Category: Dealing with Sin

purity

not a goal, but a result…

not for religious professionals, but for His sons & daughters…

not for gaining public attention, but for a divine audience…

not for my reputation, but for my sanity…

not a terminal destination, but a highway…

not where I am going, but how…

not a decoration on display, but the byproduct of an all-consuming pursuit…

not a hard-won achievement by me, but an extravagant gift from Him…

lost when I trade it away for lesser things…

a path recovered as I confess and He cleans…

a choice to walk in His light and not in my shame…

a life expressed (His) when I come to Him, learn from Him, and remain in Him…

absolutely essential…

accompanying every serious pilgrimage into the Presence of the One I love.


“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart… the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face.” ~ Psalm 24:3-4, 6

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands… and purify your hearts…” ~ James 4:8

“…Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” ~ 1 Peter 1:7-8

(May we be the generation He seeks… the one that seeks Him, drawing near with clean hands & a pure heart.)

Free!

Romans 6:6

“…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

After the Civil War, emancipated slaves found themselves in a new relationship with their old masters. Imagine the feeling! It had to be a curious mixture of joy and fear…

Jeremiah moved through town as a free man, until he encountered his old master in front of the grocer. Week after week he loads the master’s supplies — just like before. The day after the war was over he celebrated his freedom, until his old master drove up and said, “load my wagon.”

Why does he do it? He knows he is free. He knows he is no longer a slave to the master. Yet, he continues loading the wagon. When the old master calls, it is a lifetime of habitual responses that kicks in. Suddenly, he doesn’t feel free. He feels just as he always has felt — he feels like a slave who must respond to the master’s voice.

Christian, you were really set free at the cross from the control of sin. Our old relationship to sin (called “the old man”), was destroyed when Jesus died for us. Paul explains that we have the ability to do away with the “body of sin” — our old habitual responses and actions to the old sin master. We are free!

When the old master commands, we do not have to obey. We can live freely.

Jeremiah realized this one day. Walking along the dusty street he encountered the old master who gave the usual command to load the wagon. Jeremiah hesitates. Everything in him is ready to do as he has always done, but he is free — and now he knows it. “Load it yourself,” says Jeremiah. He walks away.

Overcoming sin begins as we accept God’s truth about ourselves. Sin is no longer your master. You are free. Live like it today!

Transparency and Truth-Telling

Colossians 3:9 – Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.

James 5:16 – Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

It had been a fairly ordinary retreat experience. The mountain setting made it easy to reflect and evaluate my walk with God. During our final session, the leader of the retreat led about 25 of us in a time of sharing: what had God done in our lives through our study and time together?

No one said anything for a long time. Finally, one of the single women stood and moved to the front of the group. She was trembling – obviously scared and nervous about what she wanted to say. Tears welled up in her eyes as she began to speak. “I’m pregnant,” she confessed. She had been dating an unbeliever and the unthinkable had happened. After sharing her story she said, “I am so sorry everyone, please forgive me — I need you right now so much…”

Immediately one of the women spoke, “We forgive you.” The group surrounded her for prayer and encouragement. After many minutes, we sat back down. It was only the beginning of what God wanted to do that afternoon… soon someone else spoke up. Another confession was made. Then another. And another… and still another. Relationships were mended. Deep needs and fears were expressed. Wrongs were uncovered through confession, covered over with forgiveness, and then put away forever.

For almost 5 hours our group became honest with each other and before God. The sharing was discreet (no unwholesome details), but open and full. Little was held back as God’s Spirit took us to a new place of trust and oneness as the people of God. How refreshed and alive we felt when it was over!

Back in our home church the next day, worship was different. Our greetings were transformed — less casual, more personal — more like family. More like heaven. More like home. We were made for this and finally were experiencing a taste of our privilege as God’s children! It was glorious.

Twenty years later, the experience remains vivid. The Lord still whispers the fragrance of that time across my heart, “this is My church”. Church as He intends it to be.

When we hide from each other it is safe and comfortable, but it is also lonely. We are missing so much. We live in a world of people looking for a safe place to be open and honest. A place where they can be known… and still be loved. Individual spiritual growth explodes in the fertile soil of mutual love and trust. How can we help create a place like that?

    • Become a truth-seeking person — pray that God will open our hearts to each other. The retreat situation described above was the result of several years of asking;
    • Become a truth-keeping person — what is shared stays with you and goes no further; and
    • Become a truth-telling person — when you feel led to take the risk, honestly share your weakness and need with other brothers and sisters.