“Keep me as the apple of your eye”
Yesterday I listened to a sermon from Charles Stanley. I haven’t listened to him much at all for quite some time. He’s on at a time of day that I seldom have the radio on. That’s too bad because he is an expert at encouragement. I don’t know about you, but I can use an extra shot of encouragement. Regularly.
Life is hard. We have an enemy that won’t leave us alone. Not only that, but I can be my own worst enemy by getting into a negative thought pattern, a rut, and staying there. I spoke about long-term ruts the other day. Short term ruts can be miserable, too.
A rut is a frame of mind. It’s a construct which is basically a thought that is not based on empirical evidence. So, here’s my situation. I’m struggling with gluttony. In fact, I’m thoroughly disgusted with myself because of my lack of control. Is this reality? Do I have empirical evidence to believe that this situation is hopeless?
One can easily say it’s not hopeless, and it’s not. But, does the situation warrant desperation and despair in the meantime? Should I feel worthless in the short term until things get better?
What does the bible teach us? Well, it teaches us a lot, so much so that it’s sometimes hard to remember basic truths. Once we get these basic truths back into the forefront of our minds, we will find our perspective changes. It’s almost like a fog lifts or the sun rises. Our situation hasn’t changed, but our outlook has.
First, can our environment change our relationship with God? Can outside influences change how God looks at us? Certainly, bad things can happen, but will God abandon us over them? Hardly.
Romans 8:35,37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels or rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Few reading this have tested God’s love through nakedness or sword. But, if we do, we are assured that God will always love us. End of story. That’s a fact, Jack.
What about internal threats, specifically me? Can I do something to jeopardize my position with God? No. When we look at scripture, our justification is a point of time and all the change is past tense. For example:
Romans 8:29-30 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Did you know this? Do you know that in the eyes of God, you are ALREADY glorified? Let’s put a definition to that word, “Adjective, (especially of something or someone ordinary or unexceptional) represented in such a way as to appear more elevated or special.” Ordinary or unexceptional. That’s me. God represents me as more elevated or special than I am. Huh. Now, go back to Romans 8:29-30. From the before the earth was formed, God predestined you (Ephesians 1:4). He called you. He justified you. He glorified you. You are special.
Notice, this is past tense. It’s already happened. Whether we realize it or not is irrelevant to what God has already done. The creator of the universe has specifically called YOU and deemed you special. You can’t change his mind on that. You may as well agree with him, and the sooner the better. Keeping yourself down doesn’t change his perspective, only yours.
Notice, too, that it’s not contingent. God won’t change his mind. Long before he created you, he knew you were a sinner. He knew that you would rebel, even after your conversion. He knew you would deny him and your standing. He knew you would sin and sin and sin. He knew all that, yet he still calls you special.
Romans 5:8-11 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Notice who is doing all the work in this passage. It’s a one-way street. You and I bring nothing to the party except our sin. And we see NOTHING of this being contingent on our performance. NOTHING.
So, what if we do sin and make a royal hash out of everything? Certainly, we have consequences for our sin, but that doesn’t change a thing regarding our status with God. Go over the passages above again and again until this becomes engrained in your minds. You’ll need to keep going over it, too, because you’ll soon forget it, like I did. This is the gospel message, folks, and one that we must preach to ourselves daily because we, frankly, forget.
Listen, we need to get this routine down, because we will all sin. The more holy your actions become; the more sin bothers you. One day, either at our death or at the rapture, whichever comes first, we will be sin-free. Until then, we will still sin, and that sin will affect us and others. But we have been given instructions for that.
1 John 1:9, 2:1 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
It seems to me that I spend more time thinking about my sin than God does.
Psalm 103:11-14 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgression from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Scripture is clear. God isn’t dwelling on our forgiven sin. Why should we?
John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Indeed. When I beat myself down because of my sin, I am not abiding in Christ. I am not removing the thought of my sin as far as the east is from the west. In fact, the closer I have the thought of my sin, the sooner I will actually sin!
Charles Stanley is right. I must preach the gospel to myself. Often and regularly.
Father, thank you for the attitude adjustment. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers