Of the four movements we’ll be walking through, this is the week that we must believe is covered with immeasurable grace. We must look both forward and back; back to the prayers we just lifted up to our Father, that He is Holy and most High, and forward to the Cross because “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If we neglect to behold God as Holy, we won’t see a true need to repent; If we neglect to look forward to the cleansing and renewing blood of Jesus, we will be crushed by the weight of our sin and can fall into self deprecation, wallowing, or even take advantage of the grace extended to us in Christ.
Sin in the original Greek means “to miss the mark,” and Scripture says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We have all “missed the mark” to which we are called, to glorify God . Therefore, God commands us to confess our sins to Him, ask for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, and repent of our sins, meaning to turn away from our sins and return to God. (1Cor 6:20; Is 24:15; Ps 19:1; Lev 26:40-42; Dan 9:8-10; 1 Jn 1:19; Ps 32:5, 38:18; 2 Chron 7:14; 1 Kings 8:46-52; Ezek 14:6)
These are by no means steps to right standing with God because that was won on the Cross and “it is finished” (John 19:30). However, Scripture clearly calls all believers to respond to God’s holiness, mercy, and abundant love in these specific ways. It may be hard to follow these commands at times, but the Helper is near. Call out to God in your struggle, He will rescue (1 John 5:14-15).
Let’s go into this week singing the words of the hymn Come Thou Fount:
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Take my heart Lord, take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
“‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’” Malachi 1:2
How have you doubted God’s love for you? Confess these doubts to God, be specific. Ask Him to forgive you of your unbelief. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes to see and believe the thoughtful and abundant ways God has loved and pursued you.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3
What have you treasured above God? Ask the Spirit to search your soul and reveal this to you.
What excuses keep you from spending time with God? What would you rather do than spend time with God? What keeps you from doing what you know God has called you to do? Talk to God about these things. Ask Him to reveal not just the actions, but to show you what’s beneath the surface of your soul (i.e., love of comfort, fear of ____, selfishness, anger toward God). Talk to God about this, be specific. Ask Him to help you view these things as sin and to take them seriously.
“And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet…Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water…They set out from Elim…[on] the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’”
(Exodus 15:24, 27; 16:1-3)
How do you see yourself in these grumbling and complaining Israelites? Ask God to show you your sin; ask Him to expose the grumbling and complaining in your heart.
Now look at what God does in these verses. How has God provided for your needs in ways that you tend to overlook? Ask God to forgive you for overlooking His generosity toward you.
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7 NLT
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8
Do you view you sin as this serious as something that will devour you, or as a pet you can keep under control? What specific recurring sin struggle do you tend to take lightly? Ask God to search your heart, confess what he reveals, and ask Him to help you take your sin as seriously as He does.
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” Psalm 135:15-18
“They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” 2 Peter 2:19-20
What tends to make you feel overcome, defeated, crushed? Why does that specific thing affect you so deeply when you’re able to brush other things off lightly? Ask God to reveal your idolatry behind that thing. What are you worshiping that makes this such a big deal (i.e., others’ approval, perfection, control, success, comfort). Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal this to you. Confess this to God as sin, be specific and honest. Ask for forgiveness and drink in His mercy.
“Though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ yet they swear falsely. O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” Jeremiah 5:2-3
“Repent” means to turn away from your sins. What sin or sins have you refused to turn away from? Name these sins to God. Talk to Him about why you want to keep doing them, be honest. Ask God to change your heart toward these sins. Ask Him to help you see them for what they are, things that sound good, draw you in, but always leave you wanting.
“For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15 & Isaiah 6:10
How has your heart grown dull to the things of God? Do you hear the same old story each Easter? The same old worship songs that don’t move you? The same routine of community group where you go, but don’t share much of anything about yourself? Or maybe you go to group and talk a lot about theology and parts of the sermon you liked, but you don’t let it affect you personally? Ask God to reveal these dull places in your heart. Confess them to Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to revive you and “restore the joy of your salvation!” (Psalm 51:12)