The power to change a life

Christianity, Jesus, new creation, righteousness, sin, truth

Wow. I had a moment recently. Have you ever been talking with someone, and as you are saying something you think is factual, the real truth will wash over you? I was talking with my college-aged son about a heinous crime that was on trial. My son is very compassionate and insightful, and he had a much kinder perspective than me. He sympathized with the victim, but also the accused. He emphasized that the accused is a human being, a person with value and feelings….I interrupted, not surprisingly, to argue my point. Yes, the accused is a person made in God’s image. BUT, they must stand before a judge to face the consequences of any wrong-doing. I emotionally presented my case; I was so certain I was right that my fingers may have been in my ears as I talked, wanting to block out anything else he was saying.

It was then that the real truth came over me, making my face feel flushed as it went downward to my chest. I realized that I was judging someone by one of their worst acts. What if you judged me by my worst acts, my worst habits, or thoughts, or attitudes? I would certainly be convicted of being a horrible human being. You would cease to remember anything good that I have ever done, because the horror of the bad things would overshadow any good. I think I suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence, but I’m not sure. Then I told my son, “Hold on, I am having a God-moment.”

If you were to judge me by the worst things I have done and said, I would be GUILTY

I saw myself clearly for a moment. If Jesus’ blood and righteousness had not ever covered my sin, I would be toast, to put it very lightly. The power of Jesus Christ to change a life is almost indescribable. If you knew me just 15 years ago, you would certainly see that God has made me into a new creation. Not a perfect person, but definitely a NEW person. A person who thinks and acts and believes differently than the old me. And now, because of the power of Jesus to change a life, when God looks at me He doesn’t condemn me to the burning pit that I deserve. Instead,  He gives me a new heart and mind, and looks at me as righteous because of His Son’s shed blood.   Does this sound a little churchy or weird? Don’t take my word for it. Check out what Scripture says in Romans 4, concerning the righteousness of God:

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (emphasis mine)

Sin

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At first I thought it was a pimple. A couple of days later when the swelling began, I speculated, maybe a poisonous spider bite? All of this was going on inside my nose, so it was hard to get a good look. I finally went to the doctor and learned that I had an ingrown hair that had abscessed. It was infected, swollen, and very painful. Gross!

Sin can be similar. Often we treat symptoms, trying to stop a compulsive behavior or simply band-aiding the issue, hoping that no one else will see it. Even worse, we ignore it and hope it will go away. Sin will infect us, people we know, and have devastating consequences when it’s not treated properly. Oh, we like to compare ourselves to others and say that we don’t struggle with any of the big sins. Haven’t murdered anyone today? Check. No adultery, check. We seem to be comfortable rating our sins, considering some worse than others. God however, is holy and sinless. Which means that any sin, no matter what degree we measure it, is contrary to the nature of our holy God. So what is sin? Wayne Grudem, professor and theologian, defines it this way in his book Bible Doctrine: Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.

Sometimes it makes us feel better about ourselves to measure our sins.

We measure sin in degrees of small, almost undetectable blips on the radar screen, all the way to murder and other heinous crimes. Maybe we barely notice or don’t bother confessing the ones we consider necessary, like a criticism or a small lie because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Scripture clearly tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That means not one of us is found pure and free from guilt in God’s eyes. It’s true that some sins affect us and those around us in varying degrees. There are sins that have catastrophic, outwardly seen consequences, while others go completely unseen, and no one but us may ever know about them.

I want the healthy habit of frequently doing as the Psalmist, who said that when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent.  1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and purify us from all unrighteousness.  This is a great thing because the wages, or what I’ve earned from my sin, is death, which is eternal separation from God.  One issue with unconfessed and unrecognized sin is that it fools us into thinking that we’re really okay, we’re pretty good people, and that can lead to independence from God. When we get into the mindset that we don’t desperately need a Savior, we’re in big trouble!

Wayne Grudem does a great job of explaining the doctrine of sin in his book Bible Doctrine.  (link below)

http://books.google.com/books?id=Bi0jrhaviVgC&pg=PA210&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false

Are you going to wear white?

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Yep, that's me on March 1st, 1997

I distinctly remember someone asking me this question 15 years ago as Herschel and I planned our wedding. I was coming into the marriage as a mom already. I had a very cute 4-year-old boy, Christian. With the support and love of my parents, I had made the decision to be a single parent and give life to him. It was really hard and really wonderful. When the person asked me, “Are you going to wear white for your wedding?”, I defensively answered, “Yes,” but I did think about it. I wondered: What should I wear? Red? Cream? Brown? Everyone already knows I’m not a virgin; They saw me as a twenty year old pregnant girl and I’ve given birth!

Fast forward to today. I don’t have to ask myself that question anymore. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see all the stuff I’ve done wrong and define who I am by that. I know if my wedding dress were based on my past actions, it would be a filthy rag. But that is not who I am today. When God looks at me, He sees the righteousness and beauty of Jesus. I am free to wear a beautiful, white garment and wear it with joy and freedom.

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Isn't this sweet?