Tag Archives: 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.

 

 

October 8: A Clean House Is Not Enough

Luke 7:18-8:3, 11:14-26; Matthew 11:1-19, 12:22-45; Mark 3:20-30

Have you ever asked God to forgive a sin, then turned around and committed the same sin again, or ended up doing something much worse than the sin God forgave? Do you constantly ask God to give you victory over a sin, but fail repeatedly to overcome?

I hope you’ll read Jesus’ words today. God is faithful to forgive every sin, every time we repent from broken hearts. But what happens next is crucial in our victory over that sin.

Cleaning house is merely the first step. Allowing God to forgive, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, is necessary – and wonderful! But we’ve got to fill that house, too.

If God forgave your sin as a result of repentance, if you’ve turned away from that sin, what are you turning TO? If we don’t fill our lives with godly endeavors, study of His Word and prayer, if we don’t replace screen-time with time invested in knowing God, we are opening ourselves up to repeating the sin God forgave, even worse than before.

Scripture tells us to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and you don’t do that sitting on a bar stool, or tucked away in a private spot looking at porn. You can ask God to forgive you a dozen times, but until you replace those things with things of the Lord, you will find yourself right back where you started.

Sure, it’s not easy. It might mean changing friendships, giving your passwords to your spouse or children, getting rid of cable TV, whatever. That deep cleaning is often painful. Do it anyway.

I remember looking for a house a few years ago. I’d walk into empty homes, no pictures on walls, no couches or tables or lamps. It would be barren. Clean. But lifeless. It took someone getting in there and replacing that space with life and love.

That’s what God wants to do with a cleansed heart. I pray you will repent of sin, allow Him to get in there and clean house.

Then make a concerted effort to fill your time, your thoughts, your relationships with the sweet Presence of Jesus. Let Him fill your house with Himself.

October 6; CANNOT

Matthew 5:21-7:29

Every verse in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a precious Truth that blesses and challenges me every time I read it. Today, however, it was one word that jumped out at me.

The other day I was convicted as I read that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives has to show Himself in a change in our lives. (September 30; Baptized With The Spirit). There is no room for sin in the life of a believer because God does not stay where sin is.

I was reminded of that when I read 7:18, “A good tree CANNOT bear bad fruit, and a bad tree CANNOT bear good fruit. (emphasis mine)

Jesus was talking about recognizing false prophets. They look righteous, sound righteous, but they are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, Satan dressed up like a Christian.

I am once again reminded how important it is that my actions align with my profession of faith, that I am a light in a dark world, that I am able to address the speck in my brother’s eye because I have dealt with the plank in my own.

God CANNOT bear bad fruit. God CANNOT sin. God CANNOT think those thoughts, say those things, do anything which hurts or angers Himself. He CANNOT.

And if Jesus has really taken up residence in my heart, I can’t either, and be ok with it. If Jesus lives in me He WILL be seen.

Jesus said, “Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” (verse 19)

People CANNOT NOT recognize Jesus if He lives in me.

October 5; He’s Not Laughing

Mark 3:1-19; Matthew 12:9-14, 3:7-19, 4:23-50; Luke 6:6-16

He (Jesus) looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…”

What is God’s take on stubbornness, disobedience, rebellion? It makes Him mad.

I think sometimes we picture God like a dad who tells his child, “No,” then giggles when the child does it anyway. We might hear the dad say something like: “I was the same way when I was a kid.” Or “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

When I read God’s Word, I am aware that God never giggles at sin. He was never like us as a kid. And we nuts have fallen so far from the tree it isn’t funny.

All of us need to understand that our sin – in thought, word, or deed – angers and deeply distresses our Heavenly Father. The price for each one of our sins is death, separated from God forever.

Just the idea of us being separated from Him angers God. We need to understand that when we sin, He’s not laughing.

September 27; How?

Joel 3; Malachi 1-4

I don’t know about you, but reading Malachi makes me uncomfortable. Every time God says something, the people question Him. It almost seems like they are insisting God defend His position against them. Just the thought of demanding God explain Himself makes me feel uncomfortable.

But it must not have bothered Israel at the time. God told them He had loved them. “How?” they asked. God told them they were showing contempt for Him. “How?” they asked. And when God said they’d shown contempt by offering defiled food on the altar, the Israelites asked, “How?”

Oh, it doesn’t even end there. The Israelites questioned God when He told them to return to Him, and when He accused them of robbing Him. “How are we to return?” “How do we rob You?”

I might talk like that to a co-worker. It’s doubtful I’d talk like that to an employer. I’m pretty sure I’d never talk like that to my dad. But I can’t even imagine a time when I would be so arrogant to talk like that to a Holy God.

That’s not to say I don’t have questions once in a while. I noticed two key verses in Malachi that tell me how to handle my questions.

(3:7) “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

(4:4) Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

If I want to know how I’ve offended God, how I’ve disobeyed, and how I’ve grieved Him; if I want to know what sin is I need look no further than Scripture. Every answer to every question is lovingly written there by God Himself.

So after reading Malachi today, I realize the only “How” I want to come out of my mouth when talking to my Lord is the one followed by, “…can I serve You?”

September 26; It’s Sin

Nehemiah 13; Joel 1-2

Sometimes when we read God’s Word we tend to think, “this account was written to people long ago,” or “this one is about things in the future,” and we neglect to realize God is able to speak to us concerning our lives in 2019 through every word He inspired men to write in Scripture.

I have to confess I was reading Joel this morning trying to put the prophet’s words into either the past category, or the future category. It was a bit frustrating. Now, I’m not saying Joel wasn’t speaking about historical events, or events that had not yet happened when the prophet allowed God to use his pen to write His words. But my prayer every day is that God would speak to me, too, through His Word about my walk with Him. And He always answers that prayer.

So I started to read it again, and in verse 2 God seemed to ask me, “Has anything like this happened to you?”

“Like what?” I thought. “Locusts?” God prompted me to think again.

Verse 4 stood out as a picture of devastation. One bad thing happened, then another, and another. Has anything like that ever happened to me? Have I felt at a loss with nowhere to turn, crushed by life’s hardships?

Yes. Who hasn’t at one time or another? “Then read on,” God seemed to say. “Wake up and weep, you sinner. Sin has invaded your life.”

“Now wait a minute,” I argued. “I’ve repented of sin. You promised to forgive me. I am wearing Jesus’ righteousness. What sin are you talking about?”

As I continued to read I saw that sin has invaded God’s creation. At prayer meeting last night, someone prayed that God would shatter the teeth of Satan, and here in verse 6 God reenforces that idea by saying the enemy, sin, has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. It is sin that has destroyed what God created as good. It is sin that brings the heartache and loss. Sometimes we experience the consequences for our own sin, but sometimes we are hurt as a result of living in a fallen, sinful world. It’s my sin, your sin, the sins of the world.

God seems to be saying, “Wake up! Call sin sin. Identify the enemy. Don’t pretend it isn’t there.”

“So,” I think, “Social reform isn’t the answer? Tolerance isn’t going to bring peace?”

“Exactly,” He seemed to say. “Sin has taken the joy of mankind.”

“So, what is the answer, Lord? Where do we find that joy again?”

I read words like mourn, grieve, despair, wail. And I ask myself if I am truly broken over sin in the world, and in my own life. Am I truly grieving the state of hearts that are dried up, withered, ruined because of sin?

Then in verse 13 God says, “Come.” He asks us to fast and pray, go to church and cry out to God. To turn to Him to come and heal our land, which is really the lives of people in our families, and communities, and the world.

“Heal our parched and worthless lives God, when we turn to You according to Your Word,” I pray. “To you, O Lord, I call, for sin has devoured our hearts, sin has burned up all the good You created. We, Your creation, pant for you. You alone are the answer.”

It’s not about luck, or Karma, or positive thinking, or tolerance. It’s sin that is the problem, and the repenting of sin that is the answer. It is sin that causes all the bad, and only through the blood of Jesus can there be any hope of anything good.

We have got to stop playing around with sin. It is the enemy. It is the cause of all the bad that happens in this world. And God, through Jesus, has destroyed sin’s hold over us. We just need to turn to Him according to His Word.

So today, God has brought some personal sins to mind, and I have repented. I want my heart to be fed and nourished by the living water that is Jesus. And God has challenged me to stand up for what I know is true according to His Word. I don’t want to take lightly the very thing that is destroying the people I love and the world God created.

It’s not God that is causing bad things to happen. It’s sin. It’s not God that is to blame for hardship and loss. It’s sin. My sin. And yours. What are we going to do about that?