Archives For Sin


You can read the first post in this series by clicking here.

Satan is doing his best to make sure 2013 is a year you wish would never have occurred. He is using his schemes to concoct the deadliest, most sinful potion imaginable with one purpose alone: to thwart the plans of God for you. Here are the remaining things Satan will do to destroy 2013 for you.

4. He will confuse you with success

What? You heard me right. Success. The “American Dream”, the do-it-yourself mentality, the “if it’s to be it’s up to me” kind of attitude will haunt you this year. Success is not bad but the confusing point of success comes when we think all of it came at the hands of our own initiative. Then we think we are invincible and pretty soon there is no need for God. In a nutshell we become deists (And all of this talk about returning to our forefathers who were essentially a bunch of deists) .

3. He will specifically cater his onslaught to something you struggle with that nobody even knows about

The Hebrew author calls it the “sin that clings so closely” (12:1). I don’t have to define that for you do I? Odds are, you know exactly what I am talking about. That pesky little critter crawling in your heart has done some serious damage and besides you, two people know about this: God and Satan. On one hand God is trying to offer you freedom from that depravity but on the other hand Satan is trying to enslave you holding you tight to that sin. 2013 will bring a lot of different things but one thing is for sure: your sins will find you out one way or another.

2. He will try to divide your relationships

Unity is something that will be a challenge for every organized group. Satan finds some of his best work on the front lines of churches who are fighting for the kingdom of God. Satan tries to divide marriages by creating atmospheres of disloyalty and distrust spreading lies and causing couples to end what used to be a strong relationship.

1. He will do his best to freeze your dreams

The other day I was watching my girls talk on this phone (an old iPod of mine that broke) and they were carrying on two different conversations with people who did not even exist. I chided, “What in the world are you girls doing?” They responded back, “We are imagining dad, leave us alone.” I smiled. Grown-ups quit dreaming and I think they do this because fear grips them into a state of paralysis and what could be becomes, at least to them, what will never be. Satan freezes dreams.

So there you have it. The good thing is that the power of Satan has already been defeated at the cross. Satan has no control over those whom God has chosen in Christ and if we place our allegiance to the lordship of Jesus then what can Satan do to us? Make 2013 the year that you finally become a servant to the master and do not let Satan destroy you.

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It’s inevitable. As long as mankind is on this earth Satan is doing his best to thwart the plans, goals and desires of those in the kingdom of God. He loves doing that type of thing. Remember when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness and Jesus defeated his temptations? Luke records something that we miss from Matthew’s account:

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)

An opportune time? Eugene Peterson in The Message words it this way, “The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” He did not give up on Jesus as Deity in Flesh was presumably tempted up to his death. Yet we presume to believe that all of our resolutions, goals, vision and plans for 2013 will somehow be accomplished by our effort with no forthcoming barriers standing in our way.

It doesn’t happen that way. Every vision/goal/plan must account for the realities of stumbling blocks and challenges that inevitably come thrashing at our way. Satan has a way of doing that. Here are 10 things I believe Satan will do in an attempt to destroy you, your church, your organization, your initiative, your marriage and anything else you are associated with.

10. He will distract you.

Distractions are those little pieces of things that look good at first (business ventures, relationships, initiatives) but all they do is distract you from your vision. It is hard for you to accomplish anything without some sort of distraction coming your way. The key, I think, is the ability to discern what is a justifiable distraction versus a satanic distraction. Stay focused.

9. He will make you afraid.

Fear is something I have a lot of and it is difficult to manage. The “what if’s” pile up and cause me to become unfocused, timid and distrustful. This is one of Satan’s greatest tools. He promotes fear in you that will distract you (#1) and cause you to do what everyone is doing: which is nothing.

8. He will lie to you

He may even cause people to lie about you but one thing is for sure…he is full of lies. The trick is to not buy the lie that Satan is selling you. You are too this or not enough that or you need this or you need that. He will lie to you and bait you with something that is so tantalizing that you will not have the will power to resist. When you do bite on the bait it is only when you get burned do you realize that you bought the lie.

7. He will attack your finances.

Odds are, he has already done this. Credit cards, keeping up with the Jones’, and keeping your expenses greater than your income is a recipe for disaster. Of course, this is a heart issue as Satan does not control your bank account (or does he?) but the truth is that most couples, churches and organizations fight over money and in a consumerist, money-driven, American-dream smoking world that we live in this is Satan’s easiest weapon.

