Following the Obscured Path that Leads to Good - Purity 627
Purity 627 01/13/2022 Purity 627 Podcast
Today’s photo of a stream disappearing into a snow covered forest comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene when I was out working in Poestenkill NY back on November 30th of last year. If time permits I will also share a couple of videos on the blog of that stream flowing to perhaps provide you with a moment of peace. (Video didn't process!, Maybe Later)
I know if you are in the colder parts of our country and are negatively affected by the weather probably the last thing you want to see is a picture of snow! But I share it today for two reasons. The first reason is, no matter how much may dislike to feel and deal with snowy weather, you have to admit that it is pretty to look at.
The second reason I share it is because this stream is a pathway of sorts and on Thursdays I generally share photos of pathways to encourage people to step on to, or keep walking on, the path of Christian Discipleship which means that you decide to live your life according to God’s way and continually seek His presence, wisdom, guidance, and strength through prayer, Bible study and simply “walking and talking with God”.
I encourage this choice on Thursday’s specifically because that is the night that I have taught or led a ministry to help other Christians realize their freedom in Christ for the past 6 years. I had done this in the past at my local church but now I have been blessed with the opportunity to lead a Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course for Men via Zoom for Freedom in Christ Ministries. To express your interest in joining a Freedom in Christ course use the “get help” link that I am providing on the blog today. (https://www.ficm.org/get-help/).
I chose todays photo to reflect that the pathway of Christian Discipleship is not always hospitable. The snow here could represent the cold reception that you will get when you let your family and friends know that you have decided to follow Jesus with the way you live your life going forward.
The fact that those snow covered trees seem to block and obscure where this stream pathway goes could represent the fact that the world, the flesh, and the devil doesn’t want you to go to where that stream ends and it could also represent the fact that in this Christian walk of faith we don’t always have the assurance of where this is path is leading us.
It also represents the need for us to trust and have faith that God has put us on this path and, no matter what we may experience along the way, we can trust that God will lead us to a good place and be with us every step of the way.
That paradox of our having uncertainty because of what we can not see and having to be certain that God will see us through is what the path of Christian Discipleship is all about: faith in God over and above our present circumstances and feelings.
To have that assurance of God’s presence in our lives we have to be walking with Him rather than going our own way. We have to be seeking His wisdom and ways rather than relying on the ways of the world or the ways we have always done things before.
When we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior our relationship with God is established. We are forgiven of our sins and given eternal life. We become new creations that are free from sin and death.
We receive spiritual life and many blessings and promises through Christ but in order to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives here and now, we have to trust God, turn from our old ways, and follow Him. The pathway may not always be easy but it leads to peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience and self-control.
Just like when you are hiking on a path obscured by a dense forest and you have to trust that the ones who have gone before you will take you to somewhere worthwhile, we have to trust that God called us to follow Him and that He won’t lead us astray.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 John 1:9
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Today’s verse tells us that God continually forgives confessed sin and that He will cleanse us from all wickedness.
Today’s verse subtly speaks of the spiritual reality of God’s enduring love for us and how it demonstrated by the fact that He is faithful to forgive us and move us out of the darkness of our besetting sins.
But I like to point out that this verse describes a relationship. The verse doesn’t just tell us that God will forgive us and cleanse us. Before those awesome promises of God there is a condition. The verse tells us that “when we confess our sins to Him” is the condition that leads to that forgiveness and cleansing.
The Greek word that is translated as “confess” in this verse is homologeō and the first definition for that word in Strong’s Lexicon is “to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent.
So when we are to “confess” our sins. We are not to just list our transgressions.
“This is what I did Lord. Forgive me.”
No, we are to agree with God. We are to say the same thing as He would about our sins which is that our behaviors are missing the mark of how a child of God would behave and that we will turn from them and forsake them to follow the Lord’s way.
Now don’t get me wrong here, your forgiveness of your sins and your right standing with God was established and is irrevocable when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.
This verse is not saying that if we don’t confess our sins we won’t be accepted into God’s kingdom. This verse is speaking about your relationship with God and the fact that we are “saints who will sin”.
God knows that our Christian life will not be sinless perfection but He doesn’t want us to live in condemnation when we fail. Instead He wants us to come to Him to reestablish the harmony of our relationship with Him that our sin gets in the way of. He wants us to re-experience the peace of our forgiven status by confessing to Him when we fail.
This could lead to a cycle of sin-confess sin confess if we don’t understand that we are to agree with God and repent and to:
11 … Go and sin no more.”
The agreeing with God, our repentance, is what will lead to us to being cleanse from all wickedness. God doesn’t want you on the merry go round of sin and empty confession. He wants you to know not only the peace of your continual forgiveness but He wants you to experience the joy of being cleansed of your wickedness and the close relationship you can have when you confess and agree with God.
So keep walking and talking with God. Your sins don’t need to trip you up but to get over them you need to draw close to God and agree with Him in the way you should go.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.
JUSTICE, MERCY, AND GRACE
Consider these simple definitions of justice, mercy and grace as they apply to relationships: Justice is giving people what they deserve. If God were perfectly just in dealing with us, we would all go to hell. God is a just God, and “The wages of sin is death.”78
Mercy is not giving people what they deserve. “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.”79 Justice had to be served, so Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God.
Grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”80 Forgiveness and eternal life are free gifts from God.
So the Lord instructs us to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”81 We are not to give people what they deserve (be merciful); we are to give them what they don’t deserve (be gracious). We are called to love people, not because they are lovable or deserve to be loved, but because we have become “partakers of the divine nature.”82 God loves us because it is His nature to love us. “God is love.”83 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”84 This ability to love one another is possible only by the grace of God, as is the ability to forgive as we have been forgiven.
The most common Greek word in the New Testament translated to forgive basically means to send away or to let go. In forgiving, we send away the devil so he can’t torment us, and we let go of the past so it can no longer have a hold on us. The pain and anger is released as we forgive from our hearts.
WHAT TO AVOID
Two major errors are to be avoided when addressing the issue of forgiveness. The first is more common among counselors. Influenced by secular resources, some counselors teach that forgiveness is a process and tell many that they are not ready to forgive. They tell people they have to go through all the painful memories first and then they will be able to forgive. The problem is they will never get there. Rehearsing the painful memories week after week only deepens the wounds and reinforces the abuse. The implication is that one has to heal in order to forgive, but in actuality, it is the other way around. We forgive in order to heal.
The other error is more common in the Church. The extreme version would sound like this: “You shouldn’t feel that way; you just need to forgive.” They just bypassed forgiveness. We have to forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is a hard choice, which includes: (1) allowing God to surface the names of every offending person and painful memory; (2) agreeing to live with the consequences of the other person’s sin without seeking revenge; and (3) letting God deal with the offending person in His way and in His time.
All forgiveness is efficacious or substitutionary. Christ paid the price for our sins, and we pay the price for those who sinned against us. In a practical sense, forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sins. “But that isn’t fair,” some protest. Of course it isn’t, but we will have to do so anyway. Everybody is living with the consequences of somebody else’s sin. We are all living with the consequences of Adam’s sin. We have the choice to live in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship