Thursday, November 29, 2012

C, Advent 1 – Luke 21:25-36 “A Global Warning”

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The weather is always a topic for discussion. It seems many watch the weather with fear placing their hopes in favourable outcomes. In recent times we hear much about global warming; the planet is getting hotter and therefore weather events are becoming more extreme and unexpectedly occurring at times of the year when they shouldn't.
This causes one of a number of things to happen. Some are whipped into hysteria like Henny Penny frantically running around in fear that the sky will collapse. Then some go on an environmental crusade to save the planet; even to the extreme of sacrificing their life or the lives of others in the name of the cause. Then again there are the cynics who refuse to believe there is anything wrong; that changes in climate, extinction of species, the hole in the ozone, and the melting of the ice caps are just cycles the earth is going through at this point in time.
How are we to react as Christians when we hear of such things? Should we become warring zealots for the cause? Should we become alternate and live like hippies? Should we treat global warming with scepticism and bury our heads in the sand? Or should we just keep on doing what we've been doing and teaching following generations to follow our practices?
Maybe there's another reaction called for here! One most of us fail to do when we are drawn into various environmental debates, or any debate that grab the interest of people on earth!
When we're drawn into discussion; where we call into question a practice or ponder a position what invariably happens is our focus is narrowed to the arguments of the dialogue and how it might impact me, my family, my town, my country, or my world. The problem here being, we forget about our Sovereign, yours and my Father in heaven. He who sees the big picture of me, my family, my community, my world!
Another anomaly of humanity's thought patterns over the last couple hundred of years is when things happen on earth we all seem to play the game of blame. Rarely is it ever me, my family, my community, etc. After all we are always one of the good guys, never the crooks! It's always the fault of them, the devil, the evil people, or perhaps even God!
This phenomenon is not how it's always been. Once communities large and small would view themselves in the face of God, and join together in repentance for what had occurred. It was not so much about blame as it was our shame.
People realised there was only One who was not to blame, and this One was the only one who could help the situation, and the suffering. People once recognised the faithfulness of God, the One Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Provider, the Redeemer, and the One who makes us Holy, and therefore whole with God's community! There is only one cause of our pain and suffering in which we all play a part. We are the collective one of humanity. You and I have much for which to answer before God!
Jesus says to you… Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Luke 21:32–33 ESV)
Deep down within there's a part of us all that secretly says, "No, no, no! Not me, not my generation, not this generation! Jesus is talking about some other time!" But regardless when the second coming of Jesus Christ comes, on the last day of creation or your last day of human life, it takes place to each person of each generation one way or another. Even so, God and his word will never pass away or die!
Nevertheless, we can suppose people will act in the same manner as do we to the news of global warming or some other event to affect us. Focus will be turned to the catastrophic events unfolding where as all events in our lives need turn us all the more to the Supplier, Saviour, and Sanctifier of all temporal and eternal things.
As Paul said to the church in Thessalonians, as pastors and others have called the church since, and I and my forbears cry out on behalf of Christ…
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:9–13 ESV)
We, who have ministered to you, urge you to step aside from the blame game which the world loves to play, and join in with the same claim as Christ, "The Lord is our righteousness." After all Jesus has fulfilled ALL righteousness taking the blame for our sinful game, which is a most deadly game.
Now we might question the motives of those who play us on the global warming debate. We might be looking for someone to blame for the waves of financial crisis in which we as a greedy world immerses ourselves. We might fervently believe one political equation is better for our country that than another. Rightly or wrongly we might be sceptical or concerned or called to action over events that happen in our world.
But, even so, if we fail to heed the global warning of God's word, everything else is done in vane! We might warm ourselves to our heart's content doing all sorts of powerful or great deeds, but it won't help us one iota in the big picture of eternity and true life.
And so, "there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25–28 ESV)
Life as we know it will change. The question is not whether it will but when it will and will you be ready for the change? None of us know if we will witness the last day of creation, but all of us will know our last created day of life and have to bear witness to our days before the Creator.
Creation is groaning under the weight of sin, yours and mine! God the Son will fix and finalise creation when he returns but he will be looking to see if you and I have trusted in his righteousness to make us holy. Have you been awake in him and his righteousness to withstand all the crazy stuff that's going to take place between now and then?
Consequently, "watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34–36 ESV)
The dissipation of this life, that is the amusements distractions and headaches of life, the drunkenness of this life, or the intoxication intemperance and wantonness of our world, and the cares of this life have the power to take our focus off the important things. These are the things that remain forever, The Son of God — the Word made flesh, our Father in heaven, and the gathering fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The environmental globe might be warming, the power of the market may be diminishing, the weather might be bad one day and good the next, but what we can be confident of is this: the world is hot with sin; Jesus took the heat on himself on a hill at the cross, and in hell. And he did this to redeem and to sanctify you so you might trust in him and the Father to provide for you as you walk in the weariness of this world. This is a global warning that's truly heart warming in heavenly hope!
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11–13 ESV)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

