Saturday, June 11, 2011

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Born Again 6: The Harsh Truth that Gets in Your Guts

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Sharon had provided me every possible clue that she was more than ready to hear the unvarnished truth. She was not holding back. How on earth could I? 

I had recently been teaching out of Hebrews, a book full of both warnings and encouragement. This wasn't a coincidence. God was showing me the way ...
Of course I'm not going to lose patience with you. In return, can I ask you to keep up your quest to know the true God?

"Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it ... For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:1 and 12-16)
Be careful. Do not fall short. God judges our thoughts and attitudes. Nothing is hidden. Hold firmly. He knows our weaknesses. Approach with confidence. You will find grace.
God give her ears to hear. 
I want you to know that I am making efforts in terms of finding ways to learn whom our "true God" really is by surrounding myself with friends such as you who have, as far as I know, found the way. Yes there are other things I can do, but for now, I'll have to take little steps at a time before those people close to me accuse me of "being weird". So having said that, you asked me if I can "keep up my quest to know the true God?"

My answer is, "I promise".
It was a wonderful promise, but I was still looking for her to grapple openly with the core of the gospel. It was plain that God had rubbed her conscience raw.   Her conscience.  Perhaps that was the angle He wanted me to take.
God places our conscience inside us to guide us toward Him. This is our inner compass, our sense of right and wrong. It’s a good thing, but it’s not perfect. The Bible talks about our consciences as being "seared" and "defiled", meaning that over time we build up a resistance to the truth about ourselves. It’s like when you look at your daughter’s room and tell her to clean it, and she says it’s clean enough. But you can see the socks under the bed and the crayon on the wall and the dust on the dresser. 
Her conscience may be clear with respect to her room. Her problem is that she has become used to a certain amount of clutter and dirt and she no longer sees it as being messy. It’s normal for her. This is what happens to our consciences over time. They become defiled and seared so they no longer see our sin as bad. It’s just normal.

Another way of looking at it is like a callous. If we say a person is calloused, we mean he’s insensitive. We also can be insensitive to sin, basically getting so used to it that we no longer see it as such a problem. 
It’s by drawing nearer to God that we become aware that there’s a problem. First, we are aware He is holy--100% clean, righteous and pure. This cuts through our callous so that we once again feel the terrible wrongness of our own sin. Our sin is so much worse than we thought, standing out like a dark blot against the white light of God’s perfection!
Fortunately that’s not where the story ends, because His grace is sufficient to cleanse even the worst parts of us. But until we draw near to Him and face our own sin, grace doesn’t really seem so amazing.
The holiness of God. The corruption of sin. The amazingness of grace. The core of the gospel.
Illustration by Sheri Lynn Boyer Doty
Thank you for this message. It’s nice to start my week with a lesson that’s simple enough to comprehend, yet can easily be ignored. The Bible is "harsh" in many ways because it’s honest. It gets in your guts.
Next:  Born Again 7: I Want it Now

1 comment:

  1. I've been hearing this message all week, and want to hear it more. It's...wonderful. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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