Tag Archives: repenting of sin

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.

October 10; Pigs and Demons

Mark 4:30-5:20; Matthew 13:24-52, 8:23-34; Luke 13:18-21, 8:22-39

A friend of mine visited my church on the Sunday my pastor spoke on this passage in Mark. She was not raised in a church that encouraged the reading of Scripture, so this was the first time she’d ever heard about the demon-possessed Gadarene and the herd of pigs. The whole thing really shook her.

Myself, I have heard and read this account of Jesus’ ministry many times and had become de-sensitized to the horror of it. My friend had me looking at this passage through new eyes. I’m grateful for that.

I’ve only seen the movie “Poltergeist” once. But after that experience, I remember jumping into my bed from the middle of the room – for much longer than I care to admit. I was an adult. It was a movie. I knew it wasn’t real. But it scared the living daylights out of me.

What we read in the Gospels about this demon-possessed man isn’t make believe. I can only imagine the people who witnessed it must have been scared out of their minds.

Think of it. Legions of demons pouring out of a man. What did that look like? I can’t imagine it was gentle, or calm. Think of seeing those demons racing toward a herd of pigs, and the pigs going mad. Mad enough to run off the cliff into the sea. Hollywood has nothing on God! No wonder the people wanted Jesus to leave them. That had to be one frightening experience.

That got me thinking. I’ve always felt a little sorry for the pig owners. They lost their livelihood when they lost that herd in such a violent fashion. I’ve wondered why God would do that to people who were just trying to make a living.

I looked on a map, and read what Matthew Henry had to say about it, and was shocked to realize the area of the Gadarenes was right in the middle of the Promised Land. The sea in this account is the Sea of Galilee. Those were most likely Jewish pig owners.

Now all of a sudden I don’t feel quite as bad for them. God had declared all-things-pig to be unclean for His people. There should never have been a herd of swine anywhere near there. That herd was a symbol of a great sin that was being lived in the area of the Gadarenes. When those pigs went mad, God was disciplining sin.

I’ve always read this account and been in awe of Jesus’ command over evil, and of His healing power. Today I am face to face with His fierce judgment.

As a child of God, I need to understand that God will not tolerate sin in my life. And if I don’t deal with it, He will. Sometimes those consequences are very devastating and very public. I can understand why the people wanted Jesus out of there. He’d revealed their sin in a very devastating and public way.

I’m very sure this wasn’t the first time God had spoken to them about their sin. I am very sure there wasn’t a Jewish pig-owner that didn’t know they were breaking God’s Law. But even after this demonstration of God’s seriousness concerning sin, they didn’t repent. I think down deep they knew they deserved it. Even the people who didn’t necessarily own pigs, but allowed the pig-owners their “right” to own them, didn’t repent. Scripture tells us they told Jesus to get out of town.

My prayer today is that whenever God puts a finger on a sin in my life, I’ll repent immediately. I don’t want to wait until He takes matters in His own hands. I want to be like the healed Gadarene who wanted only to be where Jesus was, cleansed, free, and changed.

 

 

July 2; Shape Up

Hosea 10-14

History tells us Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, who captured the Jews and made them slaves. The Bible tells us that before that happened, God warned them of that very thing, and gave them a chance to repent, to avoid the devastation and hardship their sins had bought them. To shape up.

“What sins?” you might ask. Warren Wiersbe (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books, 1991; page 576) breaks it down for us. Here is what Warren (and I) have to share:

  1. Ingratitude (11:1-4). They were God’s people, chosen to reveal to the world a Holy God who has the power to bless beyond imagination. God had rescued them, given them victories, provided them with land flowing with milk and honey. How did they repay God for all these blessings? They turned their backs on him and chose to worship idols. That’s gratitude for you.
  2. Hardness of heart (11:5-11). They became so involved in their worship of pretend gods, they gave no attention to God when He warned them, when He disciplined them, even when He turned His back on them. And with each rejection, their hearts became harder and harder, ignoring Him became easier and easier.
  3. Deceitfulness (11:12-12:6). Hosea used Jacob as an example. I’m sure none of the Jews appreciated being compared to the scheming deceiver Jacob, but Hosea said they were no different. However, Jacob changed when he had an encounter with God. That’s what God wanted for the Jewish people Hosea was speaking to, too.
  4. Boasting (12:7-14) “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished. I certainly don’t need some spirit in the sky telling me what to do. I’m my own person, writing my own story.” Hosea is warning them to get ready to see exactly what their efforts will bring. And it won’t be pretty.

Let’s not just read this Scripture as God’s interaction with a group of people thousands of years ago. Let’s use it to examine our own hearts, to check our own levels of gratitude, our own hearts’ condition, our honesty before a Holy God, and our submission to Him.

God was warning the Jews that if they didn’t shape up, things were going to get really bad for them. I believe the same thing is true today.

April 6; They Refused

Judges 19-20

The man was a Levite, a church leader. This story is bad enough, but considering this Levite’s association with the church of that time, it is all the more despicable. He was sidetracked by the temptation to “enjoy himself,” “refresh himself.” It looks like he “partied” with his father-in-law for five straight days. Don’t get me started.

Then, when he was threatened by a group of sexually perverted Benjamites, he tossed his concubine at them instead. They raped her, abused her all night. And she died as a result. Does that make you as angry as it does me?

You can read for yourself what happened. It’s just too disgusting.

Later, when the Benjamites were confronted with their sin, when their brothers told them to rid themselves of the evil, they refused.

THEY REFUSED!

Thousands of people lost their lives because of that refusal. Thousands of people lost their lives.

Chapter 19 begins with, “In those days Israel had no king.” That explains it. When people are allowed to do their own thing, make up their own rules, come up with their own definition of morality, people die.

Yes, we are seeing babies die, kids killing kids, addictions taking lives, wars both abroad and on our own streets. People die every day because too many are living like there is no king, or that they are their own king.

But there is a King. And the King established the rules, defined morality according to His holiness, laid out consequences for breaking His laws, and He has not changed one bit since He inspired His Words to be written down thousands of years ago.

I wonder if we are becoming a bit like the Benjamites. When confronted with our own sin, what do we do? Do we repent, get rid of the evil? Or do we refuse? (and you do know that ignoring a sin is a form of refusal, don’t you?)

The Bible tells us thousands of people died because the Benjamites refused to deal with their sin. I wonder how many people will die today because of their own refusal? I’m not even talking about the physical death. I’m talking about that awful, eternal death that comes from refusing to obey God. How many people will die today without any hope?

Once again, God isn’t satisfied with me thinking about “them.” Generalizing a lesson from Scripture is sure a lot more comfortable than making it personal. But if I am serious about my walk with God, I need to allow Him to make it personal.

I feel God is asking me how many people are going to die that eternal death today because I refuse to eliminate sin in my own life. How Benjamin-like am I? My life touches so many who associate me with the Church, they know I’m a Christian. What do they see that draws them to their Savior? Or do they see things in me that make them want to run?

If I refuse to deal with a sin God reveals to me I know it effects my relationship with Him. I know that I am treading on thin ice. What I’m seeing today is, I may have invited others to join me there on that thin ice without even realizing it.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… then I will teach transgressors your ways so that sinners will turn back to you… My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:10,13,17)

May I never refuse to repent of sin brought to my attention. For my eternal soul. But also for yours.

March 26; It Ain’t Easy

Joshua 7-9

If you are a Christian, I’m sure you pray that God will reveal sin in your life. Those of us who love God want to please Him, and we know sin in any form does not please God. But I’ve found sometimes I pray that God will reveal sin, hoping He doesn’t. Because when God puts a finger on sin in my life, it requires me to do something about it.

There was sin in Israel, and what I see here in Joshua is that God pealed away this sin one layer at a time, until He got at the heart of the matter. Then the Israelites had a choice. Deal with it, or do the easy, humane, “loving” thing and allow the guilty to survive. I can’t think it was easy for any of them to remove the sin from among them.

If you ask God to reveal a sin, He will do it. That’s a prayer I’m sure God loves answering because that sin builds a wall between us and God that He wants removed for love of us. So don’t pray that prayer unless you are ready to address the sin. No matter the cost.

If you are a Christian, if you are interested in having your relationship with God be everything it can be, then ask Him to reveal sin in your life. Let Him peal away the layers, get rid of all your defenses until He gets at the heart of your sin. He will do it.

Then ask Him to forgive you. Be ready to change, to walk away, to stop doing that which God calls sin. Sometimes that’s not easy to do. But faced with the reality of your sin, and not repenting is a very serious thing.

The example in Joshua tells us they eliminated sin completely, didn’t hold on to any piece of it. And they were blessed because they did. It couldn’t have been easy. But it had to be done.

Let’s determine the same. It ain’t easy.

But it’s worth it.

January 20; Disgusting and Dirty

Genesis 19-21; 25:12-18; I Chronicles 1:28-31

This was tough reading today. The blatant sin in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lots’ willingness to allow his own daughters to be abused by sexual deviants, the strong hold sin had over Lot’s wife that led to her death, God’s fierce judgment on the inhabitants of the two cities, and the unimaginable sin of daughters seducing their father. It’s disgusting and dirty.

And familiar.

I am reminded that I should be appalled at the things I read in these verses in Genesis. I need to be appalled at what I see on TV and FB, read in the news, see in the lives of my family and friends. I need to be appalled at sin in my own life.

I need to see sin like God sees it: disgusting and dirty, and deserving damnation. I need to recognize sin, repent of it, resist it, flee from it at all cost. Because, even, if society has softened toward sin, God has not.

God, give me Your eyes to see sin like you see it. May I stop rationalizing it, ignoring it, and participating in it. I repent, Lord. Forgive me. I don’t want to be disgusting or dirty in Your sight. Make me clean through the blood of Your Son. And give me the desire and the strength to encourage others to do the same.

January 19; Come As You Are

It stood out to me today that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham before he was circumcised. Abram had gotten Hagar pregnant with the mistaken idea God needed a little help fulfilling His promise. Abram did what he thought was right, but it was sin.

Then God changed his name. But Abraham’s name wasn’t the only thing changed.

Hasn’t today’s Church adopted the “come as you are” mantra to a fault? Not just in church attire, but behavior inside and outside the church, too. It’s gone to such an extreme that the word “sin” is left out of some sermons, and in some fellowships sin is ignored or promoted in the name of tolerance and love.

When Abram met God, he fell on his face, a sign of humility and worship. He got up with the name Abraham, and that same day obeyed God and was circumcised. No, of course he didn’t become perfect after the name change. He questioned God seconds later. A work in progress, Abraham progressed.

Friend, if Abram was circumcised before the name change, I’d tell you to clean up your act before going to Jesus. I’d tell you to quit smoking and drinking, to quit being mean to your neighbor, to start telling the truth and be faithful to your wife. I’d say you’d better start going to church, and quit using God’s name as a punctuation mark, then ask God to save you.

But, I’m not going to tell you any of that.

Go to God today, just as you are right now smelling of smoke and hung over, caught in a lie, or in the middle of an affair with your husband’s best friend. Go to God with your doubts and fears and scars and tears. Fall on your face before Him and ask Him to forgive you. He will.

But let me warn you; if you do, it can change your life. It can make you want to obey, even in the difficult things. (I have to believe being circumcised at 99 was a difficult thing. But the new and improved Abraham obeyed.)

Even if you’ve already asked Jesus to be your Savior at some time in your life, but find yourself chained to a sin today, go to him bound. Ask Him to forgive you and break those chains.

If you go to God today, if you confess your sin, if you repent you will receive His forgiveness. That’s His promise to all of us. It’s not make yourself a better person, clean yourself up, then repent. It’s ask, and receive.

Ask, and receive.

Come to God just as you are, but don’t stay that way. Let Him change you into the person you and He both want you to be.