Day 42: Planting the Right Seeds
PLANTING THE WRONG SEEDS
Many Christians are walking around today with the wrong message in their head. Messages such as "You're a failure," "You don't have what it takes," "You're not good enough," "This isn't working, you should give up," "That's a terrible idea." Many of these false messages are a result of sins they struggle with, particularly sexual sin. During my struggle, I had doubt in my mind. I was confused about why I was, after nearly 10 years, still struggling with this sin. I was continually planting seeds of doubt and frustration and confusion in my mind. As the struggles continued, my identity was consumed by sin. I could only identify as a sinner and it made my relationships suffer. There was also no accountability in my life so these thoughts were allowed to fester for years.
My struggle with this reached its climax when I began to doubt my salvation. Though I had seemingly done everything I could for years, I continued to find myself stuck in the same sin. How could God forgive, let alone love, someone like me? But my thinking was incorrect; Jesus does not abandon those who love Him. Even after all that time, God redeemed my mind and brought me to a place of peace. Where I was once confused, I now felt renewed:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. -1 Corinthians 14:33
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. -1 John 2:1
WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED?
But wait a second, isn’t scripture also clear that those who sin cannot be saved? Indeed there are verses such as this, many of them are the source of our guilt:
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. -Hebrews 10:26-27
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. -1 John 3:9
Confusing right? Christians tend to find these verses (and others like them) to be a source of guilt and condemnation. But, if we are convinced that Christ somehow still loves us, then what are we left to believe? Are we children of God with an advocate, or are we awaiting his judgement? Since God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, His word offers us an explanation.
CONTRADICTION VS TRANSFORMATION
Let's look at another verse in 1 John:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. -1 John 1:8
Is it possible for 1 John 1:8 and 1 John 3:9 (both verses listed above) to both be true? Quite simply, if they are referring to the same “type” of sin, they cannot both be true. Therefore we must conclude that there are two different meanings behind the sins referred to in these verses. So what's the difference?
Sin that is described in verse 8 refers to mistakes that happen simply for being human on this side of eternity. Despite our best intentions, we will still fall short of God's perfect expectations. We will at some point find ourselves hating, wanting, or complaining before we are finally and completely reformed by Christ when he returns. We will always contend with some amount of sin in this way, but we have Jesus on our side. Verse 9, on the other hand, depicts sin that is deliberate, intentional, and without remorse. It is a mindset that plans and acts on a desire to sin. Sinning in this way is an intentional choice we make, and makes us an enemy of God. The question for us then becomes, is my sin willful and deliberate?
Even if we don't make a habit of intentionally sinning against God, that doesn't excuse us from our mistakes. In either case, whether we sin deliberately or unintentionally, what should our response be?
You’ll notice that every lesson includes an opportunity to confess our sins. This is intentional because we are in need of God's constant forgiveness whether we sin purposely or accidentally. His forgiveness does not give us a license to sin - the reality is quite the opposite. If we confess our sins and experience God's forgiveness, we grow more thankful of his grace, mercy, and sacrifice made for our sins. We realize more and more that while we are desperately broken and reliant on God, he has made us righteous.
If we confess our sins, breaking our pride before God, he is faithful to wholly cleanse us. In spite of his perfect expectations and laws for us, the love and sacrifice of Jesus makes us completely clean in the sight of God. The more we are open to confess to Him and receive his forgiveness, paid for in Jesus' blood, the more we realize how infinitely God loves us and what he endured to ransom us. Out of His love for us, the Lord has credited us with a righteousness we don't deserve - a righteousness that immediately frees us from the chains of sin whether deliberate or not. As we grow to feel the debt we think we owe for his forgiveness and realize that He has canceled every debt, all we can be left with is a stance of worship and praise.
Day 42 Application
What are your thoughts about 1 John 3:6&9, and Hebrews 10:26-27? Specifically, do they seem to point out that we are apart from Christ if we sin?
Have you ever felt like you've confessed so many sins so many times that you think surely God's patience with you has run out? What verses go against this line of thinking?
When God looks at you, what look do you imagine is on his face? Why does he look that way? What is your face like as you look at him?
Have you been honest and vulnerable with your accountability partner? Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?