We've all had an apple out of that sack
By Dr. Robert Owens
When I first gave my life to Christ, I felt so incredibly clean, so new, and fresh it was truly like being born-again. My old life was washed away, and I was a babe in Christ.
Then as I devoured His Word reading, meditating, and praying it into the very fabric of my life it changed me even more. I was miraculously healed of alcoholism. Lifetime habits of chemical abuse and drug addiction were washed away in the life-giving flood of Christ's love.
I was saved reading and believing in the Gospels. The New Testament starts with the birth of Jesus. It tells the whole story of His sinless life. It reveals His sacrificial death. And it imparts life changing reality of His life-giving resurrection and ascension into heaven. But it doesn't end there.
After the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the New Testament continues with the story of the spreading of the sin shattering story of Jesus from Jerusalem to Rome in the Acts of the Apostles a God breathed History that is truly His Story.
Secular History tells us that the few followers of Jesus shared the good news of freedom from the curse of sin, the empowerment of holiness, and the joy of salvation and that this message of hope spread like wildfire. It couldn't be contained by persecution. It couldn't be squelched by religion. Yes, this secular History tells us that this obscure faith movement birthed in an out-of-the-way corner of a vast empire marched from person-to-person and within 300 years became the official religion of Caesar.
Secular History can tell us what happened; however, it takes the New Testament to tell us why. We've all heard it said that the Gospel is good news. As one popular song tells us today, "It's not good news. It's the best news ever."
In the beginning, back in the garden, man chose not to obey God but instead to follow his own lusts and desires chasing into a path that has forever led us away from God. We can blame Satan who the Bible tells us tempted Eve into disobedience, but it was Adam whose willful choice to follow his own desire to be with his wife instead of with God that crossed the threshold and saw a barrier of sin separate us from our sinless God. There was no way back. There was no way to wash the stain from our spirit. We were no longer united with our creator we were instead united with the father of lies.
Now here's the why: God in His unsearchable love came Himself in the form of Jesus born of a woman to live a sinless life that He willingly sacrificed to pay the price. Now anyone who will confess Jesus as the Lord, the leader, the master of their life and who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead is forgiven of all sin and re-united with God. That's it. That's the best news ever.
I was changed by systematic and prolonged study of the Epistles: the letters of the first followers of Jesus to those who believed through their ministry.
After this saturated my life and I began taking my first steps into a world which was now the Kingdom of God I began my study of the Old Testament.
When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, the children of Isaac and the twin sons of Abraham that expands the promise of God to send a Savior which is the essence of the entire Old Testament, I came across the line, "I loved Jacob and hated Esau." This was a puzzle. Because when you read about these two brothers it soon becomes evident that Jacob was a lying, cheating, deceiving, schemer, and Esau was a nice guy who obeyed his parents and seemed to live a godly life. Why would God choose Jacob over Esau?
Esau esteemed his birthright, which was the promise of God flowing into its third generation so lightly he was willing to trade his place as the eldest child and heir for one single bowl of stew. He threw away eternal blessing for instant gratification.
Seeing this I thought what a fool Esau was. How lacking in faith and fortitude it was no wonder God chose Jacob to be the child of promise, the heir whose bloodline would one day produce Jesus.
It was only as the years passed as I began to live out my own version of the Book of Judges I stumbled and fell. God renewed me over and over. It was then that I came to realize how easy it is for the followers of Christ to find themselves in the path of easy going Esau instead of climbing the ladder of faith with Jacob.
We may not trade our eternal inheritance for a bowl of stew but how many of us choose the things of this world over the things of God? How easy it is to find ourselves drowning in diversions instead of immersed in the Word? Majoring on minors instead of dedicated to doing the works God has called us to do. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, "Are we consumed by the news or devouring the Word?" "Are we serving ourselves at the all-you-can-eat buffet of modern culture or are we helping to seat others at the wedding feast of the King?"
When I first read the Book of Judges and how the Israelites of old after generations of miracles culminating in finding the promised land turned away from God, fell under the heel of oppressors, begged for deliverance, and then after God delivered them forgot about God and wandered off again, and again, and again I felt if I'd been God I would've written them off and started over. In the first flush of my regenerated life of joy I couldn't understand how God could just keep kissing the hand that abused Him.
In time my own book of judges taught me that it's God's love that keeps Him constantly ready to accept us back. I also learned that I was really happy that He never gave up on those Israelites and that He never gives up on me.
Esau gave away an eternal promise for something that looked good, smelled good, and tasted good. But it was also something that perished with the using. He was weak, he was a fool, and we've all had an apple out of that sack.
If you've wandered off into the dead-end trails of self-indulgence in the trackless waste which is the world as I have time after time don't despair. We shouldn't give up on ourselves because God will never give up on us. As many times as we turn away from the world to face God, He's there ever ready and eager to take us back. Or as a current song tells us, "You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can't get back when you're lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much so that you can't change who you are. You can change who you are."
How do we change who we are? We Let Jesus in and He does all the remodeling for us. That's the best news ever that you've been hearing about.