Sin, Responsibility, Self-control, And Living Under
This message is being written during the last week of September 2001.
The United States was brutally and savagely attacked on September 11 of
this year. Since that time, controversy has raged within Christian
circles, churches, and denominations. This controversy concerns the
issue of God's protection. Some Christians believe that the protective
hand of God has been removed from the United States due to the sinful
and permissive society within the U.S. Some Christians have stated, then
retracted statements, indicating the U.S. is "getting what it
deserves." This message tries to address the issue of God's
protection in the lives of individuals and in the life of nations. It is
the longest article ever posted on the web site yet much more could be
written about this vital topic
Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. (NIV)
Zachariah 1:3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD
Almighty says: `Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, `and I will
return to you,' says the LORD Almighty. (NIV)
Psalm 119:52 I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort
in them. 53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have
forsaken your law. 54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I
What are the consequences of diminished self-control and
As a minister relates, there is wisdom to be gained from working with
persons who are homeless. What causes homelessness in people can be a
lesson we might not want to learn. Homelessness is caused by a lack of
self-control and self-discipline on the part of the homeless person. The
causes of the lack of self-control and self-discipline are varied. Some
people never learn self-control or self-discipline. As children, some
homeless persons never had a home life of nurture, love, and discipline.
Some people make grave mistakes in their life and these mistakes break
down the self-discipline and self-control they once had. Some people are
abused and hurt as young people. When a child is hurt or abused their
life is fractured to the point of not being repaired in human terms.
When a person's life is fractured, they have limited self-control or
self-discipline. When a person has limited self-discipline or
self-control then bad things happen in the person's life. A life lived
that is out of control is a life full of pain, darkness, suffering, and
sin. In most cases, homeless persons are incredibly immature. A
four-year-old child has limited self-control. The homeless person has
the limited self-control of a small child yet they have an adult body
and commit adult sins. A nation or a civilization that lives with
limited self-control or limited self-discipline suffers the same
consequences in the life of a nation that a person we call homeless will
1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls
around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (NIV)
How does sin connect to self-control and self-discipline?
People sin and they know when they sin. Satan tempts people and when
people have limited self-control, temptation brings people down. Every
homeless person has a story. Most of the time the story is about why and
how they are homeless. The story they tell, colorful, truthful,
untruthful, and sometimes heart wrenching, is almost never about how
they lack self-control. Occasionally a homeless man will admit he cannot
control things, but usually, the homeless person plays the sophisticated
blame game of blaming others or society for his or her state of
homelessness. The fact is that a homeless person is homeless because of
factors they do not control. In most every circumstance, these factors
are based in sinful desires that are (without repentance and acceptance
of Christ into their heart) uncontrollable by the person. The homeless
person cannot stay within the boundary lines set up by employers, the
court system, the society, or the nation.
Are there consequences to sin?
God has set up boundary lines over which we should not cross. Since
we are free to do what we want, we can live within those boundary lines
or live outside of them. Many people try to live on both sides of the
line. For example, people behave themselves at work but commit immoral
acts outside of their work. When people cross over the boundary line put
in life by God, bad things surely happen. When a person has little
self-control, bad things happen in the person's life. In many instances,
bad things not only happen in the person's life, the person spreads the
darkness they carry to other persons including family and friends.
What does Satan want?
Satan wants everyone to fall away. Satan wants everyone to turn away
from Christ and walk over the boundary line of right living instituted
by God. There are definite consequences to crossing the boundary line.
In society, when you break the law and are caught, you will most likely
be prosecuted and then you will be made to pay the penalty. In your
family life, when you break a moral law, you may get by without being
caught for a while, but when the truth becomes known, the ties that bind
your family together are broken. When you break the law, any law, there
is a price to pay. Common sense would tell anyone not to break the law.
However, in the lives of some people, common sense seems not to exist.
What is the connection between human behavior and God?
Proverbs 10: The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the
income of the wicked brings them punishment. (NIV)
In a person's relationship with God, when someone breaks one of God's
laws, there is a penalty. When someone turns away from God by breaking
one of God's spiritual laws, one of the penalties is a lack of God's
presence in the person's life. God abhors sin. This should be no
surprise. What so many persons reject is the connection between human
behavior and God. Sinful man does not want to admit there is a
connection between sin and God. To admit a connection exists between God
and our behavior makes us responsible to God. We do not want to be
responsible for our sinful behavior. When we come to accept our
responsibility for our sin, we are then able to repent or turn away from
the sin. In the life of a homeless person, the person must admit there
is a connection between lack of self-control and self-discipline and
their being homeless. Unless a homeless person comes to grips with the
cause of their difficulties, there is no hope for getting their life in
order. When a sinful man or woman does not come to grips with the sin of
life and does not repent there is no hope for getting life in order
until they repent.
Joshua 2:20 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said,
"Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for
their forefathers and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive
out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will
use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the
LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did." 23 The LORD had
allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by
giving them into the hands of Joshua. (NIV)
What is the problem with connecting human behavior to God?
The problem of admitting there is a connection between human behavior
and God is, for most persons, a problem. This connection problem can
infect the soul of a nation. Most persons believe that a nation steeped
in sin does not have to pay a price for being in sin. Most persons
believe sin is a personal matter. Most persons believe the individual
sins of the citizens of a nation have no effect upon the life or destiny
of the nation. However, just because the citizens of a nation believe or
say there is no connection between a life of sin and God does not mean
there is no connection. Persons who are steeped in sin do not want to
hear that a nation that goes against God will pay a price for going
Do people create their own disasters?
Homeless people do create their own disaster in life. A criminal who
is caught and is then sent to prison has created his or her own
disaster. A family that lives in sin creates its own disaster. A company
that violates the law, perhaps by trying to evade taxes, if caught, will
create its own disaster. A company that does not diligently manage the
business of the company creates its own disaster. A government that does
not diligently manage the tax money it receives creates its own
disaster. There are connections between what we do in behavior and
whether we bring disaster upon ourselves. A person who worships Satan or
who rejects the call to repentance by God creates the disaster that
surely lurks in the person's life. Not living according to God's laws
and commands has a consequence.
Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and
Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those
cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the
cities--and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked
back, and she became a pillar of salt. (NIV)
Can a nation bring disaster upon itself?
Any nation that does not live according to the laws and commands of
God brings disaster upon itself. The problem of coming to grips with
this reality is that in some cases it takes a long time for the disaster
to occur. A despot who ravages the population of a country can live out
a natural life and die of natural causes. It would appear there is, in
the life some despots, no connection between being a horrible despot and
the outcome of life on earth.
What are the consequences of turning away from God?
The only way the ungodly person can maintain his or her position that
no connection or consequence exists between human behavior and God is to
reject God. God has entrusted the earth to us as a human race. God has
entrusted the life of a family to the members of the family. God has
entrusted your life to you. You are responsible for your life. A family
is responsible for the kind of family life the family enjoys. The
citizens of a nation are responsible for the national life the nation
enjoys. The former Soviet Union is an example of a nation that turned
away from living according to the laws and commands of God. When a
nation turns away from God, the internal rot will eventually take a toll
on the nation. Eventually, the rot begins to eat away at the persons who
maintain the military, the government, and the infrastructure.
Eventually, the ungodly nation, like the Soviet Union, crumbles.
Psalms 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever
sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your
name may rejoice in you. 12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (NIV)
How does protection from God work?
We enjoy the protection of God, not necessarily as a total and
unequivocal protection from God, but we enjoy the protection of God
according to how willing we are to live according to God's laws and
commands. God is not necessarily a bodyguard. If God protected us
totally then we would never get sick, be attacked by viruses, or even
get old. Unfortunately for us, we live in the reality where Satan can
inflict pain and suffering upon us. However, we must realize that we can
often be more of a direct enemy of our life than is Satan. Often we do
what we know what we should not do. We fall down and turn in wrong
directions when we know in advance what the consequences of our actions
will be. In most cases, we know we are violating the law of God but we
still go ahead and violate that law anyway.
The protection of God is like a building we use as a shelter from a
storm. When we are in a storm, we want the security of a shelter or
building. To get the security of a building we must go into the building
because the building does not come to us. The way we live our life as a
person or as a nation determines whether we are inside the building and
enjoy the protection or whether we live outside the building and outside
of the protection. A person who rejects God and who rejects the idea of
living a devout and godly life clearly takes a chance at the outcome of
their life. People know they are taking a chance with God when they take
the chance. They will even say they know they are taking a chance with
God by living a life of sin. A nation also takes its chances. A nation
can live outside the protective building of God and take its chances. In
fact, it is because a nation can "get by" with living outside
of the building of God (even for a long time) that the nation chooses to
live outside the building.
How does humility connect to our behavior and God's protection?
In the life of every person and in the life of every nation a day of
recognition must come if the person or nation is to endure. In the case
of Russia, they have still not recognized the consequences of living
outside the will of God. The nation of Russia is still just as full of
ungodliness as it was when the Soviet Union was a mighty world power. In
our personal lives and in our national life we must come to a state of
recognition there is a connection between living within the will and
laws of God and the presence of being in God's protective building.
