God hates sin. I don’t think there are many believers that will argue with me about that. The one thing that can strengthen us to keep ourselves from sin is the power of the grace of God in our lives. Without grace, which was provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are helpless to combat sin.
So why is it that we have such trouble with it? Well, sometimes it is just plain rebellion. We like to sin because we lie to ourselves that feeding our flesh is worth the damage it does to our hearts. Even empowered by the grace of God, we still have the choice to give into that flesh. And as we continue to choose sin over grace, He decides to pull the grace from us… and shows us just how “fun” it is to live without His power in our lives. So we sin and then sin again… and then we mess up SO bad that we are forced to see the wickedness that lies in our hearts.
Many famous revivalists and preachers lived a life of supernatural power with effective ministries but were secretly living in sin for years before they were exposed. In their spiritual pride they chose to continue in sin, thinking that their superiority in spiritual matters cancelled out their secret sin. Awhile back, I confronted a guy that was a fairly known preacher. I spoke to him about his judgmental attitude and the bitterness that he carried in his teaching. Instead of trying to walk in humility and admitting his actions he chose to deny it and responded by giving me a list of his “credentials”– all of the famous preachers he has worked with and ministered with. Really? Because you have worked with all of these people, you think you’re getting off scott-free when you continue to lead others into the same sins you are committing. It’s arrogance.
You see, we need to stop depending on ourselves to overcome sin. Spiritual pride and other forms of pride keep us from seeing the real issues in our hearts and worse yet… they keep us from relationship with God. Leaning on our Beloved to help us overcome sin is one of the most intimate experiences we can have with the Lord. He loves the vulnerability we have with Him when we acknowledge our weakness before Him.
I love some of David’s Psalms when I am combating shame in my life. He is so raw and honest before God. And I love this the most because David knew the heart of the Lord more than any person of his time and yet he was so… human. He was weak and frail and acknowledged this easily to God, constantly asking for His help. David was the mighty leader and king of Israel yet he was humble enough to become unglued before God and admit his sin.
A lot of us say we want to be like David but when we say this we are usually talking about the loving, worshiping David who had so much freedom before the Lord. Rarely are we talking about David’s vulnerability. Rarely do we speak of his humility. And rarely do we admit that we are as frail and weak as he was. Rarely do we admit how much we need Him.
This is where the line is drawn.
He either takes it all or just a piece of me.
He either has my whole heart or just what I am willing to offer.
This is where I stand and refuse to look away from his torn, bloody, broken body beaten with love for me.
This is where I come to terms with my true identity.
I won’t appear a victim or martyr or dirty ugly rotten selfish whore.
This is where I leave my fathers house and come with open heart, satisfying the King’s desire for my beauty.
To be like Jesus means we embrace humility and love those who deny and despise us. We see His heart open wide and weep for Israel as they drive Him out of cities and attempt to stone Him. We see how he reacted in love and tenderness towards Peter’s denial of Him. As He hung bleeding from the cross, arms open wide, taking upon Himself the sin of us all, He loved from the depths of His being, feeling the pain but not reacting out of it. In the cross He won our battle and succeeded but He succeeded by walking through disgrace. He was not pretentious but was truth itself. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He did not withhold the gifts the Father gave Him. He was not self-sabotaging but came as an example to us of true Life. He did only what the Father told Him to do and did not withhold out of insecurity or pride. In the midst of rejection, He spoke truth boldly yet lived to serve humanity.
To be like Him means that we end the self-sabotaging, self-deprecating and false humility. We walk out our gifts not to esteem ourselves but to serve Jesus and man. We don’t shrink back because of our fear of failure but in meekness within the bounds of intimacy we offer all that we have.
Last week my mom called me in a rage explaining that she and a friend got into an argument. She and this friend have known each other for years now but one day, her friend, out of nowhere declared that Jesus was in fact not God. “God wouldn’t die for me”, she responded, “that’s ludicrous!”. My mom was indignant. How could this woman say that? Her friend had grown up in a very conservative denomination. My mom pointed out the famous John 1:1… “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I mean… that’s pretty self-explanatory. I’ve had some pretty stiff disagreements with people who have said that you can still be saved and not believe Jesus was God. WHAT???
Yesterday, I was meditating on this verse and hope began filling my heart. We cannot be saved unless we believe that God, Himself, came to earth as a human because He loves humans and wanted to identify with humans. Only God can be perfect as Jesus is perfect and in order for us to be saved we had to have the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Nothing can remedy and restore our souls but the perfect blood of the perfect God-man. The blood of bulls and goats was not enough. And not only this but the blood of Jesus has supernatural elements that empower us to walk in holiness. It has allowed us access into the very presence of God, to have communion with Him and to allow Him to speak to us and teach us and empower us to walk worthy before Him. Jesus did not stay in the tomb. That was not the end of the story. We cannot have relationship with Him unless He had risen. He cannot speak to us unless He is alive.
I love the rest of the passage as well: John 1:1-5 ” 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.”
Jesus was the very Word of God. He was the method the Father used to communicate to His beloved ones. He loved and desired us to such a great extent that He sent His beautiful Son to come and teach humanity truth. The Father and Son had such wonderful fellowship, even from the beginning of all things. Before the earth was formed, they were in relationship. Jesus, the Word of God, breathed life into every living thing. He is the source of life. The source of light and truth and darkness cannot overcome it. This Light is so powerful that darkness has no chance against it. Even when the wicked rages against the Light and goes to battle against it, there is no defeating the light. The source of life cannot lose the battle with death.
