Some years back I was swimming with my family in the Cotter River outside Canberra. At the panicked voice of my wife I turned to see that between me in the water and my son on the bank was an enormous brown snake. I couldn't get to my son and my son could not get to me. It was as though time stood still. I've thought about that incident alot. Could what was momentary become more lasting? Is it possible for something to come between relationships that prevent us from getting to one another.
The answer is clearly yes. There is a snake-like creature that exists and he positions himself between God and people and between people and people. We know him as the devil and he first shows up in the Bible as a serpent whose venom produces a necrosis that leaves nothing in life unaffected. A venom in Biblical terms we call “sin” that completely upsets the central spiritual system.
John MacArthur Jnr., writes, “Sin is the degenerative power in the human stream that makes a person susceptible to disease, illness, death and hell. Sin is the culprit in every broken marriage, every disrupted home, every shattered friendship, every argument, every pain, every sorrow, every anguish, and every death.” God has written large upon His creation the truth that sin is a deadly poison that climaxes in eternal poverty.
Sin’s venom works in no particular time frame sometimes killing instantly while at other times torturing people for the length of their lives leaving them sorrowfully unforgiven or making them bitterly unforgiving. If not handled wisely the unforgiven can't even cry out to God as prayers dry up with guilt. If the unforgiving go to church their hearts have to be kept on ice so divine convictions can’t penetrate. The unforgiven remains crushed by their sin while the unforgiving are hardened by their bitterness. The venom finally achieves its ends when both the unforgiven and the unforgiving are established in solitary places where they die sorrowfully and bitterly alone.
Of course, when bitten by a venomous snake the immediate course of action is to access the anti-venom. If you don’t believe snake bite anti-venom exists then no one can help you. Similarly, if you don’t believe in God, sin’s anti venom does not exist and there is no one who can help you.
Of course, Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer that the anti-venom to sin’s poison is only a prayer away: “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”. In the simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us that God the Father can offer us forgiveness and inspire us to be forgiving. If you need forgiveness God can offer it. If you need to be forgiving God can help. In the simplicity of this great prayer are the deepest resources for life. One can find the joy of sin’s sorrows lifted and the chains of bitterness released. Isn’t that something that everyone needs and worth praying for?
Psychiatrist William Sadler said "A clear conscience is the greatest step toward barricading the mind against neuroticism". John Stott in his book "Confess your sins" quotes the head of a large British hospital: "I could dismiss half my patients tomorrow if they could be assured of forgiveness".
I love the fact that Jesus met his death with the words “Father forgive them…” It means God harbors no grudge and His forgiveness ends the sorrow of my guilt. If you want to be forgiven a forgiving Jesus is the place to start. I pray this article helps.
Armidale Anglican Diocese