There is a connection between being humble and godly before Him and what
happens to us as a person and as a nation.
Why do we want to "do our own thing?"
If we live in sin as a person, we invite our own disaster because we
chose to live outside God's protective building. If we live in sin as a
nation, we invite our own disaster because we chose to live outside
God's protective building. Generally, we live in stupidity and denial
about the connection between God's protection and our way of life. Satan
does not want us to recognize that we can live within God's laws and
receive some benefit. Satan clearly screams at human beings to live any
way they want without any consequence. Satan clearly screams at the
people of a nation to live any way they want, do any sinful thing they
want, or break any law or commandment of God without any consequence.
Satan wants you and all the people of the world to believe you can
"do your own thing" and get by with it.
Do we reap what we sow?
A person can create a monster in their lives by how they live their
life. A person can start using drugs or alcohol and these substances
become a monster. A person can be vile and hateful toward others. The
seeds the person sows will grow and the hatred sown will produce a crop
of more hatred. A nation that sows the seeds of hatred will reap hatred.
A nation that does not reject sin but even goes so far to embrace sin as
a lifestyle will reap the seeds of sin. On a personal level, what you
send out comes back. If you send out hatred and venom, you will receive
back the bite of the snake.
Is patriotism the same thing as repentance?
Patriotism is running rampant in the United States today. On
September 11, 2001 the United States was viciously attacked with
casualties that outnumber Pearl Harbor. The United States is more
unified today than at any time since Pearl Harbor. However, patriotism
is not repentance. Waving our beautiful flag does not substitute for
repentance and coming to Christ on our knees in humility and godly
How do we find the protection of God?
As of this writing (October 1, 2001) the United States and a few of
its allies are set to bomb and inflict damage on the nations that harbor
terrorists. However, bombs will not put us into the protective building
of God. The only way we can enjoy the protection of God's building is to
go to God's building by repenting, coming to Christ in godly sorrow, and
asking Him to come into our heart. To live under the protection of God
we must live in His building by living within His rules, laws,
commandments, boundaries, and love.
What happens if we want to live life "our way?"
If we continue to puff ourselves up in pride, ego, lust, lies, and
live in the glory of our own power, we are set to be destroyed from
without and from within. If we do not thank God for His mighty blessings
and live for Him in humility we are standing outside of His protective
building and we invite the storm to beat us up and devastate us.
Homeless persons, in nearly every case, insist upon living life their
way with little self-control or self-discipline. We are called as a
person and as a nation to live life His way. God's calls for a person
and a nation to live a life that is godly and self-controlled. When we
do not live life His way, we invite disaster upon our heads.
Can God give us a guarantee of protection?
We cannot manipulate God by pretending to be righteous. We cannot
gain God's favor by pretending we are righteous. We enjoy God's favor by
being humble before Him within our heart. God requires that we repent
from within. God knows whether we repent of not. We cannot fool Him. We
do not want to admit this, but there is a connection between the true
godliness of a nation and what happens to the members of a nation. The
protective cover of God exists in a person's life according to how godly
a person is. This does not mean godly people do not suffer…because
they do. This does not mean godly people are never victimized…because
they are. This does not mean that godly people do not die in the body…because
they do. This does not mean that God gives us some kind of ironclad
guarantee of no pain and no suffering for being His child…because
everyone has pain and suffering. What God can guarantee to a person or
to a nation is that getting outside of the will of God will create a
condition where bad things can and do happen. Conversely, when we strive
as a person and as a nation to live within the will of God and live
according to His commandments there is a an earthly benefit. When we
live within the will of God, we can and will prevail by ascending into
heaven on the wings of angels.
What does God require from us?
In the Christian view, we live a godly life for we know that Christ
died for us, and because we love Him. Because we love Him, we are more
than willing to make sacrifices that require us to reject sin and
immorality. Because we love Him, we are willing to endure any hardship
to serve Him. Because we love Christ so much, we are willing to forego
what some may call the protection of God.
Can we secure our future?
Our future earthly security as a person, family, group, or nation is
up to us. The future of our civilization is up to us. If we, as a
civilization will come before God in true repentance, accept the
sacrifice of His Son for us, and accept Christ as our Savior, then our
future is secure. If we choose to take our chances and continue to sin
without guilt or shame then our future is in doubt.
Does God protect people?
