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HOW THE GOSPEL CAN DELIVER YOU FROM THE POWER OF SIN (Part I. Psalm 36)

THE GOSPEL HAS THE POWER TO OVERCOME

NOT JUST THE PENALTY OF SIN,

BUT ALSO THE POWER OF SIN.

REMEMBER HOW IT IS PUT IN THE HYMN ROCK OF AGES?

be-of-sin-the-double

IT’S THE DOUBLE CURE

FROM THE PENALTY BUT ALSO THE POWER OF SIN

HOW EAGER WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND THIS.

AS KELLER SAYS, “IF YOU ARE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL, YOU PROBABLY DON’T. IF YOU THINK YOU ARE JUST STARTING TO GET IT, YOU MAY BE.”

 I am starting to get it. Truly, the gospel is helping me in some areas tremendously, but in other areas I am still so prone to wander, so prone to leave the God I love.

Yet I had some exciting light-bulb moments when I was in Psalm 36 and Psalm 37 that I am so eager for us to look at together.

In preparation, let me tell you a way my youngest daughter used the gospel to overcome the power of sin recently in her life.

Annie with her firstborn, Miabelle
Annie with her firstborn, Miabelle

Annie is a nurse and recently made a mistake with a new procedure with a patient. When she was asked to do it, she hesitated, because she wasn’t sure she completely understood the procedure, but succumbed to pressure to do it right away. Then, afterwards, she realized she hadn’t done it correctly. First, the gospel gave her the power to own her sin. She should not have succumbed to pressure, but she did, she knew, because of her idol of approval. The gospel, in part, shows us the evil in our own heart, how we are unfaithful to the Lord and run to our idols. But next, Annie realized she had to go and confess her mistake to the doctor in charge, an angry young man who tends to fly off the handle at nurses.  She knew, for the sake of the patient, she must confess that she hadn’t done the procedure correctly. To do it again would cost time, convenience, and money. She expected rage, and rage he did, cursing her loudly in the hall for all to hear. But Annie took it, standing on the Rock, her “stronghold in time of trouble.”

She called me later and thanked me for teaching her how to apologize well. After his shouting ceased, she owned her wrong, didn’t point out his part, but left that to God, articulated the pain it caused both the patient and him, and promised to do what she could to make it right. The doctor softened and the procedure was done again, and all ended well. The gospel helped Annie overcome the power of sin, that darkness in her heart that can cut her and other people to pieces.

One of my favorite definitions of the gospel, often quoted by others, is this:

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In Psalm 36, we will see these two sides of the gospel. We see in the opening a portrait of the wicked, whose mouth is full of deceit, who plots trouble on his bed, and who has no fear of God. Yet before we point a finger at “evil men,” we must remember that Paul shows us in Romans that this is true of every heart, for within us an evil lurks that is so bad that Christ had to die for us. We can put on a good front, and be very nice, like Dr. Jekyl, but we must be aware of the beast within us, or we will continually deny and cover up our sinful ways. It was this realization that helped Annie own her sin rather than defend herself in her heart.

 

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Within Dr. Jekyl hid Mr. Hyde

But the gospel also shows us how loved we are, for Christ went all the way to the cross for us. If we remember how steadfast is His love, then even if the consequences for owning our sin are costly and humbling, we know God will be with us, and as the close of Psalm 36 and all of Psalm 37 shows, God’s steadfast love is like the heavens, covering us with a canopy of love. Though clouds will appear in the heavens, representing, Spurgeon believes, our trials, his steadfast love reaches to the clouds. We can surrender to Him and humbly admit our sin to ourselves, to Him, and to others. Jesus quotes Psalm 37:11 in The Sermon on the Mount: “the meek shall inherit the land.” We must take the long view of life and realize, if God be with us, indeed, who can be against us? Psalm 37 is filled with promises that are a result of God’s great gospel love. Our own Renee, who often helps us think with her good questions, was pondering, how once she interpreted verses (like she was seeing in Psalm 34, but we see again in Psalm 37) as ways we can do things to get blessings. Instead, they are quite different. These are blessings that come, not from “doing” certain acts and expecting God to reward us, but rather, these are blessings that come when we wait on the Lord and stand on the power of the Gospel. We’re going to look at some of these promises in light of the Gospel.

