“And these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the Word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts for other things entering in choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-19
Recently it was discussed about roadblocks and trappings. The possibilities are endless for the things that can become a barrier between someone repenting and believing into Christ. My thoughts recently turned to the word: justification.
According to Webster’s University Dictionary Unabridged, 1941, one meaning of justify is:
To declare free from guilt or blame, to absolve; to clear.
In theology the definition listed is the following:
In theology, to pardon and clear from guilt; to treat as just, though guilty and deserving punishment; to pardon.
A synonym of justify is excuse. Let’s turn our attention to the first given definition of justify.
How many Believers, unfortunately we are talking about Believers, have created a justification argument for their sin? We often take the time to look at the lost, those who are without Christ, those whom have not had the justification of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Those to whom do not have a pardon, through repentance and belief into Jesus Christ. What does the world do?
Does not the drunkard that lives next door justify his drunken behavior due to the bad circumstances of his life, the memories, regret, remorse of the past and the outcome of decisions that perhaps could’ve and should’ve been avoided? The man who lives on the sidewalk that people walk past, does not a great deal of excuses or personal justification equate a situation that would’ve been unimaginable at it’s inception? The broken families, those who sought eye for eye, those who justified their sinful behavior and now regret it, everywhere around you. Clearly a Believer sees the unsaved and knows that they need a Savior.
The Believer, the Christian, understands much of the world’s trappings, as they were once entangled in the same system of sin, but Jesus Christ set them free and through Salvation they were changed. Yet consider for a moment if you will that the battle is not over, even Believer’s can become entangled in sin. Satan would like nothing more than to render each Christian an ineffective Christian, if not even go as far as having a true Believer disbelieve and turn their back on the Most High.
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the full true knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to his own vomit, and, a sow, having been washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2nd Peter 2:20-22
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1st Peter 5:8
When we hear of a pastor whose life become national news due to an affair that he had, do we automatically assume that this pastor is certainly not a true Christian? What if he is, but has been rendered ineffective? I once read of this black Baptist pastor in the Deep South of the United States who had been having several affairs with women in the church. On a Sunday morning he stood up in front of his congregation and declared to them that he had HIV and had been having affairs with women who were amongst them. Yet instead of coming out with an apology because the matter had been made widely known by media, which it had not been, he repented publicly and ended his pastoral duties because God had chastised his behavior. He was now HIV positive and his sin was found out, for God made in known. The media then had a frenzy descending on the church.
Let it be known, if you are a Believer and you are sinning, the Lord God Almighty will chastise you. If you are without chastisement, living in sin, then are you even a true Christian?
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him. For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and whips every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” Hebrews 12:5-8
The commands are given by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior:
“Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
When we allow sin into our lives we are forsaking these commandments. At that point we are loving sin more than loving God.
“If then you are raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things of the earth; for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: sexual perversion, uncleanness, passion, evil lusts, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience; in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his practices, and have put on the new man who is renewed in full true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, even the Father, through Him.” Colossians 3:1-17
If you are justifying your sinful behavior with whatever excuses that you might have, no matter how ‘well sounding’ the argument might be, understand that there are NO excuse before God Almighty.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2nd Corinthians 5:10
So what happens when a Believer gets entangled in sin, receives not only the chastisement of God, but perhaps in the process also receives the consequences for their actions? What happens if a Believer’s spouse leaves due to their behavior, the children are not raised right and are of the world, the finances are totally out of order, the body is damaged due to abuse, the emotions, depression and regret weigh heavily on the soul, despite a repentant part on the guilty one, whom Jesus has forgiven?
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:9
Perhaps the one is no longer qualified to be a pastor? Perhaps a child has been locked up in prison for life, partially due to the neglecting of teaching them God’s Word? Maybe the person is now on an oxygen tank for having smoked so many years? Or depression weighs so heavily due to regret of one’s actions that they feel beat down and unable to stand back up and press on. Yet that is EXACTLY what a true Christian needs to do is press on, get back in the race, get back on your feet and do your duty, follow Christ and walk as you should’ve been walking all along, knowing that if you have repented of your sin, Christ has forgiven you and you MUST press on.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold, since Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and stretching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are complete, be of this mind; and if in anything you think differently, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in being imitators of me, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many conduct themselves, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and who glory in their shame; who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:12-21
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so persistently harasses us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners against Himself, that you not become weary and faint in your souls.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Get back into the race, pick yourself up, go on…!
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize controls himself in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in this manner: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1st Corinthians 9:24-27
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on all the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies. Therefore take up all the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand firm therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints;” Ephesians 6:10-18