B, Post-Pentecost 25 Proper 28 – Mark 13:1-8 “Having a Heavenly Heart”

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The disciples marvel at the temple and the surrounding buildings of Jerusalem.  And Jesus promises that every stone will be thrown down and an age of tribulation will be experienced that has never occurred before.  And that is saying something since there have been plenty of disastrous natural events and manmade atrocities in the last two thousand years.
But Jesus’ focus on the temple and its destruction stands as a dire warning for all people both, inside and outside the church; for both parishioners and pastors alike. 
To the Jews the temple in Jerusalem was their “heaven on earth”, a copy of Eden; a place to reflect the glory of God to all who came near.  This temple had been sacked once before, after David and Solomon had raised the kingdom of Israel to commanding power, there in Jerusalem they built the temple.  It was built with the best of everything, the cedars of Lebanon, gold covered walls embossed with date palms, the fruit of the desert, an oasis where the people of God could rest with God after having their sins atoned for by the blood the priest poured out on the altar.
But it wasn’t the glory of the temple they were called to worship.  It was God who dwelt there.  He had a footstool on earth where he could once again meet with man and share his holy presence as Adam and Eve once did in the garden of Eden.
But that didn’t last; the Assyrians and then the Babylonians came from the north and the east and destroyed Israel and Judah.   The temple was finally destroyed after prophet after prophet came with the word of the Lord and called for obedience, contrition, and repentant hearts rather than ritual sacrifices as a smoke screen to the self serving lack of care and welfare which was really going on.
God called Jeremiah to warn… Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’  “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,  if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,  then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. 
“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.  Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,  and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?  Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:4–11 ESV)
And so the temple was left in ruins, the glory of God lifted from the temple and went to the exiles in the east while Jerusalem was left desolate. 
During the following four hundred years, the temple was rebuilt by returned exiles, but then during the time of Herod he seeks to restore it to its former glory.  This is the temple structures the disciples marvel over to Jesus.  And it’s the structure of which Jesus said, “Not one stone will be left not thrown down.” It’s destruction occurring liturgically and spiritually at Jesus’ death on Good Friday and physically some forty years later when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 73 A.D. 
History stands as a warning to us, both believers and unbelievers alike!  If God’s earthly temple of heaven or reflection of paradise’s Garden of Eden can be destroyed, and even more so, if God can chuck humanity out of his presence from the original Garden of Eden, it can and will happen again if our hallowing focus falls from God.  
When we as his church fall away from the care and welfare with which we’re called to bear in the community calling unbelievers to faith; what might happen to us if we pass off Jesus’ care and welfare towards us at the cross as “whatever” or “nothing” in favour of heartfelt emotions centred on the human heart which refuses to hear and heed the word of God?   
We are told very clearly by the author of the letter to the Hebrews… For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26–31 ESV)
 So “all the more as you see the day approaching” all of humanity is called to heed the word of God.  We are called to have heavenly hearts, but what that is many are being deceived into thinking is some sort of self-willed goodness by which God will accept us.  Whereas the only heart God accepts is the heart of Christ, and so the question goes begging, “Do you bear the heart of Christ?”
We hear in Proverbs 27:19, “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”  And Jesus says, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21–23 ESV)
Just like the Jews, out of the hearts of believers and non believers in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation come all sorts of things that continue to defile us.  So how do I know I bear the heart of Christ, how do I receive the heart of Christ?
We who are believers must continually examine ourselves, not with human eyes or hearts, or understanding, but with the word of God.  Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21 ESV)
So we might examine and discern, “what just is my treasured kingdom?”  Recognize to where the glory is going?  God alone, or me, my family, or someone or something else?
If God can destroy the very place of his presence on earth, he can destroy the buildings and organisations we hide behind “in his name” avoiding and refusing to listen to his Word, the Word which calls us to contrition and repentance for constructing our own kingdoms. 
We are called to repentance and return to the church built on and in Christ.  To place faith in him and not the Lutheran name, our standing in the community, the family inheritance, the continuation of the culture in which the western world so easily sins.  We are called to the one faith of the church built not with human hands or with heartfelt human emotions.  Rather we must constantly let these kingdoms die, in favour of the true kingdom of God, called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit in the death and resurrection of Christ in the one true faith.
We need to daily die, heart and all, and let the heart of Christ reign within us.  We need to trust ourselves less and let God be God more and more in our day to day lives.  In the little things, not just in the things we think are only big enough to be bothering God about. 
Jesus warns us “not to be led astray” (Mark 13:5).  This firstly means not to let our hearts desires lead us astray but to soberly see ourselves through the word of God for whom we are.  The greatest deception is not from without but rather within.  The devil and the world, take a distant second most of the time to our sinful selves and our hearts full of the defiling things we know to dwell in each of us.
As the Psalmist says… “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.”  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:1-2, 7–11 ESV)
In God’s presence there is fullness of joy — eternal preservation.  Let your heart be led by the Lord, let your heart hear his holy word so you will be led by him, forevermore!  Amen.

Friday, November 09, 2012

B, Post-Pentecost 24 Proper 27 - Mark 12:41-44 & 1 Kings 17:10-13 “This is what you need!”

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How am I supposed to survive now? [L] Perhaps this would be the regular response of one of us having just begrudgingly given away our last possession! How, are we supposed to live now?!!!
It's a good question. How are we supposed to live—as Christians—in drought, with debt, with financial responsibilities, with congregational giving down and a church constantly facing crisis?
We hear two words from Scripture, which show us how we 'should' live. The first tells us about Elijah living in a drought. A drought allowed by God, because King Ahab, and his wife Jezebel, led Israel into Baal worship; and also because the forbidden rebuilding of Jericho took place by Hiel of Bethel.
[Elijah] arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink." And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand."
And she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die." And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. (1 Kings 17:10–13 ESV)
And the second word from Scripture is from the Gospel of Mark. As the people make their offering to God Jesus observes how we humans live.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44)
Having heard these two words from Scripture, it's hard for any person in Australia, or for that matter, anywhere in the western world, to imagine such poverty or lack of culinary choice.
One handful of flour and a little oil in a jug; you can't even make satisfactory pancakes with just flour and oil. Even if all you had in your house was flour, eggs, milk, and a little honey, it would still be more than this woman and her son had to eat. All of us have access to much more food than that!
Two very small copper coins, put on the plate; our treasury doesn't even make copper coins anymore. We live with such wealth that even the silver in our wallets and purses is overlooked in favour of gold coins. But these two bits of copper are the widow's last two coins, after that she had absolutely nothing! Yet even as many of us cry poor, our possessions and bank accounts would add up to greater amounts than what the rich people offered as Jesus stood by and watched!
We have no comprehension, even with recent droughts, what life would be like with poverty and scarcity like that! The fundamental necessities of food, water, clothing, and shelter have been a given for most of the west in recent times. God has allowed us technical advances so that we might more easily collect and store food and water, and that we might efficiently make materials for clothing and shelter. These advances over the last one hundred years have accelerated to a frightening pace and along with these materialistic advances so has our faith and trust in them.
The fundamentals of food, water, clothing, and shelter, which God promises to provide us, have now been revised by us. We need oil, coal, and electricity too. We need oil for fuel, to make our cars, and run our cars. We need oil, coal, and other minerals, to build the plastic and synthetic products we desperately need around us to apparently survive these days! And we need electricity too! Lots and lots of power to give life to the inanimate objects that give our lives true meaning, like televisions, toasters, toys, computers, cameras, email, mobile phones and music making machines of various kinds. And with all these possessions and the electrical power needed to give them life, we invest big in military power to protect the materialistic mountains we build to Babel proportions.
So quickly we place our trust in products and possessions that have rapidly evolved in recent years. As we all know, things that come about quickly, generally tend to disappear just as quick too. Will our teetering tottering tower of technology be sustainable in the future? Probably not, I suspect!
So where will your faith be, in what state will it be, "when" the economy explodes, technology tumbles, the lights go out, our plastic and metal gods stop serving us, and darkness descends over the materialistic western world?
Some might say, "But we need these things! How are we supposed to live without them?" We might need these things, but others live without them! However, we need God more, we can't live without him.
We might need material things; but we need Jesus Christ more! We might need TVs, phones, emails and computers to communicate; but we need God's word more! We might need electricity and oil, and coal; but we need the renewing power of the Holy Spirit more! We need time for enjoyment and entertainment; but we need rest and peace and the joy of eternity more! We need to eat, a cup of water, warm clothes, and a roof over our heads; but we need faith in God who gives us these things—more. Even if we have the whole world, without him we have absolutely nothing!
We all have much to confess because of our unfaithfulness and lack of trust in God's ability to be God. God is not just gracious when the going is good. He loves us and looks after us even when the barns are empty; the sheep are weak, and when the pantry and deep freezer aren't full. Why should we doubt and lose faith when we see the silos and shelves are bare? Just as the woman gave her last meal to Elijah in faith and the old woman put her last two coins into the temple treasury, we need to trust in God even more when times are tough. We need to give to God in faith who faithfully gives us everything! When the going gets tough, the faithful keep believing!
After all, we are called to believe, or have faith, in God the Father "Almighty", Maker of heaven and earth. We are called to believe that God has created me and all that exists. That he has given me and still preserves my body and soul with all their powers. That he provides you and me with food and clothing, home and family, daily work, and all you and I need from day to day, whether we give our last two bob, our only moment of free time, our last bit of energy, or the leftovers of our God given excesses. God gives out of his divine goodness and mercy, even though we do not deserve it.
But our greatest need is this: To trust in Jesus Christ, Son of God sent by the Father to save us, who watches us make many faithless mistakes, yet still wills us to boldly come to him, confess our sin, and live under the forgiveness he has won on the cross. This is what you need!
If God would go to such lengths letting his only Son die, so we might drink from the river of life, and be nourished by the eternal fruit on the tree of life, he will surely sustain us with food and water, clothing and shelter in this life.
How are we supposed to live now!? We live as "forgiven" sinners, mercifully carried along by God's grace and mercy. Amen.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

