Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

The Struggle (3)

 

   It seems to me that our sin struggle has the potential to throw us off balance. While it would be very wrong of us to play our sin off as though it were a trifle, it is also very dangerous for us to focus continually on it. The Devil is persuasive. He wants to convince us that in order for us to take sin seriously we must keep looking at it and letting it take its toll on our hearts and lives. That is exactly wrong. It is out of balance and out of focus. It kills the souls of men and women. It is vital that we take sin seriously, but how do we do that? We are to view sin, our own and the sins of others, from the perspective of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Sin should get to our hearts. But it should be something like this. Sin…my sin…all sin…put Jesus my Savior on the Cross. That breaks my heart, and I am willing for it to be broken. For that honors Christ. Sin took its toll on Him. And I must allow that to be true for me too. Judas’ problem was not that he didn’t take sin seriously. He did. He took it so seriously that he killed himself over his own sin. But that was a victory for the Devil, not for God.

   Taking sin seriously does not mean we should inflict harm upon ourselves. That course undervalues the sacrifice of our Lord on the Tree. We end up not being willing for Him to be our sin offering. We determine ourselves to be unqualified for God’s purposes by our terrible sin. We allow the Cross to go for naught as far as we are concerned. Now that is truly tragic. That is not what Jesus wants. We are to have regret and remorse over our sin (2 Corinthians 7:10a). We are to understand, as best we can, the darkness of sin. However, seeing the terrible ugliness of our sin is not all there is to taking sin seriously. There’s another and most important part. We are to see how great is our Savior’s sacrifice and the love of God Who would have us all come home to Him.

   Do you remember when Nathan came to David to charge him with his terrible, terrible sins? David responded, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And immediately, bless God, the prophet said, “The Lord has put away your sin.” So I say it is very, very dangerous for us to come face to face with our sin, and how evil, ugly and damning it really is, without also and soon coming face to face with the beauty, power and mercy of our Savior. A vital part of our spiritual struggle is to face our daily sin issues by faith. All our brokenness comes back to us time and time again with every fresh sin we commit. We must, by faith, let Jesus sacrifice be enough for us. When our nerves are set on edge because of our own failings…when we weep over our sins as sometimes we must…when we loathe ourselves because of our part in the Cross of Christ and for how our sins hurt Him and those we love…even then, we must not give place to the Devil. Don’t let him use your sin and the grief you have over it to stop you from a single act of service for Christ or to keep you from praying and worshipping your Lord. The wonderful servants of God in the Bible were not sinless people. They were forgiven people. Forgiven daily. Do you remember what Psalm 126:5-6 says? “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Here is our magnificent struggle—We will serve the God Who has saved us and Who keeps us forgiven, even though it be in tears over our sins and the sins of others. We will not quit. We won’t allow the Devil to win. Saints! Struggle on!

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Struggle (3)

  1. Oh Doug, I know all too well the way Satan can use my sin, and the shame I feel over it, to keep me from God. I sinned. Then I basically gave up on God. I turned my back on everything and everyone that had anything to do with Him. I felt like it was pointless to keep trying. I had messed up and felt as though there was no hope for me to have a relationship with God. Significant people in my life didn’t want anything to do with me, the Father must feel the same way. Right? WRONG! But that feeling, that horrible thought process…SATAN… kept me away for almost 20 years. I’m sure he thought he had won, but God had something else in mind and brought Rex across my path one more time, and this time I heard him. I let the wall crumble just enough that hope worked its way back into my heart for the first time in so very long.

    I struggle with the unworthy feeling continually. But now I have God’s word in my hands…His voice in my heart..counteracting that feeling…giving me hope in that relationship again. Satan wants to keep that hopelessness bubbling up, but Jesus won’t let it stay. He keeps finding ways (through the good people He bumps me into) to keep hope alive in me. To show me my worth. So that when my heart condemns me, He reminds me He is greater than my heart and He knows everything. Hmm. It’s hard to win against an argument like that!! Thank you Father!

