Go and Hide No More

[This article was originally featured in our hometown newspaper, The Seymour Tribune].

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they hid. And we, their children, have followed suit. Without even knowing it, men and women hide themselves behind alcohol, drugs, clothes, makeup, cars, accomplishments, hobbies, sarcasm, aggression and on it goes.

Instead of using God’s created world to glorify God, we have become masters at taking his creation and using it to serve our own purposes. With money we attempt secure our future; with success we try to hide our flaws; and with entertainment we cover up our loneliness and disappointment.

And yet, spiritually separated from God, we can never mine from the world what we lost in the Garden. Like Adam and Eve, we attempt to look good with fig-leaf fashion. But this only increases our vulnerability.

How many things do you do in order to avoid failure, increase status, or preserve your reputation? Left to ourselves, we are enslaved to our hiding places.

But there is a way out. In 1 John 1:9, the beloved disciple writes, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Amazingly, the root cause of our fears —sin — is the very thing that God tells us to bring before him.

Amazingly, even as objects of his wrath, God is not looking for us to do good works to regain his favor. The Bible does not say that God is a friend of good saints. It says he is a friend of sinners.

For those who come to him confessing sin, he promises pardon and cleansing. And notice what he says. Forgiveness in this verse is not based on his grace but justice.

This is the beauty of Christianity. At the cross, Jesus made it possible for those who live a life of hiding to be legally pardoned from their sin and lovingly adopted by God their Father. In Christ, there is no penalty left to pay, and thus there is no reason left to hide.

In short, when a sinner receives forgiveness, it unshackles them from the prison of their own making. Instead of micromanaging their world to set up a persona that protects them, they can be who God created them to be, and more. They can reach out to others with the same love they have received.

Friend, sin hidden will destroy you, but sin confessed to God will free you. Will you put down your fig leaf? God has a robe of righteousness to securely clothe you.

The Light of the World Never Fades

[This article was originally featured in our hometown newspaper, The Seymour Tribune].

The weeks that follow Christmas present a unique challenge. For all the holiday highs, there often comes an unforeseen holiday hangover.

As the lights come down and the daily grind resumes, a wintry chill easily replaces Christmas cheer.

But is that how it must go? Isn’t there anything lasting about Christmas besides credit card bills and an unwanted fruitcake? Such naïve hope is often shoved aside because like everything else in life, what goes up must come down. To get through it, we tell ourselves, life is short and so are most of its pleasantries.

However, it is different for those who know the child born in the manger. For Christians, there is just as much light on Jan. 13 or Aug. 27 as there is on Dec. 25. Indeed, if January blues follow the red and green of Christmas, it probably is the case that you are paying too much attention to the flickering lights of this world and not enough attention to the true light of the world.

In truth, Christmas is much more than a festive season; it is the announcement that the light of God has entered the world to stay. Those who know this know that the light has come to dwell among a sin-darkened people and will one day remove all darkness.

In fact, the gospel of John says as much. It reads, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming to the world” (1:9). In a word, this is Christmas. However, this luminescent arrival is only the beginning.

Christ gives light for all seasons. In fact, John later records the words of Jesus: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12). In context, Jesus says these words during the festival of booths, a season in Jerusalem when the whole city was covered with lights. Jesus intends for his audience to know that he is the superlative light, one that will never fade away.

The same is true today. He is the true light today, and all those who follow him, walk in the light of his truth, beauty and goodness. His radiance is able to outshine the darkest winter night, and his love is able to fill the emptiness caused by another Christmas past. For, he is the light of the world, and his light will never fade or disappoint those who look unto him for light and life.

What Can Make Me Walk Away From Sin?

[This article was originally featured in our hometown newspaper, The Seymour Tribune].

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Encapsulated in these words is the profound truth that the God of heaven and earth has made forgiveness possible through the death and resurrection of his Son.

But this raises a question: “If Jesus’ blood can wash away my sin, what can make me walk away from sin?” On this thanksgiving weekend, I give thanks for my forgiveness, but I wonder out loud, “Is the Christian life only about getting a ticket into heaven? Or does how I live matter?” Let me answer in two ways.

First, those who have had their sins washed away are those who have been born again. And as 1 John says, those who are born again must practice truth, walk in light, confess their sins, strive to obey God’s commandments and turn from sin. In his epistle, John does not teach perfectionism. He simply asserts that those who have been forgiven will lead transformed lives.

Second, when someone’s sins are washed away, the Holy Spirit gives that person a new appetite for Christ. This is what it means to be born again. Whereas before, this person might see Jesus as irrelevant or unattractive, now, in Christ, the same person sees Jesus as the most attractive person in the universe. Obeying God’s commandments is not burdensome because they love God and his Word. In truth, those who are forgiven delight in God, God’s Word and God’s people.

Such an experience is recorded in the Psalms: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” David’s words express the Christian’s heart. Those who know God’s pardon, simultaneously have a passion for his presence. While the blood of Christ washes away our sin, it is his beauty that makes men and women walk away from sin.

What about you? Have you beheld Christ’s beauty? Or have you encountered only the ugliness of some false imitations? Don’t be fooled. Christ is gloriously beautiful, to those who have eyes of faith. Don’t miss him because of a bad experience. For he alone can wash away your sin; he alone can make you whole again; he alone can make loving him an easy duty; because he alone can show you his beauty.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss