Monday, February 25, 2013

Godly Or Worldly Sorrow?

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death (II Corinthians 7:10 NASB). 

            There is right and wrong type of sorrow in the Bible.  One leads to life and one to death.  Peter and Judas both failed miserably at the death of our Lord.  One moves on to be a champion of the faith and the other to a shameful demise.  What was it about the spiritual chemistry of these two individuals that brought about these radically different outcomes?
            Godly sorrow comes before true repentance and leads to salvation.  It is sorrow for sin and what it does to the heart of God.  Worldly sorrow is regret for what sin does to us.  Although a person with this type of sorrow does experience grief, it is basically self-centered in nature.  A long time ago I ministered in a county jail.  Many of the inmates were repeat offenders.  Some told me tails of their incarceration accompanied with crocodile tears.  They were sorry they got caught.  Yes, they were sorry they were in jail.  They were remorseful because of the consequences of their wrong choices, but were they sorrowful for their sin?  Probably not, because if they were, they would have stopped doing what landed them back in jail repeatedly.  When the external stimulus of the lost of their freedom was eliminated, they reverted to old patterns of behavior. 
            Noted Christian author Tim Keller says that “idolatry always is the reason we do anything wrong”.  Martin Luther once argued that the first commandment, idolatry, had to be broken before any of the other ones could be transgressed.  The sorrow of this world is manifested when we live a self-centered rather than a God-centered existence. We live in a state of spiritualized self-absorption and respond to sin on the basis of how it affects us and not God.  Only when we understand that sin is first and foremost an affront against a kind and merciful God, will we have the sorrow that leads to true repentance and will want to stop sinning.  The goodness of God always leads us to repentance.  This happens when recognize that it is not about us, but about Him.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

Friday, February 22, 2013

Persecution Or Chastisement?

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Hebrews 12:3,7 NKJV)

            As a Christian have you ever been in a hard or painful situation and pondered whether your circumstances were the result of persecution from people or chastisement from God.  One morning you get up thinking; how could people be so mean to me?  The next day you are wondering if your affliction is from God to deal with some unruly aspects of your heart.  Oddly enough, it could be a little of both.
            The commentator, Matthew Henry wrote; “Those afflictions that may be persecution as far as other people are concerned are fatherly rebukes and chastisements as far as God is concerned”.  Often when we are wounded by the hateful actions of people, it brings to the surface the sinful residues found in the depths of our hearts.  We are surprised by our responses.  The persecution did not create our wrong or sinful attitudes; it just brings them to the surface.  Although the actions towards us may be totally ungodly in nature, God uses them as avenues for divine correction.  So Ken, you are saying that my persecutors are doing me a favor. Actually, in a strange way, I am.  Unless the secret sins of the human heart are exposed they can never be dealt with properly, always attacking us from a camouflaged position.
            What should our response be?  The Bible instructs us.  ….“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, … (v. 5).  We must come to the realization that no matter how wrongly we are being treated that God has redemptive purposes in it.  How did Jesus respond to persecution?  He endured.  Instead of hating those who falsely accused Him, He loved them.  He forgave them rather than retaliate, as those around Him wanted Him to do. To embrace instead of despising our sufferings, it is imperative that we realize that they are for our own good.  …but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (v.10 NASB).  Without having fellowship with Christ’s sufferings, we will never share in His holiness.  As the commentator once said; “People persecute the believers because they are religious; God rebukes because they are not more so”. 

Pray with me.  Lord, help me to endure your loving discipline.  When I am hated, help me to love.  When people are unforgiving, help me to forgive.  Lord, without You I cannot do this.  I need Your grace.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing