Origins of Innocence

David Stockton
Series: Origins of Innocence

There's a haunting Switchfood song, and there’s this little tag at the end of the full song:

I want the world to sing in her native tongue, 
to sing it like when we were young 
back before the pendulum had swung to the shadows. 
I want the world to sing in her native tongue, 
maybe we could learn to sing along, 
to find a way to use our lungs for love and not the shadows.
(
©️Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, Brent Kutzle)  

That song came out this week, it’s from one of my favorite bands, Switchfoot, and they don’t know, unless they follow my Twitter feed, what we’re doing. But, man, that’s exactly the hope. That’s the whole point of what we’re trying to do. We believe what the Bible teaches about humanity. That God created us in innocence, in goodness, in beauty, and in strength. 

And, yes, there was a fall. Yes, mankind’s greatest representatives, Adam and Eve, they had a fall. They made a mistake. They were deceived. They rebelled. And all of us born of their seed are now experiencing shame instead of innocence. We were born into that. We walk in it. We wallow in it. 

And yet the Bible teaches that there was a second Adam that came—Jesus Christ. And he had a fall when he took on humanity’s sin and shame and died on a cross and rose from the dead. Yet, for some reason we still think that Adam’s fall is more powerful than Christ’s cross.

We’ve got to figure out how to live out of a different identity, a different philosophy. We’ve got to figure out our origins of innocence are also our eternal future as well. God’s intensions never changed. They always stayed the same. And they’re still the same for you and me. 

So we’re going to go through eight weeks of surgery, therapy, internal turmoil and discussion because we’ve got to get to the roots of what are the things that are causing us to still believe that Adam’s fall is more powerful than Christ’s cross. 

And I want to let you know that we have a special guest, Alan Meyer, who’s with us today by chance. He’s devoted his life, he’s been a pastor for many years, he’s served the Lord for many years, he’s wrestled with God himself for many years. He’s developed curriculum and some different techniques, helps for people who are trying to discover who God has made them to be. Trying to live out of this new self, to find overcoming for sin. And the one thing he has that many of us don’t is, he’s from Australia. 

Interview with Alan Meyer

David: My first question to you, Alan, in light of all these things: Does anyone in Australia struggle at all, or is it all “No Worries”?

Alan: No one struggles in Australia. No worries. All over the world you find people who are exactly as you just described. In fact, after you said that opening, I was ready to get saved. If you had an alter call I would have been on it. People are made in the image of God, even if they don’t know that. The reality is, you can’t extract your origins. They’ve been damaged, but you can’t extract them. We are made int he image of the everlasting, intimate, holy God—a God who is moral to his call but love to the core, as well. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or an atheist, or a “Calithumpian," it has been woven into you. And it cries out. The Bible says eternity has been woven into the heart of man. And people live with a distress because of that. Most of the time they don’t like themselves very much. Because something on the inside cries out for heaven. People are made for heaven, they’re made for God. They cry out for heaven. They cry out for God. But they don’t know what they’re crying out for. And as a result, every addiction you can think of is simply finding a way to stop the pain. Can I just find a way to stop the pain?  

The miracle is that we have the privilege to disciple. When Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples,” he got it the right way around. Jesus does that. He gets it the right way around. He said, “Go make disciples. The first thing you’ve got to do is baptize them into Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” And that’s more than just baptizing in water. Of course it means baptizing in water. But that was an action intended to give us a picture of the greatest need we have. And that is to be immersed back into the love, grace and kindness, and the everlasting determination of God that heaven will win and hell will lose. It is God’s everlasting commitment.  

And we’ve got to be immersed in that. It doesn’t start with trying harder. It doesn’t start with a new bunch of things you need to do before 9 o’clock in the morning to get God to like you. We’ve got to be immersed in the grace of the cross, the kindness of God, his absolute determination that eternity will be filled with people made in his image. Baptize them into that. 

But then comes the second part. You’ve got to teach them how to observe “all things whatsoever I’ve commanded you.” You’ve go to teach them how to live that out. And that’s exactly what your sermon said. I was ready to get saved. 

David: Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been working on with the Valiant Man series, and some of the other things that you’ve been doing — the mission and heart behind it as we endeavor to get stronger and be discipled by the Lord.