    SHERRY,
    OUR GREAT FATHER GOD, WHO LOVES US AND KNOWS ALL…OBVIOUSLY UNDERSTOOD BEFOREHAND HOW THOSE WHO RESPOND TO THEIR SINS IN GODLY SORROW AND REPENTANCE IN LIGHT OF THE PROFOUND TRUTHS OF THE CROSS OF HIS SON…HE UNDERSTOOD HOW THEY WOULD STRUGGLE TO KEEP BALANCE IN HAVING A PROPER VIEW OF AND RESPONSE TO THEIR SINS. HE WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS ABOUT US, WOULDN’T HE? HE HAS GIVEN US LIGHTS ALONG THE WAY (BLESS HIM) BUT HE HASN’T ILLUMINATED EVERYTHING. SO THEN, WOULDN’T IT BE RIGHT AND FAIR TO SUGGEST THAT GOD MUST HAVE SOME GOOD AND GRACIOUS PURPOSE(S) IN MIND FOR THE STRUGGLE WE ENDURE IN THIS MATTER? I KNOW THIS…I REMEMBER HEARING SOMEONE (WHO IT WAS, I DON’T REMEMBER) SPEAK OF GRACE AND THEIR SECURITY IN CHRIST, AND I FELT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG. THEY SOUNDED PRESUMPTUOUS TO ME…COCKY, IN FACT. AND I KNEW THIS WASN’T THE PERSPECTIVE GOD WOULD WANT FOR US. ON THE OTHER HAND, I KNEW HOW IT FELT (BECAUSE OF THE TEACHING UNDER WHICH I GREW UP), TO ALWAYS BE UNCERTAIN OF YOUR POSITION WITH GOD. IF YOU HAD A RELATIVELY GOOD DAY, GOD WAS HAPPY WITH YOU AND YOU WERE IN. BUT IF YOU GAVE IN TO TOO MANY(?!!) OF YOUR TEMPTATIONS, HE WAS UNHAPPY AND YOU WERE OUT. NEITHER OF THOSE EXTREMES ARE BIBLICAL. I KNOW WE ARE TO HAVE CONFIDENCE IN OUR PLACE WITH JESUS CHRIST. I AM SURE WE ARE TO HAVE PEACE IN THE SECURITY HE GRANTS US THROUGH OUR FAITH. BUT MAYBE THE STRUGGLE WE HAVE MAINTAINING SUCH CONFIDENCE (BECAUSE OF OUR SINS), JUST MAYBE…IT HELPS KEEP OUR HEARTS SENSITIVE AND YIELDING TO HIS WILL. AND IF THAT’S SO…OR IF THERE IS SOME OTHER PURPOSE GOD HAS IN MIND…WELL, HE IS GOD, LET HIM DO WHAT SEEMS GOOD TO HIM. THIS I KNOW…HE LOVES US AND WON’T QUIT ON US…AND I AGREE WITH YOU AND JOHN (THE APOSTLE), HE IS SO MUCH GREATER THAN OUR CONDEMNING HEARTS. WE ARE ALIVE IN CHRIST!

  2. I limited God’s love for me when I decided that He didn’t want me. I did this because I didn’t understand what “unconditional” really meant. A new way it was put for me was “uncircumstancially”. That helps make it a little more clear for my heart. His love surpasses all circumstances that I get myself into.

    The idea has been on my mind lately about sin and punishment. We are programmed to equate sin with punishment. From the time we are small we learn that there are right and wrong things that we can do and that there are good or bad consequences that follow. When we are young it is for our protection. We cannot reason for ourselves so we need really tight boundaries.

    But as we get older and start to “sin” it becomes more difficult. As humans I think we feel like we have to keep up that punishment mode. So we punish ourselves and others punish us. But where is the line? How much punishment does each sin deserve? When is the punishment enough?

    We sin … come home … ashamed and so sorry for what we’ve done. There are consequences that we must face. We try to live in God’s grace, love, and forgiveness. But now other humans put restrictions on what we are allowed to do in God’s kingdom because of the type of sin we committed. If we are ever seen laughing or happy then some will say … “well they sure don’t seem very sorry or hurt over what they’ve done.” It’s so difficult to know how to live in God’s grace … and yet be sorry. It’s difficult to know forgiveness … live forgiven … when others won’t let you.

    Just as I get comfortable with it in my head … something comes up to challenge my thinking. So the struggle for me is to put my new knowledge to work. The more I learn about Jesus the more I don’t understand why we treat each other the way we do. The more I learn about grace and forgiveness the more I don’t know why we treat each other the way we do. I have to be careful to stay on the Jesus side and not get dragged back over to the human side.

