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Life

Learning How to Hate the Little Sins

I find it very easy to look over little sins in my life.  Sins like “white lies”, speeding through “long” yellow lights, talking about someone behind their back to share a “prayer request”, and the moments of self-pity if I don’t get my way. Maybe you think that the “little sins” are all those thoughts and feelings you have inside that are never manifested in actions or words.

The sad truth is that the little and internal sins grieve God just like the “marquee” sins of theft, pornography, adultery, murder, bitterness, hatred, rape, child abuse, and on and on. The consequences will certainly differ between the “little” and the “marquee” sins. God, however, wants us to hate all our sins, not just the big ones.

In Psalm 6, David is lamenting a particular sin in his life. We don’t find out which sin it is, but that doesn’t matter. It could be something big — we know that David had a few blockbuster sins in his day. The point is that David is begging for mercy. Listen to what he writes in verses 1-4:

O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD — how long?
Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

David asks the Lord to not be angry. He asks that God would not have wrath on him. He asks for grace and healing. He asks for deliverance. And he does this by appealing to God’s steadfast love. “Your love is massively great, God! Please use a spec of it on me right now. Don’t kill me, LORD. Save me.”

Whether David is repenting of what we would label a “big” or “little” sin, I can’t know for sure. What I do know is that David is keenly aware of his sinful state and his need of God, and he is expressing hatred for what he did. He was called a man after God’s own heart, not because he had it all together, but because he hated sin and repented. And it seems clear to me from the Bible that hating and repenting of the so-called worst of sins is not what God wants. We must honor Jesus by hating the little sins, the split-second thought sins, and the heart emotion sins.

C.S. Lewis said, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” There are millions of people in hell right now who never murdered, never looked at porn, never cheated on their spouse, never stole a stick of gum, and never screamed at a neighbor. The actions are not the problem. It’s the heart. And I want my heart to be broken over anything and everything, internally or externally, that does not honor and glorify God.

Will you confess your small, subtle sins with me? Will you confess the sins of your heart that no one may ever see? The cross of Christ is not just for the sins that make the 6 o’clock news. The cross is for every sin and every sinner. Will you have it?

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Theology

Where do you run for safety?

This morning I was reminded of the things I go to for salvation other than God. The list was quite depressing. In the prophet Isaiah’s day, the people of Israel went to a literal savior, whose name was Egypt. Assyria was going to attack and Israel made a political alliance with Egypt — the same Egypt who held them as slaves for decades.

Isaiah 30:7 says, “Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her ‘Rahab who sits still.'” Don’t get caught up on the “Rahab.”  God’s simply saying, “Egypt sits still — they don’t do anything for you.” Egypt couldn’t provide eternal comfort and salvation for Israel.  So, I asked myself, “What is my Egypt, today, in the 21st century?”  I thought of knowledge, spiritual disciplines, security, “normalcy”, passionate prayers, vibrant worship, my lifestyle and worldview, self-pity, and isolation.

I don’t have a physical place to run to, but these functional saviors are what comfort me when I am surrounded by troubles. Instead of running to God, I run to things that “sit still.”  Some of those things are good things. But if I make them ultimate things, they go from good to god, and I become an idolater.

The great news is that God is excited to rescue me. Later on, in verse 18, after all rebellion that is ascribed to Israel (and me), Isaiah writes, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.”

The logic of God’s amazing grace is illogical to us. I am rebellious, therefore he waits — longs, yearns — to show me grace and mercy and faithfulness.  This salvation is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, the one who died for us sinners, who were his enemies, to reconcile us to God (Rom. 5:6-8).

My Egypts will not, and cannot, ever do that.

Categories
Theology

Sermon 8: Sin Darkened Hearts

Sin Darkened Hearts
Series: Redemption
Pastor Steve Moltumyr

Romans 1:18-32

  • God reveals righteousness and wrath.  Both of them reveal who God is.
  • The wrath of God is a permanent, consistent attribute of God that is a holy response to everything that is unholy.

Why do we deserve God’s wrath?

  • We suppress the truth about God.
    • We don’t lack information about God, we deliberately reject what is uncomfortable for us to hear.
    • The universe is God’s signpost that points us to his power and nature.
    • At the most basic level, we suppress truth because we don’t like it.
  • We refuse to glorify and thank God.
    • We are not courteous to God.  This cosmic ingratitude causes us to live in the illusion of self-sufficiency.
    • Our refusal to acknowledge God is at the root of all our sin.  In essence, we want to be our own god.
  • We create idols to replace God.
    • Idols do not have to be primitive statues of wood or stone.
    • If you rest your security in anything other than God, you are putting your hope in an idol.  You are an idolater.
    • The end result of consistent, unrepentant idolatry is that God gives us what we want.

The Solution

  • As we look at this vice list, it should be like looking in a mirror.
  • We must look to Jesus, the only one who never committed one of these sins listed.  Even though he was innocent, he took on our sin and God’s wrath so that we might be forgiven and become his righteousness.
Categories
Life

The Incarnation Leads to Joy

If you had a chance to prove Jesus really lived on the earth, what evidence would you give?  A miracle?  A sign?  A revelation?  A dream?  Well, in 1 John 1:1-4, John gives us evidence that is much more concrete than that.  He writes:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us (vv. 1-2).

He doesn’t appeal to some kind of ecstatic vision or religious experience.  John is saying, “I saw Jesus with my own two eyes.  I touched him.  I talked to him.  I walked the hot desert roads of Israel with him.  I sat at the foot of his cross weeping with his mother while I watched him die.  And I saw the empty tomb before he appeared to me in the flesh.  This man is real and he is co-eternal with God the Father since eternity.  This man is God.”

John’s not playing games.  And he’s not writing this to be a fun-sucking, religious kill-joy who is ready to condemn sinners.  Instead, he writes to obtain the highest joy — the joy of having fellowship with God and his people: “We proclaim [this] also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (v. 3-4).

If Jesus had never come to Earth, complete joy and fellowship with God and others would not have been possible.  There would only have been dead religion and subjective experience.  John’s not interested in that, and neither am I.

Categories
Life

More Thoughts on Loving and Liking

I wanted to clarify a few things from my last post.  Here are four things that I do not mean when I say that loving and liking someone is the same thing:

  • I don’t mean that you have to be buddy-buddy with every person.  There is a way to be gentle, respectful, kind, truthful, and interested in their well-being without being a “friend.”
  • I don’t mean that you have to be “nice” at the expense of truth.  For more on this, read this post.
  • I don’t mean that you have to agree with — or even be tolerant of — every opinion out there.
  • I don’t mean that you have eliminate emotions and never get frustrated, angry, sad, etc.

As Christians, we are called to genuinely love every person since they are made in God’s image.  Romans 12:9, 10 says, “Let love be genuine…Outdo one another in showing honor.”  If you do not genuinely like someone, I’m willing to bet you won’t try very hard to love them, and you won’t go out of your way to show them honor.  Paul commands us in Galatians 6:10 to do good to everyone.  Doing good comes from a heart-level desire for the benefit of another’s well-being.  If you do not like someone, you will not be concerned for their well-being.

By God’s grace, let us pursue the great exhortation of Paul to the young Timothy: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5).