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 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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

Lessons from a Lobster- The Word Works Series!

Glad to have Niki and her candid, humorous storytelling kick off this series. Niki’s blog My Story, My God, is a brave place. There you’ll find frank, funny stories that point to the author of the One story we’re all a part of. She also offers a free eBook called Hearing God’s Voice - A Short Practical Guide. I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

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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

Have you ever wondered how a lobster grows? How a small, baby lobster gets to be a big, strong lobster with a shell of steel?

Since their tough, rigid shells don’t flex or grow along with their soft, and might I say rather delicious, muscular bodies, growing as we do isn’t really an option for these mouthwatering invertebrates. Despite my penchant for devouring this tasty crustacean with copious quantities of melted butter, I’ve never really taken the time to fathom this mystery of the deep.

As it turns out, the lobster grows inside its shell and its body starts to push against that inflexible steel-like shell. Pressure builds up for our poor little lobster friend signaling that it’s time to go in search of a safe place to hide. Instinctively the lobster seeks out a nice rock or deep crevice, where it’s safe to shed its protective shell.

For a few short hours (which probably feel like a lifetime to our little friend) until his new shell grows, he’s naked and vulnerable, yet safe under the rock.

A few years ago I had no choice but to be a lobster and seek shelter in God, my rock, because I was diagnosed with cancer; rectal cancer. It was just six short years after I’d held my mum’s paper soft hand as she passed away from lung cancer, and a mere six weeks after I’d cradled my sister’s hand as she’d lost her battle with the same disgusting disease. My world was rocked and the ground fell out from under me. During the long months that followed, I hung onto this Psalm. These two verses smudging together to form, what I now fondly call, my “mish-mash verse”.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

I repeated these words at every turn. As I was scanned, scoped and waited for results.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

As I lay awake at night, alone in the hospital, with nothing but a morphine pump and IV for company.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

When we told our children that, like their grandma and auntie, I too had cancer.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.”

And now, as I deal with the after effects of a cancer like mine; always requesting an aisle seat near the loo, never leaving home without my Immodium, and learning that sometimes, when the bottom falls out of your world and the world falls out of your bottom, that it’s good and healing to laugh in the midst of the mess.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and my strength.” <ClickToTweet>

When I was faced with such overwhelming pressure that threatened to drown me, I had no choice but to seek comfort, love and peace in God’s presence. Looking back now, I see how my relationship with God, my faith and peace grew beyond measure.

I never thought I’d say it, but I’m actually grateful for that pressure and that journey. <ClickToTweet>

Now, as the stresses of life have eased off, I catch myself relying on other more worldly, less reliable, things when the pressures of life build up; my emotions, other people, food, myself worth. Sadly, these provide little protection from prowling predators and my faith starts to stagnate and I don’t grow.

So I wish I were more lobster-like today as I deal with the pressures, stress and discomforts of life.

The lobster-like me would instinctively understand that as soon as I feel squeezed, pressured, overwhelmed, and about to burst, that’s my signal to hunker down under The Rock. Under the safety of the true rock I am protected and safe to discard the emotions, beliefs and lies that are holding me back. Protected from the enemy I am safe to be naked for a while and free to grow.

When we feel the pressure of life, if we are willing to seek protection and safety under The Rock and be exposed and vulnerable for a while, He will grow us and give us all we need to go back into the world more like Him.

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When we seek shelter in God, who is our one true rock, He saves us, strengthens us and protects us. When we look to the world for our strength and our salvation we find a paper-mache fortress that is quick to blow away, leaving us at the mercy of the storms of life, unprotected and unable to grow into all that God has for us.

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Let me invite you to set your inner lobster free! Or, rather more spiritually put; when you feel the squeeze and pressures of life, seek cover in The Rock, who will save you, strengthen you and protect you in His fortress.

Then you’ll be free to grow into the person (or lobster) He created you to be.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

11. BEHOLD: The Brave

Isn’t it silly which things require bravery? Saying “no” to a friend’s Christmas invitation seems scary because they might be offended. Choosing that particular gift can be frightening because it may not be what they wanted and it will hurt to see it rejected. Telling a co-worker about the Christmas Eve service carries risks.

These things aren’t even really threatening. Yet, we act in fear. Saying yes to everything, apologizing for gifts before we give them, and avoiding the most essential topic in the world.

Thank God Jesus was brave. More than brave- thank God Jesus was fearless.

His fearlessness made Him man, born a dependent baby to sinful people. His courage led through a life of persecution. Finally, His bravery brought Him to die on a cross and be separated from God Himself. And then…to rise again. It’s because of that that we truly live!

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
1 Cor 15:14
“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

And in all that, Jesus never shook. He never wavered. There was never a compromise to take a step back when threats arose –the very kind of threats we rarely hear but always fear: abandonment, rejection, and betrayal.

Why?

Jesus had no cause for fear. He was (and is!) so aligned with God and so fully accepting of God’s perfect sovereignty in all things that He has no cause for fear. For us to live that same way is brave.

Christ was beholding the truth. So fixed on it was He that nothing could stir up doubt or fear in Him. He was so complete and fulfilled in God that there was no room for fear.

We can follow that example. We can be bold like Christ is bold by beholding Him too.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”Psalm 27:1

Behold, the one whose path is straight leaving us no cause to stray.

Behold, the one whose way is perfect, leaving us no need to be afraid of anything.

Behold, the one whose loving-kindness replaces all our fears with the bravery of Christ.

We Need to Witness to Believers Too

Photo from: Pixabay

“Witnessing” and “testifying” are words generally reserved for evangelizing. It is by hearing a testimony that many people become interested in the Lord. Through the witness of Christians, many have been convicted by the Spirit and accepted Christ as their own.

But there is also a place for witnessing to other believers.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 tells us that:

“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

When we think of encouragement, our testimony isn’t often what first comes to mind. But encouraging one another isn’t just about pointing out strengths and speaking hope into hard situations.

The sleep referenced in this verse is similar to falling asleep physically. It’s the same word used in Scripture for the sick “dead” child who Jesus said was actually just asleep.

Although some suggest otherwise, this “sleep” does not indicate that one is in hell or unsaved (Mark 5:39). In fact, the writers of 1 Thessalonians are writing to believers in a church.

Of course, this simple falling asleep and being asleep is a metaphor still. It is described as a metaphor for “yield(ing) to sloth and sin, and be(ing) indifferent to one’s salvation” (BibleHub).

Here our testimonies have a great but often overlooked purpose: spurned the saved to live as though saved.

One of the best forms of encouragement we have as Christians is our testimony –both in the big and the little things. It’s through this encouragement that others are woken up to the possibility of living their new life in Christ now. Whether in a deep sleep of faith or a taking a little nap, forgetting to keep our eyes fixed on Him all the time, we all have times when a wake-up call to faith is needed.

The call isn’t always loud or startling. Our testimonies don’t have to be either. What we witness about doesn’t always have to be a matter of life or death (especially when talking to those who will live forever, asleep or awake!)

We can testify to the Lord’s desires for our lives through simple stories. Sharing our little victories in the faith serves as a witness to others of the Lord living out His promises. Salvation first. But also the Holy Spirit. Also His presence with us. Also His best plans for each of us.

Every day that we spend in fellowship we have opportunities to witness to other believers by sharing about answered prayers or things the Lord is teaching us. By testifying to how He works in our lives, beyond saving us in the first place, we remind each other that He is alive here and now too.

That matters. That testimony stirs us to wake and to live the life He has for us now. It’s no surprise that Scripture is clear on this: giving a wake-up call is one of our callings in fellowship as believers in the body of Christ.

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