    PAIGE,
    IT’S GOOD NEWS THAT WE ARE STRUGGLING, THOUGH IT OFTEN (USUALLY) DOESN’T FEEL GOOD. IF WE ARE KICKIN’ WE ARE ALIVE. WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT SIN AND PUNISHMENT IS RIGHT ON. WE, AS CHRISTIANS, ARE TO UNDERSTAND THAT JESUS BECAME A SIN-OFFERING FOR US. HE BORE OUR REPROACH OUTSIDE THE CAMP WHEN HE SUFFERED AND DIED OUTSIDE THE JERUSALEM CITY GATE. AND THROUGH HIS DEATH WE ARE SET FREE SPIRITUALLY. THIS IS OUR MESSAGE. THIS IS OUR HOPE. THIS IS OUR INSPIRATION. THIS IS OUR MOTIVATION. THIS IS OUR COMFORT. THIS IS OUR POWER. THIS IS OUR TRUTH. WE GET TO BE SAVED BECAUSE OF THE CROSS. IF WE HAVE PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD THE GOSPEL, HOWEVER, WE DO NOT GO SKIPPING THROUGH LIFE ON OUR OWN AGENDA. HE DIED FOR US THAT WE SHOULD NO LONGER LIVE UNTO OURSELVES BUT UNTO HIM WHO FOR OUR SAKES DIED AND ROSE AGAIN. SO WE ENJOY AND REJOICE IN OUR SALVATION…OUR SECURITY…OUR ASSURANCE IN JESUS…AS WE SHOULD. BUT…WE ARE NOT TO BECOME ARROGANT. WE PRAISE GOD FOR THE PEACE HE MADE BETWEEN US AND HIM, BUT WE REMEMBER THE COST. SO…WHEN WE SIN…AGAIN…AFTER OUR BAPTISM…WHAT DO YOU THINK GOD WANTS FROM US THEN? DOES HE WANT US TO GO ON GRINNING NO MATTER WHAT? ARE WE TO DENY THAT WE SIN? OR ARE WE TO IGNORE IT? ARE WE TO HIDE IT? ARE WE TO NOT BE AFFECTED BY IT EMOTIONALLY? AND THEN, IF WE ARE TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT (AS I’M SURE WE ARE), HOW LONG IS IT TO BE PERMITTED TO AFFECT US? AND IN WHAT WAYS? DO YOU GET DEPRESSED AS I DO ABOUT SUCH REGULARLY RECURRING OFFENSES? HOW LONG WAS PETER TO SULK (?) AFTER HE REBUKED HIS LORD FOR EVEN SUGGESTING THAT A CROSS WAS IN HIS FUTURE…AND THEN THE LORD CALLED HIM SATAN. I DON’T KNOW THAT ANYONE ELSE CAN TELL US WHAT WE ARE PERMITTED TO EXPERIENCE OR FOR HOW LONG, WHEN WE ARE CONVICTED IN OUR OWN HEARTS ABOUT SOME SIN…OR ABOUT THE MASS OF SINS OF WHICH WE ARE CAPABLE AND MANY OF WHICH WE ACTUALLY COMMIT. IN FACT, IF WE FELT NOTHING WHEN WE SIN AGAIN (AND THEN AGAIN)…IF WE NEVER WENT THROUGH ANY DARK VALLEY OVER OUR SINS…WOULD WE BE HONORING THE CROSS…OR WOULD WE BE DISHONORING IT? WHATEVER OUR SINS PUT US THROUGH, WE CAN’T ALLOW IT TO STEAL ANYTHING FROM JESUS’ WORK ON THE CROSS. HOWEVER OUR SINS HEM US IN (FOR A TIME), WE SHOULD NOT ALLOW THEIR AFTER-EFFECTS TO KEEP US FROM A SINGLE GOOD DEED…FROM WORSHIPPING GOD…FROM MEDITATING ON HIS WORD…FROM HELPING ANOTHER SINNER. FOR IF WE ALLOW OUR SIN STRUGGLE TO MAKE US FEEL SO UNWORTHY THAT WE BEGIN TO ACT AS THOUGH WE ARE NOT HIS, WE’VE CROSSED A DANGEROUS LINE. SO WHATEVER ELSE THE AFTERMATH OF OUR SINS CAUSES, LET’S NOT GO THERE.
    PAIGE, IT BREAKS MY HEART TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE CORRECT ABOUT THIS…THAT WHEN SOME CHRISTIANS NOTICE A RETURNED PRODIGAL SMILING OR SERVING JESUS WITH JOY, THEY REASON THAT THEY HAVE NOT TRULY REPENTED. NOW THAT IS A VERY UGLY PORTRAIT OF THE ARROGANCE THAT MAKES ITS OPPRESSIVE LIVING BY BREAKING THE SPIRITS OF OTHERS. HOW DARE THEY? MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON THEM…AND MAY THAT MERCY BE REFLECTED BY THEM TO OTHERS.
    YOU COMMENTED…”Just as I get comfortable with it in my head … something comes up to challenge my thinking…” MAYBE THAT’S THE STIRRING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU TO KEEP YOU TEACHABLE, MOLDABLE, TENDER TO HIS WILL. AND I AM WITH YOU…HOW CAN THOSE WHO’VE BEEN SUCH LONG TIME MEMBERS OF THE LORD’S CHURCH…WHO HAVE HEARD LESSON AFTER LESSON ABOUT JESUS AND HIS LOVE…THEN TURN AROUND AND RAISE AN EYEBROW AT ANY OTHER SINNER? WHEN WE ACT THIS WAY, WE ARE PUTTING INTO STARK CONTRAST THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JESUS AND OURSELVES. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! AND WOULD YOU GIVE MY LOVE TO ALL THE FOLKS AT THE OPEN?

