David W. Hegg
The field of ethics is all about right and wrong. Ethicists work among these polar opposites and determine standards and actions for preferring right in every situation. It only stands to reason that any God to whom we would swear allegiance and offer our lives to his service must be ethical and must be unerringly right in all his ways.
The Bible tells a story of the beginning of time, the act of creation, and the start of our human adventure. What God created was good, as were our first parents. They were innocent, but not possessed of the ability to persevere in that innocence. They were vulnerable to the temptation to be independent of God, to become their own ethical standard rather than simply obey their Creator. Choosing to act according to self-interest rather than obedience, they ate of the forbidden tree and what they thought would bring happiness instead brought them, and all creation, into a state of spiritual and physical corruption. Sin, like a super virus, invaded the operating system of the universe, bringing disease, death, and the whole catalog of personal human brokenness, into our world. But most of all, it ushered in hostility between God and man, an enmity that is evident all around us to this day.
God created, sin corrupted … but our ethical God would not let sin win. God created, sin corrupted, but God provided a plan to recover what had been stolen, to heal what had been broken, and to redeem what had been lost. And this plan depended entirely upon the coming of a male child, the “He” whose presence is first mentioned in Genesis 3:15, the first hint of God’s good news for all creation.
Throughout the Old Testament of the Bible the search for the “He” moves from Noah, and Abram, to Moses, David, and the rest of Israel’s heroes. But there was always an insurmountable problem. As good as these men were from time to time, their wickedness disqualified them from being God’s Son, and our Savior. They were not the Savior; they needed a Savior.
When the New Testament of the Bible opens, the world had been without a spokesman from God for about 400 years. Had God’s promise been overwhelmed by the wickedness of his world? In answer to this question, a man called John was sent to proclaim that God’s promise was about to be fulfilled. One day, when John spotted a man from Nazareth, he shouted, “there he is, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” It was Jesus, whose fame for powerful teaching and miraculous acts was already widely known.
God created, sin corrupted, but God provided, and it was Jesus, the Son of God who came to rescue humanity from the brokenness of sin. But there was a problem. The enmity that existed since Eden meant people would be blind to the truth. Hatred does that, and we all know it. The combination of our love for self and sin blinds us to the very truth that can free us to live lives that truly satisfy.
With the assistance of humanity’s first Tempter, the people of Jesus’ day branded him a threat to all they desired. They unjustly accused and convicted him, and sentenced him to die a horrible, inhumane death with hands and feet nailed to a rough Roman cross. When Jesus breathed his last breath, it appeared sin and Satan had won, and God had lost.
But, when we read the story, we find this death was all in the plan. God created, sin corrupted, and mankind were rendered guilty before the court of heaven for every sinful thought and deed. We built up a penalty we could neither pay, nor escape, for the wages of sin is death, eternal separation from our loving Creator.
God created, sin corrupted, we were guilty, but God provided a way whereby he could both punish our sin fully and still draw us to his heart as beloved children. Simply put, on the cross, Jesus took our guilt, and paid our debt in full.
And how do we know all this is true? The biblical story tells us that, on the third day in the grave, Jesus arose, alive, and triumphant. That’s right, he died, and defeated death by rising to life again, proclaiming forever that God always wins.
Our ethical God always acts in justice, always in love, always in perfection. And all it takes to be on God’s side - on the winning side - is to turn from selfishness and sin to entrust our lives fully to follow Jesus, the Son of God, by faith alone.
May the blessings of God be yours in fullest measure on this Resurrection weekend.