6. He will make you lazy.

Technology does a lot for our culture but one thing is for sure, it has made us lazy. Phil Robertson (from Duck Dynasty) has a lot of wisdom saying he is “low-tech in a high-tech society.” It’s not just technology though that has done this. It is complacency and a hunger and thirst for anything and everything to quench our selfish desires. Instead of working, thinking, meditating we have become reactive, defensive and ultimately lazy.

5. He will take something from you.

I don’t want to get in a theological debate about this but in Job it seems to me that in Job 1 God allows Satan to take things from Job. His wealth, his possessions, his family and ultimately his health. Something will be taken from you this year. You might not be able to say it is from Satan but nonetheless Satan will have his hand in it in some capacity. When what we hold treasure to on this earth is taken from us that is an immediate challenge to see if we serve God or gods. We may lose a loved one, we may lose our jobs, we may lose the house, we may lose a friend, we may lose safety and security. But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole word yet loses his own soul?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final 4…


1 By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
    in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
    above my highest joy!

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
    the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
    down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
    blessed shall he be who repays you
    with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
    and dashes them against the rock!

Continuing our journey through some lament psalms we come to a particularly interesting category of lament psalms called community laments. Individual lament looks at individual problems where the community laments approach God from the standpoint of a group of people. The difference is that the psalmist intends on voicing the psalm as a representative of his people. Sins may be involved (aren’t they always ;)) but it is the sins of the people (i.e., collective disobedience) rather than specific sins of a person.

This particular psalm is voiced from the context of Babylonian captivity (i.e., Exile) and comes to us without a specified author.[1] Babylon took many of the people of Israel away (hence Exile) in the sixth century BCE and many of the Israelites would not return for decades (70 years?). This particular season brought many Israelites to two recognitions: 1) the brevity of their communal sin and 2) their dependence should not be in their own ability to write history but in the one who created it.

Notice in this Psalm the community is weeping and longs to return to Zion, the holy city. They find that they have to endure the context they are in but their understanding is that “this world is not their home” and Zion is the place they need to be both physically but ultimately, spiritually. Notice that they can’t even sing the “Lord’s song” in a land where the song is not recognized (v. 4). This land that they are in is filled with injustice as implied in verses 8-9 is that their little ones were dashed against rocks. Whether that’s literal or figurative does not take away from the fact that they are experiencing a communal low.

So what is their solution? Trust in God that he will repay their enemies for evil and to remind themselves of the hope that is protected in the memory of Jerusalem, their highest joy. I am reminded how important this psalm is as we find ourselves in post-election America. I will not go far as to say the U.S. is Babylon (some make a strong case for this) but I also am reminded that our hopes, our dreams, our greatest reality can never be in a human institution. The monarchy of Israel was never God’s intention nor is it his intention to wield the wills of his kingdom through the United States of America or any other human institution.

There is a sense where we all struggle with singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. We all are living in tents and our temples have yet to be built. We read Scripture that reminds us (like Zion reminded the Psalmist) of better things. Our hope does not lie in parties, partisanship or policies. Our hope lies in the Kingdom of God. It always has, it always will.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some things your church community could possibly lament about?
  2. Why is it important to stick to the kingdom of God rather than human institutions?
  3. Why is it so hard to have a kingdom-vision for your community rather than a democratic, republican or whatever vision?

[1] Was this psalm written pre-Exile anticipating Babylonian captivity or was it post-Exile written during the experience of Exile? Not sure. In the end it does not matter as it seems the point is clear that the captivity was a cause to approach God and make their requests made known to him.


I have attended many youth conferences where the speaker offers an invitation at the end of a lesson. At some of the conferences the speaker is really effective and it seems a combination of life circumstances and the Spirit of God ripping people’s hearts out causes people to go forward during the invitation and confess their sin asking for prayers. Now I think this is a good opportunity but I also believe this has been abused and turned into a completely different entity than what it started out as (I may blog on the origin and nature of the invitation at some other point). After the students and adults pour forward there usually is a person who will read their responses. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this said:

“I have not been the right person God wants me to be and I just need prayers.”

I applaud their effort to go forward which takes a lot of courage but on the other side I can make the above statement any second of the day. I have not been and never will be the right person God wants me to be. That is what sanctification is for. We will never arrive and say, “I am the right person and I am done” this side of eternity. So what is really occurring in that confession is that there is something else they are struggling with that they are not willing to share. This is an issue because, in my opinion, there is this pervasive thought pattern that all one has to do is “go forward” and confess a general sin to the church and suddenly God has wiped their slate clean. The colloquial term in the tradition I minister in is that this person has been “restored.”

