Monday, October 23, 2017
Jesus told the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). Did she?
Have you ever read the following passage where Jesus states, “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3)? Did you think he was saying, “if you sin again, it means you did not really repent, so your last sin and this one is going to condemn you to hell”? When Jesus told that woman, “Go, and sin no more,” did he mean she was never to sin again? Never? If so, how long do you think she managed to be perfect? Reality shows that our brush with sinlessness is brief. We all have a Master’s Degree in Sinning (Romans 3:10, 23)!
Have you ever had a bad habit? When you recognized it as bad and quit, did you slip into reverse gear a few times? Most do. Did you beat yourself up each time you failed? Most do.
I started smoking when I was 14. At 17, when I decided I wanted to preach, I quit, but not without a roller coaster struggle. At 18 I found that other preachers, in my Methodist faith, smoked. So, I followed their example and restarted. I smoked until I was 20. I decided I needed to stop again, but I experienced that same ride. It was expensive to buy a pack of cigarettes, smoke one, get that satisfaction, crumple the package and throw it in the trash. Then, an hour later, digging it out and kicking myself for being so destructive! I would manage to find a short piece of cigarette and almost burn my nose lighting it. I would take a few puffs to get the satisfaction. I would throw the package away after double destroying it, and then beat myself up for being so weak. I imagined that God was very angry with my weakness, and didn’t care to have me in His sight. I even wondered if He had kicked me out of His fellowship until I remained on the straight and narrow? If someone had said at that time, “God is good,” I would not have agreed with him. Maybe He was good to them, but He didn’t like me because I was a miserable failure. I was a repeating failure!
How many saved sinners believe God decrees that unless you live a sinless life after He saves you, you are a liability rather than an asset? If you are in the process of cleaning up your life, but haven’t immediately gone from sinner to perfection, He is wondering if He made a mistake by saving you? Some do not see Yahweh as a loving, benevolent, patient, kind, understanding, encouraging, nor helpful God while His children are going through their trials. They see Him as judgmental, hateful, desiring to punish, and a disappointed Creator that feels compelled to destroy rather than save. It is difficult, with that mind set to believe that Yahweh is the God of John 3:16!
Peter tells us “as newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). We start as babes in Christ and mature. But it takes time. Some are slower in that growth. Is God a monster waiting for His children to err so He can scream at and beat them senseless? I’ve been preaching for 60 years, and I am still a babe in some areas of my spiritual life. In others, hopefully more mature? He does not abandon me in my faltering steps. When I stumble, He is there to catch and steady me. The song, “My God and I” expresses His fellowship with His children. God has been overly patient with me. The devil is the one who discourages, but God is our encourager. Don’t get them mixed up! Some do.
God is my Father and I am His precious child. He loves me. He helps me. He builds me up. He comforts me. He lets me know that I am forgiven and worthy. He knows I am not perfect, so He fills me with His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). He knows I will come up short, but He gives me support and stability. He helps me stay on course, even when my feet wander, and my sight is blurred. He feels my hurt. He knows my heart. He gives me assurance. He hears my adolescent prayers, yet reacts with a Father’s smile. He is my rock and defender. He is my God and His name is Jehovah Saves (Matthew 1:21)!
My God And I*
by Austris A. Whithol
My God and I go in the fields together;
We walk and talk as good friends should and do;
We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter;
My God and I walk through the meadow’s hue.
My God and I will go for aye together,
We’ll walk and talk as good friends should and do;
This earth will pass, and with it common trifles,
But God and I will go unendingly.
* I have included only verses one and three.