Tag Archives: sin
My friend Mike — who has not yet trusted Christ as his Savior — reminds me of a number of blessings which I enjoy — or should enjoy — as a believer. “Enjoy” might be the wrong word for our next blessing, but I am thankful for God’s grace. And I don’t believe most of my friends —
35. THEY DON’T HAVE AN OPENNESS TO CHANGE!
I am not overlooking the human potential to recognize a habit or a sin that needs to change — and changing it! Alcoholics are sometimes successful in attaining sobriety. Poor fathers may realize their failures and become dads who really care. Rebellious teenagers occasionally come to their senses and become respectful and grateful young adults.
I’m talking about a fundamental, soul-deep conformity to the Person of Jesus Christ! Moral changes may take place in lost people because they have been made in the image of God, but a substantial re-ordering of one’s priorities and values can only happen to one who has surrendered his or her life to Christ. Theologians — who get paid by the big word — call this sanctification.
We read in Malachi 3 about the Lord where He says, “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” (v. 6). The Psalmist speaks of the Lord in Psalm 55- “God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.” (v. 19). We are told clearly in I Samuel 15, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (v. 29). Our God is absolutely perfect. And what is perfect does not need to change. James tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (1:17)
But we’re not. Perfect, that is. And we need to change in so many ways. For the believer, a large part of change involves repentance. We acknowledge our wrongness in an attitude or behavior or priority, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and covenant with Him to change. Saying one is sorry is not the same as a soul-deep conviction that leads to significant conformity to Christ.
So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my life some changes which Jesus is making in me — and I give Him the credit! And I pray for my friend, not that he would try to be “better”, but that he would come to repentance and trust the Savior who does not change. (to be continued)
What are some temptations that you face as a believer? One of the blessings that I have as a follower of Christ is a sensitivity to the Lord. I don’t want to embarrass my Savior, grieve the Holy Spirit, or hurt myself or my family by giving in to sin.
However, temptation is not sin. The Lord Jesus faced temptation, but turned away from the enticements of the Evil One. And believers face temptations all the time. But I’m pretty sure that Mike — and my other unsaved friends —
32. THEY DON’T HAVE A VIGILANCE ABOUT TEMPTATION!
“Oh, no! Not another missionary!” I just learned that a long-term missionary has been caught cheating on his wife. They are now separated, getting intense counseling, but it seems unlikely that the marriage will survive. Christians aren’t immune to temptation and sin.
But God’s Word does not leave the believer in the dark when it comes to sin and its precursor temptation. We read in Hebrews 4 —
Please notice several key points brought out in this passage: (1) Although the writer to the Hebrews uses negatives to make his point, the positive way to state verse 15 is: we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses! You and I, as children of God, will never be in a situation in which we might say, “Jesus would never understand what I’m going through!”
(2) Jesus has been tempted in every way we are — yet He did not sin.
(3) We can approach God’s throne of grace and find mercy and grace in our time of need.
My lost friend Mike doesn’t enjoy any of those benefits. God may indeed show him mercy when he gives in to temptation, but he (as of yet) has no relationship to the Savior and should not expect to find help in his time of need. His greatest need is to repent of his sins and trust Christ for his salvation. Then Hebrews 5:15-16 will prove to be a great help to him!
So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I make it clear that I’m not above or beyond temptation and sin. I might share some of my struggles with my lost friends — and how Jesus as my high priest helps me overcome temptation. And I pray for my friend that he would take temptation and sin seriously and bow his knee to the Savior. (to be continued)