Because He Loves ME: Discussion #8
Pre-reading questions for you and your journal:
- Do you have a pattern of sin in your life that really disheartens you, and you can’t stop, and you don’t know why you even do it? If so, write down the particulars (it’s best to use a small, recent instance of it so you can really get your hands around it) in your journal before reading:
- What was going on in your life when it happened (sleep, cycle, health, time of day, etc.)?
- How did your reaction/response help/hurt the situation?
- Think now about this question, and try to answer it with brutal honesty, using biblical terms: What did you want in the situation? Or, what weren’t you getting that you wanted? (Many times, when we have patterns of sin in our lives that seem unconquerable, it’s because we want something (even a good thing) too much. We are willing to sin to get it, or to try to control/manipulate others so that they don’t prevent us from getting it. Can you apply these insights to your situation? (Hint: Ask Father to help!)
After (or during) your reading:
- Elyse quotes Romans 6:11, which gives that letter’s first gospel imperative: “You must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Synonyms for “consider” are “judge” and “reckon.” Given the evidence of our senses, it can be hard for us to see ourselves as God sees us: alive to Him in Christ. What does that even mean to you, today? Try to put it into your own words, and if you would like to share with us all, hit the “comment” link above!
- In this chapter, Elyse is working to help us understand how to “put off” sin that so easily entangles us. There are two kinds of gospel imperatives: “put off” and “put on.” We are here considering what we should “put off.” The Bible gives us clear language that calls a sin a sin. We are not usually “frustrated.” We are angry, impatient, or judgmental. If we don’t learn to call sins by their Bible names, then we shortchange the amount of real help that the Bible can give us! What are some of the sins (even just one at a time) that God is bringing to your attention lately? Keep it in mind as you read, and see to apply the truths that Elyse is telling you as general principles and approaches.
- In my experience, so much of my sin felt like it was caused by the actions and attitudes of others. For instance, when someone recently took pains to pridefully show me how much better than me she was at tending houseplants, I felt angry and judgmental in response. If she had not displayed criticism and pride in my presence, I never would have had those responses, right? Wrong! Those sinful attitudes of anger and judgmentalism live in my heart constantly. It’s like if you had a cup of water and you knocked it suddenly, such that it spilled. What would spill? Grape juice? Wine? No! Water, silly. Of course. Because that’s what’s in the cup. When this person provoked me, it revealed what was already resident in my heart that needed to be exposed. Why? So that *I* could see it and so that God could help me to be cleansed!
- In the little vignette that I outlined above, it was easy to feel self-righteously right about my thoughts towards my sister. But I knew that my critical thoughts of her and my overall attitude towards her were not right. I wanted better treatment. I wanted her to be kind. I wanted to be above reproach. I wanted many things. What did God want? Elyse so rightly points out “…we have to get our eyes off our sin and back onto his accomplished work on the cross” (126) before we can address our sinful reactions and responses to provoking situations. It starts with owning the sin before God, but then, we have to turn to the only One who can cleanse us!
- Let’s get down to the roots. Elyse makes this statement at the top of page 128: “There is one sin that is at the root of all sin: unbelief.” Look up to your pre-reading exercises to see the sin pattern that you identified as something that disheartens you because you keep doing it, seemingly against your very will. Is unbelief a part of this pattern? Are you battling it alone, without grasping hold of the Bible truths that you are a new creature, welcomed and loved by an all-powerful Father, and utterly saved from damnation by a sublime Savior, Whose life you are now free to claim as your own? Take awhile and soak in these gospel declarations. See if the root of your sin is not unbelief in the fact that God is Who He says He is, and thus you are who He says you are!
- Next big idea: “Unbelief, the primary sin, always breeds idolatry, because we have been created to worship” (129). This is the essence of wanting things too much. When we want a good thing, we don’t sin. We want children who do their lessons cheerfully and well. Fine. But if they don’t, and we respond with sinful thoughts, words, and actions, then we want this too much. God is ruling and reigning over our lives. Things don’t go our way. Our cups are bumped, and what’s in them spills out onto the carpet for us to see. If it’s slimy, we also corrupt the lives of those around us. Ick! It all stems from idolatry: we want what we want when we want it. In the moment that our agenda becomes primary, we remove God from the throne and worship our idol: our own wills for our lives. Can you recast your sin in these terms? What does this reveal to you that’s new?
- Here’s a real key to turn that lock of discouragement in your battle outlined above: “If we treasure, value, and love anything more than his kingdom and his righteousness, we’ll be forced into slavish fear and beset with worry” (131). Do you struggle with a besetting sin? Follow theses steps (which Elyse also lists and amplifies on pages 136-137):
- Soak in Scriptures that tell you the gospel story, until you believe wholeheartedly that you are loved by God, and forgiven.
- Recognize and affirm that you are the creature, not the Creator. You were created to be dependent on God, and serve Him (and others in His name). This is the only right way to relate to Father: He is the wise boss of all His creatures.
- Pray and ask God to forgive you specifically of the sin (and the underlying idolatry) that you have identified, owning it wholeheartedly (as does David in Psalm 51) and standing only on Father’s love for you demonstrated by Jesus’ death on the cross.
- Meditate on these words, “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done! On earth as it is in Heaven.” Ask God to make it true for you that His will would be done in your heart as it is in Heaven!
- Release what you want to the Sovereign God Who loves you most and is wise beyond all knowing. Ask Him for it humbly, and then affirm that He is wiser than you are, as did Jesus: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
- Fellow pilgrim: life is short, death is sure, and eternity is long! We are on our way home as we travel through a sin-sick, broken world. We gain so much by recognizing the pulls of the world, the flesh, and the devil. May I encourage you to camp out in this chapter using specific sin patterns in your life? The point is to bring them into the light and apply God’s help to defeating them. He has paid the ultimate price and given you His Spirit for just this purpose! Please take the time daily to press into these things and make Him the rightful and true King of your heart!
Below are links that will help you navigate the discussions easier. (You can also use the Archives section of this blog.)
Discussion #7 for this book.
Discussion #9 for this book.