Category Archives: Sin

To Be Like Jesus

1 Kings 2

In our love-crazed, tolerant, accepting, empathic world of 2022, it’s hard to read about Solomon’s handling of law breakers. His execution of his brother Adonijah for simply wanting to get married, and the executions of Joab and Shimei, may seem unnecessarily harsh.

But Solomon, as the hands of God, pronounced judgment on those who defied God. Adonijah’s request for a wife came from a rebellious heart. His rebellion led to his death sentence. Joab was an unrepentant murderer, and Shimei had sinned against God’s anointed, King David, then defied King Solomon’s grace. None of them were innocent.

There’s a lesson here. When it comes to sin, God may be patient, but that doesn’t mean He turns a blind eye to sin. I believe God views sin much more seriously than any of us realize. And I think that’s a problem.

Of course, God doesn’t zap us the first time we sin. On the contrary, when we sin we feel remorse, guilt. We come under the lovingly convicting hand of God who wants us to repent of sin and accept His forgiveness. He doesn’t execute the guilty immediately.

In fact, God executed His own Son so the guilty can go free and never suffer the death penalty our sin deserves.

There are certain buzz-words going around these days, even proclaimed by some preachers and Bible teachers, and used by Satan to make Christians feel guilty for taking a stand against sin in any form. Those buzz-words are: Empathy. Tolerance. Love. Acceptance.

“If only we would put ourselves in one another’s shoes.” “If only we would be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and actions.” “If only we would love everybody.” “If only we would just accept all people as equals before God.”

Sounds Christian. But is it?

As I was preparing for this week’s Sunday School lesson, I read something that has stuck with me. So often today we are told to use Jesus as our example of love, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. And I agree.

But too many people are twisting Jesus’s life and ministry on Earth to be something it was not. The fact is, Jesus did NOT accept everyone. He came down hard on some. And, although He IS love, that love sent Him to the cross because of the serious consequences of sin. It didn’t simply erase sin. Jesus’ love paid a high price for the forgiveness of sin available for anyone who will receive it.

So this week I read someone who said something like: I want to be as tolerant of sin as Jesus was – and He never tolerated sin.

Chew on that for a minute.

If Jesus is our example, we will love each other enough to be honest about sin, and the serious consequences of sin. If Jesus is our example we will not tolerate sin, but rather point the sinner to the Savior, to their only hope.

Solomon’s death sentence for the three men I read about this morning may seem harsh. But I’m telling you it is not as harsh as the sentence God imparted on them after they died.

To be like Jesus is to take sin and the consequences for sin very, very seriously.

Quitting Is Not An Option

Psalm 51; 78

I want to quit. I haven’t felt like I have anything worthwhile to post on my blog these days. I have failed to share Jesus when I’ve had the opportunity. I recognize the fact I’m not doing a good job at my children’s ministry responsibilities. My heart is not in playing the organ at church any more. I’ve sat back and been carried along by popular opinion rather than standing up for what I know is true. I’m a hypocrite.

I guess you could say I’m in a funk. And the lower I go, the easier it is to sin in thought and deed, and the further away from God I am. It’s a downward spiral I’m afraid I don’t have the energy to fight.

And that’s right where I need to be.

I read some psalms this morning and was encouraged to remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past. And He has been faithful! I can look back and recognize the many blessings that have come my way through good times and bad, through open doors and closed doors. I can remember times when He answered my prayers, when He showed up in undeniable ways.

As I re-read what I’ve just written, I am convicted at how often I use the word “I.” I am so focused on me and my failures that it’s no wonder I’m in a funk.

I took a break from writing this just now, and spent some time pouring my heart out to God. The truth is, I love having Him in my life. The truth is, He is patient and gracious and forgiving. The truth is, He delights in me as I submit to Him. I know the truth, so why am I falling for Satan’s lies?

So I confessed my sin, I admitted my helplessness, and asked Him to…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-11)

Here’s what I notice about those verses:

  1. The need to confess my sin and allow God to cleanse me whenever He reveals sin in me. Even my feelings of failure can be a sin if they are not from God, but from Satan who wants to discourage me. And if I am focused on myself, I’m focusing in the wrong direction. That’s a sin that needs confessed.
  2. The importance of a steadfast spirit. God never promised lollypops and roses. Life is hard. I will succeed and I will fail. But quitting is never an option when I am determined to follow my Lord.
  3. God’s presence is available. I don’t have to go it alone. God, in all His power and awesomeness WANTS to walk with me today. The Holy Spirit is my guide and protector. The question is, am I paying attention?
  4. Joy isn’t a result of good times, but rather in the fact that God has saved me through the precious blood of His Son Jesus. It’s a joy the world doesn’t understand because it’s a gift from God Himself.
  5. I need to be willing to let God do His thing in me. I need to be willing to submit to Him, to trust Him, and to get out of His way and let Him be in control.