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 We will take two weeks on this, because it is so important, and because these are such high vacation weeks, I have made homework shorter so you can do it. This is so key to your Christian walk of power.

Sunday, July 20th Icebreaker

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.

Monday – Tuesday of Week One: Psalm 36:1-4

3. Read Psalm 36:1-4

  A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.

  B.  Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18. What similarity do you see?

 

       It is sobering to realize that the Romans passage is not just about the 

       most evil of men, but about us if we do not apply the gospel to

       the sin lurking in our hearts. A natural defense mechanism is denial or

       justification for our sin.

 C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the “natural” response to the conviction of our consciences?

 

I am asking the Lord to help me not be in denial for I have seen that long-term, denial is not a friend. I have often thought (though I know God is sovereign) that if my husband hadn’t been such an optimist, denying the seriousness of his symptoms, that he might be alive today. I have told myself I am going to quit denying I could be in trouble when I might be. I want to know if a tooth is really going bad, or if my tire might really be going flat, or if my “little sins,” are really abominations. “Little things,” may not be so little, or can definitely become overwhelming if not stopped, like the little foxes the ruin the vineyards. Those foxes must be stopped before they do irreparable damage.

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Wednesday: Gospel Application

Ask the Lord to give you self-revelation about areas where you are in denial. Once you have identified the truth, begin to develop a plan to overcome with the power of the Gospel. In his book, Gospel Treason, Brad Bigney writes:

GospelTreasonIdolatry is deep-seated in us, and won’t let go easily.

…Make a plan. I find that most people fail to change

because they fail to make specific plans to change.

Change doesn’t just happen in “fuzzy land.” You

specifically sinned your way into where you are, and

you’re going to have to specifically repent your way

out.

Remember how our own Rebecca did this in regard to over-eating? First, she

identified her comfort idol, and then, she said “Instead of eating this pie at

night and sitting in front of the news, I am going to stop eating pie and read

spiritually edifying books about intimacy with God. It wasn’t a quick fix, but

God came to be slowly.”

4. What revelation into your heart did God give you and what is your plan for overcoming with the power of the Gospel?

Thursday-Friday: Psalm 36:5-12

Ed Bigney quotes Ed Welch in regard to making your overcoming plan: “The path of change goes through the heart and continues on to the gospel, where God most fully reveals to us his Son Jesus Christ in the death and resurrection of Christ.”

This is where Psalm 36 now turns. Yes, we are depraved, but we are also loved, as revealed by the gospel. He will, indeed, meet us.

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5. Read Psalm 36:5-12.

A. What images of the Lord’s mercy does the psalmist use?

B. In what ways is his steadfast love like the sky. Go out and look and see what parallels you see?

C. Spurgeon says the clouds are like our trials, blocking the sense of His warmth — but what does this psalm teach about the “clouds?”

D. Do any pictures in this passage becomeradioactive to you? If so, what? How might this help you with your plan for overcoming sin?

In the shadow of your wings
In the shadow of your wings

6. Report how your plan is working in apply the Gospel to overcoming sin. How can we pray for you?

Saturday: Take-A-Way

7. What is your take-a-way and why?

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288 comments

    1. Lord God, Our hearts go out to Rebecca and her family.  We know that your heart breaks even more — that Jesus knows and cares.  Thank you that your Spirit intercedes — there are no words for such deep, deep pain and confusion.  Protect Rebecca, her brother, her nieces, her sister-in-laws mother from getting stuck on “what if” questions.  Draw them close to you.  Overwhelm them with your love.  Show them that you have not abandoned them.  Help them to see that the lies and distortions that are part of depression likely led her to believe that they would be better off without them and that this was the best way she could love.  Grant her family Your grace and endurance in the next months and years to get to the point of forgiveness.  Hold them right now when it is not possible to even imagine next week, let alone months and years.  Comfort each of them, as only you can.  Protect Rebecca’s nieces from a lasting legacy of depression and suicide.  And shut the mouths of those who would make comments and ask questions that increase their pain.Grant Dee, Rebecca, and Christy a blessed time together as they experience your presence.   We love you, Lord, because you first loved us.  In Jesus’ name.

      1. Renee,   I was fishing for the right words, and then I see you have expressed it so well.  I just want to say “Amen” to  your prayer.   

        Rebecca,    Please know how much you are loved by all of us on this blog!    My heart aches along with you.   I am sure when you got the word about  your sister-in-law that it was like an in-coming missile.  A suicide in the family impacts everyone so greatly.   I will be carrying you and your brother and nieces  in prayer before God

      2. Our Dear sweet Rebecca….I’m so very sorry and I am praying for your brother and his daughters and you and all of your family at this terribly difficult time.  Praying  along  with Renee too.  So very, very sorry.

      3. Amen, These words express my condolence and prayer as well. May God’s love give you hope and comfort to the family.

    2. Just read this today.  Praying for your family, Rebecca.  I’m so sorry to hear this.  If your brother does not know Jesus, I pray his heart will be highly sensitized at this time to things of the Lord and that it will be fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to move! 

  1. O Lord Jesus….we have no words for Rebecca’s sorrow and grief.  We humbly bring her family before You.  Her brother and her nieces more than anyone.  This life can be unbearably hard.  Hold them all in Your Everlasting Arms.  You are the God of all comfort.  Rebecca’s family desperately needs You now.  Hide them under Your Wings while the storm rages.  We don’t understand and we cry “why, why??”.  I will pray to You Father as I did all those years ago when my nephew killed his wife……O please, please bring forth LIFE from death.  You are the victor.  We trust You.  Amen.

  2. Oh Lord, this bond we have in Christ causes us to hurt when our sister is hurting.   May Rebecca and her brother and nieces know the tender love you have for those who hurt.   You are indeed the God of all comfort (as you proved to me when our baby girl died all those years ago and when grandma was murdered so many years ago).   Yes, Lord bring forth LIFE from death, beauty from ashes, comfort in the tears and deep heartache.    You remain faithful.   ~  Amen

  3. Dee,
    Thank you for this study this week.   So grateful.    
    What stands out?
    The quote: “Cheer up!  You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine and more loved than you ever dared hope.”
    The last words I read before I went to sleep last night, written on a small tablet beside my bed, were these:
    “John Newton, a few hours before he died said,  ‘My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.’  ”    

    1. Nila…..such precious words from John Newton.  I feel compelled to write and post them in a prominent place in my home today.  Thanks.

  4. So many tears these past weeks.  The more I meet with you dear sisters here, the more I see how deeply we need each other and even greater, how we need to cling to our Lord:  the Rock, the Everlasting Arms about us.  Oh Rebecca, your family is in my heart this morning.  ‘Yes, Lord…..bring light out of darkness.  Healing out of pain.  May Rebecca and her family feel you ever near them through this long and hard journey.”

    Having watched ‘Ragamuffin’ the story of Rich Mullins last night…..I am thinking over and over of the words…’Hold Me Jesus. I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my glory. Won’t you be my Prince of Peace.”

    1. Wanda, I am hoping Dee, Christy and I can watch it today or tonight. :))) I have seen it to and loved it. I also loved Rich’s brothers talk after the movie-so good.

      1. I did not see Rich’s brother’s talk?  Watched nearly all the credits…..but it must come afterwards or be a special feature.  I will look for it!  Thanks.

  5. What stands out to me and why:   
     

    AS KELLER SAYS, “IF YOU ARE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL, YOU PROBABLY DON’T. IF YOU THINK YOU ARE JUST STARTING TO GET IT, YOU MAY BE.

    These words do.  Again, I’m thinking about Rich Mullins when he said that he had been in church ever since he was a week old and it wasn’t until he was wrestling with some of the biggest struggles of his life, that suddenly, in ten minutes of a message on a friend’s audio tape, the gospel came home to his heart.   He was instantly blinded by tears while he was driving and listening and had to pull over, leave the car and let the power of the gospel wash over him.   I know there have been moments and extended times when I’ve felt that too.  But the more I read and study God’s word and get to know His heart, the more I realize how little I really ‘know’.  I think that’s why the John Newton quote that Nila shared makes so much sense to me this morning.  

  6. 1.  What stands out.   So much. 
     
