Tag Archives: repenting of sin

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.

A Blessed Emotion

Job 34:37

Elihu told Job he was “adding rebellion to (his) sin.”

We all sin. And sin separates us from God. When we sin, God convicts. We take God out of it when we call it simply a guilty conscience without considering where it came from. The guilt you feel comes from the hand of a loving God who wants you to repent. It’s His gentle way of restoring us to Him.

But we get pretty good at either learning to live with a guilty conscience, or denying it and refusing to feel guilty, telling ourselves things like: He started it. They deserved it. It’s no big deal. At least I didn’t kill someone.

Refusing to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Which is a sin in itself. Now you have two sins to confess, two sins to feel guilty about instead of just one. Every time you refuse to repent you add another sin, and another, and another.

Consider guilt a blessed emotion. Those feelings are meant to draw you to God. Don’t dismiss them. Don’t stuff them deep inside. Don’t rationalize them or minimize them. Let guilt do what it’s intended to do.

Ask God to forgive you. Repent of the sin you feel guilty about. Turn from that sin and toward God who loves you enough to make guilt a blessed emotion that can lead to forgiveness, and sweet fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

(Psalm 109) Too Harsh?

I wouldn’t want to be the one who made David mad. If you read this psalm, the prayer concerning his enemy is harsh! David not only asked God to punish this particular enemy with severity, he asked God to wipe out any influence that wicked man may have had, which in this case included the man’s entire family. David asked God to make the man’s children suffer for what their father had done.

Like I said – harsh!

Oh that we would be as harsh concerning our enemy. No, I’m not talking about that guy down the street who plays his music too loud or that lady in the next cubicle at work who talks about you behind your back. Our enemy, unlike David’s, is NOT flesh and blood.

Our enemy is Satan. And sometimes I think we’re more concerned about hurting his feelings than we are about defeating him in this war he’s declared on our souls.

Do we pray as fervently as David prayed that God would crush Satan in our lives and eliminate any influence that snake has over us? Do we want him eradicated, pulverized, annihilated, or just slapped around a little because we really don’t want to let go of some sin? We just know we need to confess it once in a while to make us feel like a Christian.

“Satan, wait over there while I talk to God for a minute. ‘God, I’m so sorry, please forgive me of that sin. I’ll never do it again. Thanks.’ Now, let’s get out of here, Satan.”

Not exactly the kind of prayer David prayed concerning his enemy, and it’s not the kind of prayer we should be praying, either. If we want to be “Christian” we have got to learn to be as serious about our enemy as David was about his. And we have to pray that God will do His worst to our enemy and any influence that enemy has over us.

Too harsh? I don’t think we can be where Satan and sin is concerned.

(2 Chronicles 25-28) Sacrificing Children

Sometimes when faced with their sin, instead of repenting, people dig in their heels. That was the case with King Ahaz of Judah. He was told by the prophet Obed that he was guilty of many sins.

“Listen to me and return the captives you took from your brothers for the Lord’s burning anger is on you.” (28:11)

I would think the words, “burning anger” would have been enough for the king to repent. But instead, to arm himself against an angry God, Ahaz plundered the Lord’s temple and gave the treasures to the king of Assyria to buy their protection. Verse 22 tells us:

“At the time of his distress, King Ahaz himself became more unfaithful to the Lord.”

Scripture tells us he went as far as sacrificing his own children by throwing them into fire on altars of pretend gods. If you aren’t appalled by that I suggest you check your heartbeat.

But are we any different today? People still dig in their heels when confronted with sin. And sadly, they are still sacrificing their children.

“You say homosexuality is a sin? I’ll teach my children to love and accept everyone.”

You say abortion is murder? I’ll teach my children, ‘My body. My choice.'”

“You say marriage is between a man and woman? I’ll teach my children they can’t help who they love.”

“You say it’s a sin to worship other gods? I’ll teach my children they are their own god, powerful, capable, strong, worthy, and that their truth is truth.”

This is going to sound cruel, but King Ahaz threw his children into a fire that eventually killed them. The searing pain those precious babies felt while they died stopped hurting when they took that last breath. What people are doing today is throwing their children into an eternal fire, apart from God, and a searing pain that will never stop. An eternal fire without hope of it ever ending.

If you aren’t appalled by that, check your heartbeat.

Call it what you want: wokeness, progressiveness, love…

What it is is sacrificing children to the god of this world.

Taking Us Down (Obadiah)

One of Satan’s most effective weapons against God’s people is the sin of pride. You see examples of this many places in Scripture, like in the lives of Adam and Saul. You see it in history as nations have been brought down because of pride like in Hitler and Napoleon.

But Scripture also tells us how God views pride:

“See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. (Obadiah 2-4)

What is the best nation in the world? Who has the best economy, the best hospitals and universities, the strongest military, and the most successful citizens? For my entire life we could sing, “Proud to be an American,” knowing the USA was the best place on earth. The American dream was something that people of every nation wanted for themselves.

God is telling us that we who live on the heights and soar like eagles need to beware. The pride of our hearts can very well deceive us. I see this every time I turn on the news. But we who say to the rest of the world, “You can’t touch this,” need to understand that from there, God can and will bring us down.

