Devtional/Discussion THought of the Day:
29 Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 30 The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” 31 Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 32 I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.“ Luke 5:29-32 (MSG)
1024 Help me repeat in the ear of this person and of that other one… and of everyone: a sinner who has faith, even if he were to obtain all the blessings of this earth, will necessarily be unhappy and wretched. It is true that the motive that leads us (and should lead everyone) to hate sin, even venial sin, ought to be a supernatural one: that God abhors sin from the depths of his infiniteness, with a supreme, eternal and necessary hatred, as an evil opposed to the infinite good. But the first reason I mentioned to you can lead us to this other one. (1)
Yesterday in our Adult Bible Study the comment came up again, about Jesus’ words. “judge not, lest you be judged”. We were dealing with the Leviticus 19, and the call to confront those we struggle with, lest we carry the burden of their sin. It seems, that we are challenged, greatly challenged, by what appears to be contradictory commands in scripture. We are not to judge (actually condemn might be more accruate) but we have to make the judgment that a relationship damaged by sin, needs to be fixed. We have to risk being judged for being judgmental. (for surely those accused of jduging will be judged!)
Some will say in response, “You have to hate the sin, and love the sinner!” If this is just a way of accepting the inevitable fact that all of us still sin, and that we have to love people who are dominated by such sin, then it is not accurate. Hating the sin means hating the hold it has over people, the oppression it causes, as people get sucked into its grip. We have to realzie that sin is powerful, it does control and oppress people, and it can do devastating damage to a person, and to those around them. No wonder Paul said,
17 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God’s commands, 23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? Romans 7:17-24 (MSG)
Do we hate that feeling that nothing we can do helps, when we are oppressed by sin? Do we cry out as Paul does here, openly, to the Church in Rome? Or, have we just given up, and left people in bondage to it, accepting that it just is that way?
Remember why Jesus said He came above. It’s not for us who think we are whole, who claim we’ve broken the power of sin, and we are holy.
It is for those broken by sin, devastated by it, those who are crying out for help. Those who need a healing that only Jesus Christ can bring about, as He unites us to Himself, as He takes on our sin. That’s what the Pharisees didn’t see, that Christ didn’t come to celebrate the good life, but to crush sin and its power. Hating sin as God does means that we want to see people come to that transformation, that incredible thing called repentance, to the freedom from its power. Paul finished off his cry above with this,
25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans (MSG) 1 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. 3 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. Romans 7:25-8:3(MSG)
In Christ, we are set right, once and for all. But that means we need to realzie that people need to be set right, they need to be freed from this oppressive thing we know as sin…..
But that means we need to confront, in love. A tough challenge, a lot of risk. But that is why He came – and that is why we are here….for if Christ didn’t come to care for the well, but the sick, shouldn’t we be following His example?
Lord have mercy on us, help us to hate the sin, and seek healing for sinners from its ravages!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3623-3628). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional?Discussion Thought of the Day:
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
” 138 Infelix ego homo!, quis me liberabit de corpore mortis huius?—“Unhappy man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” Thus cried Saint Paul. Courage! He too had to fight.
139 At the time of temptation think of the love that awaits you in Heaven: foster the virtue of hope—it’s not a lack of generosity.(1)
As a pastor, I have to deal with sin quite a bit. First of all there is my own, then there is that of my people I pastor – whether members of the congregation I pastor, or those who I interact with regularly. It is a bit ironic that those who aren’t “officially” mine – are more willing ot read this and deal with sin, but that’ s another story.
I love Paul’s self-disclosure in Romans 7, His dealing with his own battles with sin – and the despair that comes from unsuccessfully. It gives me some assurance that we can, bluntly and faithfully, address the presence of sin in our lives.
We don’t need to hide from the grief sin causes, we don’t need to grieve without addresses it.
The answer of it is far simpler – far easier, and laid out in scripture.
Go to God when you are tempted, go to God with your sin. Fight it – but not with weapons of our own making – fight sin and temptation by taking it to God. Think about His love, recognize His presence – plead with Him to help you… and when you fail – turn to our Lord and know His answer to your plea for mercy is always “yes”.
Trust (that is have faith/believe) that God will see you through the temptation, through the failure, that His very love will bring you to hear that He has forgiven you. That His love will always, always, overcome evil.
And Rejoice – for the Lord is with You.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 457-458). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Is Teaching People That They Must Go to Church Right? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Can we take sin seriously, that we may rejoice in being forgiven of it? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Are you sure you want the Holy Spirit to come? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- I Have Decided, to Follow Jesus! (Controversy? Not so much…) (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Do they know of your trust in God from your FB postings? (justifiedandsinner.com)
6:11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)
There are days where being a believer is a fight, where it is just a struggle. There is a “fight” against the world, and its pressures, and seduction and mocking criticism. There can be a “fight” within the church, as we interact closely with others who are dealing with the paradox of being forgiven sinners. ( if they would only stop sinning, and also – don’t they understand they are supposed to forgive me?) But the biggest struggle for me is not the external fights, it is the internal one. The kind Paul describes himself going through in Romans 7 -the fight within me to pursue righteousness, to see mercy dominate, to keep in mind the struggle of this life pale in comparison to God’s presence now, and what He longs for, when we are all home in heaven.
After those days of internal fighting, I wonder about my faith. Do I deserve to be called a “christian”, never mind deserving to serve as a pastor? I comprehend all to well Paul’s word’s about not doing what I know I should, and doing that which I know I shouldn’t. I want to beat myself into submission, I want to find a way to get rid of the sin, as Hebrews 12 urges us – setting it aside for that which I enjoy more………and just when I do, something comes up – and my cynical and sarcastic side takes over… again.
So how do we mature, how do we overcome in this struggle?
We strive, but not in our own strength – we begin to depend on the One who is our source of righteousness – who created the faith we have, and will perfect it. We don’t give up, thinking there is not option to failure. But we are reminded by that failure of our need to depend on Jesus. As one pastor/priest wrote:
“You are not getting worse. It is just that now you have more light to see yourself as you really are. You must avoid even the slightest hint of discouragement.
Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.” (1)
If our “fight” is to grasp more onto Christ, it makes sense that we will see that which would pull us away more clearly, that we would feel the drag on us more acutely, that we would learn the hard way, that trying to make progress is effective as we depend on Jesus, His love, His mercy, His guidance, His presence, more and more and more. That Godly life can only be learned from within the Kingdom of God, the place where we have belonged since our first day, when God cleansed us in baptism. When He took hold of us.
Hold on, don’t be distracted or drained by the currents of life, for know that He has a hold of you as well, as nothing can separate you from His love.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 957-964). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.