Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Joshua 7:16-26

Achan’s Sin

Although my first wife had been addicted to drugs that made my life a living hell cleaning up her messes both literal and figurative and although she had an affair during the height of her drug abuse that I had forgiven but that had changed my feeling toward her from love to responsibility and although after she got clean she transferred addictions to spending money causing me to have to chase bad checks all over town, it was my affair that crashed our marriage. It was my affair that seemed to have the most side effects. Although my affair was legitimized after my divorce was final and my paramour became my second wife, it was my affair for which I am responsible.

 

I can give you a hundred reasons for why it was OK for me. I had suffered so much with my first wife. Sure, we had some good years but those years quickly paled into surrealistic nightmare of drug abuse, arrests, near arrests, forking out money for lawyers and for rehabilitative care, cleaning up after her, literal burning of beds because she persisted in smoking in bed at night while zonked out of her mind on painkillers and God knows what else. There were threats on my life by her when it fits of rage such as threatening to drop a running hairdryer in the shower with me in it. All of these things should be good enough reasons for anyone to DESERVE to find peace and solace in another woman’s arms. After marrying my first wife when I was eighteen years old in 1980 and then suffering through all the pain and heartache of my first marriage, I began having an on again/off again affair in 1991. That began the inexorable decline of my first marriage to its ugly end in 1993.

 

The consequences of that decision to have an affair, even though I felt justified and even though others wondered why it didn’t happen sooner, were far reaching. When my first wife and I split up for good in April 1993, it started years of ripples of cause and effect that really did not end until my second wife and I split up in 2004. There were the harassing phone calls. There were the claims that I had molested my oldest daughter that I had to defend myself against. There were confrontations between my first wife and my second wife. There was DSS involvement in our lives after the molestation charges and eventually led DSS to see that my first wife was a woman who had gone off the deep end. Her emotional instability led DSS to remove my two girls from her care. It led eventually to my daughters living with my parents for over two years. It led to me being awarded custody after all that. It led to my first wife undermining my and my second wife’s authority with the girls. It led to your kids vs. my kids jealousies on the part of my second wife. It led me to have to almost ignore my own children to keep the peace with my second wife. It led to this high level of tension about our kids between my second wife and me to the point that our marriage was irrevocably damaged by it. Although my first wife finally remarried and backed off some of her craziness toward me, she hated me, was always in competition with me, measured her life by what the kids were doing for her or for me as the sign of their love. She loathed me until the day she died in July 2015, at age 55, a shell of the woman she once was, a woman consumed by hate.

 

The consequences of that decision to have the affair, even though it seemed as the right thing for me, personally, a kind of take that to hand in life that I had been dealt and even though I was madly in love with the woman who became my second wife, the whole thing had its effects on my children. I will never forget the day that my first wife and I broke up for good (and it is was probably a good thing from a physical safety standpoint that we separated because things had escalated to the point of physical violence). I will never forget seeing my oldest daughter, at this time 8 years old, holding her little 2 ½ year old sister, crying as I was packing my clothes into the car. I will never forget that pain that I saw. That started in motion a period of time that my oldest daughter actually at age 8 became head of their household (her mom, her sister, her). Their mom came so unglued over the next several years that my oldest daughter had to grow up way too fast. She was a mother to her mom and to her sister. She plowed down whatever she was feeling inside just to survive in her mom’s household. Her sister, just in those formative years of age two, three and four never really knew anything other than chaos, as a result of the change that happened that April 1993 day. To this day, each outwardly displays the effects of what happened during those years after April 1993. My oldest seeks stability in life. She wants family. She wants to fix things so that everyone gets along. She is too mature still for her age, at age 32. My youngest who never knew nothing but constant change and chaos from the time she can remember things is now age 26 and seems to just be living life on the edge and everything is everyone else fault for the state of her life. She lets life defeat her rather than embolden her. I worry deeply about her future.

 

It was this idea of the ripple effects of sin that came to mind and how others get washed up in the wake of our sins was what I thought about as I read about Achan’s sin this morning. Let’s read the passage together now:

 

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.

 

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

 

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

 

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.

 

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

 

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

 

In this passage, we see that Achan underestimated God and didn’t take His commands seriously (Joshua 6:18). Taking a robe, along with some silver and gold, may have seemed a small thing to Achan, but the effects of his sin were felt by the entire nation, especially his family. Like Achan, our actions affect more people than just ourselves. Beware of the temptation to rationalize your sins by saying they are too small and too personal to hurt anyone but you. Beware also of trying to rationalize away your sin because of trying to make yourself happy (I deserve this! God just wants me to be happy! I have a right to have this affair because my spouse is the way he/she is!). If it is contradictory to God’s direct commands or is inconsistent with the theology of the Bible, then, it is sin. Sin has its consequences. Sin is a cancer that affects more than just us alone. We wonder why Achan’s whole family was stoned here. That seems so drastic. However, we must remember that there were families of the 3,000 men that were impacted by Achan’s sin too. Many of the 3,000 probably lost their lives and their families are suffering loss because of what Achan did. To us this punishment seems unfair, but think about how our families often pay the price for our sins.

