Psalm 19:12-13 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.
So there I was in the restaurant with one of my closest brothers and accountability partners. He’s been struggling because his fiancee’ called off the wedding the day before they were to get married and going round-and-round in his head because he feels like he hasn’t been released from the relationship by God but she is clearly making release from her his seemingly only option.
As he was digging under the surface telling me how he has been praying for “God to protect her heart” and nearly in the same breath saying he hasn’t broken off all connections with past girlfriends (not the reason she left him btw) the possibility hit me that God may be doing just that, protecting her heart from his unrepentant flirtations/connections with other married and single women.
Not that he was doing anything outwardly wrong with those other women, but could it not be seen as a betrayal of trust to his near-miss bride if she found out?
Then it hit me like a flood, my own hypocrisy. I say I love God, that I’m all in, yet I have conscious sin that I still fall back on in my deepest moments of anxiety, loneliness or depression. I pictured Jesus as my bride and me “saying” I love Him with my words, prayers and externally visible behaviors, but in those dark and lonely places how easily do I toss Him aside for my own antidotes to what ails me.
And as I sat there listening to my beloved brother, a question hit me like thunder; “God, are we OK?” I literally let out an audible sound that I couldn’t explain and started bawling right there in the restaurant. The emotion of recognition of how I’ve truly been treating Him hit me hard.
Denial to our own sin is a terrible thing which comes with great penalty.
Even if there aren’t obvious external consequences the price of shame and separation from our Heavenly Father is nearly immeasurable. I had no idea that I felt as shameful as I did until, like David being presented with his conscious & deliberate sins by Nathan, I too was overwhelmed with just how blatant my sin nature has manifested itself into everyday living without even recognizing it for what it is.
And the answer God gave me to the question; NO… I LOVE YOU BUT WE ARE NOT OK.
I know many will jump on the self-condemnation, cross-covers-all train and to some extent that is absolutely true. But willful, deliberate, conscious sin is of the most grievous and heart breaking to God.
As I pressed into the verse above one’s ego could let oneself off the hook for the subconscious sins to some extent, but there are NO EXCUSES for deliberate sin.
I realized in that moment I wanted to start giving God my resume, how often I read the bible, pray, lead men’s recovery groups, seek to be a light bearer in all my affairs in and out of church settings. But as Oswald Chambers puts it: “there are no hidden pieces of hell in heaven”. No stone can be left un-turned.
Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
If we wrestle with any of those (and others like them!) and are not calling it out for what it is, then as Christians serving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and body (so we think) are potentially standing in a very long line of believers who will hear:
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
I know this is a heavy message and some may not agree with the content. But this blog is about my own personal journey of redemption and I seek to freely engage not solely in the joy and freedom in Christ but also the struggles against our sin nature and the effects of The Fall in a broken world.
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.
And after all of this, God leads me to….
John 12:46-48 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. 47 I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. 48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.
So, is it Grace + Obedience, or Grace Alone?
Each of us must decide and live accordingly. This is where intimacy with our Savior becomes VERY PERSONAL. Theologians will argue both sides vehemently and make their point/counterpoints quite well.
Which do you choose to believe?
Father God only you see our true hearts. Reveal to us this day the answer to the piercing question, are we OK? As I take time to quiet my own heart and soul and stop to listen for a reply I lean on the cross and mercy O’ Lord. Show me what true repentance looks like and how much in this sanctification process is mine to do and what is Your load that I could never carry. Thank you Father, I praise Your name Jesus; let it not just be by profession of mouth but of whole body, mind, heart and soul as well.