Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jesus offers forgiveness and cleansing for the scar of sin on our lives!

Our sins have consequences. It’s true, sometimes we don’t see the effects of our sin right away, but they do have consequences. That concept of sin causing problems and scarring in our lives if you will, is one of the themes that is discussed by John Rzeznik lead vocalist and songwriter for the Goo Goo Dolls in their 1995 smash hit “Name.” The lyrics from the second verse have a lot for us to unpack as far as Christian concepts:

“Scars are souvenirs you never lose,
The past is never far,
Don’t it make you sad to know that life,
Is more than who we are.”

Let’s take the first example about scars being ‘souvenirs you never lose.’ Sometimes Satan makes it so easy for us to think we know better than God when it comes to what is best for us. Thus, we decide that acts which God calls sinful really aren’t sins for us, and that we should act on what we feel and tell God that we know better than Him and we aren’t going to listen to what He says in His Word about how we should live. When this happens it so often times turns out that we realize that God was right and we were wrong. This is why the Apostle Paul warned us concerning sin in Galatians 6:7-8 “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (NLT)

The concept of reaping what we sow fits well with the concept of sin ‘scarring’ us in a sense that we can’t forget sin. The Holy Spirit will always convict us about such matters, and that conviction, if unacknowledged will lead to scarring. Paul calls that producing a harvest of “decay and death” which is really not a pretty picture! However, what I love about this passage of scripture is that it ends with an encouraging remark. If we live our lives to please the Lord, we will harvest ‘everlasting life from the Spirit!” That to me is very encouraging and exciting! Don’t get me wrong living our lives to please God is not easy! In fact it is very hard, but there is a promise of a reward attached if we do this!

The second part of the stanza here is also interesting to delve into. I find it perplexing that Rzeznik considers it sad to know that life is ‘more than who we are.’ Then again in a culture that is obsessed with selfish and egocentric behavior among our most famous celebrities, it shouldn’t surprise that an unbelieving world would not want to face the fact that life is not about us! But there couldn’t be a more accurate statement made, and it once again lines up with truth in the Bible.

In Colossians 3:2 Paul writes: “Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.” That’s right, friends, we as Believers are not supposed to dwell too much on the distractions that demand our attention down here on earth, that are often futile efforts to build ourselves up! We often forget that life is so much more than what is currently going on in our lives. Whether it is good or bad, it is important to keep in mind Paul’s words about our thought life. God doesn’t want us to be consumed with ourselves down here on earth. He wants us to mindful of Heaven, and that in my view means a couple of things. One it means to have a longing for Heaven and the paradise that is awaiting us after our lives here on earth are complete. However, it also means to keep our minds on the things that matter to God. It means we can’t be selfish but instead be servants like Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3-4.

The concept of being able to focus outside of ourselves can be hampered as well by falling into sin cycles that can plunge us into despair. As “Name” continues into it’s next stanza Rzeznik addresses this in a unique way:

“You grew up way too fast,
Now there’s nothing to believe,
And reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won’t tell no one your name.”

This concept of ‘reruns becoming our history and ‘a tired song’ playing on a ‘tired radio’ all conjure up images to me of a cycle of behavior to me, behavior that the song’s story teller seems to desperately want to get out of but is unsure of how to. Sin can be like that quite often. The first taste is often sweet and pleasurable, enticing us to want more, which leads to us continuing in that sin, until we are so hooked we don’t know how to even begin getting out.

Sexual sin is especially this way, because it feels good in the moment, but barring the Holy Spirit is present in our hearts to convict us, it leaves us feeling hollow and empty later. Yet when the temptation arises again, it can be easy to jump right back into the same behavior all over again, because we as humans become easily addicted to things that makes us feel good. I think this is why Jesus told us that ‘the highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13b-14 NLT). Being a Christian is hard folks, plain and simple. However, as Christians, we have the ability to ask God for help in fighting Satan’s temptations and He will help us. As Paul writes in Titus 2:11-12 ”For the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age."

Think about that, God’s gift of Salvation helps us to say no to sin! The Holy Spirit within each and every one of us gives us that power, but we need to ask Him for help! God is a faithful God and Jesus promised that He will give us anything that we ask of Him, if it is in His plan for our lives (John 14:13-14). Friends, sin does leave scars on our lives, but you need to know that God can cleanse us from0 those scars left by our sin! Oh don’t get me wrong some sins are going to leave a mark on us for a time, but in God’s eyes if we have asked Him for forgiveness, that sin is no longer remembered by Him (1 John 1:9). So since God has forgiven us, often times we then need to be able to forgive ourselves, and ask forgiveness of those who we have hurt by our sin. These things will take time, but once we have invited God into the process, true healing can begin

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