I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…
We all have an opportunity to bring out the good and the bad in each other. Sin dwells in all of us, as does our true identity that comes through Jesus Christ. God calls us to choose between blessings and curses, life and death, dignity and depravity.
For years I believed that my sin wasn’t really a choice. That depravity was all I was capable of. I had swallowed this lie by listening to my own deceitful desires, and the messages whispered by the enemy through my abusive pastor’s words and actions when he’d say things to justify our inappropriate relationship like, “I love you, and I just can’t help it.” He also regularly reminded me that God never condemned us, and that no matter what choices we made God would use them for our good and His glory. He asked me to promise that I’d never tell anyone about our sin, neglecting the truth that God calls us to acknowledge and confess our failures to someone else in an effort to get help and be healed. And what resulted, was a tangled web of deception that grew and would later devastate our families and the church.
When I think about the lies I believed and all the damage it caused its easy to understand why people become legalistic. Sin is indeed deceptive and we all so easily fall into it. We are referred to as sheep in the scripture for a good reason!
But legalism never worked for me, nor did antinomianism.
The only thing that’s saved my life is knowing that God loves me and gives me guidelines to live by in His word to keep me safe. He died to free me from the curse of sin that leads to death. His desire is always for me to avoid sin, because no good Father desires to see His children do things that bring then harm.
But as long as we live in our broken bodies, the reality is that sin is always creeping at the doors of our hearts. Every day we have a choice to give into those destructive desires or submit to God and His way and trust that it is for our good. And none of us will do it perfectly. It’s a difficult struggle and thus the reason God has called us to encourage one another daily by reminding one another of His love and gently confronting when others are beginning to stray.
When my abusive pastor began counseling me and things became sinful, I recognize now that I believed the terrible lie that what he was bringing out in me was who I really was. As my heart became hardened by the deceitfulness of my sin, I became convinced that I wasn’t capable of doing good. And I began to make all kinds of excuses to justify my bad behavior.
While it is true and absolutely amazing that God takes every single circumstance, good or evil, in our lives and works them for our good and His glory, but He never intends for us to “continue in our sins so that grace may abound.”
His intent is always that we choose blessings, life, and dignity for ourselves and for others, because He loves us and wants what’s best for us. It’s not about earning His acceptance. We’ve got that and ALL OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST because of His death on the cross resulted in it being given to us. We did not earn this incredible gift, and there is nothing at all that is required of us to do to keep it. So the pressure is off! We can’t do anything to cause Him to reject us, because all God sees when He looks at us is Christ.
However, we can grieve Him like any good Father would be grieved when we don’t listen to His instructions and choose to go our own way.
But He hasn’t called us to live in regret, guilt or shame. Even earthly parents want their children to not get trapped in their mistakes. He has called us to confess, repent and keep moving forward together knowing that every single day is another choice to choose His way and encourage others to do the same.
Lately, I’ve been so encouraged to become friends with another child of God who’s been honest about her struggles and allowed me to be honest about mine. As we’ve talked about our temptations, I’ve seen in every conversation there’s been a opportunity to bring out the depravity or dignity in one another. To confess our sins and be healed or to become partners in crime. But as we’ve continued to keep God in the middle we’ve been a tremendous help and encouragement to one another.
And the lie I believed that I was only destined for depravity has been exposed and died in the light, and I am finally able to see that every relationship we have is an opportunity to bring out His dignity in one another.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
I encourage you today to evaluate your relationships. Are they causing you to sin or are they bringing out your dignity? Are you spending time pointing fingers at what others are doing wrong or are you being lovingly honest with one another about weaknesses in one another’s lives? It’s not our jobs to fix one another, but it is our job to encourage one another in the truth throughout the process of God’s work in our lives.
And the truth is, we are not destined to live in our depravity. We are destined for dignity and loving relationships that reveal His love to the world. If our relationships aren’t revealing this, we need to pray for wisdom and look for relationships that do.