Our Favorite Sins
Posted on 10/12/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
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EVEN THE MOUNTAINS
We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high
Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name
I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above
BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL
Bless the Lord O my soul
and all that is within me
bless his holy name
For he has done great things
he has done great things
he has done great things
He's so good to me
He saved my soul
he saved my soul
he saved my soul
He's so good to me
He is coming soon
he is coming soon
he is coming soon
Bless his holy name
*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***
Last week, we asked the question, "Is There Evil In Life." Of course, that was a trick question. But we saw that there IS evil in the world, and that Sin is our only TRUE enemy, and the cleansing blood of Jesus our only true Salvation.
We discussed the truth that transgressions are just manifestations, or the fruit of, Sin, or Evil, or Death, and if we are practicing any of the transgressions mentioned in the Bible, that just tells us that we have entered into the one nameless, faceless Evil, or Sin.
Well today, I'd like to use that as a starting place, as we take an honest look at some of Our Favorite Sins.
And today, when I say "sins," I mean those inner or outer manifestations of Sin, or "sins" as the word is translated in many places in Scripture.
And please remain aware that the things I'm about to mention aren't attempts to enforce any sort of legalism. Instead, let's honestly and openly examine the Scriptures, and when they shine a light on evidence of Sin, evidence of some degree of separation from God, in us, between our Life and the Life Giver, let's confess and surrender that to God, as we allow Him to remove it from us. After all, that's the only reason He's bringing our attention to it today. Amen?
Okay, so let's take a look at our favorite sins. And note that these are not in this order for any particular reason other than I can't talk about all of them at the same time, so they have to be in SOME sort of order.
Our Favorite Sins:
Do you ever worry? Never? Good, then we'll move on to number two. It IS possible that you do not worry. The Bible wouldn't tell us not to if there was no way we couldn't.
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
But the fact is, not only do most of us worry, but we tend to dismiss it as just something that is to be expected.
And for those who worry compulsively, they might say something like this:
"I'm just a worrier. That's just the way I am. It runs in my family."
So they identify with worry. Worry is a part of the psuedo-self their mind has created for them to animate. And because of that, it becomes a part of that self-perpetuated character they play. To separate the worry from the character would be like cutting off an arm or a leg. It is nearly impossible to extract.
For those of us who do not worry night and day, we might say something such as,
"I believe the Bible. But I do sometimes worry. I'm only human."
That's a lesser degree of identification with worry, but it's still a story. You "believe." You sometimes worry. You're human. That's just how your story reads. And that type of story just doesn't change.
An obvious part of that story and the character we play is that we wouldn't ever even think of accusing God of lying, or insinuate that He might fail. But.... I might not be able to feed my family next week.
So is it that the Bible's promise that God will supply all your needs is a lie? Or is it the part that says, "according to His riches in glory?" Maybe God is feeling the recession.
Or maybe it's not finances. Maybe it's a relationship. Obviously, Christians can be in a failed relationship, because it takes more than one person to make a relationship work. So a marriage might be heading toward divorce. And there are children involved. And so you lose sleep because of it. Maybe God won't meet the non-material needs of your children. When the Bible says God will supply all your needs, maybe that is talking only about money. Maybe "all" doesn't mean "all."
Of course that little bit of sarcasm isn't meant to be mean. It's just a reflection of our minds' level of doubt. If we REALLY believed, we wouldn't worry and fret.
Or how about politics, and the direction of our country and of the world?
"Yeah, I believe God will work everything out in the end, but if so-and-so gets another term in office, or if such-and-such a bill passes into law, everything's going to fall apart." And so you're filled with fear and dread. Or, worry.
And, it IS natural to worry. The Bible doesn't say, "Thou shalt not worry, and whoever worries shall be thrown into the lake of fire." It's more like a loving, "Don't worry, I'm taking care of you." But worry IS a form of disbelief, and it proceeds from the nature of Sin, and not from the nature of Life. And it is a symptom, a sign, that we are still connecting with Death on some level.
And as with all of these, we'll talk about the answer in just a few minutes.
Our Favorite Sins:
This is one we like a lot. Actually, this is one we love. Even if we think we generally take a positive perspective, almost all of us still like to complain from time to time.
Oh come on now, don't pretend it isn't so. We like to fool ourselves, to compliment ourselves on the sly. Maybe it's just my own recent and long-term experience with being a relatively positive person who realized that he had been complaining for a very long time.
Maybe I would voice disappointment, even if in just a sound or a gesture, even over something that didn't really matter. Maybe it was just a sigh of frustration when someone would pull out in front of me going slowly. Maybe it was just pointing out the price of gas. Or the immodest way someone is dressed. Or commenting with disdain about something a politician said or did.
Or perhaps we had a picknick planned, or I was planning to take a walk, and it's pouring down rain. Of course one would feel their mind's disappointment. But then I participated with complaining and suffered as a result.
And even when doing some searches for this message, I encountered an issue with the search engine I use. I typed in the phrase, hit enter, and it showed the results for the previous phrase, because of a glitch on their site. And I let out a very brief sigh of complaint.
Now, complaint is just a word. It is nothing in itself. And the Bible talks about bringing complaints to God. But while that's the same English word, it's not the same thing. I'm talking about the gumbling type of complaint. The "making an enemy out of what is" type of complaint.
And when you're complaining, it is impossible to also be truly giving thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV) says,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
And Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV) says this:
20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are instructed to be genuinely thankful, not just with our mouths but with our hearts, both in and for all things. All circumstances. All situations. Everything.
And just like worry, we shrug this off. We say, "You're right, I need to trust God instead of worrying, and I need to give thanks instead of complaining." And then nothing changes.
Nothing changes because our flesh is still firmly in place. It deals with some level of abuse from us, and can sometimes be wrestled into submission by strong enough and long enough will power. But we aren't told to subdue our flesh, but to put it to death.
More on this in just a few minutes.
Our Favorite Sins:
Paul is known for saying the words, "I buffet my body daily." The first time I heard that sentence quoted with a different pronunciation and meaning of that word "buffet," I thought it was funny. 'I buh-fay' my body daily."
I've heard that a couple of other times since then, always by an overweight or obese preacher, and always without an ounce of apology or the least acknowledgement that gluttony is actually a sin.
Instead, it's made to look cute. So maybe gluttony is a cute sin. As long as you partake of it in moderation, I suppose.
Proverbs 23:20-21 (NASB) says this:
20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.
Now, it's true that many of the Jewish celebrations mentioned in Scripture involve feasting. And Passover could involve stuffing yourself to the point of pain, for none of the Passover lamb could be left over. It all had to be consumed.
But Passover wasn't kept 365 days per year. During a feast, those celebrating might eat too much rich food, or drink a little too much wine. And that was acceptable, and was not considered a sin. But the one who got drunk every day or feasted on rich foods every day was considered a glutton and a drunk.
In most developed nations, we have the option of feasting every day. Most Christians know they shouldn't get drunk, and some believe that it's somehow a sin to drink any alcohol at all. But they eat bacon and eggs for breakfast with buttered toast, eat a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, and have pork roast, cheese-covered potatoes, and ice cream for supper.
For most of us, every day is, relatively speaking, a feast. And it is a feast on rich foods wich are both harmful to our bodies and addictive.
Just like is a sin to drink too much wine, but not to drink too much water, so it's the type of foods you consume that determine whether you're practicing gluttony, and not just the quantity alone.
I don't know about you, but I've never heard of a glutton who eats too much steamed broccoli. When you think of someone pigging out, you envision a cheese-covered pizza or a big turkey leg or steak.
The same things you see featured on a food commercial, or hear talked about when someone posts on Facebook what they're having for dinner.
You can eat all the rice, beans, and vegetables you want without doing your body any damage. It's the rich foods such as animal flesh, milk, cream, and cheese, and even vegetable oils, that cause around 75% of our medical costs.
Just like too much alcohol is forbidden because it does us harm, so it is for too much rich foods.
And yet our eyes are pulled toward those things that do us harm, and since most of us can buy them, we eat rich foods every day and for every meal.
And we think that's normal.
Well, it is. Just like worry and complaint. And just like the other sins we have yet to cover.
Our Favorite Sins:
Exodus 20:2-6 (NKJV)
2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image -- any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
No other gods. No idols. On the surface, we would think this means we shouldn't have a Buddah statue to which we bow and pray. And of course that's an obvious meaning. Some Christians believe this means we shouldn't make any carved images for ANY reason. Of course that would have made the Ark of the Covenant and its carved figures of angels one big idol.
So what is idolatry? Well, there are two meanings for the word.
1. the religious worship of idols.
2. excessive or blind adoration, reverence, or devotion.
And we'll get to the second one in just a moment. But first, let's take a look at Deuteronomy chapter four, verses fifteen through twenty.
Deuteronomy 4:15-20 (NKJV)
15 "Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,
16 lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female,
17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,
18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth.
19 And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.
20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.
So this starts with these words: "Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire."
They saw no form. And then he talks about forms -- carved images in the form of any figure, whether man or beast. And then he goes a step further and warns against worshiping the forms of the heavenly bodies.
Obviously the sun and moon and stars are not evil. And looking at them isn't evil, since God gave them for signs and seasons. Of course your eyes might contend that looking at the sun can indeed be an evil thing to do. But this tells us that it is not the form itself that constitutes idolatry. Rather, it is looking to the form, ANY form, to worship the One who has no form; "for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb."
We generally think we're free and clear on this one. We don't physically bow down to any graven images, and we don't bow our knee in homage to the sun, moon, and stars. If you do, stop it. But most of us, if not all of us, do not.
But a carved image is just a form. And bowing your knee is also just a form. And if no form is evil in itself, and is defined only by what is behind it, could not the bowing of one's knee also become an idol?
Perhaps you are in good standing with God because you pray five times per day.
Are you? Does your form you call "prayer" receive such praise from you?
Perhaps you are pleasing God by keeping the Sabbath or giving 10% of your income to the church.
Are you? Do these outer actions, these forms, deserve such glory?
Maybe you feel, whether you've thought this, that people who don't pray multiple times per day aren't as spiritually mature as you; or that those who don't keep the sabbath, or who don't tithe, can't be in as right standing with God as you who do.
Or maybe you take the position that your refusal to worship those forms makes YOU more spiritually mature and closer to God. As if doing or not doing, which are both forms, are venerable sovereigns posessing sufficient power to exalt us to the very throne room of God.
Of course we could rightly ask the question, "If this is so, then aren't most if not all of us idolaters?"
Well, let's consider the second definition of the word "idolatry."
2. excessive or blind adoration, reverence, or devotion.
Have we not all in this way worshiped people? Or denominations? Or ideologies? Or doctrines? Or traditions? Or rituals? Or forms of worship?
In fact, if we were to be completely honest with ourselves, with eyes wide open, we could have to make the following confession:
My mind is my taskmaster.
My taskmaster is my god.
What my god tells me, I believe.
What my god wants me to do, I try with all my might to make happen.
The idols my god has created for me to worship, I protect them with tooth and nail.
If someone challenges my god's idols, they instantly become my enemy and must be silenced or destroyed.
Idols. Forms that we confuse with the formless. Those forms can be graven images, or they can be thoughts, ideas, mental concepts, that we serve, that control our activities and choices.
The forms of our mind, and of our mental concept of who we think we are. They drive us to do what we do.
If someone insults one of these forms, we feel deep pain, whether in the form of anger or hurt. And we feel the overwhelming need to defend these forms because we have come to believe that these forms ARE the formless.
Let's consider Jesus. When we think of Jesus, we think of the physical form. Indeed, He took on the form of a man. Fully human, or form, and fully God, or formless. That's why Hebrews 4:15 tells us this:
Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
You and I are also both form and formless, the formless expressing itself through the form, yet WITH sin.
But just as our form should serve to us as a pointer to that which is behind that form, so Jesus took on form to point us to the Father.
And He also took on form so He could connect with us no matter where our attention may be.
To the one trapped entirely in his or her earthly mind and its many forms, the Scriptures become concepts in the head, ideas and doctrines that, if true, continually point our attention toward the formless truth behind that form.
Some, perhaps many to most, may live and die having never seen beyond the level of form. Of course first-hand knowledge of the realm of spirit, the realm of the formless One, comes to everyone. But God doesn't require you to either become enlightened in such a way or to spend eternity in hell. Jesus already did it all. There's nothing you can add to what He did.
But many Christians never experience God first-hand except during brief moments during deep prayer or intimate worship, when for a very short time, the veil of form is lifted from their eyes -- or I should say their attention is lifted from the veil of form -- and they encounter Spirit, they commune with God.
And those encounters transform them, little by little, from glory to glory, as they are shaped just a little more into the perfect likeness of Christ.
Away from their being lost in form, and all the earthly suffering that earth-bound mind causes.
And when reading the Scriptures, they may find that things are revealed to them that they could not have known before. Of course they will shape most of them into forms that the human mind can store in a mental box. But at least that pointer is there, that pointer to what they saw first hand, for just a brief moment in time, as the arrows of the words in the Bible pointed their awareness to the Formless One.
A glimpse. A fleeting encounter. A brief dip into the formless waters from which we came.
Now, the Scriptures can seem to take on different forms for different people at different places in life.
To one sea captain, the ocean can look like a bunch of waves, one after the other, all of them separate. The rain starts to fall, and to him, the water coming down is separate from the waters below, as the two conspire together against him and his crew.
To another seaman, there is only the one sea. To him, the waves are only the swelling of the ocean. And as the rain begins to fall, he sees the temporary multitude of the waters, the many drops, as simply the one great sea returning home.
To one reader, they read that God is a spirit, and of course "spirit" is a white glowing thing, that, in His case, is super powerful.
To another reader, they read that God IS; the formless, nameless, source of all the forms they see and touch and smell and feel, beyond the grasping of their minds, and they delight in His timeless embrace.
And there are readers at every point in between. None are better than the others. None are worse. The Scriptures address you right where you are, and nowhere else. And everywhere else.
And, of course, part of what I'm saying is bound to sound like utter nonsense to some of us. Those parts can't be understood by our human mind, and so the more we are identifying with it, the more we think it sounds like lu lu woo woo and is out there in left field somewhere.
And that's okay. God's not up there somewhere waiting for us to not get it, or to mess up in one of these things so He can strike us down like He's been anxiously waiting to do.
But hopefully you see the general idea here, that idolatry is not limited to literally bowing down to a physical object; but that we can give excessive or blind adoration, reverence, or devotion to things that are not God, including the mental concepts meant to point us to Him.
And finally, Our Favorite Sins:
James 4:6b (NKJV)
6b "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
We all want God to give us grace instead of resisting us, don't we? And yet pride seems to pop up everywhere.
I'm humble, BUT... What I believe the Bible means, is undeniably correct. Otherwise I wouldn't believe it.
Is this really pride? Isn't believing a correct understanding of the Scriptures a good thing? Well, consider it for a moment. Some say that you can't be saved until you are water baptised. Others say that you're not really baptised until you are submerged in water. Some say that you should be baptised only in the name of Jesus. While still others say you must be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
And to each one of these, the idea that someone else believes the Scriptures say or mean something else, is undeniably wrong, and that "someone else" is deceived or void of the truth.
The truth. OUR truth. "Wait, but it's not MY truth, it's in the Bible!" That's certainly your understanding of what it says or means. As though you fully know all the Scriptures and completely and flawlessly understand every verse.
Now, I'm not suggesting that it's wrong to hold any of those points of view and to act accordingly. But pride causes one to feel somewhat exalted above those who aren't as spiritually sighted as they. And pride causes one to be convinced that, if the other person or group of people ever come to a fuller knowledge of the truth, then they will most certainly see things the same way too.
As if God tells us that the letter kills but the spirit gives life, while all the time He's waiting to send us to hell if we don't follow the letter exactly as such-and-such a denomination of enlightened beings has explained it to be.
Of course pride is generally more subtle than this. YOUR pride is exactly as subtle as it needs to be for you to allow it to continue building up the form of your flesh.
Here are a few more.
I'm humble, BUT...
What I think I know about God, is correct. Those who disagree simply don't know God as well as I.
I'm humble, BUT...
If someone doesn't understand Scripture like I do, one of us will be explaining the Scriptures more fully. And that someone will be me. Or someone else who agrees with me.
I'm humble, BUT...
The Bible doesn't say such-and-such is wrong or evil, but I know it is, and therefore it is.
I'm humble, BUT...
I walk in humility. This makes me feel really good about myself.
I'm humble, BUT...
If that driver had half the sense I do, they would be driving differently.
I'm humble, BUT...
If that political party had half of the brain MY party has, they WOULD be my party.
I'm humble, BUT...
I would NEVER do what THAT person or THAT group of people is doing. And that makes me feel very glad that I'm not like them.
In Luke 18:10-14 (NKJV), Jesus tells this parable:
10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men -- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
We're not TRYING to exalt ourselves by having these thoughts and feelings. Not intentionally. Or, maybe I should say, not consciously. But our carnal self, our flesh nature, our earthly mind, has one undying obsession, which is to build and protect its idol, the false you.
Just like we're not consciously trying to worry, or complain, or over-indulge, or bow to an idol.
