Saturday, December 07, 2013

Despite It All, I Still Sin - Psalm 6

Despite all our best efforts, despite all our knowledge, we still sin. Despite the Lord Jesus dying on the cross to condemn sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), we still sin. Even despite meditating on God's Word and on His love for us, and despite our cultivating a love for the Lord, we still sin. So then what?

Psalm 6 describes someone in this situation, and we can be encouraged by it. 

Psalm 6 (ESV)
1: ​​​​​​​​O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, ​​​​​​​nor discipline me in your wrath.

(First, a distinction by observation in this verse: anger is expressed in a rebuke by words; wrath is expressed in discipline, probably some circumstantial happenings.)

O Lord, please don't treat me as I deserve for my sin. I deserve rebuke and discipline, and I confess your right to discipline because I confess my sin as sin against you.

2: ​​​​​​​​Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; ​​​​​​​heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

Instead of harsh treatment, please be gracious to me! Let me off the hook, O Lord, for I am weak and losing heart. I want the same end of purity that you want for me, but I am so weak. My sins already have troubled my strength. I have lost my buttressing against the force of sin in my life. I am near to being destroyed by it. I am near to giving up. I languish. My bones are troubled. If you would rebuke me or discipline me, will I not break completely? Let the bones you have broken rejoice. Do not quench a poorly-burning wick nor break an already bruised reed! (Psalm 51:8, Isaiah 42:3)

3: ​​​​​​​​My soul also is greatly troubled. ​​​​​​​But you, O Lord—how long?

It is very distressing to me that I can't stay away from sin. I try and I try and I try, but my ability is gone. Will you cast off one who doesn't have the ability to obey your will of holiness? How long will this situation persist in my soul? How long will I languish in my weakness toward sin? O Lord, will you deliver me? How long till I see such a deliverance?

4: ​​​​​​​​Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; ​​​​​​​save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

Instead of wrath, please turn and be gracious. Deliver me, I pray! May my life be used to praise you. Save me from this path. Surely you will, because you are love, right? You don't delight in the death of the wicked, but that all should turn from their sins and be saved. May I please see that in my life, according to your steadfast love?

5: ​​​​​​​​For in death there is no remembrance of you; ​​​​​​​in Sheol who will give you praise?

Because, Lord, if I am not delivered, I will just continue worse and worse in sins. Deadness will grow in my soul and then what praise will I ever be able to offer you? If I am wallowing in my sins, I will never think to lift up praise to you. The sinful world doesn't praise you, and if I am left alone or not delivered, neither will I think of you.

6: ​​​​​​​​I am weary with my moaning; ​​​​​​​every night I flood my bed with tears; ​​​​​​​I drench my couch with my weeping.

I am so tired of my sins. Every time I sin I moan with despair. Why should I fall again, after you had saved me? Why should I continue in sin, seeing I am dead to it? This causes me frustration and grief. Tears flood my eyes as I think of how hopeless my situation is. At night I am ashamed of how I behaved during the day. Even during waking hours I remember how sinfully I have behaved. Is there no help? I am weary of this repeated pattern of sins!

7: ​​​​​​​​My eye wastes away because of grief; ​​​​​​​it grows weak because of all my foes.

My singularity of purpose toward you is compromised. Like a cataract, my sins cloud my vision of you. Where once I purposed to set my eyes on you, I am now distracted. As grief fills me because of my wayward behavior, I am appalled and seem only to see my sinful self now, which only causes me more despair. Any resolve I once had to seek you alone is weak, like a distant memory. Now in my current state it seems there's no way out. My own effort has left me defeated, and I feel overwhelmed, stupid, and worthless.

8: ​​​​​​​​Depart from me, all you workers of evil, ​​​​​​​for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.

O that the part of me that works evil would be gone. Depart from me, sin which dwells in me! I don't want any of your influence in my life any more! (Romans 7:20) But this is not just a vain wish. I can have every confidence to command this, because the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.

Even when I don't have words to say, when my heart just pours out in bitter tears; even when I feel like God doesn't hear, as though my heart cry is stopped by the ceiling—the Lord hears the sound of my weeping. He hears the sobs of grief, frustration, and hopelessness. 

9: ​​​​​​​​The Lord has heard my plea; ​​​​​​​the Lord accepts my prayer.

I did not only weep, I pled my cause to the King. If God doesn't just respond to my weeping, can I put into words what I want Him to do? I am desperate enough to importune Him. I addressed Him in prayer, asking urgently for favor.

He did not stop his ears, nor turn his back to me. He did not reject my desires nor cut me off. He didn't avoid or belittle me, nor discount my need. He didn't ignore me. He wasn't insensitive to my need, nor unsupportive. I was not rejected. The Lord accepted my prayer. It was enough to communicate to Him my need and the cry of my heart, and he accepts it. That is good enough for Him to act. I don't have to be perfect, I don't have to clean up my act first. He wants to be asked, and then He says, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" (Luke 18:41)

10: ​​​​​​​​All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; ​​​​​​​they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Sin left me ashamed. I could not lift my eyes to heaven. I could not praise God. The guilt of sinning, all the while knowing to do better, left me only ashamed of myself. I was greatly troubled in my soul about this state. Who would deliver me? I felt I was turning back from following God. I was put to shame by my sinful behavior. How could God ever love me? How could anyone ever love me?

My enemy seemed to be myself. I could not do the good that I truly wanted to do (Rom 7:19). The world also is arrayed as my enemy. It's values are paraded before me in advertisements, television, shopping malls, and conversations. Every sight and sound speaks seducingly to the sinful bent within me. And when I feel I may be doing okay, it seems out of nowhere negative thoughts arise, or reminders and memories of past sins, again tempting me. Satan, as a roaring lion, seeks to devour my soul.

But all these enemies will experience the feelings they made me feel. They shall be ashamed. For God rebukes them for troubling me. He has accepted me into His victory over them and they shall be ashamed they ever bothered me. More than that they shall be greatly troubled, for God will discipline them in His wrath. The tempter-accuser, Satan, will be vanquished forever (Rev 20:10). The world and its works shall be burned up (2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:17). But what about the enemy within me? How is my sinful bent turned back and put to shame?
  1. God condemned sin in my flesh by Jesus' death on the cross. There is a death sentence on the sinfulness within me.
  2. Being baptized into Christ Jesus, I have been united with Him in his death and resurrection. Identification with His death has set me free from sin which enslaved me. Identification with His resurrection means I now have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit at work in me so that I can be enslaved to righteousness instead.
  3. Now it's to some measure up to me: what will I set my mind upon and whose service will I yield my body to? Be careful that you don't yield to sin, or you will find a kind of enslavement to it again. (Romans 6:3-18, 8:10-11, Ephesians 1:19) 

How gracious is God, that our groanings matter to him, and he collects every one of our tears in a bottle, as it were, recording our miseries (Psalm 56:8). He has promised to continually work on us to make us like Christ, therefore we can bank on his steadfast love, deliverance from sin in our lives, and increased sanctification!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 John 4:15 - God Abides in You

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1 John 4:15

Why not sin?

God abides in you! Formerly, the wrath of God abode on you (John 3:36), but God has not only removed the wrath because of Jesus Christ, but He now lives in you.

Formerly, the flesh was "sold under sin" (Romans 7:14, KJV); your body's master was sin. The will to do good may have been present, but without power to do it (Romans 8:3). However, Romans 8:9 says you are in the Spirit, if the Holy Spirit of God and of Christ is in you. Verse 10 says Christ is in you, and as a result, the ability to do good is present because of the resurrection power of God! (Romans 8:11)

Or did you not know that your body is described as a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? In context, 1 Corinthians 6:19 is easy to apply thus: Don't sin, because you shouldn't want to defile the temple of God. But the fact is it's an amazing thing that God dwells in you! With Him dwelling in you, you have all the power you need to forsake sin. He wants to purge that temple from the inside out—clean it of all the trappings of sin and wickedness and man-made altars (See 2 Kings 16:10-18)

Friday, November 08, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 2:12, 15

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation....For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
1 Peter 2:12, 15, ESV

Why not sin?