    This phrase “prone to wander, so prone to leave the God I love.”  Come Thou Fount is one of my favorites; this phrase, in particular, always stands out to me.
     
     
    -Annie’s story, that she held strong in Him in the midst of rage, and how she apologized well.  This also causes me to wonder if I should have answered a “What led you to believe…?” question when someone was angry with me recently, or apologized (Will pray for wisdom because this was one of those times when I did what was right, but there may be better ways to handle situations in which “right” will point a light to “wrong.”)

    -Quote by Jack Miller — I always breathe a deep sigh of relief when this soaks in.

    -Knowing that I am loved more than I ever dared hope allows me to be safe enough to acknowledge pain and sin.  But acknowledging His love also opens the door for pain to come gushing out.  When I experienced a taste of that love from other people and was betrayed (and stuck around long enough for it to happen over and over), I learned to put the lid on the pain — and sin.  I only can acknowledge sin when I know God’s love.  But in order to function around people, I learned to live in denial.  I’ve been blessed in that I’ve been so closely connected to groups of people who didn’t know each other that when I was desperate and scared of everyone, I could find a Christian I trusted from different eras of my life. 

    When I see signs of certain dynamics, my walls come up.  I see God’s healing in that I’ve been living in the midst of similar dynamics and my walls are coming down.  I guess I still don’t want to be hurt as badly as I have been in the past; I’m cautious enough that there aren’t many situations where that could occur (I avoid those situations).   Please pray that I will be aware of His love for me so that I will be willing to see my sin in the situations that feel riskier.  I am amazed at how God has brought people into my life that “get” the gospel and how quickly I connect with those people.  But my radar is up, and I am scared out of my mind by other people.   God is gracious — in the order of the trials I’ve experienced.  As I hear about the dynamics of a current church split, I realize the situation is similar to what I’ve experienced at work.  To experience it in church would have destroyed me at this point in time (I’m blessed to be attending the most harmonious, humble church I’ve ever attended — or I might be too detached to see everything).    I can see that God strengthens and prepares me for what he has for me, I know His LOVE (talking to my soul now), and I know He won’t abandon me  (but I’m still saying that “I can’t take it if…”).  Please pray that I will be open to his love and his power.   I know that he won’t allow anything to hurt me that he won’t give me the grace to endure — and I’m learning once again (this time with an opening in “the lid”) that His grace comes through his Word, as I come to him over and over, most recently through praying the psalms. 
    I’ve wondered for awhile if I’m at the edge of depression (meds might be wonky); God has been faithful through the worst of that.  It’s people that scare me!  And I don’t want to let fear of people prevent me from trusting God.  Please pray that I will seek him (offline!).  OUT OF TIME.  

    I will use my cell phone/wi-fi for the questions and hieroglyphics and a cave wall (paper & pen) for the answers. Will rationalize the length as my post for the week 😉 but I’ll look for hotel wi-fi for cell to follow this. Otherwise, won’t be online much – not bringing computer & not checking it today for work 😀

    1. Renee……after tomorrow, I’ll be using the pen and paper method for answers too!  Just wrote down this week’s questions as I’ll be camping with no wifi for a few days.  
      Will be praying for your travel!   If you ever do connect with internet….send a quick note 🙂  Either way, I’ll be waiting to hear of your journey later this summer.  Godspeed!

    2.  I’ve been blessed in that I’ve been so closely connected to groups of people who didn’t know each other that when I was desperate and scared of everyone, I could find a Christian I trusted from different eras of my life.

       
      This is a blessing I agree.  But I also find it sad that it kinda ‘has to be this way’ among believers.  I feel exactly the same thing in a current situation and have been needing the love and wisdom of Christian people outside the situation to help me.   I think it is getting harder to do this.  On one level, it makes me feel I don’t fit in with either ‘group’.  Lots to work through.  I’m sure that if I truly ‘got’ the gospel, all of it would be clearer to me.   

    3. oh this Renee “I can see that God strengthens and prepares me for what he has for me, I know His LOVE (talking to my soul now), and I know He won’t abandon me  (but I’m still saying that “I can’t take it if…”).  Please pray that I will be open to his love and his power.   I know that he won’t allow anything to hurt me that he won’t give me the grace to endure —”
      you read my heart. Praying with you and for us both in learning this kind of trust

    4. Renee, first let me just say, nice to see your face in that dot again. =)  Secondly, I can relate so much to what you say about moving into a deeper understanding of God’s love for you and quickly retreating in the face of those who somehow try to bring the gospel back to performance.  So my prayer for you (and each of us)…the verse I recently wrote out on a notecard to read frequently:  “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ehpesians 3:17-19) If  it were easy for us to comprehend His deep love then we wouldn’t have  verses like this.  I used to see this most precious counselor named Emily and she would often say “God understands you are operating from a place of brokenness, Mary, and He does not despise your brokenness, He loves you and wants to bring healing.”  I try to remind myself of that when others cause me hurt/pain.  They, too, are operating from a place of brokenness, just like me.  (sometimes it helps, sometimes I have to just pray and pray and pray that God helps me forgive!!!  And He does.)

      1. Hi Mary…how is the Idol Lies study going?  You are on my prayer list for God equipping you in this endeavor…I recall your hesitation in not being married and speaking of the marital relationship.  Hope all is well…blessings to you!

        1. Nanci J., Thank you so much for your continued prayers with regard to this study…we/I desperately need them!  We will be on chapter 6 next week.  I am so thankful that my pastor’s wife decided to take part in the class, even though she was not going to be the main teacher, because now we have needed her to teach some.  For quite a few months now I have been having weird rib/back pain and just kept blaming it on various things (I’m getting older, 47, maybe it’s my mattress, maybe the 16 pound bag I lug around for work, etc…)  Well, I found out on July 2nd that my breast cancer (which was diagnosed almost 11 years ago, Oct 1 will be 11 years) is back and has metastasized to my bones (ribs, vertebrae, maybe a spot or two on my pelvis.)  I also had been short of breath and a CT of my chest shows a pleural effusion (pocket of fluid collected there, though nothing showing up in my lungs, so might just be from irritation of the ribs, or could be cancer in the pleura.)  This next chapter, 6, “When the Earth Shakes” is VERY appropriate for me right now!  This is not considered curable, just “treatable” and the average survival is 3 years, but some women survive well over 10.  Thankfully I feel like the Lord has been preparing me for this my entire life, especially recently.  He has been building my trust so much in the little things over the past few years that I did not even realize the progress we had made until now.  Like when you drive up an incline that is so gradual you don’t even realize how high up you’ve gotten until you look back and wow, you came a long way.  Well…it is all because of Him and not me, but He has brought me to a point where, even in the midst of this, I have known incredible peace and have been able to just trust and rest in Him.  Not that I don’t cry at some point pretty much every day!!!!  So…more prayers needed than ever now.  Thanks so much Naci.

        2. Mary E, I am so sorry to hear about your cancer. This sounds very serious. I am amazed at how calmly you are taking the diagnosis. It is obvious that God has prepared your heart. Even though the prognosis is dim, God is with you and He will heal if that is His will. I am praying for you, not just for healing but also for the work He is doing in your life and heart through this “earth shaking” journey.

  7. Difficult times can make us hungry for the word.  
    57 second video of Chinese Christians receiving bibles.   There are no words for this:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1466338450256181

  8. Difficult times can make us hungry for the word.
    57 sec. video of Chinese believers receiving bibles.   There are no words for this ……………..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bz0zIFhvko

    1. Nila,  thank you for sharing that 57-second video!   It reminded me of a story my college Old Testament professor told.    His name was Dr. Roger Carstensen (now deceased).   He and a small group of people made a trip on the Siberian railway.   They had with them a large number of Bibles.   When the train would make stops,  he and his group would get off the train and hand out Bibles to the people at each station.    He told of one teeenage boy in particular who thanked him profusely for the Bible,   and then immediately went only a few yards from the train and sat down to begin reading eagerly.     I recall that some of us remarked that, if that had been in the U.S., the person would have taken the Bible to their car and  would have tossed it in the seat next to them to read at their leisure.    Such hunger for the Scriptures, as seen in your video,   is so inspiring !

    2. Thank you Nila. This made me cry.

      1. Laura-He is making your heart so tender. I love that in you.

        1. 🙂

    3. Nila, that video  brings tears to my eyes.

  9. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Wow–I am so humbled by Annie. As I read, I felt myself wanting to defend her to the doctor, but she trusted the Rock instead, “she owned her wrong, didn’t point out his part, but left that to God”.
    I was so convicted by this “We can put on a good front, and be very nice… but we must be aware of the beast within us,”
    But as the quote says, we are more sinful than we ever imagined and yet, we are not left in it—the hope lies in the Gospel—“If we remember how steadfast is His love, then even if the consequences for owning our sin are costly and humbling, we know God will be with us,”
     
    2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
    When Dee said “She called me later and thanked me for teaching her how to apologize well”—that struck me too. Am I teaching my kids to apologize well? Do I apologize well? It’s one area I might be seeing baby steps. Apologizing without explaining myself, without self-justification, without adding the “I was just tired/frustrated….” At the end. I pray for continued growth in owning my sin, and resting in the Rock.

      1. Ugh!  I could see myself doing that!  Little manipulator that I can be at times. :O  But when it truly is done in a spirit of humility, trusting the Lord to do whatever He wishes in the other persons’s heart, it sure does bring peace and healing to me…

  10. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Annie’s integrity…I thought about the many who in an attempt to not look bad and avoid blame would not have confessed, especially in light of the doctor’s short fuse and explosive temper; they would have allowed the mistake to go on as if unnoticed with their heart knowing their deceit.  I loved how it was more important to Annie to have an honest heart and tell the truth rather than allowing a lie to perpetuate to save herself regardless of the consequence (Karla Faye Tucker comes to mind…).  This emphasizes for me the importance of my heart being right and pure; knowing in my heart when something is right and when something is wrong.  We are all human and mistakes are sure to be made at one point or another in our life; we do and will continue to fall short; we are not perfect despite wishing we were…as Dee said, “within us an evil lurks that is so bad that Christ had to die for us. We can put on a good front … but, we must be aware of the beast within us, or we will continually deny and cover up our sinful ways.”  So the question is are we able to admit that or do we continue to live in a pretense of perfection, seeking the world’s approval?  I see this as the gospel’s truth…and only in admitting our falling short (sin) can we open ourselves to receiving the Lord’s mercy.
     
    2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life.  Be specific.
    I have a penchant for judging…too often I find myself judging without knowing what circumstances or”backdrop” might be involved and as if I really might know a better course of action, response, etc. (ha, ha!).  I came across James 2:13b…”mercy triumphs over judgement.”  I have been using it mindfully…when I have thoughts that are judgmental, I try to nip them in the bud…I acknowledge my judgmental thought and literally breath in mindfully thinking “mercy” and exhale thinking “judgment.”  This approach allows me to recognize my sin and seek forgiveness and transformation from the Lord.

  11. There are lots of great quotes in Dee’s opening as many of you have mentioned. I with Elizabeth am interested in how Dee taught her daughter to apologize well. I could use a few pointers in this, as my daughter and I are trying to teach the grandsons that they should apologize after they have hurt each other. 

      1. “Maybe we will do a blog post on it”…That would be great!

  12. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    Very definitely, it was the Jack Miller quote:    “Cheer up!  You are a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you are more loved than you ever dared hope.”           The first half made me think,  “Oh great, as if I didn’t feel bad enough about my sins!”   However, the second half is truly the “saving grace” of the gospel, and brings me peace.    
     
    I also loved Annie’s story and enjoyed seeing the precious picture of her with her little one.   From having worked in a hospital for 14 years,  I saw first-hand that, while most doctors were pleasant/civil, there were certain doctors that everyone tip-toed around.  One wouldn’t want to have to confess a mistake to one of those doctors.   So proud of Annie for handling it all just right!      

