Basically put, I've deceived others into thinking I'm something that I'm really not.
That's a dark hole to be captured in, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this is a hole that many Christians are embedded in, but don't want to admit it. We would all rather talk about, make fun of, label, rebuke, and post Facebook statuses and Tweets of other people's sins.
Why? Because it makes us feel better about ourself.
Humility is not popular. We would rather hear, "Be a better you" or "You know, deep down inside, you're really a good person."
I'm tired of the lies.
It's still a true statement that he that exalts himself will be brought low, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.
I'm a pastor. I didn't walk into a room and sign up for this job, it just kinda follows me like a scent or something. So sure, this means I have the responsibility to teach the whole council of Scripture, including teaching against sin. It's just that I'm not naive. I know I deal with sin in my own life. I don't like it, I hate it in fact, but I have struggles with sin of my own.
It's taken me a while, but I now see that a key in pastoring isn't to act like you're the holiest man in the church. We feel the need to pretend to be holy when we want people to look to us rather than focus on Christ. That's just the truth. Pride takes over in so many situations.
Yeshua the Messiah is your hope. I'm not. Your pastor isn't. Your pastor is a sinner. If that surprises you, you've probably been fed the same crock of lies I was. In church nonetheless.
It is freeing to admit and confess your sins and struggles. Holding them in and pretending they don't exist will kill you. It will eat you up slowly.
Daily confession and repentance is in order.
I'm thinking we should help one another. This starts by recognizing that you, fellow saint, fellow believer in Messiah, have struggles just like your neighbor. They may be in different areas, but they are there. When you talk and deal with others, quit acting like you've "got the victory" and start being real. Recognize the sin in your own life that you battle. Work on it all together.
Point people to Yeshua, the perfect lamb. Stop trying to get people to stare at you.
References: Luke 5:8; 6:37; 7:6-7; 18:9-14
If you've lived long enough you've experienced pain. I remember the day when I would play outside, and not a worry would go by. If I got hurt, my mom would come and bandage me. Those are the days, that as adults, have come and gone.
You can browse the Internet and find tons of pictures that talk about how others will let you down. Just about every single one is evidence of the self-righteousness that exists in all of us humans. I saw one that said "F-ck everyone who has
let me down." The next one said, "Don't trust everyone else. Believe in yourself." Another read, "Move on from people who let you down." The problem with every one of these is that they describe ALL of us. There's not one of us who has never let down someone.
Yes, people will let you down, and I am a PEOPLE. You are a PEOPLE.
Yet in our Pharisee-bent-mind it makes us feel better to harp on other people who have let us down, and trick ourself into thinking "I've never disappointed anyone." Better yet we might even believe the self told lie, "That was me when I was younger, but I don't disappoint anyone anymore." Yea right. You and I both know that's a big, fat lie.
We are going to let people down. Our kids, our spouse, our boss, our employee, our friends, our family. It's not a good thing. It's a bad thing. It's just that we forget that there is none of us who are good.
Life is not about forsaking those who have let you down, it's about learning to show grace, love, and forgiveness to those who let you down. Christ died for you, a sinner. An enemy of the Father. You did not deserve to be died for, that's what grace is all about. When people let us down in life, the most Christ-like thing you could ever do is forgive them.
You know, I can throw out as many buts as you can, but Christ could have to. Yeshua could have said, "But Father, he doesn't deserve this," and he would be right. We don't deserve what's been done for us.
Recently, I've kept going back to the parable of the prodigal son. You know, the son that let down his dad (Luke 15). Many sons have let down their dad. Many dads have let down their son. One of the things the parable teaches us though (on top of the fact that Christ doesn't let us down) is this: love loves in spite of what wrong someone does to us. Love keeps on loving when someone else has spit in your face.
I typed out "Love is patient" the other day on my computer. I printed it out and hung it on my fridge. I needed the reminder when dealing with my children. The next morning I woke up to find that my wife had written on it in pen: "Love never fails." I've let my wife down many times in the almost 17 years we've been married. She's shown Christ to me.
