Tag Archives: self righteousness

When Our Testimony Goes Awry

FallingFromGraceEverybody loves sharing their conversion story, also known as their testimony. This is the story about how bad you once were before you became a Christian. Every Christian has their story and I have mine too. These are usually great stories about how people were enslaved in drugs, alcohol, gangs, crimes, or a life filled with endless greed never  quenched. Then there is this “aha” moment were God taps them on their shoulder or hits them square in the face and realize Jesus is the answer to all of these former problems. Then we share how God changed our lives and we are not the people we once were, rather we are changed from the inside out. Our desires change, and we are no longer bound to that sin that held us captive. While these stories are true and encouraging to hear, what happens when we fall back into the sin we were first guilty of?

When it comes to our testimony we love to share how bad we once were, but then we become quiet as a mouse when we fall back into sin, and we usually try to cover it up so no one finds out. It sounds great when people say I used to be hooked on drugs before I gave myself to the Lord. For some reason though if you attend church and are a Christian and get back into drugs it seems shameful and we hide it. For men in the church, there are many who are addicted to pornography that will never admit it because God forbid anyone find out they are not perfect. This is where  hypocrisy creeps into the church when we pretend we are perfect when we are far from it.

We have legalistic tendencies that we continue to nurture. We don’t have a hard time understanding that we are saved by grace and not by works, but once we accept that we think we need to be perfect. We know that we are not able to cleanse ourselves of all of our past mistakes. We therefore come to Christ for forgiveness of our past sins, but then act as though we need to take it from there. We try hard to be a better person, we go to church, read our bibles, pray, and put on our smiley faces saying we have it all under control. Then we fail, we fall back into an addiction, stop reading the bible everyday, miss a couple of Sunday sermons and start drinking a little here a little there. We then feel like failures, like we let God down and we are no longer good Christians. Forgetting that we were never “good” to begin with.

We needed to be saved by grace,because we can’t atone for our own sins and we can’t live a perfect life by our own means. Not only is our past sins forgiven, but  our future ones also. We need to stop pretending that we are perfect, and that we got things under control, because we don’t. We need to bring our sins, past and current to the forefront, in the right situations of course so 1) others know that it is normal not to be perfect even if your saved. 2) To encourage and pray for one another 3) To keep us from being judgmental and hypocritical, and 4) to remind us not to “try to be better” rather to daily crucify the old self and carry our cross.

We need to create environments within the church so that people can open up about struggles they are going through without feeling looked down upon or feel like a lesser Christian. We need to stop feeling like we need to be perfect, rather we need to remember we are sinners that are saved by God’s grace and not our perfectness or good deeds.

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Growing Pains

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Do you ever realize that spiritual growth usually comes along with some sort of trial. It seems to be some necessary process for growth that it is paired up with pain, heartache, hardship or loss. I recently had a such an experience and spent the last couple of days trying to sort it out.

I have written recently about the idea that I like to be liked, in this post. I know I am probably not alone in this, because who doesn’t? I however may take it to a different level because I think I care too much what others think of me. That being said, I recently found out that people whom I have known for many years, and I thought were my friends are talking about me behind my back and  the comments were not complimentary. This hurt me on two different levels, one being that people who I thought were my friends are obviously not. Secondly that there are people out there that I like and called friends who don’t like me back. This causes me a lot of confusion and disappointment

After the initial sting of hearing these comments I spent time contemplating what I said, did, or  didn’t do that caused this, and what I can do to rectify it. As I was thinking on  these things, I thought of something my boss said to me the other day. She said “I don’t trust anyone, or any person that is”. I thought, how sad to go through life thinking this way. However, after this current situation I thought maybe she has a point. I have a habit of letting people into my life too easy and I open up and let down any defenses I may have. I am a person who wears his heart on his sleeve and will tell you how I feel, and it will be evident how I feel by my actions and facial expressions. Maybe I should be more guarded like my boss and not trust anyone, this way I won’t get hurt.

