God's Grace and Mercy Devotions

LIVING LIKE JESUS

RECOGNIZING SIN

LENT 2021 MARCH 3, 2021

Sin is not a word that we hear outside of the Body of Christ or outside the walls of the church these days. It is a challenging subject to address because we are instructed to be non-judgmental or else we will be judged (Matt. 7:1, 2). However when you read John 8:1-11, you will see a trap that was set for Jesus by the leaders of the Jews. They brought a woman caught in adultery (having sex with someone married other than their mate) before Jesus and were threatening to stone her. They ask Jesus what he thought. He responds “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). As each of her accusers drops his stone and leaves Jesus talks with her. Vs. 10b, 11 Does no one condemn you He asks. No one sir, she responds. “Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” You notice that Jesus offers her forgiveness and grace along with the instruction of recognizing her sin and turning away from her sinful lifestyle.

The NIV Life app. notes “Jesus didn’t condemn the woman accused of adultery, but neither did he ignore or condone her sin. He told her to leave her life of sin. Jesus stands ready to forgive any sin in your life, but confession and repentance mean a change of heart. With God’s help we can accept Christ’s forgiveness and stop our wrongdoing.”

If we do not recognize sin (missing the mark in disobeying God), how can we acknowledge our disobedience and ask for forgiveness? Can we recognize Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross if we do not realize or confess that sin exists?

James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

God may test us at certain times but He does not tempt us as stated in the verse above. A habit of sin creates a hard spot in our hearts that is unresponsive to the Holy Spirit unless we recognize it and ask for forgiveness.

NIV Life app. Notes – “It is easy to blame others and make excuses for evil thoughts and wrong actions. Excuses include (1) it’s the other person’s fault; (2) I couldn’t help it; (3) everybody’s doing it; (4) it was just a mistake; (5) nobody’s perfect; (6) the devil made me do it; (7) I was pressured into it; (8) I didn’t know it was wrong; (9) God is tempting me. A person who makes excuses is trying to shift the blame from himself or herself to something or someone else. A Christian, on the other hand, accepts responsibility for his or her wrongs, confesses them, and asks God for forgiveness.”

Consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and their reasons/excuses for bringing sin into the world. Does anyone remember Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it?” Thank the good Lord for laughter but really, sin is no laughing matter. God’s grace helps us to not take ourselves too seriously. Don’t beat yourself up if you find humor in unusual places! The next time you’re tempted to sin, instead of falling into sin by blaming someone or something else, rely on the Holy Spirit to give you strength and look for the way out that He is providing for you! Remember that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self control.

Galatians 5:16, 19-21 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage), impurity and debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures), idolatry and witchcraft (actions that encourage demonic activity); hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition (excessive self-focus), dissensions (arguments), factions (cliquish groups) and envy, drunkenness (excessive alcohol or mind altering drug use), orgies (wild parties), and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The NIV Life app. notes “We all have evil desires, and we can’t ignore them. In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we must deal with them decisively (crucify them – 5:24). These desires include obvious sins such as sexual immorality and witchcraft. They also include less obvious sins such as selfish ambition, hatred, and jealousy. Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them reveal that they have not received the gift of the Spirit that leads to a transformed life.”

The Ten Commandments include God’s instructions in being obedient. He instructs us to honor God first. To have no idols. To not take the Lord’s name in vain. To remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. He instructs us to honor our parents, to not murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, or lie (bear false witness), or covet (envy) anyone or what they have. These are detailed in Exodus 20:1-17. You may be familiar with the Seven Deadly Sins that have been identified as: Pride, Anger, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, and Sloth. The following is just a snapshot of the meanings: Pride – thinking you know everything and have achieved everything on your own. Anger – acting violently, speaking abusively or extremely harshly, paying back evil for evil. Greed – always wanting more to excess (money, popularity, power, the latest styles or décor, the latest gadgets, newer better golf clubs, a bigger boat). Lust – seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage (including pornography, fornication (sex outside marriage), fantasy. Envy-coveting, wishing you had what others have, not being content, comparison. Gluttony – over indulging with food or things, living excessively. Sloth – laziness, not doing what you know needs to be done, procrastination.

Where does gossip, malicious criticism and other evil words fit in? Is character assassination equal to murder? Do “white lies” come back to haunt you in close relationships when they are found out? We are to speak the truth with love and if we can’t speak it in love, should we say anything? Do we sin in anger? Are we self-focused and not Christ centered?

What do we put in front of our Lord as a higher priority in our daily lives? Could it be our families, friends, the American dream (homes, status symbols, excessive leisure)? Is my bucket list a higher priority than a more intimate relationship with my Lord? Ouch!

Our Father loves us so much. Jesus gave His life so that we would be free from sin and slavery to our sinful human nature. He has a wonderful plan for us as we walk with Him in joyful obedience. Jesus has cleansed us from all of our sins and we seek to live for Him and spread His love. God has given our lives purpose and meaning and we can enjoy life free from the burdens that sin brings, free from guilt and condemnation. As new creatures in Christ we are growing more and more like Him as He brings us to glory.

Father God, we love you and praise Your holy name. We confess that we have not loved you whole-heartedly and have sinned against you. Thank you for forgiving us and offering us grace and mercy through your unconditional love. Please help us to be wholly committed and faithful to you as we walk with You each moment led by the Holy Spirit. We pray this in Christ’s holy name, Amen.