Thursday, July 26, 2012

Honestly Facing Sin

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I had a little laugh at myself the other day as I realized that sometimes I will try to pretend I have it all figured out or all together before the Lord.  What I'm saying to God is, "Oh, I'm okay. No, there's no problem. I'm fine. I've got this," as if I could possibly fool Him into believing that. How dumb must I be to think that the God who sees all things and knows all things is blind to me.

I was considering how silly it is when we refuse to confess our sin before the Lord.  We often act like rebellious little children who know we've been caught in the act but are still attempting to point the blame in some other direction or excuse away what we've done just as in the Garden of Eden.

Deep down, we know we're wrong (naked), so we attempt to cover ourselves with some sort of fig leaf (a story, a lie, finger pointing) in hopes that maybe God won't notice.  Justifications fly wildly, and like Adam, we may even try to pin it on God in some way.

"The woman You gave to be with me- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate," he says.  

I don't know about you, but when I read that, it sounds like he's telling God, "You put me in this situation! This woman you created and gave to be my wife, well, it's all her fault.  You created her, and look what she did!"

I've been reading through Israel's exodus from Egypt, and the story of the golden calf has really stood out to me. Remember that Moses is coming down the mountain from this amazing time with the Lord in which the Lord God inscribed the ten commandments on stone with His holy finger.

When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”  [Exodus 32: 19-24]

Did you catch that?  Can you imagine this scene?  Aaron is standing before Moses and he's got a mountain of excuses.

"These people are prone to evil!"
"They wanted me to make a god for them."
"They thought you had abandoned them!"

So he does all the fingerpointing, and I can just imagine him waving his hands wildly in emphasis, furrowing his brow at how obstinate the people are, and then sheepishly, hurriedly adding, "And then they gave me the gold and.... Ithrewitintothefireandoutcamethiscalf. Soooo, Moses. How was your vacation on the mountain? Good? Good."

And you know that Aaron didn't just toss the gold into the fire and, poof, it formed into a calf. It's almost comical that he explains the events that way. It's like me saying that cupcake I wasn't supposed to eat just fell into my mouth by accident.  It's absurd!

Yet that's often how we reason away our sin.
It's her fault. These people.... They wanted...  I just.... It just happened....

Sometimes we may find ourselves constructing a huge cover-up in order to hide our sin.  David was no stranger to this tactic. David sinned, and his sin had it's consequences.  Bathsheba became pregnant, and David knew he had to act fast. Her husband had not been home for some time, so everyone would know the child wasn't Uriah's.  So he tries work it out so that Uriah can go home and sleep with his wife.  But that doesn't happen.  David even tries to get him drunk, sending him on his way, but the man still doesn't go home to his wife because his loyalties are with the king and his duty.
When it was reported to David, “Uriah didn’t go home,” David questioned Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a journey? Why didn’t you go home?”  Uriah answered David, “The ark, Israel, and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my master Joab and his soldiers are camping in the open field. How can I enter my house to eat and drink and sleep with my wife? As surely as you live and by your life, I will not do this!”  [2 Samuel 11:10-11]
David refuses to look at his sin. He's too busy trying to cover it up. Since Uriah refuses to go home, David goes to plan B.  He sends Uriah to the front lines, where Uriah is killed in battle, and Bathsheba is freed to marry David.

Eventually, David is confronted with the truth of his sin.  He is made to face it, and he has a choice. He can either confess it as truth and seek the Lord, or He can harden his heart and try to reason it away.

When his eyes are opened to the measure of his sin, he crumbles. I love this part.  David sees the reality of it all, and sums it up in one statement:

"I have sinned against the LORD."

David stops trying to cover up his sin, and he surrenders to the Lord.  He doesn't point fingers. He doesn't try to reason or make excuses.  His snowballing sin smashes up against the Truth of God, and he is humbled before the Lord.

He cries out, "You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge."  He knows that the Lord has seen it all- seen his actions, seen his heart. I love to read over Psalm 51.  David is so exposed before the Lord, and rather than offer excuses, he pours out his heart, begging for compassion, purification, restoration, and God's saving grace.

I think David saw that he had everything to lose.  I don't believe he was worried about losing his reputation.  He didn't seem to care about what men thought of him at this point.  He cared about his relationship with the Lord God.
For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight.... Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt... Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51 is the perfect way to respond to sin in our lives. David wanted to be searched and tried because he didn't want sin to linger in his life or stand between him and his beloved God Almighty.

I know whenever I feel even the slightest bit convicted, my flesh instantly begins to create buffers either to excuse it away completely or to at least soften the blow.  The Lord has really been shining a light on this area, and I really relate to David in so many ways.  Just the other day I saw my flesh getting all worked up, running around like a mad man trying to bandage and fix things so I wouldn't have to really confront my sin.  My flesh wanted to say, "That's not me!" but it was so much more freeing to say, "Yes, You're right about me, God."

So, the question I often have to ask myself is, "Do I really hate sin?" Do I just hate sin in other people, or do I hate sin in myself? Do I hate it enough to turn to the Father, confess it, and destroy it?

What I love, love, love about my awesome God is that He intervened in David's sin by sending Nathan to confront him. God doesn't show us our sin to beat us up.  He shows us our sin so we can overcome it.  He doesn't desire that I would wallow in guilt over my sin. He wants me to receive His forgiveness, turn fully to Him (and away from sin), and walk with Him.  Sin sends me down a different path, puts a wedge between me and the Father. Sin is the wall that prevents me from true fellowship with the Father.  Just as Moses completely destroyed the golden calf, we too must be willing to demolish sin in our lives.  We don't have to live as slaves to sin anymore.  Christ has overcome, and in Him, we can too.