Posts tagged ‘sinner’

Hello. I am a Christian, and I am a Hypocrite.

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are either a Christian, or you are not a Christian.  If you are a Christian, chances are you read the title and thought, “Oh great.  Another wacko spouting off and making the rest of us look bad.”  If on the other hand, you are not a Christian, you probably saw this title and thought, “Finally a ‘Christian’ who will admit the truth.”

Since you are both here, allow me to explain myself.  Then you can make up your own mind about me.  Here’s the deal.  I am a Christian.  I take the liberty of claiming that because I am a follower of Christ Jesus.  Not only do I follow His teachings, but I have dedicated my life to living in complete service to Him.  I even go so far as to say that I asked Him to be my Lord, the one who has complete say over my life, and my Savior.  He is my Savior because He took the punishment God had reserved for me because of my wrong-doings (known in our circles as sin)…let me emphasize that.  Jesus took my punishment.  What I deserved, He took upon Himself.  He saved me from it.  Thus He is my Savior.

Here’s the other part of this.  I am a hypocrite.  But I’m probably not the kind of hypocrite you are expecting me to confess to.  I think we can all generally agree that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing, but does another, right?  I would add, though, that typically a hypocrite would be considered someone who says something and then intentionally, knowingly, does the opposite.  Wouldn’t you agree? With that definition in mind, I guess I would have to say that

                                                 I AM AN ACCIDENTAL HYPOCRITE.

I’m not really a boldfaced hypocrite as you, the non-Christian, would claim.  I don’t say that I follow Jesus and obey His commands, and then intentionally break them.  You may not believe me, but I really do try to obey His commands.  The thing is that I’m not perfect.  I mess up…all the time…every single day.  I admit it.  I’m a Christian, but I’m still a sinner…at the same time.  Yes.  That is possible.  In fact, that is the reality of every single person who is a Christian.  As much as we would love to be perfect, we aren’t, and we never will be as long as we are living.

There was only one person who was perfect in the history of the world, and that was JESUS.  Jesus was perfect because He was, is, the Son of God.  He is man in the flesh, but also completely God in the Spirit, with all the power that goes with being God.  That was how He was able to take my punishment, and the punishment of every single person who ever had and whoever will live.  He deserved no punishment of His own, SO HE TOOK MINE…and yours.  Oh, I know.  You are pretty certain that because I am such a hypocrite, whether accidental or not, you are much better than me.  Here’s where I leave the political correctness stuff behind.  You aren’t any better than me.  Hold on now.  Before you flip your wig, I’m not better than you either.  I never said that I was.  When it comes to being human, we are all on the same equal playing field.  The Bible says that ALL men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  In other words, everyone, ev-er-y single one, does wrong.  It doesn’t matter how much wrong.  One wrong is the same as a thousand wrongs when it causes us to not measure up to God’s standard of perfection.  You are guilty of it, and so am I.  Flat out.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  It is what it is.  You can argue it until you are blue in the face, but deep down inside there is a part of you that you are desperately trying to squash.  That part that says, “You know she is right.”  You know how I know that?  Because God built everyone of us with this thing called a conscience.  More than that, He put in each of us the innate desire to search for Him.

So if I’m a sinner, and you are a sinner, what is the difference between you and me?  I mean really.  I have already admitted to being an accidental hypocrite.  I have admitted to being no better than you or anyone else.  I admitted to doing wrong every single day.  So what is the difference?  Are you ready for it?  Here it is.  I have been forgiven.  Yep.  That is it.  I have not been forgiven because I’m so special either.  I’ve been forgiven for one simple reason:  I asked.  Oh sure, first I had to admit that I am a sinner.  If I didn’t do that, there was no point in asking for forgiveness in the first place.  After all, if I don’t think I have ever done anything wrong, then what do I need forgiveness for?  But nagging deep down inside of me is the knowledge that I have lied (even little white lies).  I never made a habit of it, but I’ve done it.  I have stolen…a piece of candy when I was a child, and time from my employer when I should have been working.  I’ve been angry and bitter.  I’ve said words I shouldn’t have said.  I have been mean to people.  I’ve been jealous.  I have been ungrateful, rude, disrespectful.  I have gossiped, put my needs before the needs of others, been self-righteous.  The list goes on and on, and is as fresh as yesterday.  I cannot deny that I have done wrong things.  It’s as plain as the nose on my face.  And so is my need for forgiveness.

