So Chapter 4 took some serious reflecting! So, here we go!
Lie #13: I can sin and get away with it.
Truth #13: We can hide NOTHING from God! I am reminded of this in Psalm 139: O Lord, you have searched me and known me!You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
In Genesis 3, we see God call out the sin that Adam and Eve had just committed: And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” [not because He did NOT know where Adam was, but to give Adam a chance to reveal himself.]And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
God questions them to give them an opportunity to confess. Have you ever had a moment with your parents when they start asking questions about something? My mom tells me the story of when I was 6, and the teacher had called her about something I did at school (not BAD, but bad for my health). I was newly diagnosed as having Type 1 Diabetes, and had been sneaking Ho Ho cakes at school. The teacher called and asked if I should be eating those? Of course, NO! So I got home from school. Mom looked at me, and said, “Something seems off. Let’s check your blood sugar.” And the number on the screen gave everything away. “That looks like the exact number of someone who has eaten a…HO HO!” My jaw dropped, and eyes got wide. “HOW DID YOU KNOW?????”
Just as that information ALWAYS gets back to our parents, God knows. He needs no phone call, no secret agents. He knows ALL our thoughts, good and bad. Nothing is done in secret from Him. Hebrews 4:13 affirms this: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
I think the biggest reason this lie gains so much traction is that the consequences of our actions are not usually immediate. When we touch a hot stove, we get burned immediately. When we choose to live in sexual sin, or lie to our parents, or steal a couple of dollars from the register once in a while, or eat that second dessert (as I eat strawberry pop-tarts for breakfast…), we might get away with things for a while. For most of us, we can avoid unexpected pregnancies, can cover our lies with ease, can stay within the “allowable range” of being off on the register totals that day, or exercise away the extra calories. But, eventually, we will be found out. Sexual sins take their toll on our hearts and souls (trust me, I spent a few years in counseling for this one…), a teacher calls our mother (or a sibling tattles on you!), the boss installed cameras last week and didn’t say anything, or the pounds start to creep on because you forgot to work out more often than you remembered. Eventually, we will be found out.
Lie #14: My sin isn’t really that bad.
Truth #14: All sin is NOT HOLY.
In my thinking, the Romans Road to Salvation seems to address this lie more than anything else: We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and that sin leads to the consequence of eternal death. No matter how small the sin or how BIG the sin, it is still a blemish on the incomprehensible (for us) purity that is GOD. We tend to view sin in relative terms. We compare and contrast our sins against each other. “I’m not bad; look at THAT guy!” The art of distraction may work on people, but not on God. He alone sees into the depths of our hearts and sees well beyond the masks we all wear.
1 John 1 sets a clear image of our deceit toward ourselves:This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Lie #15: God can’t forgive what I have done.
Truth #15: Nothing is too big for our God. In Romans 8, Paul proclaims “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Psalm 51 also paints a good picture of forgiveness. King David models for us how to cover up sin, struggle with guilt, and then to confess before the Lord. His affair with Bathsheeba, his conspiracy to kill her husband under the guise of war…he SINNED. This was a BIG one. Again, no sin is too small to be ignored, but we can use the example of David to view God’s mercy and grace. Even murder is not too great a sin for God to cleanse through Christ. Now, don’t go out and kill anyone. Grace is not a license to sin, remember. To break the habits and chains of sin, though, it is going to take a lot of transformation and redirecting of our thoughts. We are not without help in that process though, and I will address that after a few more thoughts below.
Lie #16: I am not fully responsible for my actions and reactions.
