“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” —Proverbs 19:11
To hide one’s own sin from God is his shame. It’s useless, debilitating, hurtful, destructive. To confess and forsake one’s sin is the guaranteed pathway to mercy (28:13). And once you know His mercy—once you have received the abundance of grace, the eternal redemption, the complete forgiveness of Christ—you are all the more equipped, and all the more obligated, to be merciful to others. How can we justify harboring anger for others, continually recounting their sin, when God so brutally appeased His own holy wrath in order to forget ours?
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)
Though some might conclude that our release from the law gives us freedom to sin, the truth is, it gives us freedom from sin.
“The power of sin is the law.” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
“For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people” (Micah 1:8-9)
I will lament and wail
There is no joy in the destruction of people–even sinful people. If we truly understand that no one is righteous, we understand that we are just a deserving of divine punishment as any other soul. If we have received Christ through faith and so escaped God’s wrath, we ought not to vaunt ourselves against others but rather mourn.
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Her wound is incurable
Sin does not have a cure. It leads to death: period. The soul that sins shall die. There is no making the sinful flesh any more righteous before God. It cannot be upheld, it is completely unholy. Our flesh is not cured or made better, it is crucified with Christ–we die so that we may live to God.
“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 2:22-24).
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
"For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge." (Psalm 31:3-4)
Your name’s sake
It is not for your sake that God is faithful to lead you. It is not based on anything you do, but it is for the sake of His name that He promises to never leave or forsake you and to finish the work He began in you.
"He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." (Psalm 23:3).
"I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6).
"May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
You take me out of the net
The devil is our enemy; He is a roaring lion; he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; he is the deceiver, the accuser, the destroyer. However, no plot he has against you will prevail if you are a child of the Most High God! Not because of any cleverness or strength on your part, but because God is faithful to deliver you from His traps.
"He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me." (John 10:12-14).
"We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1 John 5:18).
"The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life." (Psalms 121:7)
"The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (2 Timothy 4:18).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Fixing one’s eyes on Jesus is easier said than done. Life is distracting. We have responsibilities. We have commitments. We have hopes and dreams, hobbies and interests–what does it look like to focus one’s eyes on Christ?
Meditation on God’s word is a gigantic part of it. Constant, consistent prayer is a large part of it too. But before you quit your job and join a monastery, remember that God is with us always. We don’t have to isolate ourselves from normal everyday life to focus on Him. As He said to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
God is always near. God is always present. God is always listening. God is always actively involved in every aspect of our lives. Acknowledging this fact, rejoicing in this fact, and taking advantage of our right-relationship with Him by consulting Him in prayer and filling our minds with His perfect Word–this is the walk of the Christian who is looking to Jesus, fixing his eyes on the love and grace of his Savior. And everywhere you turn in scripture, it can’t be ignored that focusing ourselves on God involves turning away from evil.
Lord, fill us with the knowledge of your love which surpasses all understanding and help us turn our eyes and hearts to you completely!
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:1-5).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23)
“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).
Though Jeremiah preached repentance, he didn’t just rail at others, he recognized his own corruption and need for divine healing. He demonstrated the heart that God was looking for—a heart to turn back to God for deliverance. Though Jeremiah was sent to preach repentance to a nation, he believed his message was just as much for him as it was for all men. Not five verses before this personal plea for healing, Jeremiah said about the whole human race: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). He knew full well the state of his own heart and sought God’s deliverance with confidence—”heal me Lord, and I shall be healed.”
- Psalms 41:4; “As for me, I said, ‘O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.'”
- Psalms 6:2; “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.”
Every one of us are sick in the heart because of sin and in dire need of healing.
- Isaiah 1:4-6; “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.”
Isaiah was a lot like Jeremiah. He preached a stern message of repentance and coming judgment, but not without understanding his own position and equal need for salvation. Over and over again in chapter 5 of his prophecy he pronounced “Woe to those who” have sinned in such-and-such-a-way against the Lord. Yet in chapter 6 he proclaimed, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah, like Jeremiah, lead the way in repentance and faith in the One who promises to heal the brokenhearted.
I shall be healed
Recognizing the depravity of your heart means nothing if it isn’t followed by a response to God asking and believing that He can heal it. And we can be sure, if it is God who does the healing, we shall be healed indeed.
- Psalms 147:3; “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
- Psalms 30:2-3; “O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”
God can and will heal us—we need only recognize our need and turn to him and ask.
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Do not love the world
After coming to Christ the Christian becomes increasingly weary of this world. He finds himself despising the flesh. He abhors the depravity he sees in himself. The lusts of the flesh agitate him. The evil he sees in and around him “torments his righteous soul” (2 Peter 2:8). I know this because all Christians have been given the Holy Spirit. If the Christian could love the world–if he could get comfortable here and never long for a better country–God’s love would not be in him at all. But it is, and so he struggles.
- Galatians 5:17; For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
- Romans 7:15-25; I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
The love of the Father
The Christian wrestles internally because the love of the Father is in him. He has been born of God. His flesh is altogether evil and his spirit is altogether righteous. The two cannot, and will never, coexist in peace.
He is God’s child now. He cannot love the world. It’s foreign to him. His citizenship is in heaven.
So if you are a Christian, don’t even try to love the world. It will only make the battle more intense. Stop investing in it. Seek the things which are above.
- Colossians 3:1-4; If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
- Philippians 3:20-21; Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
The world is passing away
This life is excruciatingly short. “You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes;” James 4:14. So instead of loving this world, love the life to come. If you have Christ, you have eternal life. Make that your joy. Make Him your love. Make your desire to do His will while you are here. Not because you fear damnation but because you joy in salvation–the eternal life He has freely given to you.
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.