Every sin is like a brick in a wall that separates us from God.  It is a wall that is built by me, but with eternal bricks that cannot be torn down by human hands or effort.  It is a wall that prevents me from having a relationship with God, and from ever getting to Heaven to live with Him.  The only one who has the power to tear that wall of eternal sin bricks down is Jesus, and He will only do it if we ask Him to.  That means getting to Heaven is our choice…we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, and save us from staying on this side of the wall, staying in sin.  He then becomes our Savior.

All sin must be punished.  Jesus took our punishment when He died on the cross over 2,000 years ago.  The punishment for sin is death, eternal death.  That means our bodies die, but our spirits either live for eternity in Heaven with God, or they live an eternal death in Hell separated from God and all His goodness.  When Jesus died, He took our punishment of eternity in Hell.  When He came back to life after 3 days, He demonstrated that the power over life and death are both in His hands, and He cannot be controlled by either.  We Christians say that He conquered death and Hell.  Even though we will all still die a physical death (that is a consequence of sin, as opposed to punishment for it), our spirits don’t die.  And if we ask Jesus to be our Savior, He will break down that ugly (because sin is ugly if we are honest) wall of sin, and welcome us into the presence of God.  If we die with that wall still standing between us and God, then all hope is lost.  The wall remains in the spirit world, just as it was here in the physical world, and there is no way past it to get near to God.  The difference is that in the physical world, God’s Spirit is present in every Christian, and all around us.  Every person experiences the goodness of God as He provides rain for crops to grow, sunshine, love, peace…all the good things we have just a glimpse of here.  In Hell, on the other side of that wall, ALL of His goodness is gone.  None of it remains.  There is only the antithesis of everything good.  No love at all, only hatred.  No peace, only torment.  No laughter, only tears.  All the time, eternally.  And in that spirit world of life after physical death, the wall of sin has also become eternal.  There is no hope of every breaking it down.

Conversely, for those people who asked Jesus for His salvation, and allowed Him to tear that wall down, their spirits get to live surrounded by all of God’s goodness, in purest form, no longer distorted by sin and its effects, for all of eternity.  Completely pure love.  Completely whole peace.  Completely full joy.  All the time, eternally.

My ugly sin was has been torn down.  Jesus is my Savior.  I still sin, because I will never be perfect until my spirit is living in Heaven with God.  But when Jesus tore down my sin wall, He also made it impossible for it to be rebuilt.  He took my punishment once and for all.  When I sin now, I ask for forgiveness and it is given.  There are still earthly consequences for sin.  If I lie to someone, I have still hurt them and damaged our trust.  But I have confidence that Jesus will forgive me, because He promised to, and I know that lie is not going to keep me from living in Heaven.

Now, there is a burning issue that needs to be addressed.  I may be a Christian who is an accidental hypocrite, but there are definitely people who claim to be Christians and are blatant hypocrites.  What about them?  First of all, I don’t know their hearts.  I cannot make the judgement as to whether or not they actually are Christians.  Only God knows that.  What I do know is that God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  When people are standing on the side of a gay pride parade holding hateful placards, for example, that is not showing the love of God…and it is flaming hypocrisy.  It does not show love, it shows hatred.   The Bible says the world will know Christians by their love.  Hatred is a sin.  And I have just admitted that Christians still sin.  So how do we know what the truth is?  Are they actually Christians who are sinning and giving the rest of us a bad name?  If so, we must remember that we will never be perfect, and that God works in the heart of every Christian to make them more and more like Him.  Hopefully they will eventually recognize their sin, confess it and seek forgiveness.  However, it must also be recognized that these people may not really be Christians at all, but only think they are.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world who think they are Christians just because they go to church, or try to be a good person.  Jesus said that He is the only way to be saved.  Going to church won’t save, and no one can be good enough to save themselves.  If those people are relying on something other than Jesus, they are not truly Christians, and do not have the love of God in them.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter.  You will think what you will about me and all Christians.  You will either judge us on a case-by-case basis, or you will judge us as all the same whether you know us or not.  And I will continue to be a Christian, even with my imperfections.  But I am, and always will be, a Christian who knows without a doubt that when I die, my spirit will live with God forever, with a pile of bricks from a torn down wall far behind me.  What about you?  Will you ask Jesus to tear down your wall and be your Savior?  Or will you live eternally on the side of a wall that you can never tear down?  It’s up to you.

