Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Could All These Good Christians Be Sinners?

Joe had a past that had finally caught up with him.  As a sinful past is prone to do, there were consequences of his past actions that were showing up in his life. It seemed that wherever he turned, something was reminding him of what he would rather forget.  Everything seemed to be shouting, "if you weren't such an awful excuse for a person, life would be different."

Joe felt himself falling into an abyss of self-pity and shame...

Joe found himself unable to think about anything but his shameful past and his miserable present.  His problems only seemed to multiply as his state of depression grew.  He slid deeper into a hole dug with regret, shame and self-abhorrence.  As he sank, he saw his life slide into his hole with him.

One evening as Joe was feeling totally overwhelmed by his circumstances, he made an act of desperation. Although Joe hadn't had any use for God since he was a teenager, he decided, at that moment, to pray.  As he began to pray, he felt really uncomfortable, but soon everything came tumbling out.  As he unloaded everything to the Lord, through the tears and sobs, he felt something happening.  He began to feel better, he began to feel relief from the load that he had been carrying.

This evening was the beginning of a process of healing and renewal.  Joe learned that evening that he needed the Lord to keep the horrors that lurked within him at bay.  Joe continued to learn over the following days, weeks, months and years that the Lord had to play an important role if he was going to keep his life on track.  Joe found a church and surrounded himself with other believers that knew they needed the Lord.  While the world might have never seen Joe's life as successful, he lead his life to please God, not man.

- - -

The scripture talks about this difference.  If Paul's first letter to the Corinthians could be summarized in 3 words, it would be, “shame on you.”  Then in Paul's second letter to them, he discusses how they had changed.  He knew that his first letter had caused them distress and he regretted the distress, except that it was necessary.  He wrote:

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. (II Corinthians 7:10-11)

It is through those feelings of shame that we can truly submit ourselves to the Lord.

For so many, today, shame has gone out of fashion.  The church has bought into the world's concept of “it isn't wrong if you don't get caught”.  When this is combined with the fact that so many of the people in the church were brought up in the church and have lead a “pretty good life”, results in a church that has very little experience with shame.  Yet we may have church people that are stealing from their employers, have extramarital affairs, watch pornography or lie frequently, but it is all done without shame.

We, as a people, are extremely good at justifying our actions.  We look around us to find examples to compare ourselves to, that make us look good.  When asked whether a person sins, they are likely to make a mental comparison between themselves and somebody much worse.  It is as if we shop for a mirror that makes us look good.  We want to keep believing that we look great, whether we do or not.

Of course, when God looks at us He compares us to Himself, which is perfection.  Looking at ourselves in the mirror of perfection can be brutally painful.  That pain is the grief that Paul spoke of, it can be wonderfully beneficial.

Consider this: although the world says, “it isn't wrong if you don't get caught,” with God you are always caught.  He sees everything you do and sometimes He is greatly disappointed by what He sees.  In addition, He is painfully aware of all the things you should be doing, but choose not to.  

Think about how He knows your every thought, I know there are many things in my head that I wouldn't want the people around me to know.  When I recognize that God, the Almighty, is hearing every one of those things, I am embarrassed and ashamed.

He also knows our hearts.  He tells us we should love Him “with all of our heart.”  He knows exactly how we prioritize Him.  He knows how much of our heart belongs to Him and how much we give to the things of the world.

There is no fooling God.  We may be able to fool the people around us into thinking we are better than we are, but God knows.  He knows with greater precision than we even we know.  Through His holy, pure eyes, every one of us is leading a life that is full of wicked, evil sin.

It is for this very reason, that we NEED Jesus.  We need Him every minute of every day.  We obviously can't do much of a job at managing our lives so we need to surrender to Him, to let Him take control of our being.

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.  (1 John 1:8-10)

We cannot let the world tell us that we are leading a good life.  What the world calls a “good life” is pretty awful by God's perfect standard.  We have to continually look at our lives through God's mirror because only it allows us to see how much we desperately need Him.  With the world's mirror we have no real need for a savior.

Only when we stop fooling ourselves and face up to our true need for the Lord do we allow Him to bless us with the kind of spiritual growth that the Corinthians saw.  Only when we accept our need for Jesus are we where He wants us to be.

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Lexington, Ky