The Pastor stood up in the pulpit. He was a strikingly good looking man his hair graying a bit and a wonderful resonating voice. He looked out over his congregation still reeling from the last counseling session is his office the day before. How could anyone be so involved in so many sinful things? He just didn’t understand. Images had penetrated his mind that he just couldn’t shake. He took a deep breath and began.
After an hour of coming against sin and admonishing everyone, by reminding them that every sin led to death, he begged them to give up anything in their lives that would cause them to come to judgment. His own heart ached at the things he sometimes thought about. He told them that “lust led to more lust, anger to more anger, dishonesty to more dishonesty, envy and strife to confusion and every evil work.” He diagnosed their condition, but gave them no remedy.
He was quite worked up and the people sat in shock! Their pastor had never before been so forceful. Everyone sat in the pew, condemned and without hope.
This well intentioned pastor was a “minister of death.”
Today’s lesson: When we try to be good enough, there is always someone to point out that our efforts are futile. It is a misery that shows us exactly why God gave us the Law. It is a bit like the diet started on Monday morning. After you eat something that is not in the plan you just think, “Well, I blew it, I may as well finish that cake I made for the family.”
The purpose of the rules of the Law was to teach us that we can’t do it on our own. All of our attempts, at keeping the whole Law, end in frustration and disappointment. Lifting up sin never leads us to freedom. The Bible tells us that when we lift up Jesus, He will draw all of us to Him.
The pastor drew no one to the Lord that day. He showed them their utter hopelessness without the Lord of Love. His own sin loomed bigger and bigger as he spoke the words of judgment and condemnation over his listeners.
Jesus offers us grace which produces life. Our job – our work is to believe on Jesus that God sent. (John 6:29) Our work is believing. His work is doing in us what needs to be done. Believing and trusting in Him sets us free.
So, do you want to be a minister of life or a minister of death? Telling people all that they have done wrong never changes them. We are told in Scripture that “the goodness of God leads people to repentance.” Rom 2:4. Repentance is a Bible word that means change. It is turning away and turning around. We look to Jesus instead of our sin. We look to the Father instead of our own personal strength and ability. We trust it all to Him.
Why does the church minister death? The Apostle Paul said, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” (Galatians 1:6, 7) This precious pastor never meant to lead people to a different gospel and a different Christ, but ‘there are some who want to trouble us and pervert the gospel.’ There is a demonic realm that interferes with us and we must be ever vigilant. He wants to steal our freedom and put us back under condemnation.
There is only one Gospel. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Grace and Love. It is not about our sin. It is about how He purchased us out of sin with His own blood and lavished His grace upon us. Now we share with Him all of theblessings that Father God has provided for us.
‘I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing therefore, choose life that both you and your descendants may live!’ Duet 30:19 It is a generational promise!