How to walk, when blinded by self

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)
I start my blog this week knowing that, if anyone other than myself, actually reads this, is going to think, 'Hey!  Don't judge!', but i am going to go forward anyway, and hope that the reader will still be around by the end of this blog entry for today, and at least give me a change to fully explain my train of thought... well, maybe not fully... but at least attempt to better expound my point of view some. Recently i have become aware of two, somewhat close, people who are at least within 2 degrees of myself, who are, or where, actively engaged in sinful behavior.  One was a nineteen year old, who attended a Christian school for at least seven years.  The other is a person whom i have known for at as long as i have been married.  Both grew up with people who attended church, but in each case, they willfully engaged in sex outside of the covenant of marriage.  The point of this blog, is actually not to focus on these two people, not in a singling out sort of way.  It is, however, an attempt to illustrate a deep concern i have regarding the American church in general.

It is of my opinion that the American church has been 'suffering' a time of prosperity.  A time where we could get comfortable and complacent in our pursuit of God - which He has amply supplied us with grace to pursue.  We allow ourselves to become distracted by the world, to covet the things of the world.  To actively pursue the things of the world, and yet, at the same time, allow our passion for Christ to be sidelined and placed and secondary (or even tertiary) to our heart.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  (Romans 7:14-25a, ESV)
We allow ourselves to become callous to the very things that put Christ on the cross in the first place!  And then, when we may perceive a possibly questionable act by others, we are told to "Judge not, lest you be judged!"  We become timid, and afraid to speak in love and truth into our friend's and/or neighbor's lives.  Is it even possible to discuss such things anymore?
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye." (Luke 6:37-38, ESV)
I say it is.  But how?  For one thing, we can NEVER consider ourselves better than someone else.  For another, it is NOT our place to judge the person we seek to help.  Only God will be the judge.  We also have to allow for the Holy Spirit to move in grace and love.  It is entirely possible that what you are seeing as a sinful action, may not even be on the person's "radar".  Why?  because God is working on other things in that person's life at the time, or they have become spiritually blind to it.  Don't allow it to become a source of division, but, if the person receives the word, than try and help as best you can, if it is not time, or the person does not want to receive the word, then back off.  Ultimately it is NOT we who affect the change in other people.  All of us, myself included, are only changed when the self works in concert with the Holy Spirit.  Until we stand before the Throne of the Father of heaven and earth, and we hear "Well done", we are going to be dealing with the stain of sin in everything that we do on a daily basis.  Like a pinch of leaven permeates the entire batch of dough, so does sin infest our very flesh.  It will only be completely removed when the Fathers gives us our new clothes, and our new bodies, will it be dealt within in finality.

For some time, God has brought people in to my life.  People in deep pain.  People only just seeing the sin in themselves, and in others.  Each time i have prayed for the Holy Spirit to speak truth through me, and that it not be me or my opinions that is heard.  I have encouraged women to leave abusive relationships.  I have told men to swallow their pride and be the man of their house that they needed to be.  I have mostly listened.  Some crazy life situations, and those that are seeking do not want just pat answers and glib statements.  They want to know that you hear them, that you see, in some small degree, that you know or understand.  I am VERY aware of the Word of God where it talks about divorce being a sin except in the case of infidelity, but i also honestly believe that God would not just patently condemn someone for leaving a person who is abusive either physically or mentally.  Christ took the time to reach out and touch the leper, to talk to the woman who had five husbands - AND was living with a 6th man, who was she was not married to.  Christ knew this BEFORE he spoke to her.  The woman that was to be stoned by the crowd - he did not condemn.  Example, after example, of those who are struggling and hurting IN their sin, Christ spoke to them about the love of the Father.  He repeatedly would reach out to them, preach to them, heal them, never condemning them where they found themselves in sin, and always telling them to "go and sin no more" (which all of us who walk with Christ daily know, is neigh impossible, as i expounded upon above).

That is not to say that what they, or i, was doing, wasn't sinful and SHOULD be stopped.  We must each walk out our sanctification with the Lord on a daily basis, but always know, that when you are ready to turn to Him, he is ready to receive and forgive you.  Just like the thief upon the cross, right next to Jesus, began the day, taunting and hurling insults at Jesus, near the end asked that Jesus to remember him when Jesus entered in to His kingdom, and right then Jesus said to that man, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43, ESV)  No one has the power to save, or condemn, but God.  It is only our duty as His followers, to convey the message as it has been revealed to us, and then allow it to be received, or rejected.  I say all of this and want to punctuate one thing - that does NOT mean everyone goes to heaven.  The Bible is clear, human-beings are sinners, in need of saving grave, and NOT everyone who thinks they are Christians will be saved.  The following, is in the very same chapter where it says "Judge not..."!
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 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV)
I started out this blog conveying a deep concern for the health of the American church, and i ended it with my thoughts regarding grace and salvation.  While they may not seem to correlate on the surface, i am trying to say they are one and the same.  Be faithful with the Word of God.  Be willing to speak out in truth and love, but also be aware that the Holy Spirit, and the person(s) you are speaking to, will not always receive what you have to say.  Only God can change a mind, change a community, change a region, a state, a nation.  Israel has walked with God some six thousand years, and even today the "Nation of Israel" does not have a place to call their home in peace.  Why?  Because their home is not of this world, and neither is the Christian's.  Like the Samaritan woman who "ate the scraps off the floor from the Master's table" (ref: Matthew 15:26-28), we can leave the progress of people, and of nations, to the Lord.  We just need to tend to the troubles of today.

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