How often do you ponder your struggles with sin? Do you ever do so? If you don’t you will never have the complete realization of the full depth and breadth and boundlessness of God’s grace upon you.
Think on the time when you did not know, and think on the times when, though you do know, you still fail. Very often I find myself in such a mood that I need to be convinced (or, as the case may be, re-convinced) of the facts: Whatever my circumstance, it is better than I deserve.
At the risk of you, Dear Reader, thinking too highly of yourself, let me make my point clearer. More than most other people, I can look back on the time (20 years of time) when, as an adult, I was the most virulent form of atheist. I would angrily deny God, rage at the mere mention of anything of faith. I would mock people of faith—especially those of Christian faith—mercilessly. And I had gotten so good at that self-deception that it even came to the point that a local newspaper, seeking a debate in their opinion pages, asked me to write an article in which I would defend my views.
I never wrote that article.
For once in my miserable life I decided to be honest about myself and told them that I’m just a guy. I was so good at what I was doing that I even had trained journalists completely fooled.
It would still be some years before I would know how dreadful a fool I was. The one wearing the jester’s hat was not them, but me.
Truly, when a person has—whether they knew it or not—already rejected the Truth, by what means do they discern a lie?
I was a wicked, evil person—and so were you.
Oh, don’t go running for the exit, now! You know it’s true! Of course it’s true, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 1. And we know that the author, there, does not consider this to be some triviality, to be treated with some blasé, laissez-fair attitude, because that same man also writes that the wages of sin is death 2.
Surely, you consider death to be a serious matter, especially when it might involve you, or one you love. I hope so, because it is. We are, in fact, talking about eternal matters, here.
There are churches—and some of them very prominent ones—that do not seem to agree. It is from personal experience that I write to you, now. Many years ago I came into acquaintance with a young, married couple, with the woman being fabulously attractive—and, not being properly bonded to her husband., she thought it was perfectly fine to seek out the company of other men—even with her husband in tow. I would show up at a church function and she would abandon her husband to accompany me. I sought whatever escape was available at the time, of course. I was amazed at her ability to zero in on the pain of any man—except that of her own husband, who would stand there mortified at what she was doing in front of, not only him, but at times, the entire congregation.
Truly this woman was either shameless, or brainless—possibly both. The fact that I wound up accused, rather than her makes one wonder about the leadership of that place, as well. As it is written, “and you are proud! Should you not rather grieve?” 3. I tell you, steer well clear of a place such as that!
Do you see, were I not well aware of my own weaknesses and under the close guard from above, what could have happened; what consequences might have freely flowed?
This is why I ask you about your sin. Have you pondered it? Have you considered, seriously considered, the dreadful consequences from which you have been set free? Your eternity hangs in the balance, and Satan prowls about, like a lion, seeking whom he may devour! 4
Jesus tells us, in Luke’s account 5, to prosecute ourselves so that we will not be the avenue through which other people are tempted, that it would be better for us to be drowned in the sea.
Do you think that might be important enough to listen to, or do you enjoy the wrath of God coming upon you? It is only the fool that invites their own demise when another course is available.
How senseless it is to invite into your life eternal destruction when another course is shouting out to all who will hear and respond, in faith, to the voice that calls to them.
Yet how few respond, with that still, small voice being drowned out by Partytown, USA! How often do I see people come into our ministry homeless and destitute—but, oh, they have their music players and “smart” phones tuned in and turned up—loud—to the latest distractions, headphones plastered to their heads like plastic appendages from hell!
Satan will do everything he can to keep you bound and chained to that darkness of hopelessness and despair. If your ears cause you to sin, cut them off and throw them away! Better to go into Heaven with no ears, than, keeping your ears, be cast into Hell! 6
Silence is not an enemy, but a friend that allows you to tune into and hear the very voice of salvation and grace, being the very voice of God. Turn off your gadgets and listen for the voice of the One who calls.
Tonight I watched a movie, so what am I talking about to you? The movie I watched was put out by a company called Pure Flix. It is called, “Do You Believe?”, and at the very start it puts up on a black screen a translation of the admonition of James that faith without works is dead. 7
And that still, small voice was neither.
By the end of this movie I was fighting tears. Just look at the cast: Sean Astin, Mira Sorvino, Cybill Shepherd, Lee Majors, Brian Bosworth, and Ted McGinley, with some of these serving as associate producers as well as giving their acting talents to the enterprise.
As the movie finished, I prayed thanksgiving for having been allowed to find and watch such a wonderful use of technology that, far too often gets turned to the services of Hell.
It is not normative, in today’s world, for such an enterprise to see the light of life, and when it does you can be certain that the minions of Hell will raise a ruckus all around it, and try to drown it out so that whatever effect it might have would be minimized. Satan is far from pleased at this movie’s release.
Far more often what we find are constructions that are simply designed to drown out the voice of Heaven’s calling. So why do we fill our senses with such bilge?
That still, small voice has a tendency to tell us things that, while perfectly true, we do not want to hear. Remember, though, that it is the Truth that will set you free, and not the demons’ lies inspired by Satan and carried out by his thralls. They will tell you what you want to hear, but God will tell you what you need to know. Satan would keep you on an endless treadmill of despair, but God will give you rest. Hell will spew out fear, but God will bring you peace.
In the midst of life’s inevitable and unavoidable trials peace is a quite remarkable thing. When we are faced with tasks we cannot accomplish or with obstacles we cannot overcome peace comes not from within, but from above. It comes from a source that we can neither fathom, nor master, nor control. It comes from God. It comes from Jesus Christ.
There is no other source for the peace that will bring you through the attacks of the Devil’s delights. Oh, please hear me! For I spent many long years in the struggles that many of you live with every day, thinking yourself sufficient, thinking there is no other way, thinking there is no one there to help you.
In the words of the Newsboys song: “Hallelujah for the Cross!” The pain of separation from God, which for us would be eternal, has been taken up, removed, and cast away by One who is of infinite breadth and depth and length and strength and power and value and worth. There is therefore now no need for us to suffer it, for it has been taken away by Jesus Christ. The infinite conquers the depraved. By the shedding of His own life’s blood He spears the hell-borne pride that would separate us from our eternal Father—and kills it!
All we need do is recognize and repent of our sin and filth and rebellion and greed and lust and arrogance and self-aggrandizing foolishness and turn to depend wholly and completely upon the Savior who went to our cross for us. All we need to do is recognize and repent—and let Jesus do the rest, and indeed, God will bring you peace!
3-1 Corinthians 5:1
4-1 Peter 5:8
5-Luke 17:1-3a (in the NIV it is the first paragraph of the chapter)
6-Matthew 5:29-30; 18:9; Mark 9:42-48