Posts Tagged ‘ Sin ’

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee;

Let the water and the blood, From thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.

I find that songwriters have a gift for expressing the core truths of our faith with fresh and powerful images. One of the cornerstones of the Christian faith is our belief that we need a Savior. It was out of this belief that the hymn Rock of Ages was penned.

Augustus Toplady published an article in which he calculated that a person, who lived to the age of 80, would have committed about 2.5 billion sins.1 At the end of that article he published the words to Rock of Ages. He must have hoped that his readers would realize their total inability to pay the debt they owed for their sins, and would recognize their dire need of a Savior.

I don’t know how many sins I’ve committed. But I do know there is nothing I can do to undo those many wrongs. Rock of Ages reminds me I have a refuge to hid in, a cross to cling to, and a fountain to cleanse me. That gives me comfort and hope.

Take a moment to reflect on Tolady’s words, and then go to your Rock of Ages and take refuge in him!

Hide

Cling

Fountain

1 Bill Dagle:http://www.songtime.com/hymn/hymn0507.htm

Do What Works!

…live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 1 Peter 4:2-3 NRSV

MP900400690[1] The American Psychological Association (APA) is a nationwide organization that promotes psychology. According to their website, they strive to advance the application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

Since psychology is all about thinking, feeling and behaving, you would think that the APA would be very interested in promoting the kinds of moral guidelines that promote human well-being. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. The APA is a scientific organization, and it is not in the business of promoting any particular moral or religious code.

But I imagine that the APA would agree with the principle behind Peter’s words. He is telling his brothers and sisters in Christ that enough is enough. He knows they have tried all kinds of self-indulgent behaviors. They have followed every passion and desire. They have gone their own way, and almost drown in the sea of sin.

Now it’s time to look at where all those behaviors have left them. Sin has not enhanced their lives. Carousing has failed to bring them peace. Lawless idolatry hasn’t saved their souls. None of their sinful behaviors have done them any good at all!

MP900422224[1] If what you did didn’t work, then why would you keep doing it? That’s a question a psychologist might ask. I think it is also what’s on Peter’s mind when he tells his readers to stop living by human desires, and to start living by the will of God.

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Enough is enough! It’s time to go a different way. It’s time to march to a different drummer. It’s time to follow Jesus Christ, and to live our lives for him. That’s what works. That’s what brings peace, promotes love and infuses lives with joy!

I imagine that even the APA would agree that we should do what works. I have followed Jesus, and I can tell you, it works! Why not join me? Leave sin behind, and go God’s way!  

 

The Best Way

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:18 NRSV

MP900178811[1] “What can I do to make up for what I’ve done?” That’s a question we’ve all asked. When we make a mistake, cause a problem or hurt someone, we want to want to right our wrong. We want to make up for the troubled we caused.

So we try to find ways to undo what we have done. We apologize. We make promises to change our ways. Then we do things to make amends. All of that makes good sense, and can help restore broken relationships and lost trust.

Pad of Paper & Pen The only problem is that whole approach tends to turn life into a score card. Every mistake and every misstep gets recorded and awaits some corresponding act of restitution. Of course, if  all our wrongs were recorded we  would be quickly overwhelmed by the enormity of what we owe. We would be enslaved to a never ending quest to pay off our mounting debts. There’s just no offering big enough, and no apology long enough to undo what we have done.

We owe an enormous debt.

That’s where forgiveness comes in.  Forgiveness wipes the slate clean. Forgiveness offers us the opportunity to start again, with no debts to pay.

In Old Testament times, God gave people a complex system of offerings and sacrifices to follow for atonement. But ultimately the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. Then, with Jesus, God made the ultimate sacrifice. His sacrifice provided redemption once and for all for all who accept his saving grace.

God’s forgiveness is a gift of grace, given in love and at great MP900382868[1]cost. It is a gift that is completely undeserved and unearned. Therein lies the problem. We need it, but we can’t earn it. All we can really do is to admit our shortcomings, and throw ourselves into the grace filled arms of Jesus Christ. All we can do is accept the unfailing love he has shown for us, and the forgiveness he offers.

God’s forgiveness is a gift of grace.

The truth is, where there is forgiveness of sins, there are no offerings required. All that is needed is an open heart, that is penitent toward sin and receptive of God’s grace.

So what can you do to make up for what you’ve done? You can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You can ask for and receive the forgiveness God is offering. Then you can step forward as one who is redeemed, restored and forgiven!

Forgiveness copy

Prayer:

Forgiving God, I have fallen short of the mark. I need your cleansing, redeeming, restoring grace to forgive my sins and to wipe my slate clean. Thank you for the love that gives me a new start!

Amen.

Getting God’s forgiveness is the best way to go!

Opportunity Knocks: Will You Answer?

Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Peter 1:14 NRSV

MP900449043[1]Opportunity came knocking. I answered.

“It looked like fun. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I did it anyway. I thought, how bad could it be?”

Now look where I am. I’m in a hole.

The story is as old as humankind.

Even when we make bad choices, God is still at work in our lives. God knows when we fall, and sees us languishing in our holes. God graciously orders circumstances in our lives to give us the opportunity to turn our lives around. In our weakness, God offers us strength. In our confusion, God offers clarity. In our bondage, God offers us freedom. In our brokenness, God offers us wholeness.

There will always be opportunities to fall and inclinations to sin. There will also be opportunities to love God and respond to God’s grace.

MP900446559[1]So whether or not you are in a hole right now, which way are you leaning? Are you inclined to acknowledge God, accept God’s love for you, submit to God’s will, and conform your life to a pattern of holy living? Or are you more inclined to satisfy your own desires and live by your own rules?

Christians have a choice. We get to choose the kind of life we live. The choice is to follow evil desires, or to strive to be holy in all we do. We must choose wisely when opportunity comes knocking!

Of course this is not a one-time choice. It’s a decision we have to reaffirm day by day, and sometimes moment by moment!

Today’s verse reminds us that when opportunity knocks we are to choose wisely, and conform our lives to what God wants. We are to align our behaviors with the One who calls us. We are to live by God’s law, by the principles outlined in God’s Word, and by the example given us by Jesus Christ.

Then we will glorify God and stay out of the hole, no matter what opportunity or inclination comes our way!

Fight the Good Fight!

Therefore…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Throw off every sin, and run the race for Jesus. That’s easier said than done!MP900438620[1]

As a psychology instructor, I know how easy it is to tell people what  they should be doing. But that doesn’t mean they do it, or that I am good at following my own advice. Often, the real problem isn’t not knowing what is right, but doing what is right.

This is a dilemma for many of us as Christians. Jesus died for our sins, giving us the forgiveness we so desperately needed. But that is only the beginning. We have to keep on turning away from the sin and temptation that daily entangle us. That is where the real battle is waged!

Forgiveness is only the beginning!

John Owens says that believers, who are freed from sin’s condemning power, ought to make it their business to mortify the indwelling power of sin.

Today, we don’t hear much about mortifying sin, but Owens reminds us how important the fight against sin is for all Jesus’ followers. Let’s explore one of Owens’ thoughts, and see how we might fight the good fight of faith. Owen’s says:

“The problem is, if we are not killing sin, sin will be killing us.”

The only way we can grow our faith and deepen our devotion to God is to make more room for God in our lives. If we want to have more room for God, we must work to give less room to sin. That’ means limiting sin’s influence.

Even though God’s grace offers us forgiveness and frees us from sin’s condemnation, sin is still in us, working to entangle us in the deeds of MP900314229[1]the flesh. Paul wrote in Romans 7:19 that the sin at work in him kept him from doing the good he wanted to do, and drove him to do the very things he didn’t want to do.

If sin is always acting, and we fail to do all we can to stop its influence in our life, we too will fall victim to the strife, envy, rage and destruction it causes.

To help us resist sin’s allure, and to minimize its influence over our lives, God gives us a new nature and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit acts against sin, strengthens our new nature, and helps us escape the world’s polluting influence. Wise Christians submit their wills to the leading of the Spirit, and use what God has given them in their daily battle with sin.MP900400238[1]

Let’s all strive to follow Owens’ admonition. Let’s do more than talk the talk. Let’s walk the walk! Let’s do the work of Christian living, using the tools God has given us to fight the good fight and run the race of faith!

Adapted from John Owens: On the Mortification of Sin in Believers.

Come Away

Die

Who wants to hear that? I do! If I am going to follow Jesus, then I want to know what Jesus wants from me.

According to Bonhoeffer, the call of Christ is the call to come and die. That means, those who answer Christ’s call will be leaving some things behind. They will be dying to self, dying to sin, dying to deceit, and dying to the past.

That’s good! Dying to self and sin removes guilt, washes away shame, and sets those who answer Christ’s call on a new course. It opens the way to becoming new creatures in Christ!

So the kind of dying Jesus is bidding us to do is not such a bad thing. It simply means leaving behind the old nature, the old life, and embracing God’s redeeming grace and restoring power!

Why not join me and answer Christ’s call today?

Turn to him. Embrace his love. Let go of the old life, and Come!