Posts Tagged ‘Sin’

I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?” (Psalm 6:3)

“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (Lamentations 5:21)

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

“‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.  For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.’  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children  Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?  If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.  Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how.  But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful!  But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”  (Hebrews 12:5b-13)

The Lord restores.  The Lord can, does, and will restore anything He wants to, for the whole world and everything in it belongs to Him.

We experience loss in our lives from many different sources; things we cherish become casualties of living in a fallen world and we watch as things and people we love die, relationships end, reputations flounder, possessions disappear.  Many of our sacrifices add up to so little in return or to nothing at all; dreams and ambitions get thwarted or we outright fail in so many ways.  Sometimes we lose precious, irreplaceable things through no fault of our own.  Sometimes we are directly responsible for painful losses we experience; our own sin, our own horrible judgment decisions rob us and destroy us.

This is a personal post, one in which I am compelled to document on a personal level that the Lord restores.  What can easily be called “The Lost Years” of my life were caused by my rebellion.

For me, there was a 4 year window of time in my young adult life where I was given the opportunity to take the next step in my educational path and attend a wonderful college to pursue my undergraduate degree.  The sky was the limit.  This was an opportunity in discovery that could go either way, to my benefit or to my destruction.

I was afforded the life that many do not get to live.  The campus was a paradise.  The classrooms, library and fitness facilities were state of the art.  The best.  Even the dining hall food was excellent.  I could have seized the moment in every way to feed my mind with every marvel in education I was curious about. I could have sculpted my body into physically the strongest and fittest version of myself possible.  I could have spent my time in social settings, doing fun, healthy things with others, forging and fostering lifelong friendships and relationships.  I could have networked and belonged to strong communities that would aid me throughout my life as I needed them.  I could have grown strong in my faith and spent my time renewing my mind and life in the beauty and guidance of God’s Eternal Word.  I could have given to others in so many ways and been a light in their lives.  I could have…I should have…

But instead of achieving these virtuous things, I was attracted to trouble makers who had no focus, no ambition, no goals of any worth.  I was attracted to carefree, lazy, godless people who only cared about having a good time and so I became just like them.  I managed to graduate from school after 4 years there, but aside from my paper, I have nothing to show for my time there other than heartache and regret at all the opportunities that I foolishly threw away.

These thoughts and many more have been a heavy burden on my heart for a long time. The sobering reality that I cannot ever go back and do it over has haunted me.  If only I could go back, I would do it right.

This may seem petty in the grand scheme of the world and world events.  It may seem petty in comparison to what most people consider true loss, myself included. I am not naive to tragedy and real loss, but loss happens on many levels and it impacts us in many different ways.  For me, this was a loss that landed squarely on my shoulders.  I was completely to blame for the collective loss of 4 years of my life that I have dubbed “The Lost Years”.   My sin; my own rebellion did this to me.

But the Lord restores.

After 15 years, the Lord has given me a new opportunity and I have the chance again to seize every good thing from this new window of time.  It’s like a smaller-lesser version of the Parable of the Lost Son has happened to me: I had it made, went away, squandered everything, was a loser, returned to the Lord, committed my life to Him again, and after several years of wondering what could have been ‘if only’, I am being restored in a very tangible and pleasantly emotional way.  Of course, the Parable of the Lost Son concerns the eternal implications of being lost and found, but it speaks to my heart greatly when I consider it as also applying to my earthly life and what I have lost due to my rebellion.  I praise God that He has saved me from eternal destruction.  I also praise Him that He is able to restore me in my life on earth as well.

The heartache of loss and regret I’ve carried for 15 years is the fuel that keeps hot the fire that is refining me.  I am grateful for this new door that has opened to me. To walk through it means that I must leave the room of emptiness I have been trapped in for so long.  I get to finally leave that room and shut the door behind me. I get to walk through the door of opportunity once again and make the most of what awaits me on the other side of it.  Just the knowledge alone that there is a new, fresh chapter opening up to me has restored my hope, my outlook on my life, my outlook on myself, my perception of my own worthiness, all of which had been what seemed irreversibly damaged because of my own sin.

The Lord restores.

As the children of God, we have the promise from our Lord that He makes things new again.  The Lord restores.  “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” Though Job did nothing to deserve the horrible things that happened to him, Scriptures say that, when Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored all of his fortunes and blessed him even more (Job 42:10-17).  Likewise, Joseph and many other people in Scripture suffered loss through no fault of their own.  But they were restored.

King David, who was directly responsible for heart-wrenching losses because of his sins (the child he created with Bathsheba died and he watched of 70,000 die by plague because he took a census of his warrior count instead of trusting the power of his Lord, to name a couple) also experienced the restoration of the Lord.

Does restoration mean that we get back exactly what we lost? No, it does not.  But the effects of loss take a toll on our spirit, our minds and our bodies.  As the saying goes, perception is reality.  Through the renewing of our minds in our communion with the Lord, He restores us.  This restoration may sometimes manifest itself in our physical world and belongings as well, but He restores US.

Praise the Lord for second chances.  Praise the Lord that He chastens, disciplines and then gently helps us to stand.  Praise the Lord for the wilderness, for when we have wandered through it on our own accord only to be left parched and barely hanging on, He offers the oasis to quench our thirst and give us life again. Praise the Lord for the experience of The Lost Years in whatever form they come, for without the acute and sharp knowledge that we have lost something precious, we take for granted what we have, particularly time.  Praise the Lord for new beginnings, the reminder of which we have every single day with every rising sun.  Praise the Lord that the earth and everything in it belongs to Him, for everything is at His disposal and perfect judgment.  Praise the Lord for His unfailing Love, for without it all is lost and can never be found.

I write this entry from the perspective of one who has experienced the rush of being set free from a spiritual and emotional bondage; the heavy shackles of regret and longing.

However, just last week, I wore those shackles.  Yet, I knew I am loved by Christ Jesus.  I knew I would be restored, whether in this life or in the eternal life He has given me.  Christ’s love is sufficient for everything and I have lived my life for several years now trusting in His love every single day.  I did not know that it was His desire to help ease my mind over my version of The Lost Years, but now I know.

If you are experiencing “The Lost Years” now or if you are lamenting your past, I am writing this for you.  The Lord restores.  The Lord can restore you if something precious has been taken from you. His love is sufficient.  The Lord can restore you if you are suffering by your own hand, your own sin.  His love is sufficient.  The Lord can restore refreshing waters into the desert wilderness you live in.  Whatever our circumstance, however seemingly hopeless, the Lord is infinitely bigger.  He can handle our mess and restore us.  Have hope.  Pray.  Answer your conscience.  Sin no more.  Whether in this life or in life eternal or both, the Lord is Mighty and He restores and makes new again. What an amazing thing it is to be the recipient of a gift so wonderful.  Praise the Lord.

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last–salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.  And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.  Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!  And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!  But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.'” (Revelation 12:10-12)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

‘You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.'” (Matthew 5:13-16)

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy–a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16)

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:14)

“I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous.  Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.” (Acts 24:15-16)

The Holy Scriptures tell us that in the last days there will be a “great falling away” and that people’s hearts will “wax cold”.  These are Scriptures about so-called “Christians” who are morally and spiritually indifferent. We are wise to take note and take stock of our own lives if we call ourselves Christians.

David prayed to God to search his heart, all the nooks and crannies, and hidden places inside him and bring forth anything that offended Him so that David could address his shortcomings with God and walk in righteousness.  David was eager to repent of anything that grieved the Lord and to live in right standing with God.

When God says “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways”, this is directed at His people, not the world-at-large. He is expectantly waiting for us to turn to Him and repent of our sins and live righteous lives.

This may be a terrifying expectation for many of us. There may be frightful consequences awaiting us if we repent of sinful things we are doing and instead choose the path of righteousness.  We may be in over our heads in sin, making one poor judgment decision after another, having followed our hearts and “what seemed right” into messes we cannot fathom being free from without paying such a price in consequences that our knees buckle at the thought.

Yet our conscience convicts us no matter where we run and hide.  We may lie to the people in our lives and we may lie to ourselves in an attempt to justify what we do, but our conscience haunts us.  Yes, we are grieving the Holy Spirit of God who lives within us and He is trying to get our attention so that we can address this thing before it is too late.

Immediately upon being convicted of our sins, we have a decision to make.  The longer we postpone doing the right thing, the harder it becomes to do the right thing.  But living in denial does not make the consequences of our sins go away.  Sooner or later, we will face them.

Below are 5 unfortunate realities of the unrepentant “Christian”:

1) What is done in the dark will be brought to light.  Try as we might to keep our sins hidden, all the heavens see what we are doing.  Even if God and the host of the heavens wanted to avert their eyes and ears to our sins, Scripture tells us the devil accuses us before God day and night. Satan is actively before the throne of God, airing all of our “dirty laundry”.  We are in the spotlight, whether we know it or not.  In the spiritual battles of our lives, when we are unrepentant, we lose; even worse, we dishonor God, for our enemy proudly points out the fact that we choose to continue our life of sin over our Lord who gave His life to buy our freedom.

2) Sin is what separates us from God.  Christ Jesus conquered sin and death once and for all for the very purpose of reconciling us, reuniting us, with God.  Confessing and repenting of our sins is our testimony that Christ Jesus is the Lord of our lives and that we live freely in Christ, not in slavery to sin and death.   If we are “saved” from the power of sin and death, our lives bear the proof of this. Our very lives are the evidence.  Living unrepentant, sinful lives is the evidence that we are separated from God, not united to Him.

3) The prayers of an unrepentant “Christian” are not effective.  Part of our daily prayers must be that we ask God to forgive us of our sins.  We have this amazing privilege through the power of the blood that Christ Jesus shed for us; the power through which God forgives us so that we can approach Him without shame.  Yet, a condition for receiving forgiveness is that we do not continue doing that which we are asking forgiveness for.  And if we do not have forgiveness from God, how do we have His ear when we pray?  We do not.  Deep down we know this and it keeps us from praying anyway because we cannot boldly approach the throne of God while we choose sin over righteousness.

4) The unrepentant “Christian” is the salt that lost its flavor; the lamp put under a basket.  If Christians are called to be “the salt of the earth” (being the preserving presence in the earth) by our righteous lives and our prayers, what does it mean if we are not living righteously or praying?  If the Christian is called to light the darkness of the world, what does it mean if we are instead living in the spiritual shadows?  It means there is no evidence that we are even saved.  For a saved soul is a repentant soul; a saved soul is one that actively seeks right standing with God, that walks toward the light and in the light, not in darkness.  There is no such thing as an unrepentant Christian.

5) There are always consequences for our sins.  For every action, there is a reaction.  If the fear of the consequences of our sins is keeping us from repenting and doing the right thing, we are living in denial; we are hoping that if we can somehow stay hidden, we will not have to pay the consequences for our actions.  However, delaying the inevitable most often just makes the situation worse. David was wise when it was time for him to face major consequences for his sins.  He said, “I am in a desperate situation!  But let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great.  Do not let me fall into human hands.” (1 Chronicles 21:13)  Yes, no matter what our sins are or the consequences we face, when we repent, God is on our side and He is merciful.  The world is not merciful. Do we want to face the consequences doled out by God or do we want to face the consequences doled out by the world?  Either way, there are always consequences.

May we fear the Lord more than we would ever fear any earthly consequences of our sins.  May we approach Him in humility, confess our sins and REPENT while there is still time. May our lives be the lives of overcomers, servants of the Most High God, representing His Holy Kingdom in every way.  May we be faithful to the end and may it never be said of us that our hearts waxed cold or that we were part of the “great falling away”.  May it never be said that we were lukewarm, following our hearts wherever the wind blew us. May we never hear the words, “I never knew you” from the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.  People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.  This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time.  God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26)

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon.  May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar.  Go and be reconciled to that person.  Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

“‘God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.  Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand.  And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.  For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’ So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!’ Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?‘ Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children and even to the Gentiles —  all who have been called by the Lord our God.’ Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation!'” (Acts 2:32-40)

Guilt, noun; the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty

Guilty, adj; 1) Responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act; deserving of blame 2) Suffering from or prompted by a sense of guilt

Repent, verb; 1) to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life 2) to change one’s mind

One of the most sobering realities of the story of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is that he punished himself for his sins instead of repenting of his sins.

Judas had plotted with the leading priests and teachers of religious law as they tried to find a way to kill Jesus and, ultimately, took 30 pieces of silver in exchange for Jesus’ life, famously betraying Jesus with a kiss, which was the way Judas agreed to single Jesus out from the group of disciples.

He stood there and watched Jesus get arrested and led away to what Judas knew was certain death.

When the weight of Judas’ action settled into his conscience and he realized how reprehensible his act was, he was wrought with guilt. We can imagine that the inevitable “Oh, what have I done?” bombarded his mind and conscience.

We know he rushed back to the religious leaders and tried to return the 30 pieces of silver to them in an attempt to wash himself of the blood that was on his hands.  “When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse.  So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he declared, ‘for I have betrayed an innocent man.’ ‘What do we care?’ they retorted.  ‘That’s your problem.’ (Matthew 27:3-4)

Overwhelmed with remorse and tormented by his guilty conscience, Judas made another horrible and permanent decision to pay the ultimate price for his sin by killing himself, “Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5)  Satan won that battle through guilt and Judas pays the eternal price.

In sharp contrast to the way Judas responded to guilt, we also learn about the Pharisee Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul.  Saul, too, had innocent blood on his hands.  He was feared far and wide for his relentless persecution of Christians and was present for the murder of Stephen at the hands of an angry mob.  He’d approved completely of Stephen’s stoning and actually hunted down many other Christians before being confronted by Jesus Christ himself on the road to Damascus.

Saul had a choice to make once he saw his sin.  Upon experiencing overwhelming remorse and guilt, he repented.  When confronted with his sin, he changed his mind, turned from his sin, and dedicated himself to amending his ways.  In other words, he took action to reconcile himself to God and the followers of Jesus.

Because of our sin nature, we are more than capable of horrendous sins against God, against others and especially against ourselves.  Our sins can be blatant, intentional, or unintentional.  The most tricky of all, we can follow paths that seem right to us, but that are wrong and sinful and lead to spiritual death after wreaking havoc in our lives.

For the Christian, our conscience, the Holy Spirit inside of us, checks us and shows us when we are wrong and have sinned.

Guilt should be a healthy prompt for us to take action for reconciliation, to repent.  If we don’t repent, we cannot be forgiven. Repentance is part of salvation.  Repentance is the evidence that we are not the lord of our own lives, but that we submit to the will of the Lord Almighty and agree with our conscience that we have violated His ways and need to immediately make it right.

Guilt should never be a burden we carry around with us like a heavy, smothering coat.  If we carry guilt from day to day, we are making a choice of inaction instead of repentance.  The inaction may be because we would rather live with the guilt than stop committing the sin that’s causing the guilt. It may be that we’re afraid of the consequences of confessing our sin and attempting reconciliation with the person we’ve sinned against.  Pride may hold us back from repentance as we talk ourselves into believing some justification for our sins over submitting to the urgings of our conscience. Our repentance may mean that the world of someone else will be turned upside down and we fear that consequence as well.

Whatever the reason for inaction, and however convincing it may be, it is simply disobedience to the will of God.

The Holy Scriptures admonish us work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  (Philippians 12:2)  Our repentance is most certainly part of working out our salvation and it is truly the only appropriate way to respond to guilt.

If we feel guilty for anything, we have a choice to make — Repentance, which frees us from the bondage of guilty torment, or inaction/continued sin, which leads to death. 

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our evil nature.  We were born with an evil nature and we were under God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.  (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.  God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)

One of the great mysteries of God and spirituality is the notion that we are all born dead because of sin.  It’s difficult to fathom that people can be physically alive, hearts beating, minds thinking, walking, doing, working, but dead.  Without Christ, we are spiritually dead.  Without Christ, we naturally and of our own free-will obey the devil, the commander of the powers of the unseen world and the spirit at work in our dead hearts.

Since all creatures eventually physically die, the only hope anything has is that its spirit will live on when its body succumbs to death.

Christians understand that sin makes this impossible.  Sin is the great divide between a creature and its Creator, Who knows no sin and Who, by His very nature, cannot abide it.  The price that must be paid to cancel the debt of sin is death.  Physical death and Spiritual death.  No list of our good deeds can be long enough or adequate enough to pay the debt of sin and save us from death.  There is nothing we can do to avoid meeting our doom.  We are tainted; born that way.  We had no control in our birth into this world and we are absolutely helpless in our efforts to live on when our time is up.

But God loved us so much that He had a plan to save us from our doom; an answer that conquered death.  Since only one who is not tainted by sin can help those who are perishing from sin and since the price of sin is death, only God could pay the price to cancel our debt and redeem us from the grave.

And His plan all along was to do just that, which He did through Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up as a sacrifice in our place, the ultimate price of death paid in full.

But that’s only part of the beautiful mystery that converts us from dead men walking to living heirs of the Eternal Kingdom of God.

The second part of the mystery is that Jesus Christ was physically raised from the dead after 3 days and He walked out of His tomb in His new resurrected body.  He lived in the community for 40 days after this and was plainly seen by hundreds of people, not as an apparition, but in His body which bore the wounds and evidence of His death.

Those who saw him were willing to die for their testimony that He was alive and many of them were killed over this.  But they understood that their life was sealed in eternity because of Jesus, and physical death could not take it away from them.

Lastly, Scripture says that those who believe this story of God’s plan of redemption are saved from death.  We are believers, not dead men walking.  We are the light of Jesus Christ on this earth and have eternal life through Christ, forever.

To this day, believers are being persecuted and killed all over the world because they will not renounce their belief in the eternal salvation they have in Christ Jesus.  Physical death is being forced upon them by the powers of evil in this world, but their physical death is a 100% guarantee anyway.  They lose nothing.  They gain everything.

 

 

We know that the law is spiritual, but I am not spiritual since sin rules me as if I were its slave.  I do not understand the things I do.  I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.  And if I do not want to do the hated things I do, that means I agree that the law is good.  But I am not really the one who is doing these hated things; it is sin living in me that does them.  Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me–I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful.  I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them.  I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do.  So if I do things I do not want to do, then I am not the one doing them.  It is sin living in me that does those things.  So I have learned this rule:  When I want to do good, evil is there with me.  In my mind, I am happy with God’s law.  But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts.  That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner.  What a miserable man I am!  Who will save me from this body that brings me death?  I thank God for saving me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful self I am a slave to the law of sin.”  (Romans 7:20-25)

“Christ died, and we have been joined with him by dying too.  So we will also be joined with him by rising from the dead as he did.  We know that our old life died with Christ on the cross so that our sinful selves would have no power over us and we would not be slaves to sin.  Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.  If we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.  Christ was raised from the dead, and we know that he cannot die again.  Death has no power over him now.  Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time–enough for all time.  He now has a new life, and his new life is with God.  In the same way, you should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive with God through Christ Jesus.  So, do not let sin control your life here on earth so that you do what your sinful self wants to do.  Do not offer the parts of your body to serve sin, as things to be used in doing evil.  Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have died and now live.  Offer the parts of your body to God to be used in doing good.  Sin will not be your master, because you are not under law but under God’s grace.”  (Romans 6:5-14)

We are all born into this world as slaves.  From birth, even the most affluent and genetically strongest among us have the chips of life stacked against us because of sin, which ends in death for every single one of us.  No human except Christ has ever lived without the shackles of sin constantly tearing at us, making us do things that violate our conscience and stopping us from doing the things that would lift our spirits up and give us hope.  What a truly miserable and hopeless existence.

Those who do not have Christ are spiritually dead.  Their willpower is no match for Satan and his kingdom of sin and darkness.  Their lives are a miserable cycle of doing the bad things they don’t want to do and not doing the good things they do want to do.  With hardened hearts, they accept their lot in life, doing whatever they feel they need to do in order to survive. They don’t realize that no one survives sin.

As Paul exclaims, though, thank God for Christ Jesus who gives us freedom!  Our dead spirits are born again into the life of Christ, which is free from the chains of sin and death.  Christ lives in us and because of His authority, we do not battle sin with mere human willpower, but with the perfect will of Christ.

The battle is a lifelong battle because we’re living in a fallen, war-torn world for now.  But we’re just passing through.  This world is not our home.  We belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and our Master is the Most High God, Who gives us freedom and calls us His children.  He gives us all we need to resist Satan and sin.  He fights for us when we call out to Him.  He places us out of reach of evil when we call upon His mighty name.  He is never far from us and He always provides us a way to escape the trap of temptation and sin. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Indeed, in Christ, we are no longer slaves and prisoners.  We are heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.  What a contrast!

Satan will do everything he can to steal God’s promises from us, so the war rages on inside.  As God’s children, we have the power to stand, to resist and to overcome.  We are FREE in Christ.  Our lives must reflect our freedom.  Our lives must be the evidence that the One who conquered sin and death is our Lord.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’  And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (Psalm 32:5)

“Either way, Christ’s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves.  Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.  So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.  At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.  How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.  Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Don’t deceive yourselves.  Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.  Some of you were once like that.  But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

“He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” (Romans 4:25)

“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.”  (Revelation 12:11)

Salvation is not a cookie cutter prayer at the front of a church. Salvation is the point where our belief in Christ Jesus, conviction of our sins, confession of our sins and repentance of our sins occur.  The result of these actions is that God forgives us and makes us new in Christ Jesus so that we are no longer slaves to sin.  The evidence of our salvation is that we live a lifestyle in Christ of life and truth that replaces our old dead lifestyle, whatever it was.

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last–salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.’  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:10

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away and I groaned all day long.  Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.  Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone!” Psalm 32:3-5

Our Father’s hand of discipline is on us day and night so we will confess our sins because our enemy stands before Him day and night accusing us.

Accuse: verb, action–To blame someone for something wrong or illegal; to say that someone is guilty of a fault or crime judicially or by a public process.

Satan is announcing our sins to the entire heavenly realm day and night.  Our sins are known by all in the heavens and are on full display.  Because of this, our relationship with God is frayed for as long as we stay silent.

We disarm our enemy, the great accuser, when we confess our sins to God and repent of them.  Because of the precious blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for our sins, when we confess, repent, and ask for God’s forgiveness, we are made blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:22).   Satan’s accusations are instantly invalid.  Therefore, confession is a mighty weapon of warfare and we should be ready and willing to respond to God the very moment we are convicted of sin.