Wednesday, August 20, 2014
I've had toothaches before. They usually go away after a day or two. But this toothache has lasted four weeks and the pain is constant and getting worse. The pain I am feeling in my lower jaw is actually changing my appearance an demeanor.
My wife has asked me several times, "Are you okay?" I usually force a smile and say, "I'm just really tired. I'll be alright." But then the next day the pain is still there. Often it's worse. I don't really want to tell my wife what's wrong because she'll start to lecture me, offering me all sorts of "expert medical advice." Advice I don't really want to hear . . . whether she's right or wrong.
And so I sit here in my pain. Not getting any better. Just trying to get through it. Hoping it will just go away. But guess what. It didn't.
I went to the dentist last week. Dentists are experts in pain. Usually, however, they just inflict pain on others. Dentists, and their minions the dental hygienists, like to scrape and probe and poke at our teeth and gums until they bleed. Pain can be such fun!
God gave us pain for a reason. Pain is an indicator that something is not right. Something is wrong. When we feel pain we can be certain that our bodies are telling us to take it easy or to get something checked out.
My dentist told me that my tooth was infected and it would have to be removed (Oh, joy. MORE pain). But actually, after my bad tooth is removed the pain will be gone and I can once again sleep through the night.
God's Holy Spirit, accompanied by God's Word, The Bible, serve a similar purpose. When we become convicted of a sin that we have committed we can feel "spiritual pain." Again, just like with a toothache, we KNOW something is wrong. We need to take a visit to the dentist, or in OUR case as Christians, we need to come before God in prayer. Only He has the ability to heal us and restore our "health" through His grace and mercy . . . and the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.
If someone knocked on my door and told me they could take away the pain from my toothache I'd let them. But if that pain transferred from me to them would I still allow them to heal me? If I saw them leaving my house, holding their jaw in obvious discomfort, how would I feel then. I would probably still be feeling pain, but pain of a different sort.
When we sin do we think of Jesus being nailed to the cross? Again and again? For each little sin? Jesus actually died for ALL of ours sins - past, present and future. But if we thought about Jesus being nailed to the cross each time we stuffed ourselves at the dinner table or looked longingly at a man or woman at work, would we still go on with our lusts, even with that picture in our minds?
Those of us who are believers in Christ have that decision to make each time we sin. The knowledge that someone else has paid our fine for us. Though He committed no sin, Jesus received punishment, OUR punishment, as if He did. I personally have a hard time with that. May we ALL have such regret when we become convicted of our sins.
In closing I will leave you with a verse - a verse that haunts me when I contemplate the ramifications of the sin of believers. I hope it will make you think as well the next time we catch ourselves in sin.
"26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - Hebrews 10:26-31
This is a hard teaching. It says that those who have heard the Gospel and then reject it, cannot be saved because they have refused to the salvation offered by Christ's death on the cross. Sinning after we become believers is not "terminal" unlike those who deny Christ. But sinning after we have come to believe should create in us an enormously heavy burden. Repentance should be a daily . . . no, an hourly act. Whenever we sin our immediate response should be repentance. We should be driven to our knees, seeking God's mercy. Without that, we are truly lost. BUT . . . there IS hope.
"24 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4
Forgiveness - Matthew West