Do we care about having our sins forgiven?

During a time of his ministry where Jesus was actively healing lots of people, a paralytic was brought in. Of course, the expectation is that Jesus will heal the man and he will walk again. But what Jesus says catches him off guard.

So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” Matthew 9:1-2 NKJV

Here is a guy that has been paralyzed for who knows how long, being told of the amazing healing that Jesus is doing in others, probably excited and nervous, wanting to be healed but not completely sure if this is all true or not. And then Jesus says to him, “be happy! Your sins are forgiven.”

I wonder what that man’s thoughts are at that moment. The story goes on to tell us what those around Jesus are thinking, but not this man.

Was he excited? Or was he bummed that he couldn’t walk? Maybe this whole thing was a fraud, or maybe God just didn’t want to heal him.

We don’t know what he was thinking, and can’t really speculate, but I bet his response was completely dependent on this man’s view of his own sin. And this is where we can take a lesson and apply it to our own lives.

If this man saw sin as something that “everybody does,” a part of every day life that, yeah, maybe it sucks, but we just have to deal with it because “I’m only human” then he was likely disappointed at this news that Jesus shared. Sin can be seen as a bit of an ephemeral thing, something we know happens but don’t see the effects of so we don’t take it seriously. And since “everyone does it” we assume it’s a normal part of our daily lives and move on. In this case it is only our physical needs that we really care about. “Who cares about my sin! Just make me walk again, that’s what matters!”

On the other hand, if we see sin as God sees it–as a horrible act of disobedience that severs our relationship with our creator–then at that moment we would break down in joy. Our sin has been forgiven! That which should never be forgiven, that which can never be made up for, is gone! Who cares about physical healing, or if we will ever walk again, or have perfect health. Our relationship with God can be restored! Isn’t that an amazing thing?

You can tell a lot about a person’s spiritual health by how they treat sin. If sin is something they tolerate and are okay with, then something is wrong. The person is spiritually sick. But if sin is something that they hate, something they want no part of and are eager to give up, that person will be shown mercy from God.

He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. – Proverbs 28:13 NKJV

Yes, we are all sinners, and will continue to sin until we shed these bodies, but sin is not something we are to tolerate as believers. We have been set free and saved from sin, not so we can continue living in that filth, but so we can experience redemption and a restored relationship with God, our father. It isn’t just about being sorry we sinned, or sorry we got caught, but wanting to forsake sin completely!

The Silliness of Hiding from God

A few months ago, I started something new in my family: budgeting. I know, the dreaded “B” word, one that I tried for so long to avoid. Assigning every dollar a job and keeping track of every dollar spent has been great in helping us not overspend. With there being so much benefit to this, I thought I would never again go back to the world of spontaneous spending and not tracking each transaction (Yay, YNAB!).

But then, I would make a purchase that I knew I shouldn’t make. I felt guilty for spending the money on things like eating out when we are low on grocery money, or buying a movie just because I’m bored. I realized that when I would make those purchases, I would resist wanting to record the transaction.

I don’t really know why I wouldn’t record it; it’s not like I was hiding it from the bank. Once the transaction has been made, the bank is fully aware of it. The amount available in my account will reflect this transaction, even if I never record it in the budget.

Ultimately, the only person I’m hiding the transaction from is myself. It becomes a pain to reconcile my checking account to the budget when I have transactions that I didn’t track, and eventually I have to track them anyway, so, really, hiding it from my account does me no good.

Because of my guilt, however, I somehow feel better, or at least I think I can ignore the guilty purchase, by not recording it. It really is silly and pointless.

Then, I realized that we end up doing this same silly thing with God. We sin, and then think that we can somehow hide it from God. So, we don’t confess it; we try to hide it and move on with our lives like we never committed that sin.

The entire time, the only person we are hurting is ourselves. It weighs on our conscience, and continues bothering us and sapping away our joy. God already knows that we sinned. Heck, He knew that we would commit those sins before we were ever born. Yet He still chose to save us and love us. We are not really hiding anything from Him, so why don’t we just confess the sin, repent from it, and move on?

Doing this is just part of our rebellious human nature. It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:7-10 NKJV).

After they sinned, they felt shame, and tried to hide what they did from God. God is all knowing. Can anyone hide anything from Him? Of course not, but we try anyway.

Some people try their best to act righteous in an attempt to hide whatever wrong they have done, but God sees right through this:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28 NKJV).

The Pharisees would pretend that they were righteous, while still hiding their sin from people and attempting to hide it from God. But Jesus was not fooled. He saw right through their mask and went to their hearts. These are the people that Jesus rebuked.

But those who openly admitted their sin and then repented of their sin, those are the people that Jesus spent time with and praised.

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13 NKJV).

Basically, it all comes down to this. Yes, you sin. God knows it, so don’t try to hide it. Repent from your sin (turn away from it), and follow Jesus.

Just like you can never hide a transaction from your bank, you cannot hide your sin from God. He already knows about it.

That’s the beautiful thing, though. If you are a Christian, God knew that you would sin before He chose to save you, and He still chose you, despite that – because God loves you.

If you have been avoiding church, or avoiding fellowship with other believers because you feel ashamed for what you have done, know that it isn’t hidden. God already knows about it, so stop letting that be your excuse to not go to church.

