Posts Tagged ‘Epistle to the Romans’

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:16 )

Heaven

We live here, we walk here, we eat and drink here, but may we never call it home. The ground beneath our feet and sky above our heads are the scenery we enjoy momentarily, but they will pass away (Matthew 24:35). Our family is more than people with the same last name (Mark 3:35), as believers we are united by blood, literally the shed blood of Jesus the risen Savior. We, the family, walk as sojourners (1 Peter 2:11), as travelers, loving and serving the people around us, all the while remembering we will one day be home. A home that has been prepared for us (John 14:3), where we will live in ever increasing joy.

Our lips will never again say, “It was fun while it lasted”, as the smile fades from our face. In our home there is no sorrow, there is no disease, there is no end to joy (Revelation 21:4). In our home our treasure does not fail, there is no thief to steal, no moneybag to grow old (Luke 12:33). In your heart, and in your head, where is your treasure and your home? For “there will your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

Where is your home?

eraseHow many times have you done something you know was wrong, but you justified it by just saying, “God will forgive me?” If you’re like most Christians, you’ve done it more than once, but most people will publicly deny it. So this morning we’re not going to ask for a public admition, we’re just going to take a look at why it’s so wrong, and he Bible says about it.

So what’s the problem with asking for forgiveness after you’ve committed an act you knew was wrong? The biggest issue with repetitive sin is that is shows that we have a lack of the Holy Spirit. If our walk with the Lord is the way it should be, then our desire to sin is either easier to resist, or it doesn’t happen as often. Now this doesn’t mean we’re beyond hope, it means that we need to ask Jesus to point out the areas in our lives that need spiritual attention. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to come into that black part of our heart that still craves the sinful nature, and to replace it with the healing and love of the Lord. When that part of our heart is replaced, it becomes easier to resist the sins that the flesh finds so enjoyable.

I’m sure there will be people who look at this blog and start thinking about people they know who are guilty of repetitive sin. To those people, I say to look into your own lives first. Romans 3:23 says that we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so we need to examine our own lives, because I can almost guarantee that all of us commit some sort of repetitive sin.That doesn’t make us beyond the point of no return, it means that we are all sinners, yet eligible for forgiveness because Jesus gave His life so that we could have a second chance.

This blog isn’t aimed at anyone but myself. I woke up this morning and the Lord laid it on my heart to discuss this issue that is so seldom talked about, but incredibly important in our Walk with the Lord. He laid it on my heart that I need to search my soul and Him to replace the dark spots I’m trying to hide, and replace it with His love. It’s a hard thing to do, but I encourages us all to give it a try… Let me know how it works out for you…:)

 

Below are some great scriptures and how they can help you understand and get over repetitive sin.

 

1 John 3:6-10 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

 

Romans 7:15-25 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. …

 

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

First of all, we all sin (Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” and Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”).

The fact that you recognize your sin and feel badly about it should give you encouragement for several reasons. For one thing, a lot of people sin and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it – yet God has opened your eyes to seeing how destructive it can be. But God does not want you to live with guilt. He wants you to know and fully experience His forgiveness.

God does not simply overlook our sin and say, “You’re forgiven.” God sees our sin but is ready to forgive us because Jesus fully took OUR sin on Himself and paid for our sin by His death on the cross. Our sin is serious and it cost Jesus incredible suffering. But from the moment we received Christ into our lives, His forgiveness is ours. We can’t ever make up for our own sin or suffer enough for it – nor does God want us to. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.

But what about when we struggle with an area and keep on sinning? Does God get so weary forgiving us that we, at some point, reach our limit?

Jesus was asked by the disciples how many times they needed to forgive someone. “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21,22). It’s unlikely that Peter could keep track of whether he forgave a particular individual 490 times yet, so you see Jesus’ point. You always forgive, because God always forgives us. God does not have a limit. He died for every one of your sins—those you’ve committed and those you will commit—past, present, and future sins.You need to begin looking at your sin the way God looks at it. And here is what He says in the Bible:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2:1,2

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

“You have put all my sins behind your back.” Out of sight. God no longer “sees” me in light of my sins. He sees Jesus righteousness for me.” Isaiah 38:17

“You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Never to be found at sea. Not “dropped” into the sea, “hurled.” Micah 7:19

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Sins are no longer “kept on file”, record is blotted out, destroyed. God cannot “forget” like in human error, but He chooses to “not remember.” Isaiah 43:25

“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself…in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18,19,21

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

“…since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

We are told that Satan is the “accuser of the brethren”, meaning that Satan will try to convince us that God could never love us. We need to recognize those thoughts as lies and instead choose to believe what God says. What God says about us in His Word (the Bible) is truer than anything we could think or feel. Jesus said that those who build their lives on His word are those whose lives stand strong and secure, able to weather anything in life (see Matthew 7:24-27).

If you’ve asked God to forgive you and to come into your life — you are forgiven!!! His word says so. Thank Him for His forgiveness and begin to rejoice in your secure relationship with Him. He is able to change areas of your life that don’t line up with His desire for you. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with his Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Of course we can never follow the Bible to closely, but there are times when we tend to use it to serve our own needs rather than to let it do the talking by itself. This is what most of us call legalism.

The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. Those who hold a legalistic position often fail to see the real purpose for law, especially the purpose of the Old Testament law of Moses, which is to be our “schoolmaster” or “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

Even true believers can be legalistic. We are instructed, rather, to be gracious to one another: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1). Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines that they will run others out of their fellowship, not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality.

The apostle Paul warns us of legalism in Colossians 2:20-23: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.

To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the apostle John, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) and remembering to be gracious, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).

A word of caution is necessary here. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

SinHow many times have you done something you know was wrong, but you justified it by just saying, “God will forgive me?” If you’re like most Christians, you’ve done it more than once, but most people will publicly deny it. So this morning we’re not going to ask for a public admition, we’re just going to take a look at why it’s so wrong, and he Bible says about it.

So what’s the problem with asking for forgiveness after you’ve committed an act you knew was wrong? The biggest issue with repetitive sin is that is shows that we have a lack of the Holy Spirit. If our walk with the Lord is the way it should be, then our desire to sin is either easier to resist, or it doesn’t happen as often. Now this doesn’t mean we’re beyond hope, it means that we need to ask Jesus to point out the areas in our lives that need spiritual attention. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to come into that black part of our heart that still craves the sinful nature, and to replace it with the healing and love of the Lord. When that part of our heart is replaced, it becomes easier to resist the sins that the flesh finds so enjoyable.

I’m sure there will be people who look at this blog and start thinking about people they know who are guilty of repetitive sin. To those people, I say to look into your own lives first. Romans 3:23 says that we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so we need to examine our own lives, because I can almost guarantee that all of us commit some sort of repetitive sin.That doesn’t make us beyond the point of no return, it means that we are all sinners, yet eligible for forgiveness because Jesus gave His life so that we could have a second chance.

This blog isn’t aimed at anyone but myself. I woke up this morning and the Lord laid it on my heart to discuss this issue that is so seldom talked about, but incredibly important in our Walk with the Lord. He laid it on my heart that I need to search my soul and Him to replace the dark spots I’m trying to hide, and replace it with His love. It’s a hard thing to do, but I encourages us all to give it a try… Let me know how it works out for you…:)

 

Hebrews 10:26-2726 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

1 John 3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

imagesTo some the glass is half full.  To others the glass is half empty.  Some people have a real positive disposition about things in life even when maybe things don’t seem to be going their way.  Other people may seem to us to be more cynical and to always feel that the world is out to get them.  If things are good for them now, wait a few minutes for things to turn around.  Both of these descriptions are somewhat exaggerations but I think you get my point, which is that we all have different outlooks on life.

Our outward disposition is often closely linked to our circumstances in life and often we can be filled with regrets.  We may have regrets from many different areas of life.  Here are just a few examples…

  • We may have regrets about our childhood.  Maybe you were raised in a single parent household.  You resent the fact that your father (or mother) was not part of your upbringing. Most statistics show that at least one in every 4 children born in the United States will be raised with only one parent.
  • Regrets about our finances.  Maybe you borrowed more than you were able to pay back to get through college.  You bought a car that was more than you could afford.  Our finances greatly affect our outlook on life.  Jesus often spoke on topics that included finances or stewardship.
  • Regrets about our children.  Maybe you wanted children and weren’t able to have your own.  Or you wanted two boys and two girls and only had one child.  Or maybe you had healthy children and they are growing up and ready to leave the fold and your relationship with them is shattered or strained in some way.  This will cause great pain and often significant regrets.
  • Regrets about relationships or maybe even our marriage partner.  Relationship issues can bring us down and make us feel insecure or even depressed.  Even though divorce statistics are very high, its affects on each person has not diminished.  Divorce is not simply like choosing the wrong car to buy and later getting another one…no divorce often makes each person involved feel a sense of failure for whatever went wrong in the relationship.

This is obviously only the tip of the iceberg concerning areas that we may have regrets.  We have all heard someone look back on their life and say that maybe they made some bad choices but they live with no regrets.  We may wonder if I will be able to say that and if that is even a Biblical principle.  My goal for this discussion will be for us to think through this topic of regrets and whether it is Biblical to live with regrets.

