Everyone here can probably look at their life and point to a catastrophic sin, or a season of sin, that truly stands out to them when you were a Bean head. Something that you did that hurt someone terribly. Something that changed your reputation instantly. Something that altered your life forever. Or, something that no one else knows about, but clings to your soul daily. For some, these moments literally plague your life. For some, these failures become something that you cannot stop your thoughts from going back to often. Every sermon reminds you again. Many good moments are interrupted by reminders that you messed up—that you are messed up. And when these things do come to mind, they immediately steal your joy. Immediately take away your self-esteem, and freeze your spiritual walk for a time. Sometimes that feeling of hopelessness will cause us to stay in sin because you feel so tainted and marked anyway. And for some—this failure or this past season of sin, has literally become a part of who you are because the sin has gotten into your very soul so deeply that you feel you are too dirty to shake it—maybe too dirty to even be saved. There may be some of you, who contemplate if you even want salvation from the struggle anymore.
And you wonder when—or even if—you will ever be able to dig out of this hole and feel worthy and joyful with God again. If God will even still want you. How do you dig out of such a difficult place? How do you get forgiveness and release from the guilt? How do you ever make it right again?
A while back, we had a two-week discussion of the life of Richard Wurmbrand during Wednesday night service. He was a Romanian Priest who was arrested and tortured for 14 years by the Communist Soviet Union, just after WWII because he would not bend the church to the will of the Communist Party. While preaching against the Communist Party (before being arrested), he would speak at a number of locations, sometimes in the same day. After three speaking engagements in one day, he had undressed and was in bed late at night when he said God unmistakably woke him and said, "Get dressed and go to the pub across the street." His wife said they would laugh at him because all knew him, so he said, "Get dressed and go as well, so they can laugh at us both." There was a Russian Captain of the Soviet Army, drunk and threatening to kill everyone if he could not get more to drink. He couldn't speak their language, but Wurmbrand could, so he got him a bottle of wine and sat with him. The owner said Wurmbrand could drink for free all his days for helping. He found out the Captain had been an Orthodox Priest in Russia. When the Communist Movement began, they killed over 50,000 priests, and told him if he would go town to town refuting his belief and proclaiming atheism, he could live—so, he did, and destroyed the faith of many he had even brought to Christ. Then, they told him, he must shoot those who would not recant, so he shot many using the same hand that had baptized them. Now, the Captain was saying he could not be forgiven and could not ever forget, so he drank and drank to take away the pain. Wurmbrand repeated the Nicene Creed used by the Russian Orthodox Church to him, asking him did he still believe each part. The man said, "Yes of course, I never stopped believing, I simply did it to save my life." Then Wurmbrand got to the part proclaiming Remission of Sins, and asked, "Do you believe this?" The answer was, "Yes of course, but not mine, they are too great and too many." Wurmbrand reminded him that when John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching him, he proclaimed, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) Wurmbrand told him Jesus died to take away all of the sins of the world. It would not matter if all of the sins, of all kinds, of all times were committed by only you, His death was enough to remove them all. Jesus never once asked anyone how many sins they had committed before forgiving them. The priest was broken and gave himself back to Christ at that moment. This Captain never stopped believing, he simply, purposefully, rebelliously, selfishly sinned against God by choice anyway. Do you think that made him unredeemable?
What about King David? How must it have made him feel, when he remembered that God Himself had called him out and anointed him to be King of Israel? That it had been God Who brought him to power, had given him incredible military victories, had made him the greatest King Israel ever knew, had filled him with the Spirit and used him to write the most intimate and beautiful Psalms in Scripture, and then he purposefully rebelliously, selfishly chose to commit unbelievable sin against God. Was he forgiven? Obviously! And not only forgiven, but still promised to hold the position of Prince of New Jerusalem one day. We all know how hard Peter fell when he betrayed Christ. But how horrible and unredeemable do you think he felt when he had been one who left everything in his life to pursue and trust Jesus? Who watched His miracles, had been touched, loved and taught by Him? And then had bragged the most about always being faithful? Was he forgiven? Obviously! And not only forgiven, but used to literally build the foundation for the New Testament Church of which we are a part of on this day!
Two of the greatest, most used followers of God in the Old and New Testament were both also two of the worst sinners written about, even though they had the greatest, closest knowledge and walk with God. Why do you, like the Russian priest, feel as though your sins are so bad, or so many, that you cannot ever be loved or forgiven by God like others?
Satan has you doing just one thing these men refused to do in their sins. That thing is the all the difference between overwhelming guilt, ruin and unforgiveness and complete restoration and peace in Christ. Everyone in this room has issues. Everyone in this room has sinned purposefully against God. It is not our sin, but how we trust His continued love and passion in our sin, and whether we truly want Him in our sin, that decides whether we will be restored and comforted or remain distant and lost. If you focus on your failures, your sin, your betrayal, you have dishonored God even more than with your original sin, because you have made it all about you, still. And you have taken away all that He did to remove that sin and save you for Himself in unbelievable love and sacrifice. You have made everything He did of no value at all, because you can't get over you. How and why can we focus on our pitiful failures when we have such a Big, Sacrificial God? Have we forgotten that Grace means we don't deserve it, we didn't earn it, and we can't pay it back when it's given to us?