I think what has happened is that we are confusing confession and repentance. Confession is the declaration that we have deviated from God’s path and are incapable of earning our salvation and therefore we desire to place our complete faith and hope in God who, through the gospel and work of the Holy Spirit, will forgive us our sins (see Ps. 51:3-4; Eph. 2:1-10; 1 John 1:9). Repentance is the process in which we reorient ourselves to the good news God has offered to/for us. Peter demanded the Jews at Pentecost to turn (repenance; μετάνοια metanoia) from their old ways and be baptized (Acts 2:38). In the Old Testament the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nicham (to feel sorrow). In Amos 4 God sent all kinds of disasters to the people of God but was amazed because they did not return (shuv) to him.

What’s the point? True biblical repentance is not centered only in the act of confession. An alcoholic can confess that they are drunks every single Sunday but until they stop picking up that bottle they will never understand repentance.

I believe confession and repentance are two different animals. Confession is important but let’s not forget the dirty work of coming clean and sanctification.


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We are starting a new series in our Wednesday night class called “A Messy World.” I thought about this series a year ago but have put it on the back-burner until now. The basic premise is that because of The Fall we all live in a messy world (messed-up) world. Sin is pervasive no matter who you are and the only cure for this messy world is placing our full faith and devotion in Jesus Christ. Last night to begin our lesson I decided to trash the youth house to give it that messed-up appearance.

Below is an outline of our study. You can also download a copy of our introduction and first lesson below. Let me know what you think.

·         The Messy Beginning (1 Lesson)

·         Personal Messes (3 Lessons)

o   Addictions

o   Depression

o   Idolatry

·         Relational Messes (3 Lessons)

o   Family

o   Friends

o   Significant Others

·         Spiritual Messes (3 Lessons)

o   False Christianity

o   The Sinful Nature

o   Suffering

·         The Clean Ending (2 Lessons)

o   Return to Eden

o   Admitting our Mess

Download: INTRODUCTION

Download: Lesson 1 – Teacher Copy


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Let me start with my story so that you can understand where I am coming from. First, I have to give a disclaimer. I was taught to be careful when disclosing information about my past as it might give license for people to justify their actions. Sort of a “Well Robbie went through it so can I” mentality. I think the readers of this post know better than that so please do not misinterpret my story as license. Secondly, I am not sure why I am telling all of you this now as many of you are finding this out for the first time. I guess because I have seen a few of my own youth struggle and have heard of so many others that I feel it is probably time to share my story. I have been ashamed of my past and have told very few people but now I am no longer ashamed because the past is what has made me into the man I am right now. In the words of Paul:

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. (1 Cor. 15:9-10).

I hope this post (albeit long) will help you if your child is using drugs or if you are using drugs and are reading this. I certainly did not get mixed-up heavy into drugs but nonetheless…

My Story

I was in the sixth grade when I first tried marijuana.

Let that sink in a bit.

I was 12 years old. Some neighborhood buddies and I had skipped school and we had gone into the woods when a guy pulled out this little bag filled with what looked like grass clippings to me. I remember he pulled out this weird looking pipe and put the “grass clippings” into this pipe and inhaled as he lit it. The stuff smelled like body odor with a hint of the smell when one burns leaves. It was my turn to take a “hit” from the pipe. I inhaled and coughed my brains out. I felt nothing… My friends were acting like idiots while I felt nothing.

The next time I tried it was when I was in the 8th grade. My buddy and I went to the top of a hill by the elementary school I attended and I tried it again. Only this time I felt something. I felt good. I felt relaxed. It was amazing. They tell you “Nothing beats the feeling of your first high” and you really don’t understand what that means until you experience it. From that moment on, I was hooked.

I would smoke on and off maybe once or twice a week but I remember longing for the moments where I would be able to smoke weed the next time. After my 8th grade year I moved to Chattanooga and I thought maybe my bad times were behind me but sometimes your past catches up with you and you find the same people just in a different context. I continued smoking on and off. I started attending a Christian high-school and I thought my past was behind me.

I met some Christians who smoked weed as well and my past was not behind me.

The last time I smoked weed was the fall of 1998. I met this girl whose father was a youth minister and I became a Christian and suddenly weed was not important to me. I am not sure if I was addicted to it because I usually did it with other people and it was more social for me. But I did like it. I could share countless stories of staying up at night, running from the police, my parents finding out and all sorts of other stories. I tried LSD once and drank some alcohol but weed was my drug of choice. I did it to escape. I did it because it felt good. I did it because my friends did it.

Shortly after that, I received the news that one of my best friends growing up (who I smoked with) overdosed and died from drug use. I never got to say goodbye.

I was walking in San Francisco this past weekend leaving a Giants-Braves game and I caught a whiff of weed someone was smoking among the crowd. Even almost 15 years without touching the stuff my body had tingles and my mind traced back to those many days.

So why this post? Why my story? I hope to give you advice on what to do based on experience with what my parents did but also watching and learning from others.

HOW TO HELP YOUR TEEN…OR HOW HOW TO HELP YOU.

First off, don’t panic. I saw a stat that said that teen marijuana use is actually more than teen cigarette use. I know that your child using drugs is difficult and somewhat hard to fathom but your child needs your careful, objective and loving guidance and that takes some discernment and patience. I knew of a guy whose parents sent him off to rehab because he had tried some weed. Maybe there was more to the story but it seems it would have been better for them to discern then to panic and make rash decisions.  That does not mean minimize what they have done but don’t maximize it either.

Secondly, understand this could be a long road. Depending on their drug (mine was small in comparison) they could be in for a long road to recovery. Especially if meth, heroine, crack, cocaine and other highly addictive drugs are involved. It takes some patience, love and support to walk them through this. Remember, you are wrestling against evil and dark forces and every part of them does not want you to win. Seek the Lord’s counsel and help.

Thirdly, trust has to be earned. They broke trust when they started using drugs and it has to be earned and gained in order for them to have certain privileges. So the questioning of who they are talking to, where they are going, what are the text messages, let me see the Facebook, what did you do at school, and others are legitimate exercises to learn and earn trust.

Fourth, context is key to help. What I mean by that is what helped me was finding the right friends and purging myself of old ones. As harsh as that sounds I knew that if I was going to be clean I had to remove the unclean context. They were close friends but I knew that they would find new ones and maybe down the road when I was more mature and the time was right we could be friends again. I don’t understand why people who struggle with drugs go back to their druggie friends. That’s like saying you hate cold weather and want to rid yourself of it so you buy a house in Fairbanks, Alaska. Makes no sense. Context is key.

Fifth, find a support group, specifically one that is Christian. Ideally your home church network should be that support group but you also need to network among those parents who are struggling in a similar manner. Nobody wants to be alone and it helps to have fellow travelers who have been there and done that and can share the wounds and the victories.

Sixth, love your child unconditionally. They may scream at you. They may run away. They may struggle for years. They may cost you thousands of dollars. They may do unthinkable amounts of evil. But you love them. Unconditionally as Christ loved you. That doesn’t mean they go undisciplined or that they drain your savings but it means you relentlessly pursue them until they live a life of glorification to God. Sometimes we lose the ones we love the most but more often than not teenagers find healing and sobriety from relentless parents and a relentless God.

I hope this helps and has encouraged and strengthened you. What would you add?


I have read a few books that have changed the way I perceive Christianity, culture and the world but few have changed my life like this book.  Under the Overpass is about a journey of two guys named Mike and Sam who decided to take the words of a sermon seriously and go and live among the poor for a few months.  They sought guidance from spiritual advisers and decided to start in a Mission in Denver.  They traveled from city to city panhandling for food by playing their guitar and singing worship songs.  What you get when you read this book is a first-hand perspective at the ugliness of poverty and the grip Satan has on people with the drug culture.  Mike has an excellent flow to his writing and he has many keen incites to the heart of the gospel and its concern with those who are struck with poverty.  In this book it not only opens your eyes to basic assumptions about the homeless, but it calls into question our prejudice towards those in a lower socioeconomic status.  I wish I could find something wrong in this book as I usually find things I disagree with or something I would have said differently.  Not the case in this book.  What you get are real, authentic and raw stories about two guys on a journey to find God both in themselves and in the streets of America’s toughest cities.

Below are some memorable quotes from the book that I wish to share and let me challenge you to read the book and then put your faith to action.

  • I watched an old man take a slow, thankful sip of coffee and put his cup back on the table, careful not to spill a drop. “Come all you who are weary …,” said Jesus. It was moving to watch the weary man come, even more to see his desperation give way to peace, if only for a little while. (p. 24).
  • If we are the body of Christ—and Christ came not for the healthy but the sick—we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken. And it has to be more than just a financial presence. That helps, of course. But too often money is insulation—it conveniently keeps us from ever having to come face-to-face with a man or woman whose life is in tatters. (pp. 36-37)
  • I felt my frustration rising until I realized how unentitled I really was. No one deserves mercy. And no one walking by owed us a dime. Mercy is, by definition, undeserved, or else it isn’t mercy. Every coin in the case looked different after that. (p. 52).
  • While kids might pretend people who don’t exist do, it’s the parents who pretend that unwanted people who do exist don’t. (p. 55)
  • Praying “Thy will be done” means you don’t believe in chance (p. 79)
  • What’s worse? To do dope or to not love your brother? Why do we kick drug users out of the church while quietly overlooking those who are ignoring their own different but equally destructive sins? Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encouraging, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer? Which one do you suppose Jesus would rather share a burrito with under a bridge? (pp. 96-97)
  • “Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed, stopping. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” “What?” said Sam. Then he saw what I was looking at. “Oh,” he murmured. A large gray church rose up behind a wrought iron fence in front of us. The building was old and weathered. Above the mahogany double doors hung a sign in red letters: “No Trespassing. Church Business Only.” A new chain and two huge padlocks secured the gate at the sidewalk. “It would take bolt cutters and a battering ram to get into that church,” I said, suddenly angry. “ ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden’? Yeah, and what, die on my front steps?” (p. 104)
  • “Then again, I guess we aren’t supposed to expect circumstances to be easy or safe just because we’ve prayed about them. We’re supposed to go into them knowing that we’ll be given what we need, when we need it.” (p. 139)
  • The words “Jesus loves you” take on a whole different meaning when you’re down and out. You hear them differently. You need them more. Just saying them to the next desperate person you meet could change his day. Wrap those words in friendship, a home-cooked meal, bus fare, and you could change his life. (p. 148)
  • We don’t go to church, we are the church. So many problems that show up on the church steps, or in the pews, or between congregations seem to start with misunderstandings about that. The church isn’t a physical building or a doctrinal statement or a perfectly produced program. It is us—we are the living expression of Christ’s presence in the world, His body. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll be able to be the healing body of Christ to our sin-sick world. (p. 155-56)
  • I had discovered that I pulled better tips playing the guitar outside the liquor shop than across the street outside the family restaurant. Drunk people are more generous than sober people. (p. 181)
  • As we talked, the four of us agreed on one thing: Yes, God is alive and well on the streets of America, but so is Satan … He is busy stealing talents from promising lives. He is breaking bodies and smashing dreams. He is locking up good minds behind the bars of addiction. He is trading in the music of God for the sound of a crazy man yelling his head off in the middle of the street, destruction barreling straight at him. (p. 189)
  • The bottom line is that real love always shows itself in action. Nothing happens or changes in this world unless, by faith, we actually do something. (213-14)
  • I doubt those risks will have much to do with putting on a Christian acronym bracelet or a cross T-shirt. More likely, your journey will lead you toward utter dependence on the King of kings and a resolution to follow Him wherever He may ask you to go. (216)

Want to settle for the status quo and feel good about all the money, clothes and stuff you have?  Want to feel good about the middle-class church you attend where you have your nicely structured worship, comforting singing, warm pew and cordial hand shakes?  Don’t read this book.  Why?  It will change the way you think about Jesus, the church and your calling.  But if you want to change, read this book.  “There’s only this left to do: Walk off the edge with Him” (p. 218).

Sin: Path or Choice?

March 30, 2011 — 1 Comment

The rose image you’ve posted above is entitled ‘Slow Fade’ and can be seen here: http://rona-black.artistwebsites.com/featured/slow-fade-rona-black.html

A song by Casting Crowns that has pricked the hearts of many men who have made (are making) harmful choices in their marriage is “Slow Fade.”  The lyrics seem to point to a downward digression that eventually leads one to destruction.  The chorus to the song sheds light:

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade.

Christians seem to think that a relationship with God (or with people) are ruined in one simple choice.  Many sermons are preached (I am guilty) where the theme of the sermon points to a choice of whether to do wrong or right and suffer the consequences of either (insert Joshua 24:15).  Like the Casting Crowns song I tend to think differently and it really came to light in my reading today.  This verse should be memorized by all and kept close to your side when temptations lurk around the corner:

“I will keep my feet from every kind of evil, in order to keep your word” (Psalm 119:101; ESV).

We could find many cross-references but suffice it to say that Scripture speaks a lot to the pathways of sin rather than the choice.  Think of Solomon…think of David…think of Samson…think of Cain.  Do you think these men made the choice to commit their evil in an impulsive, random manner?  No.  This took place over time as their daily choices melted the spiritual walls and one thing led to another and now we have their wrongdoings recorded in sacred literature.  When a teen couple has sex for the first time at what point do you think they failed?  Perhaps it was months before when they slowly started kissing more.  That kissing led to rubbing each other.  That rubbing led to oral sex.  That oral sex led to intercourse.  It was a path they chose from the beginning.

The Psalmist above uses the imagery of walking (or running) as a spiritual application.  Have you ever walked in the woods and you just stopped thinking and all of the sudden you stop and realize that you have no clue where you are at?  Why not?  Because you did not pay attention to your path.  The Psalmist knows that we can control our feet but sometimes our feet can be controlled by other things.

Will you do me a favor?  Keep your feet from every kind of evil.  If you are having sex (orally, intercourse or other types of sex) then stop.  If you are struggling with addictions then go to rehab.  If you are abusive, turn yourself in.  Keep your feet from running to evil but if you are in the midst of evil then find your way back…get some help.  Confess to some people.  Be honest and open.

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away…


Admittedly the first four lessons of this study is rich in theology but it is always important to have an exegetical framework before you make a biblical assertion.  One could say, “God is gracious” but if they do not understand why or how God is gracious then they are making a blind assertion.

Forgiveness in the New Testament might be a bit more familiar to us but it seems there is not much change in meaning from Old to New Testaments.  The Greek verb meaning to forgive is aphiēmi and has the general meaning of letting go or releasing (BDAG 156-57).  The imagery with the word is that there is a deep hold on to something (sin) or someone and the person holding on to this simply lets it go.  When our sins are forgiven we are released from moral obligation or consequence (ibid., 156).  In other words sin causes a separation of sorts and instead of God holding us in his hands it is our sin that is being held but forgiveness is the release of that sin and the grasping of our very souls.  Here is a brief (embarassingly so) summary of the New Testament and forgiveness…

  • Forgiveness comes from God but through the blood of the cross. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding” (Eph. 1:6-7; cf. Matt. 9:6 [Christ has the authority]; 26:28; Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 9:11-28).
  • Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable (Matt. 12:30-32).
  • Forgiveness is required (commanded) between our brothers and sisters to the point that we cannot be forgiven by God unless we forgive others. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14-15; cf. Matt. 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 7:47; 2 Cor. 2:5-7; Col. 3:13).
  • Like the Old Testament, there is totality in forgiveness. “Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (Heb. 10:17-18; 1 John 2:12).
  • Confession (public or private) is a precursor to forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  • Baptism and forgiveness seems to have a dependent relationship much like confession. ““Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for theforgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38; cf. Mark 1:4)
  • There is a release not only from the charge of guilty between man and God but there is an emotional release when our sins are forgiven. “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,  in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:6-11; cf. Rom. 4:7).

Take a deep breath…whew!!!  That is a lot to sift through isn’t it?  But…and this is a big but (don’t laugh at the pun)…the point is that the cross restores/creates our relationship with God and declares us not-guilty so that late at night when we are counting the ceiling tiles or staring at the fan we do not have to worry about where we will go if we do not wake up.


Another day of fun in the sun and once again I am exhausted.  I have 3 lessons to prepare  for this Sunday and I find myself having a nasty case of preacher’s block which is like writer’s block but worse.  I hurt my back today doing something and I am actually in a lot of pain.  I think it may be a combination of lifting my 4 kids and aleeping on the world’s worst mattress and pillow.

So there is something about summer that I do not like and it is the hot temperatures which leads to something else I do not like…less clothing.  It seems that the hotter the temperature gets the less women put on when it comes to clothing.  As a guy this is difficult spiritually because we are prone to physical beauty more than women are.  On the beach girls wear bikinis which is distracting for a guy.  Here is some wisdom…just because you have a two piece bathing suit does not mean you should wear it.  Yuck.  But even if you do have an amazing body and can pull it off should you?  Are you getting a thrill out of all of the guys staring at you?  Do you think that is right?  Btw…would you showcase your bra and panties for these guys too because that is essentially what you are wearing? 

I may be old-fashioned but some things people do not need to see.  I am not saying you have to come to the beach wearing a Muslim head-dress but I am saying that guys struggle immensly with our eyes and we do not need any encouragment. 

Sounds chauvanistic…I know.  But that is the way we were created.