(1) For the glory of God among the unsaved. If others accuse us of being sinful in the ways that they are, looking for weakness and hypocrisy, and don't find it, that gives credence to God and his resurrection power in our lives. When God holds them accountable for those accusations, they will give God the glory for our deeds.

(2) For the sake of conscience and not being hypocrites. The essence of the situation in this verse is that we may be accused of sin but we will be proven innocent. If we sin in ways that even the world would understand is wrong for a Christian, when accusations are made we won't be able to confidently plead innocence without being hypocrites and lying. If they suggest you do sinful actions when you go home or are alone, a clear conscience will support a heart-felt denial and cheerful demeanor. Defending yourself isn't necessary. Good deeds will do more to dispel accusations than words will.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 2:11 - Strangers and War

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:11 

Why not sin?

(1) Because we are strangers here. Jesus said in John 17:16 that we are not of the world, even as He is not of the world. We have a new origin: from God in heaven. Our lives shouldn't be conforming to this world. If we think our heart is with God, but treasure things of the world, Jesus has this to say: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). Where is your treasure of time and money placed? That's where your heart actually is. (See also 1 John 2:15-17.)

(2) Lusts of the flesh wage war against the soul. Sin in our flesh fights to control us. Our soul is superior to the flesh, so when we give into fleshly urges (anger, lust, sometimes even eating!), we are letting our body win over our soul. This is not how God has created us in Christ! Rather, we now have God's resurrection power to rise above the deadness of the lust of the flesh, and our bodies now can be properly submitted to God's control. (See Romans 8:9-11, NASB).

One more way lusts war against the soul is there will be an increasing deadness in our lives the more we sin (Rom 8:13, NASB). One sin leads to another, or to a new branch of sins. Sin separates us from God and his renewing influence (Rom 12:2). Sin takes you farther than you ever want to go. But Jesus can restore you quicker than you think possible!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 2:9 - Into the Light

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

Why not sin?

Because you were called out of darkness into His light. Have you known the darkness of sin? Maybe it left you feeling trapped or imprisoned. Maybe crushed and cast aside like highway litter. When sin rules our lives it can feel like we're at the bottom of a pit where the light can't reach. Habits are impossible to break, attitudes hopeless to change. Joy in the Lord impossible to manufacture.

There is hope, however. Lazarus should never have seen the light of day again. He was dead and entombed. But Jesus called him out of darkness into light. 1 Peter 2:9 is saying you are already in the light. "For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness," says 1 Thess. 5:5. "At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8). Have you known the light of true fellowship with Jesus? Our sins cloud our way, but to walk in the light begins with bringing our sins to Jesus (1 John 1:7,9).

After a week of clouds and rain, when you've had enough of depressing weather, how welcome is the sun peeking through the clouds? How much more the full brightness of a cloudless day! That is God's love for you! He came into your darkness and said, "I'll take care of this. You go free; You're forgiven." And He became your sins and died in your place once for all.

You, however, must keep coming into the light before Him when you're dirty. You don't have to cleanse yourself, though, because God promised if you confess your sins, He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Reason Not to Sin - 1 Peter 2:5 - Holy priesthood

you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5, ESV

Why not sin?

Because in these last days, God chose you, in Jesus Christ, to exemplify how man ought to worship God. About 350 years after the priesthood was instituted, the priests despised God's rules, fattening themselves off the sacrifices and committing adultery with the female servants of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22). nearly 1000 years after the institution of the priesthood, God rebuked them for their contempt in Malachi 1:6-14. "Better to make no sacrifices at all than to keep up the charade!" God laments in Mal 1:10.

But God wasn't satisfied with dissolving the priesthood. Malachi 3:1-3 describes His plan. The Lord would come to the temple and refine—purify the Levites to offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness, no longer in show! This is a picture of us. The Lord Jesus sacrificed Himself, entered the Holiest of Holies by His blood, and there made atonement for our sins before the Father (Heb 9:11-12, 14). Now we are purified from our former sins (2 Peter 1:9) and are fit to offer to God sacrifices in righteousness, acceptable to Him: "the fruit of lips giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15, KJV).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:23-25 - Born of Incorruptible Seed

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
1 Peter 1:23-25, KJV

Why not sin?

