April 15, 2016

Spiritual weeding

I’ve complained at times that the sins I confess do not go away. God says they will . . .

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

However, He has shown me that a persistent disobedience takes more than one confession. That is, I might confess the action (such has speaking ill of someone) but have not confessed or even realized the heart of the matter — I did that action because I’m selfish. The action is forgiven, but the attitude is still there.

Chambers points to a king in ancient Israel whose heart was true to God, but his actions did not reflect it . . .

But the high places were not taken out of Israel. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days. (2 Chronicles 15:17)

My problem shows a mismatched external-internal obedience. Asa’s problem was the same, only reversed. His heart was right but he was not following through with his actions. For this, Chambers says, “Beware of anything of which you say—‘Oh, that does not matter much.’”

God is very patient, but He is also very thorough. If He were weeding a garden, He would not stop until every last weed is gone, every dead leaf removed, every wilted flower deadheaded. My life is like that garden. Weeds are persistent and worse if I don’t care about the flaws in my garden. But God cares, and He will keep at weeding until I respond.

If I profess to be right with God, yet those “high places” remain, then disobedience exists somewhere. Chambers says it will show itself in doubt. I will be uncertain of all being okay between me and my Savior. It might be in my physical life, or my thought life, and something unseen or not noticeable to others, which can make it easier for me to keep it rather than letting God weed it out.

It might also be a lack of spiritual concentration. Chambers says that I cannot have a moral holiday and remain moral, nor can I take a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual. God wants me to be entirely his, and this means that I must keep myself fit. This takes full concentration.

Such spiritual discipline could be compared to shedding a few pounds. The desire is there, the prayers happen, but when the chocolate cake shows up, all desire switches to “I must have that” and the praying stops. I’ve even said to myself that this or that snack doesn’t really matter.

Shedding those “doesn’t matter much” indulgences takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and concentration. I’ve even thought that I could ‘clear that unwanted stuff’ in a few weeks, but it has been years of neglect, bad habits, and excuses that put them there, and it may take years of spiritual concentration before God gives victory and the junk is removed.

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