Lie 8: Sin Should Be Left In The Dark

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We don’t like to look sin in the face and see it for what it is.

We’re tempted by it, yes. We have a propensity for it, yes. But we really hate to face it.

I remember one of the first times I did.

Case Study: The Christian Who Didn’t Need Saving

Early in our relationship, my husband and I kicked back in campus center arm chairs and slipped into conversation about God. I wasn’t saved, but as best I knew, I was a Christian.

My understanding of sin was wrapped in false humility and security. It was boxed in liturgical or experiential confession. My sin content was stuffed, I believed, with mere mistakes and results of others’ crimes against me. I kept it hidden behind my good deeds and spiritual talk.

But my then-boyfriend went digging. He showed me his sin stuff. With a big smile on his face, I remember him pointing to the floor like his sin was laid bare there. Then he pointed up and told me to understand the heights of Christ’s love and forgiveness meant understanding the depths of sin.

He didn’t ask me to expose my secret stash to him, but he demonstrated a reason compelling me to expose it to God.

Bringing sin into the light of Christ shows us what we are saved from, and by whom. It’s a glorious, relieving, revitalizing exposition. 

To keep sin in the dark, once a believer, is a bit like sitting in a hospital after surgery pretending you have no wound, no treatment to complete, no therapy to continue to work through.

Though the problem is taken care of, the effects are still to be dealt with. The wound needs to be seen, addressed, and cared for. It’s in the hard work of tending to exposed weakness that we heal.

That’s what bringing sin out of the dark into Christ’s light is all about: healing.

Believers still have mess and hurt and sin to face. But in all our still present darkness and pain, we also know the light, the healer. We know Him, and we know the warmth of His illumination- even in the cold of sin.

Saved sin is safely in the care of Christ.

But Saved sinners still need the care of Christ.

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In Charles Spurgeon’s words:

“We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also…We have a strong argument to plead, for it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen—‘the power . . . by which you have worked for us.’ Do you think He will fail to protect and provide that?

There’s a reason He sent the Holy Spirit to help believers. Saved sinners still need God. In them, with them, every day.

Now forevermore reconciled to God, believers can be unhindered by shame and the bounds of saved sin. Believers can enjoy fellowship with God, stewarding their lives as those abiding in Him.

Through abiding, even addressing and confessing to God our saved sin, we “walk in the light” of Christ.

In the light, we can “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7.)

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Sin thrives in the dark.

Come into the light where Christ is, where sin is forgiven, shame is disintegrated, and facing the truth means looking full in the face of our loving Savior.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Lie 5: Your Sin Isn’t Your Fault

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the rest here.)

We like to dismiss our sins as being someone else’s fault.

After all, so many sins are committed against every one of us. Every marriage between two sinners has hurts due to sin. Children suffer the natural consequences of their parents’ sins. It’s not hard to accurately blame others for hurting us, misleading us, and tempting us to our own sins.

But we must be careful.

To keep us from facing our own sin, evil deceitfully redirects us to others’ sins.

Yet each of us will give a personal account to God (Romans 14:12.)

We will not be held accountable for the sins committed against us, but we are responsible for the sins we commit in response. It’s important to spot the difference.

The issues we face when we fail to recognize our own responsibility for sin include:

  • A lack of knowing who to or how to forgive
  • Refusing to change though Christ has made the way
  • Excusing our sins instead of asking forgiveness
  • Maintaining only a narrow view of God’s grace
  • Resisting transformation by our Lord

Not only do we tend to remain in the bonds of sin when we cast the blame on others’ issues and ignore our own, but we also perpetuate our own sin.

Case Study: Anxiety

A parent constantly belittling a child can do great harm. It’s not surprising when children who are mistreated like this grow up to be anxious as they question their worth and abilities.

God will hold parents who mistreat their children accountable.

Likewise, believers whose anxieties direct their steps, even if their anxiety is rooted in childhood maltreatment, will also be held accountable. We are not on the hook for a parent’s mistreatment, nor for reacting as a human does. But we are responsible for sinning against God ourselves by letting anxiety be a master.

Understanding what we are accountable for is essential for dealing with sin effectively.

To excuse sin on the basis of victimization is to make too little of God -and too much of the power of sins committed against us.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness-2 Corinthians 12:9

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Sins we commit because of sins committed against us are a picture of the weakness Paul refers to.

It wasn’t Paul who put the thorn in his own side. But it was Paul who had the choice to lean, aching, into the sufficiency of the grace of God instead of choosing to act out of his hurt.

That’s what we’re accountable for regarding sin- our thoughts, our attitudes, our choices. What we begin, and what we perpetuate.

Scripture tells us God holds us accountable for our hidden faults, the sins we have trouble discerning in ourselves (Psalm 19:12.)

God divides soul and spirit, He alone “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12.)

The truth is intimidating. We truly are without excuse.

Sin really is a choice we each make,

not something we can pass off as someone else’s fault.

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Praise the Lord we aren’t stuck in judgement. We know the verdict.

Taking responsibility for our sin gives us the ownership needed to bring it before Christ and be forgiven. Taking responsibility for what we can control -us- is a sure way to the grace of God.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” Hebrews 4:16 continues.

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We don’t approach with confidence because we are faultless, victimized, or progressing well in the sanctification process.

No, we approach God’s throne with confidence because of who He is, knowing that He who holds us perfectly accountable through Christ also intends for us to: “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

When the temptation is tied to things that aren’t our fault, it’s hard to step up and say “no.” Sin tempts us at our weakest.

Praise the Lord- He breaks the chains that tell us someone else decided for us. Because of Christ, it’s never too late to be free to live assured in Him!

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.

 

Lie 1: Sin Doesn’t Matter That Much

(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.)

If we’re honest, we’d like to pretend sin doesn’t exist.

One of the greatest obstacles people face when considering salvation is admitting they are sinners.

As believers, we often avoid owning up to this fact. Having dealt with sin once and for all at the point of salvation, we’re glad it’s over with. Saved, we go on our merry way, regularly ignoring our sinfulness because we believe we’re good people.

Scripture refers to sin as “deceitful” for good reason (Heb 3:13.) It twists the truth, hardening our hearts towards the One who is true. This is how sin appeals to the unbeliever and believer alike. Sin twists the reality of consequences, purposes, identity, and value.

First and foremost among sin’s lies is that sin doesn’t matter that much.

Wrong. Sin matters for the unsaved and the saved alike.

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Sin matters because its consequences stretch all the way from eternity to right now.

For the unbeliever, sin is a pair of shackles – chains called “I’m doing my best” and “this is just the way it is.” The shackles guarantee death and separation from Christ.

Believers wear shackles with the key attached. Ignorantly we tell each other – “the shackles fit you so well!” Meanwhile, Christ has all sorts of gifts and blessings for us to carry – things we employ better when our hands aren’t tethered.

Even with a key, shackles unopened still constrain.

Willfully ignored sin is a pair of unopened shackles.

How rarely we choose this perspective.

God’s best isn’t what we’re thinking of when we give into temptation. Often, our idea of “best for me” is first and foremost.

Case Study: Gossip

We don’t think our gossip matters or even count it as sin.

Those friendly bits of information serve a purpose: enlightening someone about goings-on, helping us ease our emotional burdens, or just sharing what we heard. Our efforts even seem productive.

After all, what’s a little gossip hurt when it serves a purpose?

But gossip, even the “Christian version”, shackles us to sin. Because it’s not God’s way.

Living life God’s way is the best way. That’s why sin matters, for the Christian and nonbeliever. Sin means not embracing God’s way.

When we live as if sin matters, we prioritize what does matter: God’s way.

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.

Word of the Week: Complete

Are you ready to rejoice in the freedom He offers us?

Are you ready to feel free from long to-do lists, insane expectations, and accomplishing everything there is to achieve?

I warn you: this might require a priority or perspective shift.

Here it is:

“And you have been made complete in Christ.” –Colossians 2:10

In this context, “to complete” is characterized as to “fill to individual capacity.”

Being complete is about being full.

You can’t be full if you have no parameters to fill. That whole “glass-half” question doesn’t work without a glass.

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Complete doesn’t mean perfect or finished. It isn’t determined by our schemes or dreams. Our “completion” is determined by our maker because He sets our capacity. He shaped our vessel. Purposefully, intentionally. And He fills it full.

His to-do list for you is complete when you’ve crossed off just the parts the Lord asks for, just like Dana wrote about in her post about lists earlier this week.

His expectations for you may not be as insane as your expectations for yourself are.

He calls you to accomplish some things, according to His plans. You don’t have to go beyond that.

Don’t worry about the size of your glass. Don’t chase after trophies with wider bowls. He has filled you full according to the capacities He has given you.

Another way to phrase the definition is that what capacities He has given you He has met. To the extent that you need, He has fulfilled, if not exceeded.

You, today, being in the hands of the one shaping, pouring out, and filling up again, are complete. Because He is filling you so perfectly, there is nothing missing, not a single drop, that you really need.

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

 

WordoftheWeek: ROCK

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken… Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

-Psalm 62:2 & 6

What does it mean that Christ is our rock?

  1. That He is a Refuge

Earlier this week, Niki wrote about turning to her rock when she battled cancer. She urged us to continue seeking our rock and His safety as the pressures of life indicate that we need to grow.

Many references to God throughout Scripture include the word rock or synonyms like refuge, hiding place, and fortress. When we speak of Christ as our rock we in part refer to the fact that we are safe with God and that He will protect us.

  1. That He is a Firm Foundation

We are advised in Matthew 7 to build our homes on the rock. Spiritually, physically, and relationally- this is sound advice. Christ as a rock is also Christ as our foundation.  He is a strong, unchanging, and secure foundation. We know when build all things starting with and relying on Him that we don’t need to fear. As the classic hymn says: all other ground is sinking sand.