The more I thought about this however I realized there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. I continue to realize that I put my trust in people and my satisfaction is in their approval. The funny thing is, there is no where in scripture that says our hopes and approval should be in others, rather it is to be in Jesus and Jesus alone. Time and time again we are told to love others, not have others love us. We are told to count others more significant than ourselves, but no where does it say make others love you. This is pride speaking, I am making myself more important than I am. I am finding my worth in others, or as Paul puts it, I am putting my confidence in the flesh. He goes on to say in Phil 3:8 “indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

I have failed at this miserably, I continue to count things I do as worth, and my confidence is in my flesh and the approval of others is the measuring stick of my worth. So although I feel as though I have lost friendships and the pain is still fresh. I have learned that is because my trust was in the wrong place, myself. I had made myself and others too big .Where my faith and confidence should be in Jesus. I know I will let others down and others will let me down. As my boss said “I don’t trust  anyone, or any person that is”, but she finished this statement by pointing skyward and saying,”There is only one I trust”. This is words to live by. I wish it just didn’t have to feel this way in order to learn this lesson.

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Christians Vs. Homosexuals Part 2

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So we just concluded that Christians are not different than anyone else regarding their own righteousness. We are all sinners with a sinful nature, see part one for greater clarification on this issue. So the this begs the question, so now what? How should Christians respond going forward? Just to clarify a point regarding a difference between Christians and non Christians. Christians are righteous, just in case this point was missed. The thing we sometimes forget is that it is not our works or actions that makes us righteous but rather we have Christ’s righteousness. It says in 2Co 5:21  “For our sake he made him(that is Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It was on the cross when we switched places, he bore our sins and we took His perfection. It is because of this that we are called to a separate way of living that He gives us the ability to do. That is what we are going to talk about today.

Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners, I find that very interesting, I wonder if that would be said about me? That is because he wasn’t always hanging out in synagogues (churches) rapping with the Pharisees and Sadducees(Religious leaders of the day) discussing how great they were and how lowly the sinners were. No, he was hanging out with what the religious people would call the sinners. How often do we isolate ourselves in our churches with like minded people talking about the sinners of the world like we are so great and holy. It is very easy to get wrapped up in holy living and pointing out everyone’s sins and we begin to separate big sins from little sins. Homosexuality, Adultery, prostitution, whoa they’re the biggies. While hatred, gossiping, and slander, well they’re not so bad right? This  is our mind set in the churches these days. We put our arms around someone who is ruining there marriage cause there checking out porn on there computers and we say things like “I’ll pray with you brother”,but if he comes in and says I hooking up with another guy, we’ll just run to the hills, there is no help for him cause he is a sinner. This reminds me of a story in the Bible. It is found in John 8:3-11 and goes like this “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

When you read that story, whose side are you on the woman’s or the religious leaders? I am assuming you chose the woman’s, but why? she committed a big sin. She was caught in the  very act of adultery, ripped right out her bed and thrown into the streets.We deserve, no we demand justice, but instead  we see Jesus showing compassion and mercy for the woman. That is what wins us over in the story and it wins the woman too. He did not condemn her, rather He loved her, and had mercy on her. But when it comes to homosexuality how many times are we found standing with the rocks in our hands, arms cocked and ready to throw, wanting to condemn  instead of loving and showing compassion? And I love what Jesus says “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Now from the previous post we know that we are ALL sinners, but sometimes we forget that and we judge those we are not comfortable with.

Jesus spent His years in ministry almost doing the opposite of what we do. He went around loving sinners and condemning the religious leaders. While we go around condeming sinners and loving our religious leaders. In the book of Matthew after a long list of Woe to you’s that he directs to the religious leaders he says this in Matthew 23:25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
23:26  You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
23:27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
23:28  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness
”.

Again, it is easy to say” Yeah, you tell em’ Jesus” all the while we find ourselves to often in this same scenario. We must be careful not to appear righteous on the outside only. but in our hearts also. And lastly I wanted to point out that we are to love others. That is what is supposed to separate us from non Christians. Read these verses

Luk 6:31  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luk 6:32  “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luk 6:33  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Luk 6:34  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
Luk 6:35  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Luk 6:36  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luk 6:37  “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”
Mat 5:43  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
5:45  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
5:46  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
5:47  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect
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and Lastly in John 13:35  “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I know I am overwhelming you with verses and maybe you got tired of reading them, but Jesus had a lot to say about Love, mercy and forgiveness. Therefore that is where our hearts should also be. We need to come out of our comfort zone and and embrace those whom you feel are different from you and maybe you feel more righteous than. Maybe for you it is not the homosexual community you are uncomfortable with. For you it could be those with drug addictions or prostitution of inmates in prison. Whatever it is remember you are not greater than anyone, more self righteous than anyone but our righteousness comes from Christ. Let us show that instead of showing our bigotry and judgmental hearts

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Christians Vs Homosexuals Part 1

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I was watching this video from Frances Chan the other day and he was speaking of some time he spent in Europe. During this time he was brought to some historic churches and he shared some of their history that put Christianity on the wrong side of some social issues of the day. At the end of sharing this he poses a question. What is the modern church on the wrong side of currently? This is an open ended question that gave me pause and challenged me to reflect. You can watch the video here. The section I am referring to is between minute 3;15 to 5:15 if you want the short version.

