"Be Reconciled to God"
As we saw in the last lesson, God was responsible for the very personal creation of people. Yet, something more needs to be recognized. In the beginning there was a peaceful unity that existed between God and people, and between man and woman. The sense of purpose , concern and togetherness is seen in passages like Genesis 1:27, 28, 31 and Genesis 2:18, 21-25.
Despite this unity that existed, the man and the woman were still lured into sin. Sin is defined by many as an act, in deed or thought, that violates God's will. The result of sin is death (Romans 6:23), or put another way, the result is separation from God (Ephesians 2:12).
QUESTION:Can you remember a time when the things you were doing wrong left you feeling very distant from God -- separated from Him?
People seem to have been struggling with this problem of sin ever since the first description in Genesis 3:1-7. As Cain struggled with sin in Genesis 4:2-8, God warned him, "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 master it." (Genesis 4:7). It seems that the history of people's relationship to god is marked by their not being able to master sin. Romans 3:23 teaches us that, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Jesus highlighted this truth when he challenged the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees concerning a woman caught in adultery in John 7:53 - 8:11. Jesus proclaimed, "If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." One by one, everyone in the crowd left without throwing a stone. All of us should be able to recognize this truth about ourselves -- that we are not perfect; we have sinned and broken the relationship between ourselves and God.
QUESTION: Have you ever tried to live a perfect and holy life -- a life totally pleasing and acceptable to God? If so, how successful were you?
The result of this sin is death; It is separation from God. While we often wish for some other answer, scripture is clear: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING: Reflect on some of the sins of your past, each as a brick in the wall that separates you from a holy God.
As God brought the Israelites out of slavery to be His people, one of the first things He did was to give them the Law.
QUESTION: Read Exodus 20:1-20. Do these commandments sound familiar to you? Where do you remember hearing them?
Notice in verse 20 it reads, "God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." Unfortunately, not even this would keep people from sin.
It was not long before the Israelites had sinned, and Moses told them, "...I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." (Exodus 32:30). Although God still punished the people, the idea of "atonement" for sin would be introduced to the Israelites. The people needed some way of finding forgiveness for the things they had done that separated them from God.
QUESTION: Have you ever done something wrong to someone and then tried to "make up for it"? How many wrongs do we need to make up for when it comes to a holy God?
Since the penalty for sin is death, a sacrifice would have to be offered to pay the penalty. Three sacrifices were taught that would provide a way for people to find atonement and forgiveness for their sins. Through these sacrifices, sins were covered over and a good relationship with God could once again be found.
* Burnt Offering (Leviticus
1): Provided atonement for sin in general.
* Sin Offering (Leviticus 4:1 - 5:13): A mandatory atonement for specific sin;
confession of sin; forgiveness of sin.
* Guilt Offering (Leviticus 5:14 - 6:7): A Mandatory atonement for unintentional sin
Unfortunately, the system of sacrifices was not enough. The people were continually tied to sacrifices, since they continually sinned. They also became routines that did not seem to change people's lives. Instead, rather than become perfected, people seemed to become trapped in religious habits that failed to even offer God the praise, honor and worship he deserved (Hosea 6:4-6).
Read Hebrews 10:1-4
QUESTION: After all of the ways you have tried to "make it up" to God, could you ever find confirmation in scripture that you were successful in earning the forgiveness of your sins?
Something else needed to be done to allow people back into the kind of relationship that would honor God and truly change people's lives... Jesus.
Dear God, Help me as I struggle to face the sins in my life and how they keep me from really knowing you. May I stop excusing myself and others from the things I know hurt our relationship; and may I look for your loving hand to lead me out of this wilderness of sin. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Go to:Lesson 3
Last Updated by Pat Bonner on Sunday, 17 January, 1999 at 8:48 A.M.