In our neighborhood when I was a child, one of the favorite games of the kids on my end of the street was hide and seek. Our house was on the corner, and anywhere in the front yards of the eight houses was fair game for hiding. The object, of course, was NOT to be found by “it.” It was much more fun hiding than seeking to most of us.
In some ways, I think we carry this game into adulthood when it comes to our flubs, mistakes, and outright sins, regarding God and even others as “it” and aggressively hiding anything that would reveal our true, simply flawed human, identity. God/They might look down on me and reject me if they knew I ________________. It’s as childish as that childhood game, for certainly Almighty God knows even what we effectively conceal from other people – even what we try to conceal from ourselves!
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 NIV
Jesus also said to them, “Does anyone bring in a lamp so he can place it under a basket or under a bed? Doesn’t he set it on a lampstand? For everything hidden is meant to be revealed, and everything concealed is meant to be brought to light. Mark 4: 21-22 NIV
“Uh-oh,” we think, “here comes God’s flyswatter …..” That thought is based in, bluntly, a lie. yes, God is holy, and yes, sin is abominable and separates us from a righteous God, as well as each other, BUT God is not waiting to gleefully lower the boom on fallen humanity.To believe that is to NOT know God, not know his heart, not know his love.
I had in mind to write this post today on my way home from church, and lo and behold, when I opened a letter from Charles Stanley, he was speaking to exactly the same thought I had. Charles Stanley writes,” Parents are appointed by the Lord to represent Him to their children. A child’s first concept of God comes from the example of his/her parents. If a father or mother is harsh and hard to please, the child realizes that no matter how good he/she tries to be, he/she can never measure up to his/her parents’ standards. Then when he/she learns about God, he/she sees Him in the same way – as a disapproving authority figure whom he/she can never please…. God never intends for His children to live under a cloud of condemnation.He clearly says in Romans 8:1, ‘Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ To be condemned means that a sentence of guilty has been pronounced and punishment is imminent. If we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, then we are ‘in Christ Jesus’ and are not under God’s condemnation.”
There is a condition in that last sentence: IF we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, THEN ….
Truth is threefold here: 1)yes, we all are naturally self-seeking, self-preserving, self-serving:
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 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.” Romans 3: 9-12 NIV
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53: 5-6 NIV
Well, if that’s true, then why does God care when we blow it? He cares because blowing it separates our heart from his, leads us to hide from him and from each other, and, truth 2) that denies his desire to be in intimate relationship with every one of us as our loving, HOLY Creator Father. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, BUT whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NIV
Hiding from God isn’t healthy!
“But I can’t help myself,” we assert, and that is painfully all too true. We can’t help ourselves in our human,flesh-driven nature, BUT God made a way to give us a brand-new nature, truth 3) God continually seeks us, despite our sin, not to punish us, but to welcome us into his family, IF we don’t try to live in our sins and hide from him so we can.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5: 17 NIV
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin.If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 3:5-9 NIV
This morning in our Bible study we contrasted the Old Covenant, the law God gave to his people through Moses, with the New Covenant of the Holy Spirit. given by Jesus. The law wasn’t inherently bad; it pointed us in the direction of right living and right relationship, but it couldn’t change our hearts. The New Covenant, the covenant God made with us through the atoning death of Jesus, is a vitally living covenant with the power to truly change our hearts.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4: 12-16 NIV
Wow, is THAT a relief to me! Back to Romans 8, the verses following verse 1 are REAL FREEDOM!
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8: 1-6 NIV
Jesus didn’t come to save the already perfect (which would have been none of us!) “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” When the tax collector Zacchaeus met Jesus, he was changed from the inside out.
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”Matthew 19: 8-10 NIV
God doesn’t seek us to condemn us; God seeks us to FIND us, and for us to FIND HIM, and in that finding, find a new birth and freedom to live what’s right, in right relationship with God and each other, from our heart, because God has great purposes and desires FOR us. Quoting Ralph Wilkerson:
In this”game” I WANT TO BE FOUND BY GOD, even though and precisely because it means coming clean about my flubs, goofs, mistakes, deceit, and outright thoughtless, selfish meanness, because I WANT to live a life that glorifies and honors God and blesses others to hopefully want the same for themselves.
Here goes, then, publicly, to live out what I’m writing: once in the past I was shopping at an outlet store, found a dress I liked in blue, but saw it was marked $3 more than the same dress in orange and pink. Did I ask the clerk about the price difference? No, I swapped the tag and paid the lower price for the blue dress. Did I feel a great victory in saving $3? NO, in fact I could never wear that dress without feeling a pang of conscience, and I ended up repenting to God big-time and giving it to a non-profit that helped the poor. I blew it, and God’s grace is so great that even as I confess this deed I’m ashamed of now, I rejoice that the Blood of Jesus has cleansed me from ALL unrighteousness. God so changed my heart that after that, when I discovered the page of stickers I’d just bought was actually two pages stuck together, I gladly hustled back into the store and gave the cashier the extra sheet.
“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning fromthe beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:8-9
It feels WRONG, it doesn’t fit with my God-given heart andGod’s desire for my holiness, for a Christian to willfully sin. It does feel SO much better to be and live in right relationship with God and with others! That means living rightly myself, and it also means not condemning, but forgiving, others for their flubs, goofs, and sometimes outright meanness. It means seeking to live like Jesus. Charles Stanley’s letter, once more, notes, “Based on Micah 7:19, Corrie ten Boom once said, ‘God takes our sins – the past, present, and future,and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says NO FISHING ALLOWED.’Once we have confessed our sins, we have no business digging them up and letting guilt hang over us like an oppressive blanket.”
Sin brings conviction from God’s Holy Spirit, the mid-course correction and redirection we need, but Satan uses it to bring condemnation and tell us we’ll never be “good enough” to merit God’s love. That lie puts the whole truth backwards! We can’t earn God’s love, which he freely gives to us out of HIS loving goodness, but we can and are meant to confess and lay our sin down at the Cross of Jesus and receive in that repentance a new heart and new life, the seed of God’s nature birthed in us through Jesus.
For believers in Jesus, a sense of condemnation for sins we’ve confessed and repented of (meaning thought differently about and no longer want to do) is a feeling, not a fact, and a feeling that is invalid. Repentance is FREEDOM, confession is FREEDOM, being found by God is FREEDOM because of the forgiving, cleansing, redeeming love God pours out on us through Jesus.
The Apostle Paul had a lot to be proud of, AND yet he had a lot to feel ashamed of and certainly repented of. He wrote to the Christ followers in Philippi: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3: 7-9 NIV
Pretend I’m someone I’m not so people will like me? Pretend I’m flawless? Hide from God? NO!
Real? Revealing myself? Sought? Found? Made someone new? Given a new heart? YES, PLEASE GOD, FIND ME IN MY FLAWED HUMANITY! YOU LOVE ME PASSIONATELY DESPITE ALL OF THAT! HELP ME TO LIVE CLEAN BECAUSE OF JESUS, OPENLY AND FREELY FORGIVEN BY YOU, BEFORE YOU AND EVERYONE, FOR YOUR PLEASURE AND WILL AND GLORY!
Ah, it feels SO GOOD to be FOUND! And where DO we get to “hide” then? “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 17: 8
A”…BUT…” to pray: Father God,no more hiding. I admit that I __________________ BUT I receive Your forgiveness in and through Jesus and I know you see me as clean, pure, good, beloved and wanted and cherished by you, and you say to me ________________. I choose to believe that YOU speak the truth over me, about me, and I run to you to be found by you,Father God! Thank you, Jesus, for making me new!