And God isn't glaring down at us shaking His finger. As if He actually has one. He loves us. In fact, He IS Love IN us. And it is the root of Evil within us that separates us, to some degree, from Him, from Love, from Life, and it is thus that Evil from which He took on flesh to save us.
And He has placed pointers all through the Scriptures, that point our attention to the fruit of Darkness -- the fruit of our siding with the nature of that Darkness.
So do you see that you sometimes worry? Do you see that you sometimes complain? Do you see that you might partake of gluttony? Do you see that you might be guilty of idolatry? Do you see that you might have some pride?
These are all fruit. God isn't seeking to condemn you for these fruit; instead, He's leading you to take care of the root. And if you chop down the tree of unrighteousness, the fruit of the flesh will wither and die.
How? Well, the answer is all throughout the Scriptures. We tend to read them with our earthly mind; but the carnal mind cannot understand the things of God; only the spirit can.
And, of course, our earthly mind THINKS it knows what it means to understand the Scriptures by the spirit. But, as is always true when it comes to spiritual things, our earthly mind is wrong.
And when I refer to the "earthly mind" or "carnal mind" or "human mind," I'm refering to that part that labels everything, that tries to put everything in a box, that compulsively chatters without giving a moment's rest.
I'm talking about that which builds up the false self that most people believe they are. That same thing that tells you it IS you, and that your STORY is you. That thing that constantly pulls you out of the present moment and to some other time and place, so that you rarely truly enter the time and place where God is, except during times of intense prayer or worship, or when something seemingly "bigger than life" is happening. And then it regains control as quickly as possible and explains everything in the only muttled way it knows how, while boasting that its blurred conclusion is the absolute truth.
I'm basically talking about the flesh. That's what the Bible calls it.
Last week we took a look at some of the things the Bible tells us about the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of the flesh. Some of the fruit of the flesh we found in Galatians chapter five are:
- Outbursts of Anger
- Selfish Ambition
These all come from the earthly mind.
Hatred is the result of the mind's making an enemy out of someone. It does this to strengthen your feeling of separation from others, which also builds up your false sense of self.
Contention is found in controversy, disputes, rivalry, and strife. It is closely related to hatred, and has the same cause. Proverbs tells us that arguments come only from pride, which is the language of the earthly mind.
Jealousy can take the form of resentment against someone for having or achieving something, or it can be a suspicion or fear of rivalry or unfaithfulness. It is often paranoid, suspicious, unreasonable, and tightly clinging to a story or a form.
Outbursts of Anger generally come when anger has been building up on the inside. That anger almost always begins as a thought, and continued mental dwelling builds the feelings of anger that eventually explode into an ungodly manifestation of an ungodly inner state.
Selfish Ambition is found even in some of the most altruistic endeavors. It is the earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, such as power, honor, fame, or wealth. It is the holding onto and drawing to one's self earthly, temporal things, even if those things are mental objects pointing to something eternal.
Dissension is discord, strong disagreement, quarreling, arguing, or disputing. It's just another flavor of what we've already mentioned such as hatred, contention, and so-on, and has its roots in the prideful earthly mind.
Envy is a feeling of discontent or covetousness concerning someone else's posessions, relationships, position, advantages, or anything else. It has within it a sense of lack, along with the delusion that, if YOU only had what THAT person or group of people has, then you would be more complete. It is completely within the mind, and as all of these other fruit, is empty and dark.
Murder can be a more extreme result of any combination of these: hatred, contention, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, dissension, and envy. No one has to tell you that murder is a sin; but murder starts in a being's getting lost in the sin-sick musings of their human mind.
So what's the answer? Well, it can be summed up in the cliche, "Jesus is the answer." But that's meant to point us to something, not to become a self-containing mental concept.
The most important point is this: Jesus completed the work; that work that wipes away the stain of our Sin; that work that puts us in right standing with God; that work that gifts us with the Holy Spirit as comforter, healer, and guide.
And by His Spirit, He prepares you to hear the truth, and brings you the truth you need at the time you need and are ready to accept it. Such as the truth that the carnal mind is your biggest downfall.
And while we are instructed to renew our minds, they will always, during this earthly life, be the source of worry, complaining, gluttony, idolatry, and pride. They are tricky, can talk you out of knowing their true nature, and can fill you with fear at the thought of silencing them and stepping out of them for even the tiniest bit of time.
But God reveals the vital truths to us regardless of how lost in our earthly minds we have become. Our minds can posess and be trained in an earthly symbol of the heavenly things, and those mental objects can serve as constant pointers, so that some day you can know the truth first hand. This is a gift from God. It is His mercy and love. It is His grace and promised guidance.
And as a born again child of God, you will have glimpses into the realm of spirit, if you only seek after God with your whole heart. The most mind-dominated among us will have short experiences in which they are, for just a moment, whisked beyond their earthly mind and into the breathtaking, world-transforming presence of God.
They are still like a nursing infant. They are not ready for the solid spiritual food. But God is preparing them, little by little, growing maturity in them by those glimpses into reality. And by those same brief encounters, He is transforming them, from glory to glory, into His image.
Glory to glory. Here a glory. There a glory. Glimpses of glory. Glory which pulls us, for a time though short yet omnipotent, out of our babbling, grasping minds, and into Life. And that Presence calls to us, touching us with the ever-present Truth that we can live always in this place of no problems, this place of clarity, this place of unspeakable beauty, this place of absolutely glorious Life.
Of course we who are born again are promised that end regardless of whether we enter it in such a way during this earthly life. But there is no need to suffer here and now. And there is no need to cause others to suffer here and now. We will go through pain and tribulation and loss. But we can truly, from our innermost being, count it all joy.
And until we are free from our flesh mind, God will use the suffering it causes us to wake us up. Sometimes the greatest awakening can arise out of the most dreadful pain and loss, and the related suffering caused by the flesh mind.
There is no condemnation in getting lost in the drama and going through a type of hell as a result. But there is Heaven on Earth to gain right now if you let go of the temporal and dwell fully in the eternal.
Crucifying the flesh is a calling that has been placed upon every single believer in Christ. And that crucifying of the flesh is not just abstaining from doing drugs or getting drunk or avoiding some other obvious sin. The earthly mind IS the flesh. Your getting lost in it and being directed by it and letting it run the show while it never stops talking and labeling and judging: THAT is the flesh.
And your attachment to your person and your story is the domain of that flesh. And when the Life you are, the life that has been preserving those things, completely lets go of them, then the flesh is literally put to death. That is dying daily. And it is beautiful.
And here's a little hint: when you are in an intimate time with God and all your problems disappear and there is no past or future and no "us and them," or "you and Him," just a glorious union that is far beyond words; THAT is a glimpse into freedom from the flesh mind, which is also freedom from the Sin into which it leads you.
Have you ever had a life-changing experience like that, and every time you go back to the place where His glory overwealmed you, you enter, even if just partially, back into that place?
Well, we don't have time to go into all the possible factors involved, such as a residue left behind or a mental association which points you back to that place of no-mind; but whichever one might be the case, what they have in common is this:
1. God was there.
2. You were there.
3. You were taken out of the possession by your carnal mind and, in that place of timeless presence, you came face to face with God.
Where is God? Well, the Bible says that your body is His temple, His dwelling place, His home.
Where are You? Well, your body is alive, so that's a pretty good clue that you're in it. For it is YOUR dwelling place, YOUR home, too.
That place you may have entered in deep worship, that place of no problems, no worries, no suffering, and pure union with God; that place has been right here all along.
Now, your earthly mind will try to form that into an idol. So let it go. And if this all sounds weird to you, if you just aren't ready to accept it, then just know that you should keep pressing into the presence of God. You have a lot of struggles ahead of you as you deal with your flesh mind; but God is right there with you, walking with you every step you take; Jesus has done the work, and you can fully rest in His absolute victory.
God speaks to us where we are. And there is no other place you can be right now than where you are right now. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, trust the Lord with your whole being, and don't trust or depend upon your mind's own understanding. See Him in all you do and in everything, and He will guide and direct you, making what you should do right now clear to you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (KMV*)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths, making them plain and straight.
Let's go ahead and close today's service. This altar is open, and you're invited to gather at the front to spend some time waiting upon the Lord, as we let anything He's spoken to us today sink in.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message one of us. Or if you're listening outside of Second Life or later in the week, you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.
Whenever you need to go, you're free to do so, and if you can stay a little longer, you're invited to make your way up the steps to your left when you're done here, and we'll be in there in a few minutes for some fellowship.
Come, and let's surrender to God wherever we are right now, as we let go of and follow His lead to overcome Our Favorite Sins.
*** listen to the audio to hear the closing prayer ***