You have been born. Again. This time not of Adam, characterized by a flesh destined to perish because of sin, but of the Word of God. This was planted in our hearts when we first heard the gospel. The "flower of youth" lasts more briefly than your whole life, just as wildflowers bloom for a shorter lifespan than the stems beneath, which soon wither. Corruptible seeds are good for only so long, but the incorruptible Word of God bears eternal fruit. Your eternal life with God is its fruit! You don't have to walk around characterized by the corrupted flesh, because you are the one who was born brand new!

Verse 24 is quoted from Isaiah 40:6-8. Isaiah 40:26-31 continues from that starting point: don't bemoan your limitations due to your weak flesh. Let God raise you up to run and not be weary, and walk without becoming faint.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:22 - You Have Been Purified

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart
1 Peter 1:22, ESV
Why not sin?

Because you are already pure in God's sight. Do you remember being convicted of your sin, seeing it as revolting as God does? Didn't you want to be delivered from its judgment and effects? In turning to God for His salvation, you found a purification of your soul. Where once it only brought forth corruption, at salvation you were purified! Did you know that, in God's sight, you have never stopped being pure?

Maybe you think, as one brother put it, "I've done too much [sin]. I don't want to trudge back through all that junk to get back to God; I'm just going to live over here." Don't throw your life away in sin, giving up on atoning for each sin you piled up before God. Sins after salvation do not corrupt our standing before God, because our standing is based on Christ, not on ourselves. Simply confess to God that you have sinned, and He promises to forgive (1 John 1:9). The atonement is already complete. Remember Jesus' words too: "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean" (John 13:10, ESV).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - "I'm saved"

I was out of town for the weekend so haven't gotten a new post together. In the meantime, here's a quick thought on the current topic.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:18-19 - Redeemed!

knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:18-19, NASB

Why not sin?
(1) Because you have been redeemed. Bought back out of slavery to sin. The price paid wasn't ten bucks. it was the highest price: Jesus Christ, Son of God! Can you imagine how filthy the world must look to God? Picture the earth, shrouded in darkness of sin, hanging in the darkness of space, with but one pinprick of light on the surface. That would be Jesus. He perfectly did what is right and good. How precious He must have been to the Father! Such a precious lamb, He poured out his life on the cross.

(2) That way of life is futile. 1 Peter 4:3 says that within our lifetime we have already experienced enough of the desires of "the gentiles," in lusts and everything else. Was it fully satisfying? No, it was the same thing over and over. We may have hoped for a different, better result each time, but instead it just trapped us further in sin. No one has ever found satisfaction in sin throughout all history. It's empty and like trying to grasp the wind. Only God is the source of unending pleasure! See Psalm 16:11!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:16-17 - Like the Father, Strangers in the World

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:1Pet 1:16-17, KJV

Why not sin?

(1) To be like our Father. Verse 17 is almost saying, "Well, you're the one who calls God Father. Act like it, then." You claim Him as your Father, who begot you anew. Just as a child exhibits characteristics both inherited and learned from his parents, we too have, from our Father, an ability to do what's right, but we also must learn to do what's right. Since our Father is holy, it's fitting that we should also be holy: apart from sin like Jesus was.

In contrast to the Holy Father, God, we have our surroundings: the world. The more we grow to be like God, the more out of place we will feel in this world. Which brings us to the next point.

(2) You don't belong here. We are called exiles or sojourners (ESV, KJV). "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through." That song is right! The saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans" does not apply to us! Though we are in the world, we must not act like the world because it is corrupted and fit only for burning (1 John 2:17, 2 Peter 3:10). Let us not act like those who are headed for that condemnation since we have been saved from that doom!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:15 - Called by God

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct
1 Peter 1:15, ESV

Why not sin?

We were called by God. He has a purpose for us, not to subject us to slavery and things we don't want to do (Rom 8:15). Rather, He has a purpose that makes us free and joyful. When sin entered the world, man and nature were subjected to vanity (Rom 8:20), but God's goal for you now is not vanity but fulness in Christ (Col 2:10). "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Thess 5:23-24, Phil 1:6).