Alan: Well, I guess for Helen and I - we led a church for 26 years and we didn’t penetrate our community for the first ten. We didn’t really touch our community. We touched believers, but not our community. And then, it was that very thing you’re talking about, the fact that the fall has damaged people. It has destroyed their hearts and their hopes. It’s damaged their lives. It’s created chaos for people. They don’t know how to parent. They don’t know how to manage their money. They don’t know how to control themselves. They don’t know how to look forward. They don’t know how to look backward. 

And then, into that, God put Jesus and the cross, which was intended to change everything. And we simply discovered that we were good at discipling people on faith issues. We could teach about communion, baptism and worship, but people need discipleship beyond that, into life issues. How do you manage your sex life since God loves you? How do you manage your marriage since God loves you? How to you raise your kids since God loves you? How do you deal with the big struggles of life? You mentioned shame. I think that’s one of the biggest struggles that people have. How do you manage that? What do you do with that since the cross and God loves you?

I went to a good Bible-believing Lutheran church  for the first 27 years of my life. And yet, in 27 years, I never heard a single message on sex. I started thinking Lutheran’s didn’t have sex. I was going to investigate the Catholics, I’ll tell you that right now.

And yet, I just watched my own life and I watched the lives of other people. One of the biggest issues people face in life is sex. And yet we had nothing to say, no discipleship on that. And as a result, the community, the culture disciples you. You just get discipled by TV and movies. And you begin to learn your principles and your values and your truth about sex from all of that. And that’s not going to take you out of the shadows. You’ve got to help people.  

I took over a church that was broken hearted because of the adultery of the previous minister. I watched so many good men fall. I lost four good friends in a single year. And there was a suicide of a man who was attending one of our support groups who had misbehaved in his earlier years and the police were investigating him and he knew he was going to prison. In fear he took his life.  

That was a point where I said, “Someone’s got to help the community learn the song of love again in our sex lives.” And that’s what caused me to create Valiant Man. It’s a lot more than pornography. It’s about sexual discipleship. We need to be discipled in all the big issues of life. And as a result I made that a year long study. And the beautiful thing is it’s now being used all over the world. It’s been translated into Swahili. It’s been translated into French and German and Indonesian. Hillsong uses it in all their campuses. It’s one of the things that will be happening around here at Living Streams in the coming year. 

One of my passions is to encourage people that, if you could just be baptized into a new identity, if you could be baptized into that and understand how profoundly you are loved by God, out of that we could coach you as to how to resolve conflict in your marriage without having to punch each other or throw things through the window, without hurting people. We could show you how in heavenly places they do this stuff. Because Christ is in you, you could learn. And wouldn’t be a matter of white-knuckling it until the Kingdom comes. You could really learn a new way of life. And discipleship is something.  

God is crying out for his people: Help them to be baptized into the goodness of the cross and coach them in the big life issues and people can learn the song. 

David:  Since I only talked for about one minute and you were ready to take the next step and get saved, and there might be some people here who, after we’ve done such a good job already and they’re ready to go—what’s a good first step? What would you say, if someone is really ready to say yes to Jesus and they’re ready for that transformation to begin, what’s one of the most important first steps they can take?

Alan: You’ve got to listen to the echo of the cry of pain in your own heart. No one ever changes until pain gets involved. Pain gets your attention. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our conscience. He speaks to us in our pleasures. But he shouts to us in our pain: I’ve got something better than this.”  

You’ve got to listen to that cry. In your heart, the conscience that is in you, because you’re made in the image of God, you’re crying for heaven. You’ve got to lean in to Jesus. It’s not leaning into trying harder first, it’s leaning into the baptism in forgiveness, grace, kindness, and then, in that baptism, saying, “Lord, teach me how to do stuff differently.” 

It all begins with a cry. And I’ve never seen anybody take significant steps who didn’t realize, “I need help.” That’s why in the sermon on the mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven is there. The first thing that has to happen is, “I need help.”  And if that is in your heart, if you’re here in this place today and there’s something in your heart that’s crying out for more. And something on the inside is saying, “I just need help.” Well, you’re ready to go.  

And I think, Dave, you’re going to do a great job. 

David: Awesome. Will you pray for us as we jump in?

Alan: I’d love to. Father, I pray for Pastor Dave as he launches into this new series. I pray for the power of worship that was unleashed here this morning. I pray that you will fill this space with amazing grace. People need more than ordinary grace. They need more than a chance to try harder … they need you. They need the kingdom of heaven. And this is my prayer: that as Dave unpacks the series, that people in the depths of their hearts will say, “God, I want to come home and I want to learn the song of heaven all over again.”  

