Section 4

WHAT STOPS US FROM PARTICIPATING IN GOD'S MASTER PLAN? 

1. Objective

The objective of this Section, is to illustrate that it is our sin that separates us from God. This sin is caused by our corrupt human nature, and this sinful condition will prevent us from participating in God’s Master Plan, unless we have it changed. 

2. Overview

In the previous section we concentrated on the effect that sin has on our bodies, but now we need to understand more clearly the mind behind this sin. This is important because the state of our minds now will determine the nature of our minds and bodies in the future. As an introduction, then, we will look at who the sinners are that are prevented from participating in God’s Master Plan. Then we will look at what sin is, where it comes from, and what causes it. Finally we will consider what the devil and Satan have to do with this subject, and how they can be overcome.  

3. Discussion

3.1 Who may not participate in God’s Master Plan?

The Apostle Paul is quite emphatic that no unrepentant sinners of any kind will be permitted to “inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5v19-21). He consequently warns Jesus’ disciples not to be deceived again by their sinful nature, because such wicked people cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.  

3.2 Who are Sinners?

Sadly, every single human being who has ever lived (except Jesus) falls into this category, for “there is no one righteous, not even one”(Romans3v10). It is interesting to note that Paul says that because of this, we “fall short of the glory of God,”(Romans 3v23). It is clear then that when we sin, we don’t show the glory of God’s character, and that’s why sinners will not be a part of God’s Master Plan.  

3.3 What is Sin?

Sin can simply be defined as disobedience to God’s laws or commandments. Every time we do what God says we shouldn’t do, or we don’t do what God says we should do, we break His law, and commit a sin (James 4v17, 1 John 3v4). This is doing our own will (the mind of humanity), instead of God’s will for us (the mind of the spirit). 

Sin is only possible because man has been given the gift of free will. This is the ability that man has to choose between:

  • Obeying and disobeying 
  • Following God’s will or following self will
  • Subduing self will or ignoring God
  • Sacrifice or Self satisfaction and indulgence
  • Revealing God’s nature or Human nature
  • Fulfilling our purpose or sinning 
  • LIFE or DEATH

Free will is also the unique characteristic of a man that gives us the potential to reveal God’s glory.  Without free will we could not reveal qualities such as love, mercy, and patience.  Love cannot exist where free will does not exist.  God gave man free will so that we would have the capacity to reveal His glory.  

3.4 Where does Sin come from?

Sin originates from inside the heart (mind) of man. The Bible refers to theheart as the source of our thoughts, and says that its natural way of thinking is “only evil all the time,” making it “deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Genesis 6v5, Jeremiah 17v9). It is important to note that we are each responsible for our own sins, because Jesus says “all these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’” (Mark 7v20-23). 

3.5 What causes Man to Sin?

We sin when we are tempted, that is enticed, by our own evil desires. James in his letter describes it as a process, explaining that it all starts with temptation by our own evil desires, then when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, which when it matures finally results in death (James 1v13-15). Another word the Bible uses for our evil desires is the devil, and this term is explained in more detail below.

3.6 What is the Devil?

The word devil only occurs in the New Testament, and is the Greek word  diabolos, which means a slanderer or malicious talker (It is translated this way in 1 Timothy 3v11, 2 Timothy 3v3 and Titus 2v3). 

The devil is an example of biblical personification, i.e. the portrayal of a concept as a person so that we can understand it better. This concept is our corrupt human nature that naturally tends towards sin (see the table below). It is also a term used to refer to those overcome by their evil desires (John 6v70). It is this devil that must be destroyed for us to participate in God’s Master Plan (Romans 8v3). The devil has been conquered by Jesus (refer to Section 5), but we still have to fight against it in this life (Romans 7v18-23), because the world and God pull in opposite directions, “for everything in the world -  the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2v16). 

However in the fulfilment of the Master Plan we will have the mind of Christ as well as immortal bodies, and so be able to glorify God as Jesus did (Ezekiel 11v19-20, Hebrews 8v10-11). Peter summarises this hope in his letter when he says, “(God)... has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1v4). 

The symbol of the devil is best understood by reading the following pairs of passages in parallel, where the terms sin and the devil are used interchangeably, and can thus be seen to be synonymous.  

Sin   Devil Details of context
Romans 7v23 Ephesians 6v11 What we fight against
Romans 6v23 Hebrews 2v14 What causes us to die
Hebrews 9v26 Hebrews 2v14 What Jesus conquered
Hebrews 12v4 James 4v7 What we must resist
John 8v34 1 John 3v8 Who sinners submit to
1 John 3v5 1 John 3v8 Why Jesus appeared

3.7 What about Satan?

Satan is an untranslated Hebrew word that simply means an opponent or adversary. This person can be either good or bad, depending on whether they support or oppose God’s will. Examples of good “Satans” are an angel opposing Balaam (Numbers 22v22), and God himself acting as an adversary to king David and the nation of Israel, (1 Chronicles 21v1 compared with 2 Samuel 24v1). An illustration of a bad “Satan” is the Apostle Peter, because he was resisting God’s will for the Lord Jesus Christ that he should die on the cross (Matthew 16v23). 

4. Conclusion

 We have learnt that: 

  • We all sin when we are personally enticed to evil by the wicked desires of our own hearts. 
  • This corrupt human nature that the Bible calls the devil, must be destroyed because it is separating us from God, and preventing us from participating in God’s Master Plan. 
  • Jesus has destroyed the devil (refer to Section 5), and in the Kingdom we too can share his divine nature, and glorify God by always doing His will, but only if we strive to have the mind of Christ now (refer to Section 8). 

WHAT STOPS US FROM PARTICIPATING IN GOD'S MASTER PLAN? 
Our own sinful nature stops us from participating in God's Master Plan.

5. Exercise

  • What type of people will not inherit the Kingdom of God?
  • Who is the only person never to have sinned?
  • Why are sinners excluded from God's Master Plan?
  • What is the definition of sin?
  • What is the origin of all sin?
  • Who is responsible for our sins?
  • What causes us to sin?
  • What is the end result of sin?
  • What is the devil?
  • Who has conquered the devil?
  • When will we be free of the devil?
  • What is Satan?
  • Is Satan good or evil?
  • What stops us from participating in God's Master Plan?