Thursday, March 23, 2006

I've been reading The Helper, by Catherine Marshall as part of my Lenten routine. It's a forty day study about the Holy Spirit. While I don't necessarily agree with everything, I do recommend the book.

Yesterday I read the chapter entitled "He Convicts Me of Sin". I'm going to type in a large portion of the chapter, because to me it was a phenomenal re-revelation.

"...the Spirit showed me that every time I reject Jesus' ability to handle any problem or problem area of my life, I am rejecting Him as the Lord of Life as truly as did the three thousand on the Day of Pentecost. He claimed to be the Savior, to be able to save us from any sin, any bondage, any problem. By disclaiming that, with regard to any one of my problems, I am calling Jesus a liar and a charlatan - a fake prophet - as truly as did those who long ago howled for His death before Pilate and who drove in the nails.

At that point I am also back in the garden of Eden standing beside Adam and Eve giving heed to the serpent - 'Don't believe God. He's really trying to deceive you and take away your happiness. After all, you know your own situation best. Don't be afraid to follow you own best judgment.'

Whenever I follow the serpent's twisted, convoluted advice, instantly I reveal the root of my sin-nature. It has many tentacles, among them my rebellion against God, the self-will of my determination to have my own way, and my arrogance. How ridiculous we human beings are when we set the pathetic limitations of our finite minds and petty judgment over against the infinite wisdom of our Creator! We can see this in regard to our own children. We can simply judge better than they can... 'No, you may not ride your bike in the heavy traffic downtown.' ... 'Stop it, Johnny, you'll pull that chest over on yourself.'... 'Debbie, no! You cannot play with matches.' But how blind we are to the fact that we grownups are in an even more untenable position in relation to our Heavenly Father.

Even so, we hear our amazing Lord telling us, 'Neither do I condemn you.' Here too, His viewpoint is very different from ours. Even as we are inclined to center down on legalistic and fleshly sins, so we usually assume that we are in for massive doses of judgment and condemnation.

Not so!

'For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.'

The difference here is that we think of sin as the breaking of laws, whereas Jesus thinks of sin as being bound. Why would anyone with goodwill condemn a poor man bound with chains or tied with a heavy rope? Would he not rather want to free him?

That, Scripture tells us, is the plight of us all before we meet Jesus because

'All have sinned... If we say we haveno sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.'

And Jesus came to earth, He announced at the beginning of His public ministry, for the express purpose not of condemning us, but of releasing all of us sin-captives.

Therefore, until we see ourselves as bound in many specific areas and in need of freeing and saving, obviously we will have no need of the Savior. Our danger then will be that of approaching Jesus not as a Savior but as a Santa Claus for the good gifts He can give us.

The truth is that none of us can go anywhere in the Christian life so long as we are chained with unbelief. For in any area we look, until we believe that Jesus is the Savior of our life for whatever our problem is - health or sex or money or job or strained or severed human relationships or whatever - there is nothing He can do for us. ...."

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