The greatest deception of sin is that it’s not that serious.
The greatest deception of sin is that it’s not that serious.
Do we truly believe (do I truly believe) all sin enslaves?
Recommended reading alert (and don’t worry– it’s short… quite unlike this blog post!)
So much of this post resonated with me, which is a good but also not good thing.
This sounds all too much like me if I dig down deep into my flesh/heart:
But lately I’ve been considering one simple and disturbing aspect of this sin: I’m better than you. At least, this is what I believe in most of life’s situations. I’m just plain better than you. Somewhere deep inside I believe it’s true and too often I live and act like it’s true.
When you lead your ministry, I have trouble following because I see all the things you are doing wrong, all the ignorant decisions you are making.
When you are given a privilege or responsibility, something that puts you in a position of trust or authority, I am certain that the privilege should have gone to me.
I can see this sooo clearly in me and especially at work lately. At work, I have this air of superiority toward a certain person and I think it is unhealthily spurned on by others having the same air of superiority toward him therefore “justifying” my beliefs. And I know it’s not right, but I feel like I can’t fight it and truth is deep down I still do believe I am better/smarter/could handle things better or more efficiently.
So the blog seems to raise more questions than answers for me: What do we do with those feelings? What is the right response? And what if sometimes we are possibly right maybe not in the attitude in general, but about specificities and really do see how things can improve?
What is our/my response?
Do we fault-find and gossip and point out to others all the mistakes that are being made? Do we air our complaints to everyone but the person we are judging? Do we resent and look down on the other person in our hearts, considering how we are so much better? Do we treat the other person with contempt and pride when they try to give us instructions, not being open to their ideas or corrections, the possibility that hey I just might be in error too about in certain things?
So I know those are all the things I’m NOT supposed to do… and unfortunately all the things I usually do. So how should I respond? And to make it concrete I’m thinking narrowly about this work situation.
I think I’m called first off to pray. No, not even for the other person yet, but for my own heart toward this person. How does God see him? How does God see his ministry? As much as there are inefficiencies and yes even possibly sin issues too or at least places where he can grow, I really do think God is pleased. God is pleased with this brother and with his heart for the Lord, the population we serve, and our ministry. Does he fall short? Yes. But don’t I fall short too? Maybe not in the same exact ways, but in so many others?
Yes, I’m convinced, that when God looks at my brother, He is pleased.
So how should I see this person if God sees him this way? And if I am to correct him or point out his shortcomings to him, can I do it in love, with love for who he is, with a desire to really see good come to him? If God loves him, so should I love him. Because he is God’s creation, His chosen. Because I should be able to relate to him in the sense that I am just as lacking and fall just as short, maybe not in the same ways as him, but in other ways. I am just as offensive in my transgressions, if not MORE.
And that’s why I need to pray for my heart toward him. That God would show me His love for this brother and by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, give me His love for him. And that God would humble me. That He would help me to lay down my pride, my judging, my feelings of being better than this person. That He would help me have a clear view of myself in light of Him… not him.
Secondly, I’m to pray for my brother. Pastor Kyle always says,
Which do you do more: talk to man about God, or to God about man?
As much as I think I’m so smart/know exactly what to do, doesn’t God know even more? My words and corrections really have so little power. Only He can truly change, and bring conviction/life.
Do I pray for this brother? Do I ask for God’s blessing and grace and favor on him? Do I ask God to help him grow in the areas where he is weak? Quite honestly, only when Ms. A forces me to haha.
And so that’s part of the problem too and it really stems from the issues listed above: that my heart is not in the right place and remains in a state of pride and that I do not truly love.
Lastly, after these two things, only then, with love and discernment should I consider correcting him and talking to him directly.
Too often we tell others all the ways someone else needs to change, but we don’t actually tell the other person. And when it’s suggested that we do, we backtrack saying “oh no, it’s not a big deal, it’s fine, I’ll get over it.”
I still remember Jess Sato sharing with us that Pastor Jason rebuked her for that attitude and said something like “No, if it really is a sin issue, then you really should lovingly correct them.”
Now the keys are 1) correct them LOVINGLY (thus the need again for prayer) and 2) correct THEM. Don’t tell other people. Tell THEM.
I think I already mentioned this in another post, but as I ranted to Kenny about work a little while ago, I felt so convicted after. I justified my rant by saying well he’s my husband so I should be able to tell him anything I’m feeling and he’s a strong believer, he won’t be swayed by my complaining.
But God convicted me so deeply in my heart, in a way I’ve never been convicted about my words before, that we sow from what we speak. My words of complaint and fault-finding and arrogance had spiritual implications and were sowing spiritual things.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
I want my words to sow and reap life, therefore I need to be so careful about what I speak. I need to be careful about the things I say to others, and if I am to correct someone it needs to be done in all love and humility.
Anyway, this has turned into a tremendously long blog, which will hopefully bring more conviction to me specifically at work and generally.
Challies ends his blog by talking about why it matters to think about these things:
This makes us useless counselors. We are useless counselors unless we can counsel from Scripture and toward holiness rather than from our own arrogance and toward conformity to us. This makes us miserable because we are always convinced life would be easier and better if only others were more like us. This lessens our usefulness to God and his kingdom because we spend so much of our time lamenting all the things others are doing wrong rather than joining them in doing things their way. This increases our sin and hinders our holiness.
Why is sin so bad?
Sin directly opposes what God is doing and engages our heart with the enemy. God is holy– holy, holy, holy. If any good and righteousness in us comes from Him, then He cannot engage with us when we are steeped in choosing sin.
So what is the solution?
The solution is miraculously simple!! The solution is simply to surrender, turn to the King, depend on Him for holiness.
The solution isn’t do better, try harder, not by our own effort.
The solution is simple: take a posture of repentance and surrender. Surrender is easy! In a battle, the easiest choice is to surrender. The solution to sin is simple: simply confess and surrender.
We are not saved by the flesh and cannot be perfected by it– what was begun by the Spirit cannot be continued by the flesh. So surrender! Give into God’s mercy and grace! Boast in your weaknesses. Take on a posture of humility and dependence. Depend on God to give you His holiness.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
I want to despise sin as much as You do, Lord God! For it is sin that keeps me from experiencing more of You, from loving You, from loving others as You do. Sin keeps me from You and renders me useless for Your Kingdom and Your purposes. Give me a desire for holiness, give me a desire for You.
I want to crave holiness. So search my heart and see if there is any way not of You in me. I give You permission to call me out and rid me of my sin. I do away with the excuses I conjure up to explain and justify and dismiss my sin. I do away with excuses of brokenness (other people have sinned against me and hurt me, therefore I can act out of brokenness and not forgive, have a hard heart toward them, and justify many other types of sin), personality (I’m just not wired that way, that’s not my gifting, I’m just better at other stuff, therefore I can sin in a certain way because it’s just a part of who I am), legalism (I just want to focus on grace, it’s so legalistic to ask for such fervency and holiness, I’m walking in grace and hey I’m trying so it’s okay for me to still choose sin).
I do away with my excuses, Lord! Call me out. Purify me. Rid me of my sin.
Lastly, I will end with some quotes from Leonard Ravenhill from his book “Why Revival Tarries” (an excellent readbtw, let me know if you’d like to join Kenny and me in reading and Book Club it!):
“…but to be much for God, we must be much with God.”
“A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning. ”
“The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.”
“Unless we are desperate to get into real victory, we are so easy on ourselves and so hard on others… Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, spotted, stinking Self in us. Let it be torn from us and “crucified with Him, (so) that henceforth we no longer serve sin” (Romans 6:6).”
The call to Revival starts with personal revival and the call to personal repentance:
Only Christ offers any hope or any help from my flesh and my sin. Only Christ offers the true revival and heart of a changed life.
Only Christ can make me useful. Only Christ can transform me. Only Christ can make me a revivalist and offer me a truly changed life.
I desire to no longer spurn what is of God and crave what is not. I want to love His presence and His calling on my life.
It all starts with personal revival and personal holiness. Make me like You, Lord, Jesus Christ!!!
I have decided to follow Jesus//No turning back, no turning back
Though none go with me, still I will follow//No turning back, no turning back
The world behind me, the cross before me//No turning back, no turning back
Holiness, holiness, holiness. It’s been a theme this past season. Reading about Daniel at BSF this week emphasized to me what Ms. A always says:
“We cannot afford to compromise!”
Not even the tiniest bit. We cannot tolerate ANY semblance of sin in our lives.
Throughout Daniel, we see that God responds to Daniel’s faithfulness. He would take a step of faith FIRST, then trust that God would back him up. With the food of Babylon, he requested the special diet first telling the authorities that he would appear healthier than the others who compromised, then he let God back him up. With Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he told Arioch he would have the interpretation, then he gathered his friends to cry out to God for the dream. And with Darius’ decree, he acted first by praying blatantly to his God, then let God rescue him from the lion’s den.
Daniel boldly and blatantly took steps of faith without even knowing if God would really come through. And God did each time.
God responds to faith. Faith and obedience without compromise.
Then last night, to add to everything that we studied and everything that’s been on my mind, Kenny was listening to a sermon by Christine Caine (I know, this is AFTER we already spent the whole night at BSF) and she was saying this:
“As Christians we are called to be in the world, but not of it. Yet so often we are of the world, but not in it! We cannot be a light to the world if we’re not in it and we cannot be a light to the world if we look just like it.”
