Friday, December 19, 2008

How long should you wait to confess Sin?

As soon as I sin I get disciplined, chastised by God. When God disciplines me, He takes away my joy. Why does He do that? He does so, to bring my disobedience to my attention so I will repent and confess. Let’s suppose God did not discipline me. Every time I sinned I would have more joy in the Lord.

It is true that

…where sin increased grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20).

That did not mean

…shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1)

NO!

God takes away my joy so I will admit my sin in repentance, be forgiven and have restored joy. This descent continued for three years. Yes, I confessed some sins during those years, but my state was gradually down hill.

This is really a 6-step event. The first thing I do is sin, disobey. The second thing is I get disciplined. The third thing is I lose my joy. Now God takes away my joy by discipline when I sin, in order to get my attention so I will confess and repent, be forgiven and have joy again.

Well, my joy started down, not quite that steep. It probably went down gradually and then came up a little bit, then down some more. In other words, over the next three years my joy gradually went down. In the meantime, God was using me in different ways, but the joy was less.

It was in the Sea of Japan, in my stateroom on the USS Brinkley Bass (DD887) in March of 1951 that I realized what the problem was. It was 3 years of accumulated, un-confessed sin. I began to confess sin, and as I did, my joy came back up. It was great. It was just like a new birth, except this was not a new birth. When I was born again, I did not confess all of my sins. I couldn’t have possibly. I confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. When I confessed Him as Lord, my sins were forgiven. That was the new birth. After my restoration in March of 1951, I would again disobey, lose my joy and get disciplined. This time, instead of not confessing, I’d confess after I’d waited awhile…a week, 2 weeks, ten hours.

I did that for about four years—up to 1955. I realized that if Jesus Christ could forgive 20 years at one instant, as He did when I received Christ, and if He could forgive the 3 years of accumulated sin in a few hours, and if He could forgive 10 hours’ worth or two weeks’ worth, He could forgive me in one instant. I could sin, lose my joy, confess it, and be back in the joy of the Lord in a very short interval of time.


(An excerpt from How to Maintain Joy in your Life, p.6&7)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Discipline: The Only Reason to Lose Your Joy

God disciplines believers. If you are without discipline, you are not a believer. It says in Hebrews 12:8, You are illegitimate children and not true sons.

When you are disciplined it is not pleasant. That is the only biblical reason to lose your joy--the discipline of God. So, when you get disciplined, you say, "Boy, I'm so miserable; I might not be a Christian." Maybe that proves you are. Have you ever known anyone who seems to get away with murder and it doesn't bother them? Then you step out of line one little fraction and you get disciplined fast? It's because the Lord loves you. It is not pleasant. However, if you pay attention to it and respond to the discipline, and confess your sin, you are blessed and the joy returns.


(An excerpt from How to Maintain Joy in your Life, p.3&4).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Joy is not Circumstantial

We would like to think there are other reasons for people losing their joy. One of the reasons we would like to think that people lose their joy is temptation. “Boy, if you went through the temptation I went through, you would not have joy either.” But the Scripture says: Count it all joy when you fall into divers (many different kinds of) temptations (James 1:2 KJV). Temptations are no reason to lose your joy.

You say, “Well, if you were persecuted like I am persecuted, you would lose your joy.” What does the Bible say about that?

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness ‘sake” (Matthew 4:10 NKJV).

You say, “But I just lost my mother.” And the scripture says,

Do not sorrow, as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NKJV).


The scripture also says,

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4 NKJV).

The normal Christian life is a life of joy. The reasons we lose joy, we think are circumstantial. “If you were in these circumstances, you would lose your joy.” I’m not saying there aren’t pleasant circumstances and unpleasant circumstances, but when people think that circumstances or environment are a reason for joy, it is not true.

People say, “If I were in Sun Valley skiing I would be happy,” or

“If I were married, I’d be happy,” or

“If I were divorced, I would be happy.”

They are saying their happiness is dependent upon circumstances, good circumstances—happiness, bad circumstances—unhappiness. People, who are environmentally happy and think that that is the joy of the Lord, are mistaken. There is the one biblical reason why the joy of the Lord is taken away.

It is stated in Hebrews 12:11,

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (NKJV)


(An excerpt from How to Maintain Joy in your Life, p.3)

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Post Last Summer: Following Up

Last summer I printed the following post:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NIV)

Years ago a friend of mine told me he was not into evangelism because the more converts he had, the more backsliders he had. Of course that is not a reason to hold back on evangelism, but it makes us wonder why it sometimes seems to be so.

Here is a major reason. The new Christian often is not taught to live the Christian life the same as he was taught to receive Christ. He is taught a different way of living than he was taught of receiving. That is why he falls. The new Christian received Christ by grace through faith. He did not receive Christ by “try” or by “effort.” He is not to live by “try” or by “effort.” He is to live by grace through faith. In other words, the Christian life should be like being born again every day.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.68)


I received a reply from Hopeful which I did not answer at the time. Here is her reply and my answer which I hope will be a help to her and for others who have the same question.

From Hopeful:

I don't understand what this means. How does living the Christian life NOT involve effort if we are to strive to make our calling and election sure, and if we created for good works (surely work involves effort) in Christ? I really don't get this.

My answer:

Dear Hopeful,

I checked several translations and none of them say "strive" to "make your calling election sure" in 2 Peter 1:10. Here are a few scriptures which may help you do away with pre-Christian effort.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Galatians 3:1-5 (NIV)--notice "by human effort?"

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." Romans 1:17 (NIV)--notice "from first to last"

When Christians "try" they use their own energy. When we "try" we do not "trust" God. When we "try" we trust ourselves.

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29 (NIV)--notice "all His energy"

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3--notice "His divine power" and "everything we need for life and godliness"

Yes "good works" are the result of our salvation but they are "the fruit of the Spirit" good works.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Joy is restored when Sins are confessed

Let’s look at the 32nd Psalm:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night ‘our hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgression to the Lord’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

There are two conditions here. One is where the person’s sins are covered, are forgiven, where he confesses his transgressions to the Lord. The other is when he keeps silent. David says his bones wasted away through groaning all day long when he kept silent. Have you ever felt like that, like you are just wasting away, that you are groaning all day long, that your strength is sapped as in the heat of summer? Or the King James Version says, “dried up, the drought of summer.” This is because the hand of the Lord is heavy. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me. Keeping silent—that is not being willing to admit sin. Simple admission gets forgiveness. The whole 51st Psalm is on confession.

In the 13th verse, David says, Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

That is what we would like. We would like sinners turning back to God. We would like to be able to teach transgressors God’s ways. But verse 13 starts out, Then…well, when is that?

Look at the 12th verse: Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then both Psalm 32 and 51 say the person is, blessed whose transgressions are forgiven. The joy of the Lord’s salvation is restored when sins are confessed.


(An excerpt from How to Maintain Joy in your Life, p.2&3)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An Ambulance, First

For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son…Romans 8:29 (MV)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in it lust…Romans 8:12 (NKJV)

But now that you have been set free from sin, and become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life…Romans 6:22 (NIV)


These texts tell us that we should be like Jesus Christ. He did not save us so that we could sin; rather He saved us so that we would not sin. One of the biggest problems a Christian has is what to do with sins in his life. How do you handle sin? It just seems to be endemic that Christians sin and they sin far more then the Bible allows for them to sin.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin…1 John 2:1 (NIV)

The Bible does not command sin. It commands the opposite. What I am talking about in this article is not the major solution to sin in the Christian’s life, but part of God’s solution. It is more like rust remover than it is like paint. It is no preventative; it’s curative.

An old illustration is found in a poem I found in a book I read as a small boy, long before I was a Christian. It was called: A Fence or an Ambulance. I cannot recite the poem anymore, but I used to like it. It was a story of a certain cliff that dukes and peasants were falling over regularly. Everybody was falling off this cliff. The people in the shire had to come up with a solution of what to do about this problem.

They had a meeting, and one of the councilman said, “What we need is an ambulance. We’ll keep an ambulance parked in the valley. Whenever anyone falls off the cliff, the ambulance is right there. Everybody was voting for the ambulance when someone objected and said, “No, put a fence at the top of the cliff.”

Then they shouted him down, “What do you mean a fence at the top of the Cliff? We’ve interviewed every single person who has fallen off that cliff and nobody has asked for a fence. They are always asking for an ambulance. We’ve got you out-voted. Obviously, the ambulance is what is needed.”

God happens to have a fence, and God happens to have an ambulance. This article is about the ambulance. You ask, “Why are you talking about the ambulance first?” Well, when people are already smashed at the bottom, they are more interested in the ambulance. We will talk about the ambulance first—how to get people fixed up so they are interested in a fence.


(An excerpt from How to Maintain Joy in your Life, p.1&2)

Friday, December 05, 2008

"Sin" is a Mild Word

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…Romans 3:23 (NIV)

The definition of “sin” is “missing the bull’s eye of the target.” The Glory of God is the bull’s eye. All of us have missed it. We have fallen short of God’s glory. “Falling short” needs forgiveness.

However there are clearer and stronger words. Here are a few of them with the Bible references.

Rebellion and Arrogance:

For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king. 1 Samuel 15:23 (NIV)

Wicked:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV)

Evil:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 2 Timothy 3:2-7 (NIV)

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 2 Kings 21:2 (NIV)

But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites. 2 Kings 21:9 (NIV)

Filthy:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8 (NIV)

…and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men. 2 Peter 2:7 (NIV)

We have tried to soften these awful words with nice sounding euphemisms. However, that only makes the judgment worse.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (NIV)

Calling something evil, “good” does not make it good. If it is dark, it is still dark; if it is bitter, it is still bitter.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The American People Elect Candidates based on the Wrong Reasons

Although I was not conscious of it, I was alive when Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States. From my kindergarten year into my senior year of high school, Franklin Delono Roosevelt was President. I remember where I was when he died in 1945. I marched in Harry Truman’s inauguration in 1949. I was in the Korean War when Truman fired General MacArthur. Since then I have been very conscious of all of the Presidents and remember certain events, good and bad, in of their presidencies.

My conviction, looking back on all of these years, is not that the American people have collective wisdom in electing the next president, but that we have a maximum of two terms for any one president.

Rather than great wisdom in the people it looks (without being cynical) like there are other factors not in any order of precedence.

Gender, race, age, looks, money, principles, location, political party, social status, education, intelligence, knowledge, truth, and lies. The most important decisive factor is the electorate, is credulousness.

Two factors which do not have as much weight, but should have in a candidate, are wisdom and integrity.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Blind cannot lead the Blind

Here is a very short parable.

“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Luke 6:39 (NIV)

That is all there is to the parable, two short rhetorical questions. The answers are in the questions. Jesus was not talking about physical blind men. The parable referred to spiritual blind guides teaching spiritually blind followers. The pit is not a hole in the ground. It is the lake of fire.

The blind guides are the Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens of this world!