 

I Don’t Get It! How Can God Use ME??

The Israelites never cease to amaze me.  They were the chosen people of God Almighty.  He spoke directly to them, and performed one incredible miracle after another to, through, for them.  He demonstrated His power time and again, and showered them with blessings.  God Himself gave them the best land, a land filled with milk and honey.  He defeated their enemies on countless occasions.  He was actually present with them in a tangible form (in a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, and on the seat of the ark of the covenant).  Yet, over and over and over again, they rejected Him.  They refused to obey God’s commands.  They worshiped false gods.  How in the world could they turn from the presence of the God who communicated directly to them, whom they could see was alive and well and all-powerful, to worshiping a chunk of metal or rock?  I don’t get it!

Still God used them to bless the entire earth!  He used this group of ungrateful, back-stabbing, faithless people to send the Messiah, the Savior for all, to this sinful world.

While I ponder this miracle, I see a reflection…an image that looks all too much like the Israelites…me.  My life is a mess.  Oh, I don’t mean that my marriage is on the rocks and my children are all out carousing and getting in trouble.  I mean I’m a sinner!  I am selfish.  I have a quick temper.  I am impatient.  I can be judgmental.  I falsely accuse.  I fight my attitude all the time.  The list goes on.  Yet somehow, in an amazing miraculous way, God has chosen me as a vessel.  He shares His messages through me, the pen in His hand.  I don’t get it!

I am so grateful that “God does not see the same way people see.  People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).  Thank God He knows my heart!  Thank God he knows the depth of my desire to serve Him!  Thank God He understands that I am a sinner, saved by His grace!

Unfortunately, people don’t know my heart.  They see the outside.  They see the mistakes I make.  They see the sinful me.  And I am certain that it is far too easy to believe that I cannot possible be used by God, after all, look how frustrated and impatient she is with her children when they are goofing off in church, or messing around in the store.  Look at how she lost her temper with that teacher when something happened to her child at school.  They can’t imagine how God can use me.  They don’t get it.

But God is using me.  I don’t deserve to be used of God!  I know that all too well.  But I want to obey Him, more than anything.  And so I keep struggling through everyday life, making mistakes, committing sins and seeking forgiveness…and remaining open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I know that I need to look different.  My witness, and God’s message, are tarnished by my sinfulness.  I must seek to serve Him, and obey Him in every area of my life, not just my calling.  Titus 3:1-2 (NCV) – “Remind the believers to yield to the authority of rulers and government leaders, to obey them, to be ready to do good, to speak no evil about anyone, to live in peace, and to be gentle and polite to all people.”

I am so thankful that God knows my imperfections, and that His work is not complete in me…it won’t be until the day Christ returns.  I can’t expect perfection from myself, or anyone else, for that reason alone.

If you believe God can’t use you because of your sin, you are wrong.  Remember that all things are possible with God.  Just ask Him to use you, be open to His leading, and be obedient to His call.  Being used by God is not up to you, or your abilities.  It is up to God and His abilities.  You, my friend, are an open slate!  Rejoice in that!!!

If you are obeying God’s call, as I am, and think your sins shout “hypocrisy” from the highest mountain, don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  Do work on it!  The Bible tells us in many places the kind of behavior we should exhibit as followers of Christ.  We must work to look and behave differently.  We will fail.  Get used to it.  But, by the grace of God, our failures will be less and less.  Do not lose hope because the Spirit will help us…we just need to listen, and obey.

If you are a person standing at the foot of the mountain and hearing the cry of “hypocrisy,” be discerning.  Remember how God used the Israelites (and so many other flawed and sinful people in the Bible).  Listen to the message.  Weigh it against the Word of God and pray for God to reveal His truths to you.  Remember that the message, the lesson, whatever it is that is coming to you through another person, perfect and holy or not, comes from the Holy Spirit, not the person.  Look past their failures, and look to what God wants you to know.

“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.  How marvelous!  How wonderful!  And my song shall ever be:  How marvelous!  How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”

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It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightest weapons. ~ William Gurnall

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