I am a lover of nature. Just yesterday, I went for a hike on Mount Spokane reveling in its beauty. The brilliant, fuchsia-colored fireweed was in full bloom. I stopped to enjoy some tart huckleberries along the way. The delicious scent of high alpine firs filled the air. Thick clusters of berries hung heavy on the black elderberry bushes. And I had barely gotten on the trail when I encountered a bull and cow moose.
But I fear for our earth and its state of deterioration. The world over we’re seeing horribly destructive flooding, droughts, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and typhoons, and even plagues of grasshoppers and locust. All these are signs that something is seriously wrong. Nature is out of balance.
I am also a firm believer in taking good care of our planet. I believe that God put us here to cultivate and caretake this beautiful earth. Many of our current efforts at reducing pollution are commendable. But I believe we are overlooking the worst pollutant of all. It’s like remodeling an old house without attending to its failing foundation. Anything we build on top of this crumbling foundation will ultimately be lost.
This awful pollutant that I’m talking about is sin. But you might think I’m talking about the pollution of sin in a metaphorical sense—I’m not. Sin: sins against God and against people not only defile us as individuals, but our sin defiles the earth.
In Leviticus 18, the Lord provides a detailed list of sins. Many of these are sexual in nature: things like incest, adultery, fornication, and homosexual practices. Another grievous sin in God’s sight listed there was the sacrificing of their children to the god Molek. This was common practice in antiquity, just as abortion is common practice today. The Lord refers to this practice in general as “the shedding of Innocent blood.”
In verses 24 and 25 of that chapter, the Lord said, “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”
Again, in Numbers 35:33, the Lord commands, “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” Our sins and the shedding of innocent blood (i.e., abortion and murder) is polluting the earth.
At a time in history when the Children of Israel were steeped in sinful practices, the Lord said this, “I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die…? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:30-32)
To repent means to have a change of heart and action. Instead of defying the Lord and the righteous standards He designed us for, we turn to Him and seek to live in accordance with His Word. The first step in repenting and turning back to God is to trust Jesus and what He did on our behalf.
God’s Word, the Bible, explains that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) In other words, what we deserve in penalty for the sins we’ve committed is death. And it’s not just referring to physical death there, but an eternal death in hell. But let’s be clear: God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell. People choose to go to hell when they refuse to accept the gift of salvation that God offers freely to all people through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) You and I have absolutely no means for paying the debt we owe God because of our sin. Think of sin as toxic waste in a beautiful mountain lake. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve sinned a little or a lot, the toxins are still present and the lake (our life) is polluted. We need the cleansing of Jesus in our lives. Only He can pay the penalty for our sin and remove the “toxins” from our lives.
John, one of Jesus’ earliest disciples, wrote this, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Our world today is reeling with the sickness of sin to the extent that it threatens to “vomit” us off the face of the earth. If you’ve never done so, I urge you to take immediate action to address the issue of pollution in your own life by putting your trust in Jesus Christ and resolving to follow and obey Him.