  3. Rex Boyles on said:

    Judas is sad and tragic proof of the point you made, when you wrote: “Taking sin seriously does not mean that we should inflict harm on ourselves.” Let the price paid by Jesus be enough! That does not mean that the “sinner” will not suffer – for no one, who ever knew the true consequence of sin, ever failed to grieve or agonize over his/her sin.

    When the sin if “public” – additional issues come to bear on “the struggle”. For example, watch the reaction of the religous leaders – when Judas tried to return their bribe and make things right. They offered no mercy – no intercession. He left their presence under the full weight of their self-righteousness, “That’s your responsibility”. He left – to never return.

    In our struggle re. sin and consequences that come … God forbid that we lose hope – leaving the Lord never to return. And with that in mind … may God help us all not “impute consequences” onto the “sinner” in some self-important effort to appear “righteous” and “above reproach”.

    Blessed are the merciful …

    AND SOMEBODY ALSO SAID, “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO GIVE US BACK OUR SELF-RESPECT.” WHAT DID JUDAS EXPECT FROM HIS CO-CONSPIRATORS, I WONDER? HE CONFESSED HE HAD SINNED. DID HE THINK THEY WOULD BE UNDERSTANDING, COMPASSIONATE AND FORGIVING? DID HE THINK THEY WOULD RELENT AND PULL OUT OF THE TERRIBLE CONTRACT? WHATEVER HE EXPECTED FROM THEM, HE DIDN’T GET IT? IT IS SUCH AN UGLY PICTURE I THINK OF AS I IMAGINE THESE EVIL RELIGIOUS LEADERS GETTING DOWN ON THEIR HANDS AND KNEES TO PICK UP THE BLOOD MONEY…THE BOUNTY THEY AGREED TO FOR JESUS. IT’S AMAZING, THE EXTENT OF THE VALUE THEY PLACE UPON JESUS PURCHASED FOR THEM ONLY A CEMETERY FOR STRANGERS…A FIELD OF BLOOD. THANK GOD THAT WE CAN KNOW THE REAL VALUE AND POWER OF JESUS’ BLOOD. IT’S NOT ABOUT DEATH…IT’S ABOUT LIFE…FULL AND LASTING LIFE!
    THANK GOD ALSO THAT HE DOESN’T DEAL WITH US AS OUR SINS DESERVE OR AS EVIL RELIGIOUS LEADERS DO. WITH HIM THERE IS FORGIVENESS…RENEWED HOPE…REAL PURPOSE…OPPORTUNITY TO GROW…SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR AND TO DIE FOR…AND SOMETHING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS.

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