This was so good and so convicting. We cannot expect to save the world if we won’t venture into it and are stuck in our holy huddles shining our light on people who already have it. And we also cannot expect to save the world if we’re living just like everyone else in it.
Daniel refused to compromise even a tiny bit. It struck me that with Darius’ decree he could have just prayed with the curtains closed or hid out for 30 days. That’s probably what the other Israelites did because we didn’t see them getting thrown into the den (though they weren’t targeted either). He could’ve been like the rest of the young Israelite men and eaten the food of the Babylonians when they were first exiled there. Yet Daniel would not be defiled!! He would not give in and look like the rest of the world! And as Gina said last night, it’s because of this radical life of obedience that God was able to shine His light through Daniel into a secular world.
I want to be like Jesus in every way possible. But it’s so hard. It’s so easy to make small compromises. So what if I have a complaining heart about work? I only complain in my mind and to my husband. What’s the big deal? Or so what if I tolerate a little bit of lust? It’s in secret. It’s private. It doesn’t impact anyone else. Or does it? Or so what if I’m lazy at work? I work hard at other times. I get my work done. Why does it matter?
Part of faith is taking God at His Word and believing that even if we don’t see the negative consequences of sin (because a lot of times I really can’t see why sin is so bad) there are negative impacts and I will choose to slay even the tiniest of violations of His Word and trust Him. And if I want more of His presence in my life, then how can I tolerate anything, ANYTHING!! that He says will get in the way of my communion with Him?!?!
If I am at all serious about Jesus, I will be serious about my sin.
I will be serious about fleeing from it and surrendering every area of my life (my thoughts, my speech, my actions) to Him.
And God is working on my heart. Just last week (can’t remember if I already blogged this) I was TOTALLY in the flesh and ranting to Kenny about work. My heart was filled with complaints and I poured them out to him indiscriminately because hey it’s my right to say whatever’s on my mind right? And he’s a strong Christian. He can take my complaining and it won’t stumble him and it’s not like he works with me right? But after I finished my mini tirade, I felt some serious conviction of the Holy Spirit and I felt so much remorse in my heart that in my complaining I was so wrong. I have never felt such remorse over complaining before as I have always felt like it’s my right to say what I think when I’m in the privacy of my home. And it wasn’t just what I said, but it was the heart behind it too.
Here I am, at this job that I prayed and cried out to the Lord for over the course of FOUR YEARS. I begged Him for a job in social services, a job that I would find meaningful. And here I am, in this job that supports a cause I SO believe in and so perfectly caters to my strengths, and what am I doing? I AM COMPLAINING. Like the Israelites, I am finding all the things that are WRONG and airing my complaints not just to Kenny… but to the Lord. And not just against DOH… but against the God who gave me this job. So much more than the words I say, the problem is the attitude of my heart, the thoughts that fill my mind as I rehash all the frustrations I’ve been having.
And it’s okay to be frustrated. There have definitely been some injustices and things that can be improved, but what do I do with those thoughts? Do I take them to the Lord and ask Him to address them? Am I willing to, with God’s okay, go to my boss with my frustrations and share with him directly what’s been bothering me so much? Or do I just stew and complain and have short-sighted perspective?
Anyway that was a total tangent, but God convicted me so deeply of my wrong in my complaints and there are really few times I can recall when I have felt like that before.
Then there’s the Pharisee in me that says but wait!!! I do so many other things right!! Complaining is such a TINY sin. Why is it such a big deal when I live submitted in so many other areas of my life?
But then it comes back to that one question that’s been burning on my mind: How much do I want Jesus?
And how much do I want to be used by Him?
Because sin, even the tiniest sin, gets in the way of my fellowship with Jesus. And though God can still use me and still loves me unconditionally, do I want Him enough that I will get rid of anything standing in between Him and me?
Jesus, I want to know You more!! And because I want to know You, I want to be serious about my sin. I want to get rid of any semblance of it so there’s NOTHING in the way of my relationship with You. Help me rid myself of my sin, for only You can do it. Only You can give me grace and conviction to repent and flee. Fill me with Your Spirit. Use me. Make me like Daniel– unwilling to be defiled by any thing.
Are you aware that sin always leads to death? To the death of dreams, hopes, plans, relationships, health?
Sometimes Christians think their sin is somehow less serious than that of an unbeliever, but all sin is an outrage against God and causes harm to ourselves and to others… all sin deserves the wrath of God. Are you aware of this? If so, you will not treat sin lightly.
Not sure if we’re supposed to quote/share… but too good to not post.