 

When I look at my own life, I can see now when I look back at those crucial years beginning in 1991 and continuing through 2004, all of it revolves around my decision to start a relationship with a woman who was not my wife. Although she became my wife later, she was not my wife at the time. It was adultery. Although this woman made me feel normal again and safe again and loved and although most people who know me during my marriage to my first wife would say hell yeah Mark had a right to do what he did, it was adultery. It was sin. No matter how what. I look back on it now and no longer try to justify it. The impact of that affair was freaking enormous. That affair, though justified in my mind, caused sin ripple effects on my life that were felt for 13 years. That affair, though it got me out of a marriage that probably would have ended with my death at the hands of a woman who had lost control, had effects on my children that still resound today. Adultery is a sin for a reason. God says it is because people get hurt and it defiles marriage. It creates sex outside the marriage covenant that leads to disastrous consequences. We live in a society where the social fabric is deteriorating rapidly because of unrestrained sex. God says it sin so it is so. God does not give us rules because he wants to keep us from doing things. He is God and He knows the impacts that sinful actions have on our lives. That’s why He has commandments for us. Because He knows what’s bad for us, bad for society, and what ripple effects are of each kind of sin. I am a walking, living, breathing testament to the ripple effects of sin – even when we think it is OK for us because of our circumstances. I am a testament to the fact that sin is sin no matter how you justify it.

 

So if you are married and you don’t like the spot that your marriage is in, and some girl is rubbing up against you, before you take the bait, think! Even if you feel justified by worldly standards and by the court of public opinion of your friends and confidants, think! Sin is sin no matter how you slice it. Whatever sin you are contemplating, but particularly adultery, think before you pass those boundaries from which you can never return. Think! Are you ready for the fallout of your sin? There is always fallout. Somebody gets hurt. Always the children. Think! Flee from sin. Adultery is an atomic bomb that leaves the landscape scarred and leaves people damaged.

 

Just as Achan’s sin destroyed his family. Just as my sin, though justified in my mind, was sin and it had such astounding effects on me and my kids, so is the sin that you are justifying in your mind right now is OK. Sin is Sin. Sin always has atomic bomb consequences on our lives.

 

Is it worth the atomic bomb and the aftermath? Flee from it before the bomb is released on your life. Flee from it! Now!

 

Amen and Amen.

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Joshua 7:1-15 (Part 3 of 4)

Ai Defeats the Israelites

Sin has its consequences. Just look at our society. We tolerate sin now that was not tolerated by a society as short as a generation ago. We call it enlightened reason now.

 

Multiple marriages among heterosexuals is considered commonplace. Tired of your wife or husband. Get a new one. It is how we feel that is important. If you and I are dissatisfied with our marriage, we have affairs and we get divorced. We don’t care about the consequences of that. Adultery is a sin no matter how you slice it. God has made that pretty clear in His Word. There are no occasions where adultery is given an OK by God. The result of adultery and multiple marriages is that we have children being raised, typically, by single moms. They have been left burdened with raising children in ways that they were not equipped by God to handle alone. Moms are forced to be moms and dads all rolled up into one and moms are simply not wired for the dad role. US Census bureau statistics reveal that 80% of single parent homes are headed by moms. Today, you have to have a diagram to see what kids belong to what parents because of differences in last names. Sons of single mom homes are twice as likely to get into trouble with the law. Daughters of single mom homes are twice as likely to engage in sexual activity before age 16 and twice as like to become pregnant before graduating high school. Statistics for single dad homes are only slightly better but such homes are rare because men seemed to have vacated their responsibilities for parenting once a divorce occurs. Where are the fathers? The sexual revolution, the break with the old-fashioned moral absolutes of the Bible about sex, has had its consequences on our society. We have moms doing jobs of fathers that they are not equipped to handle and fathers have found pursuit of sex more important than parenting.

 

We live in a society now that glorifies male sexual conquests? Why get married these days? Sex before and sex outside of marriage is commonplace. Our music and our television shows and all forms of media blast us with the fact that sex outside marriage is not only OK but it is glorified. Listen to any popular music radio station today and the songs are about sexual conquests and how many babes you can bag. We have sexualized women to the point that they dress in such provocative ways that we wonder why there is so much sex outside of wedlock. There is a generation of women being culturalized to believe that sex is the measuring stick of their value in the world. In today’s world, a second date means sexual intercourse, if not on the first date. Sexual intercourse is a recreation sport in Western culture. The sexual revolution of the 1970s has evolved into what we see now among generations of men and women. The fallout is broken homes, children of divorce, increased crime rates among boys from fatherless homes, increased sexual activity and pregnancies among teen girls. But we are enlightened! Sexual freedom is what we were after and anything less than that is old fashioned and square.

 

Don’t get me wrong as a person who is standing in sanitized bubble and preaching because I have some moral high ground. I am a product of this society of heterosexual freedom. Affairs and divorce and single parent homes are just as prevalent among Christians as the general society. Sex outside of marriage is just as prevalent in Christian circles as it in the general population. I was no different. I rationalized away or just plain out ignored the portions of the Bible that condemned fornication, adultery, and divorce. When I look back on my sexual conquests of the past that were not in the confines of marriage, I feel ashamed that I actually rationalized it away as OK. Three of those relationships ended up in marriage but think of the ones that did not. Those broken relationships leave scars on us all especially our children. How can we preach to them about not having sex with their latest boyfriend or girlfriend if we have had a sordid sexual history often played out before their eyes, metaphorically speaking? But we are enlightened!

 

Another form of sexual relationships that has become en-vogue. Homosexuality is clearly stated as a sinful sexual activity just as much as fornication and adultery in both the Old Testament and the New. Even Jesus himself said that marriage is between one man and one woman. But now it is enlightened to say that it is OK. Anyone who steps out against homosexuality as being sinful behavior is blasted as being a cultural Neanderthal. Homosexuality has become so commonplace now and so accepted by society that the government has legally sanctioned marriages between people of the same sex. And this right is a protected right and any abridging of it is a discriminatory offense. We have gone so far as to say that it is OK to raise children in homes where the marriage partners cannot produce children on their own because they are of the same sex. The homosexual community will spout statistics of how children of gay marriages are no different than children from intact biological family units. And there are studies, too, that say just the opposite such the study by Mark Regenerus of the University of Texas. That study found that children of gay parents have more sexual partners as teenagers than children of biological heterosexual parents. They four times more like to become homosexual or bi-sexual. They are significantly more likely to have been sexually abused in some way. But my contention would be that it is really too soon to draw statistically valid comparisons since adoption by same sex parents is such a recent phenomenon. We will not know the impact for another generation. My contention though is as with the heterosexual “sexual revolution”, the impact of gay marriage and gay parenting will not be entirely positive and the subtle social effects will be dealt with by churches, governments, medical community, etc. Society will pay these costs not because we call these sinful behaviors but because we call it enlightened.

 

That idea of sin having its consequences is what I thought of this morning as I read through Joshua 7:1-15 for the third of four times that we will read through it. Let’s read it together, now:

 

7 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a]; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

 

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

 

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

 

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

 

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

 

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.

 

14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”

 

In this passage, for this morning, we must ask the question, “Why did Achan’s sin bring judgment on the entire nation?” Although it was one man’s failure, God saw it as national disobedience to a national law. God needed the entire nation to be committed to the job they had agreed to do – conquer the land. Thus, when one person failed, everyone failed. If Achan’s sin went unpunished, unlimited looting could break out. The nation as a whole had to take responsibility for preventing this undisciplined disobedience. Achan’s sin was not merely his keeping some of the captured goods, but, more importantly, it was his disobeying God’s explicit command to destroy everything connected with Jericho. Achan’s sin was indifference to the evil and idolatry of the city, not just a desire for wealth. God would not protect Israel’s army again until the sin was removed and the army returned to obeying Him without reservation. God is not content with our doing what is right some of the time. We are under orders from Him to root out any thoughts, practices, or possessions that hinder our devotion to Him.

 

In our society today, we do not really see the problem with our society is the breakdown of the family. We call recreational sex good. We call homosexuality good. We call multiple marriages good. We call homosexual wedlock good. All in the name of enlightenment and the pursuit of self! The values of the past are old-fashioned and binding to the free expression of who we are. We want to do what we want when we want and how we want. In order to do that, we must erase certain specifically identified sins as not being sins anymore. We logically breakdown the Bible as being old fashioned and that a belief in an extraterrestrial God is simply foolish. We have to do this because if we admit His existence then we have to admit that there are sins. Even if we admit there is a God we have made Him in to our buddy that simply wants us to be happy and fulfill our most passionate desires. He no longer is a God who has standards of behavior. Everything we do is OK by Him.

 

The consequences of sins of heterosexual promiscuity are everywhere and are well documented after two generations of heterosexual free love. It is alarming. Add to that the homosexual revolution of this generation will have its effects that we will only begin to see in the next generation.

 

The point here is not that I am some sexual prude. I have participated in this society’s brand of sexual freedom and the consequences of it all on my own life are profound. What I am saying here is like Achan rationalized away a direct order from God and called a sin not sin and it had mighty, mighty consequence on his life. As Western culture and particularly in America, we are just beginning to see that calling things that are sins no longer sins has had and will continue to have its consequences on our nation.

 

It is Isaiah 5:20-21 that says it most clearly, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!”

 

May we one day as a nation and a culture realize that we have sinned. May we not rationalize our sexual sins as good. May we realize the consequences of saying that which is evil is no longer evil. May we realize that God did actually have our best interest at heart. May we be a nation that no longer hides its sins but admits them to the Lord and repents and turns away from them. May we be a nation that sees God not as our enemy but as our Father who wants the best for us and obey Him out of love and honor. May we quit shaking our fist at Him as disobedient Achans who rationalize away our sins as no longer sins.

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 29:1-29 (Part 3 of 4)

Moses Reviews the Covenant

It is often said that the truth needs no alibi. The truth needs no defense. The truth stands on its own. Lies though create the need for other lies to justify themselves. The classic saying concerning lies is “oh, what a tangled web we weave when we first attempt to deceive.” Lies always lead to destruction. Lies begin in the mind. When we allow them to fester and grow in our mind, seeds of sin are planted and as sins grow in the mind, they eventually see the light of day in our actions. There is no sin that does not begin with a justification in the mind that plants a seed that the sin is OK, that just the thought of the sin is OK. Once we reach that point, we water the seed and the seed grows. When the seed becomes a plant it results in our acting out our sin. Sin results in a bitter plant taking root in the garden of our soul and it leads to lies and destruction.

 

In my life, sin has had its consequences in my life has to do with sex outside marriage. It was what ended my first marriage, created and ended my second marriage. Today, we will focus on the seeds of sin that ended my first marriage and began my second. Anyone who knows my story knows that my first marriage was rocky to say the least. Because of the way my first wife had to grow up (her father killed in a car accident and leaving her mom to raise her and her brother from a wheelchair), she grew up differently than most. So, when her brother was killed in a car accident years later (right before our wedding), she began a slow descent into drug abuse that led to many legal issues that I had to clean up over the years. She even had an affair, during her descent into drug abuse, that I had forgiven for the sake of the one child that we had at the time. After she sobered up, the addictive personality latched onto other things such as spending money we never had as if we did and the overuse of prescriptions would rear its ugly head on occasion. All the while, my anger toward my first wife grew and grew over the years. I was the good guy martyr in everyone’s eyes but inside I was a seething time bomb. The seed that I needed out of the marriage was planted. It was through those seeds that life led me to the woman that would become my second wife. It all started innocently enough. Talking to each other during training classes at our place of employment which led to discussions around office desks and break rooms which led to lunches and eventually a full blown affair. That affair, though it led to marriage, led to the destruction of my relationship with my children and led to the loss of my own sense of self as during the second marriage I made my second wife an idol that I worshipped. That affair led to my first wife on a trail of the rest of her life being vindictive toward me and hating my very existence. The first six years after my affair came to light, and during the separation and divorce, and subsequently until my first wife remarried were horrid, horrid years of dealing with her active hatred and vindictiveness. Even after she remarried, she was still bitter toward me for the rest of her life.

 

I can sit here and tell you that my affair was justified and I can give your multiple, multiple reasons that I had to get out of that marriage to my first wife. She had her affair that I “forgave” only to bury deep in my heart and grow angrier about day by day. There was drug addiction on her part that cost my mightily both in financial ruin and embarrassment. There was her addictions to spending money. There was her physically violent personality. There were a million justifications of why my affair was justified. She was a breath of fresh air from the madness that was my first marriage. I can still do that today even after that second marriage has come and gone. There were reasons for that first marriage to end and many people would say yeah, man, I see what you are seeing and I would have done the same thing, but probably way sooner than you did. However, the bottom line that I have come to deal and wrestle with is the fact that no matter how I justified my own affair that ended my first marriage and that resulted in my second marriage, it is still sin. It is still sin. And sin has its consequences. And sins start with seeds in the mind. Sin has far ranging effects. Sin has long arms. My affair affected the next 10-12 years of my life in negative ways and ways that I never even thought of. Sins that led to other sins. Consequences that led to other consequences. We do not think of these things when we decide to allow a seed of sin to germinate in our minds and when we water that seed and that seed becomes the act of sin. Certain aspects of that first divorce caused by my adultery (however justified it may have been in my mind) still affect me today as I seek to do the Lord’s work full-time. It that ugly deformity on me that I cannot wash off. It is that detractive thing in my record that cannot be expunged.

 

Sure, Jesus Christ redeems us and makes us clean from the penalty of our sins. We are made clean through confessing our sin-filled nature and no longer trying to justify our sins as OK and knowing full well that we deserve hell for our sins and laying before the cross and begging mercy through Jesus Christ to God to commute our hell sentence that we know we deserve. It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved from our sins and then penalty. And thank God for that. God can redeem through Jesus Christ. He can use our past to show them that they too can be redeemed from a life of sin and made new again. God can use my history as part of my testimony at the reclaiming nature of God and what He can do.

 

God can and does reclaim us such that we will spend eternity with Him. We are set free from the penalty of sin and that is certain. However, God does not set us free from the consequences of our sins. We still have to walk through the consequences of our sins. Consequences of sin often follow us after our salvation. We are redeemed from the penalty of sin through salvation but not sin’s consequences. We have to live with those. The Christ follower realizes this fact and allows the consequences of sin to spur us on to take captive thoughts of sin in the future. Our consequences are warnings to us that we need not go down those roads again. It all starts in the mind. We must remember the consequences of our past sins and let those consequences remind us not to allow the seeds of sin to germinate.

 

That was the thing that came to mind today when read Deuteronomy 29 another time this morning. Today my focus was on vv. 16-28. So, let’s read the chapter again this morning with a focus on those verses and how sins, when allowed to germinate in our lives, lead to destruction:

 

29 [a]These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.

 

2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:

 

Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. 3 With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. 4 But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. 5 Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”

 

7 When you reached this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out to fight against us, but we defeated them. 8 We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

 

9 Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. 10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, 11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.

 

16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.

 

19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The Lord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

 

22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it. 23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger. 24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”

 

25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”

 

29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

 

In this part of the chapter, Moses cautions in very figurative language that the day the Israelites turn from God, a seed would be planted that would produce a bitter plant and poisonous fruit (see also Hebrews 12:15). When we decide to do what we know is wrong, we plant an evil seed that begins to grow out of control, eventually yielding a crop of sorrow and pain. If you are even thinking of committing a sin, confess it to God and a trusted fellow Christ follower immediately. If the seed never finds fertile soil, its bitter fruit will never ripen. We cannot change the fact that we are creatures with a nature that causes us to sin daily. However, the momentary thought of sin captured by the Christ-centered mind will not allow the seed to grow. However, it is when we allow a sin to be thought of over and over again that we start to lose the battle against sin. The longer we think on a sin the easier it is to justify that it is OK. Once we get there, actions are soon to follow. Even our thoughts about a sin as being OK, even if we never act on them, are wrong. When we think sin is OK, we create distance between us and God. Once we see one sin as OK, then we will begin to justify other sins as OK. Then, off on the slippery slope we go.

 

Paul tells us to take our thoughts captive and to do so, Peter tells us to think on honorable things of God. When we start justifying sin in our mind, we are on our way to sinning. When a sin becomes OK in our mind, we have already sinned, according to Our Savior. Sin sounds so pretty when we are trying to justify it. Satan makes it sound so good. But sin has its consequences. Just look at the nation of Israel. They had it made. They had the Promised Land. They had God’s blessings. But yet they were drawn by the siren’s song of sin and it led to the ultimate destruction of the nation of Israel. Sin has its consequences. Sin in its pretty packaging does not show you the fine print that it will have all these side effects. But guaranteed. Sin has it consequences always. No matter how pretty we try to package it.

