Musings On Christianity 44

Musings On Christianity 44

But Christ Died For My Sins, So I Can Do Whatever Right?

Nobody’s perfect.

We’re only human.

Our God is a forgiving God.

It’s only natural.

I don’t know about those who may be reading this, but I’ve certainly said every one of those phrases at least once in my life. I wanted to live in a world where I could do what I wanted, even knowing it was wrong, and it would be fine because my sins were paid for.

Let’s look at this from a human level. Let’s say you had a loved one or friend who kept getting into financial trouble. You loan him a bit of money, but he falls right back into debt. You give him more, but he loses his house. You give him a place to stay, but he never makes much of an effort to find work or provide for himself. He seems perfectly content to do what he wants and let you pay for everything. He doesn’t even so much as help clean up around the house or even cook a meal.

Wouldn’t you, even the most patient and loving of you, eventually grow tired of it? Isn’t that person really just using you?

The above phrases are absolutely true, every single one of them. There are simply two ways (there are always only two ways when you boil them down) to look at it. One way is for a person to accept those truths and let them convict their hearts to strive to do what is right. The other way is to accept those truths and simply not bother to try at all. Even someone who fails time and again, but continues to work and pray and find ways to turn from their sins is still working under the first perspective.

It’s to those who try and shrug it off I offer this warning. You can’t live in sin and call yourself a follower of Christ (1 John).

“Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him (1 John 2:4-6).”

God is forgiving of those who strive to keep his word but slip (1 John 2:1). There is no such forgiveness to those who continue in sin (1 John 2:9-11).

“No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him (1 John 2:6).”

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is 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 (1 John 2:8-10).

We’re still working our way toward recognizing sin. But before we look at sin for what it is, we have to abolish the myths people cling to so they can excuse their sins or avoid the need to even look at sin. I’ve demonstrated that one must either believe in Christianity, or not. I’ve demonstrated that it is impossible for one to believe in Christianity and any other path, since belief in Christ means accepting him as the way, the truth, and the life.

Now we must abolish the myth that accepting Him somehow allows us to continue sinning as if we didn’t believe in Him. This simply isn’t true.

Paul pondered this same subject in his letter to the church in Rome. He asked a direct question: Can we continue to sin so that God’s grace can continue to abound? He offered a very simple response:

“By no means (Romans 6:2)!”

A true Christian dies to sin, so they can no longer live in it (Romans 6:2).  Romans 6:2 is 14 words long, and it holds such deep, meaning. The question Paul asks points out the very same excuses some people claiming Christ make without realizing they haven’t turned to Christ.

Paul and John were not the only people to dispel this falsehood.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15).”

Those are the words of Christ Himself.

Once more we can reject Christ and do as we wish, or we can accept Him, but if we accept Him we must, therefore, keep His commandments, for that is what those who love Him (and therefore accept Him) do.

Jesus didn’t mention this once in passing. He emphasized this in His final words to His disciples as I mentioned above, but it was a part of His ministry throughout His life on Earth.

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you should love Me, for I came from God, and I am here (John 8:42).”

There Christ openly states that love of Him demonstrates a relationship with God (since they are two parts of the one triune God).

Then Christ explains the actions of those who follow the devil.

“‘You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him (John 8:44).”

There is no position in which one can say he belongs to Christ and then continue to live for himself rather than for Christ.

This does not in any way indicate that one slip, one instance of failure means damnation. Again, the words I began this chapter with are all true. What this means is that those who follow Christ strive to live in accordance to His commandments.

For those who do this, Christ advocates on their behalf when they stumble (1 John 2:1).

God Himself declared David a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  Yet David committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:4, 2 Samuel 11 14-15).  How can such a sinner then be of God.

David absolutely sinned against God, but David repented each time. David accepted the severe consequences of those sins. He didn’t challenge God or question Him. He understood his sin for what it was. He asked for forgiveness. He accepted God’s sovereign punishment for those sins.

This is the difference between one who lives in sin, and one who lives in Christ. Never in scripture does David plot in this manner. He never (in scripture) says, “Well I know I shouldn’t murder Uriah, but I’ll do it, and God will forgive me.”

This isn’t to say he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He did, and he worked very hard to hide it. But when rebuked (through the prophet Nathan), he confessed and repented.

