June 6, 2014 - Serious Struggles

Bob was on the verge of tears. 

Landscape of Valley

How could this happen? He seemed to have it all. How could he fall into such a deep moral pit? While I struggled with what to say, he abruptly made everything worse.

“If only I hadn’t gone to New York that weekend.” He hung his head and shook it from side to side.

What? Are you kidding me? New York was where Bob was discovered in sin—but it’s not where it started.

Bob wasn’t remorseful for the sin in which he was entrenched—the sin that threatened to take everything he held dear. He was resentful he’d been caught.

It dawned on me—Bob wasn’t pouring his heart out for guidance—he was looking for damage control.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The phenomenon has become more and more common in recent years. We want all we can get—forbidden fruit included.

The world once said that it was wrong. Then, for a time, our social conscience fell silent. Now, our moral compass tells us to go for whatever we want, regardless of the cost. Of course, we don’t believe there will be a cost until it’s too late.

Integrity is our moral foundation. We need to decide if that matters to us, or if we would rather abandon it for the pleasures of the world.

Scripture is clear on this issue. We don’t get to decide what’s right or wrong—we decide if we live in sin or obedience.

Unfortunately we’ve forgotten God’s plan for when we do sin. He made a way to be restored to Him—a non-negotiable way. But the cost for some is too high, and the desire of the flesh too strong.

When we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us—no exceptions.  What we do next defines whom we become. In the midst of the trial of sin, what does God expect us to do, from a practical standpoint?

The basic steps are outlined in scripture:

  • Humble Yourself
    • In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God states: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
  • Pray From Your Heart
    • Sin, when exposed, must be confessed. 1 John 1:9 promises: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    • Confessing requires humbling ourselves before God and earnestly opening our hearts to him. If we take Him at His word, we know he will forgive us our sins when we confess them with proper motives.
  • Seek His Face
    • Imagine for a moment, closing your eyes in the quiet of your prayer closet and seeking the face of God. It may require few words, or no words at all. But if we seek Him, He will be found. In Matthew 7:7, Christ states: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
  • Turn From Your Wicked Ways
    • This may be the most difficult. Turning from a sin that is so pleasing it has already cost us dearly is hard to do. Many have fallen prey to the enticing ways of the world. Satan knows where to hit us. For some, it’s money. For others it may be sex, or alcohol or drugs. There are many counterfeit pleasures he can (and will) throw our way.

God not only promises to forgive us, but to heal our land as well. He restores us to Himself, but also gives us everything we need.

Forgiveness is not passive. Only God can forgive us through the blood of Jesus Christ. But we are told to do our part. It is a great and wonderful mystery. And it’s all God.