Posts Tagged ‘unrepentant sin’

1 Samuel 2:12-25 (Part 5 of 6)
Eli’s Wicked Sons

Unrepentant Sin is a phrase that we talked about yesterday. Those are situations where we either don’t recognize a sin as sin or even worse, just don’t care. This is a conversation that my bestie guys and I had last night over dinner at Five Guys. Our wives were on one side of the table and we were on our side. Two totally different conversations that only occasionally intersected when you would pick on a word or a phrase here and there. They were happy to have their girl time talking down at their end of the table and we guys were having our much rarer guys only conversation. Those are rare. The girls in our circle of friends talk with each other daily and do a joint Bible devotional together constantly and they text back and forth about that daily. However, with us guys, not sure why, but we just don’t talk that much when we are not around each other. When we are together it’s like we’ve never been apart. Common history, common interests, the conversations just flow and together we can generate conversations that can make your inner soul hurt from laughter that is so deep. At the same time, we can have some pretty profound conversations too. Last night was one of those nights.

We were talking about the very subject that I wrote about last blog. Unrepentant Sin. How do you confront that as a Christ follower. There are people that we know mutually that outwardly say that they are Bible believing Christians but yet have sin in their lives that they are not recognizing as sin. They think the sin is OK for them because, well, they either don’t realize that the sin they are waist deep in is a sin at all or they just think that God will make an exception for because of grace, or they just don’t care that it is a sin because they want the pleasure of the sin. How do you confront people about their unbridled, uncaring, unrepentant sin that they are participating in when each of us are sinners ourselves? How do you do that? I am no perfect man by any means. I fear telling someone about the sin that they are waist deep in and don’t seem to see it as sin because I know that I have my blindside sins too. We came down to the fact that it has to do with relationship. It is only when you have relationship with someone that you can earn the right to speak truth into their lives. Certainly a shepherd such our senior pastor can caste a sermon about unrepentant sin and it may convict some, but most often it is through direct relationship with someone that a person will be confronted about their unrepentant participation in a sin that is clearly wrong according to the Bible. It is through me knowing you and you knowing me that I have a right to speak truth in to your life and vice versa.

I had my experience with this head on back in 2009/10 time frame. Elena and I were living in Livermore, CA and we were attending Livermore Alive Community Church. We had become best friends with the pastor and his wife, Luke and Felisha. As we began to grow as Christ followers and as the church began to grow, Luke decided that it was time to have an elder team in which he would be the first among equals as the full-time preaching pastor. After some prayer time, I felt like as though I could be an elder. I had the passion. I had the desire. I have the love for my Savior. Then over a weeklong period Luke had all the elder candidates over to his house individually (with his wife and kids gone) to discuss their candidacy. When it was my turn, ya know, I figured it was just a formality. Luke and I were best buds outside of church. Elena and Felisha were best buddettes. We hung out a lot. But after a few informal questions, bam, Luke confronted me with the sin that I did not see as sin and even if I did my actions showed that I did not care that it was. Luke told me straight up, plain out that I could not be an elder in the church because I was living with a woman to whom I was not married. I was in effect commit fornication every time I had sex with Elena and that it was a sin to live in the manner in which I was living and was certainly stood in opposition to the qualifications for being an elder in the church as spelled out in Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. He pissed me off that night. He shocked me that night. He got up all in my business that night. But he spoke truth that night. I knew that Luke had his own sins but he confronted me with Scripture and he confronted me in love not hatred. He said I simply cannot allow you to be an elder when its blatantly obvious to anyone who reads Scripture that you are not qualified no matter how much I love you and like you. Bam. There it was. I was confronted with my unrepentant sin.

That’s the thing that struck me this morning as I read this passage again – how we have to confront unrepentant and unbridled disregard for God’s Word and deal with it. With that in mind, let us read 1 Samuel 2:12-26 for the fifth of six reads of this loaded passage today:

12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, 14 the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. 15 Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

16 The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” 17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.

18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.[a] 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.[b]” 21 And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[c] 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God[d] can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.

26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.

In this passage, we see that we must deal with the ruggedness of the Old Testament that puts some people off. We must ask the question, “Does a loving God really will or want to put people to death?” In answering that question in context of this passage, we must consider what was going on in the Tabernacle. A person made an offering to the Lord in order that their sins may be forgiven and it was offered typically with a repentant heart wanting to be reconciled to a pure and just God. However, Eli’s sons were stealing the offering and making a sham of a person’s repentant attitude. God, in His love for Israel, could not permit this situation to continue. He allowed Eli’s sons to die as a result of their own boastful presumption. They took the Ark into battle thinking that it would protect them. But God withdrew His protection and the wicked sons of Eli were killed (1 Samuel 4:10-11).

The question is what will you do with it when someone confronts you with your unbridled expressions of unrepentant sin. What did I do when Luke confronted me with my unrepentant sin of living with a woman to whom I was not married. It does not matter that both Elena and I had been married twice before and were gunshy about marriage. We could make all the excuses that we wanted to cover up or to justify our sin but it was plain and simple turning our noses up at God. It was us saying that God will overlook this sin because its our pet sin and we have our reasons for why it is OK. We wanted our cake of living together but not the eating it of being married. We were confronted with our fornication. We were confronted with our repeated sexual encounters outside of wedlock. We were confronted with our advertising it to the world that we lived together and that we were not married. Until someone showed us through relationship that they had the kahunas to confront us about it, we would have continued in our sin in an unrepentant manner – not recognizing our sin, not caring that it was sin, and making an exception for it by ignoring God’s Word, making an exception for by avoiding those parts of the Bible, making an exception for it because it was us and God just understood and winked as us because it was us.

We must love those who we have relationships with enough to compared their lives to Scripture and lovingly tell them to what they need to be told (and be willing to have them do the same for us). Because God is a just God and because of that there are consequences for sins. We must love those we are in relationship with and tell them what they need to hear and do so in love. We don’t want them to have suffer the consequences that sin always has in our lives. Luke loved Elena and me enough to confront us about our sin. We finally saw that in order to grow in Christ and to grow in our witness and to really, really grow in our relationship with each other, we had to trust enough and each other enough to do things God’s way. Luke performed our wedding ceremony on March 21, 2010 right in the middle of church, right at the end of a sermon about doing things God’s way sexually in a world that seems to made sex a recreational sport. Luke was a proud spiritual mentor that day. He took a risk that we would have lost our friendship and also that we would have left the church. But he took the risk to confront us about our unrepentant sin. It was the first time that someone confronted me straight up about a sin I was committing. It was the beginning of growing from a spiritual baby into where I am at now on my journey. Sometimes, we have to be confronted with the cold hard truth of our sin.

There are consequences to sin and God will allow that to play itself out in our lives. It is never good. Eli failed to confront his sons and they paid the price for it eventually. They did not have someone to kick them in the butt and say what you are doing is wrong and they paid the price for it eventually. Help us to love the people that are in sphere of influence enough to tell them the truth that needs telling. Help us to care enough. Love enough. And invest in the relationship enough to the point that our words will be taken with respect and love and will be considered. Let us be loving in our confrontations. Let it be known that we only want our people to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. May we pray for friends that will do the same for us.

Amen and Amen.

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Judges 6:1-32 (Part 1 of 5)
Gideon Becomes Israel’s Judge

Back when we were living in California in 2009 and 2010, we were active members of a great start-up church called Livermore Alive Community Church (LACC) in Livermore, CA. It was there while we were at LACC that Elena accepted Christ as her Savior and Lord. And, it was there that I finally began to grow up as a Christ follower (after accepting Christ as my Savior and Lord in December 2001). Up to that point, I had been a spiritual baby unwilling to mature or simply failing to see the need to mature. I thought I was good just having accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. That way, I could keep dabbling in my what I considered my justifiable sins. The ones that were OK for me to commit because of the rationalizations that I had developed for them.

In the years in between the end of my second marriage and the beginning of a committed relationship with Elena. I went through a series of relationships that all became sexual at some point in those relationships whether they were a one-time date or a relationship that lasted a few months. I thought that sex outside the confines of marriage was OK for me. I had been through two tough marriages and I deserved this freedom and the rewards that it brought. Besides as you have read here many times, even after salvation there was a lot of sanctification to be done (not that the Holy Spirit’s job is finished now by a long shot!) and it took a long time for the Lord to rid me of the god that sexual validation was for me. Because that was my pet sin, validation of my value as a person through something other than God (in this case, validation through sex), it stunted my spiritual growth. It was my pet sin and our pet sins push us away from reading God’s Word. We steer clear of God’s convicting Word when we have active sin in our lives. We may read about the Bible but hardly ever read the Bible. We pick and choose the things that we read about the Bible too. Only those things that keep us clear of God’s Word convicting us of our sin.

God was able to tame me down in this lost world of seeking that perfect relationship when he gave me Elena. She didn’t want a relationship with me. But there was something about her, the challenge of her that kept me around her. Strangely enough for me, we became friends first. Our porch conversations in those days in Rock Hill before we became a real couple are legendary memories in our relationship. It was a first for me for me to be real friends with a woman without sex being a part of the equation. It was only after we became friends that we became lovers. Yes, we became committed to each other and we became exclusive to one another. Even when I had to move to California, we remained committed. Finally, when my temporary assignment out there became a permanent one, she decided to move out to California to be with me. We lived together but we were not married. We were engaged and that was good enough for us. We both had been married twice and justified not getting married again on those grounds. We were committed to each other but we were living together and we were good with that. We weren’t much on reading the Bible back then so we avoided the whole issue of our sexual relationship being outside the boundaries for it set by God. We were committed to each other, right! So, it was OK, right! Allowing that sin to stand was OK, right?

It was not until several months in at LACC that we got confronted with our sin of sex outside of the marriage covenant. Our pastor who was the planting pastor of our church was developing an elder team to come alongside him in the governance of the church. I felt that because we had become so involved in the church and its activities and because we had become such close friends with the pastor and his wife and because we, Elena and I, had grown so much spiritually since we came there, it would be slam dunk for me to be part of the elder team.

One night when I had my interview with the pastor (to me it was just two buddies getting together as he and I were close), he confronted me with my sin. He said that he would love for me to be on the elder team but our interview could not even start. He said how can you be an elder in the church if you are living with a woman to whom you are not married. How can you be an elder if you are having sex with a woman that is not your wife. Bombshell dropped. Sin confronted. Plain and simple. You have unrepentant sin in your life that you don’t even recognize as sin. You cannot be a leader in our church EVER until you see your publicly flaunted, unrepentant sin for what it is. You need to seek forgiveness from the Lord and stop the sin. You must stamp it out from your life. You must destroy it. Drive it out. Turn around from it and run. Within two weeks, Elena and I were married because our pastor loved us enough to confront us about our sin. Our sins will destroy us if we do not stamp them out of our lives. First, we must identify it as sin and then stamp it out.

The irony of that confrontation was that my pastor had his own unconfessed and unrepentant sin that he kept hidden and ultimately destroyed his ministry in that church about a year and half later and it imploded the entire church. It almost destroyed his marriage. His marriage is still reeling from the effects of his pornography addiction. His unconfessed and unrepented sin came out and it changed everything. It came back to haunt him. Sexual sin is one of the sins that in our modern culture we as Christians are often like the culture. It is OK now to have sex any way you want it. It is OK for people sitting in church to be living together outside of wedlock. It is OK for us as Christians to be having sex with everyone we date. It is OK for us as Christian men to be looking at soft porn or even hard core porn because we say there are no victims. It is OK because the culture says it is OK.

We avoid reading through the Bible in its entirety. We avoid reading through complete books of the Bible so that we don’t have to run across convicting passages. We look up themes that we like in the Bible and just read those passages so we don’t have to address the real issue of sexual sin. I was that way about sexual sin. God just wants me to be happy, right? It’s OK for me. God makes an exception for me. It’s all sin, bro! No justifications. No exceptions. We wonder why our families in today’s culture are a complete mess. Sexual sin is at the root of it. My life, until I married Elena, is a testimony to that fact. Our sins always, always, always come back to haunt us.

Today as we begin our five-part look at Judges 6:1-32, let us focus on the first seven (7) verses for this devotional. Here, we need to think about who the Midianites are and how that relates to my opening illustration. Sometimes, it seems harsh to us that the God often called Israel to completely wipe out a group of people. It seemed almost generous of the Israelites not to carry out the total judgment called for by God. Sometimes, we are the same way about sin. This sin is OK to allow to continue. Look God, I have repented of this sin, but you gotta let me keep that one.
6 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[e] bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal[f] that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

In this passage, we must remember some things. First, we must remember that the Bible is a continuous story of the history of God’s people. It has a progression. It is not just a collection of disjointed books that are really standalone. No. The books of the Bible are all interconnected and relate to the ongoing history of God’s people and God’s interaction with them. This passage is a reminder of that progression. Second, because of that progression from past to present to future, that history, we should remember that the Midianites were desert people descended from Abraham’s second wife, Keturah, as noted in Genesis 25:1-2. Midian was one of the six children that Keturah bore for Abraham. From this relationship, the descendants of Midian, the Midianites, became a nation that was always a source of conflict for Israel. Years earlier, while Israel was still wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites battled the Midianites and almost destroyed them (see Numbers 31:1-20). Notice I said, almost. Because of their failure to completely destroy them, the Midianites repopulated into to an even larger nation of people. And, here we are again where the Midianites are in conflict with Israel. Here, though, they have through their constant raiding and marauding oppressed the Israelite nation. In a sense, they are ruling over them. So, from this passage, we see something that we can use in our daily lives today. I think the point being that we must eradicate sin completely from our lives when God commands us to do so. We cannot allow it to be something we do halfheartedly as unrepentant sin will come back with a vengeance to destroy us.

What is your unconfessed sin? What is your pet sin that you do not want to let go of? What consequences of this sin are you blaming on randomness or blaming on others that are a result of not seeing your sin as sin? What consequences are haunting you because you do not see your pet sin as sin? Sin always has consequences and the lie that Satan tells us that these consequences are either OK or that they are somebody else’s fault! What sins am I still harboring today that I consider not to be sins? What is my favorite sin now that I do not see as a sin?

Let us examine ourselves, brothers and sisters! Let us ask God to confront us with our sins. Let us repent from them and no longer justify them. Let us walk away from them and return to a God that is just but yet willing to forgive a penitent heart. Let us walk in the grace of Jesus Christ. There is grace for our sin but we must turn away from it and leave it at the cross. We must run from our sin. We must first see our sin as sin and WANT to run from it.

Just as the Midianites should have been wiped away completely by the Israelites but were not and became a constant source of tyranny for the Israelites, we too must stamp out our sins when the Holy Spirit shows us our sins. Destroy them or they will destroy you.

Amen and Amen.