A valuable lesson was learned when I watched a dear friend of mine, someone I consider family, choose to live in sin. I say “choose” because my friend professed to be a follower of Jesus and knows His ways. However, He desired the sin more than he wanted Jesus. He chose to live with the sin because it was satisfying in the moment.
He attended a party where he was surrounded by people who love him unconditionally. But he brought his sin with him. I have one word to describe the evening. AWKWARD! (Written in caps with an exclamation point for emphasis).
The entire situation grieved me because I knew the choice was not in his best interests. I knew the consequences would be heartbreaking. Our conversation that night was stilted and lacked depth. We both recognized the sin. It was the “elephant in the room.”
I prayed, “God, I love this young man so much. He’s family to me but this situation is so very awkward. It shouldn’t be this way. If he would just admit this is wrong and let go of the sin, our fellowship would be restored. It would all be ok.” The reply I heard within my spirit was, “Deb, you do this to me all the time.” And I instantly knew exactly what God was revealing.
Nothing would every change the love I have for my friend. But his sin was ever present. It was standing in the way of open communication.
I think it’s the same in a believer’s relationship with God. We are assured of our position as the Father’s child. Our Savior made a way into God’s holiness when He took our deserved place on the cross.
But when we choose sin, there is often an awkwardness in our prayer time with God. The sin permeates the atmosphere. We can feel a disconnect with God. Our souls are left longing for an intimacy in our fellowship.
I’m guilty of walking into God’s throne room (which I can easily access because of Jesus) with my lists of needs and wants. And yet I don’t use the opportunity to ask Him if there is any offensive way in me. I don’t take the time to ask if any of my ways are dishonoring Him.
The word the Bible uses for the remedy to this brokenness is “repent.” Acts 5:31 reveals that our Savior Jesus gives repentance alongside His forgiveness of sins. It is a gift given to us. It requires we set aside time and space for open communication with God. It requires we humbly approach the sinless One and allow Him to search our hearts. We open every closet door of our lives and allow a holy cleansing to take place.
Each year, our church unites in a 21 day prayer and fast. We are intentional about wanting more of God and less of ourselves. We express our desire for His will and way personally and corporately. As many of us are using these 21 days to seek God on a more intimate level and draw closer to His holy presence, I am convinced that sins are being seen more clearly and there is the desire for cleansing.
Today, early morning risers joined together and devoted time to cleaning our slate with God. We asked Him to pierce our hearts with His loving kindness. If any of you would like to join us, all that is required is stillness and listening for the Spirit’s loving conviction. Not condemnation. That’s not His way. Conviction. Ask Him to reveal sin and to reveal wrong motives. Ask God, “When have my actions been prompted by hidden agendas like control, pride, fear and the desire to be on Your throne, stealing Your rightful praise and glory?”
In the book of Revelation, Jesus sternly commanded 5 of His 7 churches to repent. So this morning, as part of the church, Jesus’ bride, we repented for the sins of today’s church. We asked for forgiveness for the times we (the church) have offered religion to a broken world instead of an invitation to know our beloved Jesus. Join us in asking God to bring fresh wind upon His church and to use His fresh fire to burn up the imperfections.
And then, we can pray for our nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 holds the promise that when we embrace humility, seek God and repent, He will heal our land.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). I don’t know why God chooses to release His power through the prayers of His children. I only know that He does. What a privilege and an honor!