And this is my prayer: that this 8 weeks will be transforming for people. There’ll be people who are not here this morning but they’ll be here next week and the week after that, and that this encounter will grow in grace until they’re standing out behind those glass doors, just looking in and saying, “Lord, could I get a seat here next week?” 

Father, let your kingdom come. Let your grace reign. And Lord, just breathe on Dave each week and let him hear your voice, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

God bless you.

David: Thanks, Alan. All right.

How Innocent Are You?

Well, if you will pull out your fancy sermon notes. We’ve got sermon notes this week. It’s not normal for us, but I’ve tried to do a good job of getting ready for this. Our whole team’s been working hard on this. It’s been a group effort, which has been fun.  

So you can fill out some of these sermon notes as we’re going along. Obviously I’m going to give you some kind of easy ones. Right at the top the O stands for Origins, the next one stands for Of and the last one … Innocence. And then your name. See? We’re giving you some easy first steps. 

Then go ahead and fill out that first one. How innocent are you? How innocent are you compared to murders on death row? How innocent are you compared to Mother Teresa? As you do this introspection, as you think about yourself, how good are you doing? How innocent are you compared to the person sitting next to you? You don’t really have to do that one. That one’s just a joke. Unless you’re feeling really angry and you really want to write in real bold so everyone can see it—especially the person you came with today.  

We don’t necessarily feel innocent. We don’t have an easy time writing 9’s and 10’s no matter what in that situation. I was riding on my way in here today with my nephew and I thought I’d try out some of my sermon on him. I asked him these questions. “On a scale of 1 to 10 how innocent are you compared to murderers on death row?” And he said, “Phhhf. 5 or 6.” 

And I said, “Ok. How innocent are you compared to Mother Theresa?” And he said, “Who’s that?” 

I thought, “This is not working at all.”

And I was trying to get across to him the reality that the Scriptures teach us that we have an innocence problem, that the heart is deceitful, desperately wicked, no one can even know it. That all have fallen short of the glory of God. There are no good ones, not even one, the Bible says. There’s this reality to our humanity that it is depraved. It is broken. We have been born the seed of Adam so shame kind of rules us. It’s constantly there. It’s our constant companion. It’s even closer to us than Christ himself when we first get born into this world. It’s what our nature is. It’s what we know.  

And I was trying to give him the full ramifications of this. And he’s like, “No, it’s no big deal. Did you hear that Washington State beat Stanford?” 

I was like, man, I was just drilling home my point here and he’s not getting it. He wasn’t worried about it at all. And that’s some of the innocence. That’s some of what, I think, God is wanting to do in our lives. And basically, his premise of why he could say, “Oh, it’s not that big a deal. It’s going to be okay.” It’s because he said, “I have a lot more years to live. I know I’m not what I will be. I know I’m not perfect, but that’s okay. I’m just me. And I’m going to get better. And I’m going to grow.”

And he’s giving himself time, and space, and patience. He knows that he has this problem, this rebellion, this thing that stirs up in him. But he knows it’s not all he is. He knows that there’s more to him. He knows that there’s this other image in him. Even at this young age, he gets it.  

And for some reason, we don’t anymore. We add up our mistakes. We add up our failures. We figure out what people have done in our lives. We fall short in comparison of what we want to be or who we think we should be. And all of a sudden we write the grade “Failure.” We’ve already failed. We’re already broken. It’s already over. Our time has come and gone.  

And my nephew didn’t feel that way. And the truth of the Scriptures is that God doesn’t feel that way about you at all. He said, “There’s plenty of time. Put your life in my hands and I will be your teacher. I will be the one who makes you into all that you were meant to be.”

Innocent in God's Eyes

In Christ Jesus we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. In Christ Jesus, we, before the foundation of the earth, were chosen by God to be holy and blameless in his sight. Each one of you, no matter what you’ve been through, no matter what your past is, no matter how dirty you are today—God is able to restore you, to bring you to that place where you are not just holy and innocent in the world’s eyes, and their standards (which change every  day), not just in your own eyes, but in God’s eyes. The truest eyes of all.  

And we’re going to continue to dig in to figure out what is causing us to not believe this, to not own this, to not walk in this, to not trust God that he is able to complete the good work that he started in us. And to hang on to him for long enough to where we actually see the change. 