No, quitting is not an option. And right now I am thanking Him for hearing and answering my prayer. I sit here with a clean heart, knowing He’s forgiven me, and my resolve is to serve Him with everything He gives me. I’m not alone. I am not defeated because God has and will continue to give me the victory for His sake and His glory.

Please understand, this is not about the power of positive thinking. This is all about the power of God in me as I submit to Him and allow Him to be everything I need in every situation. There is a huge difference.

Living With The Presence of God

Psalm 36:5-9

We were talking about Hell last week in Sunday School as we studied Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The horror of an existence without God is truly frightening, Our minds can’t even imagine the excruciating pain that will be.

People who reject God in this life, who fashion a god of their liking, or who convince themselves there is no God have no idea what their choice is going to cost them. Some think they’ll be able to handle whatever God throws their way. Scripture tells us they won’t have a choice about that. They will have to handle it forever. But it will be far worse than anything they’ve experienced in this life. Far worse.

Right now all people, all of creation, exist in the Presence of God. Verse 6 of Psalm 36 says God cares for people and animals alike. Verse 7 says all humanity finds shelter in the shadow of His wings, that God feeds us all, gives us all drink, life, and light.

Did you wake up this morning, shower, eat breakfast, and enjoy a cup of coffee? That was God. Did you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the birds sing, smell newly cut grass? That was God. Did you hug your child, kiss your wife, say hello to your neighbor? You were able to do all of those things because God is in the world.

Have you ever cut yourself, broken a bone, had a headache, or survived a serious medical condition? You healed because you live in a world where God exists. Have you gone through loss, experienced difficult circumstances, felt discouraged and alone before things worked out for you? If you can look back and say you’d never want to go through those tough times ever again, hear me…

You got through those things because God is present in this life, whether you acknowledge Him or not. You are living on the coattails of His Presence.

Take it all away. All of it. No light, no taste or smell, no touch or laughter. No birds or breeze or healing, no love, and no hope of ever experiencing any of it ever again. Total isolation, total darkness, and total agony, all because you decided you didn’t need God while you had Him.

C. S. Lewis said that there are two kinds of people. Those who, in this life say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom, when this life is over and they face the judgement, God will say, “Thy will be done.”

If you haven’t repented of your sin and accepted what Jesus died to give you: forgiveness and eternal life, please do it. Please don’t face eternity without God. Nothing is more important than your submission to God while you have the chance, while you are still living in His Presence on earth.

Calling All Godly People

Psalm 12

I read this psalm and think, “I get it, David. We are facing the same thing in 2022.”

It’s not just our neighbors who lie. It’s governments, the media, preachers, parents, teachers… the list goes on. They say:

We will lie to our hearts content. Our lips are our own, who can stop us?”

Right now I wonder if ANYONE can stop them. Like David, I too wonder if the godly are vanishing from the earth. The godly are the only hope for this world.

I could get on my soapbox. But instead I’m going to pray that those of you reading this post will recognize the lies you are being fed every day. Whether it’s your preacher saying worshiping God should be fun and make you feel good, or someone saying tolerance is love, or truth is relative, or the government promising illegals free stuff and a good life, or anyone saying a person can choose their sex, or that abortion is not murder, or the media isn’t biased, or global warning is a result of poor stewardship of the earth…

Oh man, I just stepped up on my soap box, didn’t I? I won’t go on. Instead I’m pleading with the godly people out there:

Pay attention.

Stand up for the truth according to Scripture.

Don’t accept what the loudest voices are saying. BE the loudest voice.

Once again, I am speaking to godly people, not just “Christians.” People are being told that a Christian is someone who believes certain things about Jesus. That’s a lie.

If you haven’t confessed your sin, repented (which means to turn from sin), if you aren’t growing more holy every day by of the choices you make as a result of your relationship with God through the blood of His Son Jesus – you are not a Christian. Therefore, this post does not apply to you.

Harsh? Yes. But I for one am tired of the lies. The truth hurts. But it is the truth.

If we who KNOW the truth are out there making ourselves heard, if we are living the godly lives we are called to live, if we are leading people to the saving grace of Jesus, there may be hope for this world yet,

even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.

Calling all godly people! It’s up to us.

So Take This Seriously.

David’s charge to Solomon spoke to me today. It serves as a reminder:

And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. (1Chronicles 28:9-10 ESV)

Too many of us try to hold God to his promises without our doing the work. Maybe we should emphasize the knowing God intimately, the worship and serving God with our whole hearts and our willing minds, if not instead of, at least in conjunction with his wonderful promises to his obedient children.