Regrets are often times the result of sin in our life.  Think about it.  Think about specific regrets that you have in your life and ask yourself if they are the result of sin or unwise choices in your life.  Maybe you have been divorced or have had to file for bankruptcy or no longer speak to your children…if this is the case; it is almost assuredly the result of some sin.  Maybe it is not even your sin but the sin of someone that has left you with regrets.  We must acknowledge that this is a fallen world and we all mess up all the time.  Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.”  This verse is one of many that shows us that we all mess up all the time.  Even when we try to do good, we simply cannot do it.  Read the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 where he seems to have a discussion with himself and seems frustrated with the fact that even when we try to do the right or good thing, we simply cannot do it.  We fall short all the time.  And because we fall short, we have to often face difficult consequences.  There is a penalty for our sin.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I could spend much more time with those thoughts from Romans but simply they show us that we are all messed up fallen created beings.  Because we fall short (or sin) we will have hard times in life and often regrets.  So how do we handle these regrets?  One place we could turn would be the entire book of Psalms.  These 150 chapters are filled with many writers crying out to God with often laments and asking God for help.  The writers of Scripture do not try to cover up or act like they have it all together but cry out to God for help in their personal lives.  Looking to Psalms seems to give us the correct way to continue in life and work through our problems or regrets in life.  Search the Psalms and see the many things the writers ask or inquire of the Lord.  I’d just like to look at one verse from Psalm 4.  Psalm 4:1 says, “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God, Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” Now its true we don’t know the exact circumstances of this Psalm but the principle is clear.  We have a God who hears our every prayer.  We have a God that is righteous and cares about our every care (or my distress in Ps. 4.1).  We have a God who shows us mercy even when we don’t deserve it.  The rest of the Psalm (through verse eight ) shows that God is patient with us even when we stray (or follow other gods).

The God of the Bible is the one true God that loves us and cares for our every care and hurt.  He does not delight in seeing us go through hardship or pain but often that is where we grow in Him.  We often grow spiritually through hardships and trials (James 1).  We must learn how to live each moment reliant fully on God.  We should model our prayers and our life like the writers of Scripture as they are not afraid to tell God what is on their hearts.  God can handle our thoughts and our prayers.  We all will have things happen in life that we wish were different (regrets).  But do these regrets control us?  Do I allow my regrets in life to smother my Christian witness?  Hopefully the answer to this is no.  Just think about one of the most memorable stories in the New Testament.  Shortly before Jesus was going to be betrayed and crucified Jesus told His disciples that all of the 12 disciples would fall away and deny him.  You know the story…Peter strongly opposed Jesus and tried to correct him by saying “even if all the others fall away, I won’t”.  Jesus told him that he would deny 3 times before the rooster crows and it happened just as Jesus said.  Do you think that Peter regretted this?  Absolutely!!!  Did he let it dampen his witness?  Not after Jesus restored him on the beach in a beautiful story in John 21.  Now I’m sure Peter never forgot this sin and shortcoming but he did not dwell on it.  He later preached the gospel of Christ with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  This should be our model.  We may never forget our individual regrets in life but how do we respond to them?

A movie came out a few years ago called “The Bucket List” and starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  These two men were shown as being on the back end of life and they were making and trying to complete each thing on their “bucket list.”  The list included things like ‘sky diving’ and other exciting events but at the end of the movie they both come to realize that life is about more than exciting events but about family and being true to yourself.  My prayer for each of you today is for you to come to a similar realization that the life that God wants for us is not a life filled with dwelling on our regrets and sin but by living a victorious life.  The God that we serve has power over sin and death and He is the one that will one day give us victory over these as well.  Today, pray to God like the writers of the Psalms and allow Him to lift the burden that you need taken away and give Him the glory for great thing he hath done.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.—1 Timothy 1:15

I once met a man who said that whenever he bought a new car, he would whack it with a hammer. That way, he said, he wouldn’t get upset about the other little dents and scratches that would surely happen.

The apostle Paul was passionate about attaining righteousness (Philippians 3:7-11), but he was honest about his own imperfections (Romans 7:14-20). In today’s verse, he openly accepts that he is like an old beat-up car. But he accepts his dents and dings, even as he drives on for God.

Maybe you would be happier too if you accepted the dents and dings of your own life.

A long time ago a woman came to our church. She wore fancy clothes, volunteered for everything, and worked extremely hard. Around church and in front of others she was upbeat, but she was troubled and anxious at home, when she was out of the public eye. Finally she broke down and wept, unveiling the sinful burden she carried on her heart. She had been trying to cover a dent. How nice it was to tell her she didn’t have to act perfect in order for God or the church to love her.

She’s happier now that she has accepted imperfection. She is also happier in all she strives to do for God.

I wonder—would you be too?

Prayer

Father, here I am again, wounded and a little beat up. I have failed you in so many ways. Help me to trust that your love is free and is greater than all my sin. Thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.