That brings another important concept to mind. Even those seeking earnestly to please God sin, and those sins have consequences.  David, God’s anointed, sinned, and he, the one whom God declared was after His own heart, was punished. If David was not free of consequences, who is?

This shows us that even though our sins are forgiven, they are not necessarily without punishment. If God still reserves Earthly punishment for His chosen, what hope do those who deny the Son He sent to rule us have?

The myth that, “I’m Christian, so nothing will happen to me” or “I’m Christian, so I can sin, and God won’t judge me” dies.

What about the myth that “I’m blameless, so I’m guaranteed a wonderful, prosperous, pain-free life”?

Job was that man. He indeed had a life full of prosperity and blessing, but his story in the Bible isn’t about how great his life was or how great it ended. Instead, it shows us Job’s great trail. Even Job had no right to demand a life free of pain from God. Even Job had no right to question God and his sovereignty. Job, a man who was blameless (Job 1:1) saw the worst sorts of emotional and physical pain. His fortune was taken. His family was taken. Everything he had was taken. Indeed, he was once more blessed beyond even what he once had (Job 42), but his life wasn’t free from pain or turmoil. How much more those of us who openly admit we have done wrong?

No Christian life is free of pain. No Christian life is absent of blessings. Indeed, on this Earth, God gives and takes away (Job 1:21). God does this to sinners and the righteous (Matthew 5:45). That’s because the real reward is in Heaven. The real reward and blessings exist in God’s kingdom, and those rewards are only reserved for those who serve Him.

Nobody’s perfect, but a Christian strives to be as much as he or she is able, trusting in God’s forgiveness and accepting His divine sovereignty.

We’re only human, but a Christian strives to live like Christ, God in the flesh.

Our God is a forgiving God, but no Christian tests God (Deuteronomy 6:16 and Matthew 4:7).

It’s only natural, but a Christian doesn’t live of this world, but of Christ (1 John 2:15-17).

We had to dispel the myths those outside the faith want cling to. We had to reveal those myths to those who are of the faith but don’t understand they’re misguided.

We had to do these things before we look at sin for what it is because only those who see sin for what it is can then truly choose to live in it or turn away from it.

Again, that choice belongs to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t now be Christ’s and live whatever life you feel “makes you happy.” You can’t be Christ’s and sin as you please. You can’t be Christ’s and follow after other religions.

These are the truths a Christian must accept. You can accept them or reject them, but you can’t reject them and accept them.

For our panel: What are some other excuses people cling to? How would you dispel those excuses? What are some other areas of the Bible we can study to better understand the myths we’ve covered?  How do we come to terms with the fact that even Christians receive trials and consequences for sins? How does a Christian stay focused on the real rewards even while losing some (or even, unfortunately all) of their Earthly blessings? How does can one know they’re lost in sin?

Sonnets For My Savior 40

Sonnets For My Savior 40

Growth

Those who love the Father

follow Him and obey.

They don’t find his commandments a bother.

They grow more like the Son each and every day.

Eat the right food.

Man does not live by bread alone.

He who lives by the word of God has certitude.

He finds more peace that he has ever known.

Study the the word so that you may grow.

Commit them to your hearts and minds.

If His work is the crop that you have sown,

you will reap more joy than you had thought you could ever find.

Love, Obey, Eat, and Grow.

Do this, and His presence in your life will show.

 



Because I Sin

I am a sinner.

I have looked at a brother in anger.

I’ve accumulated wealth thinking that would make me a winner.

I’ve let others work while I relax in languor.

I was a slave to sin.

I’ve stared at women in lust.

I drank myself stupid to quite the spirit within.

I was a liar no man should ever trust.

Jesus Christ paid the price.

His sacrifice made me clean.

He bled for every vice.

It was the only way to account for the sins God has seen.

The Savior who died and has risen

was the only way I could have been forgiven.

 


 

Perishable vs Eternal

Money will perish.

His love endures.

Fame will perish.

His grace endures.

Flesh will perish.

His peace endures.

Pleasure will perish.

His holiness endures.

Pain will parish.

His comfort endures.

Sadness will perish.

HIs joy endures.

All of the things of this world are perishable.

The Lord God, and the gifts he gives, is eternal.

 


 

Don’t Let Me Fall

Hold me tightly.

Surround me with Your light, lest my eyes wander.

Help me walk steadfastly and rightly.

Your love is a precious gift I never want to squander.

Provide me a means of escape

when temptation gives its seductive call.

Mold me into a better shape.

Lift me to Your grace lest I fall.

My desire is to serve You,

but my fleshly heart was born to desire evil things.

Let me please and glorify You in all I do,

so I might enjoy Your peace and all that it brings.

A life in service to You is a life most blessed.

Grant me wisdom, LORD, so that when temptation comes, I may pass the test.

 


 

Freedom

We have the freedom to speak out mind.

We have the freedom to petition out government.

We have freedoms others can only hope to find,

But our most precious freedom comes through Christ, whom God sent.

We have freedoms to bring arms to bare.

We have freedom of the press.

Of all the freedoms for which we care,

Christ’s is the greatest. Without Him, all other freedom is worthless.

We even have freedom of religion.

We can worship or not however we want to.

This makes it so we ca openly praise God’s own Son,

For His is the only way that is true. I

We have so many great freedoms from this nation we are in,

But it is Christ who gives us freedom from sin.

 


 

How Do You Do It?

How can you be so slow to frustration?

How can you be so quick to forgive?

Too quickly I find vexation,

Too often I become combative.

Help me to be more like You.

Help me to have a heart of forgiveness and peace.

Guide me, LORD, in all I do.

My desire to grow more like You shall never cease.

Grant me a heart like yours, full of grace.

Grant me a heart like yours, full of steadfast love.

Your son’s likeness is the goal to which I race.

Your love is the gift no one is worthy of.

Just as you forgive us our iniquity,

grant us a forgiving spirit so that we may have tranquility.

 


 

The Right Goal

Let us seek Your righteousness.

Let us follow Your path.

Help us walk away from our selfishness,

lest we encourage Your wrath.

Let our deeds be pleasing.

Let good fruit come from our actions.

Let every day be more appeasing.

Let me focus on You with no distractions.

Be first in my heart, soul, and mind.

Be the center of my attention.

For You are the creator of mankind,

and I seek only Your affection.

Becoming saved has given us the proper perspective.

Pleasing You is the only real objective.

Sonnets For My Savior 39

Sonnets For My Savior 39

The Only Way

It is Him.

There is no other way.

He has no alter ego or pseudonym.

Turning from Him only leads to dismay.

He is the only light.

There are no dimmer flames; His is the only one that exists.

Following Him is the only way that is right.

He is the only way in which salvation consists.

Only He paid the price.

Only He advocates for us.

We are only saved by His sacrifice.

To follow any other is treasonous.

There is only one who frees us,

and He is our Christ, Jesus.

 


 

The Mark of a Christian

A kind smile.

A generous gift.

One who walks the extra mile.

One whose values will never shift.

Providing for others

When they are in need.

Caring for one’s brothers

Rather than clinging to greed. 

Standing in truth.

Living in light.

Letting go the things of one’s youth.

Turning from wrong and doing what is right.

But the greatest trait of children from the Father above,

Is living a life with a heart full of love.

 


 

Holy Father

Holy Father,

There is no one above you.

Holy Father,

There is no one mightier than you.

You are merciful.

You are righteous.

You are wonderful.

You are glorious.

Holy Father,

You are life and light.

Holy Father,

In you are only goodness and right.

All glory be to Your name,

Our perfect, Father, whose grace washes away our shame.

 


 

His Glory

It would mean death to see His face,

for his glory is so great.

Oh! being wrapped in His grace

is such sweet, sweet state.

Moses stood in His presence,

and the mere reflection required a veil.

Oh! to have that pleasance!

Our God shall always prevail.

Gracious and merciful.

Slow to anger. Abounding in love and faithfulness.

Every action of His is purposeful.

He forgives the repentant when they transgress.

Let Him be worshiped in every territory,

for to God alone belongs the glory.

 


 

More

Too often I do what I do not want to do.

Too often I do what I hate.

But the Lord’s love for me is true.

His grace is more, and His mercy is grate.

My iniquities form a mountain I can’t climb.

My sins form chains I can’t break.

But the Lord lifts me time after time.

Any prison created, he can unmake.

My sins are countless.

His kindness is boundless.

My failings are limitless.

His love is endless.

My crimes are too great for any to ignore,

but my Lord’s forgiveness is so much more.

 


 

Endure

Endure, though you may lose everything.

Endure, though you may lose those you love.

Endure, though pain may bring its sting.

Endure, for God is watching from above.

Endure, though your heart may be filled with sadness.

Endure the trial with every breath.

Endure, when circumstances threaten to bring you to madness.

Endure, though you may be near death.

The sufferings of this present time

are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.

His presence is so sublime,

as to make all the earthly things we’ve lost rubbish to us.

Endure, even if it’s hard to understand what your suffering is for.

Endure, for what we have in Heaven will be worth even more.

 


 

Joy

Beware the difference between joy and feeling good.

A feeling passes and doesn’t endure.

Joy remains when no one thinks it should.

Joy isn’t cheaply earned; it’s real and pure.

Understand where joy comes from.

It doesn’t come from the things of the Earth.

All the things of world will fall away when time is done.

But joy can be ours if we believe in Christ’s birth.

He provides freedom.

He offers peace.

Service in His kingdom

ensures one a joy that will never cease.

The most pure joy doesn’t come from within.

The most pure form of joy comes only from Him.

Sonnets For My Savior 38

Sonnets For My Savior 38

Heavenly Father

Let me teach as You have taught.

Let me love as You have loved.

Let me raise my sons as I ought.

Let them feel instructed not judged.

Let me be patient, as You are patient.

Let me be merciful, as You are Merciful.

I believe this is the purpose for which I was sent.

Work through my hands so I may be fruitful.

You are the example I can never perfectly replicate.

You are the perfect Father, I wish to faithfully represent.

Everything You do, I wish to emulate.

Honoring You is my intent.

You’ve blessed me with the task of raising these boys.

Let me do so, LORD, with Your grace, mercy, and poise.

 


 

Things That Pull My Eyes From You

This world is full of temptations.

Money and fame.

I know that If I turn to those distractions,

I alone carry the blame. 

Money isn’t worth the treasures you give,

but I’m tempted to chase after it.

Cash won’t give me the true life I seek to live.

Please protect me so I wont become preoccupied with it.

The love of the world isn’t real,

but I often wish I had it.

Nothing compares to how Your love makes me feel.

Please help me stay focused on it.

I confess these thing sometimes pull my eyes from You.

Please forgive me and help me to glorify You in all I do.

 


 

Abide in Love

He is love.

Abide in this, and you abide in Him.

We know sons of the Lord above,

Because we love each other as we love Him.

You can’t love God and hate your brother.

Any who says otherwise lies.

If We can’t feel love when we see one another,

We can’t love God, who we can’t see with our eyes.

Those who have love have no need to fear.

Perfect love casts fear out.

Those who hold the Lord dear

Have His love, and they need not doubt.

Let all brothers live with love inside them,

For those who have love will always have Him.

 


 

Obey

Trust is shown in obedience.

Militaries rely on personnel who do as they’re told.

Why then delay or seek lenience?

Why resist and pretend you are bold?

God is above all,

And he places our leaders over us.

Failing to answer the call

Only displays the rebellion inside us.

God is wise. 

All he does is for His glory and our good.

If we want Him to bless our lives,

We must submit to his authority and do as we should.

Just as a loving parent teaches and leads his children,

We show God our love by doing as we are bidden.

 


 

Creator

Light came with a word.

Man was made from dust.

Every thing that has ever occurred,

He has used for good, for He is just.

Every star was placed with care.

Every planet was set to spin just so.

He’s done more than we are aware.

He’s given us more than we’ll ever know.

The same God who placed every blade of grass,

numbered the hairs on your head.

There is no one who can surpass

the God who carefully placed every grain of dirt on which you tread.

There is no one who could ever be greater,

than our God, our Father, our Creator.

 


 

Rejoice

Rejoice, little children;

you are forgiven.

Rejoice, little children.

You have life through the gift Christ has given.

Rejoice, young men;

you have over come the evil one.

Rejoice, young men;

you are forgiven for all you do or have ever done.

Rejoice, fathers;

you know Him who is from the beginning.

Rejoice, fathers;

you are cleansed, and do not practice sinning.

Rejoice, all mankind;

Christ has died for you, and through Him, you have peace of mind.

 


 

Deeds, Not Words

Let us not love in word or talk

but in deed and in truth.

Any man can speak, but some men’s words are worth any stock.

Some men keep lies hidden behind every tooth.

Many worship with their lips,

but their hearts are far from Him.

A man who dances around the truth eventually trips.

A man can’t claim he loves anything if he turns from it on a whim.

Love is an action one takes.

Love is sacrifice.

Love is when every decision one makes,

is for the better of whom he loves no matter the price.

If your love is true,

let it be displayed in everything that you do.

Sonnets For My Savior 37

Sonnets For My Savior 37

Real Blessings

I won’t deny I’d like more cash.

I confess, I’d like a bigger house.

It would sure be nice to lose weight in a flash.

I’d absolutely appreciate a comfortable retirement for me and my spouse.

Don’t let me get lost in these extravagant desires.

Don’t let me forget I’m already blessed.

A man grows to covet the things he admires,

but your righteousness is all I need to invest.

I love my wife with whom you have blessed me.

I love my children with whom you have blessed me.

No matter the hardship that may fall on me,

help me remember the wonderful gifts you have already given me.

Yet the most wonderful blessing I could ever receive,

is the gift of your love, and because of it, I believe.

 


 

He Is The Christ

The Father is in Him, and He is in the Father.

The Son came down so that man could be saved.

He is the way; there is no other.

He gave His life; our price is paid.

The word he spoke was true.

Believe both them and the many glorious deeds.

No other could do what He could do.

Where all our efforts fail, his succeeds.

He knows the heart of man.

He has been given His sheep to keep.

They have been His since time began,

and one day the sower will come home to reap.

He is the only path to eternal life.

Seek and follow Jesus Christ.

 


 

Do Not Practice Sin

All fall short of perfection.

But the children of God do not practice their sinful actions.

They don’t act without correction.

They don’t give in to earthly attractions.

All sin, but Christ is our salvation.

But the children of God do not feed their sinful nature.

They don’t seek approval or justification.

They don’t indulge in today’s pleasures at the cost of their future.

If you claim to be saved,

take stock of the sin in your life.

In what way have you behaved?

How much change have you seen in your life?

Those who follow God are not perfect,

but neither do they allow the sin in their life to continue unchecked.


 

The Advocate

Speak for me Lord, for I’m unworthy.

Grant me Your cloak of righteousness.

Your death and resurrection set me free.

My sins are covered by Your blamelessness.

You have my Love,

and Your love is in me.

You are one with the father above.

The glory was yours before the world even came to be.

You are our propitiation.

You paid the price we couldn’t pay.

For this and every generation,

You are the life, the truth, and the way.

We do not live for sin,

but if we do sin, we thank You, Christ, for advocating for us with Him.

 


 

Giving God

He blesses me more than I deserve.

My Father in Heaven gives me such great things.

Oh the joy You’ve given without reserve!

Oh the fullness Your love brings!

My glee is so great it brings me guilt. 

How can I be so blessed when I’m so unworthy?

My broken heart, He has rebuilt.

I have tasted the Living Water, and I am no longer thirsty.

Kind and generous is my giving God.

He provides for my every need.

Kind and generous is my giving God.

He has broken my chains; I have been freed.

Words can’t express my gladness.

The LORD has made me new and taken all of my sadness.

 


 

His Work Through My Hands

Use me. 

Let Your will be done.

Call me.

Let Your desire and my deeds be one.

Work through me.

Make my mind, heart, soul, and hands Yours to own.

Equip me.

Develop my Gifts to harvest the grain You’ve sown.

Encourage me.

Keep fear from turning me aside.

Embolden me.

If I am to serve You, I can not hide.

Place in my heart a task.

Work through my hands to do all You ask.

 


 

Wherever I May Go

He lives in me.

He is with me wherever I may go.

My heart is filled with glee.

For His love is true; this I know.

I can’t be pulled from his mighty hands.

Nothing can take me away.

Whether I’m in friendly or enemy lands.

He is with me, come what may.

He fills me with courage, and I trust in His might.

I walk in faith with every step I take.

I need not fear, for Jesus has already won the great fight.

Should I falter, God is merciful and forgives my mistake.

Whatever trials or troubles come to be,

I can take comfort, for the Father lives in me.

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 14

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 14

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

Discouragement

 

Job 28: 28: “And he said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord– that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'”

I hope those who read this journey understand my goal. I want to be a better Christian. I want to be more sanctified with each day.

I recently finished reading the book of Job, and that passage struck me.

The first part makes perfect sense. How could it not be wise to fear our God who is sovereign over all of us. Fear his wrath.

But how well do I understand?

My most powerful temptation is one I’ve struggled with my whole life, and, thanks be to God, I’m improved in that area.  In this, I show my understanding by turning from that sin. I fear saying so because the last time I felt I had a handle on my lust I got battered and fell to temptation.

Even if this sin is one I’ve finally turned from completely, I’m sometimes devastated over how much more sin is in my life.

In order to better process my testimony today, I searched for “How does the Bible define sin?”

I found this webpage from the United Church of God’s Beyond Today.  I’m unfamiliar with this, but it referenced several Bible verses, and I feel more confidence when a church bases it’s sermon on comprehensive Bible study.

The first frustration is the seemingly (important adverb) vague definition of sin.  “All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” 1 John 5:17.

I’ve read Deuteronomy, and that’s a quite comprehensive list of God’s laws, including the ten commandments.  As I read the Bible, I’m taking note of the books I feel are important to me to study.  Job, 1 John, Romans, and Deuteronomy are up there.

When I look at all the wrong in my life, even in comparison to how far I’ve come, I can feel such discouragement.

That discouragement, according to mutliple books from John MacArthur (Saved Without A Doubt is the one that most comes to mind), is a powerful weapon of Satan.

“You’re never going to be perfect!”

“Look at you! You’ve worked this hard just to overcome this one thing, and you still have this much other filth in your life!”

I’m resentful. I’m lustful. I’m prideful. I’m lazy (my friends would dispute this, but consider please that I only, and I mean only, do what I want). I’m judgmental.

All of those are sins. To think how much I’ve grown because I’m so much less lustful I am when compared to how lustful I was.

I feel weighed down by that discouragement at the moment. I pray more than I ever have.

“You still don’t have a mindset of permanent prayer.”

I make more of an effort to be understanding and compassionate.

“You still fly off the handle when you hear something you consider wrong.  You still judge.”

I don’t know about you, but this tool, this single whisper is something I wonder sometimes.

“If you’re never going to be good enough, why not just give up?”

To give it context, I was raised near a church I’m not of the opinion bases it’s beliefs on the Bible. One well-respected member of the church would stop me on my way home every day and tell me in great detail how destined for damnation I was. He even went once so far as to say he was “concerned” for me because of the company I kept.  That company? The man who is now my brother in law. I stated what a kind man my now-brother was, and he immediately replied with, “So Native Americans go to Heaven now?”

Can you imagine how devastating that was to my journey? What an effective tool it was to think this hateful, clearly-racist man was a respected representative of God.

I’m currently reading the Bible. There are many reasons why people would be concerned for the company one keeps.  Those are hot-button reasons alone. The point needed to be made here is that I have yet to find any scripture that summarily condemns any one race to Hell.

First off, the Bible is quite clear on the only requirement for salvation:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17.

There are ways to evaluate and have assurance in your salvation, and absence of sin in your life isn’t such a way.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:13-16.

One must truly believe in Jesus to be saved.  The next part is the trick though, and this is where discouragement comes in.

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” 1 John 5:18-20

A saved person’s life changes. He becomes more holy. Some call this the process of sanctification.

I need to remind you I’m not regarded as an expert in the Bible. I haven’t even finished reading it yet, and I promise you I don’t understand a percent (not one) of what I read. I have to study.

What I think I understand through bible and reference to Mr. MacArthur’s books is that it’s a fallacy to think a saved person will never sin again. The point is, you’re life is changing, and it never stops changing.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-4

We’ll never be fully sanctified and without sin until Jesus returns. What saved people do, however, is purify themselves. The cleanse sin from their lives each day.