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 4:41-43

Eastern Cities of Refuge

When we were little and we did something to one of our siblings, we would run and hide behind our mom’s legs as we were being chased by our bigger, older sibling. Mom was home base. Mom was the demilitarized zone. She was the city of refuge. If your big brother had caught you, he would have pummeled and made you cry uncle or, even worse, apologize to him. If you made into mom’s line of sight and to her legs, the battle was over between you and your sibling. There would be no violence here today. Even if you had done something wrong, mean, or vicious to your sibling, there would be no retribution once you made to mom.

 

It was then that mom had to become a mediator as well as savior. She had to figure out what exactly happened among the cacophony of the two children presenting their cases at the exact same time. She finally has to scream, “Quiiiiieeeettttt!” And, then, when there were no voices speaking. She would ask the accusing child to state his/her case. Then, the accused child clinging to her leg had to state his/her case. There would be punishment of some sort but with mom, it typically would not be a whipping unless she caught you in the act of doing the crime. Usually, it involved the child in the right being allowed to go back out and play and the child in the wrong being required to stay inside the rest of the day. Or if the child in the wrong had done something particularly egregious, the worst punishment of all – being sent to your room and being told “to wait til your father gets home!” Oh that was the worst punishment of all. Having to wait for what seemed like eons of time. If we snuck out of the room and went back outside, mom’s refuge rules were all off. If your brother caught you outside the house, mom was probably standing at the window watching jungle justice be exacted by your brother or sister. However, if you stayed in the room like you were told, you were safe but, then, there was the justice of dads. They did not seem to give a rip about our excuses for why we had done what we had done. They were concerned only with the crime, the family rule that had been violated. We would pay for our crimes with dad. It would be a whipping. It would be, even worse, restrictions from things that we enjoyed doing. There would be punishment.

 

However, it was that idea of running and hiding behind mom that came to mind when I thought about these cities of refuge that are first mentioned in Numbers 35, but are again mentioned here in Deuteronomy 4:41-43:

 

41 Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan, 42 to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if they had unintentionally killed a neighbor without malice aforethought. They could flee into one of these cities and save their life. 43 The cities were these: Bezer in the wilderness plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites.

 

The Mosaic Law stated that anyone who committed a murder was to be put to death (Exodus 21:14). But for unintentional deaths, God set aside these cities to which the murderer could flee for refuge (Exodus 21:13). He would be safe from the avenger—the family member charged with avenging the victim’s death (Numbers 35:19)—until the case could go to trial. The congregation would judge to find if the attacker acted unintentionally. If he did, he would return to the city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the trial, at which point he could return to his property. If the attacker left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, however, the avenger would have the right to kill him (Numbers 35:24-28).

 

The establishment of those privileged sanctuaries among the cities of the Levites is probably traceable to the idea that the Levites would be the most suitable and impartial judges, that their presence and counsels might calm or restrain the stormy passions of the blood avenger. By their consecration as priests, the Levites were mediators between the Israelites and God. As such, they would have been gifted to calmly mediate between the attacker and the victim’s family, ensuring that no further bloodshed would occur.

 

So, as you can see, there is a similarity between being able to make it to your mom’s legs when you were a kid and the cities of refuge for Israelites. If you could just make it to mom, there would be not butt-whoopin’ by your sibling. She was a safe haven. Mom was the UN peacekeeping force. All hostilities must end in mom’s line of sight. Once there, the chase was over. The lust for vengeance would end at mom’s feet. We would then have to present our cases to her and she would adjudge what punishment would be deserved. Not you and not me, but mom. That is what these cities of refuge were like. If the accused could just get there before their accuser could get to them then there would be no vengeance killing. However, as part of making it to the city of refuge, the accused would have to remain “in the house”, inside the city of refuge until the high priest died. The accused avoided being brutalized for vengeance but there was the having to stay inside the city of refuge for what could be a long time, if the high priest was relatively young.

 

According to gotquestions.com, these cities of refuge are also symbolic of what Christ is to us. Sinners find a refuge from the destroyer of our souls. Just as the guilty person sought refuge in the cities set up for that purpose, we flee to Christ for refuge from sin (Hebrews 6:18). We run to Christ to escape the danger we are in from the curse and condemnation of the law, from of the wrath of God, and from an eternity in hell. Only Christ provides refuge from these things, and it is to Him alone that we must run. Just as the cities were open to all who fled to them for safety, it is Christ who provides safety to all who come to Him for refuge from sin and its punishment.

 

Just as with the cities of refuge, there is no disputing our crimes, our sins. They are well documented before God. We may spend years of our lives justifying them as OK. But God’s law is God’s law and there is justice to be exacted for our crimes. Our sins, even one, prevent us from living in the presence of God for eternity. Our sins, even one, condemn us to the deserved punishment of hell, where there is gnashing of teeth, burning of flesh, despair, hopelessness, and the utter darkness of separation from God. That’s what we deserve when we commit the crime of sin, even just one crime of sin not to mention that we are repeat offenders of God’s law on a daily basis. It is only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, our city of refuge, that if we abide in Him that we are set free from the punishment and wrath of God against our sin. It is through Him that we are set free from our just and deserved punishment. He has already take the punishment we deserve when He was crucified, dead and buried. It is through His resurrection that our sins have been laid to rest in the grave and no longer cast a pall of judgment over us. We are set free to live in the knowledge that Jesus is the reason that we are no longer condemned. We can walk in the newness of light.

 

Amen and Amen.