Last week I was looking around the room, and I was watching all these people—and I know so many of your stories. And what that means is I know so many of your junk, because you’ve shared it with me. You’ve come to me and you’ve said, “I’m struggling with this.” Or “This is going on.” And I look around and I think, “Oh, yeah, that person, I know…” 

We were at the Fall Festival and I was just walking around, looking at people, and I was thinking, “This is bizarre, man. I could say stuff about all of these people that would make them be so embarrassed or make other people go like, ‘What’s going on?’”  

Because of my situation. And I didn’t do that, just so you know. I didn’t do that and I won’t ever do that. But it’s so funny because I know where you’ve come from, and I know where you are today. The change has been enormous. The fact that you’re showing up every Sunday and sitting by your wife, and listening to the Scriptures. That’s huge. Because it wasn’t long ago you were feeling like you weren’t even worthy of that—to even be in the midst of the church or come to church. And now you’re here. 

And, yes, you look at all the things you should be, and the call of God on your life, and it starts to make you feel depressed and discouraged. But I’ve seen it and I’m looking at you and it’s like, “Ha! You’re like a real Christian now.” And you might not be able to admit that. You might feel uncomfortable saying that. But I see it. And it’s been so encouraging. So we’re going to just stimulate that and pray for more of that in this situation. 

This next little deal here, Daniel chapter 2, It’s a story where there’s this king. King Nebuchadnezzar is the king of the world, literally. It’s the most dominant empire that the world has ever known. Nebuchadnezzar, total domination of everybody, and he has a dream. In this dream he has a vision of a statue and a little stone that kind of comes down from the mountain and destroys the statue. And the little stone becomes this mighty mountain. 

And one of the things that we’ve been praying for—a lot of prayer has gone into this service already—we’ve been praying for you, we’ve been praying for this whole season—and what we’re hoping to see happen is that Christ, no matter how big or small he is in our lives, or whether he’s non-existent at this point, if we invite him into our lives, what will happen is he will come in like in that picture in Daniel. Christ will be that stone that comes in. And when Christ comes in, no matter how small the seed of faith, no matter how small the invitation, when Christ comes into our lives he immediately starts going after the strongest strongholds, idols, curses, bondage, evil. Whatever it is that is set up in our lives that is strong and is not of God, Christ immediately goes for those things first. And the beautiful thing is, the righteousness of God is always, in every way, more powerful than the unrighteousness of man. 

Whatever generational curses have been kind of built up into our lives that we have inherited; from Adam or even closer to us, whatever sins that we’ve open the door to and they’ve come and got their hooks in us; and though we try in our strength to get away from them, we always keep coming back and bowing down to them (that’s the imagery in the book of Daniel). 

And we’ve got here this stone which is Christ, this muscle man image which is basically idols or the idols’ lies in our lives. And we’ve got a little list there and you can write in whatever you want, whether it be pornography, envy, anger, bitterness, whatever is, these unwanted things in our lives that are driven by this stronghold that is in us. We’re hoping to see Christ come in and topple them. You see that right there? That little stick figure is getting toppled there. 

But the beautiful image in this thing is that stone that was so small that comes and topples these might strongholds in our lives, it says it grew until it filled the whole earth. And this is the truth. This is the promise. As Alan was saying, God is going to win. The kingdom of heaven is going to conquer everything else. But the same is true in our lives. There is a battle going on inside our souls. For those who haven’t invited Christ in, all you have are these strongholds, these idols.  

For those of you who have invited Christ in, the battle is on. The stone is rolling toward those things. Once one of those idols is taken down, guess what? You realize there’s another one.  And another one. And another one. And another one. And God is beginning to do this work. He’s trampling these things in our lives. And every time an idol gets trampled it gets replaced by more of the kingdom of heaven, by more of Christ.  

Take a Step

And the beautiful thing is that Christ in you is a living, breathing, growing thing. And every time you surrender one of those things to the Lord, every time you allow Christ to do the work and a stronghold is removed, what happens is more of him grows in your life. That’s the process. It’s not Jesus saying, “Hey, I want you to go take on those strongholds, and once you do, then I’ll come in.”

That’s what all of us think all of the time, but that’s not the truth at all. Jesus says, “Invite me in and I’ll do the work. And you just have to hang on for the ride.” And it’s hard to hang on. Those of us who have been through the process know. It’s hard to hang on for the ride. When Jesus says, “I want you to go ahead and tell your wife about it.” “I want you to tell your husband about it.” “I want you to tell your kids about it.” “I want you to tell your boss what’s been going on.” 

And all he’s saying is, “You take the step and I’ll do the rest.” And that’s how it works. You hang on for the ride. But he’s the one who leads the way, leads the charge, and actually does the work. If you’ll go through the process, you’ll see the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness, peace and joy will begin to grow in your life and flow through your life. So that’s a little work you can do there.

The Conflict Within

Romans 7. We’re going to start in verse 15. Paul is writing here. He’s not a new believer, but he’s a seasoned believer. He’s writing to the Romans and he’s saying to them:

 Romans 7:5 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 

[So I’ve learned through this process of introspection that there’s this law at work in me…]

21 … Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 

So Paul is writing this as a seasoned apostle, a seasoned disciple, a seasoned Christian, who’s already had the work of God move in his life. And what he’s saying to the people in Rome that he’s writing to is “You’re going to be able to relate to me in this one situation.” 

He said,  “I have this thing within me that is constantly at war and often more powerful than the part of me that wants to do good. I want to do God’s law. I want to do the right things. I want to do what God is asking me to do, but I find that every time I start down that path, every time I try to go that direction, there’s something else inside me that raises up, raises it’s voice, pulls and wars against me.” 

And what Paul the Apostle is saying is, “And oftentimes I end up going its direction, even though I have Christ, even though I’m doing this work.” And he’s saying, “It’s a very frustrating situation, it’s a very aggravating conflict situation inside of me.” And I think all of us can attest to that same reality. My nephew could. 

God's Plan

But our conclusion, the next thing that we come to: Because of that, does that mean we are worthless? Does that mean we are unloved? Does that mean there is no hope? Well, this is what the next verse says: 

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Yeah. That’s a simple statement. And there is so much truth in it. And the ones who are “whoo-ing” and clapping and all of that, it’s because they’ve experienced that happening in their life. But I get it. If you’re not one of those people, you’re saying, “Oh great. So we just magically say these words and then ‘hocus pocus’-bam-, it happens No. Let’s keep reading: 

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 [So Christ paid the price for all of our sin. But there’s more:] 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Now check this out. Please understand this. God’s plan to deal with your sinful nature, and my sinful nature—first of all is to acknowledge the reality of it. Acknowledge the pain and frustration. Admit to it. Be honest with it, that there is a part of me that is sinful and wrong. And God’s plan is not to come and give you just enough strength to kind of “will power” your way through life. God’s plan to deal with your sinful nature is not just to feel bad and just kind of receive forgiveness over and over again until finally you die.

God’s plan to deal with your sinful nature is not “You get it all cleaned up and figured out and then we can be righteous and walk together.”

God’s plan for dealing with your sinful nature is to live inside you. And this is where Christianity gets bizarre. No doubt about it. It sounds crazy—unless it’s true. The earth is round. Sounds crazy—unless it’s true.

We have little dust mites that live on our skin and on our everything all the time. If you see them under a microscope, they’re like a disgusting, living thing. Sounds crazy—unless it’s true. 

God’s plan to deal with your sinful nature definitely was the cross; so that there is no penalty, there is no consequence for your sin anymore. Christ took that for you. But then, from now until you go to be with him and your sinful nature is removed forevermore, God’s plan is to come and live inside of you. It’s not to be ashamed of you. It’s not to stay back from you. It’s not to just kind of throw something your way every once in a while to keep you going. It’s to come and live inside of you. For you to basically be impregnated with Christ—his full, living presence to fight with you, and to fight alongside you, and to be your strength, and to be your guide. That is God’s plan.

Basically, it’s kind of summed up like this, as we close this down. This is that last thing on there. We were born in innocence. We were created in innocence. God created us with good intentions. We’re going to talk more about it next week. But that’s where humanity began. And then there was this fall—Adam’s fall. Adam’s sin. Adam’s rebellion. All of us have done the same thing in our life. And we fell into this situation of shame. Shame is the way that we are born. Shame is what we know best. Shame is the shadow that covers our lives. It’s our sinful nature. 

But I want you to know something. I want you to write this over and over again, because innocence never stopped being God’s plan for us. Innocence wasn’t something God created and then it was just gone and Adam’s sin was so powerful that it undid the work of God. God’s plan for us to live and experience goodness and innocence never stopped. It never ended. It’s still alive and well. 

Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. He lived in a bold, innocent friendship with God.

Moses stood at the bottom of this mountain that was on fire, Mt. Sinai. And he said to all the people, “Hey, God wants us to come up and be with him in his presence.” And you know what all the people said to Moses? “Why don’t you go? I don’t know. I kicked my kid the other day. I did something bad the other day. I don’t know if I want to go up there.” They were afraid. Shame was keeping them from the presence of God. Yet Moses, who we know was a bad man, he murdered someone, and somehow believed God enough to know he could stand innocent in the presence of God and he walked up that mountain. And in Exodus 34—I can’t talk about that yet, it’s coming. He got to experience God in a neat way. Face to face as a friend speaks to one another.

That’s God’s plan for you. That’s not God’s plan for the pastor. That’s not God’s plan for the Australians—I mean, it is, but not just them. That’s God’s plan for you no matter how un-innocent or shameful you know you really are. You've got to let that gospel in. You’ve got to let that good news in. Right now you’ve put up walls to keep things from going to those places. You’ll talk about a lot of things, but you won’t talk about your shame. You’ll add a lot of things to your life, but you won’t let anyone or anything at all really know the truth. And as long as you keep those walls up, you’re going to be missing what God wants to do in your life. You’ve got to let him in. He wants to go right to the dirtiest, nastiest, most shameful point in your life and begin to work there, and to bring his grace and his kindness and his love.

This is the Cross

To finish this up: This is the cross. This is the people like Abraham and Moses who believed God would do something, that believed God and it was counted as righteousness. This is us New Testament saints who believe God and the work that Jesus did. And there is coming a day, no doubt, that will talk about at the end of the series, where God is going to do away with shame and the sinful nature evermore. 

But for now, this is our situation. This is what Romans 7 and 8 are describing. This is what you and I are living every day. But innocence before God is part of what God has for you. And he wants to come in and meet with you in those painful, dark places.

And all I want to say to you today is:  

  1. The step I’m asking you to take today is to acknowledge this reality: that God sees you in your dichotomy. He sees you in your sinful nature, your sinful state, and he doesn’t condemn you. But he asks, “Can I come and join you there? Can I come be with you there? Can I come show you the way out of there? Can I come be the strength and the healing that you need?”
    So I want to acknowledge that reality. And:

  2. This one’s hard. Be honest with somebody. The most punishing thing is secret sin. This week your assignment is to be honest with somebody about the secret. It’s the first step. You can be honest with God. Yeah. It’s awesome to be honest with God. Do that. Go home and get by yourself with the Lord and say, “God, this is it. You know it is and I know it is. I’m saying it to you.” But the next step is  to say, “OK, Lord, who should I tell? Who should I tell?” Me? That’s fine. Sometimes maybe you need to tell a friend before you really tell that person who you know it’s going to devastate, so they can be praying and kind of go with you. I’m asking you to take this step. 

We’re going to go through this thing, but if you guys don’t participate, if we don’t actually do the things the Lord’s asking us to do, we’re going to get to the end and we’re all going to be like, “Hey, cool, we got another bandaid. Isn’t that nice? You want to see it? It’s got a super hero on it.” We’re trying to get rid of the bandaid. We’re going to really try and let the Lord do surgery.

Let’s pray:

Jesus, we thank you so much for your love and your grace. We thank you for your Scriptures, because it would be really hard to believe this stuff if we didn’t have a trustworthy accounting of it. And Lord, I thank you for people like Alan and the others who can testify to this. I thank you for the stories in our lives where it really is true that you come in and topple things with your grace and your presence.

And Lord, we invite you to have your way among us right now. I thank you that this church is not full of people who just want a quick cleansing, a quick wash, but they want to be healed. They want to be whole. And so we trust in you, our Shepherd, our Rabbi, our God, our Savior, our King, the Lover of our souls. We trust you. We pray that you would have your way among us.  

Lord, I pray that walls would come down around our hearts. I pray that the frozen hearts would be warmed by your goodness. That the ears that have been closed up would be opened right now by the power of your Spirit to hear your voice. And I pray er those who have been blinded to you and your reality. Right now I pray that they would have flickers of images, even in their closed eyes, they would have dreams like Nebuchadnezzar, they would begin to be flooded with the imagery that you want them to see, and that it would cause them to receive their sight. To see you and see themselves in truth. Thank you, Lord.