Archive for the ‘Sin’ category

The Right Idea – The Wrong Idea

May 5, 2014

Grace is under-appreciated and abused. But, protecting grace from being abused turns some into self-righteous rule-makers.

wondering

I was reminded yesterday that people might get the wrong idea when they hear a graceful message from the Bible. The “wrong” idea is that sin doesn’t matter.

Paul was concerned the Roman believers might get the wrong idea.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Romans 6:1 (ESV)

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? Romans 6:15 (ESV)

10 Observations:

  1. You haven’t taught grace until people start asking, “Does sinning matter?”
  2. Grace always goes one step beyond your sin, regardless of how much you sin (Rom. 5:20).
  3. Don’t solve your concerns about abuse by re-instituting the law. We aren’t under law (Rom 6:15)
  4. Sin has negative consequences, even for people under grace.
  5. Believers who fall into sin need more grace not less.
  6. Grace changes us from the inside out.
  7. Laws don’t have power to change us. Telling people what not to do never changes their heart.
  8. Freedom in grace is freedom to love and be loved.
  9. The standards of grace are higher and nobler than law. We live by the law of love.
  10. Holy living must be freely embraced.

Source of concern:

Why was Paul concerned that believers might get the wrong idea about grace? Because he was teaching in a way that might give people the “wrong” idea.

The question, “Does behavior matter,” only comes up when you teach that people are made right with God by faith, apart from behaviors. (Rom 4:5).

The idea that someone could be righteous before God and have unrighteousness in their life is astonishing. Grace is astonishing.

Can grace be abused? You abuse it everyday.

Should we remind people that sin matters? Paul did.

The Long Holy Nose

January 22, 2014

nose

Christians, under the guise of holiness, judge and condemn “sinners.” When we do, we condemn ourselves.

What makes you better than others?

  • You don’t murder. But, you hate.
  • You don’t rob banks. But, you steal another’s reputation with gossip.
  • You aren’t a drunk. But, you disobey your parents.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I’m trying to help you see that Christians aren’t above others.

Stop looking down your long holy nose at people God loves.

The long holy nose makes us ugly. I’m convinced that the ugliest people in the world are self-righteous, good-living, religious people. The truth is, “We” need God’s love as much as “they” do.

Holy living is not an excuse from compassion, respect, or kindness.

Holiness:

Lets call fellow believers to holiness. The issue isn’t should we live holy lives. The issue is how we grow in grace by faith.

Inviting Christians to holiness requires transparent connection. Apart from connection, calling fellow believers to holiness is self-righteous and arrogant. When you call someone to holiness, get in it with them.

Faith:

Lets call people who aren’t believers, to trust in Jesus. The issue isn’t moral reform. It’s Jesus.

Inviting people to trust in Jesus requires connection. Connection empowers the call. Disconnection makes us look like arrogant fools.

Let’s call fellow believers to trust God in new ways. We need to trust Jesus today like we did when we trusted Jesus for the first time.

The people “out there” didn’t make Jesus dirty when he rubbed elbows with them. They won’t make you dirty when you connect with them, either.

Love:

Love is not rude or arrogant. Love is kind, patient, hopeful. Love endures. You have permission to live a holy life and treat people who don’t know Jesus with Love.

Rahab the Believer

December 18, 2013

plungers

Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute from Jericho, was a believer. She didn’t know much but she knew enough.

Joshua 2:8-11 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, … for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

Rahab refers to God as LORD. Most Bibles use lord in all capital letters to indicate the personal name of God, Yahweh. Rahab called God by his personal name.

Second she identifies him as the God of the universe, “heaven and earth.” She said, “Yahweh is God.”

The writer of Hebrews includes Rahab in his great hall of faith, chapter 11. The names in Hebrews 11 appear in this order:

  1. Abel
  2. Enoch
  3. Noah
  4. Abraham
  5. Sarah
  6. Isaac
  7. Jacob
  8. Joseph
  9. Moses
  10. Rahab

Others are mentioned in Hebrews 11, the parents of Moses, for example. But they aren’t named. The last person named is Rahab.

The footnote section concludes Hebrews 11 in verses 32 – 40. Individuals like Gideon and David are mentioned. But their stories aren’t developed like the 10 people listed above.

The people in the great Hall of Faith are messy. Abraham lied about his relationship with Sarah and puts her and himself in mortal peril. Moses had an anger problem. Jacob was a shady business man all his life. Rahab carries the label “prostitute” right into the New Testament.

Rahab has another label, one she had even when a prostitute, Rahab the woman of faith.

I am an Alcoholic

November 11, 2013

beer sign

I asked a group of believers if someone who smelled of alcohol would be welcomed in church.

A woman told this story:

My step-dad was an abusive alcoholic. After I left home, he started going to Church and made a profession of faith.

He kept going to church but couldn’t stop drinking. Eventually, the church told him he wasn’t welcomed anymore.

She said, “I feel like he lost hope.” He rented a hotel room and drank himself to death.

Hypocrisy:

My sins are ok but yours aren’t.

Christians tolerate greed, gossip, hate, lust, and envy. But when sin stinks on someone’s breath, it’s intolerable.

Two categories of sin:

  1. The sins you commit and tolerate.
  2. The sins you don’t commit and don’t tolerate.

The rest of the story:

During our conversation, a stranger walked in and joined the group. After hearing the “step-dad story,” he said, “I have 8 DUI’s and have just been released to a half-way house. I know God wanted me here today.”

