Fake Repentance

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Exodus 23:20 – 21 (NIV) “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.

University of Maine officials fired a 20-year employee of the university in February of 2006 after she admitted she had allowed off-campus hockey players to eat breakfast for free, which is a violation of NCAA rules. Head coach Shawn Walsh required the players to eat breakfast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the season. When they would come through the line at the cafeteria, the players told her that they didn’t have any money and that they didn’t have any meal tickets. She felt sorry for them and she let them pass and eat free. The daughter of the fired woman said, “They knew she was a softy and if they came in saying they were hungry and they didn’t have any money she’d let them through.”

I’m afraid that many people today think God is a softy too. To pursue their own goals and accomplish their own agendas, they have redefined God so they can justify their choices and behavior. They believe that the compassionate and loving heart of God will overshadow any sense of justice He might have. No matter what they have done, they believe that a moment spent on their knees in an act (and it is an act) of humility will earn the forgiveness of God, knowing all the while that in their hearts they have no intention of changing their ways. They truly believe they can fake God out with their false remorse and that God will respond with forgiveness.

When the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land, God gave Moses His law. The law was designed to accomplish two things. First, it would reveal the holy nature of God, and second, it would reveal the unholy nature of man. The law brought to light our sinfulness. Then God promised that He would send an Angel ahead of them to bring them to the place that had been prepared for them. God warns the people to be careful not to rebel against the Angel. He also warned them that if they did rebel, they’d better not try and weasel their way out of it. The Angel would offer them no forgiveness for rebellion that persisted. The reason is this – the Name of God was in the Angel.

When the Bible speaks of the Name of God, it means more than just a series of letters in the alphabet that spell out a word. In the Bible, a name represented the character and reputation of the person. It embodied the fullness of that person’s nature.

My grandfather’s name was Jacob, and he hated it. He always went by his initials when he signed anything, and everyone who didn’t call him pastor called him “van”. He refused to use the name Jacob because the name means “deceiver” and he did not want anyone to think that was his nature.

With the Name of God in the Angel, the Angel would respond to every situation in the exact same way that God Himself would. The Angel was the exact representation of the nature and character of God. There would be no compromising the holy nature of God based on man’s attempts to negotiate a settlement. There would be no forgiveness for rebellion based on an insincere attempt at appeasing the nature of God with acts of remorse. Black and white justice would be the rule, because it is the perfect nature of God and it is the perfect expression of His love. True love cannot allow someone to believe they are forgiven when they are not. True love brings a person to true repentance.

There are two important lessons for us in this:

  1. Don’t try to fake out God with insincere repentance. You cannot earn the favor or forgiveness of God with acts of remorse that don’t come from a true heart of humility before the holiness of God.
  2. Don’t let other people try to fake you out. Each of us who knows Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord has the Name of God in us. We are to be the representation of God’s nature and character to the people of the world. That means loving them with the love of God. But love does not overlook sin. Love does not condone sin for the sake of peace or acceptance. Love does not compromise holiness with compassion. Love does not let people pass through the line because they have a good story to tell. Love seeks to bring people to true repentance so they can be truly forgiven.

We are to forgive others as God forgave us in Christ Jesus. We are to offer forgiveness freely, but not cheaply. Our forgiveness was only granted when we asked for it with a broken and humbled heart of repentance. It is only in that moment of brokenness that the true love of God can be experienced.

We show the true love of God to others when we join the Holy Spirit in His ministry to bring them to the same point of repentance.

Pastor John

Repentance Required

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Exodus 10:16 – 17 Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.  17Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”

Four hundred years have passed since yesterday. No, you were not a victim of cryogenics. I’m referring to the time line between the life of Joseph and the coming of Moses to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians. The current Pharaoh, or ruler of Egypt, is a cruel dictator who abuses the Jewish people for his own purposes. God has heard the cries of the people and has appointed Moses and Aaron to bring His message of deliverance to Pharaoh.