God clearly tells us IF we seek him we will find him. IF we forsake him, he will reject us.

So take this seriously.

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

2 Samuel 20

I remember a cartoon from my youth. I think it was Yosemite Sam who was being tormented by a fly. No matter how often he swatted at the fly, and no matter what he used to bat at the fly, the fly kept dive-bombing him. Then the fly landed on the wall. And Yosemite Sam quickly aimed his rifle and blew a hole in the wall.

Problem solved.

Ever hear the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater?”

Joab wanted Sheba. Sheba had turned traitor and started a rebellion against King David. Joab knew Sheba had to be stopped, and he was willing to go to any length to do just that; even going as far as destroying an entire city and the inhabitants who lived there.

A wise woman helped him see the error of his ways. The city was saved, and the guilty man paid for his own crimes.

When I was a young teacher just beginning my career, we were encouraged to discipline children gently. If a child misbehaved we were told to say something like, “Some of you are having trouble following the rules. We need a time out. Everybody put your heads down on your desk and stay quiet.”

Did you, as part of a class of children, ever have to stay in at recess because a few of your classmates hadn’t done their homework? You’d done yours. But that didn’t matter. Everybody paid the consequences for the few.

Part of the rationale was protecting the egos and feelings of the guilty, believing they’d recognize on their own they were responsible for everyone missing recess, feel bad, and change their behavior.

Yah. That didn’t work. Those ornery kids soon realized the power they had over all of us, including the teacher.

I think what the wise woman helped Joab to see was the importance of accountability. If a person does something wrong, you don’t slap their child.

I don’t think we Christians are very good at holding each other accountable for our misdeeds, our sins. Yet throughout Scripture I see evidence that is what God wants us to do.

Jesus Himself gave us the guidelines in Matthew 18:15-17.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Paul, in Galations 6:1 says it like this:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted

God tells us we are to address sin, confront it, remove it from our midst. We should never allow sin to get a foothold in our fellowships. The Church has to remain holy.

But you don’t give up on the Church. You don’t walk out just because you recognize a hypocrite in the pew in front of you. You don’t get angry and start a rebellion. You go to that person and lovingly confront the issue, like Jesus taught us.

The guilty party may need to be disciplined, but you don’t destroy a church (or a city in the case of Joab) to deal with the problem. You don’t blow a hole in the wall to kill a fly. And you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Let’s hold each other accountable. You may save a brother or sister from a world of hurt, and at the same time strengthen the body of Christ. I believe with all my heart that is what would please our Lord.

Think Again

2 Samuel 15-16

What happens when sin is not addressed? It gets worse.

David turned a blind eye to Absalom’s murder of Amnon. Without even a hint of repentance on Absalom’s part, David reunited with his son as though nothing had happened. Maybe David thought if he didn’t come down hard on Absalom, Absalom would always be loyal to him, would always love him out of gratitude for the grace his dad had shown him.

Wrong.

What happens when sin is not addressed in our own lives? It gets worse.

One glance at pornography leads to another until it becomes an obsession. One drunken night becomes two, then three until it becomes an addiction. One lingering glance, one sexual fantasy turns into an affair.

You think that sin you are holding on to is no big deal? Think again.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

2 Samuel 13-14

Absalom had murdered his brother Amnon. Yes, Amnon had raped and discarded their sister Tamar, and Absalom’s hatred for Amnon had festered for two years. But the fact remains: Absalom murdered Amnon in cold blood.

After the murder, Absalom ran to his grandfather and hid out there. Eventually he’d be allowed to return to his home in Jerusalem, but his father David would refuse to see him. This rejection went on for a while until Joab convinced David to reunite with his son.

I share all of that to tell you what Absalom said about seeing his father after all those years he’d been banished:

Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him kill me. (2 Samuel 14:32b)

Do you wonder about that statement? Guilty of anything? You mean like murdering your brother, Absalom? Guilty like that?

What was he thinking? Did Absalom not carry any guilt over what he’d done? It appears not. That just seems absurd to me.

But it just reminds me that any of us can (and do) justify sin in our own lives. We might say or do something to someone thinking they deserve it, so that let’s us off the hook. We can’t be “guilty” if they started it, right?

The thing is, I don’t think God ever goes along with our rationalizations, our own sense of fairness, our excuses. I’m pretty sure sin is sin in God’s eyes, and the wages of any and all sin is death, no matter who started it or why we think we were entitled to sin considering the circumstances.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s true. But also true is the fact that two sins don’t cancel out the serious consequences of sin.

It’s Still Wrong

Judges 19-21

In my opinion this is one of the most disturbing passages in Scripture. Homosexuality, brutal rape, murder, the mutilation of a dead body, retaliation, war, kidnapping. It’s disgusting.