B, Post-Pentecost 23 Proper 26 – Psalm 119:1-8; Hebrews 9:13-14 “Teaching & Promise”

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The Israelites lived with the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is a picture of rolling green meadows, the verdant green of a spring that's sprung out of a wet winter. A show of flowers not just looking pretty, but providing the bees with sweet sweet honey! This is a picture of excess, the best the land can offer, the cream of the crop, foods to not only fill the body but to fatten and gladden the heart.
We know the land of milk and honey was Canaan and it was promised to the people chosen by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And as they marched across the Jordan led by Joshua it became a reality for them after a lifetime of wandering in the wilderness with Moses.
But during their sojourn in the Sinai the Israelites were called not to focus on the promise but he who was making the promise. They were commanded to teach what they had been taught. To tell it to their children and to bind his teaching on their heads and hands, and on the doorposts and gates of their homes! God wanted Israel to remember that "The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV) He is the only one they needed to concern themselves over. Not the milk, not the honey, not their need in the wilderness, nothing but him.
It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you — for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 6:13–15a ESV)
So what is it that God promises you and me today? What is our milk and honey? What is being given to the church of God in these days?
In Israel's time it was the land of Canaan, today it is not so much land but rather fellowship with the Father. It's being with the Lord, the only true God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. However, being with God comes at a cost. God needs us to be as holy as he is holy, for us to be in community with him, and to celebrate the eternal feast with him, which promises greater things than earthly lands producing milk and honey. When we are holy then we know we are truly blessed.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! (Psalm 119:1–8 ESV)
Psalm 119 begins by saying those who are blameless are blessed. But there's a problem here straight away. Who of us is blameless, who of you seeks God with your whole heart, walking only in God's ways, doing no wrong? Who of you is willing to sell everything, giving it to the poor and then follow Jesus? This is a hard teaching, how are we to deal with it?
This then is the crucial thing, how do we deal with God's teaching and promise? But first, what is God's teaching and how does the promise function effectively in your life?
The Lord is your God, he is our God; he is the only one true God. All who hear this are called to believe it. But it is not only this we are called to believe, we are also called to believe we are sinners in nature and deed. And because of this there is only one God who can do anything about it. Lest God be like all other gods of milk and honey sought after in this life!
Moses by his very nature knew the Israelites were sinners; after all he himself was only allowed to see the Promised Land from afar and not enter it. Why? Because he misused God's power by adding to the word, striking the rock, from which water poured, rather than just speak to it as God had commanded. Moses too was a sinner.
So we return to the Psalm of the day 119:1-8. How do we deal with this piece of God's word that states only the blameless will be blessed? Only those who remain steadfast in the teaching will receive the promise! Even the Psalmist exclaims, I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
Notice the need for teaching as the Psalmist learns or is taught God's righteous rules or teaching. Notice this teaching will result in future praise, uprightness of heart, and keeping of statutes. Yet he who proclaims that only the blameless will be blessed, cries out not to be utterly forsaken. It must be that something happens in this teaching; that much learning about God and the self happens in this classroom of life!
There are a couple of ways to become blameless, but only one that's effective for the eternal run.
If one does not hear the teaching, how then might he be to blame? So many who have heard the word of God's teaching and promise decide not to listen to it anymore in the hope they will be without blame. But too late! They've already heard it, you've already heard it, and know it's the truth, the whole truth, the only eternal truth.
Then some seek to discredit the one who casts blame. They do this by vilifying him, or rejecting his reality. Such are the primary motives for atheists and evolutionists. If then they can dismiss the source of truth then they can dismiss everything they believe to fictitiously have come from a non-existent God.
However, for most of us there are two ways we generally react and they both occur as a result of guilt and shame. We see we are not blameless, but rather we are full of blame. A shiver of coldness runs through your bones, the heart misses a beat and then thumps hard, you've been caught out, you're to blame, exposed, guilty, ashamed!
Can I really be this bad! Why do I keep doing this thing? If only I could stop sinning then it would be better. We can be crushed by the truth of God's teaching of who we really are! Loathing the sins we do, wanting them to just go away forever. Then the milk and honey will flow, if only I can say no to sin.
Or the other way is the way of denial. This is the oldest way in the world; it's the way of Adam and Eve. And it's also the way of us in the church too. Hide it! Hide from God! Deny it, and act as if it's not true! On being exposed, appeal to your blamelessness by blaming someone or something else. He made me do it, she made me do it, and in pleading innocence, adding to the list of lies, trying to side step the teaching and believing we still have a right to the promise.
We hear in Hebrews…
For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:13–14 ESV)
Defiled persons, sanctifying, purification of the flesh, blemishes of the conscience needing purification from dead works and serving a living God all teach us about ourselves and much about God. Sin defiles us: and our efforts to work off sin or to ignore it defile us even further. What does our guilt and shame tell us other than we have been unfaithful and others around us have been unfaithful to God and caused us suffering? It shows our very nature to be sinful.
We kid ourselves; we let the devil pull wool over our eyes, when we think "if only I could stop sinning." If we had the power to stop doing sinful things we would no longer realise we are sinful and then forget all about God. For all intentions and purposes we would be just like the Israelites living in the land of milk and honey, forgetting God and glorifying the self and using all God's gifts of milk and honey in the worship of ourselves.
Therefore, don't take comfort in your sin and your nature to sin, rather take comfort in the fact that God has not utterly forsaken you, when he shows you to be a sinner, but that he is teaching you with your very own wrong to turn you so you trust him more and more. Rather than hid sin, hear his word, search his word, let it search out the sin in you, so you can see the depths of destruction in you, but also the greater deeds of Jesus' death for you, and the continual work of the Holy Spirit to keep you in Christ.
Jesus has made us one with the Father, he is the Lord our God, one God, the only One. You now live with the promise that the kingdom of God is not far away. Let the Son and Spirit personally show you how close the kingdom of God is, that salvation is for sinners who allow their sin to be exposed and forgiven.
Jesus' way is blameless! His way is our only way! He together with Father and Holy Spirit is our Lord God! Our one true God! Lord, sustain us, keep us steadfast in your word; sanctify us in your word, Jesus please bear our shame; lead us to persevere in your blamelessness.
Be a sinner! Better still, be and believe you're a sinner being forgiven! Believe and rejoice in Jesus Christ more boldly for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. See your sin, your death, and the milk and honey of your earthly desires. See Jesus daily shining the brightness of his resurrection over you. Jesus is our teacher; he is our teaching and promise, he is our milk and honey. Amen.