Everything about Pharaoh is self-centered and self-serving. His heart has become hardened to any form of compassion for people. When presented with the opportunity to let the people of Israel leave his land, he refuses. He even challenges the power of God with his own demonic miracles.

Moses began a series of plagues that would eventually force Pharaoh to submit to God’s authority. God turned the Nile River into blood. Pharaoh simply went into his house and ignored the problem. The plagues continued. God sent frogs and gnats and flies, but Pharaoh refused to listen to God. God sent more plagues. All the livestock of the Egyptians died. God covered all the Egyptians with boils. When Pharaoh refused to comply with God’s command to release His people, God made an important statement to Pharaoh. He said, “You are still exalting yourself.”

Here we discover the root of the problem that keeps us from experiencing true forgiveness from God – we exalt self over God. Remember that because it will be important in a moment.

When Pharaoh again rejects God’s direction, God sends a plague of hail that destroys anything and everything that was outside. Pharaoh finally admits he has sinned. But Moses is given insight into the true condition of his heart and says to Pharaoh, “I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.” Pharaoh’s admission of sin was still short of God’s forgiveness because it was only an admission of wanting relief from the consequences. He had not yet seen God for who He was. He had not come into agreement with God about his nature of sin.

Pharaoh models what far too many of us live each day – false repentance based solely on the hope of relief from pain and suffering. The proof is in the fact that as soon as the hail stopped, Pharaoh sinned again and turned his back on God. His intentions were clear. He would say whatever was necessary to accomplish his own desired outcomes.

So God sends yet another plague – locusts that covered the face of the land. That’s when Pharaoh again admits sin, but this time in what appears to be a more personal and sincere way. But he is not sincere. Pharaoh admits he has sinned, but he is asking for forgiveness for that sin only, and for God to remove from him the consequences of that plague only. His statement of confession and repentance is nothing more than an act of self-preservation. It will not be honored by God with forgiveness.

Pharaoh was not forgiven because he refused to repent of his sin nature. He may have admitted individual sins, but he only did so to avoid consequences or to be relieved from the pain and suffering that resulted from his choices. He never admitted to God that his very nature and character was sinful and needed to be forgiven and transformed. He wanted mercy for his actions, but permission to keep on being who he was. He was still exalting himself. God does not forgive anyone on those terms.

What about you? Do you believe you are a Christian because you have asked God to forgive your sins so that you can avoid the fire of hell? Or did you repent of who you are as a sinful person? If you have never come face to face with the holiness of God and seen your own deserved doom, then you are not saved. If you have never confessed your sin nature, not just individual sins, then you are not saved. If you have never come into agreement with God about the true condition of your heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), then you are not saved. If you have never surrendered all of self and crucified it on the cross of Christ so that you consider anything from your flesh as worthless and dead, then you are not saved. If you have only come to God so that you can learn to behave like a Christian and hopefully somehow earn the favor of God, then you are not saved.

HOWEVER, God will forgive those who agree with Him about their sinful condition and repent of it, turning from self to the Savior.  

The Scripture is clear. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and there is no other way. But grace cannot save if we hold on to anything from our own lives that we consider to have worth before God. Grace is the undeserved gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is not grace if we believe in any way that we deserve it. We are saved when we see ourselves exactly the way God sees us – guilty because of our sin nature and deserving of eternal death.

When we reach that point of humility, God will forgive us, save us, and exalt us to the glorious position of His child.

Salvation comes to the humble, and being truly humble means leaving everything of worth from your life on the altar of repentance, and receiving only the worth of God into your life.

Have you done that?

Pastor John

Wrong Ships Docked in Port

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, February 4, 2019

Genesis 50:15, 19-21 15When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” …  19But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  21So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

One of the big stories in the news for the past month has been the safe return of a teenage girl who had been kidnapped. Her parents were killed by the alleged abductor, and she was held captive by him for three months.

It reminds me of another story from twelve years ago of a missing teen who had been found after being gone for four years. He had been abducted from his community by a man who lived within an hour of the boy’s home. This man lived without suspicion with this boy as his own for the entire time.

In both of these cases, and many more like them, the issue of guilt and punishment is important. But for healing to take place in the hearts and minds of those families and victims, the real issue that must be addressed is this – how do we forgive the one who committed the crime?

It is important for us to forgive people who have wronged us. But how do we forgive when the crime against us has been so brutal?  We must not be deceived into thinking that we will feel better if we stay angry. No matter how severe the sin that was committed, the long-term effects of unforgiveness are worse. Bitterness and resentment are the thorns that will grow in the soil of an unforgiving heart, and they quickly choke out any harvest of the fruit of the Spirit that you could experience.

Joseph had to make such a choice. Put yourself into his story for a moment. Imagine that several family members had conspired to kill you because of jealousy. Instead of killing you, they decided to ship you off to a foreign land as a slave. They then informed your parents that you were dead.

It’s time for your first choice: rebel against your new master and attempt to rectify the situation or surrender to your plight and do your best to succeed for your master.  Joseph chose the latter because he trusted God with the outcome of his life. Could you?

Joseph kept choosing to trust God with the outcome of his life, even though the difficulties continued. He was thrown in prison after being falsely accused of adultery. He was lied to by two prison friends who promised to help him get released but they didn’t. Then, when he was finally in a position of leadership and had the power and authority to bring justice to those who had hurt him, he forgave them and gave them the best that he had. He could have had them all killed or assigned them as slaves, but instead he chose to trust God. In one of the greatest statements of faith in the entire Bible Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.”

What would your choice have been? I suspect that for many of us we would have docked the ship of resentment in the harbor of our heart waiting for the day we could sail it on the sea of revenge. Maybe you have one or more ships like that already tied up.

I heard an interesting statement the other day on a radio program that involved finances. It was this – “Don’t sit and wait for your ship to come in if you haven’t sent any out.” That principle applies here. Don’t wait for the ship of God’s blessing to come into your heart until you have sent out the ships of bitterness and resentment. God’s blessings do not sail on the waters of unforgiveness. Where there is resentment there will be no hope. Where there is bitterness there will be no joy.  Where there is unforgiveness there will be no peace.

Think carefully and prayerfully right now. Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to call today and reassure them and speak kindly to them as Joseph did to his brothers? No matter what they did to you, the pain you are enduring because you have not forgiven them is greater than the pain of the sin that was committed. Untie those ships and send them out to the sea of forgiveness where they will be sunk by the grace of God and buried forever. That will open the port of your heart for God to pour out a blessing on you – the blessing of restored relationships.

Pastor John

Jehovah-Jireh

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, February 1, 2019

Genesis 22:13-14

13Abraham lifted up his eyes and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  14So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

The story of Abraham and Isaac is a marvelous picture of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for our sins so that we could be forgiven. The story is filled with incredible truths and we could spend days on their applications, but for today let me show you just one.

Twice in this story our key word nasa (the Hebrew word for forgiveness) is used, and both times it is translated as lifted. If Abraham had lived his life according to the flesh and the rules of society, he would never have agreed to take his son, his one and only son from his wife Sarah, and make a trip to a mountain to kill him as a sacrifice to God. Isaac was the son God had promised him, and now that he had him, and had an inheritance to pass on to him, he would never in his human reason consider such a thing. But Abraham’s eyes were not on the world and what he had, but they were on God and what God would do.

When I go on a trip, I can’t wait to see the finish line. The closer I get to the destination the more excited I become. But I remember a time in my life when that was not true. Twice within 14 months the final destination of a trip was the home of a parent who had just died or was about to die. I did not look forward to that destination. In fact, the closer I got the more I wanted to hang my head and cry.

