Day 50: Repairing a Broken Heart
CROSSING THE LINE
We've all crossed the line that God drew in the sand of our lives. The first time I realized how deeply I had hurt God it broke my heart. I could not wrap my mind around how I'd ever be loved for the dark and horrible things I had said, done, and imagined. I identified with the words of 1 Corinthians 6:8-11a:
Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 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...
My heart was broken over the possibility that I'd never be in a place where I could please God. I felt that I had taken something beautiful of His (sexuality) and destroyed it. Everything beautiful about my sexuality was beaten, broken, torn down, and utterly destroyed in my lustful pursuits. What made it worse was that I knew Jesus and I knew what the right way was. I could no longer claim ignorance, for I had seen the darkness of my own struggle and also the light of God's mercy. Over time, my heart became cold towards His grace. I felt part of me dying as I became numb to the idea of sinning. The guilt of the people I'd hurt, the things I'd done, permeated every area of my life. I felt unworthy to date, unworthy to pray, unworthy to worship, and unworthy to live. My story, however, was not over. Your story is not over either. Your broken heart can be repaired and revived. You can let go of the shame and guilt of your past. God wants to take our hearts of stone and give them new life:
PUTTING AWAY THE PAST
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. -Colossians 3:5
One of my favorite preachers, Pastor Greg Laurie, often says, “Whenever you see the word 'therefore,' always find out what it is there for.” To repair a broken heart we must first put to death the thing that is destroying it. In verse 5 above, we find the word therefore, telling us that putting to death our sinful nature is a result of something else. In other words, Paul has built up to something prior to making the statement, "Put to death..." Death is a strong word in scripture, especially when it relates to sin (see Romans 6:23). To properly understand verse 5, we must know what led Paul to that conclusion:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. -Colossians 3:1-4
After looking at verse 4, we could conclude that Paul writes "therefore" to highlight that since we will be raised to Christ in glory, we ought to purify ourselves for Him. This is backed up with more scriptural evidence (see Ephesians 5:25-27).
In light of this verse, here are some prerequisites to putting to death our earthly nature:
- we’ve been raised with Christ (verse 1)
- we set our hearts on things above (verse 2)
- we have died spiritually, made alive through Christ (verse 3)
- Christ is our life, we will appear with him in glory (verse 4)
Notice here that we aren't FIRST told to put to death our sins. We are first told of our identity in Christ, and then in verse 5 we’re called to eradicate sin. Why is this order important? God cares about the state of our hearts. He's not interested in blindly obedient followers (Matthew 15:8). If we begin to rid our lives of sin but do it from obligation, selfishness, or simply to have better discipline, then our hearts have not changed. By realizing first that we've been raised to new life in Christ we are setting our hearts straight before we follow through with our new nature.
OUR UNDENIABLE NEED
The order is important because it forces us to humble ourselves before God and recognize that who we are is defined far beyond our own works or merit. Notice the verse just assumes that we’re in need of Christ from verses 1-4. This is because we’ve all sinned and fallen short. Understand that perfection comes through the shed blood of Jesus Stop stressing yourself out trying to be “good enough” for God. You and I … we were never good enough.
And we will continue to fall short.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. -Romans 7:15
We’ve already discussed the difference between deliberate sin and falling short because of our flesh (working out our salvation through sanctification). This lesson serves as a reminder to those truths. We cannot fall into the trap that we are somehow saved by our own works, or merit, or intelligence. God beckoned us out of darkness, where we were doomed to stay for eternity:
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, -Ephesians 1:11
Ephesians 1 is a powerful text that talks about God's plans since the beginning of time. The focus of the chapter is giving all glory, especially regarding our salvation, to God. Does this mean we don’t have a say in the matter? Of course not! Otherwise that contradicts other passages of scripture (Matthew 7:13-14, Deuteronomy 30:19). The point is that we are unworthy of any credit for our salvation. God alone rescued us from a place of darkness that we were helpless to escape ourselves.
So putting our sin to death means coming to an understanding that the only reason we’re aware of our current state is because of God. He gave us the wisdom to see our foolishness, and He alone gave us the strength to overcome it. This is intended to affect our hearts in such a way that we can't help but to respond with a changed life. Do you feel like God can't use you because of the things you've done? Do you feel that you've made a mess of your life and there is no turning back? Friend, there is no pit so deep that God isn't able to reach down and pull you out. We've all fallen short to some degree and the ground at the foot of the cross is level. In other words, nothing can separate you from the love of God, demonstrated through His sacrifice at the cross.
Day 50 Application
Tell us where your heart is at this point through the course. Has it been broken? Or is it indifferent? It's okay to be completely honest here.
What is the significance of our heart in struggling against sexual sin (or any sin for that matter)?
When do you feel your heart is closest to God? What causes distance between ourselves and God? What is God's response when we turn to him?
Have you been honest and vulnerable with your accountability partner? Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?