To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.C.S. Lewis
Let’s talk about sin. This definitely won’t be my most popular post and will likely make some people angry. It’s because of that very thing, my dislike for angering people, I have avoided posting it and seriously considered making it much more general. But sometimes obedience means standing up for what is right and doing what God tells you to do even if it means not everyone is going to love it (or you).
The subject of sin threatens to send most of us packing rather quickly. We’d rather talk about grace, and I am 100% there for that. I wholeheartedly believe we need to dwell on grace . . . I’m firmly in the camp of grace consciousness rather than sin consciousness. But the reality is we have grace, we have need of grace, because we are sinners saved by grace.
And so, I’m back to, let’s talk about sin . . . in particular, sin within the body of Christ . . . this has been circling in my mind for a few weeks now so bear with me for just a moment.
My husband and I were talking about this whole sin thing the other day, and I said, “We (speaking of Christians) want it both ways. We want to willfully live in sin, and we want the blessings and protection of God that only come from the obedience that leads to His covering.”
But that’s not how it works. We don’t get to live in the world and of the world. We are called to be separate. We are called to be different and live differently. (John 15:18-19; Romans 12:1-2)
These past few months, I’ve been camped out in Paul’s letters to the early church. And here’s the thing. Paul talked about grace, and Paul talked about sin. Paul was heavy on grace because there is no other option. Without the grace of God, we are utterly lost. We cannot and do not earn our salvation. But Paul also, regularly, addressed sin. Not because he was overly sin “conscious” . . . not because he was legalistic. He absolutely was not, but because he knew the importance of living a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; Philippians 1:27 . . . ). He knew and understood the importance of casting off “the sin that so easily entangles” and running “the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1-3). He knew and believed in the transforming power of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 3:18).
God does not call us to be the same . . . to match our culture and the world around us. He calls us to change and stand out . . . to reach others for Christ. And because of that calling on the lives of every single Christian, both our input, what we feed on, and our output, the things we do and say, matter.
Far too many Christians see the bible as a set of rules . . . a book of dos and don’ts . . . of can’ts and cans . . . of shall nots and shalls . . . but y’all when God calls us to obedience . . . when He lays out certain rules and ways of doing things . . . they are not arbitrary . . . they are not because He’s the “big Man in the sky” looking to steal all our fun and rain our parade . . . the word of God and the guidelines He sets before us are protective! They are protective for both us and those around us. His commands are protective. Obedience is protective. He created us, and He knows what is best for us.
Obedience to God is the key that unlocks so many blessings in our lives. That’s not to say that Christians never face trials or temptations . . . we do and we will. That’s not to say we won’t mess up. We will, and I am so thankful that the blood of Christ covers all my sin. Nor am I in any way saying that we earn God’s love or our salvation. But the principles of reaping and sowing apply . . . the world calls it “karma”, but the principle was found in the bible long before the idea of karma ever existed. There are consequences for our actions, and too many of our problems, our crises, our drama filled issues are of our own making because we choose not to obey God’s commands. When we choose disobedience and sin, we are moving ourselves out of His protection.
As followers of Christ we are called to both excellence (not to be confused with perfection) and purity. There is an abundance of grace to be found at the cross, but as Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
Our words matter . . . our attitudes matter . . . our actions matter. We are either shining a light for Jesus, or we’re not.
How we treat others whether they are friend or foe . . . how we handle our finances (yes, tithing and giving matter) . . .how we steward and raise our children . . . how we behave within our marriage . . . even the things we choose to believe (truth matters) and the people we praise, follow, and emulate . . . they all matter.
Christians are not called to be critical, mean, constantly complaining, and stirring up trouble.
Christians are not called to idolatry . . . to put something or anything ahead of God whether that be work, politics, material possessions, even our own children . . . so many good things turn into idols because they take the place of God in our lives.
Christians are called to be diligent and careful about what we feed on . . . in the news we view and read, in the shows we watch (that’s a hard one y’all . . . because “we’re adults . . . we can watch what we want” . . . only can and should are not the same thing), in the music we listen to, the list continues. . . because what goes in is inevitably what will come out and who we will become.
And this one is going to make some people mad, but y’all, as Christians we are called to sexual purity as well, He created sexual intimacy for marriage alone, and you can’t choose to live outside of that boundary and expect God to pour His blessings on your relationship and life. I see it happening over and over and over again, and we are playing with fire on this one. There is absolutely grace and forgiveness for ALL sin at the foot of the cross, and God’s call to purity is incredibly protective. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (and there is more in 1 Corinthians 7).
I could continue to list things we should or shouldn’t do, but that’s not the point. It’s not about legalism or about a bunch of rules. Although right and wrong are definitely and clearly spelled out for us in the Bible. But at the end of the day, it really is a heart issue. It’s about far more than behavior modification. Rather it’s about whether or not we truly trust God that what He says is best really is best and obedience serves a purpose both on this earth and into eternity. I’m just as guilty as anyone of sometimes making choices that are disobedient and wrong, and that’s one of the reasons I wrote this. Because my goal is always to share what God is teaching me, and I mess up and fall short as much as the next person.
Yesterday, my youngest was acting out, and my response was less than stellar. I snapped at her. I yelled. I was super impatient. I wasn’t lovingly guiding her. I was frustrated. And later as I was praying about how I had acted I said, “But I didn’t mean to…” only I was immediately convicted because I knew I chose my words, my tone, and my actions. God has given me self control through the power of the Holy Spirit, but I let frustration at an ongoing struggle and fear regarding the future to dictate how I responded. I chose disobedience over trusting God because, honestly, it was easier and felt a whole lot better in the moment than doing what was right. So I apologized to my daughter and repented and thanked God for His grace. And I’m sure it won’t be the last time I have to do that, but I’m determined to let God have his way in my life in both the biggest and the smallest things. I’m determined to let Him continually transform this imperfect life and heart of mine. And I want nothing less for you.
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