But look at Abraham. Three days into the journey he looks up and sees the destination. He knew where the place was. He didn’t have to look up to know where he was. He could have hung his head the closer he got, but he didn’t. He lifted up his eyes and saw the place where the sacrifice would take place, and he hurried on.

I think it’s significant that he lifted up his eyes on the third day. Why? Because I believe Abraham had a clear vision of faith that saw the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sin that would take place on a hill called Calvary. He lifted up his eyes and saw what God was going to do for all of us. By faith he told Isaac that God himself would provide a lamb. Some translators conclude that the verse should read God would provide himself as a lamb.

Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw Jesus as the Lamb of God. Then, at the moment he was prepared to sacrifice his son as a statement of his absolute faith and trust in God, even when it made no human sense, God intervened and told him to stop. Without any other words, Abraham again lifted up his eyes and saw the ram that the Lord had provided for the sacrifice. Then Abraham gave the mountain a new name – Jehovah-Jireh, meaning the Lord sees and will provide.

Listen, my friend, the Lord sees your need. The Lord has lifted up his eyes towards you. The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. (Psalms 11:4)  The Lord sees that your greatest need is the forgiveness of your sin. The Lord sees that you are not able to forgive yourself. The Lord sees that you need a Savior who can rescue you from your sin and its consequences. And when the Lord sees, the Lord acts. He has provided a Lamb as a sacrifice for your sin. All that is necessary is for you to lift up your eyes towards the place of sacrifice and see the Lamb God has provided for your sin. Stop hanging your head in shame. Don’t be afraid of the final destination. On the mountain of the Lord there is forgiveness. Take all that is precious to you in this life and put it on the altar of sacrifice. Be willing to give up everything of earthly significance, and God will rescue you from your sin.

For those of you who have already done that, consider this: What have you taken back off the altar? In what areas of your life are you not lifting up your eyes to the Lord and trusting Him to be your provider? If our eyes are fixed on the world and the provision of the world, we will get only what the world can provide. When our eyes are lifted up and fixed on the mountain of sacrifice – the cross of Calvary – we will experience the provisions of heaven, the riches of glory available through Jesus Christ.

The greatest of those riches is the knowledge of complete and unconditional acceptance by God, which is only possible through the forgiveness of our sin. Forgiveness is only possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. So, lift up your eyes. Or, as the Psalmist puts it:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;

the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

 Pastor John

Forgive Others

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Genesis 18:25  Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

To fully grasp the wonder of forgiveness we must fully comprehend the wonder of the One who forgives. When God decided it was time to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin, He came to visit Abraham. Abraham’s nephew Lot was living in Sodom. Lot had become a worldly follower of God but was still viewed by God as a man who was sensitive to righteousness. Lot had been taught about obedience to God. Lot had lived with Abraham and been mentored by him. But Lot loved the world and what it had to offer. He made his decisions based on the attractiveness of what the world offered rather than on faith in God’s provision.

Lot’s life had little or no spiritual impact upon the people with whom he lived. Most of us today would consider him to be a lost cause. We would probably not spend much time trying to rescue him from the grips of sin. We would conclude that since he made his own bed he has the right to lie in it. We might even go so far as to think that he deserves whatever punishment is coming his way.

Not Abraham. He pleads with God to allow the whole city to survive for the sake of Lot. He asks God to spare them all. The word spare is our key word nasa, the Hebrew word for forgive.

What is the rationale for Abraham’s argument? The nature and character of God. Abraham appeals to what he knows to be true about God – God forgives the righteous and does not punish them for their sin. He does not treat the righteous and the wicked alike. Even when the righteous are acting like the wicked, God, by His very nature, will do right.

Forgiveness is not dependent upon the perfection of the violator, but rather on the character of the one who was violated. Forgiveness is not earned but rather it is granted by a Righteous Judge who honors the humble confession of a repentant heart. He can do nothing less than forgive because His nature demands it.

