Soulbook: Heaven and the Soul @Enwrightened

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This is the twenty-fourth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: Heaven and the Soul

Heaven is my favorite subject. There are several questions about what Heaven will be like. What is the nature of Heaven? What will our nature be in Heaven? Will we remember our physical lives? How will eternal life be different? I, for one, can’t wait to find out the answers to these questions in person! There are some clues in Scripture as to what Heaven will be like and what our souls will be like there after we shed our flesh. The most exciting part is that we can have a small window into Heaven through Scripture and through examining our nature and God’s nature as spiritual beings.

First, let’s look at the nature or attributes of Heaven. This understanding is probably most easily defined by understanding more about the nature of God. He is the eternal “I Am”, (Exodus 6:3; cf. Genesis 21:33; Psalm 90:2). God goes on and on into infinity, therefore His abode would, necessarily, do the same. Heaven is an endless realm; one of infinite possibilities. To talk about Heaven in terms of time and space probably misses the point and the nature of God and Heaven itself. Another attribute of God that gives us a look into Heaven has to do with the fact that God is spirit and not flesh, (John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Matthew 16:17). Heaven must also be a spiritual and non-physical reality. For God and us as spiritual souls to exist in a physical reality after death is not logically coherent. While our souls do occupy our bodies in this physical reality, the endless nature of our souls still exists, while the physical nature does not persist. However, in Heaven our nature will be eternal and, therefore, will have no need of the temporary nature it has now.
God is also infinitely wise/omniscient, (Romans 11:33-36). Through this wisdom and omniscience, God knows everything, everywhere, at all times. We can expect Heaven to be a reality in which all knowledge will be opened to us. Consider it like the most amazing, infinitely interesting library ever! The internet will have nothing on Heaven. Our souls will open the book of Heaven and see and understand everything. God is infinitely benevolent/omnibenevolent, (1 John 4:8; Ephesians 2:4; James 1:17). The love God shows us (the love that never fails) will continue in Heaven eternally. That love will permeate us and we will live in it forever. That kind of love and the fullness of it is unlike anything we could ever understand here, where it becomes obscured by the physical reality in which we exist.
Finally, God is infinitely powerful/omnipotent, (Job 42:2). God’s amazing and infinite power manifests itself in Heaven. The lights in Heaven will never go out. There will always be hot water and we will never lose our connection to the Net of information in Heaven. God is the supreme source of power and Heaven will, therefore, contain that power. It is where God resides, (Acts 7:48-49): “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “’Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?” It is a spiritual realm, unlike the physical realm we inhabit here. We cannot sense and have never seen Heaven: John 3:13 “No one has ever gone into Heaven, except the one who came from Heaven–the Son of Man.” This indicates that Heaven is in a place we, as humans, cannot reach. We must be something more than human. The soul must inhabit such a reality.

Then, what will our nature be like in Heaven? This is most easily defined by understanding more about the nature of Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus ascended to Heaven before His apostles’ eyes in a resurrected bodily form, so we should be able to glean some information about how we will be after death, as well. First, Jesus’ body is transportable to Heaven: Mark 16:19 “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into Heaven and He sat at the right hand of God.” Jesus left here in a glorified body. His body that was in the tomb for three days was somehow brought to life in a form that was compatible with the spiritual realm. He could also change His appearance and/or be invisible, (Luke 24:15-16, 31 John 20:14-16). Jesus could go through walls, look like a different person, and obscure Himself at times. Jesus was raised from the dead in a form completely unfathomable to us, and we will be raised also. He could appear suddenly and transport Himself quickly from one place to another, (Luke 24:36-37 John 20:19). Jesus had power in His resurrected form that allowed Him to move faster than any substance we can understand. Imagine going faster than light! Jesus could do this at will! Jesus could be touched. He had the ability to take physical form, (Luke 24:39-40). Jesus could eat! (Luke 24:41-43 John 20:26-28 John 21:12) So, even in His glorified body, Jesus had physical properties consistent with our own, if He so desired. Jesus could also communicate on a higher plane, (Luke 24:45). Jesus could open the minds of people to understand things they had been blind to previously. His eternal power and nature in this raised form also afforded Him a raised mind. The primary point of all of these attributes of the resurrected Jesus is that He is powerful in this form. This is a precursor to the power we will inherit at our own resurrection!

Look at how we will be. Our bodies will be incorruptible, (1 Corinthians 15:50-54): “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’.” Our new bodies/houses/dwellings will “not be made by hands”, but by God in a spiritual way that will be eternal, (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
But, what will our new bodies be like? There’s an indication that we will be raised from Earth and go to Heaven, indicating a reconstitution of some fashion. “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). These bodies will be spiritual, (1 Corinthians 15:44). This may seem like a contradiction, considering what we’ve already discussed, but consider the fact that we will be “like the angels”, (Matthew 22:30, Luke 20:36).

What are angels like? They are transportable to Heaven: Rev 20:1, Rev 18:1, Matt 28:2. Just as Jesus and His resurrected body were physical in some sense, but could go to a spiritual place, so are the angels. They can change their appearance. In Luke 24:4, the angel gleamed like lightning. Joshua 5:13 says the angel appeared like a man in armor with a sword. And Gen 19:5 says they looked like ordinary men. Angels, just like Jesus, could change how they looked for different purposes. In Luke, the angel appeared glorious; in Joshua, as a military leader; and in Genesis, the angels looked just like you or me.

They could appear suddenly and transport themselves quickly, (Acts 7:30, Luke 22:43). The obvious power here gives them an advantage of being able to accomplish God’s work or deliver God’s messages in an almost omnipresent way. The extremely fast movement for these spiritual beings was nothing to them because they don’t have to abide by the rules of physics like we do. They only time angels appear to obey these rules of nature are when they are trying to fulfill a purpose or blend in somehow. For instance, they could be touched and take physical form. They could eat! (Genesis 19:3) Just as Jesus could commune with His apostles and eat food, angels can do the same. While they do not need Earthly sustenance, the purpose of eating for social or symbolic purposes still might require taking in food.

Angels could also communicate on a higher plane. In Daniel 10:10-15, Gabriel hears Daniel’s need far off and speeds to him at his earliest convenience. Again, the ability to communicate from a distance or even know the inner workings of someone’s mind would be a valuable trait for one of God’s angels. The power to understand people at this level would allow angels to tell people exactly what they needed to hear, guide them in a certain activity, or even lead them into battle.
As you have probably noticed, all of the attributes possessed by Jesus in His resurrected form are exactly the same as the powers of the angels. Angels are very powerful servants of God who can come and go at will. They can look like whoever or whatever suits their purposes, and can move faster than sight, possibly even seeming to be in two places at once. Angels are spiritual beings that can use the power God gives them to do all these things, even taking physical form. Thus, there is no contradiction in the Soul as our spiritual body and our ability to use the power God has instilled in our Souls to have the same properties as Jesus and the angels. The nature of our spiritual bodies will be almost opposite of our physical bodies, in that in our physical bodies we are recognized as physical and must put on the spiritual; whereas, when our Souls take on the spiritual
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body, it will be able to manifest itself in physical form if so desired. Now, apply the fact that we will be like Jesus and the angels in the resurrection. Amazing!
Now that we have explored the nature of our existence in Heaven from a physical and spiritual perspective, let’s look at whether or not we will actually remember our Earthly existence after we leave this world. For many people, this is a topic of much debate and concern. Not much direct Scriptural information is given, but there is some insight that helps us to understand how we might perceive our new, eternal lives.

First, let’s look at II Corinthians 5:16-19: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Some would say this passage supports how we might not recognize each other. However, it refers to an earthly recognition, not Heavenly.

Isaiah 65:17 tells us, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Some interpret Isaiah 65:17 as saying that we will have no memory of our earthly lives in Heaven. However, one verse earlier, in Isaiah 65:16, the Bible says, “For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.” It is likely only our “past troubles” that will be forgotten – not all of our memories. Our memories will be cleansed, redeemed, healed, and restored – not erased. There is no reason why we could not possess many memories from our earthly lives. The memories that will be cleansed are the ones that involve sin, pain, and sadness. Revelation 21:4 declares, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Some point to the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) as proof that the dead remember their earthly lives. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn the rich man’s brothers not to come to Hell. So, he remembered his relatives. He must have also remembered his own life of sin because he never asked to be released from Hell, nor did he ask why he was there, or claim there had been some kind of mistake. He remembered enough about his earthly life to know that he deserved Hell. But, this is no proof that those in Heaven remember their earthly lives. The rich man’s remembrance was part of his misery. If we have memories in Heaven, they will only be of things that will bring us joy.
But, the question remains: When we reach Heaven and realize that there are people we loved on Earth who are not present, won’t that bring us sadness? What does the Bible say about whether we will be able to recognize people in the afterlife? King Saul recognized Samuel when the witch of Endor summoned Samuel from the realm of the dead, (1 Samuel 28:8-17). When David’s infant son died, David declared, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me,” (2 Samuel 12:23). David assumed that he would be able to recognize his son in Heaven, despite the fact that he died as a baby. In Luke 16:19-31, Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man were all recognizable after death. At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognizable, (Matthew 17:3-4). In these examples, the Bible does seem to indicate that we will be recognizable after death. Also, many people recognized Jesus after His resurrection, (John 20:16, 20; 21:12; 1 Corinthians 15:4-7).

So, will the absence of loved ones contradict the tearlessness of Heaven? I don’t think so. Consider the following: When someone you love on Earth dies, do you already have a good idea of where they are going? Most would say “yes”. Therefore, we will have already dealt with and understood the reason for their absence in Heaven while we still live on Earth. The nature of Heaven and our own nature as purified Souls will set us so far apart from sin and the flesh that we can’t help but accept the righteous judgment of God, thereby alleviating our sorrow. When in Heaven, the burdens, sin, and sadness of every kind from Earth will no longer exist. Overall, the idea is that we will be changed in every way and our Heavenly lives will transcend our Earthly lives infinitely.

How will eternal life be different? What does “eternal” mean? Eternal is forever, never ending, infinite, timeless, spaceless. We cannot fully understand it since we live in time and space. Eternity is beyond our ability to comprehend. Some people think of forever and say, “I would get bored…” or “Forever is a loooong time!” but, what they fail to understand is that eternity is not measurable and is actually timeless. Time will not exist in Heaven. Space and matter will not exist, either. Heaven is a spiritual place and we will be spiritual Souls with new lives that exist in a state we cannot understand right now.

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from Heaven. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality,” (1 Corinthians 15:49, 53). We will be immortal and like Jesus. Consider I Corinthians 13:9-12: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” In Heaven, we will see everything completely. We will understand ourselves completely, just as God knows us completely. We will be in God’s presence at all “times”. Just look at passages in Revelation and you get the understanding that our new existence will completely center around God and His glory. Our Souls will be home! We’ll be back where we came from originally.
The primary thing to remember about Heaven is that it is ultimately a spiritual place. Our resurrected bodies may allow us to exhibit properties similar to Jesus and the angels, but ultimately, God is spirit and His reality or dwelling must necessarily be consistent with His properties. We are souls who will be able to manifest ourselves in physical form, if so desired. Can we eat in Heaven? Maybe so! The answer to this isn’t entirely a yes or a no, admittedly, but the fact that Jesus and the angels ate might indicate our ability to do that, and maybe be manifested physically if necessary or desired. We will have purified memories in Heaven. Our souls will be free of the physical and psychological pains of corporeal existence. How free that will be! We will be able to see past all of our Earthly suffering and see for eternity! Eternity will be timeless, spaceless, infinite, and amazing! My soul can’t wait!

Citizenship

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We often hear people say things like, “Please pray for America to return to the once great Christian nation it was.” People post articles on social media sites trying to explain how we in America have fallen so far from the values of the founding fathers. But, what if America was never the “Christian Nation” we think it was? What if America never will be that kind of nation?

From a Christian perspective, America holds a special place in the world. Since its inception, America has stood upon the foundation of religious freedom and liberty. But, that doesn’t mean America was, is, or should be a Christian nation. In fact, I would challenge anyone to establish a government anywhere in this world that can truly claim to be 100% Christian. Not only do I believe it’s improbable, but it’s a deception; a pervasive and subversive deception from the greatest deceiver the world have ever known…

Imagine for a moment a world where Christians didn’t waste so much of their time concerning themselves with trying to change America by voting for the “right” people or insisting that America as a nation must be a place where all of our government officials are followers of Christ. What these people are doing is falling for a lie. Satan is misdirecting their attention and hearts onto a nation that, like all the world’s nations in history, will not last forever. Satan is deceiving Christians into believing that in order to fix the world, we must fix America. But, is this what Christianity is really all about? What’s happening in the meantime to Christianity? It’s becoming more divided, less potent, and more concerned with the things of the world than the things above. Now, imagine if Christians woke up to this fact and put their attention back where it belongs; on the TRUE, ETERNAL nation of Christ! How much would the church grow? How far could faith reach? How angry would Satan be?

Consider now where your citizenship lies…Is 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Who is King? Upon Whom does the government, the TRUE government, rest? Are you a citizen of an eternal kingdom, or one that is doomed to go the way of Rome? Satan wants you to believe your value as a human being rests on whether or not America stands, but don’t believe it Christian. Don’t believe it for a moment. Turn your heart away from a belief in the world back to God’s eternal Kingdom.

Phil 3:18-21 “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Soulbook: Will the Soul Be Punished for Sin? @Enwrightened

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This is the twenty-third excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: Will the Soul Be Punished for Sin?

What if we were not punished for sin? Would the world be a better place or a worse place? Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov (1880), had one of his characters (Ivan) say that in the absence of God, everything is allowed. But, is that what we see in the world? Is sin punishable and how does the Soul relate and react to this punishment? Some people look at sin in the same way they see the eastern concept of karma. Karma basically goes by the adage of “what goes around, comes around.” In other words, if you wrong someone or commit a crime and are not caught or punished for it immediately, you will eventually suffer for it because karma is going to get you! But, is this an accurate picture of punishment? Is there basically just some great equalizer that ensures that people receive justice or is there something more?

The first question you have to get past before discovering if sin is punishable is: Does sin exist? French existential philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, wrote: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself…. Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimize our behavior.” If God does not exist, then neither does sin. Bertrand Russell wrote: “We feel that the man who brings widespread happiness at the expense of misery to himself is a better man than the man who brings unhappiness to others and happiness to himself. I do not know of any rational ground for this view, or, perhaps, for the somewhat more rational view that whatever the majority desires (called utilitarian hedonism) is preferable to what the minority desires. These are truly ethical problems, but I do not know of any way in which they can be solved, except by politics or war. All that I can find to say on this subject is that an ethical opinion can only be defended by an ethical axiom, but, if the axiom is not accepted, there is no way of reaching a rational conclusion.” There must be objective morality in order to call something “right” or “wrong”. In his book, Does God Exist?, A.E. Taylor wrote: “But it is an undeniable fact that men do not merely love and procreate, they also hold that there is a difference between right and wrong; there are things which they ought to do and other things which they ought not to do. Different groups of men, living under different conditions and in different ages, may disagree widely on the question whether a certain thing belongs to the first or the second of these classes. They may draw the line between right and wrong in a different place, but at least they all agree that there is such a line to be drawn.” Basically, everyone agrees that some things (murder, rape, child abuse) are objectively, morally wrong. Even the Gentiles, who had no written law, understood this. Paul wrote, in Romans 2:14-15: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.” The natural order of our world and universe makes right and wrong obvious. There is no rational world in which sin/evil does not exist. As a result, one must conclude that sin will affect the soul adversely. But, what is this affect and how does it relate to the soul?

All of the answers to sin and punishment really culminate in Who makes the rules. Because of Who He is as Creator and because of what He has done by saving the souls of all people who accept the free gift of grace, God has the right to establish the moral/ethical laws that people are to follow, and to establish the punishment for any violation of those laws that might occur. Punishment for disobedience of this moral code, however, can take one of three forms—preventative, remedial, or retributive. Preventative punishment is a penalty to keep others from breaking God’s law (e.g., soldiers who refused to obey a lawful order from a superior officer being court-martialed). Preventative punishment was evident in the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira after they lied about their donation to the church (Acts 5; note verse 11: “And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard these things”). Remedial punishment is
intended as a penalty to incite improvement in the person being punished (e.g., a school child being forced to accomplish remedial work or summer school in order to be promoted to the next grade). Remedial punishment can be seen in passages like Hebrews 12:6-7, where the writer told the church: “For whom the Lord loves He punishes, and scourges every son whom He receives. It is for chastening that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not punish?” Retributive punishment is a penalty that is deserved (e.g., a person being jailed for stealing or otherwise breaking the law). Paul, in referring to Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 32:35, reminded the first-century Christians who were undergoing severe persecution: “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). The soul will receive punishment if the sin remains. Again, sin can only be removed by washing with Christ and can never be scrubbed away, wished away, prayed away, or burned away. The soul will notice preventative punishment from the experiences of others and will not wish to experience the same guilt and suffering. Our souls will occasionally go through remedial suffering while on Earth. This type of punishment, as most punishment, is an expression of God’s love for us. Parents use remedial and preventative punishment often to correct their children. This ensures that their children learn from their mistakes and grow up to be law abiding citizens. Of course, retributive punishment can be momentary on Earth or eternal. As souls of God, we must take this type of punishment very seriously.

God’s love is eternal and His judgments are just. Charles H. Spurgeon once said: “When men talk of a little hell, it is because they think they have only a little sin, and they believe in a little Savior. But when you get a great sense of sin, you want a great Savior, and feel that if you do not have Him, you will fall into a great destruction, and suffer a great punishment at the hands of the great God.” God’s love and justice are both infinite. Paul stated in Romans 5:10: “But God commends His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” This is an expression of awesome, infinite, and almost incomprehensible love. It’s a love we may never fully understand until we see Him face to face. A great look into this love is seen on the cross, when Jesus said: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). God could not look upon His son due to sin. Jesus’ own soul was obscured by our sin and He took this burden for us. Christ suffered the wrath of God so that mankind would not have to endure that wrath. In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Peter drew his sword to defend his Lord, Jesus turned to him and asked: “The cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). The cup Jesus took for us will be poured out on our souls, obscuring us and separating us from God if we do not obey the Gospel. Ultimately, the soul who dies in sin suffers what we see in Hebrews 10:28-29: “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” I don’t know about you, but outraging the Spirit of grace sounds like a really bad idea. Why would someone want to do that and reject Jesus? What does the soul that does this look like, and how would it survive?

There is such a thing as evil, and sin obscures the soul from God. Like a window that is dirty, we cannot see God and He will not look upon us when we are in sin. There is a division there that causes us to be out of right standing with Him. It’s a division that only has one Cure. God makes the rules as Creator. Our image/soul is guided by these laws. Without the moral law by which we abide, the world and even the universe could not continue. Nothing would make sense. As there is law and order in us, there is law and order that God has established throughout His whole creation that makes right, right and wrong, wrong. His love and justice are infinite. Our souls are eternal in the context of His love. If we lose the connection between ourselves and God by living outside of Jesus, we are simply allowing ourselves to be disconnected from the Power that gives our souls life. Without this sustainment, we will lose our souls to eternal death. In the context of God’s love and Who He is, the word “punishment” really is not the word we should look for, since it indicates that God wants to make us hurt. God doesn’t want anyone to be punished or to hurt, especially eternally. But, God lets us have the choice to place ourselves in that position. It is an amazing expression of love, but it leaves us with a choice. God loves us and desires to be near us. We separate ourselves from Him by our sin. Jesus’ sacrifice makes our souls whole. If we make the choice to be near to God, we can be; and He will not let anything or anyone take that away. If we make the other choice, we must accept the consequences.

Soulbook: How Does Sin Relate to the Soul? @Enwrightened

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This is the twenty-second excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: How Does Sin Relate to the Soul?

We are all made in the “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). Mankind was not created in the physical image of God, of course, because God, as a Spirit Being, has no physical image (John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Matthew 16:17). Rather, mankind was fashioned in the spiritual, rational, emotional, and volitional image of God (Ephesians 4:24; John 5:39-40; 7:17; Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 7:15). But, we all have sinned, starting with Adam and Eve. So, what does sin do to the soul or our “image”? After all, we bear God’s image in our souls and our souls, as well as our physical selves, have been affected by sin in some manner, but how? There are several ways our souls are sickened and poisoned by sin. Most of these are self-inflicted, but there are others, as well. Sin is, unfortunately, ubiquitous in the world today and has been since the fall of man.
By sin and through sin, we have been divided from God. Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:1-2). The apostle John wrote: “Every one that does sin also commits lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Thus, sin is defined as the act of transgressing God’s law. In fact, Paul indicates that “where there is no law, neither is there transgression” (Romans 4:15). Had there been no law, there would have been no sin. But God had instituted divine law. And mankind freely chose to transgress that law. Paul reaffirmed the Old Testament concept of the universality of sin when he stated that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Ezekiel lamented: “The soul that sins shall die” (18:20a). Once again, the New Testament writers reaffirmed this concept. Paul wrote: “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (Romans 5:12). He then added that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Years later, James would write: “But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, bears sin: and the sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15-16). As a result of mankind’s sin, the curse of death came on the human race. As we talked about previously, you can think of sin as a cancer. When people get cancer, what does it do to them? It separates their body’s ability to heal and maintain life from that life source. Sin is the same way, except it creates a separation between us and God, who provides life to our Souls. When our souls are sick with sin, they lack the connection of life and do not get what they need for life. We lack nourishment. We lack water. We lack air. As these soul-supporting resources are cut off from us, we begin to die and rot inside. The food of God’s Word, water of life, and air of God’s breath all become a memory and may even become detestable to the one who rejects them. Coming back to these assets may be harder than we think.

Yes, sin is a sickness. It has brought death and sickness and pain and sorrow from the beginning. Disease and death were introduced into this world as a direct consequence of man’s sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). As a result, we have physical death and sickness. When Adam and Eve were created, God made them spiritually and physically perfect. They had no sin, no sickness, and would not have died. Through the introduction of the knowledge of good and evil, all of the suffering we see today were brought into the world. This is a direct consequence of sin. Fortunately, there is a cure.

Many features of the Earth’s surface that allow for such tragedies as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, violent thunderstorms, etc., can be traced directly to the Great Flood of Noah’s day (which came as the result of man’s sin; Genesis 6:5). So, not only are we sick, but the Earth and even the universe as a whole is sick. Not only do we see people dying and suffering as a result of storms and seismic activity, we can see animal populations catching and spreading diseases. Bird flu, mad cow disease, and swine flu are just a few examples of the continual entropy all around us. In addition to what we see here on Earth, there is an obvious breakdown in the universe at large. Stars explode, planets are bombarded by asteroids, comets, and other space debris, and the universe as a whole continues to expand ever more rapidly which indicates a running down and a running out of usable energy in the universe. All of this destruction and waste originated with sin.

The communication problems that man experiences, due to the multiplicity of human languages, are traceable to ambitious rebellion on the part of our ancestors (Genesis 11:1-9). Aside from the language differences that established communication issues early in human history, other societal problems are present today. Society is sick with sin, from our schools to our top levels of government. Daily, we see this sickness spread in the form of moral breakdown and hateful confrontation in every corner of our country and the world. Sin has reached into the hearts of mankind and has left its mark on his social consciousness. The “collective soul” of humanity has been poisoned such that we are surprised to see kindness and love in our society. Of course, a great deal of the reason for this lack of goodness stems from selfishness, which is one of the most pervasive types of sin seen in the world since the first sin. But, as souls who are connected to God, we can have an influence on society through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. The cure is here! Let’s be it!

In his book, Created in God’s Image, Anthony Hoekema addressed the chasm between God and man when he wrote: “Sin is always related to God and His will. Many people consider what Christians call sin mere imperfection—the kind of imperfection that is a normal aspect of human nature. “Nobody’s perfect,” “everybody makes mistakes,” “you’re only human,” and similar statements express this kind of thinking. Over against this we must insist that, according to Scripture, sin is always a transgression of the law of God…. Sin is therefore fundamentally opposition to God, rebellion against God, which roots in hatred to God…. [T]hough fallen man still bears the image of God, he now functions wrongly as an image-bearer of God. This, in fact, makes sin all the more heinous. Sin is a perverse way of using God-given and God-reflecting powers.” Our image is sick. As God’s image-bearers, we have to take seriously what our image says to the world, and to God most of all. Our souls are supposed to be free of blemishes and like God. However, we scar our images, our souls, with sin and sometimes don’t even have a second thought. Is this what it means to be an image bearer of God? The great advantage is that
we can be made pure and perfect again through Jesus. Then, we can bear that image again and take that image to the world. C.S. Lewis, expressed this fact well when he said: “[I]ndeed the only way in which I can make real to myself what theology teaches about the heinousness of sin is to remember that every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us…. We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument. We caricature the self-portrait He would paint. Hence all sin, whatever else it is, is sacrilege.” Sin has the deceptive “quality” of making us believe that some of it is alright, maybe even good for us. But, if we examine it more closely, we realize that sin is a malady that is made to look like a catharsis. It’s so easy to fall for it.

What is the cure for this awful sickness? How do we as individuals and as humanity move past sin to righteousness? There are several facts that show how sin behaves and how a cure must behave in order to destroy it. Interestingly, Angels have sinned, but have no recourse. Angels sinned (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6), and yet “not to angels does He give help, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16). So, why do we have salvation, and what is the effect of that reunification? The answer lies in a history replete with amazing vestiges of love and forgiveness and patience from a God who never gave up on His Creation.

God already had the answer: “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). God has had a plan since Eve and Adam ate the fruit. He made that evident when He spoke to Eve regarding the children she, and ultimately another women, would bear: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The fact that Satan and sin were on the road to ultimate destruction was already in God’s mind. He knew, as He always does, what it would take to make mankind understand the depth and breadth, and height of His awesome love. He began right at the entrance of sin and continued until He established it for our vulnerable souls.

He sent Noah to preach, but ultimately destroyed the world with the flood (Gen 6-8). If you look at how God reached out to the sinful people of Noah’s time, God’s love and patience cannot be overstated. Not only did He send Noah to preach to the entirety of humanity for over 100 years, He provided a way for His creation to have a type of salvation through a baptism in the vessel of the ark. This ark was carried through a flood of sin and deposited safely, allowing souls to live and thrive and continue the plan He had for all of humanity.

Then God sent Abraham to bring His nation up and provided the promise of salvation through his seed. God used Abraham as a means for building a nation of people who would ultimately bring about the end of sin and death. God even had Abraham go to the point of sacrificing his only son of promise. The seed of Abraham today is everyone who has received that promise. All of us have that promise today, just as we did when it was first made.

After that, God sent Moses and gave the written law. Basically, this law-system had three purposes. First, its intent was to define sin and sharpen Israel’s awareness of it. To use Paul’s expression in the New Testament, the Law made “sin exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:7,13). Second, the law was designed to show man that he could not save himself via his own effort, or as a result of his own merit. The Law demanded perfect obedience, and since no one could keep it perfectly, each stood condemned (Galatians 3:10-11). Thus, the Law underscored the need for a Savior—Someone Who could do for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. Third, in harmony with that need, the Old Testament pointed the way toward the coming of the Messiah. He was to be Immanuel—“God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God left no stone unturned in preparing the world for the coming of the One Who was to save mankind.

God has had a plan for humanity from the start. He still has a plan today and will use it to our souls’ ultimate salvation. When we are in sin, we are separated from God by that obstacle of sin. The sin itself places the barrier there, and only by the cleansing of that sin can we be together with Him again. I was told a story once of a man and his wife who were on a road trip and were travelling through the mountains with their fourteen-month old baby in the back seat. During the trip, the baby had contracted a stomach bug and had diarrhea as a result. The baby was wearing a one-piece outfit that extended over her whole body, covering to her ankles and wrists. During one particularly disgusting ejection of waste, she expelled so much that it was literally oozing from her wrists and ankles. When the father went to check on the baby due to the obvious smell, the first thing the baby did was to put her arms out to her daddy in a gesture that basically communicated her desire for him to lift her up and give her a hug. The father did not give her a hug, as you might imagine. Instead, he carefully removed her outer garment, cleaned her thoroughly, and then held her close. All the while, the filth made Him not be able to be near her and have the closeness she desired. While this is not a perfect analogy for sin, it does communicate the distance placed between us and our Father when we sin. Sin is disgusting to God. It makes us sick and it makes Him sick; so sick that He would “spew us out of His mouth.” But, ultimately Jesus cleans that sin off of us and makes it where He can hold us close and we can have that relationship we need so much.