But something that I may have overlooked before spoke to me today. Part of their justification for sin was that “the people felt sorry for Benjamin…” because they didn’t have enough young women within the tribe who could be wives for their young men.

Never mind the fact that the men of the tribe of Benjamin were responsible for starting this whole mess because of their lust and the violent murder of a woman. But because the other tribes felt sorry for them, an arrangement was made for the kidnapping of innocent girls who were then forced to go with the Benjamin men and marry them.

The hopes and dreams of these girls were shattered. They were ripped from their homes. They were expendable because people felt sorry for the men. Does that get your blood boiling? Everything about this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

If this angers you like it does me, let me ask you something. Where do you stand on the issue of abortion?

We feel so sorry for women with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies that we deem their innocent children expendable. We rip them from their homes inside their mother’s bodies. Any hopes and dreams for these children are shattered because someone feels sorry for their mothers. Never mind the mother’s responsibility for the pregnancy.

We come up with one excuse after another why we should feel sorry for them, rationalize why that innocent child is expendable. That gets my blood boiling.

Now let me say that if you are carrying the guilt of having had an abortion, God can forgive your sin. In fact, I hope that if you have had an abortion you have asked God to forgive you, and allowed Him to turn your life around. I wish nothing less for you.

But if you are pregnant and considering an abortion, stop. Your baby is a life deserving to hope and dream, to make mistakes and succeed, to find the Savior and walk with God on this earth. They are not responsible for your mistakes.

They aren’t responsible any more than the girls we read about in these chapters of Judges in the Bible. Those girls had nothing to do with the savage murder of a woman, or the brutal war that took the lives of most of the young men in the tribe of Benjamin. They had nothing to do with it. And neither does an unborn child have anything to do with an unwanted pregnancy.

It’s wrong to make a child pay for his mother’s choices. There are people who would love to put their arms around moms of unborn children and help them do the right thing. There are parents who are aching to fill empty homes with the laughter and love of a child.

Your baby deserves that.

I pray that if you or someone close to you is considering an abortion, you will reach out to compassionate, loving people who will walk this journey with you. There are crisis pregnancy centers in most areas, or people in churches who can point you in the direction of help. You have options.

What happened to the girls in Judges is wrong. There is no justification for the actions of the adults around them. The same is true today in the question of abortion. There is no justification for the actions of the adults who choose to destroy the lives of the innocent.

It was wrong back then. It’s still wrong.

There Is No Justification

Judges 15

“They started it.”

How many times did I, as a middle school counselor, hear that excuse for bad behavior? Lots! Now here in Judges we read where Samson – who wasn’t an adolescent at the time, but a grown man – uses the same mistaken logic:

“I only did what they did to me.”

Dear one, retaliation is never acceptable. The score is never evened out. It just isn’t.

What did Jesus say about how we should treat people who aren’t necessarily fair to us?

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

I think we are seeing the result of years of telling children they “shouldn’t” be bullied, or that they have a “right” to be treated fairly. There are way too many young adults on medication for depression these days. Turn on the news and see the number of incidents of violence cause by angry and vengeful people in our world.

Instead of giving them healthy coping skills, we’ve made them life-long victims. Instead of encouraging them to control their own behavior, we tell them they can control the behavior of others if they are just tougher than they are.

But the truth is, we live in a sinful world. And people will fail us. We will fail them. Bad things happen. And people aren’t always treated fairly.

Think of what happened recently when Will Smith “protected” his wife by slapping Chris Rock for saying something stupid. Smith didn’t protect his wife from bodily harm. He retaliated because she got her feelings hurt. It wasn’t self defense. It was assault.

Yet there are people who applaud Smith for his loyalty to his wife, saying Rock deserved it.

Really?

Love your enemies. Pray for those who do you wrong.

What happened at the Oscars is not an isolated incident. You see the same mindset every day in the form of gossip, slander, FaceBook jail, cancel culture, and on the highways with road rage. We see it every day in the news, in gang violence, nasty divorces, and on and on and on.

Would you say that makes for a happy and healthy world?

If we would just live according to the Law of God, we wouldn’t be talking about the likes of Will Smith. We wouldn’t worry that some kid will take a gun to school because people aren’t being nice to him. We wouldn’t read about eight year old kids losing their lives because they got caught in the middle of a drive by shooting.

There just isn’t any justification for any of it. My prayer is that if you, or I, find ourselves wanting to even out a score, to get back at someone for doing something we didn’t like, we will stop and pray. Then figure out a way to show God’s love to that person instead.

Don’t tell me you can’t do that because they don’t deserve it for hurting you. Tell that to God. He’s the one who told you to love and pray for them. And because He’s the one who instructed us to do it, I have to believe that is the best thing for you and the other person.

And probably the best thing for our world.