Forgiveness cannot be rescinded because efforts of behavior modification have failed, but it is granted once and for all for all eternity. At the moment of salvation, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is applied to the life of a sinner. We are declared justified by a righteous God. (God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21) The old nature of sin will never again be considered by God when determining our eternal destiny. Only the righteousness of Christ can be seen by God, and that will be honored for all eternity. We who are in Christ will be spared from the entire wrath of God against sin.

Jesus teaches us to forgive others the same way. We must model the nature and character of God when we forgive, and not make forgiveness contingent upon the offender’s perfection. The words of Jesus in response to Peter’s question in Matthew 18:21 – 22 take on a whole new significance in light of this truth.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.

When a fellow Christian – a brother as Peter defines him – sins against us, we are to forgive as Christ forgave and continues to forgive us. You know how many sins there are in your life that you hate and wish you would never do again. But you still do them. So do I. But each time we repent with a humble heart before God, he forgives us. We must do the same for each other. If our forgiveness from God depended upon our character rather than His, none of us would yet be forgiven.

We have been forgiven and will be spared from all punishment for sin. With that glorious truth resounding in our lives, forgive others the same way.

Pastor John

Jesus Saves

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Genesis 7:13, 17 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark…Then the LORD shut him in. For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.

I don’t remember ever being afraid of water. I love to swim. I met my wife while we were both working as lifeguards at a city pool. If there’s water around, I want to be in it or on it.

When I was a boy I was the first one out in the spring getting in trouble with my mom for playing in the water. I play in the water as an adult when I clear the ice from the driveway. I chop away the ice on the street and along the ditch and make channels for the water to flow through, and I get wet.

I love water. I’ve swum in both oceans and 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, including Lake Superior in early June. Only once have I come close to drowning, and although it really scared me, it did not stop me from getting right back into the water. The water was not to blame for what happened – I was. The water was only doing what water does. I was doing what I shouldn’t have been doing. I trust water.

Like water, God can be trusted also, so long as we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. In the days of Noah, mankind was not doing what they were supposed to be doing. All but eight of the people on the earth at the time were living in total rejection of God. They are described this way in Genesis 6 – The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

They had become so self-centered and self-sufficient that they had no thoughts of God and only thoughts of evil all the time. They would not and could not hear the voice of God any longer and refused to believe that God would do anything about it. Their hearts were so hard against God and so focused on sin that God himself concluded that they were beyond hope. How horribly sad that is!

God decided to enforce the consequence of their rebellion. He would destroy them all except for Noah and his family. God chose water as the means of destruction. But that same water that would bury all the sinners in eternal judgment would also lift Noah and his family to safety from the judgment. (The reason I highlighted the word lift is because that is the Hebrew word for forgiveness as we learned in yesterday’s devotional.)

The very process God chose to bring judgment upon the people who were living proudly in their sin is the same process by which God saved those who were living in obedience to Him. While millions were drowning, eight were being lifted high above the destruction. Noah and his family heard the call of God to “come into the ark.” (Gen. 7:1) They made the choice to accept that invitation, and “entered the ark.” (Gen. 7:13)  When they did, the power of God took over and “shut them in,” securing their safety from the storm. (Gen. 7:16)

God always judges sin with death. But God has also provided a way for that judgment to become our salvation. God came to the earth in person when Jesus Christ His Son came to live among us. Then, after living a perfect life, God judged the sin of the world with the death of Jesus. Jesus became the water of judgment that will destroy all who do not believe in Him.

Jesus said, Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

The same standard by which the sinner will be condemned has become the standard by which we escape condemnation. Once again Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

When Jesus rose from the dead He became the water of salvation for those who trust Him. Here’s how the Apostle Peter describes it – For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Please note carefully that the water of baptism does not save you, but your trust and faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ saves you. The water of baptism is a symbol of what has happened in your heart when you chose to repent of your sin and be forgiven. You heard the call of Jesus to “Come unto me.”  You accepted His invitation by rejecting your sin and accepting Him as your Savior. Then God’s power took over and shut you in permanently, making you His child forever and guaranteeing you eternal life. Hallelujah!

