Lie 2: Your Sin is Special

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Join me in exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series.)

We don’t like to talk about our sin because we think people will judge us.

So we believe a lie that keeps us isolated and alone, one that falsely inflates our egos.

We believe our sin is special.

Convinced people won’t understand why we sin, we hide it. After all, they don’t know what leads us to make our choices. Despite what the old adage suggests, nobody, by walking a mile in another person’s shoes, knows the feel of the fit on the shoe owner’s feet.

It’s true- we are all individual people, with individual accounts to give before God. But when our individualized sin appears to be what’s special about us, we have a problem.

The inflation makes it seem as though our sins and our identities are one in the same. This lie makes a mess of our relationships, our concept of honesty, and our sense of shame. It makes a mess of us, melding us into people who hold sin in high regard.

lie2_verse

When we believe our sins are special, then:

  • Talking about them is risky
  • Our excuses seem valid
  • Others can’t get close to our real, imperfect selves
  • Sin’s isolating effect is falsely normalized
  • Sin looks way bigger than it is
  • We compare our sins
  • The forgiver of our sins seems under-equipped
Case Study: Comparison

Comparison suggests our sins are "special" because they are too little or too much.

We hesitate to tackle our sins when they seem so much worse than those around us face. At the same time, we sometimes excuse our sins when we compare our failings to the “bigger” sins of people we know.

Comparing our sins’ to others can entice us to blame others for our errors, minimize or exaggerate our own sins, and judge other people for theirs’.

Comparison is just another way sin deceives us about the special and personal quality of forgiveness by Christ. 

God is a knower of hearts. He knows more about our hearts than even we do. As He forms our hearts, He calls them special, good, and precious in His sight.

God believes we’re special.

Notice: it is not our sin He calls special. It’s us.

His proclamation of our value is demonstrated in this: Jesus sent His son to die for us, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life- freely (John 3:16.) It is for freedom Christ has set us free (John 8:36.)

Our freedom to be especially who He made us to be is humbling and precious.

We are uniquely created by Him and for Him- sin is a condition He didn’t choose for us and will remove for us.

Because we are special to Him, He takes special care to deal with our unique sin, forgiving these hearts He knows so well.

Call out the lie that seeks to enslave: sin isn’t unique. God is.

We are His, and He calls us special too.

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Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…looking for your thoughts to add to the Sin Lies Series!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

In Acceptance We Trust

{The fourth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

 Acceptance plays an important role in our self-worth and our reception of love. Without acceptance, it’s difficult to maintain a job, excel at anything, etc….Having other’s approval is valuable for living at peace with others and even reaching people for Christ.

Acceptance, like Google or medicine, is absolutely something God created and works through. When acceptance is viewed and lived well, it’s a gift.

acceptance

When acceptance by others is seen an end and not a means or as worthy of our reliance and dedication, we have a problem. Because this is where we trust in acceptance by others rather than trusting in God. Scripture often phrases this issue as trying to please people or win their approval.

Galatians 1:10 challenges us to ask:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. “

To live as a servant of God is not to live as one seeking to please man. Obviously, the Bible doesn’t also say: make no friends. Make people unhappy. By this, you will please God. (Wow would I be a role model somedays if this were His command!)

The Lord is all about good relationships and serving others.

The issue lies in the stock we put into others’ acceptance.

Trusting in acceptance means that we rely on others’ approval to validate what we do or who we are.

At the heart of acceptance is validation or justification. At the heart of trusting in acceptance- seeking to be justified and approved of.

Putting our trust in acceptance can look like this:

  1. If I am accepted by this person, I will feel loved.
  2. In feeling loved, I will be more worthwhile.
  3. My worthwhileness will enable me to do more good in the world.
  4. By doing good in the world, I’ll be more worthwhile.
  5. By being more worthwhile, I’ll be more lovable.
  6. By being more lovable, I’ll be more easily accepted by people.

Acceptance by others is justification for justification’s sake. It’s a cycle, a circle, and it’s self-contained.

There are two issues here.

Trusting in acceptance by others leaves us perpetually trying to earn more acceptance.

Trusting in others’ acceptance is precarious and risky; when we are rejected, as we will be, that’s just that. And it feels hopeless.

Really, that’s all one issue.

Because trusting in acceptance ultimately means trusting in our works. That’s how human acceptance functions. It’s based on what we do, what we strive for, and which other mere human beings care.

Trusting in acceptance by the Lord is so much more fulfilling and hopeful. Plus- it matters and lasts for eternity.

To be approved by God, all you need to do is be saved by Jesus Christ. Your works don’t matter. Your character doesn’t count. What He has done for you and who He is all that matters.

And the saved need to remember that daily. Because we are being rejected daily. We are failing daily. We are sinning, offending, hurting others, and seeking approval in all the wrong ways…daily.

I pray that we know this truth and live it because this is such a regular avenue of joy in the Christian life. Meanwhile, putting too much stock into being accepted by others is a regular source of discouragement. Take inventory.

How much of your life is based on seeking the approval of man? How much of your life is based on knowing you have been accepted by God and living a life pleasing to Him- worthy of your calling? (Ephesians 4:1)

For this series, I’ll be writing each Monday on something (or someone) I tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

Writers and non-writers are welcome to submit guest posts. Contact me here by June 12th telling me what you trust in besides God and how He helps you trust Him more.

Starting June 20th guest posting will begin!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

HE is More Than [Fill In the Blank]

Photo from: Piaxbay

We need to “love the Lord, not just the idea of the Lord” said my dear friend (SkillzUSA).

AKA: Don’t reduce God to some idea you have about Him and miss out on His whole person as a result.

Our ideas tend to address issues in reactionary ways, focusing on what isn’t and instead of what is. We come up with ideas to solve whatever’s bugging us. Ideas are tools. They are created, manipulated, and guided by the things we face. Ideas are dependent on people, and they revolve around people. They aren’t about what is, they are about what can be (and are usually in our favor).

More than that, ideas aren’t alive. They don’t interact with us. Ideas have no will apart from ours, no abilities that we haven’t fathomed.

When God is diminished to an idea -like a method for comfort when someone dies- we act as if God’s character depends on us. And what we want. And what we’re dealing with. We never get to what matters, we never open ourselves to a Lord that can surprise us and reach us even when we’ve forgotten He exists.

He is I AM. Done. Boom. From before time began. He is a living being who is more than anything you can fill in the blank with. Good news!

God doesn’t depend on you or I. He isn’t an idea. All those cautionary words and metaphors pointing out that God “isn’t just…” are pointing towards a complete truth that confronts the nature of man and brings us into a redemptive relationship with the one who IS.

In our attempts to be like God, we reduce God to something we feel we can control, alter, and direct. Just as in the garden the first people were tempted to become like God…by reducing God into something attainable, someone who can merely recognize good and evil.

The Lord, however, DEFINES good and evil. We can’t do that.

The Lord knows this is our tendency. He knows that we’d like Him to be an idea rather than active and outside of our control.

He protects us from a resulting sin, saying Exodus 20:4-5 the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…

When my friend differentiated between enjoying the idea of God (and our ideas about Him) rather than loving Him as He is, a question came to mind:

What ideas do we have about the Lord that we hold in higher esteem than the person of Christ?

Which ideas about the Lord do we use to justify our sins?

Is it the idea that He’ll always be there that we cherish more than His presence right now? What about instances in which the idea that He is so loving causes discipline and hardship to challenge our belief in His love?

What ideas do we have about God that our circumstances can shake? Those ideas aren’t who He is. Because He is more than (Yes. Whatever idea you come up with).

Love Others

photo from: everydaywild.com

Love your neighbor as yourself. This, we know well, is the second greatest commandment:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –(Matthew 22)

All other commandments are encompassed in these two. So, loving God and loving others can take a ton of different forms. Not lying is one form. Being generous is another.

But the love which Scripture tells us to have for one another is deeper than our “doing.” Truly loving others depends on our loving God, as the second commandment follows and hangs on the first. The first- love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind- is about how we are. It’s with our whole being that we are to love Him.

When we love others, it’s to flow out from that all-encompassing, defining love that we have for God. Our ability to have that love at all comes from His loving us (1 John 4:19.)

Do you see the inter-dependency here?

To love others well, we must love God with our whole being. For our whole being to love God, we must love others. For us to love at all we must experience the love of God to have love defined for and instilled in us, uprooting our corrupted version of the concept.

It’s the love of God, forceful as the ocean surging through us and shaping us like a rocky shore, that allows love to change things.

When we want our loved ones to change their minds or hearts or ways…

During the times that are tough when we long for others to grow and heal and find worth in life…

As we rejoice with others…

While we cry out in loneliness, suffering, clinging to hope…

It’s that real love that really takes affect and changes things.

We can follow endless strings of advice and wise reasoning. Our book shelves can be filled with literature on strengthening relationships, reaching those around us, and becoming more selfless. In discussion we can adopt amazing, effective strategies. When others frustrate and hurt us we can do our best to forgive and to see the good in them.

But what we really need is the love of God. What we really need, to love others, is to love the Lord and to be loved by the Lord.

His Word doesn’t say “noisy clanging cymbal” for nothing. All of our doing and trying and striving can get other’s attention. It can make noise in their life, waking them up and making waves. Without love, it never turns to music. It never gains rhythm, direction, or purpose. There is no harmony with the heart that is hearing it –without the love of God.

Start there.

As you look at others, trace your steps backwards. Step back to loving them as you do yourself, not as your style permits. One foot further, step into loving them because you love the Lord. Look to Him for the welling up inside of a more perfect love. And as you open up to be filled, step back further. Make the space for His love to be for you, too. Love because He first loved you, and that love will carry through.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday #Faith-Filled Friday, and #DanceWithJesus.