I don’t believe God is speaking to unbelievers here. We Christians are not immune to the sin of pride. “My church is the best.” “My relationship with God puts me above you who do not have a relationship with Him.” “I’m a child of the King!”

It will only be God’s people humbling ourselves and seeking His face, that will save this country from going the way of Edom. It will only be because we have confessed our sinful pride and asked God to forgive us that the Church will be instrumental in keeping America a nation under God, blessed and protected by Him.

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word, on our knees grieved over sin in our own lives and in our nation, seeking God’s face and doing His will. Because if I read the signs correctly, God is getting ready to take us down.

A Smoke Screen (2 Samuel 10, I Chronicles 19)

Why didn’t they just admit they were wrong, and ask for forgiveness? When the Ammonites realized that what they had done put them on Israel’s bad side, instead of apologizing, they ran to the neighbors, got the neighbors riled up against Israel, and joined forces to fight the very people they themselves had offended.

The Bible tells us 40,000 men died that day, and it was because the king of the Ammonites couldn’t humble himself and admit his sin. No, he actually made the people he’d sinned against (Israel) appear like they were the enemy. The Ammonites tried to make their victims look like the aggressors. And it ended in death.

I sin. You sin. Sometimes we like the sin we sin so instead of repenting of it, we start pointing fingers at other people’s sins. We rally the troops against abortion, against homosexuality, against racism, against corruption in government. Maybe we “ask for prayer” for someone we know entangled in sin, pointing our fingers at their need hoping no one will recognize our own. It’s like we throw out a smoke screen and think that will hide the truth of our guilt.

What Hanun did by not accepting responsibility for his sin caused the death of many. Which makes me consider how many people are suffering consequences because I refuse to repent of my own sin. My life touches many lives. I don’t sin in a vacuum, even if I think no one sees or no one gets hurt.

I want to be clean before my Lord because I know that is when I enjoy my best life, my closest relationship with God, and am blessed beyond what I deserve. But today I realize I want to be clean before my Lord for your sake, too, for the sake of my family and friends, my church, my community. May it never be said that God can’t pour out his blessings on those people I love because I refuse to admit my sin and don’t ask Him to forgive me. And a more sobering thought, may it never be said that anyone else suffers the consequence for my pride, my arrogance, my sin.

Jesus said people will know I am His disciple if I love you. Until today I never considered that maybe one way I can show you I love you is to repent of sin, to allow God to bless and not have to punish me, and in turn you, my neighborhood, maybe even my country. Maybe God is telling me the healing of our land begins with me humbling myself and asking Jesus to forgive me.

Maybe God is saying the same thing to you.

 

 

 

Savior or Executioner (Judges 3-5)

Sisera was running from his enemies, the children of Israel. Jael gave him shelter, AND guarded the door. Sisera was thirsty and asked for water. Jael went one better, and gave him milk. I can only imagine how that sweet liquid felt to Sisera as it hit his tongue. Sisera was weary. Jael provided him with a warm bed.

Yet with all the kindness Sisera received at the hands of this Jewish woman, Sisera remained an enemy of God. He did not repent. And the one who had lavished him with grace and mercy became his executioner.

We must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted. The sun rose today on everyone. There is oxygen to breathe in every corner of the world. Working limbs, hearing ears, love and laughter are enjoyed by the vast majority. And to top it off, Jesus died for the sins of every individual. For God so loved the world!

Yet some who are enjoying the grace and mercy that is ours at the hand of a very patient and loving God, will one day meet Him as their executioner. Some who accept His blessings in this lifetime will die His enemy unless they accept what is their’s through the blood of Jesus.

Yes, God is a loving God. He is slow to anger. He is actively working in the hearts of people everywhere to come to Him, to love and obey Him, to repent of sin and know Him.

But one day we will look into those eyes and see our Savior, or our Executioner. There is no third option.

It’s Time (Joshua 9-11)

God promised to give the land to the Israelites. But accepting that gift meant going to war. It required bloodshed and obedience. God went before them, fought for them, even miraculously brought victories on occasion. But the land wasn’t simply handed over to the Jews.

Scripture tells me Jesus died for the sins of the world. But that doesn’t mean the whole world is saved. Accepting God’s gift of redemption requires obedience.

God promises to never leave or forsake us, that He works all things together for our good. But to receive the blessing of these promises, we must obey.

I’ve heard it said in regard to this pandemic, “God’s got this.” That seems to be a common response when people go through difficult or uncertain circumstances. And absolutely our Sovereign God not only has got this, He’s already on the other side of it. Yes He’s got this. But do we?

Satan may have used his limited power to get this virus going, believing it would throw the world into a tailspin, that it would close church doors, and cause people to blame God. He’s not wrong, really.

But what if every quarantined Christian pulled out his or her Bible and began to read, to pray, to search, to get to know God again, to allow God to put a finger on sin in our lives, to break us, and heal us. What if during this forced isolation, Christians regained our first love, and were revived as we renew our faith through God’s own Words?

I know the temptation is to pick up a good commentary or study guide, or to read our favorite author. And I’m not telling us not to do that. But if you have time to read Josh McDowell or Joel Osteen or John Grisham, you have time to read the Bible. And, dear ones, we all have a lot more time than we did before this virus scare.

I know without a doubt that our world could experience the greatest revival of our history if Christians, if you and I, spent time reading the Bible, and asking God to do His thing in our lives as a result. Revival isn’t only possible, it’s a sure thing if we obey.

What Satan intended for evil, God can turn into something amazing. Think about it. When this time of isolation is over, can you imagine the impact revived Christians will make on our world? Can you picture what the Church will be when Christians are right with God? Can you even dream how our world would be changed if Christians change?

Is revival possible? I guess that depends on you and me. God’s giving us the land. Will we take it?

I think it’s time we did.

 

Purge (Deuteronomy 20)

I’m not what you’d call a hoarder, necessarily, but I will admit that I tend to hold on to things longer than I should. I have a closet full of clothes I haven’t worn in years, some of which I can’t even fit into any more. But I like them. So there they hang.

Others I know have a difficult time letting go of anything. They live in houses so full of things there is only a path from one room to another. Magazines thirty years old, food that has long outlived its healthfulness, toys that haven’t been in the hands of a child in decades, things stacked from floor to ceiling.

Sometimes the thought of purging is terrifying. So when I read God tell Israel to purge the evil from among them by destroying entire cities full of idolaters and people doing detestable things, I can’t believe that was easy to do.

“…do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them…”

But if the Israelites wanted God’s blessings, they had to obey 100%.

Now let’s be clear. The Bible emphatically declares our enemies are no longer flesh and blood this side of the cross. (Ephesians 6:12). We are NOT commanded to kill people who reject God. But the Bible says we do have enemies we need to purge from our lives.

Our enemies are spiritual forces of evil, powers in this dark world. Our enemy is Satan. Our enemy is sin. And that’s what we are to purge, destroy, annihilate.

I don’t know what enemies look like in your life. An addiction to video games? Pornography? Alcohol? Gossip? Lying? Putting your job above serving God? Yourself?

Whatever sin you are identifying in your life right now is something God is telling you to purge. Don’t let a remnant survive. You might have to sell your TV, erase some apps from your phone, change jobs, stop drinking if God leads you to that.

But God also told the Israelites over and over that if they obeyed Him, if they went to war against their enemies He would go before them. He would fight for them. And He’ll do the same for you.

God doesn’t want us to purge the sin from our lives because He is against fun. He invented fun. God wants us to purge sin from our lives so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him, free from any bondage.

I’m going to use my closet as an example. Right now I walk into that space and have to step over boxes, shoes, a pile of clothes I am considering donating. I have to force clean blouses onto the rack because there just isn’t room for another hanger. I long to go into my closet and be free to walk from one end to the other without tripping over stuff on the floor, to pull out a pair of slacks and not have to iron them because they’ve been smashed onto the rack between a dozen pairs of slacks and are wrinkled. There is nothing fun about that.

But when (notice I said “when” not “if.” I’m thinking during this virus quarantine, I have no excuse not to clean my closet) I purge myself from the things that are holding me back, entering my closet will be so much better. Do I dare say fun?

Is it time for you to purge, to repent of sin, to get rid of the evil that is keeping you from an unhindered relationship with God? Do it!

October 11; Stop Sinning… or Else.

Mark 5:21-43, 6:1-6; Matthew 9:18-34, 13:53-58; Luke 8:40-56; John 5:1-15

The Jewish leaders saw a man walking around, carrying a mat on the Sabbath. They knew him as a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Now he was walking around as if nothing was wrong.

But he was carrying a mat.

I shake my head at the Jews who were witnessing a miracle right in front of their eyes, yet pounced on the guy for breaking the Law by carrying his mat on the Sabbath. Legalist much?

The healed man answered them, “The guy who healed me told me to pick up my mat.” And when the Jews asked the man to name his healer, he had no idea. Jesus had slipped into the crowd without leaving his business card.

But here’s something I noticed today: when the man ran into Jesus later, Jesus told him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man immediately went running to the Jewish leaders who’d questioned him earlier, and identified Jesus as the one who had healed him and told him to carry his mat on the Sabbath.

Typical.

At least of me, and maybe you. Oh, we are thankful to God for His many blessings. We praise Him for good medical reports, for paying our bills, for keeping our kids safe. But don’t tell me I’m a sinner.

Don’t mess with my screen time, or my anger and jealousy. Don’t point out the times I use language that dishonors you, or when I gossip, or lie, or blend in with the world. Bless me Lord, then leave me alone.

Now maybe I’m reading too much into this passage. Maybe the healed man went excitedly to the Jewish leaders, thinking he’d share the good news of Jesus Christ with people who would be excited about Him, too. I don’t know what he was thinking.

I just don’t read that he repented of the sins Jesus addressed.

I want to always praise God for every blessing in my life. He is unbelievably good to me. I want to share Him with others, people for whom He died, people He loves as much as He loves me.

But I also want to hear Him say, “Stop sinning… or else,” and be quick to do what He says.