Thursday, November 15, 2012


Heb. 11:16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, a heavenly one.”

2 Peter 3:13, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

According to a recent news story the White House petition website has been flooded by a series of secession requests from over 20 states.  Thousands of our fellow citizens have expressed a desire for their state to secede from the union.  Frustrated by the direction of things, they see no other alternative.

The longing for a “better place” is a part of our human makeup.  Deep in the recesses of our collective thinking lay “clouded-over” memories of a sinless paradise.  Adam and Eve sinned and that paradise was lost (Gen. 3:1f).

Sin has been our unwelcome guest ever since our forebears made that foolhardy decision to do that which God said no to.  A curse was pronounced and all of history bears testimony to the tragic reality of its fulfillment (Gen. 3:17-19).  There is no place on planet earth that is not infected by sin’s influence.  “The whole creation groans” under the weight of it (Rom. 8:8:22).

Surely there must be some better place, some safer place, some healthy and happy place—“where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.”  Our hearts yearn for such a place.  “We (ourselves) groan,” longing for a better existence devoid of troubles and trials and fears (2 Cor. 5:4).

The travel section of the Sunday paper includes stories about great places to visit.  Advertisements for destinations and resorts and beautiful locations promise happier places devoid of trouble.  Experience reminds us that there is, in fact, no paradise on earth.  We have it in our minds that perhaps we could escape to some deserted and trouble-free island.  But no matter where you go, there you are, and wherever you are, sin goes with you.

As it is with this planet so it is with people.  Though “one man sin entered the world, and death spread through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).  By God’s influence men and societies have experienced varying degrees of righteousness, but there has never been a man without sin—save One.

Jesus Christ was without sin. Sin had no part in Him.  He was and is perfectly righteous in every respect.  He never thought a sinful thought, never did a sinful deed, and never uttered a sinful word.  He was tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:25).  He was a perfect man.  The answer to our longing for a “better place” must start with Him.

The frustrations that we experience in life are all rooted in sin--our sins and the sins of others.  Sin darkens everything on this planet, and man has no solution for it.  Jesus does.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).  The sinless one was made to be sin--our sin was imputed to Him on the cross--that we might be saved from sin (2 Cor. 5:21).  He works in the life of those who trust in Him to save them to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).  He forgives, transforms, and delivers them safely home (2 Tim. 4:18).

A foretaste of a place “where righteousness dwells” is the experience of every Spirit-indwelt believer. In Christ, he possesses perfect “positional” righteousness.  By the Spirit we experience His presence and by His power a transforming work goes on.  No perfection can be obtained--this side of heaven—but the Spirit relentlessly and patiently works towards this end.  Growth in Christ only works to fan the flames of desire for release from that which holds us back (2 Cor. 5:4).  The “desire to depart and be with Christ (which is)…very much better” (Phil. 1:23) is rooted in a desire to be released from sin and transformed “into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21).

Heaven is a wonderful place, in part because there will be no sin there.  It is hard for us to imagine such a place--having been bathed in a sin-filled experience from our births.  In many respects the Bible is like a travel brochure.  It reminds us of the short-comings that are a part of our present location (by way of sin), and draws our attention to a place to a place in “which righteousness dwells.”  There is only one who can arrange our travel arrangements (John 14:6).  He not only works to get us there, He Himself is what makes our destination exceedingly attractive.  Righteousness dwells wherever He reigns, wherever the “Sun of Righteousness” shines (Mal. 4:2).

Pastor Jerry

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