  1. That He is Unmoving

Have you ever tried to move a big rock? It’s tough. We know that the Lord doesn’t change– that’s what makes us certain that when we seek His safety, counsel, protection, and foundation, the promise is rock solid. He is unmoving and unmovable.

  1. That the Saved are Not Shaken

The verse in Psalms proclaims it best, tying together two important points: He is our rock AND our salvation. When we trust in the rock, we trust in one who is completely reliable.

We are saved by one who is immovable! That’s a safe saved.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

What You’ll Find In a Stronghold

“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble,

And He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

Nahum 1:7

A refuge, by itself, is a place that offers sanctuary and safety. It is a figurative expression in Scripture describing God as our security. He offers us a place that we can retreat to for peace, quiet, and renewal.

Further, He is our stronghold.

A form of a refuge, a stronghold is a fortress. When we retreat to our stronghold, we go to this one true God:

He Is Battle-Ready

In David’s war days, He and His enemies had strongholds. These fortresses were the places they would all run to when the battle became thick. There, weapons and rations were stashed. Strongholds are battle-ready. When enemies attack, regardless of how ruthlessly, a stronghold is a safe place to go and continue the battle.

Our stronghold, our God, is just as battle-ready. And He is the victory.

He Has the Provisions for a Seige

Holding out in a fortress during battle does not work out so well if the stronghold is empty. We need provisions as we wait out the siege. Sustenance, nourishment, company…hope.

The Lord provides all that we need- even when we’re preserving through a ruthless attack. Even when we’re waiting out hardship.

He Is Our Defense

More than a place, a stronghold was a strategy: a defense. Strong and made with solid material like rock, fortresses are designed to keep trouble out. The strongholds we read about in the Bible, especially those that guarded David, were no exception.

Our stronghold is big enough and strong enough to be a living shield. Though at times oppressed and attacked, those who take refuge in the stronghold their God will be delivered.

He is our strong-hold: the strong one holding us in times of trouble and battle.

“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

Psalm 144:2

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

What in Your Life is Ruthless?

The headache that comes back again and again. A chronic illness that knocks you off your feet without regard for where you’re headed or how much pain you’re already in.

The thought in your head that you are not good enough, no matter how hard you’ve tried. A lie, on repeat, that you can’t ever measure up or be worthy of love. Guilt that won’t subside.

The boss that never respects your time or how much has already been put on your plate on a tight deadline. A person who continues to abuse, even when ties have been cut.

What in your life is ruthless?

Some of these are mine. Some belong to my loved ones. Some are yours. There are others, too.

We all face the ruthless, that which is “without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless.”

Whose synonyms are “unrelenting, adamant, cruel.”

Isaiah 25:4 describes how it feels:

“the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall
and like the heat of the desert.”

Isn’t that the truth? That which is ruthlessly disrespectful, uncompassionate, and cruel in our lives feels like a tremendous force against us that we can’t flee from. It bears down on us like heat that cannot be escaped, draining us of our energy and our strength.

In Isaiah’s praise to the Lord, He describes how the Lord is our refuge. He goes on to say, in reference to the ruthless:

“You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled
.”

With just a moment of time and a compassionate thought in mind, our Lord makes cloud cover turn down the heat. He silences the storm thrashing us against the wall. He stills the ruthless.

After describing how the ruthless flourish, only to pass away and be found no more, the Lord reiterates in Psalm 37:39-40:

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;

he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

The Lord helps them and delivers them;

he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

because they take refuge in him.”

What a refuge we have in Him! Never needing to hide or to fight a losing battle alone until we are left as empty heaps of nothingness. Endure, endure. Stay fast in the Lord because the wicked will not ultimately win.

The Lord is stronger, safer, and more steadfastly unchanging than any ruthless thing we face in this world.

Such sweet relief we find in the shadow of those unmovable, unshakable wings.

Remember the Gospel. The ruthlessness of sin, even now as it persists. Christ wins.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

16. BEHOLD: The Light of the World

These photos are from Longwood Gardens (visit if ever you get the chance!)

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The Christmas display at Longwood is gorgeous. At night, it’s mind-blowing. There are lights everywhere. Half a million light strands, actually.

As you walk around, the whole property is dark. Acres and acres of pitch black. There are no street lamps to guide you. All you have are the lights adorning the trees and bushes.

You realize as you explore how important light it is, and how beautiful. Without light, we’re left to stumble. There’s a reason people are afraid of the dark.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

John 8:12

But with light comes possibility. With light, there is hope and cause for wonder and awe without fear.

When light adorns trees, and homes, and mantles, they take on a new quality that extends beyond whimsy and tradition. Light transforms.

Exposing, highlighting, and illuminating, light rightly separates things from darkness and declares them worthy of being gazed upon.

And there is Christ, the light of the world.

Behold,  the illumination of the hope we have.

Behold, the transforming light of our Lord.

Behold, the way: lit first for us by a humble, tiny babe.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday