Faith, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Prayer, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Hamartiology Hits the Homefront

 Originally published March 1, 2013

hamartiology

I admit it. I struggle against sin. A lot of sin. Often.

Sometimes it’s a small, easily won skirmish. Sometimes it’s a hard fought, bloody battle. Yesterday, God helped me take a hill.

For a couple of weeks, I’d been feeding on this sort of casserole of worry, doubt, fear, unbelief, distrust, and frustration with the Lord. I needed Him to act, and He wasn’t acting. Every time I tried to pray about the issues that were tempting me into this mélange of anxiety, I ended up feeling even more anxious.

So I quit praying about it. Smart and spiritually mature, huh?

“Lord, You know what all these issues are. Please, just handle it.”

From time to time, it can be helpful to pray like that. But not when you’re using it as a semi-spiritual cover for avoidance, which is what I was doing.

Yesterday, I finally heard the bugle sound the call to arms. I felt God pushing me toward the battle line. The urgency to pray through this mess was absolutely compelling.

So I laid it all out before God. Every last bit of it.

And as I did, conviction of sin rolled in.

Sometimes we think of conviction as a negative thing. It makes us feel bad. Guilty. Humiliated.

But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is really a good thing for the Christian. It gives us pinpoint accuracy and clarity on exactly how we’re offending God. It gets everything out in the open and brings things to a head so that we can repent, be made right with Him, and start fresh. None of us is so weak that we can’t deal with a little guilt if it pushes us up and over the wall of repentance to reconciliation. Buck up, soldier.

As I continued to pray, God began bringing all manner of applicable Scripture to my mind (this is how God speaks to us—through His written word). I remembered how God dealt with the ungrateful, complaining Israelites in the wilderness. I also remembered what David said in Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,

I realized my sin was a double edged sword of commission and omission. It wasn’t just what I was doing—doubting and worrying—it was also what I wasn’t doing—being thankful and remembering how God had been faithful to me in the past.

convection_weather2It reminded me of the way wind is formed. Warm air rises into the atmosphere, and cold air rushes in to fill the void left by the warm air. Voids don’t last long in our spiritual lives. Something is always rushing in to fill them.

At the end of a long day of fighting, my doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, distrust, and frustration lay on the battlefield as bloody casualties, replaced by fresh, mighty warriors of faith, gratitude, love, and remembrance.

Sin. It’s the only battle you can win by surrendering.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103

Forgiveness, Hell, Justice, Old Testament, Salvation, Sin, Sunday School

Follow Up Week ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 6-1-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 22 ~ May 25-31
Psalm 131, 138-139, 143-145, 127, 111-118, 37, 71-72, 94, 119:1-88; 1 Chronicles 26-29; 1 Kings 1-4; 2 Chronicles 1

Follow Up Week

Last week, we had a lot of great questions that I didn’t feel we had the opportunity to discuss thoroughly enough. This week we’re going to take an in depth look at three of those questions.

Follow Up: Zeruiah
Last week, we saw David repeatedly refer to Joab and Abishai as “sons of Zeruiah,” and a question arose as to what he meant by that. Was it an insult? An identifier? Here, briefly, is some clarifying information:

Zeruiah was David’s sister (1 Chronicles 2:15-16). Her sons were Abishai– one of the chiefs of David’s mighty men (1 Chronicles 11:20), Joab– commander of  David’s army, and Asahel (Asahel was murdered by Abner, commander of Saul’s army (2 Samuel 2:8), at the battle of Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:18-24). Abishai and Joab later took revenge on Abner for killing their brother (2 Samuel 3:24-30).)

images

 

Abishai, Joab, and Asahel were brothers and also David’s nephews. Therefore, calling them “sons of Zeruiah” may have had one of several meanings:

1. “Sons of Zeruiah” was just another way of saying “my nephews.” It is possible that this was to distinguish them from other men close to David who had the same names. (For example, in this week’s reading, we saw a man named Shimei (1 Kings 1:8, 4:18) who was a different person from the Shimei we studied about last week.) Adding such an identifier to someone’s name was common in biblical times before surnames were in general use (eg. Joshua son of Nun, Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus of Nazareth, etc.)

2. It is possible David had a close relationship with Zeruiah and had great respect for her. Perhaps when David called his nephews “sons of Zeruiah” he was reminding them to live up to their mother’s good character.

3. It is possible David had a contentious relationship with his sister and had little respect for her. Perhaps when David called his nephews “sonsof Zeruiah” when annoyed with them, he was implicitly saying, “What else can you expect when they had a mother like that?”

Since the Bible provides very little information on Zeruiah, we can’t definitively say why David would use this phrase; we can only speculate. Click here for more information on Zeruiah.