The choice is yours. Water will do what water does. God will do what His Nature requires Him to do. He is pure and holy and just, and He will punish sin with death. The good news is that He has already punished sin with the death of Christ. If we are in Christ then we are free from death and sin forever.

Where do you stand? Are you in Christ seeking to serve Christ, or are you still in the world, seeking to serve self? If you are in Christ, your sins are forgiven, and you are free from judgment. If you are still in the world and have not trusted Christ, your judgment is still coming.

What will you do? Jesus invites you into the ark to be saved.

Pastor John

Forgiveness

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Genesis 4:13  Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear.”

God has placed a word on my heart and mind, and I am convinced that I am supposed to spend some time investigating it. Every day this word runs across the flashing billboard of my brain. Songs that have the word in the lyrics come to my mind and I find myself singing them. It is obviously the place that God wants me to be for right now. I know God wants me to spend some time digging for nuggets of gold in the mine of forgiveness. I invite you to come along on this daily expedition as we seek to discover the wealth of this truth – we are forgiven, and we can forgive others!

We begin where the Bible begins – in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word translated forgive is used some 650 times in its root form in the Old Testament. The word is nasa, and means to lift, to carry, and to take away. (Isn’t it interesting that the space exploration agency of the United States is called NASA? Three minutes to lift-off.) The first time the word is used in the Bible is in Genesis 4:13, where following the murder of his brother Abel, Cain is punished by God and responds to Him by saying, “My punishment is more than I can bear.” 

The weight of sin on any of our lives is more than we can lift or carry. Our attempts to be free from the burden are varied. We may deny that the sin really exists, as Cain did when God rejected his offering and he became angry at God. God gave Cain a chance to do the right thing, but Cain rejected God’s offer of acceptance.

We sometimes do the same. We choose to believe that our way is right even when God calls it wrong. We try to convince ourselves and others that what we are doing is not sin. We try to earn our acceptance by making ourselves right, even if it means eliminating from our lives those that make us feel guilty for what we are doing.

Sometimes we lie to cover our guilt and personal responsibility for our choices. When God asked Cain where his brother was, Cain responded, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”  He lied about what he had done.

Denial is of the Devil. Satan is the father of lies. Lying begins in the heart of a self-centered person who requires approval and acceptance from people. Lying is the product of pride. Lies are designed by a deceived person seeking to avoid rejection and protect their image. We fail to understand that the lie is yet another sin which adds to the weight of the burden we cannot lift. We quickly fall into the humanly inescapable quicksand of sin. The more we try to struggle against it, the deeper we sink.

Sometimes we seek the comfort of the world to relieve the pain of our sin. When Cain was expelled from the presence of the Lord, he began to build a city. He put all his energy into finding satisfaction from what the world had to offer. He even named the city after his son. He did not include God in any of his plans. The world became his opiate.

The world offers many empty promises of relief from sin: promises we quickly and easily accept as truth. Financial success, social status, sex, alcohol, drugs, and on goes the list. Each promise proves itself addictive. The temporary relief we may experience ultimately compounds the burden of our sin because we have failed to realize that each worldly promise is itself another sin.

But in the middle of all of this was a promise from God. “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” There is the solution to our sin problem. God will carry the total weight of our sin if we will release it to Him and do what is right. It is in that moment of repentance that we find forgiveness.

In the days ahead, we will dig out many nuggets of treasured truth from the mine of forgiveness, but the first lesson is this – the weight of our sin is more than we can carry. We cannot take it away by ourselves. We must give it to the One who can carry it, and once we do, we NEVER have to carry it again.

That means surrendering our rights, telling the truth, and living according to God’s purpose and not the world’s pursuits. Isn’t it time to have the weight of sin lifted off your life? God wants to do it, and He can. Turn to Him today!

Pastor John