Tag Archives: resisting sin

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.

Ezekiel 26-30; Take That, Satan

Ezekiel shares that God likened the king of Tyre to Satan. A model of perfection, adorned with beauty, guardian of cherubs, blameless until the day he chose wickedness. His heart became proud, corrupt, and dishonest, so God threw him out of His Presence. And Satan landed on earth.

Who of us has not been prideful, corrupt, or dishonest ourselves at one time or another? A flash from my past came to mind as I sat here thinking about this. Forty-some years ago, when ATM’s first came on the scene, I pulled up to the ATM of a bank near the grocery where I was heading. I put my card in, punched in $40.00 from checking, then took the money from the machine. It was like magic!

I immediately realized it had given me one too many $20’s. I remember sitting there for a second, before driving away.

I stole that $20.

I even remember rationalizing my sin by telling myself God must have wanted me to have it, seeing that I was living paycheck to paycheck with a few unpaid bills sitting on my desk at home.

Wow. Hadn’t thought about that in years. But I realize how much Satan’s influence is here on earth. He whispered the same lie in my ear that he whispered in Eve’s. “You deserve this.” And I fell for it just like Eve did.

I’m not the same person I was in my twenties, thankfully. Not too long ago I was putting groceries in my car when I realized a jar of onion powder was not in a bag. I checked the receipt and realized the cashier had not charged me for it. I found myself beginning to rationalize not paying for the onion powered. “It wasn’t my fault she didn’t see it.” “I want to get home to put the frozen stuff in the freezer,” “I don’t want to walk all that way back into the store for a measly buck and a half.” But I shut out those thoughts, and I took the jar back into the store to pay for it.

Now, I’m not saying that so you’ll think I’m some kind of saint. I’m not. But I share that to make the point that, even though Satan’s influence is as strong today, God is still stronger.  God gives His children every weapon we need to resist the devil. And God wins every time we allow Him to fight the battle.

Satan won’t stop shooting arrows, but we can put on the armor of God and not allow those arrows to penetrate. When Jesus places His righteousness on us when we repent of sin, His righteousness lives in and through us. We  begin to think, and act, like Jesus. And Satan has no power against Jesus! That’s great news!

And there’s more! Ezekiel reminds us that Satan is already defeated. God speaks outside of time, telling us:

… So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more. (28:18b-19)

Take that, Satan. You are already toast. God wins. You lose. And those of us on God’s side win with Him.

Who’s side are you on?

 

Proverbs 5-9; The Dead Are There

Oh, that all of us would read these chapters and really hear what God would have us know. Solomon, in chapter 4 verse 23 tells us to guard our hearts. In the chapters I read today he tells us how and why. It’s really important information.

Solomon calls sin an adulteress, a prostitute. He warns us to stay as far away from her as possible. As far from sin as possible.

Sin, and the champion of sin, Satan, doesn’t care about you. Sin has one goal. To destroy you. Why dabble in sin? Why take a chance with sin, Solomon seems to be asking. It will only lead to ruin.

And don’t think saying, “I’ll just try this once,” doesn’t come with serious consequences:

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (6:27-28)

You get burned the FIRST time. EVERY sin comes with a consequence.

Solomon tells a story of a young man who lacked judgment. (What young man, or woman, doesn’t?) In Solomon’s story the young man heard a prostitute (sin) calling and went with her “like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose…” (7:22)

Dear one, it DOES matter what kind of music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, the books you read, the internet sites you visit when you think no one is looking. It DOES matter if you begin to tolerate sin in yourselves and others. You’re a fool to think none of it effects you.

Solomon talks about wisdom in chapters 8&9. If you read them, and I hope you do, I think you’ll see that is a much better way to live. “…wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Nothing you desire can compare. Nothing.

9:13-18 ends this section of Scripture with a solemn truth. Please listen to what God would say to us. Folly (foolishness) is loud, undisciplined, and looking for company. In other words, sin is looking for you.

I can’t help but think of our entertainment business. Blatant sin is lauded, and applauded, isn’t it? Here’s what Solomon says to us who watch and laugh at Modern Family and shows like it, who spend hours playing video games with graphic violence and sex, who listen to music that raps about rape and murder as though it was normal, or sings about the pleasures of adultery and drunkenness. This is what Solomon would say to anyone who thinks that sin looks fun:

(Folly) sits at the door of her house, calling out to those who pass by. She says to those who lack judgment: “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.”

Please guard your heart. Please take this seriously. Satan is seriously calling out to you because he hates you, and wants to destroy you. And he’s not stupid enough to be honest. He can make sin look and sound really good. But it’s still sin.

God is calling out to you, too. Listen to His voice. Because He loves you, He died to forgive your sins, He wants to give you life.

He’s asking you not to play around with sin. Pay attention to Him. That is wisdom.

Leviticus 15&16; We Are Healed

It’s tempting to pass over the chapters that talk about diseases. I certainly don’t like reading them when I’m eating. But I sit here today and consider why God included these instructions to us in His Word.

What do you think? Should we read them, thank God for antibiotics, and move on? Or can there be a lesson we need to learn in 2017 in these verses?

All Scripture is given for inspiration, reproof, correction, instruction. So I’m thinking there’s a lesson here.

It occurs to me that we are all born with a terminal blood disease called sin. Left unchecked, that disease will kill us. But when we get a blood transfusion, so to speak, and have Jesus’ precious blood flowing through our veins, we are miraculously healed! No longer a disgusting disease. Clean!

Sin is not only terminal, but that disease is highly contagious.

So God, through Moses, is telling us to stay away from the disease (sin). Don’t touch it. Don’t take it lightly. Cleanse yourselves and your surroundings to prevent contamination. In other words, don’t put yourself in situations or have things around you that would compromise your spiritual health, that would tempt you to sin.  It’s clear that we live with, and love people who are diseased. But we need to be careful that their disease does not cause us to sin, too.

Isaiah 53:5 came to mind as I was thinking about disease. I have often heard that verse quoted as people claim the promise of healing from cancer, or some other sickness. After all, it says “… by His stripes we are HEALED.”

But when I read the whole verse, Isiah is referring to the sickness of sin:

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (NIV, emphasis mine)

Healed of what? The disease of sin. Our transgressions refer to our terminal heart condition, our iniquities our incurable blood disease. But through Christ, we are healed!

So that’s what I’m taking from reading this chapter this morning. Moses’ instructions help me understand that there are some things I need to do to prevent being contaminated by the world. And it’s pretty consistent with what Paul tells us to do as well. Flee. Resist. Strive. Turn.

I am clean through the blood of Jesus. No longer carrying a terminal disease. I am healed!

 

June 21 – First Love

I Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9

My sister Kathy and I were talking yesterday about the passages in Ecclesiastes I’d been reading. We were remarking about how Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, he was the richest.  And as far as I can tell he was the most self-indulgent person on record, too.

Solomon had it all. And it became his ruin.

Kathy said something that has me thinking today as I read about Solomon’s turn from God. She wondered how the same man who wrote The Song Of Solomon, the man who was totally devoted to his first love, and who was loved like that in return, could end up with 700 wives and 300 more women he had sex with. How did he go from that precious first love, so pure, intense, and exclusive, to such a mind-boggling disregard for that love?

The answer is in the chapters I read today. It happened gradually. One day, one step at a time.

Most likely some of the women were gifts from neighboring kings. But Solomon welcomed them into his home. And he allowed them to bring their detestable idols with them. Everything God had warned him to avoid.

I don’t think Solomon woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll worship Ashtoreth today.” But Scripture tells us eventually Solomon became a worshiper of that Sidonian god, and a worshiper of other imaginary gods as well.

Did it start out with curiosity? Solomon seems to be a man who loved learning everything he could. Maybe he thought observing his wives go through their pagan rituals was a learning experience, would help him understand his wives better. I don’t know. The Bible just says this about King Solomon:

For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (I Kings 11:4)

That makes me sad. The Bible seems to indicate that Solomon kept his first wife, his first love, separate from the others. Built her a better house. Maybe spent more time with her than with the others. Probably gave her roses on their anniversary or a box of candy on Valentines Day. But the reality is he had something else going on, too. And that something else ended up turning his heart away from God.

The Bible takes it a step further:

Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. (I Kings 11:6)

Solomon who built that incredible temple, who was so gifted with wisdom and power and material wealth. Solomon who represented God to the nations around him. Ended up being remembered for doing evil in the sight of the Lord.

Fast forward a few thousand years. What would God want me to take away from Solomon’s life? I find myself checking my relationship with my own first love.

The early church in Ephesus was a vibrant, busy congregation who persevered, did not tolerate sin, even called their preachers out when the preachers weren’t speaking the truth. But Rev 2:4 reports what God says about that church in Ephesus:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

That’s where God is nudging me this morning. I can think about Solomon and wonder about his fall, but there is a more important truth to consider. And that is my own heart’s condition before my Lord.

The question I need to answer today is this: Is my heart “wholly devoted” to God? Or have I tolerated a bit of sin in my life? Have I begun to take those steps away from God that I consider no big deal at the moment? Do I serve Him out of love? Do I nurture that love, think about Him, talk about Him, spend time with Him? Is God the focus of my life or not?

Solomon is going to be required to give an answer for his heart’s condition before the same Holy God I’m going to give an account to. What will my answer be?

God, I want to love You like You deserve to be loved. I want to keep You the focus of my thoughts and actions. I want to walk with You, include You in every minute of every day. And I want to forsake all others, keep myself only for You, resist the devil. I want to serve You out of a heart of love and devotion. It’s You and me, Lord. Just You and me.

 

 

Border Wars

I have to admit I don’t know Middle-Eastern geography. I am not familiar with nations and cities on today’s maps, much less those in Old Testament times. So when Joshua is naming territories that were given to the Jews to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham, my eyes glaze over. Not only do I not know where these places are (or were), the names of these places are hard to pronounce.

What can God possibly say to me through this geography lesson?

One word kept repeating itself as I read Joshua 15 and 16 this morning: borders. The Jews were given the Promised Land, but it didn’t come without clear borders. Those borders were necessary to separate the people of God from everyone else. The Jews were to live inside the borders. The enemy’s influence was to stay on the other side of those borders.

Do we have borders as 21st Century children of God, living in the blessed Promised Land of fellowship with God? Let me share just a few borders God has laid on my heart:

Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Be holy as I am holy.

Resist the devil.

Flee youthful lusts.

Pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.

Preach the Gospel.

Confess sin.

Present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.

Study to show ourselves approved of God.

Now, none of these will earn us favor in God’s eye. None of these will buy our salvation. The privilege of living in the Promised Land is a gift of God, it’s ours by the grace of God, it was bought by the blood of Jesus, the only way to the Father. No, these borders can’t allow us to get around the cross. But living within these borders is amazing, like living in a land flowing with milk and honey.

These borders, like the borders Joshua spelled out for Israel, separate us from the rest of the world. It’s within these borders we find fellowship with God himself, life and peace, and help in our time of need.

But there is a war on our soul. Satan wants to tear down the walls, blur the line, enlarge our borders by telling us lies like: God wouldn’t send a good person to hell, there are multiple paths to God, there are big sins and little sins and little sins are overlooked by God, you are ok just the way you are, laughing at sin on TV or neglecting study of God’s Word or keeping your faith to yourself is no biggie, intelligent men and women reject the Bible as inerrant.

I am challenged to guard my borders. The walls around my heart can’t be too high, my resolve can’t be too strong, my dependance on God can’t be too complete. I want to live within the borders God has given us in his Word. There is nothing outside those lines that can compare.

Father in Heaven, thank you for lovingly identifying the borders. Thank you for providing peace and joy and comfort and blessing to those of us who walk inside those borders. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s tactics to blur the lines, to step outside your perfect will. I pray for your people today. May we let you identify the borders as we read and study your Word, and may we be willing to fight to keep those borders secure. This is war. You give us the victory. Thank you. 

May 28

Proverbs 5-7

Solomon talks a lot about the adulteress. His warnings against her are urgent and strong. But if we look at this section of Scripture as simply talking about sex between people who are not married to each other we miss some urgent and strong warnings directed at all of us.

God is our bridegroom. Remember Solomon’s Song? The relationship between God and those who accept his grace is as intimate, as personal, and as exclusive as a marriage relationship is designed to be.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is one of God’s top ten commandments.

So when I read these verses in the book of Proverbs I need to remind myself that anything that compromises my relationship with Christ is to be taken seriously. Anything. 

The “adulteress” in my life could be another person. But it could also be my career. It could be a prideful heart. It might be gossip, fun or fantasy, lying or lust. 

Solomon is warning us to flee anything or anyone that would lead us astray. If you haven’t read today’s chapters in Proverbs I hope you do. And if you have, I challenge you to reread them and ask God to put a face on your “adulteress”. Identify that person or thing that is actively seeking to compromise your relationship with your bridegroom.

Then, my prayer is that you will commit that adulteress to the Lord, asking him to help you resist, to flee, to have victory over the temptation to be unfaithful to Jesus. God wants to give you victory today.