Tag Archives: sin

Cleaning up

1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When it comes to cleaning up our lives, many people get things backwards. If you think that you’ve got to clean up your act to become a Christian, you don’t understand how this thing works. You and I are incapable of getting ourselves cleaned up until after we give things over to Jesus.

All of the hurts, habits, and hangups that keep us from following after the Savior are exactly the things He came to heal us from. We don’t get ourselves into shape before going into the gym, we go to the gym to get into shape. Likewise, we don’t come to Jesus after we’ve saved ourselves. We go to Him for salvation.

If you’re struggling with something right now that’s keeping you from giving your life over to Christ, like I was before I took that step, look what God’s Word has to say about the subject. There’s no command to “get right” before coming to Him. There is, however, plenty to be said about giving ourselves over to Him so that He can be the one to cleanse us.

Don’t get it twisted. Jesus does the cleaning up. We’re not able to do it on our own, even if we try our hardest. God isn’t impressed with our efforts, He wants our repentance. What are you waiting for?

Children of God

1 John 2:28-3:10   And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.  Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Are you doing what you ought to be doing?  How are your actions speaking to other people about Christ?  Are they giving a good witness or repelling people from the gospel?

This part of John’s letter is a powerful thought about our obedience.  Not only is he saying that followers of Jesus should do good, he’s saying that if you don’t do good, you’re not a follower of Christ.  You get that?  John’s saying that if you don’t do good, you’re on the opposite team.  If you’re not for Christ you’re against Him.  There’s no middle ground.  If you continue to practice sin regularly, you’re not a Christian.  Ouch.

We all need to take this passage to heart and assess ourselves from the inside out.  Are we really practicing righteousness?  When we received Christ we were empowered to walk with God and obey Him in a way that was impossible before our salvation.  But are we doing it?  Are we walking the walk?

No one who is born of God (reborn, we would say) makes a practice of sinning.  Are you a child of God?  Are you acting like it?

Walking in the light

1 John 1:5-10  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

One of the things that can most negatively affect our relationship with God and with other people is unconfessed sin.  If we hold onto the idea that we’ve done nothing wrong when in reality we’ve offended God with our thoughts and actions, we’re putting a barrier between Him and ourselves.  The same is true when we act as though we’ve not wronged others.  We can’t have true fellowship when we’re walking in a lie.

But if we confess our sins to the Lord, He’s not standing by waiting to strike us down with lightning; He’s ready to forgive us and to cleanse us.  When we’ve been cleansed by God, we’re then enabled to walk in the light.  If we have fellowship with God, we can’t be in the darkness, so it’s also fair to say that if we’re walking in darkness we’re not in fellowship with God.

Where are you right now? Are you walking in the light?  Are your relationships reflective of God’s work in you?  Or are you in broken relationships with other people and a broken fellowship with God?  The good news is that at any time we can turn to Him and admit our sins.  He’ll wash us clean with the blood of Christ, just like He took a big eraser and wiped out all of our wrongdoing to give us a fresh start.  He wants to do that for us.  The Good News is for believers too.

Do Not Love the World

1 John 2:15-17   Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

What’s more important; the things in your life or your relationship with God?  Before you answer that, pause.  It’s easy to jump at answering what we know we’re supposed to say, but take a moment.  Think about what really matters in your life.  How do you spend your money?  Your time?  What do you pursue?  Now is your answer still the same?

It’s tempting to be overtaken by our flesh, to give into every craving we have for pleasure or entertainment, or material things.  But those things won’t last and they don’t matter.  They’ll be here one day and gone the next.  These things rot and rust, they deteriorate and fail to satisfy.  But God is eternal and He’s never going to leave us.  Shouldn’t we put more into walking with Him than we do in walking in worldly desires?

John goes so far in God’s Word to say that if we love this world we don’t love God.  Let that sink in.  If you spend more time trying to gain pleasure out of this life than you do trying to walk in God’s will, then you really don’t love God.  It sounds harsh, but put it in human terms.  If I marry a woman and then spend most of my time trying to make myself happy through every means besides her, then do I really love her?  If God is really our love, then we should be pleased by Him and not need all of the other things of this world.  They won’t matter to us because all we’ll want is more of Him.

Godless: Part 4

Romans 1:28-32 “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”

I can’t imagine the pain Christ endured on the cross for my sin, let alone the entire world. When I read the scripture above, it’s like I’m looking out my front window at the world we live in, and Paul is describing it. There’s nothing new under the sun. Man has had the same sinful heart since Adam, and there is nothing we can do to change it, no matter how hard we try. No amount of self-help, therapy, or inward meditation will ever heal the brokenness. Nothing we can do.
But there is something He has done. As awful as the above scripture makes me feel, I rejoice in what Christ has done. Christ has made all of the above statements not apply to me or anyone who believes in His name. And through His grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, every day as we submit ourselves to Him, He molds us more and more to His likeness. Christ is patient with us and wishes none of us to perish, but all of us to be saved. Why? Because He loves us.
Some of us who call ourselves Christian would read the above scripture and think of the world with judgement. With a smugness we would say the people of this world deserve what’s coming to them. I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood and all the westerns he starred in. One of my favorite quotes of his was from the movie The Unforgiven. He’s waiting under a tree to collect a bounty on some men he and his partner just killed. The young man who is with him is struggling with what they have done. Trying to comfort himself he says “Well, I guess that he had it coming” to which Clint replies “We all have it coming kid”.
We all have it coming. There’s not one of us that hasn’t fit the above scripture at one point in our life or who wouldn’t slip back into our sinfulness without the power of Christ living in us. What we should feel when we read the above scripture is pity. We should feel pity and our hearts should be broken. As broken as the world that surrounds us.
The focus of this devotion series is to bring attention to one thing. This world is broken and there is no fixing it. There is no saving this country, or the world for that matter. The world will keep going through this cycle of sin until the day the Lord returns to put an end to it all. The only hope the people of this world have is in the Gospel and it’s power to redeem those who don’t deserve redeeming. This world may be godless, but thankfully we serve a God who love’s it anyway. So much so that He sent his only Son, that whosoever shall believe in His name, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
I’m just a weak man and I’m not sure how He’s going to do it, but would you join me today and pray this prayer. “Lord Jesus, use me as you may. Use me to show the world your mercy, your love and your glory. Use me to show a godless world, that a godless man such as myself could call on your Holy name and become a child of God. Amen.”

When evil is the norm

Ephesians 5:11-12 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 

When we live in a world that surrounds us with evil and sinful deeds, how can we even recognize what’s right and wrong anymore? When wrong is called right, how can we escape the inevitable pull of the world into the darkness?

We’re called through this passage in God’s Word to not only refuse to take part in the sinful acts of the world, but to expose them. Just like shining a light into a dark room can cause the bugs to scatter, shedding the light of God’s Word on the evil of the day causes a reaction.

We’re not told specifically to call people out in a harsh way, but rather to lovingly shine the light of the gospel on the brokenness of the world we live in.  The grace of God in Jesus Christ should show through our actions as we refuse to embrace the darkness. Those who have their sin exposed should be left wanting to look to God, and we should be ready to tell them about Him (1 Peter 3:15).

Godless: Part 3

Romans 1:26-27 “That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

We, as Christians, sometimes live in glass houses, throwing stones. We want everyone to honor God and we want every person to respect the sanctity of marriage according to the Bible. We want laws passed and we want our nation to reflect our Christian faith. Don’t agree with us? We’re going to threaten you with the wrath of God and tell you that you’re going to burn in hell. There’s just one problem though. We live in a pretty godless nation that simply doesn’t believe in hell, let alone fear God’s wrath. Most importantly, they don’t know Christ.

It says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” Our body is a holy temple, but without Christ it’s more like an empty tomb. We hold people to a standard that is impossible to achieve without a life that is submitted to Christ. Bottom line is, without Christ, how can we expect anyone to honor God, let alone their bodies?

So, why do we get so hung up on this one issue? This could be the subject of a debate that could go on forever, but let me just give you one thing. I think what we see here is a reflection of our sinful nature and it’s painful. We don’t want to look at it. We would rather have a happy little life, in a happy little church, where our families and loved ones aren’t exposed to the sins of the world. That, my friends, is not the Gospel.

Christ came so that we, who are abandoned to our sinful nature, might be redeemed. Every single one of us, separated from God, will give in to our shameful desires. Every single one of us without Christ’s renewing would burn with lust that would consume us.

This is every persons nature, whether Christian or pagan. Without Christ, we are abandoned to our own depravity. But Christ is patient and tolerant with us, being so kind that we might turn from our sin. When we submitted our lives to Christ, we had our sins covered by His wonderful grace and our hearts transformed by His mercy touch of love. We should want nothing more than to see every person on earth surrender their lives to Christ.

And this is the heart of the matter. I don’t want you to come away from this thinking that I’m trying to get you to accept alternative lifestyles or to compromise the scriptures. What I’m trying to say is that a world full of lost people are going to act like a world full of lost people. We have no power to overcome our weaknesses without the power of Christ living in us, how can we expect that from anyone else? Before our lives in Christ, we were all in the same boat as those we throw stones at. It’s like a convicted murder facing the death penalty, who received a reprieve undeservingly, turning to the next guy in line and telling him he deserves to burn for what he did.

We need to stop trying to make everyone act like Christians and start bringing them to the cross. We’ll never be able to change people on our own, no matter what laws we pass or how much we protest. The only way anyone is going to change is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Period. End of Story.

Godless: Part 2

Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” 

At some point in our life we have heard someone say “If there is a God, why does He allow such evil to take place in the world.” The truth is because that’s what’s in our hearts and that is what we seek. God longs for us to seek after Him the way He seeks after us. He longs for us to be like Him and to value the things He values. Things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. But none of us do, not one of us. We seek out the lusts of our hearts. We are carnal, materialistic, power hungry, envious, creatures who worship and serve creation rather than the Creator. So why does God allow us to live this way? Because He gave us free will.

God created us in His image with our own will and He will not force His upon us. So when we choose things that God detests, when we put things He created over Him, He allows us too. God didn’t design us to be robots, and as much as He loves us, He gives us up to what our hearts desire.

The world has been tricked into thinking that we are gods and the masters of our own destiny. And it will hold on to this lie and continue to follow this path no matter how destructive it gets, denying Christ and the salvation that is available to all that believe. Why? Jesus said in John 3:19 “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

This was all our story at one point. We are a fallen race that doesn’t seek after God, but our own selfish desires. But God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. The world thinks that Christ came to condemn us for what we are, but those of us who walk with The Lord know that He came to save us from what we are. Sinners who are far from God and who deserve the prize of our endeavors, which is death. This is why it’s so important to let our light shine. Their might be somebody who spent their entire life believing a lie, huddled in darkness, who might see the light of Christ shining through our lives.

The Walking Dead

Ephesians 2:1-2  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

What did you do to make yourself be born into the world? Most of us would not argue against the truth that we had nothing to do with our physical birth. It was as out of our control as anything can be. Why do so many of us, then, think that we had anything to do with our own spiritual birth?

When you’re dead, you’re just dead. There’s nothing that a dead thing can do to make itself come to life; that can only be done supernaturally. We were all once dead, even though we walked as someone who was living. We lived and breathed physical life, but spiritually we had no pulse. We could only follow the course of this world, led around by the rest of the walking dead. We were slaves to sin.

That is, until God made us alive. Yes, He made us alive together with Christ, that we might be His people. This is true if we’ve put our trust in Christ and we’ve been adopted into God’s family. Notice all the passive language. We’ve been made alive – passive. We’ve been adopted into the family of God – passive. We were chosen – again, passive.

The dead can’t raise themselves, physically or spiritually. We can no more choose to wake up from spiritual death than we can choose to be born from our mother’s womb. We have ever so much to be thankful for, and spiritual birth is among the greatest gifts we could ever receive. God’s grace is unfathomable.

Romans: We are not debtors to the flesh

Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

It may seem, as we read Romans 8, that Paul drones on a bit about the same thing.  You’re not dead in your sin anymore once you’re in Christ.  If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, you’re not dead any more, but alive in Christ. Flesh is death, Christ is life.

Yet, even as the chapter goes on, Paul digs in even more on the issue – it must be important.  The new life that begins with salvation means the end of the old life.  We often agree with that intellectually, but don’t embrace it in reality.  Paul probably faced the same thing with his original audience and he emphasized once again that in your new life you’re not a slave to sin.  It doesn’t own you anymore.

Christian, get it.  You don’t have to give in to all the things that call your name.  You don’t belong to them, you belong to the King of Kings.  Yes, of course we’ll all still sin because we’re flawed and broken.  But that doesn’t mean we have an excuse to live like we did before we became a new creation.  You don’t owe anything to your old life.  Leave it in the past and put on Christ.