The darkness does not understand the light… mainly because it’s deeds are evil and it does not want to turn to the Light. The darkness loves to remain the way it is. If Light challenges darkness (and it will), the darkness will hate the Light.
Walk in the Light while it is still day.
I feel as though I’ve been buried under rubble all of my life and in the last couple of weeks hope has come and lifted off of me the weight of the world and the even greater wait of hopelessness that has been the tiger on my back all of my life. Part of this lifting began as I hid myself in the secret place; a dark bedroom with a dim lamp, a few candles and the Holy Spirit. Instead of repeating to myself over and over (like I have my entire life) “you’re so stupid”, “you’re worthless” , “you can’t do anything right”, “you’re ugly” and even the weird conundrum of “all you are is a pretty face”… I’m actually praying scripture… truth about who God is… that He is kind, patient, mighty to save, good, generous, attentive, caring and loving. I’ve been praying scriptures about who I am to Him with truth such as “His delight”, “separated and kept”, “dark but lovely”, “the object of His desire”, “belonging to Him”, “recipient of His loving devotion”, “the joy set before Him”, “the apple of His eye”, His special treasure”.
I use to have doubts that tongue held so much power as James 3 speaks about but it really does. Speaking forth truth to a precious God who is attentive and loves hearing our voices does wonders for identity issues. And when we speak these things out and wait to hear His observations on this truth… that’s when He comes. This is when He makes His love known and whispers mysteries that shift things in our hearts. For the first time in my life I’ve been able to separate the truths from the lies as He speaks to me about how He is making me strong. He speaks to me about His great passion to make tragedies into something profoundly breathtaking and glorious and He does not withhold this from anyone who comes to Him in faith. NOT FROM ANYONE (even from me). He loves the great exchange of His life and love for our pain and despair. And He loves weaving it into an ornate tapestry of the charecter of God and His tenderness and kindness and compassion toward human beings.
To end I will share a rather tender dream that I have been holding onto for awhile. In it, I was standing in the back bookstore office talking to a friend and co-worker. There were other people in the room which gave it a “public” feel (which I realized now represents the prayer room). She was rebuking me for speaking rudely and unkindly to someone she loved. In that moment I felt the grief of having caused someone else pain. I repented for my behaviour and became frustrated with myself. I began telling my friend that I was so sorry and explained to her various things that had happened in my childhood and how I still sometimes act out of that deep pain. She started walking out of the room and beckoned me to come follow her. We walked into a hidden storage area (that actually does not exist in reality). She turned around to get something behind her and when she stood to face me again, I could see tears running down her face. She was weeping for me. I could see the compassion in her eyes as she understood and knew the things that I had experienced. She felt my pain. In her hands were a pair of pants and on top of them was my Bible. The dream ended.
I woke up wondering at first what in the world the pants were for. What did all of this mean? As I met her (representing the Holy Spirit) in the secret place she was covering my shame… with TRUTH. I was seeing the Holy Spirit’s compassion over my life and identifying with it in a deep way. Yes… He is wild and untamed but He’s also gentle and tender with our hearts. He “knows we are but dust”. He’s been there and experienced pain much more profoundly than anything we have experienced.
I was meditating on John 17:23 this morning.
23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
It is astounding to think that God the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus. Jesus is perfect and obedient and beautiful and has never once turned His back on the Father yet the Father loves us as equally as Him.
I thought of the parable of the lost sheep and how the Father left His Son to hang on the cross. He left Him… so that the Father could come after us. So that the Father could be in relationship with us… the mangy, lost, disobedient, unruly sheep….
Last night I had a long talk with my (earthly) dad about a very hurtful situation that is happening right now. I’ve had two moments of significant betrayal in my life. One when I was twelve years old and another when I was 23. For the first time, my dad and I were able to sort through the situation that happened when I was a kid. For the first time I was able to hear the whole story and I was able to share with him some things that happened to me in the midst of that in which he never knew about.
I was up last night weeping about the trail of blood that has been left behind in the aftermath of this current situation. Not just my own minor feeling of betrayal but the pain many others must be feeling, namely a certain family. I was up until about 5am as Jesus walked me back through that original moment of betrayal as a child. The Lord spoke to me that all of the reactions I’ve had to pain from others or even perceived affliction from others were actually reactions from the incident when I was 12 years old. As I allowed the Lord to meet me in that time and space when true anger and rage built a well in my heart and a wall around my spirit… I made a decision. I chose to forgive. I chose to love. To subconciously still be living in that incident 17 years later had been a waste of my heart.
To extend mercy is compassion. It’s not our own shallow version of subconscious, self-seeking humanitarianism. True compassion says to a repentant soul: “Jesus poured His mercy on me, and in turn I want to be like Him and extend the same gift to you. He has forgotten my sin and now I will forget yours.” There is grace for the process of forgiveness depending on the depth of the wound inflicted. Jesus is patient as we sort out the dilemmas of our broken hearts. And most importantly, He clearly promises to redeem ALL things. This is where true hope lies. No matter the weight of darkness that surrounds us. No matter the depth of sin we’ve been victimized by. No matter the pain of knowing of we have hurt our loved ones in the greatest ways imaginable….
He is our hope. The only true hope. And one day He will remove pain and destruction and sin and He will wipe it from this planet forever.