Archives for August 2014

How God’s Timing Is Perfect

I’m studying the Bible this evening, enjoying some solitude in my man cave. My loyal dogs are at my feet and I can hear faintly the sound of the nighttime serenade of creation beckoning me to soak in its soothing cadence. I love God’s Word. I love summer.

I’m going through a chronological Bible and I’m starting Proverbs. Yes, I am about one and half months behind schedule and I’m not letting this concern me as once a week I read several days at a time and I’m catching up, slowly and surely. I have a great familiarity of Proverbs as for over 15 years a chapter of Proverbs, by the day of the month, was part of my regular study plan. After that many years most would have the Proverbs memorized. Not me though. I am very familiar and maybe someday I’ll put in the effort to memorize them.

“For the Lord detests a perverse man, but takes the upright into his confidence.” Pr 3:32. This stops my reading immediately. God hates people? God hated me because of my perverseness? How could this be true? God is love. I instantly think of the intimacy with Christ I have in prayer, hearing His voice, discerning His desires for me and life. This has grown immensely over the past few years. I juxtapose this closeness with Him and how my life was when steeped in porn, lusting after men’s bodies, desiring from them what I knew deep down I lacked. I had very little intimacy with Jesus then compared to now. What relationship I had was through His blood and the cross. This every repentant sinner has. Did I have a real closeness to Him where I could sense His touch, see and feel prayers answered for myself and others, discern what to say to other people, have thankfulness for all of life–good and bad, and so much more? Absolutely not! Why?

As I contemplated this I remembered reading David Platt’s Radical, Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream, where he wrote that God hates sinners. He refutes the cliché, “God hates sin but loves the sinner.” When I read this deep in my being I knew it was true. Did I personalize this? No. That would be crazy. He is writing to other people, not me. Well, tonight God’s Word was speaking right into my soul. I was terrified and so very thankful at the same time. I had been hated by God as I was my sin and He hates sin. Platt’s book explains this well and as I go forward reading Proverbs I find many more that confirm this truth. Here are a few more verses from Proverbs alone:

The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. Pr 11:19
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. Pr 12:22
The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. Pr 15:8
The LORD detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness. Pr 15:9
The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him. Pr 15:26
The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Pr 16:5

As I sat and contemplated I could not figure out how I can separate myself from my sin when I willfully desire it. When steeped in homosexual desires and going continually to porn and masturbation and constantly searching out men to fantasize about, I was my sin. My Heavenly Father hated me. You may not see it this way. Fine. For me, I can see clearly now why I struggled so hard as I had a heart that lacked a singular bent, focus, or desire for God’s way to live.

This is crucial in my walk as Christ’s disciple. Is my life centered in Him, His teachings, His way to live? Or, do I justify and rationalize areas of my life so I can continue to indulge in sin telling myself, “God hates my sin but not me.” I instantly think of these Scriptures from James 4:4-10:

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Can this be any more clear? To me, at this moment, no! I cannot let the world tell me truth. I cannot as it will allow me to disassociate myself from my sin and, as I read, pray, and feel the power of God’s Word permeate into my very soul, I must surrender more of myself to Him going to His feet and thanking Him for His perfect love. Or, I can choose any number of other postures–all of which will keep me trapped in my sin or, at the very least–prevent me from experiencing more freedom He desires me to live out.

Now, is there a tension still yet in this whole idea of this preached cliché that God hates sin but loves sinners? Yes. What am I do with this? I understand what these words are trying to convey but why am I believing they are strung together like a necklace that catches the eye but lacks brilliance to hold my attention? If there was a huge, flashy gemstone at the center of the necklace then I would be enamored with it. What is the gemstone that is missing? I’m going to challenge you that it is one that at first glance will catch your breath but not because of its initial beauty. Instead, it is a beauty that is much deeper than the eye can perceive and is found through revelation.

In Platt’s book he mentions John 3:36, calling it one of the most overlooked verses in the Bible. It reads, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Do you see the beauty here? It is there. The wrath of God (cannot imagine what this really means!) is NOT on anyone who believes in Jesus. If you have not said “yes” to the Gospel then you have God’s wrath upon you. Word. If you believe, you are forgiven. Jesus’ blood covers your sin and your Heavenly Abba does not see your sin–any of them. He chooses to not hold them against you. If you reject Jesus, He sees your sin and there is no blanket thick enough or large enough to even begin to cover your sin…no matter how little you might have sinned.

So, the beauty is only found when you contemplate that there is a mighty gem at the center of this necklace and it is truly one-of-a-kind as it is God’s only Son’s sacrifice of His life through His broken body and shed blood on the cross. The cross is powerful, but lacking, if we do not consider the empty tomb. Jesus conquered death, destroying its power, and creating a beautiful package or gift that no one else can give…grace. Grace is the most beautiful stone ever mounted in any necklace. Who is adorned with this beautiful necklace that should be viewed in a museum exhibit guarded by several sentinels and the latest, greatest high-tech sophistication ever invented? You and I. Do we wear this now? Yes and no.

I exist in this world. Is this truly where I reside? No. Colossians 3:3 states, “For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Where does Jesus reside right now? Four verses in Hebrews tells us that Jesus is at the highest place of honor, at the right hand of God (see 1:3, 1:13, 8:1, and 10:12). I am in Christ and in some mysterious way, I am with Him now in Heaven. How can this be? I do not have a full understanding but what I perceive is that in my heart I reside where home is and that is Heaven, where Jesus is now. It is like I have gone on a trip and while I am gone I experience all kinds of sights, foods, people, places and at the same time, I long for home. I can be there so quickly in my thoughts so really that is where I am the whole time I am on my grand adventure. This is how I view the truth of these Scriptures and my life now.

With all this being true, I must consciously live my life knowing that sin separates me from God and having close intimacy with Him. That is why Proverbs 16:32 was so convicting when I read it anew. I must remember the great price that was demanded for my sin…Jesus’ life! Body broken. Blood shed. God is merciful. And, He is just. God is love. And, He is truth. I will never receive what I deserve and I am truly thankful for this. No one will be able to pay the price of their sins no matter how few they might be. Mine is many and mighty! All forgiven. Thank You Jesus!

How you view your sin, God’s love for you, the price tag for your sin, and how to live daily is up to you. You may not agree with my thinking. I challenge you to consider what clichés you take in as truth and how they guide your daily life? This cliché does have Scripture to back it up and yet, for me, I over-identify with one side of the saying or the other and wonder if you maybe do the same? I have downplayed my sin thinking that God loves me no matter what, right? Or, I have hated myself and truly believed God hated me too as I was the lowest, sickest scum in the pond! To balance out this cliché is difficult and if you use it to rationalize your sin and be slack in your pursuit of holiness then I submit to you that these words strung together like cheap costume jewelry need to be dressed up with the priceless stone of “grace” so as to penetrate your very soul helping you to live out a lifestyle of repentance and personal pursuit of holiness. Your intimacy with Christ is on the line. Remember the proverb says, “For the Lord detests a perverse man, but takes the upright into his confidence.” There is very little I want more than to be able to freely converse with God knowing His plans for me as I live daily with Him…to be in His “confidence.”

If any Biblical clichés conflict with Scripture in any way or diminish what a single verse states then really it is a cultural “catch phrase” and needs to be reconsidered. I am not saying this cliché has no truth. I am saying how you live it out is vital in your walk and intimacy with God.

Something noteworthy about this cliché is that it originated with St. Augustine from the phrase, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum” which translates closely to, “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” Over time it has become more popular as “love the sinner but hate the sin” or “hate the sin and not the sinner” with the latter form appearing in Mohandas Gandhi’s 1929 autobiography. Both Augustine and Gandhi were very wise men and yet, not Jesus. Remember Gandhi wasn’t a Christian.

If you are struggling with a sin-habit then there is hope. There is Freedom. First, you must know what is freedom. May God bless you in your journey with Jesus.

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