God does not protect people from getting old and dying. No matter how
devout and godly you are, you will get old and your physical body will
die. We want protection, especially when we realize that we are
vulnerable and that death can come at any moment. Yet, God does not do
this basic thing of keeping our bodies young and healthy. What we do
with this truth is quite revealing about our attitudes. God does not
protect you from getting old and dying but you can do things to protect
yourself. It is a scientific fact that you can eat right, exercise, and
avoid harmful substances and harmful environments. Clearly, God has
created a life system where you have the power to stay healthy longer.
Like many other circumstances in life, God leaves a lot of our personal
health, safety, and welfare up to us. If we approach life from that
standpoint, that we are to be fully responsible for our lives, we are in
a position to responsibly protect ourselves. Because of our sin, our
inclination is to shirk our responsibilities and constantly expect Him
to do for us many of those things that we could do for ourselves.
Who is actually responsible for what happens in my life…me or God?
Without weaseling out of this answer, the truth is that you are
responsible for what happens in your life. We give God credit for things
God did not do and blame God for doing things He did not do. Most of
all, we also fail to give God credit for doing what He has done. The
action and interaction between God and man is shrouded in mystery. We
walk the path of life by faith. Some persons have little faith in God.
Others have enormous faith in God. The rubber meets the road, so to
speak, when faith is turned into expectations about what God will do and
not do for us. Quite often people want God to deliver the goods and
services in exchange for faith. To speak about a God who constantly
delivers in exchange for faith in Him without any true love for Him
shows a lack of humility on our part. Conversely, there is, according to
some, a price to pay for lack of faith in God.
How are faith and love connected?
Faith in God and love for Him are two separate entities. They are
easily mixed up and combined. If you truly love God with all your heart,
all your soul, and all your might, then it makes no difference to you
what God delivers in your life. The idea is to love God unconditionally.
That means that your love has no expectations about what God will do for
you in the present or into your tomorrows. If you love God
unconditionally, you may be unmercifully persecuted. Yet, if you truly
love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might you will
never get angry at God for not coming to your rescue.
What does God expect from us?
We are all children of God but we do not need to act like children.
To constantly expect God to fill our every need is to act like a small
child. God gave us immense gifts and abilities. He expects us to use
these gifts and abilities. Obviously, there are daily areas of our life
where we need God. We need God, some days, every moment. We must
recognize we have weaknesses, needs, and deficiencies. However, just
because we have weaknesses, needs and deficiencies does not mean we
should fold up our lives and expect God to do everything for us. This is
where love and faith intersect. If you love God enough, this immense
love for God works to strengthen you, embolden you, and enhance the ways
God works in your life. Immense love for God and weak faith cannot exist
in the same soul at the same time. Most of us cycle back and forth
between immense love and weak faith.
What will God provide?
We cannot get from God everything we want and everything we think we
need. This is because we are plagued by sin and we consequently want and
need the wrong things. God will not give us what we should not have. God
will not give us what we can derive or provide on our own. God will not
change the realities of this reality. God will not override our free
will so we will have to make decisions on our own. We will have to think
on our own. God will not prevent us from being tempted but He will
supply us spiritual power to resist temptation. God will not prevent us
from breaking His laws and commandments. Because of free will, faith in
God and love for God is optional.
Do people have to obey God's laws?
No, you do not have to obey God's laws and commandments. As believers
in Christ, we believe that unrepentant sinners spend eternity in hell as
a consequence of their lack of repentance. Repentance occurs when we
turn away from breaking the laws of God and in godly sorrow, turn to
Christ. As Christians, we believe there are consequences for breaking
God's laws. Non-believers do not believe there are consequences to
breaking God's laws or they know there are consequences and decide to
take their chances. Non-believers can maintain this position because
some consequences to breaking God's laws do not appear in this life.
Persons are free to break any laws (either God's or man's) they want.
Persons can break every commandment or law of God and die without any
apparent earthly consequence.
Why should we obey God's laws?
With respect to God, we should obey God's commandments because we
love Him. However, obedience should be based upon love rather than
trying to get what we want from God. When we are obedient and obey God's
commands to get from God what we want we are trying to abusively use
God. When we obey God's laws because we love Him because He first loved
us and we then expect nothing from God in return then we are mature and
essentially grown up.
What happens when a nation does not live under God?
When a nation quits truly being a nation under God, then sin can run
rampant. Walls of military security, police security, and financial
security are weakened and eventually the civilization crumbles from
within or is attacked and crumbles from without, or in many cases, both.
Dictators, despots, and truly evil persons become leaders in a nation
steeped in sin. Terror, turmoil, killing, war, and a police state are
often the result for a nation that does not go to find shelter in God's