If you have been resisting the idea of repenting from a sin as a way to hide it, then know that you are only hiding it from yourself. God knows about it already, so the longer you hide it from yourself, the longer it will weigh down on your conscience and drag you down.

Is there something that you have been trying to hide from yourself that you need to get out in the open?

Unforgiveness

This is a subject we should all be familiar with. As Christians we are commanded to forgive each other directly from Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 18. Jesus’ conversation with Peter and the analogy he tells about the Kingdom of God shows the seriousness of unforgiveness in a believer’s life.

Matthew 18:21-35(NASB)(emphasis mine)

21Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23″For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
24″When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
25″But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
26″So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’
27″And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
28″But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
29″So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’
30″But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
31″So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
32″Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33″Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?”
34″And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35″My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

For most believers it seems like a given that we need to forgive each other, but I am surprised to find that many in the church still hold a grudge against someone that wronged them. Some blatantly say they can’t forgive the person and some are in the category of denial of holding bitterness towards someone, but it becomes apparent in the way they treat the person.

I can’t tell you how many times people come for healing or deliverance ministry, and they are afflicted by some ailment or even spiritual affliction. They come for prayer countless times and it seems like it only gets worse. After some experience in doing this kind of ministry, I know to ask the person about unforgiveness. “Is there anyone you need to forgive?” Initially many people are resistant to this question because they don’t want forgive. There are many horrible stories of things that people do to each other, that I won’t get into. And for many it can be difficult to forgive. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a sickness or spiritual affliction leave a person as soon as they choose to forgive.

Let’s look at what Jesus says about those who do not forgive in verse 32-35:

32″Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33″Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?”
34″And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

Jesus does not exclude any situation from this very broad statement. If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven of the debt you owe because of sin. Your eternal salvation is at stake! Even the littleless thing counts.

I remember driving some years ago and someone cuts me off and almost hits me. I remember I was fuming with anger towards the person and was ready to chase the person down in my car. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me “it has been one second too many that you have chosen not to forgive this person.” I slowed down and repented of my sin and realized how easy it can be sometimes to hold onto unforgiveness. I then remembered all of the previous instances where I got mad at other drivers and how my attitude towards others on the road escalated to being rude and expecting people to be “stupid.” I was holding on to unforgiveness. I repented for holding on to this, and chose to forgive every person on the road that I felt wronged by. I remember in that moment this overwhelming joy and peace hitting me, and this uncanny patience and kindness that I immediately had towards other drivers.

I realized that I had allowed pride to keep me from forgiving people and repented for my pride. It seems so innocent sometimes when we hold on to a little grudge against someone, but Jesus takes it very seriously. Have you forgiven everyone who has wronged you? Ask God to show you if you are still hold a grudge or bitterness towards someone. For some of you it may be someone far in your past that you never chose to forgive. Whatever your situation knowing for sure if you have forgiven everyone may be one of the most important questions you can ask yourself right now.

Blessings,

Machew

Should Christians celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden?

Big news has hit the media, Osama (or Usama) Bin Laden is dead. With that news people are rejoicing a lot. My facebook page is flooded with messages celebrating the death of the Al-Queda leader.

But personally, as a Christian, I have mixed feelings on it…

Which leads me to ask, is it okay for Chrisitans to celebrate the death of Bin Laden?

Why all the celebration in the first place?

The first thing that needs to be asked, is why is all the celebration happening in the first place?  Osama Bin Laden is the leader of a terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, according to the FBI most wanted poster.  For this reason, I think it is a good thing that Osama was taken out. This is not to say that this will stop or even slow down terrorism, but the fact that someone who would take the lives of innocent people, or command others to take lives, overwhelmingly shows that such a person must be stopped.

In the Old Testament we even see God ordering the death of the unjust and declaring judgment on those who are against God.

Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you. (Proverbs 1:25-26)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)

As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)

So yes, the celebration is called for.

Does Osama deserve Hell?

Now for the tough question which I am sure will stir a lot of emotions up, but bear with me for a minute.

Does Osama deserve hell, any more than you or I?

Our instinct is to declare “Yes, he does! I am not like Osama, I am not a terrorist!” but that is side-stepping the question.  Osama committed horrible crimes against humanity, and for that he was dealt punishment by human hands. But when it comes to acts against God, you and I are no better off than Osama.

Every single time you or I tell a lie, look with lust, hate someone, or covet what we do not have, we are committing a sin against God.  Romans 3:9-20 states:

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:

“ There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“ The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

When it comes to our standing before God, we are all guilty. The only reason we have been forgiven, is completely because of the works Christ did on the cross, and completely because God called us. Not because we are any better.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26

We need to be careful when we try to pass judgment on someone eternally. We should be praying for our enemies and hoping for their repentance more than trying to destroy them.

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . . For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32)

So yes, we are thankful that a terrorist can no longer harm others and thankful for the American troops who did their job to stop this criminal who acted against humanity, but at the same time we should be sorrowful that another person must spend eternity in hell. And no matter how much we think that person deserves hell, we must stop and realize that we, you and I and our loved ones, deserves hell just as much as Osama Bin Laden.