 

scales of justice

Follow Up: Shimei, David, and Solomon
Last week, we studied the story of Shemei cursing David, and David’s subsequent sparing of his life (2 Samuel 16, 19). This week, we saw the death of David and Solomon’s accession to the throne (1 Kings 1-2). We also saw David, from his deathbed, give instructions to Solomon regarding Shimei, and we saw how Solomon carried them out (1 Kings 2). Was David sinning by going back on his word to Shimei? Let’s take a look.

Two Different Justice Systems
In order to understand the dynamics of the situation between Shimei and David and Shimei and Solomon, we first have to step outside our 21st century United States understanding of “the justice system” and step back in time into the Old Testament monarchial justice system.

The American System:
In the American justice system, justice supersedes leadership and is a separate entity from leadership. We have the judicial branch of government (courts, judges, jails, lawyers, etc.) and the executive branch of government (the President, state governors, etc.). They each have their own powers and responsibilities, and, for the most part, are separate from, and not dependent on, one another. For example, if someone is acquitted of a crime during one person’s presidency, he cannot later be convicted of that same crime solely because someone else becomes President and thinks he should be convicted. (Obviously, there are exceptions and corruptions to this system, but, generally speaking, in a nutshell, this is how it is supposed to work.)

Old Testament Israel’s System: 
In Israel (and other monarchial or dictatorial nations), there was no separation of powers. Legislative (making the laws), judicial, and executive powers all resided in one man: the king. And, the rules could change every time a new king took over. Your verdict, conviction, and sentence lasted only as long as the reign of the king who handed them down unless the next king chose to honor those decisions. This is one of the reasons the death penalty and maiming (cutting off someone’s had for stealing, for example) were more prevalent during those times. If you were the king and wanted to make sure someone was punished long term and that your verdict would not be overturned, death or maiming were your main options.

Shimei’s Sentence (1 Kings 2:8-9, 2 Samuel 19:23, 1 Kings 2:36-46)
As we saw in this week’s reading in 1 Kings 2:8-9, David did not put Shimei to death himself or during his own reign. Additionally, because of the way Israel’s justice system worked, it would have been impossible for David to swear to Shimei that he would never be put to death, because David had no control over what the next king would do. David’s oath was only good for the duration of his own reign. Thus, he did not break the oath he made to Shimei in 2 Samuel 19:23.

David did, however, take full advantage of Israel’s system of justice, the fact that Solomon had made no such oath to Shimei and the fact that Solomon was his son and would be likely to do as he asked. In 1 Kings 2:8-9, David didn’t come right out and tell Solomon to execute Shimei, but he hinted pretty strongly at it.

Solomon, perhaps wishing to honor the spirit of David’s oath to Shimei in 2 Samuel 19, while still carrying out David’s desire in 1 Kings 2 that Shimei be punished, did not condemn Shimei to immediate death, but, rather, put him under “house arrest” (1 Kings 2:36-37). Shimei could not leave Jerusalem or he would be executed, but as long as he stayed in Jerusalem, he was free to live his life as he wished. Shimei agreed to this (2:38) and made an oath to the Lord that he would obey (2:43). Shimei could have lived out the rest of his life peacefully in Jerusalem if he had just abided by the rules of his sentence. He broke the rules; he knew the consequences (2:39-46).

 

deathbed-2

Follow Up: Can a Christian be forgiven for a sin he commits on his deathbed and doesn’t have the opportunity to repent for before dying? Will he go to hell for this? 
This question arose last week as we briefly touched on David’s deathbed instructions to Solomon regarding Shimei. Although it doesn’t appear that David was actually sinning in that particular case, this question is a very good one that I wanted to address more fully because it has application for all of us since we all sin and will all die one day. In order to answer this question, we need to take a look at several things regarding sin, forgiveness, and salvation.

The soteriology of the question (John 10:26-29, Romans 8:1-2, 33-39, 1 John 2:1-2) 
Soteriology is the field of theological study that deals with salvation: what it is, what it isn’t, and how it happens. We know that in order for a person to be saved and spend eternity in Heaven he must turn from his sin (repent), and place his faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on his behalf as payment for his sin.

John tells us that, for those who have truly been born again, no one is able to snatch them out of Christ’s or the Father’s hand. This includes Satan. Romans tells us (8:33-34) no one has the authority to condemn or to bring charges against God’s elect, because God is the one who has justified them and He has already said there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1-2). Satan no longer has the authority even if we sin, to drag us off to hell, and God has promised that he will not condemn us to hell if we are in Christ. And if/when we do sin, 1 John tells us that Christ has already stepped in between us and the wrath of God as our advocate, offering His righteousness on our behalf.

Bottom line: If you have truly been born again, God’s got you and there’s not anyone or anything that has the authority to change that.

The hamartiology of the question (Hebrews 10:11-14): 
Hamartiology is the study of sin. We sin before we’re Christians. We sin after we’re Christians. We will never be completely free from temptation and the effects of sin this side of Heaven. The truth is, unless you are capable of knowing every single sin in your life (Remember all those sins you committed when you were three? Neither do I.) and you die immediately after repenting of the last one, you’re going to die with unconfessed sin in your life. That’s pretty much every Christian. We sin so much that there are sins we don’t even realize or remember we’ve committed. How can you repent of something you’re not even aware of? So, no, a true Christian will not go to hell for failing to repent of an individual sin committed right before death.

As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it ALL.” Hebrews tells us that Jesus died “once for all”– one time to pay for all sin, from the creation of the world until its destruction at the end of time. When we come to Christ for salvation, while we may repent of individual sins that are heavy on our hearts, what we are really doing is confessing that we are, and repenting for being, a sinner. If we had to repent of every individual sin no one could ever be saved because no one could remember all the sins he’s ever committed. For those who are in Christ, every sin in our entire lives, from birth to death, is forgiven.

Daily repentance and forgiveness:
So, if the sins we have forgotten about, and the sins we aren’t aware of, and the sins we don’t have a chance to repent for before dying are all forgiven anyway, why is any other sin any different? Why do we need to repent of our sin and ask for forgiveness every day when we pray?

Obedience (Matthew 6:12):
We do it out of obedience. Jesus tells us in the Lord’s Prayer to daily ask God to forgive us for sinning. So, we do.

Awareness and thankfulness (Psalm 32:1-2)
When we spend time in prayer daily repenting of our sin it reminds us of the greatness of God and His grace in forgiving our sin. It humbles us by reminding us of the great cost of our sin. It reassures us of God’s love and mercy towards us. It gives us an opportunity to give Him praise and thanks for forgiving us.

Restored relationship (1 John 1:6-9)
When we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it creates a rift (of our own making) between us and God. When we confess our sin to God and ask Him to cleanse us from it, that sin is no longer a hindrance to clean, unfettered communion with God.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Faith, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Prayer, Sin

Hamartiology Hits the Homefront

hamartiology

I admit it. I struggle against sin. A lot of sin. Often.

Sometimes it’s a small, easily won skirmish. Sometimes it’s a hard fought, bloody battle. Yesterday, God helped me take a hill.

For a couple of weeks, I’d been feeding on this sort of casserole of worry, doubt, fear, unbelief, distrust, and frustration with the Lord. I needed Him to act, and He wasn’t acting. Every time I tried to pray about the issues that were tempting me into this mélange of anxiety, I ended up feeling even more anxious.

So I quit praying about it. Smart and spiritually mature, huh?

“Lord, You know what all these issues are. Please, just handle it.”

From time to time, it can be helpful to pray like that. But not when you’re using it as a semi-spiritual cover for avoidance, which is what I was doing.

Yesterday, I finally heard the bugle sound the call to arms. I felt God pushing me toward the battle line. The urgency to pray through this mess was absolutely compelling.

So I laid it all out before God. Every last bit of it.

And as I did, conviction of sin rolled in.

Sometimes we think of conviction as a negative thing. It makes us feel bad. Guilty. Humiliated.

But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is really a good thing for the Christian. It gives us pinpoint accuracy and clarity on exactly how we’re offending God. It gets everything out in the open and brings things to a head so that we can repent, be made right with Him, and start fresh. None of us is so weak that we can’t deal with a little guilt if it pushes us up and over the wall of repentance to reconciliation. Buck up, soldier.

As I continued to pray, God began bringing all manner of applicable Scripture to my mind (this is how God speaks to us—through His written word). I remembered how God dealt with the ungrateful, complaining Israelites in the wilderness. I also remembered what David said in Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,

I realized my sin was a double edged sword of commission and omission. It wasn’t just what I was doing—doubting and worrying—it was also what I wasn’t doing—being thankful and remembering how God had been faithful to me in the past.

convection_weather2It reminded me of the way wind is formed. Warm air rises into the atmosphere, and cold air rushes in to fill the void left by the warm air. Voids don’t last long in our spiritual lives. Something is always rushing in to fill them.

At the end of a long day of fighting, my doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, distrust, and frustration lay on the battlefield as bloody casualties, replaced by fresh, mighty warriors of faith, gratitude, love, and remembrance.

Sin. It’s the only battle you can win by surrendering.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103