Thursday, March 5, 2009

Melting Snow: Uncovering Sin

"And you may be sure that your sins will find you out" - Numbers 32:23b

I've heard this verse quoted many times and I'm sure that most of you have as well. This verse is usually quoted to scare people from sinning by telling them that they will be caught. Don't sin because you will get caught! Is the message we so often hear.

I was thinking about this verse while I was driving home from work today. Most of last Sunday's snow has melted, leaving behind this grossly brown muddy residue. I wished that we could get some more snow to cover up the ugliness again. And due to the weird way my mind functions, that thought reminded me of the way sin works. When we make mistakes, our first inclination is to cover up what we did. (Just as Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves in Eden). But just as the cover of snow is only temporarily effective, so are our attempts to cover up our sin. That is what made me think of this verse: "And you may be sure that your sins will find you out"

Even though I have heard Numbers 32:23b many times, I've never looked up its context in the Bible and I was surprised by what I found!

In Numbers 32, two of the Israelite tribes, the Reubenites and the Gadites, begged Moses to allow them to stay and inhabit the lush lands of Jazer and Gilead instead of crossing the Jordan river into the Promised Land. They only intended for the women and flocks to stay in this land east of the Jordan, while the men went on and fought. Moses misunderstood them, however, and thought they were unwilling (like their forefathers) to follow God wholeheartedly into the Promised Land. After they explained themselves to Moses, he approved their request, but warned them that if they went back on their word and failed to follow God wholeheartedly, their sin would find them out: "But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23).

Finding out the context of that verse, really gave it a different (and more correct, I think) meaning. The sin that Moses warned would be uncovered is the sin of not following God wholeheartedly. You might be able to fake following God wholeheartedly for a little while, but the lack of Godly fruit in your life will make it all too evident very quickly! If you aren't following God, you are following something else (yourself, other people, money...ect.) and you will begin to reap the fruit of whatever you are following. (That's a whole other topic that I might talk about some other time...)

So the verse is not referring to other types of sin. It is quite possible that one could get away with stealing, murder, adultery, lust, ect. and never be caught (in this world). In fact, the Bible confirms this. In Romans 2:12-15 the author says that men have secret sins that will be judged by God on Judgement Day. In Jeremiah 17:9-10, Jeremiah describes the deceitful nature of the heart. He says that it is so deceitful that only God can understand it.

So if you sin, there is a chance you might be able to get away with it. You might even take your secret sin to the grave with you. However, just because your sin is never found out, does not mean that you avoid its consequences!

I believe that being caught in sin is not the worse thing that could happen as a result of sinning. Not being found out is!!

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Sin leads to death. One type of death that sin cause is natural death. We have all sinned so we all die (eventually). There is alot more to that explanation but I'm not going to go into it now. I want to focus on the second type of death that sin causes: spiritual death. When you allow sin to fester in your life, you are pushing God out. The Bible talks about how it is impossible to serve two masters (Luke 16:13). If you are moving backwards in sin then you can't move forward in God. There is no such thing as standing still in the kingdom of God; you are either moving towards God or away from Him. Sin quiets the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life. The scariest thing is when you cannot hear His voice any longer and you no longer feel any guilt or shame about the sin in your life.

Sin can destroy your destiny in God. I know that sounds overdramatic, but it is true. How you deal with sin can make or break your life. We cannot fix sin ourselves and God does not want us to. If God had to send His only Son to die in order to save us from our sins, what makes us think that we can save ourselves?!?!

So what is the right way to deal with sin?
  1. Give it to God: 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
  2. Go and sin no more: Repentance takes it a step further. 180 degree turn away from the sin and the situation surrounding it.
  3. Get accountability in your life: If you are not a member of a local church, get plugged in! We were not meant to walk out our Christian life alone. Romans 15:1-7 talks about how we can encourage one another and help each other.
If you find yourself dealing with the same sin issue again and again, you need ask someone to hold you accountable. Sharing our mess can be embarassing but the reward is so worth it! It is very important that you choose the right person to hold you accountable. Here are some tips:
  • someone you can trust
  • someone who has authority over your life (when you submit to authority you receive extra protection)
  • someone you look up to spiritually
  • someone who is willing to tell you the truth even if it means hurting your feelings!!
Friends are great people to confide in, but you need more than that. You need someone who cares more about your character than your comfort.

Uncovering sin in your life is not the most pleasant or beautiful of processes (like melting snow) but it is necessary before growth can occur in your relationship with God.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ten Pieces of Silver

Luke 15:8-10: “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (NKJV).

Have you ever spent hours putting a puzzle together only to find out in the end that you are missing a piece? Even though you have successfully placed all of the other pieces, you feel dissatisfied with your work because it is not entirely complete. You search under the table, under the rug, in the trash, and between the couch cushions. If your family is like mine, you might even interrogate your siblings and/or spouse to make sure they haven't stowed away the last piece to place it themselves.

When you find that missing piece and place it in the puzzle, the accomplishment you feel is great. The missing piece was no more important that any of the other pieces (you would not want any of the pieces to be missing!), but its absence required you to expend more effort in its correct placement than the other puzzle pieces.

What if you never find that missing piece? You might still be pleased with all of the pieces that you were able to place correctly, but it is just not the same as if the puzzle had been complete.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (NKJV)

Jesus died to save all men, all humans: good and bad, short and tall, sinner and saint, Catholic and Calvinist... you get the idea. He even died to save those He knew would never accept His salvation!

You are so valuable to God! Just because you are one of billions of people to walk this earth does not make you any less important to God.

Jesus describes His pursuit of us through three parables in Luke chapter 15: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son. I will be talking more in-depth about these three parables in my next blog post.

Today, be encouraged that God is seeking you out. What will be your response? Will you allow yourself to be found by God?