Truth #16: I’ll be honest: I struggled with this one. We are so quick to blame! Even Adam and Eve pointed the finger to another; Adam pointed to Eve (“She made me do it!”), Eve pointed to the serpent (“The snake made me do it!”), and so it goes. If you have siblings, you know exactly how that goes, right? “But he did something to me first!” I tell my students all the time, “the majority of the time, the one who retaliates is the one who gets caught.” Sneaky people…instigators who get away scott-free… but that’s not the point here. Others may influence us toward sin, but ultimately WE DECIDE. We choose to ignore the red flags, the exit signs God gives us to escape the sin. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10, “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.” He provides the way, AND we have to choose that way! We have to learn from our mistakes! When I met the man who would become my husband, we both had past relationships we could reflect upon to help us set boundaries that would help us keep our relationship as pure as possible. Yes, we had sinned before. Yes, we had both made mistakes in these previous relationships. And the Lord is gracious in that He allowed us to see our downfalls, our mistakes, to not blame the former lover for those mistakes. He allowed us to take action and to build those boundaries based on what we now knew our weaknesses to be. It is so much easier to blame the other person though…to blame our parents for the way they raised us, to blame our circumstances, the government, the society in which we live, etc. Change begins only when one person has the courage to make a change in his or her own life though. If we remain in our ways, nothing will ever change. 2 Corinthians 5 shows us, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” When I came to Christ, I alone was made a new creation through the work of the Spirit. Not my mom, not those who bullied me when I was 13, not my siblings, not my teachers or my peers. God transforms my heart and mind. I cannot change what has been done to me by others; I can change my perspective and how I respond to those who have hurt me in the past.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: Nothing happens to us that is outside of God’s awareness. Nothing is hidden from him. Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, those who bullied me, my sister’s choice to die by suicide and the painful road of grief that followed…I had very little responsibility in CREATING those situations for myself; and yet God allowed those things to happen to me, knowing I would learn and grow because of those things and those people. He would deepen the gift of compassion, open my eyes to see the potential of others, allow me to reach out and embrace those who are hurting. I am responsible for MY RESPONSE to each of the situations that happen that are outside of my control. I am responsible for the path I have chosen to walk instead of choosing the path of obedience when I have fallen to the temptation of sin. I chose to ignore the red flags the Holy Spirit waves in my face when it came to temptations of the flesh in my late teens and my 20’s. And now, I choose to give all of me to my Savior. He creates the most beautiful patchwork quilts from the scraps of fabric that remain after I have destroyed parts of it and others have attempted to destroy the rest. Yes, I have no impact on what OTHERS do, AND I have every impact on what I choose to do from here. God takes my broken past and is transforming my life continually so that He alone may be glorified. None of this is by my strength. I simply cast my cares before Him, as we are told to do in 1 Peter 5:7.
Lie #17: I cannot walk in consistent victory over sin.
Truth #17: This truth that we CAN BE and ARE victorious over sin is a life-long lesson. How many of you struggle like me with that one sin that seems to be a weakness we just can’t beat??? Conquering diabetes burnout, gluttonous eating, over-spending, conquering debt are all areas in which I continue to struggle. I take 2 steps forward then 10 steps back, right? In my past, it was sexual sin. Satan would whisper to me, “Well, you had sex with him last week, why not again tonight? You already fell once…what does it matter?” Or he’ll say, “You’re not strong enough to resist me. I got you on this one before, and I’ll get you to fall again.” When we fall to the temptation, Satan thinks to himself, “Let me remember this weakness, because I will play that tune again. It works!”
What I have learned through Christ is this: Yes, I have fallen. Yes, that is a weakness that Satan likes to poke and prod. And yet, when I am weak, my God is strong. When I can’t stop myself from opening that door to sinful behavior, my God can. I cry out to Him in my weakness, and He lifts me up, lest I dash my foot against a stone! I can choose to let Satan drag me down by keeping the cinderblocks of sin tied to my ankles as I swim in the sea of life, or I can reflect on those situations in my past and allow Jesus to cut those soul-ties for me and pull me to safety in His arms. In each reminder Satan brings to try to reattach those sins to my life, Jesus reveals a lesson I learned and need to remember or a whole new lesson. Like I mentioned before, my husband and I were able to reflect on the mistakes made in previous relationships to allow the Lord to build something completely new in our lives! In overcoming food addictions, I am learning it is easier to eat healthier when I don’t buy candy bars to keep in the house! Right? Also, I am learning that when I order from the kids’ menu to split something with Zander, we both get more than enough! And, it is CHEAPER! Praise God!
Romans 7 has so much truth about this! When we are growing in the Lord’s strength, Satan is right there to try to snatch us away. “ So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” This leads straight into Romans 8 where Paul reminds us of our victory through Christ. We are more than conquerors through our Savior! Praise the Lord!
Struggling to get this last video to post, but here is the link for Rush of Fools, Undo.