A Shocking Realization

I’ve come to a realization, a mind-blowing, earth-shattering realization.  Want to hear it?

If it wasn’t for sin, life would be easy.

Shocking, isn’t it?  I know it’s really simple-minded of me to say, but when you see the effects of sin day in and day out, the reality that every bad situation, every tragedy, every broken marriage, every hurt, every pain, every loss…they are all a result of sin.  And you can boil all of them down to this:  the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16)

We come to Jesus and we say we want forgiveness, but do we all really?  Be honest:  are you really willing to do whatever it takes in order to be set free?  Really?

We come to Jesus and say, “Lord, help me!”  And yet so many of us keep one hand behind our back, fingers crossed and clinging to our false gods.  Why?  Because we really, deep down, are scared to let them go.  Or we’re scared of what it might mean for us to be honest about them and let them go.

And truthfully, if you’re struggling with letting something go that you say you hate, in the end, you love whatever it is more than you love Jesus.  I know that’s a hard thing to say…it’s a hard thing for me to write…but it’s true.

So what about it?  Do you really want to let go of whatever binds you, whatever is destroying you, those things that you know don’t please God?  When the people of Israel had fallen into idolatry and were on the verge of captivity, the prophet Jeremiah was told to give them this message:

“If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight, then you shall not be moved.”  (Jer. 4:1)

Return and put away.  Return to the One that made you, and the One that saved you.  As Jesus told the church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.” (Rev. 2:5)  Repent, turn back from the direction you’re heading and head towards Jesus.

To repent is to quit heading down the same old path that leads you to the same old sin every time, and to turn your face towards the only One Who can truly satisfy the hunger in your soul that you’re trying to fill elsewhere.  It is to put away the things that so easily ensnare us and to put on Christ instead.

And what’s the result of that turning away?  “You will not be moved.”  You will stand strong on the firm foundation that is Christ.  When we hold onto our sins, to our false gods, we are standing on shifting sands.  When we choose to hold onto those idols, God tells us that, instead of asking Him for help, we should ask them.  Can they save?  Have they any power?  Is He doing that because He’s mean?  No.  He wants us to see just how foolish and power-less those things are.  They are vapors, fleeting pleasures, passing fancies that never satisfy.

This is how God sees our idols:

“They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:13)

It’s like you’re dying of thirst but choose to walk away from a beautiful flowing stream and have a drink from a hole you dug in the dusty earth, a hole that incidentally won’t hold water anyway.  In essence, it ain’t real smart.  It’s like putting a spoonful of sugar in your mouth when you’re thirsty.  It might taste nice for a moment, but it’s only going to leave you craving a real drink.

The really shocking thing is that we continue to go back to the broken cisterns, instead of simply turning back to the only One Who can truly satisfy:

“Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:14

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