Things are not always what they seem. Nor are we. A sprawling 20,000-sq.-ft. mansion in Markham, Ontario, north of Toronto could qualify for the cover of the Luxury Home Magazine. It’s the type of palatial home that would cause passengers on a tour-bus to lurch to one side with their cameras. But apparently behind the façade of opulence things were much darker.

It was a hot Friday afternoon in July when a reconnaissance helicopter spotted children in the backyard with hosts serving. Obviously, a special event was underway. The mansion was carefully guarded by armed private security officers. Given the level of activity at the wealthy home that Friday, the police decided it was too dangerous to execute their tactical operation.

The following Thursday, July 23, the police returned to the mansion with 92 tactical officers and 32 investigators. Dozens of people were arrested, including a 32-year-old man said to be the owner of the fine estate.

Seized:

  • $11.5 million dollars in cash, gaming supplies, alcohol and property
  • 11 firearms
  • Thousands of rounds of ammunition

In the owner’s bedroom, the police found a fully loaded AR-15 rifle with a 30-round magazine and a 9-mm handgun.

It seems an illegal gambling casino and spa was operating behind the façade. Things were not as they seemed in the impressive mansion in the quiet luxury-living neighbourhood north of Toronto. Others in this organized crime bust have been arrested since then. Police also suspect sex trafficking and other illegal activities were going on inside the mansion.

Spiritual Reflections

Things are not always what they seem. Nor are we. Every day we present ourselves as decent people to our co-workers, our neighbours, our friends, and even our families. We appear to be respectable, unselfish, good-living, and honourable with an impressive track-record and yes – totally trustworthy. People admire our fine mansion. Everything looks so good.

But as you read this, you are already anticipating where the analogy is going. And it is not a place you want to visit. You don’t want to let your mind go there just now.

Who am I when I am alone? What kind of a person am I inside? What do I constantly try to keep in check?

One of the reasons people are afraid to read the Bible is its invasive nature and the exposure that awaits them. We don’t want to be busted. We have our own little guards stationed around our mansion to stave-off any unwanted intruders or the Ultimate Authority. We feel safe behind our highly guarded façade. As long as no one breaks in and uncovers our darkness, we cherish it.

Reading the descriptive language in Romans Chapter 3 in the Bible is like an overpowering tactical team descending on our carefully constructed and meticulously maintained mansion and breaking our cover. Our façade works for on-lookers, but it is a useless defense when it comes to the all-knowing and all-seeing Holy God.

“…we have already shown that all people…are under the power of sin.  (10)  As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.  (11)  No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.  (12)  All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”  (13)  “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.”  (14)  “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”  (15)  “They rush to commit murder.  (16)  Destruction and misery always follow them.  (17)  They don’t know where to find peace.”  (18)  “They have no fear of God at all.”  (19)  Obviously, the law [Ten Commandments] applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.  (20)  For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.  (21)  But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him … (22)  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  (23)  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  (24)  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.  (25)  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood… Romans 3:9-25 NLT

Romans Chapter 3 exposes the condition and potential of every human heart. And, it’s not pretty. More disturbing is the fact that, without exception, we all have the potential to do much darker things than we have ever done yet.

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But if you are looking for a silver lining to this story – read-on because there is one! Forensically, God has all the evidence on the inner moral condition of your heart. He not only knows the darkest secret of your life up until now, He knows your potential to have even darker secrets in the future. He knows the full extent of your inner brokenness and all that hides behind the façade of respectability.

Not a Coincidence

Despite all that God knows about you, He is reaching out to you with good news. This is not a coincidence that you’re reading this post. God wants to unshackle you from sin that holds you hostage behind your carefully constructed façade.

The bust in Markham, Ontario spells disaster for the future of those arrested in the operation. But for you, God so graciously has ‘intruded’ into your life just now by way of this post, why? Because He wants to release you into freedom and give you a bright future now and forever.

Please do not resist or refuse. If you surrender unconditionally to God, He will give you on-the-spot complete forgiveness and a full pardon. God offers you eternal salvation and full redemption. This isn’t a soft-on-sin arrangement or light-on-crime provision that God offers you. He can righteously do this on the basis of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of sin. Jesus died in order for this offer to be available to you.

Jesus paid sin’s penalty in full when He died on the Cross. God was satisfied. Jesus was raised from the dead. And now – you can have forgiveness and salvation.

Click to read the story.

the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1John 1:7

In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7 CSB

The Bible term ‘repentance’ comes into focus at this point. Only those who are honest and agree with God’s assessment of the state-of-affairs behind one’s façade and turn to Christ in faith will be forgiven and pardoned and set free into the wonderful liberty in Christ.

The Apostle Paul had one message he preached to everyone – regardless of their background or religion “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21 CSB

John Chapter 3:16-18

(16)  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  (17)  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (18)  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Sources:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/markham-illegal-casino-gambling-mansion-1.5744627

https://nationalpost.com/news/world/dozens-charged-millions-in-property-cash-seized-in-alleged-illegal-casino-bust