Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meeting an old friend...

     I met a man today I hadn't seen in decades, someone who knew me pretty well in the most rebellious, licentious period of my life prior to conversion.  We traded email addresses and I
Our lives before Christ...
continued my appeal to him to turn to Christ in light of the trainwreck his life since then had become:

     ...As bad as that may be, it reminds me of something I have told my stepson repeatedly (God has given me two stepsons age 18 and 23 and one daughter age 5):
"Pain can be a very good thing;  it tells us that something is wrong, and that we need help desperately."
     The consequences of your sin have cost you much in this life, but the consequences of sin after this life are much worse.  God is holy, and He will judge all sin;  wicked people like you and me have no hope in ourselves to escape God's wrath.  So I think the best way to think of the pain and consequences of prison and drug abuse is like this:  A person in the first stages of cancer will start to have mysterious symptoms (insomnia, pain, lack of appetite, etc.).  He might not connect the dots right away, but the symptoms will get worse and worse, and will eventually force him to go to the doctor.  So the symptoms might be horrible, but if they alert him to the much greater danger of cancer, they serve a good purpose.

     Friend, one of the Scriptural tests of a person's faith is the continual lifestyle they live;  1 John 3:6-10 puts it plainly:
"No one who abides in him (Jesus) keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he (Jesus) is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother."
     So the pattern of a true believer's life is not one of perfection, but a direction towards obedience and greater love for God, evident to everyone they know.  When they sin (and they do sin), God causes them to repent and so they don't "keep on sinning".  Ask yourself honestly... does this sound like you?  Based on how you described the last several years of your life, I would have to say no. 
     You know better than anyone:  I wish someone would have come to me, when we knew each other years ago, and looked at my life and said "Dude, you think you're a Christian?  Why are you sleeping
"Lemme tell you about when I was baptized.... Hic!"
around and getting drunk all the time?  How could a Christian, one "born of God", keep on sinning?"  The symptoms of my life proved that I was sick with a deadly disease, a corruption of the soul that we all are born with (Romans 5:12).  Whatever religious things I experienced in my life at/before that time were worthless;  just as Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day (the day of judgment) many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name (i.e. all those religious activities that don't change the inner man)?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
    I hope I've presented the truth of the Bible clearly;  my greatest hope for you is what I myself have experienced:  a true repentance and turning from sin, a 180 degree turn toward God and the forgiveness in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.

Photos courtesy of chi-ryu, Bob Elderberry

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