Saturday, January 29, 2011

FaithFUL versus FaithLESS

My mercy--when God does something, be prepared to be bowled over. One of the neatest things to me, is when someone shares what God has done for them, and I can relate because He's done the same thing for me. I'm like, "yeah, yeah! I know EXACTLY what you mean!"

One such point is with our sins. Now, those of us who know we were totally forgiven when Jesus died on the cross--you're the ones I'm sharing this with. Sorry, but for the folks who think we have get "more" forgiveness every time we sin, the following thoughts will make absolutely no sense to you.

It's good to know that I am in good company when I keep stumbling into the same sin and can't figure out why on earth I keep engaging in that dumb thing! Paul stated in Romans 7:15-25:

For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I can so relate to that, and apparently others can, too. I have 'prided' myself on going a certain length of time without engaging in a particular habit, but then when I stumble and fall, I still have a tendency to beat myself up. Worthless creature! How dare I call myself a Christian! Man, you were doing so well! You've just ruined your record, I'd lament to myself. However, that's not how God handles the situation. Let's look at what Paul knew:
17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

So, we see that Paul knew that it was God, and not us, that we get our strength from. Paul was delivered from the Lion's mouth. Who delivered him from the lion, himself? Not hardly. Only God can do things such as that. Another co-labourer with Christ shared about a recent experience he had gone through. His flesh rose up and slapped him in the face, so to speak, and he found himself giving into temptations a few times. Like Paul, he didn't understand why he did those things, since his spirit clearly wasn't wanting to--in fact, the situations he found himself in pretty much left him nauseas and discouraged.
But then God stepped in. Did you catch that? God stepped in, without having an 'army of prayer warriors", God stepped in. He is with this man at all times anyway, but He stepped in and became even a bigger presence, so to speak, to this Child of God. He drew His child to this verse in the scripture, and that gave the man hope. God does love him. Well, he knew that, anyway, but this was such a different way of doing things than the picking yourself up from your bootstraps, asking God to forgive you, then continue on gutting it out for God. This man knew he had failed in 'gutting it out for God", yet God was okay with it. Because we know in II Corinthians 5, God isn't holding our sins against us. Not just ours, but the sin of the whole world--it's not being held against us.

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

So, the man was good with that. It took me longer to grasp that truth, but yes, I'm good with it too. Lay down at night, knowing I'm a forgiven person? Laying down with the truth that no matter how bad I stumble, or act in a manner unworthy of a Child of God, I'm still forgiven? Oh yeah. Good news. Of course, here is usually when the well meaning Christian screeches, "You can't just sin up a storm and expect that you're all hunky dory with God!! He doesn't work that way!!" Or, there's the uppity remark, "Oh, so I guess we can just go live it up then huh? After all, we're forgiven whether we do anything or not??" That's for another post. Let me say now that Grace isn't a license to sin. There. Happy now?

So, back to my co-labourer in Christ. He was sharing at how God brought him to that verse in II Timothy that tells us that God, not us, will be getting us out hot water. Then, God drew his eyes across to the other page in his Bible, II Timothy 2:13:

if we are faithless,  
he remains faithful, 

   for he cannot disown himself.

Even when we screw up, be it a fraction of a screw up, or a big time screw up, God remains faithful. God so loved the world--he still does, whether we blow it, or are able to take our thoughts captive. He is not counting our sins against us, even when we are berating ourselves for falling--once again--into some bad habits.

As the young man was sharing his experience with God, I wanted to shout, "YES! I know EXACTLY what you mean!" You see, God just simply does that. He takes us at our worse, and lets us know that He STILL loves us, in spite of our worst. There is no punishment, no condemnation, just the affirmation that He still loves us, and instead of letting us waller in whatever we've stumbled into, he picks us up, and teaches us a better way. A way of love, where everyone benefits.

Don't you love it when God does that??

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