow Him wholeheartedly just as Noah and his family did.
When Noah was telling everyone about the coming of the flood, they initially believed him or at least kept his words in their minds. Mankind was not totally separated from the Earth’s first week and first humans. Stories had been passed down orally through the generations, so even if there were skepticism, there was enough knowledge of God and His power. They had never seen rain before; the ground was watered with dew and mist. But since the flood seemed to be delayed, they believed Noah less and less until they all began to scoff at him and ridicule him. They continued in their revelry and put Noah’s warnings from God out of their mind. Even when they saw the animals orderly going into the ark, they had put Noah’s warnings so far from their minds that it didn’t have an impact. Again, before Christ comes, there will be scoffers just the same as it was in Noah’s day. We are even further removed from Eden, and many are denying God’s existence and Christ’s second coming. As His coming nears and as there is further evidence that He will come (as seen in scripture), the skepticism will grow.
For 120 years, Noah warned everyone about the Earth’s destruction. As I said before, some may have initially believed in what Noah was saying. But as time went on and the sky remained cloudless, they ignored his warnings and carried on with their wickedness. They had never seen rain, they couldn’t imagine the entire world being destroyed by water, and this flood was taking forever to manifest itself. Christ’s second coming will also seem to tarry. Even though it may seem that it will never happen and that evil will win, Christ will come at the appointed time and “at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44). But God keeps His word and when He says something will happen, it will happen.
After the flood, the Earth was cleansed and as a covenant with humanity, God placed a rainbow in the sky, reminding us that He will never destroy the Earth by water again. Of course, sin still reigned on Earth, for Noah and his family were still a part of a sinful generation. The Earth continued its downward spiral in sin; through the generations, humans decreased in mental capacity, strength, and size, nature decayed, animals were made to fear humans, etc. However, after Christ comes and after the Earth is cleansed by fire, the Earth will no longer be under the control of sin. It will be made completely new with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).
July 21, 2013 § Leave a comment
Abel’s death and Cain’s rebellion shattered Adam’s hope if only for a little while. He witnessed the full impact of sin and the intensity of its consequences. And aren’t we the same way? When we hear of atrocities either from next door or from the other side of the world, we lose hope. We wonder, “Is God really there and caring for us? Is He still watching over us?” It is true that sin is in this world and until Christ comes again, there will still be sin in this world. But God does still have followers and there are still people who reflect His love and mercy even in an evil world.
This is the case with Seth and Enoch; both were followers of God in an evil world, and both brought some kind of hope. Seth was the son born to Adam and Eve after Cain and Abel. Eve named this son Seth, “For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” (Genesis 4:25 KJV). Seth means “compensation” or “appointed”, and he brought hope to his parents. Unlike Cain but like Abel, Seth feared God and obeyed Him. Adam and Eve taught Seth directly about God and about their sin. What an awesome experience that must have been to follow God at that time! For almost a millennium, Adam and Eve could impart wisdom of how to live godly and could be a witness, telling seven generations of people of how he walked in the presence of God. The many inhabitants of Earth could go to Eden and see the flaming swords and cherubim guarding the tree of life. At that time, “Skepticism could not deny the existence of Eden while it stood just in sight, its entrance barred by watching angels. The order of creation, the object of the garden, the history of its two trees so closely connected with man’s destiny, were undisputed facts. And the existence and supreme authority of God, the obligation of His law, were truths which men were slow to question while Adam was among them.” When the evidence is right in front of you, it’s hard to dispute its authenticity and existence.
After Seth had his first son Enos, “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26 KJV). See, with Cain and his family in his land and Adam’s family in their land, there was a clear division line between those who followed God and those who didn’t. They had worshipped God before of course, but now the distinction was clearer. Cain went on to found a city, but his descendants had a different purpose for themselves. Instead of seeking to be in the presence of God, they remained content with the Earth’s material possessions and with their own selfish desires. They were different from those descended from Seth who sought to do God’s will.
But they did not remain separate; “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Genesis 6:2 KJV). When truth mixes with error, only error comes out. Therefore, wickedness increased and humans sought to please themselves instead of God. Now, I’ve always imagined the world at that time as a time of extreme wickedness, a time of glorification of sin, and a time of general ignorance. And this was true to some degree; evil was prevalent, and with humans living and increasing their knowledge for centuries one can only imagine what was going on. But not only was it a time of darkness, it was also a time of light. Man’s intellect and strength at that time is unparalleled. If we marvel today at the discoveries and intelligence and physical prowess of man who live for 70-80 years, imagine how we might wonder at the discoveries from mankind who lived for more than 8 or 9 centuries. Yes they may not have had the plethora of technological and scientific discoveries that we have today, but surely they were close. They developed in stature and mental capacity quickly just as we do. The difference is that they had much more time to improve and build in their knowledge. It was also a good time for the Word of God to be spread. Adam and Eve were able to tell of their time with God and about what they learned from Him. Everyone could see the garden of Eden and could share in our first parents’ sorrow in going against God. There were fewer degrees of separation between Adam and the other inhabitants of the Earth. Their mental capacities also worked for them. I’m sure that they had intelligent conversations and discussions on God’s Word and that they were able to spread their findings across generations. It’s really quite amazing when you think of the spiritual, intellectual, and physical accomplishments of those first people.
As an example of a follower of God, enter Enoch, son of Jared. The Bible doesn’t say much about his life. His biography spans only 4 verses: “And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:21-24 KJV). Ellen White adds a bit more to his story and gives some context to his life. Enoch lived for 365 years on a sin-filled Earth, yet he remained faithful to God and desired to be closer to Him. He didn’t become a hermit, he lived and worked all the while doing God’s will. He embodied the command to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2 KJV). He was a vessel for God at that time and he shared God’s Word to the believers and to the skeptics. Shouldn’t we be the same? We live in a sinful world just as Enoch did. And we have the same capacity to reflect who God is in our character and to live as God wants us to live. To be in constant communication with God must have been amazing. To have such a close relationship with Him that God wouldn’t want to break the communication through death must have been the best experience known to man. I know I strive to have that kind of relationship with God. But in order to do so, we need to be in the world but not of the world. Not conforming to the ways of the world helps us to be in and to improve upon a relationship with God.
Through Seth and Enoch, we see hope for the newly sin-filled world. There were many other unnamed people who followed God of course. Though evil is here, there will always be good.
July 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
The first murder on Earth foreshadows the attitudes of the Earth’s future inhabitants. Whenever I read about the encounter between Cain and Abel, I’m always amazed at how quickly sin spreads. Of course, sin was first manifested on Earth with Adam and Eve ate the fruit and then proceeded to place the blame on others instead themselves. And death had already manifested itself when God made clothes from animal skins for Adam and Eve. But with Cain and Abel, we see the death of the first human being and the first casualty of this great controversy.
God had explicitly told the first family about how to go about about sacrificing a lamb for their sins. The sacrificial lamb was to mirror Christ’s death on the cross and no other sacrifice or offering would suffice. “Without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin; and they were to show their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice” (71). Abel followed the Lord’s command and followed His will. He recognized the importance of the sacrifice. Cain, on other hand, wanted to follow his own will. In his mind, atonement was obtained through his own works, not through the mercy of God. When God accepted only Abel’s offering of a lamb and not Cain’s offering of fruit and vegetables, Cain was enraged. See, Cain resented the fact that Abel’s offering was accepted; Cain knew that what he did was wrong and what Abel did was right, yet he still wouldn’t obey God’s command. God saw Cain’s anger and asked, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6, 7 NIV). Again, here is the power of choice and here you can see God’s unchanging love in the mercy that He shows to Cain. He was given the opportunity to change, to make things right. Instead, Cain let sin rule over him and he killed his brother.
We see this dynamic many times in history and even today; we see the struggle between followers of Christ and followers of Satan, bringers of love and agents of hate, good and evil, right and wrong. Those who bring evil usually know what is good and right, yet they hate those living right all the more, for “everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20 NIV). We’ve seen this throughout history in the murders of so-called heretics and in the injustices and oppression that we see in the world.
Not only did this murder set the stage for the great controversy, it also introduced the idea of being saved by works alone. Many people believe that so long as you do what you think is right and follow God’s law without surrender, you’ll be fine. Such is not the case. Simple following the letter of the law is not saves us, but it’s accepting Christ as your Savior and surrendering your life to Him. In Ephesians, Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV). We are saved through the grace and mercy of God, not by our own works. And even if we were to try and be righteous, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV). We are sinful and even at our best we’re still sinful.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, following His law and His will comes next. We will find it a delight to follow it instead of a burden, and we follow it out of love for Him, not to gain a reward for ourselves.
The first murder painted a picture of the future of Earth, and today we still see its effects. Only when Christ comes again can the controversy be ended and sin be completely eradicated with its followers and originator.