Forgiveness can be found at any time. Christ can save us in this very present moment if our hearts turn to Him. There does not have to be a day of judgement; we don’t have to wait and wonder if we will be saved.
God provides simplicity in the reality that if we come to Christ and ask for forgiveness with a sincere heart, we will be forgiven instantly. Wiped clean. Reborn. There is nothing that can stop you from finding salvation in Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit if you believe in His name, even right now. But to understand the significance of God’s amazing grace, we also must understand the weight of sin and the influence of Satan.
The topic of sin and the devil is something many Christians, and people in general, often want to stray away from—with good reason. The idea of a being that is actively seeking to steal, kill, and destroy anything good in our lives is a fearful concept (John 10:10).
Often times, Christians will want to blur the lines of who the devil is, and claim that he isn’t an actual being, but an overall, general influence of evil in our lives. By removing our sight of the enemy, we are therefore giving him power to work in ways that won’t be addressed in terms of the Gospel.
Don’t fool yourself; there is a war going on all around us, and in our minds, and in heavenly places, that has ramifications for our everyday lives, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
1. Sin is a choice that breaks God’s laws and does not bring us closer to Him
The influence of Satan is addressed directly in Genesis when Adam and Eve are in the garden of Eden. God had given all that was in the garden, along with an intimate relationship with Himself, to Adam and Eve. But there was one thing that was off limits: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
God had provided for all of Adam and Eve’s needs; but on top of that, created a world where they could walk in relationship with Him. Despite this, however, Adam and Eve were still given free will to make choices of their own. This is demonstrated through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Though they were in a place that was perfect and had no sin, Adam and Eve still had the freedom to not choose God.
By eating the fruit from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve had made humanity’s first decision that broke a commandment of God’s. After they had eaten the fruit, “they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). By falling to the temptation of the devil, Adam and Eve opened the way of sin and then hid from God.
This moment provides a powerful illustration of what sin does in our lives and what it is. Sin separates us from God, and can be defined as any choice, action, or thought we make that would hide us from Him—and since God is perfectly just, He has to judge us according to the sins we have committed.
2. Satan is a deceiver and a master manipulator
The scenario of the forbidden fruit also helps illustrate who our enemy is: Satan is a deceiver. First we see him question the words of God directly, and then he provides an alternate path that takes Eve’s eyes away from God and turns them inwards to herself: “And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” and “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1, Genesis 3:4-5). Satan muddied the water for Eve and brought confusion and doubt into her life; something he strives to do within all of us.
The power of sin and of the temptation of the devil lies in the reality that it oftentimes looks attractive to us, and is usually momentarily pleasing and/or satisfactory in feeding our pride and lusts in the long-term. Satan’s temptations feed our pride and make us think our way is better than God’s (“I know best”), and aligns with desires, passions, and objectives that are self-serving (“I want to do what I want to do, when I want to, how I want to”). According to Matthew, the three temptations Satan used against Jesus were:
1) Trying to use Jesus’s hunger against Him – For us: our primordial necessities, day-to-day needs, carnal desires
2) Questioning the authority of God’s word and Jesus’s well-being/safety – For us: uses our past actions, thoughts, and words against us to influence our mind to create fear/doubt; can also do this by creating anxiety in us for our future well-being
3) Tempts Jesus with power and glory – For us: enticing us with certain paths in life that seem fulfilling and desirable, when really they lead to destruction
A great deception of sin is the concept that we are living in freedom by doing whatever we want to do. And while we are free to do good, we will always find ways to choose to do wrong. And once we have sinned, as Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). And while you may not even believe in Satan or in sin, if you have ever done wrong, then you can attest that it usually has a weight to bear.
So, sin is any wrong or bad choice we have ever made that pushes us away from God, and empowers dark forces in our lives and in our minds, which manifest into every kind of evil we see in our world. I’m sure you are feeling very uplifted at this point!
But to go further, there has also not been a single human being that has ever existed that has escaped the enslavement of sin and the temptations of the devil. We all have strayed from God; no matter how good you think you are, how many good works you do, or how religious you commit yourself to be. There is not, and has not, been a single person who is innocent and pure of sin.
3. All have broken God’s laws, except for One
There is only One person throughout all time that has not sinned, and has not given in to any of the temptations of Satan. This One person is Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, the One who came down among us and took all sin upon Himself to not only defeat the enemy, but to establish victory in all of our lives and bring us back into the fold of God. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). While Satan has come only to steal, kill, and destroy; Jesus Christ came so that we may have life, and life more abundantly (John 10:6).
The truth of the matter is that God has always wanted us to be in relationship with Him, but in His perfect love there is also perfect freedom. We each have free will and the power to choose. The evil of this world is not of God, but is of the brokenness and destructiveness of sin. And while the pain and suffering we experience sometimes seems to come out of nowhere—like in Job’s case—all things work for good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). And as Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
This is God’s grace, that while our sin was so great, it required a sacrifice that was even greater; a sacrifice that is sufficient now and forever more. Jesus, the good shepherd, willingly laid down His life for His sheep, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father” (John 10:18). And it’s in Jesus Christ that God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
LDS Apologist has a change of heart; his testimony:
4. You have a choice to make
And although we know that God wins the war, and that Jesus has claimed victory over sin and death, there is still a choice we have to make. We still have the freedom to choose our own path, and Satan still threatens us with temptation at every turn. But the free gift that Jesus has purchased, wrapped, and signed in your name is not your gift until you accept it, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To overcome sin and temptation is not an answer found within ourselves. The answer is in submitting to the One who has already overcome sin for you, and is just waiting for you to get to know Him better because He loves you.
God is not scared of our sin; it does not surprise Him. He knows we are quick to stray and sin, but His love is not going anywhere--this does not mean we abuse the grace given to us, but hope in God that He will set our paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). And while God does hate sin and the works of evil, He demonstrates His love for us by taking that very sin upon Himself, just so we can be free and love Him too. God loves us with a love that is so far beyond our comprehension that, despite God’s perfectly holy and pure nature, He brought Himself down into our sin and pain just to win our hearts back to Him.
When you call on the name of Jesus with a sincere heart, sin cannot remain in you because of the blazing power of God’s love—not only removing all your past sin entirely, but helping you to grow, mature, and strive to sin no more out of love for God, because of His grace (John 14:15). And it’s with God—the One that every part of our being was designed to be with and worship—that we find true freedom and fulfillment (Matthew 11:28-30; Psalm 23; John 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7).