DELETING WORDS OF LIFE…

…will never change their power or purpose.

“Repent and Live!” declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 18:32), however today only “Live!” remains and resounds in our vocabulary.   There is power in words and, in God’s living Word, it is power to renew, restore, and resurrect.  “The Word became flesh and for a while lived among us”.  The Word of God defines the fall of man, what keeps him separated from God, (Isaiah 59:1-2) and that which would restore and reconcile him to his Maker (Galatians 1:4).  Separation from God aligns us with the spirit of this world – the very spirit that “sets himself up as god” and continually baits our pride with the ancient seduction of sin: “you will be like God”.   As ‘gods’ we reinvent the Lord’s  proclamations, decrees, and promises into that which circumvents acknowledgment and  submission to Sovereign God, elevating our knowledge and wisdom against His truth. 

Toward this, we tolerate and broadcast the most profane words and phrases – many that enflame our flesh with corrupt imagery while, at the same time, systematically eradicating the very words that usher our minds toward Almighty God.  Who today calls for repentance?  Words that evoke life changing decisions are erased from our culture. With near success, we have eliminated “sin” from our vocabulary, our thinking – our entire belief system.  In fact, the Oxford Junior Dictionary, grooming the next generation, has removed the word ‘sin’ because “it has fallen into disuse, is obsolete, and is not recognized by the younger generation”.

It has been aptly said,

All moral engineering is preceded by verbal engineering.”

This reality was heralded by renowned psychiatrist Karl Menninger in his acclaimed book, “What Ever Became of Sin.”  The very word ‘sin’, he expounds, “was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word…It has almost disappeared – the word along with the notion.  Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore?”  Dr. Menninger predicted that sin would be replaced with symptoms of illness and disorders.  He foresaw a day where practically everyone would be considered sick with little or no personal accountability for choice and willful conduct.  Biological and psychiatric terms, even environment, would define deviant behavior.

That ‘day’ is here.  Redefining and reinventing ‘sin’, we have rendered ‘repentance’ obsolete and offensive, scorning God’s sacrifice for remission of sin and the gift of reconciliation through our Savior.  Ultimately, it is a collective rejection of God as our reference point in life.

Changing our reference point, framework, and jargon however cannot change the truth, neither can it alter the damage and guaranteed consequences of sinNo matter what we call it, “The wages of sin is death…”  Yet God’s call to repentance is the deepest call of mercy to man, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)   At the heart of our refusal is rebellion – intuitively we know that to receive a gift from God we must acknowledge that He is God

Sin unleashed, driven by lust and corruption, bears such reprehensible fruit that we label it uncontrollable – a mental defect or disease.  While mental illness is a painful condition in all its forms, are we oftentimes diagnosing the consequences of sin – those we commit and those committed against us?   Can layers of guilt and self condemnation ever be lifted by an ‘anti-depressant’?  Will a laboratory find the balm for the deep wounds of abuse and betrayal?  The  Bible defines sin in Old Testament law and New Testament, such as the ‘obvious’ acts noted in Galatians 5:19-21 and the condition of man today, II Timothy 3:1-4.   Against this hopeless array, the Lord offers unmatchable promises, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” the relief of forgiveness and the joy of new beginning.  

Jesus calls out,

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28) 

The launching pad for every sin is the refusal to go to God.

Satan finds no threat in manmade programs that exclude God yet propose to remedy the sure damage and destruction of sin, he knows their futility.  Deleting words cannot diminish their strength – sin is a powerful stronghold which man CANNOT master, an ensnaring deceit that man CANNOT outsmart or resolve.  Pride, confidence in the ‘human spirit’, encourages us to address ‘drunkenness, debaucheries, sexual immoralities and violence, lack of self-control, rage, hatred, jealousies, and the like’ with programs, prisons, therapies and medications that ultimately yield no freedom, reform, relief, or cure….no inner peace.

Sin is a cruel taskmaster, ‘taking us farther than we planned to go…costing more than we ever thought to pay’.  Calling us ‘dead in sin and trespasses’, God Himself initiates our repentance, drawing us and quickening our hearts with truth through the Holy Spirit.  Worldly regret, remorse and tormenting guilt are a downward deadly spiral but godly sorrow, repentance, leads to life. (II Corinthians 7:10) The Lord did not die for our sins to be treated, improved, or morphed into something acceptable.  He came to save us, deliver us from our sins, cleanse us completely, and in doing so, create new life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation:  the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Corinthians 5:17)

                       “Repent” come under the authority of God “and live!”

"Whom the Son sets free is free indeed" John 8:36

“Whom the Son sets free is free indeed” John 8:36

                                       

RESENTMENT: “I Have a Right!”

Can you believe what they did to me?

Can you believe what they did to me?

Long before man invented the video, Satan himself perfected the art of rewind and replay. It seems reserved to replay acts done against us – betrayals and personal offenses – moral crimes that have somehow robbed us. Each time offenses are ‘replayed’ in our mind the details become sharper and more significant. Motives and intents emerge. The scenario worsens as offenders seem to go on with their lives, unscathed and unaffected, even prospering! Somehow, when our head hits the pillow, these acts of personal harm and indignation against us gain momentum and greater depth as accusations seem to find a megaphone.

A strong sense of self empowers resentment. In fact, it is the necessary fuel to feed the fire, “He did this to me??” It has been said, “Resentment is unfulfilled revenge”.
It is our perceived and asserted right to be offended which opens the flow of resentment and bitterness and, like a toxic river, will contaminate nearly every aspect of life. Without question, the human heart longs for relief, a salve or resolution for this harassment. Imaginary plots of revenge, even strong hopefulness of gross misfortune upon the offender, can create a semblance of relief. However, enacted ‘plots of revenge’ inevitably villainize us and wishing ‘gross misfortune’ never satisfies. Every heart challenge leads us to a fork, a place of choices, each with great consequence. Most will flow with the ways of the world, the sensibilities of self and remedies of self help galore.

There is a path rarely chosen, hardly even seen – at times only found in the dark. Narrow and difficult, unnatural to us, the one first trod upon by the Prince of Peace. This way alone holds deep healing and relief. No amount of resolve or energy can take us on this path – we embark through surrender – each step forward led and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Our world culture ‘self asserts’, ‘self defends and demands’ but the way of the cross declares….

 

“You have no rights”

By no means is this a rip off. It is an immeasurable trade up. We give up our rights, living for ourselves in this world, to follow Christ – and receive the indwelling of His life and His power. Our ordinary lives- mere earthen vessels – gain the potential of supernatural possibilities as the purposes of God live through us. “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that his all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (II Corin 4:7)

Every path, even in our thinking, has a final destination. Our sin nature – groomed and embellished by the world’s culture – will always lead us away from Christ, and like a thief, ‘will rob, kill and destroy’. The way of the cross, a supernatural path of self denial – is where we partake in Christ’s life, sharing in His riches and eternal Kingdom.

Resentment, and its inevitable seeds of bitterness and strife, threatens the fruits of Christ’s life within us. Bitterness and resentment are natural – our hearts are fertile and ready for planting – little work is needed to grow resentment! But the Word of God holds forth abundant life, life worth living, life that matters…life gained only through surrender. Repeated through the Gospels, Jesus beckons His followers, “Anyone who intends to come to me has to let me lead….Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self help is no help at all. Self sacrifice is the way, my way to saving yourself…” (Mark 8:35, The Message)

Jesus gave up His rights, His right as King and Judge, for ‘the joy set before Him’ – reconciling man to God. He washed the feet of His betrayer and all those who would forsake Him. Afterward, “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat – this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me…” (I Corin 11:23/24) Betrayed, yet He gave thanks.

Have you, have I, been betrayed? Rejected, wronged, used by others? Satan will rehearse and enlarge every offense in your mind and heart, sowing seeds of bitterness that grow deep and broad. Each seed will validate your right to resent, to hate, and avenge – every seed a weighty entanglement. But at every juncture stands the Savior, offering His indwelling power to forgive and be free. Forgiveness does not preclude justice or accountability. Forgiveness releases the debt, the offense, the indignation into the hand of a sovereign and Righteous Judge. It is He whom we must fear. And it is from Him we receive the power to forgive and the inner healing to restore peace.

Every path has a final destination…

The one led by Jesus Christ leads to eternal victory. While too narrow to carry baggage of bitterness, it is a path of freedom and release. “I surrender!” is the powerful prayer that starts the journey.