How about this for an example?: Someone you know is stranded after a shipwreck, and after attempts to find them finally all hope is gone, and they all quit looking. But you just know they are alive, so you and your son spend every moment and dime continuing to look. They are on a small island, working on this pitiful little raft made of a few fallen trees and vines. You arrive in your huge boat and tell them you’ve been looking everywhere and you’re here to save them. They are thrilled, but insist that you tow their little raft behind them. Then halfway home when the waters get a little choppy, they panic and accidentally knock your son overboard. He is torn apart by the rotor and dies. As the storm increases, they get worse and worse, and finally say, "I should never have trusted your pitiful boat to get me home!” And they jump overboard onto their little raft, and cut themselves free. You stay near them until their little raft is dashed apart, and you pull them back onto the boat. How would that make you feel about helping them at such a horrible cost, only to see them reject your incredible Sacrifice, and ridiculously say they could do better. "Bean Head!"
Paul had some good words of wisdom for those thinking they could build a better boat (talking to those who couldn't trust Christ's Sacrifice as enough): Galatians 5:1-5, 12. Paul says not to trust and believe that what God did was enough when you sin, is to literally fall from grace. Listen to how well King David gets what God has done. God loves him so much, because of his child-like trust that God is bigger than his sins, that God's love really has no boundaries. That is how you win God's heart and favor: by being focused on Him: Psalm 38:10-11, 15-18, 21-22. And remember how Jesus explains pretty much the same thing to Peter when they talk after His Resurrection? In one of the most well-known passages of Scripture, Jesus asks Peter three times whether he truly loves Him or not. And what was the command Jesus gave to him each time Peter said "Yes Lord, You know that I love You!"? "Then feed My sheep!" Meaning: Get past what has been done, and focus on Me and My Plan, rather than your failure.
Are you getting it? Between David and Peter the message is so clear from God—no matter what you have done, God says, “My love is bigger than your sin. My willingness is greater than your rebellion. Stop looking at yourself in paralyzing guilt, and honor Me by looking at My love and sacrifice instead as enough!” And get back into the game with boldness and joy: Hebrews 4:16.
Just so that you can see and get everything God has done for you, there is something else you need to do with your sin.
Be at peace with all that has happened; knowing that even though God hated everything that you did, and He may be heartbroken by the pain and repercussions caused; and He may sometimes have to bring correction, even in forgiveness and fellowship because He loves us, and He wants us to grow; and His righteousness must be recognized and fulfilled. Be at peace, knowing He will still work miracles that we will not understand until we get Home, using nothing but the brokenness of our sins. God will foil Satan's attempts by making you a better, stronger, more holy and loving person than you ever could have been otherwise. So, don't lament the past; praise Him for the work He will do through it.
And lastly, ask the Holy Spirit to help you do your part in being sure the experience is not wasted. See your own helplessness in the situation, and become humbler and forgiving of others in their faults. Grow in conviction, passion and purpose to never hurt Him like that again. Grow in love for a God that would still love you this much, no matter what has happened—for One that would still bring the boat around and wait for you to comeback onboard.
For some of you, the first step is to just focus on God instead of yourself in your failures, like that Russian Captain. For some, the first step is to decide once and for all that Our God truly is more Worthy and desirable than the sin which has ingrained itself so deeply in your heart, causing your passions to be divided. Your first step is to resolve the conflict as to whether you want to fight, or embrace your sin. Any speaker can smooth talk you into emotionally wanting God over your sins for a time, but you will always go back to your sins if it wasn't from a heart of passion, led by the Spirit. Not even God will force a desire for Himself over sin if it isn't wanted, so I will not beg or plead with you to give up your sins—He is worth so much more than that: Revelation 5:1-6: Why has Jesus, the Mighty Lion of Judah conquered?
Because He alone has given His everything to be sure that you and I did not have to suffer these Judgments. Therefore, He alone is worthy to pour those Judgments out on those who have rejected His Gift of Everything that He is. He is God. He is invaluable. He can and will go on without you, but you cannot and will not go on without Him. [Did you get that?]
Last week we closed with a brief word about the Prodigal Son. Realize he is the perfect picture of what we are illustrating today. He already had the inheritance of his Father, but decided he wanted nothing to do with his Father, so he took His inheritance and wasted it. He threw it away, as some of you may have. If you return as he did, even after all of that blatant rejection and sin, have the faith that He is watching from afar even now. Waiting to run to you in tears and call you son/daughter again. Whether you have decided His Sacrifice wasn’t enough to cover what you did, or you struggle if you even want to accept such an incredible Sacrifice over your sins; the Truth is that you have rejected the only Hope you have given in the Greatest of Love and Mercy. Truly turn from your sin, that you have clung to until now. Truly trust God to completely remove any sin that you have committed. Absolutely and completely leaving you as clean as David! Leaving you as clean as Peter! Leaving you as clean as Jesus Christ! And then get back into fellowship and ministry with Him! Go and feed His sheep! We are all Bean Heads!
But Jesus Christ came into the world to save Bean Heads—of whom I am chief! I Timothy 1:15
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