December 18, 2012

The key to living out faith

This week I’ve been hearing about a worker who is making many mistakes but does not seem to realize it. He is putting others and himself in trouble because he cannot discern his own errors.

This lack of discernment is also a problem in living a life of faith. Sin is subtle. I can think that I am trusting God when actually I am trusting myself or my own judgment. I can think I am innocent but if I examine my heart, I might find hidden selfish motives. 

Israel’s King David struggled with the same problems. While God called him “a man after my own heart,” David was like any other person of faith. He had that old self that would interfere with godly living, sometimes in sneaky and subversive ways. When David realized the threat of his own sinfulness, he took the only action that works; he took the problems to his Savior…

Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12–14)

These verses are key to living out the faith that God puts in. Instead of trying to understand what needs fixing in my life, I must rely on God to show me those sins that I fail to discern. He can do it, but not only that, He can keep me from being ruled by my sinful nature. I just need to be willing to let Him have dominion in my heart.

Most of the time, my problems begin with what I call stinkin’ thinkin’ in that I have a bad attitude about someone or something. I’ve learned that I cannot excuse what I think because there are no actions attached. Even if the sin is only in my head, it will eventually find its way out of my heart and into my life if I don’t deal with it at the heart level. Yet trying to push sinful thoughts away is like that old game when told, “Don’t think about a red apple.” As soon as the suggestion is made, that red apple image will not go away.

When temptation comes as a sinful thought, I’ve never been able to push it aside without help either. David’s prayer asking God to make words and thoughts acceptable is the only action that works. Instead of being ruled by any awful thought, God can replace it with something acceptable. 

When thinking is right, I’m less apt to speak or act in a sinful way. However, sometimes hidden faults pop up into words or deeds when no thoughts seem to precede them. Again, the only action that works is asking God to deal with those hidden issues. He does. Sometimes He reveals them in dreams or during Bible study. If that happens, I need to confess the sin and rethink whatever He showed me in a biblical attitude. Then these hidden things can fade away and not ambush me again. This usually is a painful process, but the freedom gained is worth it.

Living out faith in public requires spending time in private with God — going over those inner motivations with Him. Whether they are rooted in childhood memories or adult resentments and other negative attitudes, it is the desire of God that I am blameless and acceptable before Him. 

God, I thank You that You know everything about me and that You want me to be pure and innocent. Free me from those hang-ups that hold me in sinful patterns of thoughts, words and deeds. May whatever I do be acceptable to You as I live out the faith that You have put into my life.

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