Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Alma 45:16 -- On Sin and Allowance and Ripening

"And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance."
Alma 45:16

I really like that the land is both cursed and blessed.  I think cursed to the wicked, but blessed to the righteous... which is good and bad together, helping the land and the community on the land stay good overall, but also bad if we are still caught in bad actions and habits.

Sometimes when we hear that God can't look at sin with "the least degree of allowance," we worry that we are already cursed, or lost.  Which of us can pass that test?  We're all sinners, and well beyond the limitations if God is going to be nit-picky about it like that, right?  Except that isn't really what God is about.  He isn't condemning us by saying that, or preventing us from having hope for our own salvation.  What he *is* saying is that we can't just stop trying to improve and ever say, well, I'm good enough.  God will let my other bad habits slide.  He won't... not in the end.  And that is the distinction here I think.  The verse says that cursing and destruction will come to the wicked "when they are fully ripe."  And, believe me, we are totally not ripe yet.  We still have a chance to repent, and learn, and develop and change.  We have time to let go of our bad habits.  We have time to learn to be better people.  All God is saying is that we shouldn't stop working to be better.

Now, of course, when I say "we have time," I don't mean that we can just kick back and sin for 10 or 20 years and then start repenting.  I can't guarantee anyone's life span, and I definitely can't guarantee that if we walk away from God that far that we'll ever find our way back.  People have done it, but seems pretty risky.  What I am saying is that God leaves us room to repent, and doesn't slam the door on heaven for one mistake.  We get to keep trying.  He can't allow sin in heaven.  That's not about meanness, but about the nature of Heaven.  It's a sin-free zone, and if we want to go there, we have to live that way... *be* that way.  But God will help us get there, holding our hand the whole way if we need it.

Today, let's make sure we don't get fully ripened in sin.  Let's repent, let's change.  And let's definitely not be scared off by the whole sin-free idea.  We *can* get there.  It's okay if we aren't there immediately.  Let's just keep working on it, and stick with God, who can help us make progress and be better every day.

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