Where does the discouragement come from? For me, it’s the thought that I could erase a sin a day from my life and still have a multitude of sins.

I try to target sin.  I try to say, “This is the sin I’ll stop.”

I go a week or a month avoiding it. I might even go that long without ever thinking about it. However, I can’t confess I don’t do any of it anymore.

There are things I haven’t done for some time. There are things I haven’t done for quite a long time. But we sin with our thoughts, and I still think about sin.

This is where my discouragement begins.

Readers, my prayer for you, and what I hope you pray for me, is that you don’t allow your discouragement to become an excuse to give up. Neither should you treat sin as an inevitable opponent. I discussed this in Part 11.

The trick is to be confident in your salvation and diligent in your efforts to change your life. I still have such a long way to go. That list above is a real list. Those are my real sins. I don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I think I’ll be lazy today.”  I just look at my day and realize how lazy I’ve been. My condo is a mess.  My car is in worse shape. I haven’t worked out in two weeks.

Be better.

That’s the option. Our efforts to have permanent change in our lives should be the goal. If we are truly saved, we’re saved. It’s permanent. One effective way to know we’re saved (and there are others) is that our life is changing. My life is changing. I can’t let the fact that my life isn’t “changed,” past tense, trick me into doubting it will.  I can’t let how much more I have to change cause me to want to stop trying to change.

When I dwell on my sins, I hear myself thinking, “Now you don’t deserve to have your mother healed. Now you don’t deserve to marry the woman you’re dating. Now you don’t deserve to see your students succeed or your friends comforted.”

“Fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”

Yet I lack the understanding to shun evil. Perhaps I have the understanding to know I should shun evil. I do shun some evil, but that’s not the same.

My weapon against this discouragement is the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

The sword of the Spirit is defined in that verse as the word of God.

My current discouragement is that I still sin too much. So today, the verse I look to is 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struct down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

Sure, I have a  was to go, but I need to keep going.

“Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24. (NOTE: More than one person may attain salvation. What I take from this is running is what matters.  Never stopping. Never trying.)

I will face trials and receive blessings.  I’ve received quite a few of late (a good review at work. Students all passed their last test. My home. My girlfriend (pretty much a blessing every day).

I just can’t get caught looking at how far I have to go any more than I can stop thinking I’ve come far enough.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

Do the verses help?

When I’m smart enough to look for them. Every time I look for scripture on a subject, I feel better. I feel more resolve. I feel more certainty that I know what to do because I went to the bible to find out what that is.

Sometimes I put the sword of the Spirit down, and that’s a mistake for me. The Bible implies by sentence structure that there are parts of the armor you never take off and parts that you occasionally pick up. At this point in my growth, I sort of feel the need to wear the whole thing.

You still think your mom’s health rests on your sin?

No, my mom’s health rests on God’s will. When I sin, I’m not doing a very good job of showing my faith and trust in him though, am I?   I show my faith in him by obeying. I don’t do so based on the belief that “I’ll get what I want.” That’s not really how it works. We show our faith by enduring trials and resisting temptation.  Each failure to resist, I think, is a discredit to God. It hurts your standing. This is compounded when you fail to ask for forgiveness and repent (knock it off). So if I’m not staying true to my faith and trusting in him, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think he’d be less inclined to answer my prayer?

Let’s be clear at this point. This story isn’t the story on my “deal with God.” It’s not a demonstration of what a great Heavenly Walmart manager God is. This isn’t an exchange. There is no exchange. Get saved, or be forsaken. I am saved. I will be saved regardless of my mom’s health.  I’m not trying to be a better Christian because I think that will save my mom. I pray God will do that, but it’s not a transaction. God is glorified in all that he does. He will be worthy of praise if he saves my mom, and he will be equally worthy of praise if he allows my mom to perish. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11.  This ordeal humbled me. It yanked me closer to God more quickly than I was walking at the time. To pretend God will give me what I want simply because I’ve given him this lip service would be a contradiction of the very point of this testimony.  I pray for my mom’s help every day, and I ask you all to do the same for me. However, my mom’s health is not the condition on which my Christianity hinges. If it were, I’d already be lost.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading

Matt