Bill Harrell, interim pastor
First Baptist Church, Wrens
Sin is a sneaky thing. It has a way of insidiously becoming a part of the life and thought process to the point that it is no longer feared. Satan is an expert at rationalization. In fact, that is how he gets people to fall into sin that will devastate them. If he came and warned a person as to the consequences of the thing he is tempting one to do, then the person would probably not do it or they wouldn’t go as far as Satan wants them to go … utter destruction.
King Belshazzar was the son of a king. Having been so raised, he was probably spoiled and accustomed to having his way. When his father died and he was made king, he decided to throw a big party for a thousand of his lords. During the ensuing party, he got the bright idea of bringing the holy implements that his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and use them to drink from.
Pride was in his heart. He knew all that had happened to his father because of his own pride but he had a proud heart anyway. He did not receive the lesson given to his father and he was uplifted in pride. He was probably parading his power and glory by drinking from the Temple implements in an effort to display that he was more powerful than the God of Israel.
Satan has a way of convincing a person that what he is going to do is not all that bad and that the people really don’t care anymore. Besides, they are with him and will drink from the vessels too. We must remember that a multiplicity of sinners taking part does not validate the action and make it all right. Just because “everybody is doing it” doesn’t make it acceptable to God.
Satan will set people up to sin, telling them they won’t get caught or that the activity is acceptable and it won’t offend anyone any more. Society has adjusted its attitude about things according to him. But then, a little passage of Scripture comes true: “be sure your sins will find you out.” Then, Satan will put a person out in the hot sun of persecution and he will sit under a cool shade tree sipping iced tea while the sinner writhes in pain with no one to help.
In our day, we are told that if we redefine sin, it is no longer sin. So we assign new names for old faces. “Alternate lifestyle” is the new name for homosexuality. “A woman’s choice” is the new designation for abortion. “First amendment right” covers a whole host of sins including pornography.
Remember, just because we rename a sin does not take away its sinfulness and just because we rationalize something away in our minds does not mean that God has changed His mind about it. We must be sensitive to God’s Spirit who warns us in the face of sin because sin is very deceptive.
We should be quick to notice that pride was also at the root of Belshazzar’s sinful activity. He had been confronted with his sin in a graphic way. We need men today who will stand, and regardless of the possible repercussions, tell the truth about sin.
But, even the church has been changed by the onslaught of a secular society and will accept things today that were considered anathema only a few years ago. This writer believes that one reason Christianity is losing its influence in this world is because our people have been too tolerant toward sin. We have been more than willing to have it redefined for us so that, even we, would not feel guilty for formally prohibited actions. Instead of changing the world, we are letting the world change us and in the process we are losing our witness.
Belshazzar had his sin pointed out in graphic detail. And, we notice, that he honored God’s servant for interpreting the handwriting on the wall for him. But, we should also notice that his life was required of him in short order anyway as we find in verse 30. God’s judgment fell quickly. It would do us well to remember that God already knows our sin and the depth of it. We can’t hide it from him and we can’t redefine it to the point that He doesn’t care any longer.
The forgotten doctrine in the Christian church is, I believe, the Holiness of God. This writer thinks that if we could ever get our people to understand His holiness we would be far more careful in how we live. God is a good God and we would all agree to that.
But, God is more than a good God. He is a holy God. By his nature He is holy. He didn’t choose to be holy. It is not something he requires of Himself. He is holy by nature. That means that not one iota of sin can come into His presence. His nature won’t allow it. And, any sin that confronts His holiness, He judges.
This world has told people that there is no such thing as judgment; there are no consequences to violating God’s holiness; that it is all an invention of some theologian in the Middle Ages.
My friends, just ask Belshazzar. Just ask Judas. Just ask yourself in you ever got away with sin. Look at your life and see if the devastation of sin can be found.
A holy God is also a merciful God. He has prepared a way for us to come before Him and not be offensive to Him. He covers our sins with something He chooses not to see through: the Blood of Jesus. And, when we are covered we can stand in His presence and not be offensive because He, Himself has provided that covering. Without the blood covering, our sin is visible and we are condemned. That is why no one can come before God and enter into His heaven without Jesus in their life by faith.
But not only can Jesus forgive our sins so we can occupy heaven, He also gives us the ability to live above sin and serve Him while we are here on planet Earth.
1 John 1:9 is given to us, I believe, so that we can keep our “sin account” short and maintain our relationship with God while we are alive.