What a hope we have! What grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:13)!

God will surely do this independent of you, but you won't find joy in God's commands of holiness unless you consider Him faithful who promised, as Sarah did (Heb 11:11)—you won't find power to sanctify yourself or stay away from sin unless you trust in God's power and purpose of holiness during each temptation.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:14

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
1 Peter 1:14, KJV

Why not sin?

First, let me ask: do you or don't you want to be obedient? You may go through a time when you know what is right but aren't ready to do it. But if you do have a desire somewhere inside you to eventually submit and obey God, consider this: the lusts in which you may indulge—however heinous or not—are things associated with ignorance. Ignorance of God and ignorance of the soul-damaging characteristic of sin. But you are not now ignorant

Or do you not know the love of God that sought you out long before you were born, that died on the cross for the sins which you may even now entertain? All your sins were still in the future when Jesus gave up His life for you. You are now fully accepted. You are brand new, created according to new things! So don't fashion yourself according to old lusts!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 1:13, KJV

Why not sin?

There is a grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. When Christ appears, we shall be like him, 1 John 3:2 says. That's quite a grace! Right now we have tendencies to sin. On that day, however—no longer! So we are told to "perfectly hope" upon that grace. Think of what you will be! And it is God's love and grace that will bring that to pass without fail. 1 John 3:3 says that those who thus hope purify themselves. You can't think of sinning if you are in love with the God who will transform you into the likeness of Christ when he is revealed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reason Not To Sin - 1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...
1 Peter 1:3, NASB

Why not sin?
(1) God exercised great mercy towards us! Our sins incurred a debt and didn't we come to God for mercy? All of God's wrath was upon us, who were sons of disobedience and not of sons God. But, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner," we cried like the tax collector in Luke 18:13, and God forgave all our sins. How can we sin with God's great, unconditional love on our side? (See Romans 8:31-39)

(2) We are born again, no longer defined by our Adamic birth and corrupted flesh. This is confirmed for us eternally because Jesus still is risen from the dead. Romans 6 explains we were crucified with Christ—dying to the corrupt rule of sin—and we were raised with Him to walk in new life. 1 Peter 1:3 indicates Jesus’ resurrection also was the moment of a new birth for us, where we come into God’s world as His children, according to His nature instead of that of Adam. Psalm 2:7 was quoted in Acts 13:33, clearly meaning that when God the Father said to the Son, “This day have I begotten thee,” it referred to the resurrection from the dead. So it makes sense that, if Jesus was birthed from the tomb, going from death to life, thereby being proclaimed to be the Son of God and proving to be of a divine birth; so we too have gone from death to life with Christ. Thus we are children of God. As children, we have His likeness indelibly within us; yet we must grow into that likeness as a child, who, though he looks like his parents and has their genetic makeup, must be trained and raised to be conformed to their will through obedience.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

More Than One Resurrection Going On Here!

Resurrection of Behavior

The verse in the header of this blog (Romans 8:10-11) has been a favorite of mine since I "discovered" it five years ago. It's a promise from God that, though our bodies still have a principle of sin in them, we, having been made alive to God, now have power at our disposal to choose not to sin and instead do right. What kind of power is that? Check it out in Ephesians 1:19-20. The power is the same that raised Christ from the dead! Wow! What power is greater than that?

Does sin have greater power than that? No. Nothing does. That's what I find encouraging. If we have a very small desire to rise above sin in our lives, all of God's power is available for us, and it is HE who wields it to a practical, day-to-day "resurrection" from sinful habits!

Resurrection of Blog

The other resurrection going on here is that of this blog, which I haven't used in about five years. As the Lord allows, I plan to post frequent, brief devotionals on Bible verses, applying truths of God's love to our day-to-day "striving against sin" (Heb. 12:4). This series will be called "Reasons Not to Sin."

I welcome your comments on the posts. Let us "exhort one another daily, while it is called "today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13)

If we set our minds on God's love for us in Christ, sin will lose it's appeal. I pray that the God will graciously  use the upcoming posts for your encouragement and growth. 

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, [what kind of power? RESURRECTION power] to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)