We didn’t explore it, but, there’s a wake of pain, broken relationships, and heart ache behind a life cluttered with 8 DUI’s. What’s the church to do?

  1. God “fixes” we don’t.
  2. Extend grace first.
  3. Speak the truth.
  4. Build relationship.

Messy:

Churches with sinners are messy. It’s easy and safe to set the rules and kick out everyone who doesn’t fit. It’s also hypocritical because he is me.

The trouble with messy people is they show me who I am.

I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I can take it or leave. Mostly, I leave it. But, I’m an alcoholic in other ways.

My alcoholism is arrogance, intolerance, greed, lust, envy, gossip, hatred. Shall I go on?

We look down on messy people because we wrongly think we are better. But they are us. You’re an alcoholic in other ways.

7 Reasons I Don’t Have to Serve You

May 29, 2012

Top 7 reasons I’m free from serving you:

  1. Your preferences are wrong, meaning they aren’t mine.
  2. You have sin in your life.
  3. I’m smarter than you. You’re making dumb decisions.
  4. You need to grow up.
  5. You’re self-centered.
  6. I don’t like you. Christians are allowed to not like some people aren’t they, as long as they love them?
  7. I’ve already served you and you didn’t serve me back. The serving scales tip in my direction. Get busy!

When serving becomes about others
we find excuses not to.

Ultimately, serving is about us not them. When serving is about who we are grace takes center stage.

Jesus served people we reject because
serving was about Him not them.

Strength to serve:

Grace gives strength for free service. Strength for service comes from being served by Jesus. If you don’t let him serve you, you can’t serve others.

Believe Jesus serves you for no good reason except love, then share what you’ve received.

Serving is about grateful response. Ungrateful people may go through the motions of service. However, they need a deeper touch of grace before real serving begins. They may be good and moral but they aren’t Christian.  (Note: I didn’t say they aren’t Christians. You can be a Christian and not act like one.)

Calling people to serve isn’t about brow-beating, crying about needs, or bribing; it’s about grace. When we aren’t serving we need more grace not less.

We’re free to serve as we realize we’ve been served. Serving is the overflow of
gratitude for grace.

If you’re nodding your head but not engaging in meaningful service, you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Breaking the Grip of Arrogance and Legalism

May 18, 2012

Churches are filled with arrogance because we think we know things we don’t and believe we’re doing things we aren’t.

The Pharisees – the most arrogant people in the New Testament – thought they were keeping the law but they weren’t. They were actually breaking it. They thought they understood the law but Jesus said it was all about Him. They missed it completely.

Arrogance and legalism go hand in hand.

Moving toward grace and away from law:

  1. Avoid comparisons. “I’m better than …” is pure law! If we must compare ourselves with someone try Jesus. We are no better than anyone! Sure, we may commit “smaller” sins. Well aren’t we special? Grace isn’t extended based on performance, ever. Everyone always needs grace.
  2. Help rather than instruct. Get dirty – get up close and personal. You can see arrogance in self-justifying huddles that stand aloof. When I’m in legal mode I get smarter and smarter.
  3. Trust God with others. Legalists are great at wringing their hands over real or potential mistakes. What if someone makes a mistake? Get over it. Jesus choses people who make mistakes. He chose you didn’t He? (This has nothing to do with organizational policies and procedures that help people succeed and minimize the chances of failure.)
  4. Keep giving chances. Grace doesn’t say, “I’m done with you.” Dang that’s uncomfortable…unless we are the ones getting more chances. Then it’s great.
  5. Ask for and extend forgiveness. Few things exemplify grace better than forgiving.

First and foremost:

Ungraceful believers don’t believe grace. Everyone who receives grace extends it. If we aren’t extending it, like the Pharisees, we think we understand something we don’t.

Why Believers Don’t Know Jack

April 23, 2012

Christians are great at saying they believe in something but acting otherwise. James calls it looking in the mirror and forgetting what you see.

We say we believe in grace but impose rules.

We say we believe in freedom but bring people into “righteous” bondage.

We say we want others to trust in Jesus but add religious ceremonies and activities. It’s ridiculous!

We say we want to be like Jesus – who was the friend of sinners – but we make sinners the enemy. Rather than adapting to them, like Jesus did, we expect them to adapt to us. He became human. Perhaps we should try it.

Frequently the message we send to outsiders is act like a believer before you become a believer. Not only is it foolish, it’s selfish. We demand comfort for ourselves while making others uncomfortable. It’s disgusting!

It’s no wonder nonChristians have a low view of church and Christians. We have a reputation of wanting things, demanding conformity, rejecting sinners, and pretending we are better than we are. It’s nauseating!

Questions for the day:

  1. How can I help someone think highly of Jesus?
  2. How can I love someone without expecting a return?
  3. How can I bring positive value? Value doesn’t occur until we give more than we take, not before.

I can imagine believers nodding while they read that list of questions. Yet, truth be told, we haven’t the first idea of what it looks like. Our heads are so buried up our righteous butts that we’ve convinced ourselves we are doing things we aren’t.

How can you practice the questions I asked? If you can’t describe it, you can’t do it. Period!

Truth be told, we want to talk it but we DON’T want to do it. We don’t know jack till we practice what we preach!