We are all let downs. You can act like you're not if you choose. I'd rather be honest and open about my failures. I'm not Yeshua the unblemished lamb. I'm the cripple 3-legged, one-eyed goat with the runs. Yet he loves me, and he helps me, and he forgives me even though I'm a let down.
The sooner you admit that you are a let down too, the sooner you will begin to be healed to any degree. The sooner you realize that Christ loved you in your "let down" state, the sooner you will be ready to love others when they let you down.
Love NEVER fails.
There are a multiplicity of things that go through my mind in a day's time. I really don't know what I'll be thinking about from one minute to the next. But one thing that generally permeates my brain in some way, for most of every day, is the strong arm of the law and the sweetness of the gospel.
Martin Luther once said something like this: "Give the law to the hard hearted. Give the gospel to the broken hearted." I remember the first time I ever heard that statement. My heart leaped for joy because I understood the meaning behind the words. The more I've meditated on the phrase, the more I've combed through Scripture since then, the more I've seen it in action. The more true it has become.
The primary use of the law of Yahweh is not to curb evil or to instruct us in righteousness. The law does both of those things, and both of those are good things. The law itself is holy, just, good, and spiritual (Romans 7:12, 14). But the primary use of that holy, just, good, and spiritual law is to show us sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that we are not holy, just, good, and spiritual. The problem has never been with the law. The problem is with us. The law's number one function is to reveal our sin. It proves to us that we are transgressors.
I find it amazing that in the large scope of Christianity today we have various groups that believe jumping through their particular hoops makes them righteous. Each group focuses on one or two or maybe a handful of laws (some of which are not found in Yahweh's law by the way), and if they practice those it makes them better than everyone else. This isn't how it works. Yahweh doesn't operate like this.
Yahweh is perfect. He is without flaw. His law is the same because it emanates from His being (Psalm 19:7). He has told us in His law that a person is cursed if they don't continue in all the words of His law (Deuternomy 27:26). What the prideful heart does is read that and then fool itself into thinking he or she is not cursed. So long as a person doesn't smoke or drink, murder or rape someone, there a good person. Just vote republican instead of democrat and you're squeaky clean.
The Bible says that there's not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20). If Yahweh kept track of sins, no one could stand in His presence (Psalm 130:1-3). All have sinned and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). And if even believers say we have no sin we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). If we keep the whole law, yet offend in one point, we are guilty of violating it all (James 2:10). Paul said it well by saying that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, and in my flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:14, 18).
Until a person comes to grips with this, they need to keep hearing it over and over. The man or woman that hasn't come to terms about their sinfulness will not appreciate the gospel. They won't long for the gospel. The gospel will not be good news to them, they already think they are good. They've got it all ironed out already. They go to church once a week, and have the "read the Bible in a year program" in their wallet or purse for crying out loud.
This is what it means to give the law to the hard hearted. The hard hearted person, the person that has yet to fully realize their utter depravity, needs to keep hearing the holiness, perfection, and strong arm of the law. They don't need to hear that they are a saint, they in fact may not be. They need to hear that they are a sinner. A wretched sinner. A miserable soul headed for destruction.
But, at the moment we break. At the moment our heart crumbles of its pride and arrogance. The instant we admit we are doomed because we haven't met the law's requirements. It is then that we need to hear the sweetness of the gospel. That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). That he who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). That he was bruised for our iniquities and the punishment for our peace fell upon him (Isaiah 53:5). That right there is some sweet news to a broken heart.
I see this at work in my day-to-day life as a parent. My children range from ages 6 to 16. Each day in some way I give someone the strong arm of the law, and each day in some way someone gets the sweetness of the gospel. I can see when my children "buck up" against me or their mother. I can sense when they are resisting authority. I can feel when their heart is hard, and when I feel it, I give them more law, more discipline. They must realize that they've not just disobeyed dad, they've violated the rules of the Creator of all things.
I often see their little hearts break. They tear up and grab me and say, "Oh dad... I'm so sorry." Just the other day one of my children hugged me, cried, and said, "I don't want to be like this dad." How did I respond? More law? Nope, they had heard enough law. I rather told them, "Take heart my child, your sins are forgiven."
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.