Costly Sin

It has been my privilege to participate in Bible Study Fellowship for nearly nine years. I thank God for BSF because it provides me the study and discipline that I would not achieve on my own.

I learn from the answers the other ladies on our group share. I learn from our Teaching Leader Terri de la Vega…who has a real heart for God and people. She is uncompromising in teaching the word of God and doesn’t duck when it comes to sharing hard truths.

I also learn when answering the question for our study each week. Some questions are straight forward and direct. Some cause me to think and mull over the question. In this week’s lesson we are studying Matthew 18 and the questions that really got me to thinking were about sin in the life of a Christian and how it effects the church. How sin reflects on Christ and the Gospel message.

Be it me or another Christian…sin infects the body of Christ and the church.

It’s all too easy to laugh at sin…especially as portrayed on sitcoms and movies. Shows that make sin and doing what God has declared sinful, the norm and common place. Thing like sex outside of marriage…both for singles and married people. What about homosexuality. Most shows depict homosexuals in a humorous way. To lie, cheat and steal is normal…and fails to shock people these days. Even when it comes from a respected leader.

The church in America today has become so influenced by our godless culture that we fail to see sin as sin…and declare it as such. When that happens…we are not effective instruments to share the Gospel. When I take it in stride when my friend is living with someone outside of marriage I will fail to confront them. There will be no reason to let them know that what they are doing is against God’s word…after all, “They aren’t hurting anyone, are they?”. Wrong! In fact they are. They are lost in their sin…perishing and will go to hell if they don’t accept God’s one and only acceptable sin offering…Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross. Part of accepting Christ is recognizing that I’m a sinner, repenting and turning away from my sin.

When a Christian steps across that line…when a Christian sins…we fail to be a useful and effective instrument in the hands of God. We buy into the lies of the enemy…who will later condemn us as a hypocrite.

As Pastor Philip De Courcy warned a couple of weeks ago, yes it is, “Once saved, always saved”. But he admonished… “Once saved, always saved…if you are truly saved.” If I say I’m a Christian, but can walk in sin, make excuses for it and not repent…I need to ask myself if I’m truly saved.

Below are some thoughts about the cost of sin to a Christian, the body of Christ and Christ Jesus my Lord.

  • I’m saying Jesus Christ saves me…but can’t deliver me from my sins.
  • That Jesus Christ is my Savior…but not my Lord and Master.
  • I put myself above God as I seek which pleases me, even when God has strictly prohibited it in scripture.
  • I don’t care that I give the body of Christ a black eye and bad reputation…and that my tainted sin casts a pall over every Christian.
  • I want my cake…and eat it too. To sin and enjoy it for a season…but not pay the price and consequences for my sin.
  • I don’t care if my sin causes another one to stumble, sin and go to destruction.
  • I’m saying to hell with you unbeliever who rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ because you see me as just another hypocrite professing Christ but not walking in obedience.
  • I’m saying Jesus…let me let me drive another nail in Your hand. Let me add more of my sin upon You. Sin that You willingly, in obedience to the Father, took upon Yourself.
  • I’m believing the one who was a liar from the beginning. Taking him at his word and doubting God and His word.
  • I’m saying I want to belong to God…but not serve Him.
  • I stop seeing what God has declared wrong as sinful.
  • When I don’t see someone without Christ as dead in their sins…I won’t share the Gospel message.
  • When I’m sinning…I will be less likely to confront another Christian who is in sin. I feel guilty and don’t want to be confronted about my own sin.

At the End of the Day…Inner Reflections

I don’t want my trust in God to be dependent upon my circumstances.

This years study with Bible Study Fellowship has been a struggle for me. I feel like I’m barely making it across the finish line. When I look back over the past year…in an attempt to figure out why this year was different…I see a lot of factors that influenced me. But if the truth be told…I may be using them as an excuse for something else…something from within me. That’s why my bedtime prayer will be asking God to help me clearly see and understand what within me held me back and caused me to struggle. To keep me from a full, no holds barred commitment to studying God’s word. More than that…to make a change…so that in the fall I’ll be on track as we study Matthew. To be obedient…even when my feelings haven’t caught up with my will.

I’ve loved BSF for years…I love the discipline of it. In fact…it spoils me for other Bible studies. I love the combination of studying, sharing, reading and lecture in our concentrated study of the Bible. But this year…not all my cylinders were firing. At times I found it all too easy to have a critical eye. I wonder how much I focused on what was wrong with something or someone else rather than examining the attitude of my heart. Has my love for Jesus waxed cold? Is it because I had my eyes on my circumstances and not my Lord?

In some respects…I think I’ve tried to get through very difficult and challenging circumstances based on my own power, will and might…rather than trusting in God and looking to Him and His word to see me through. Trusting God even when He allows painful circumstances in my life. I think that whole thing comes down trusting God. Instead…the Bible counsels me to lean not on my own understanding…in all my ways acknowledge Him and He will direct my path.

That may mean…it’s a path I didn’t want to walk down it. But I think I’m finding out…better to be on a path not of my own choosing…if Jesus is with me…than to be on my path solo.

I’ll tell you what…I don’t ever, ever want to have another wishy washy lackluster year of Bible study again.

1/13/07 At the End of the Day…Rooted and Grounded

During the school year…on most Saturday nights you will find me working on my Bible Study Fellowship lesson. Tonight is no different. This year is my most favorite because we are studying the book of Romans. If one can say that they have a favorite book of the Bible…I would say Romans is my favorite…and this week’s chapter, chapter 8 is my favorite. But to narrow it down ever further…we studied vs. 28-39.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:28-39

I do believe that out of the entire Bible…if I could fully lay hold of these verses, comprehend them and live by them…they would transform my life. I’d say that this last year has taught me more about the truth of these verses in a more personal way…than ever before. As I reflect back…I now know God in a more personal way…as He stood with me and walked with me through every trepid and lonely step.

I must confess that many a time during this process…I did not feel His presence or His ever present help in times of trouble. But looking back at the wake my ship that sailed…I can see God’s presence and help along the way.

At times…the seas I sailed on were stormy and tumultuous and at other times peaceful and smooth as glass. There were many days…that felt like torpedoes…one after another were coming my way. Little did I know it but my lifeboat was at hand. Many a time…I was resting comfortably and safely in it as the storm assailed my tiny boat. But the Master was at the helm.

At times…my ship sailed ever so close to treacherous shoreline…when the storm threatened to dash my ship upon the rocks. However…oh Captain, my Captain with ease brought me safe into a calm harbor.

I found two questions in this week’s lesson most compelling. 1) We were to read through chapter 8 of Romans and tell which two statements we most wanted to remember and why? 2) What difficulty has Christ’s love helped us to conquer this year?

Reviewing chapter 8 and writing my responses…was both moving and difficult in the fact that it brought back painful times in my very recent past.

To the first question…there were two scripture verses that stood out to me the most.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31b

The obvious answer is that if God is for us…it is insignificant and it pales in comparison who stand against us…because God and His love is so powerful. In essence their opposition amounts to nothing. As much as some stood against me…more so, there were those people who did not stand with me. Even in that…I had the one Person…the One who matters most that stood and remains standing in my corner. He never left me, nor forsook me.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

It surprised me that this scripture verse meant a lot to me when reading chapter 8 this year. Normally vs. 8:28 is my favorite. In fact I consider it my life verse:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

But right now…verse 18 means a lot to me. To know that even though my present burdens seem very heavy that one day…I will look back and see that they were very light indeed. That God will repay me more than I can ever imagine or deserve for the troubles I’ve endured.

To the second question…what has Christ’s love helped me to conquer this year? Well…I guess all of the above is what He helped me to conquer. That which a year ago…I could never have imagined and I am most grateful to have not known beforehand was coming my way.

In some respects…it kind of scares me…because I know today is preparation for tomorrow. These recent difficulties were meant to help me grow stronger and prepare me for tomorrow.

That is why it is essential that I be rooted and grounded in the Word of God and be ever mindful of His work and presence in my life.

If any of you are in need of a good, strong, foundational Bible study…I would highly recommend Bible Study Fellowship. You will grow in wisdom and knowledge through God’s Word…and you will know God in a more personal way through the study of His word.

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].” – Hebrews 11:6 Amplified Bible