Check out from 3:15 to 5:15

I am in no way reflecting the thoughts of Francis Chan, but this is my own personal opinion of what I believe the Church is failing on. I believe our actions toward the homosexual community is causing  damage and divisions in place of love and unity. I by no means have a complete understanding  of all the issues involved, but by the backlash from both camps I know enough to know we are missing something. This is going to be a little deeper than most of my posts so I apologize if I lose anyone here, but I will try to make my thoughts as concise as I can. I also know that this is a highly sensitive issue so I will try to treat it with the utmost respect. I wish to just open some dialogue for healthy lines of communication and understanding.

I am going to be using a book of Philippians in the bible as my main reference to make my first point.The letter was written by a guy named Paul. Paul was a highly ranking religious leader of his time. Kind of like a Cardinal in the Catholic church if we needed to make a modern day example of his position .So many would consider him a very holy person, and a godly man who was very righteous. Speaking to this he writes this in Philippians 3:4-6  “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
3:5  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
3:6  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

In other words he is saying if you think you are righteous, holy or godly, I am more than you. So if anyone is going to live a godly life it would be him, right…? Wrong. He writes in Rom 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Even though he is the holy roller, he cannot stop doing things he doesn’t want to do, and can’t do the things he wants to do. Why is that? Well, because he is a sinner. I know, you are thinking how can I call such a good man a sinner?

You see,we are not considered sinners because we have sinned, but rather we are sinners because we have a sinful nature. Therefore we cannot help ourselves but to sin. This is the whole reason for the law, it is not to try and uphold every law (commandment) given, rather it was given to expose our sin nature. To prove this point let’s look at when Moses was being given the 10 commandments. The first two being: Thou shalt not have any other gods before me, or make any carved image. These are the very first commandments, and while they were being given on top of Mt Sinai, the Israelites were at the bottom of the mountain making a golden calf to worship. God couldn’t even get  the words out before they already failed at it. Another verse that speaks of our sinful nature is this: Rom 3:10-12 as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

  Not even you, you righteous church goer lest you become self righteous and start thinking you are better than anyone else. Going back to Philippians, Paul doesn’t end his thought by giving us his wonderful resume of how awesome and godly he is, he continues with this.
Php 3:7 “ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
3:8  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

That word rubbish is translated into dung or crap. In other words all of those titles and positions he has he compares it to crap. Not only is he saying it is useless or worthless, he is saying it is actually repulsive and disgusting. This is where I think many of us are missing the boat. We think our crap doesn’t stink, and that we are somehow more holy, worthy, righteous and better than others, say homosexuals. I think Paul gets it, he understands that his high position means nothing. He knows he is a sinner by nature, he knows he is no different than anyone else when it comes to this. That is why he gives us his resume. In case someone thinks he is more godly than him. You are not going to outdo Paul in following the Law and he still says it is all crap. It is all crap that is, compared to the surpassing worth in Jesus Christ. He finishes his thought with this,

Php 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”   He understands that the only righteousness he has comes through faith in Christ Not by following the Law or commandments Therefore neither should we think ourselves righteous or better than anyone else no matter how good you think you are. Because our righteousness does not come from what we do, how good we think we are, because we are all sinners, Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”,  Last I checked all means all.

If our righteousness is not by our own doing, but only through Christ than what gives us the right to think we are better than or more righteous than anyone else. I think this is a big idea to wrap our heads around. You are no better than anyone, you are not holier than the worst sinner, you and I are the worst sinner. Again all means all, you are no different than the person you are judging, if you are a Christian the only difference is the righteousness of Christ in you. It is not until we see our goodness and self righteousness as crap, that we can only begin to judge others.

Part 2 will deal with how I believe the church should respond to and treat homosexuals in a biblical context.

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