Posts Tagged With: Sin

Sin and Spiritual Health

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Today we will begin looking at Ephesians 2 and really take a look at our sin and what it can do to our lives.

Ephesians 2:1-2

 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Paul was reminding the people of their life before Christ. He is not talking about a physical death, but a spiritual one. We are at risk of falling back into sin when we choose to follow the ways of the world. Sin is something we will always struggle with here on earth.

Ephesians 2:3

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Paul starts of this verse with “all of us” which includes you and me. We have all been guilty of “gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts”. When we behave that we we are “deserving of wrath”. That may seem harsh, but it is the reality. In today’s world, we minimize our sin by justifying it, rationalizing it or simply ignoring it. I think our spiritual health would benefit from taking a good hard look at our sin and really taking the time to seek forgiveness from the Lord and turning from it.

There is a lot of emphasis in society about improving lots of different aspects of our lives, but not much about our spiritual lives. I was reading a blog by Melissa Elliott where she talked about soul sickness. I had never really thought of our spiritual lives in those terms, but they are pretty powerful. Are you suffering from soul sickness?

An easy way to find out is to look at what you have been experiencing in your life lately. Are you experiencing the fruit of the spirit in your life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? Or are you experiencing greed, idolatry, anger, rage, malice, slander, dissension,  and jealousy which come from satisfying the sinful nature?

Spend some time analyzing your spiritual health today. Look at the picture above – which part of the plant best represents your spiritual health? Are there sins that are preventing you from experiencing the fruit of the spirit? As you seek the Lord in this, don’t allow the enemy to allow you to get stuck feeling guilt and shame – remember conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and condemnation comes from the enemy. I promise after going through this exercise, the hope we will see in the next verses we look at on Wednesday about God’s love and mercy will feel even more real and powerful!

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 27

This boot camp has been very challenging for me but very rewarding as well. I love reading your comments and hearing how it is impacting you as well. Today we will start off with one of my favorite verses.

James 4:8a

Come near to God and he will come near to you.

The simplicity of this verse is beautiful. All we have to do is come near to God and He will respond by coming near to us. It is so comforting to know the Lord is always available to us whenever we choose to turn to Him. Remember that earlier in this chapter James was reprimanding the people for seeking their own pleasure versus submitting to the will of the Lord. James wanted to remind them that God was waiting for them to draw near to Him. Do you need to come near to the Lord today?

James 8b-10

Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

The remainder of these verses are again addressing the behavior of the people in chasing after pleasure and their own desires. “The call to “wash your hands” is a command to make one’s conduct pure. Similarly, the call to “purify your hearts” insists on purity of thoughts and motives. The eager quest for pleasure (James 4:1-5) had resulted in sins of the heart and hand.”

We are no different than the group James was addressing because we sin with our hearts by having motives and thoughts that are less than pure and we follow these up with conduct that is not pleasing to the Lord. What thoughts and motives have you had recently that are not in line with the desires and plans the Lord has for you? Have you acted on those thoughts and desires causing yourself to sin?

James was concerned with the way the people were dealing with their sin. They were taking their sin too lightly. He tells them to “grieve, mourn and wail”. He wanted their reflection on the attitudes of their hearts and minds to be so serious it would break their hearts the way it was breaking the Lords causing them to “grieve, mourn and wail”.

When you think about your own sin, do you minimalize, rationalize or justify it? Do you try to make light of it or quickly ask the Lord for forgiveness without ever really allowing yourself to feel the weight of what you have done? Our sin hurts the Lord; it breaks His heart. He wants us to truly understand the seriousness of our sin not to induce guilt, but to help us change our behavior.

In verse 9 James wants the people to change their attitudes towards their sin and their desire for pleasure and their own will versus their desires for the ways of the Lord. The change is from “laughter to mourning” and “joy to gloom”. Instead of taking their sins lightly, he wants them to truly understand it causes the Lord to mourn. James closes this section with a reminder for humility. When we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up.

Recognizing and accepting responsibility for your sins requires humility. When we are willing to humble ourselves and seek His forgiveness for our sins, He will lift us up by helping us to change. The Lord will help us change our desires and our will to be in line with His. Today I pray you are willing to take a good hard look at your thoughts, desires, words and actions. Are they in line with the Lord? Are there areas where you are sinning? Are you rationalizing, justifying or minimizing your sins? Spend some time and allow the Lord to reveal your sinfulness and do as James says, “grieve, mourn and wail” for breaking His heart. When you humble yourself, He will lift you up!

  • All Scripture references are from http://www.biblegateway.com
  • Quote from “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary”, Vol. 12, Zondervan
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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 26

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready to gear up for this week’s spiritual boot camp as we continue to look at James 4. We will be tackling some tough topics such as submission, temptation, sin, humility, our words and judgment. Buckle up because it might just be a bumpy ride!

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Verse 7 is directly tied to verse 6 where we were told “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. If we want to humble ourselves, we must first submit to the Lord. “Submission is not the same as obedience. Instead, it is the surrender of one’s will, which leads to obedience.” Humility begins with submitting to the Lord’s plans, desires and will for our lives and requires us to lay down our own in order to pick up His. Then we have to follow up our submission with a willingness to be obedient.

It is important to note that we can resist the enemy. He is NOT more powerful than our God and he does NOT have the power to overcome us.

1 Corinthians 10:13

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

This verse is very clear that we have everything we need to resist the enemy – we have a faithful God and His Holy Spirit dwells within us empowering us to follow Him. He doesn’t allow us “to be tempted beyond what” we “can bear”. In addition, He provides us a way out. So often when we are going to do something we aren’t supposed to do we get the sense that we aren’t supposed to do it. We hear that inner voice telling us we shouldn’t do it. That voice is the Holy Spirit trying to provide us a way out – a choice to submit to the Lord or fall into the temptation of the enemy. 

Other times, He actually provides a way out. When we are tempted to do something we shouldn’t do and we get a phone call from a friend asking us to do something else during that time instead. We may chalk these ways out up as coincidences and be grateful they have come along, but they are not coincidences or just great timing – they are the way out provided by our Heavenly Father.

When have you heard that inner voice telling you not to do something, not to say something or not to go somewhere and you ignored it? Did you find yourself doing something, saying something or being somewhere you shouldn’t have been? When was the last time you were provided a way out of temptation by the Lord? What situation or relationship are you in right now where you need His help? Are you submitting to His will or are you going your own way? In what areas of your life do you need to resist the enemy? Submit those areas to the Lord and follow that submission up with obedience to do His will rather than your own. 

  • All Scripture references are from http://www.biblegateway.com

  • Quote from “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary”, Vol. 12, Zondervan
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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 12

Yesterday was a holiday here in the United States to honor those who have served in the military. May the Lord bless our military personnel for their service and reward them for their many sacrifices. I hope you all had a relaxing and restful weekend and are ready to jump back into James.

James 2:10

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

James is making the point that we are responsible for following all of the Lord’s commands. We do not get to pick and choose which ones we will follow. A synonym for “stumbles” in the Greek is sin so when we sin in one area we are guilty of breaking all of God’s law.

Sin is something that we take too lightly in our world today. According to John Stott in “The Cross of Christ”, “The emphasis of Scripture, however, is on the godless self-centeredness of sin. Every sin is a breach of what Jesus called ‘the first and greatest commandment,’ not just by failing to love God with all our being but by actively refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord.”

That quote sure puts sin into perspective – the right perspective. Every time we sin, we are “refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord.” Not sometimes, not when we consider our sins to be “big sins”, but every time. We justify and rationalize our sins and try to make them seem less offensive to the Lord. However, sin is sin and we need to recognize our sin as rebellion against the Lord by choosing what we want to do versus what the Lord would have us do.

James 2:11

11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Verse 11 continues to reiterate that breaking any of God’s laws makes us a lawbreaker. There are not degrees of being a lawbreaker, simply being one or not. We have minimized our sin in order to not feel so bad about what we do, but no where in Scripture does is say we are to minimize our sin. We are to acknowledge it fully, seek forgiveness from the Lord and then turn from our sin and walk in His Spirit. It is a three step process and it begins with acknowledging our sin as sin.

What sins do you need to acknowledge today? Allow the Lord to search your heart and mind today and reveal your sins to you. Then take the second step of seeking His forgiveness and being remorseful for your rebellion and self-centeredness. Really take the time to feel the weight of what our sin does to the Lord and recognize how much it hurts Him.

Finally we are to repent or turn from our sin. That means we must choose to follow His ways for our life and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than following our own ways. What steps do you need to take today to turn from your sin? Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in the ways the Lord wants you to go. My prayer is we would all take time today to acknowledge our sins, seek His forgiveness and repent of them. Don’t let another day go by where we are “refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Lord and Creator.”

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 5

Today we will be looking at what James has to say about temptation. It is something Jesus faced and something we too face on a daily basis.

James 1:13

 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

This verse makes it very clear that God is not the one who tempts us. God tests us to strengthen our faith but He never tempts us to sin.

James 1:14-15

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Verse 14 says we are tempted by our “own evil desires”. Paul talks a lot about the internal struggle we face between the desires of our flesh versus the desires of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Our flesh tempts us to do what we want to do versus what the Lord would have us do.

It says we are “dragged away” and “enticed” by our evil desires. “These two verbs are taken from the sphere of fishing and hunting.” “James pictures man’s “evil desire,” first, as attracting his attention and persuading him to approach the forbidden thing and, second, as luring him by means of bait to yield to the temptation.”1

Isn’t that a great description of what happens when we are tempted. It like watching a small child touch something the have been told not to touch. They look at it, they approach it, they back up and the approach it again. They get a closer look and reach out, but draw their hand back and eventually they reach out and touch it.

When we succumb to the temptations of our flesh, we experience spiritual death, a separation of ourself from the Lord. Recognizing our sin as sin is so important because we won’t change what we don’t acknowledge. What sin in your life do you need to acknowledge and seek forgiveness and turn from today?

James 1:16-18

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

What a contrast James introduces in these verses. We have been looking at our own evil desires leading to sin and spiritual death, but oh how it changes when we look at the Lord. James refers to the Lord as “the Father of the heavenly lights”. He is our Father and He loves us and longs for us to turn from our sin the way we do with our own children. It hurts Him when we make the wrong choices just like we are hurt when our children or loved ones make the wrong choices. It is hard for us to sit back and watch someone we love heading down the wrong path and it is the same for the Lord. We try to lead and guide our loved ones and the Holy Spirit tries to lead and guide us. “Heavenly lights” is quite a contrast from the darkness of sin.

These verses remind us that every good thing we have comes from the Lord. What do you need to thank the Lord for today? What blessings do you have in your life you take for granted? Spend some time today looking at your attitude, words and actions. Do you see where you have been lured by your own evil desires to sin? Confess them and seek His forgiveness. Don’t let the sun go down today without seeking His forgiveness so that there is no distance between you and your Heavenly Father and than Him and praise Him for all your blessings!

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