DEUTERONOMY

Last Friday, Elena and I had to sign our names like at least 20 times when we closed on the purchase of our new home. We had to sign this document and that document. We had to sign the mortgage itself between us and the bank. We had to sign the deed and numerous other documents that defined what we could and could not do as it relates to the parties to the sale, the real estate agents, the lawyers, and the bank. It was all rather blindingly confusing and fast. Although the closing attorney tried to explain everything to us, it became a blur of documents to sign after a while. I am sure that all these documents are required because at some point in the history of real estate transactions did something to cause the need for each of these documents. It’s kind of like those warning labels on things. The warning label was required because some idiot caused the need for warning label. For example, you know those silica gel packs that you often find in shoes (what purpose they serve for new shoes I am not sure), they always have a warning written on them, “Do not eat”. I look at those gel packs and think, “why in the world would anybody want to eat that? That’s a stupid warning!” However, at some point, somebody must’ve tried to eat the silica gel packs, got sick, and sued the manufacturer of the shoes. We encounter many situations like that everywhere.

 

So, I assume that all these documents that we had to sign were to limit our ability to sue others, others’ ability to sue us, establish the rights and obligations of all the parties involved in the sale and also the rights and obligations of us and the financial institution that holds our mortgage. Most certainly, when it comes to the mortgage, most of the rights are given to the financial institution because they are the ones that are taking the biggest risk – lending us a six figure amount of money to purchase a home. The bank has the advantage in the mortgage. We are the ones that have to execute certain acts throughout the life of the mortgage to retain the right to continue owning our home. If we fail to execute those acts, the bank can foreclose on our home and kick us out of it and sell it off. Thus, we have to do what the bank says so that we can live in our home. If we do not satisfy the bank, the mortgage, a kind of covenant or contract between us and the bank, gives them the right to take our ownership away from us. The mortgage is definitely slanted in the bank’s favor. It is kind of like a treaty between a conquering nation and an conquered nation at the end of a war. It definitely gives all the advantages to one party over the other because they won the war. You have a victorious party that grants certain rights to the conquered and restricts others. It requires the conquered party to recognize the superiority of the victorious party in the relationship.

 

It was that idea of there being a superior party, the bank, over us, my wife and me, as it relates to the home and property that we just purchased. When it comes to that house we live in, we must recognize the bank as the superior party. They are the ones that loaned us the money. We are subject to the bank when it comes to the ownership of our home. The mortgage establishes that relationship and defines the bank as the superior party and it tells us what we can and can’t do financially and legally with regard to our home. It is that idea of a covenant between a superior party and an inferior party that comes through loud and clear as we step into our next book, Deuteronomy. Let’s take a quick overview today before we get started:

 

Overview of the Book of Deuteronomy

 

The genre of the book of Deuteronomy is not much different from that of Exodus. It is Narrative History and Law, although there is a Song from Moses just after he commissions Joshua. This song describes the History that the Israelites had experienced. Moses wrote Deuteronomy approximately 1407-1406 B.C. The key personalities are Moses and Joshua.

 

Moses wrote this book to remind the Israelites of what God had done and to remind them of what God expects of them. The name literally means “Second Law”. Moses gives “the Law” for the second time.

 

  • In chapters 1-4, Moses reviews some of the details of the past history of Israel such as the Exodus and the wandering in the wilderness. He then urges that they obey the Laws of God.

 

  • Then, in chapters 5-28 Moses restates the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. Moses explains the principles and instructions for living a Godly life as God’s chosen nation. These include how to love the Lord, laws of worship, laws regarding relationships (like divorce), and also the consequences and penalties if these laws are broken.

 

  • Chapters 29-30 there is a move to commit themselves, as a nation, and to stand apart unto God. This consists of not only knowing the many laws that God has commanded, but also obeying them and placing God first.

 

  • Finally, in chapter 31 through 34, we see the first change in leadership in Israel. Moses, the one who has been leading them the entire time, hands over his authority to Joshua, and commissions him. Moses blesses the tribes, which reminds us of Jacob blessing his sons almost 450 years earlier. In the last chapter, God shows Moses the promise land, although he cannot enter it, after this, Moses the servant of the Lord dies on Mt. Nebo.

 

The book takes almost the form of a contract between a superior nation (God) and an inferior, conquered nation (the people of Israel). The following outline represents a fairly widely held consensus of the shape of the book as a covenant document:

 

  • The preamble, which provides the setting in which the Great King presents the covenant text to the vassal ( 1:1-5 ).
  • The historical prologue, which recounts the past relations between the two contracting parties (1:6-4:49).
  • The general stipulations, which present the basic principles of expectation of behavior that underlie the relationship (5:1-11:32).
  • The specific stipulations, which provide interpretation or amplification of the general stipulations, usually in terms of actual cases or precise requirements (12:1-26:15).
  • The blessings and curses, which spell out the results of faithful adherence to or disobedience of the terms of the covenant (27:1- 28:68).
  • The witnesses, that is, persons or other entities to which appeal can be made as to the legality of the covenant instrument and to the commitments made by the contracting parties ( 30:19 ; 31:19; 32:1-43 ).

 

In light of the indisputable connection between form and function, it is safe to say that the concept of covenant lies at the center of the theology of Deuteronomy. Covenant, in turn, by its very definition demands at least three elements: the two contracting parties and the document that describes the purpose, nature, and requirements of the relationship. Thus the three major rubrics of the theology of Deuteronomy are Yahweh, the Great King and covenant initiator; Israel, the vassal and covenant recipient; and the book itself, the covenant vehicle, complete with the essentials of standard treaty documents.

Thus, the takeaway that I have after reading through all the summaries of Deuteronomy this morning and yesterday, as I was preparing for this blog, is that God is the sovereign king and we are his subjects. He has made covenant with us that establishes our relationship with Him that we might come into his presence through keeping his covenant requirements. He is a holy God and the Law is the way in which we are to be holy just like Him. Deuteronomy also shows us that it is impossible for us to keep the law 100% of the time for 100% of our lives. The covenant establishes the consequences of our failure to keep the Law.

 

Deuteronomy also reinforces the concept of grace in my mind. It reminds me of our need for Jesus. Deuteronomy points out to us that we are insufficient to maintain the Law perfectly all the time. Thus, Deuteronomy teaches that we are convicted by our inability to be perfect all the time. Just like with our mortgage, it does not matter how many years we pay our mortgage on time each month, if we fail to make a payment and continue in that delinquency, the bank can take our house away. It is the same way with God, it does not matter how many good deeds we do, if we fail to keep his law perfectly throughout all of our life, He will condemn us to hell. When we sin, we fail to keep the law. When we sin just one time (no matter how good we have been previously), we are done. God can come in and take our heavenly house away. We are done. We are convicted. We are delinquent on our mortgage with God.

 

Just as the bank does not want to go through the hassle of enforcing its rights under our mortgage agreement when we are delinquent, the bank will give us a grace period to catch up on that payment. In that situation, they have every right in the world to come down hard on us for missing a payment or paying late. The bank knows it and we know it. All parties know that they have the right to come down hard on delinquency. However, banks will give you time to cure the breach of the mortgage.

 

It is kind of like that with God. He has every right to come down hard on us and send us to hell based on the fact that we are totally incapable of keeping his laws. We are sinful. We have sinned. It makes us delinquents. We are convicted for having transgressed God’s law. It is evident to all parties and we know it ourselves. However, God gives us grace. The grace comes from Jesus Christ. He is the cure to our breach of God’s law. He makes us compliant with our mortgage with the superior party, God. He gets us back current with God. He cures our delinquency for us. It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that God does not enforce His covenant-given rights to condemn us. When God sees us after salvation (after we have taken advantage of grace), He sees the purity of Jesus. He does not see our delinquency. He treats like a bank treating us as if we have never made a late payment on our mortgage. He wipes off the delinquency off our eternal credit report. We are made whole.

 

Deuteronomy reminds us of the power of Jesus’ grace and that it is a gift to us and not something that we can do ourselves. We are sinful people deserving of punishment but He has given us, given us, grace through Jesus Christ.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 25:1-18 (Part 1)

Moab Seduces Israel

It was 1991. Dunlop Slazenger Corporation, the golf and tennis company, my employer, had just moved into its brand new headquarters on Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville just the year before. The corporate headquarters was a bunch of twenty and thirty somethings. We were all a group of young bucks that enjoyed working together. We were made closer as we were all going through QIP (Quality Improvement Program) training once a week for a whole afternoon. There were two sets of classes. Those classes seemed to draw us all closer together. We were all learning to work collaboratively to solve problems in the company. Relationships began there. It seemed that everybody was having affairs within our organization. Up to that point in my life, I was the clean cut, altar boy type. Naïve as hell.

 

I had my reasons. My first wife had put me through my own living hell of her drug abuse. Two stints in rehab. She had her own affair during all that craziness that was her period of drug abuse that changed our marriage forever. There was this martyred hatred that I had for her for what she had put me through. After she had gotten clean though, she had transferred addictions in that she had transferred addictions to spending money. I never knew how much money we really had at any given time. Add to that, she was the only woman I had ever been with. I was angry and was looking for something to happen in a place that was ripe for it. A bunch of young folks at place where the senior management was not setting the example but participating in the whole who is having an affair with who mentality. I wanted some of the thrilling action. I did want to be left out. As well, I had been through hell in my marriage and I deserved it. Then, as part of the quality program classes, I met a woman that found me attractive, found me funny, who was living in a physically abusive relationship with her husband. And it happened. I began an affair with the woman who would become my second wife eventually. I felt so alive again. She was sane and inviting and warm and loving where my first wife was somebody that I had to clean up after, make exceptions for, was such a demanding person to be in a relationship with. I was young and grabbing for a life I had never experienced before. She was normal and she had desire, serious desire for me. It all was justified in my mind. I deserved this happiness and this passionate desire that I felt. With all the trouble that I had put up with in my first marriage, how could this affair be wrong. I deserved it. I deserved to be happy. I had been through so much with my first wife that I would go into great detail here, but even my church friends at my wife’s family church took great pity on me for the things I had been through with their niece, cousin, etc. It was the first justifiable adultery in the world as far as I was concerned. Torrid moments stolen away together, secret phone calls from pay phones (back in the day when we had pay phones), wishing and wanting to be together. Daydreams of a life together. Sneaking away for real life moments together. Voice mail messages. It was all very exciting, dangerous, and thrilling. I deserved it. I deserved to follow the desires of my heart. How could it be wrong? Right?

 

That was my life from 1991-1993, living the affair life. Living the double life. Justifying in my mind why it was right. I was in love, really in love, with another woman. Anybody who knew my first wife and my first marriage was not surprised when it all became known. I literally had been through hell and back with my first wife. I got my freedom from that through that affair. But I only thought those years of my first wife’s drug abuse was hell. From 1993-1996 to a major extent and throughout my second marriage (1995-2004), my first wife made my life away from her even worse that it was being with her. The second marriage, with the woman with whom I had the affair, had its own problems where I was so dependent on her that I made her my god and she saw my past life and anything to do with it as a threat to what she could have for herself and her kids. My kids were a threat. It was all a big fat mess. My first wife and her hatred for me and my second wife and the whole my kids vs. your kids issue with my second wife all played major roles in making me second marriage work its way toward its ugly end in 2004. Not to mention the financial pressures of alimony and child support. Those pressures and my willingness to do anything to keep my second wife happy led me to make some incredibly foolish decisions about money. Because of the pressures, jealousies, and my mistakes with money (justified in my mind as the right thing to do to keep my second wife, my god, happy) ended up being her justification for stepping out on our marriage. The old saying “if they will do it with you, they will do it to you”  was true in the second marriage.

 

I was an altar boy type at one time, always doing the right things. I was a preacher’s kid who lived a sheltered life of doing the right thing. Being a dependable sort. I was good egg. Never straying from the straight and narrow. By the end of my second marriage, I had slid so far down the moral scale that I was aghast at what my life had become. I was no longer an altar boy. I was a morally bankrupt man. I was so far beyond the line, the line was a dot in the rear view mirror. Sure, I could sit back and justify how the affair with the woman who became my second wife was OK. I could justify it because of the craziness of my first wife and her vindictive nature. I could justify how I was just trying to keep my goddess happy in my second marriage by ignoring my kids and making foolish mistakes with money as doing what it took to keep my marriage together. I could justify how I was the victim in all of it. But, bottom line, I played a role is the desert wasteland I found myself in 2004 after my second marriage ended. I could blame others but I had committed sins of all kinds that led me to the place I was then. My sins. My sins. Nobody else’s sins. My life was a result of my sins. It was only when I realized my role in my life and the decisions to follow sin’s siren call that my life became what it had become by 2004. Alone and thrown away. Sin’s slippery slope. Once you get on the slide, it’s hard to get off of it. Sin’s siren call will crash you into the rocky shore and leave you lost and alone when it’s done.

 

My own slide into sin’s snare is exactly what I thought of when I read today’s passage, Numbers 25:1-18, and how it seems so innocent and justifiable when listen to Satan’s call:

 

25 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

 

4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

 

5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”

 

6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

 

10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

 

14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

 

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them. 18 They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incident involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident.”

 

The passage doesn’t tell us how the Israelite men became involved in sexual immorality just that they did. We do know that sacred prostitution was a common practice of the pagan god worship of the ancient Middle East. At first, I bet, the Israelite men did not think about worshiping the idols of these women, they were just interested in sex. Before long, they started attending local feasts with their licentious sexual escapades, and idol worship. Soon they were in over their heads and absorbed into the practices of the idol worshiping culture. Their desire for sex and fun and pleasure was all justifiable to them I bet. It caused them to loosen their commitment to God and the ways that He had prescribed them to live. How often does our dabbling in sin seem OK at first? How many times do we, as we slide into immorality try to justify it as being OK? How many times does our dabbling become full blown participation and justification? How often does it become our ruin?

 

If you find yourself drawn to sexual immorality right now, end it. If you find your innocent flirtations beginning to go beyond the innocent stage and your thoughts are going to that place with that woman who is not your wife, flee! If you find yourself in an affair right now and you are justifying it in your mind as OK right now, stop it. No matter how you slice it, it is sin. Sure, you may have very valid reasons to your being in an affair right now. Maybe, your wife is a mean, vengeful, scorekeeping, vindictive, you are for me or you are against me type. Maybe even she has had an affair that you have forgiven. But, my friend, sin is sin. No sin is justifiable. When we stand before the pure and holy God, we will not be able to rationalize away our sin crimes as justifiable. Sin is sin. Sin destroys. I can stand here today and tell you that it is true. I have lived it. I am finally in a good marriage to a good woman and we together try to live our lives God’s way and in so doing, God has richly blessed us in more ways than we can count. My life is settled now and I know it and appreciate it. My sins, no matter how justified they were, caused a whirlwind of trouble in my life that I did not truly did begin recovering from until 2009. My slippery slope into sexual immorality that began in 1991 had it long ranging effects of an ever increasing spiral of the effects and reactions and other sins. I was a tempest sea my friends. I survived it only through God’s grace and forgiveness. It was only when I decided to start giving up each area of my life to God starting with my salvation in late 2001 and the painful process of letting go of my justifiable sins that I can stand on the shore today and say that I did not drown from it and it was only because of the grace of God and His nature of forgiveness.

 

I am no altar boy today. I am just a sinner in recovery. I am still a man who enjoys looking at a beautiful when she passes by. However, the difference now is I know that devastation was wrought in my life by choosing to follow the desires of the male mind. I do not want to live that way again. Those thoughts get taken captive quickly when the flashes of the pain that was my life living with results of sexual sin. No matter how you slice it. No matter how you justify. Sin is sin is sin is sin. If you find yourself there, run for the hills. Flee young man! Flee! God has a way out for you. When we stand before the throne of God, there will be no one around to blame our sins on. It will be just us and Him. Not to mention the fact that what seems so wonderful when sin’s siren call comes will destroy you. You sit there and say right now. It’s all right. My circumstances are different! No they are not. Sin is sin no matter what the justifications are. Flee! Run Forrest run! Get away. It will bring about your destruction my friend. Bank on it. Know it. Learn it. It will happen. Everytime. All the time. Without fail.

 

Lay down at the Father’s feet. Beg him to forgive you. And flee from the justifications of the rightness of your sins. Satan is a seductress who calls sailors to the shore only to crash them on the rocks. Flee from him. Do not listen. Steer your ship away from his rocky shores.

 

Amen and Amen.