  13. 2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific
    This has been on my mind all day.  And as I consider Annie’s example of apologizing well and Dee’s example of teaching her how, (which was a powerful story)…. I continue to be bothered by something that happened to recently.   I’ve tried three times!  to explain the specifics and deleted each time.  I simply can’t be specific as to the offense that was made for many reasons.  It does have to do with another person taking a bold and hurtful action against both my daughter and I.  (The person who took the hurtful action, is a believer.  My daughter does not follow Christ.)  So…..I am hit full on with the complexity and the simplicity of the truth of the gospel.  I am a sinner.  Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for me….that the righteousness of God may be made in me.  The question I am struggling with in my mind is ‘how do I respond to this situation?’   Because I had so much other sorrow and pain pre-occupying my mind and heart last week, I could not address this.  Now, as the Lord has been meeting me regarding the other sorrow, I am also seeing that I need to be seeking the Lord to know what I should do in this hurtful situation.  I know that the person who ‘struck out’ at my daughter and myself did it because of some significant differences of opinion as to how  she has been handling a certain situation that mutually affects us all.   Her handling of it, had become offensive to both of us and in different ways, we had confronted her about it.  The end result (thus far) was an immature and hurtful reaction.   I realize that I’m ‘processing’ as I write…..(and have been writing a long time since I deleted three previous attempts!) but what the gospel is showing me is that even though I feel wronged, I also recognize my own sin in allowing this person’s previous behavior to become so bothersome to me that I have spoken ill about to others  ‘behind her back’ regarding this handling of an issue that hits very close to home for my family.  I am beginning to see the power of sin in how this whole thing has affected me.  It has taken away some joy, some peace and some freedom.  I also see the power of the gospel in my desire to seek God and ask Him to show me what I should do about it.  Complicated, I know.  Sorry to be unclear.  That’s the best I can do as for being specific in the details.

    1. Oh Wanda, clear enough…so sorry for this additional unnecessary suffering this situation has caused you (and your daughter)…I will pray for your discernment in responding.  Thank you for sharing your thought processes and what the gospel is showing you.  Blessings to you sister…enjoy your camping trip.

    2. Dear Wanda…Praying for you and your daughter….I’m so sorry.

  14. Hello, everybody! Just checking in today and want to let you know I am still here and following the blog. So many responsibilities lately and have been feeling a need to slow down and reflect on life on my own and to just be with Jesus. Talking to Him about my priorities and seeking His will. I will try to periodically check in and write some comments. This psalm is very powerful and I appreciate the example of Annie. Apologizing well…I need some work on this. Thank you ,Dee for sharing!

  15. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I love Annie’s story. I have been in similar positions and have “owned” up and not “owned up.” I know it is right to admit mistakes; and so hard. The feeling of a knot in the stomach comes to mind, and release of the knot once I have made the admission of guilt. It is better to admit and accept the consequences, especially in cases where others are affected. Yay! Annie 🙂
     
    2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
     
    Well, I feel like I want to please Jesus. To do so means I need to shed my idols. I think of food; the draw I have to it sometimes. I am trying to think of Him and what He would want me to do. Too much food is not taking care of the temple I have been given on earth. I was “…bought with a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:20) and should respect Him by respecting myself.

  16. 1.  In the very first verse of chapter 36, we are told that “there is no fear of God..”  Paul quotes this in Romans 3:18…..and I have to think it was on his mind as he penned Romans 2:21-23 as well…..to me, that is just a little more detailed explanation of what it looks like not to fear God….”they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”    The next line is one of the saddest in scripture….”Therefore God gave them up…..”and that idea is repeated again twice with the ensuing results throughout the end of the chapter…..the acts of foolish and darkened hearts.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”(Psalm 111:10 , PRoverbs 9:10…) 1Cor 1:18 tells us that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
    As so many have shared, Annie’s story is such a perfect example of all of the above!  First of all, Annie clearly feared God above all else in a very tough spot (again, reminding me of Karla Faye Tucker).  She didn’t defend or justify or rationalize herself in any way, but rather trusted God and the “word of the cross” (yes, she is a sinner……and Christ has died for her sin! )  and experienced “the power of God” in the moment when it seemed like the earth was shaking!!  Victory!!  And all because Annie was able to humbly fear God, trust the word of the cross and then experience the power of God in the fearful moment.  I’m so glad you were able to share this story with us Dee!  Thank you.   

  17. First of all, I want to hug all of you! Thanks so so so so so much for praying for us and I love that you typed it out here-I am so encouraged!  This is a sweet fellowship-a gift indeed.

  18. 2.  Like Wanda, I’ve been siting here trying to figure out how to communicate one of the most “tender” areas of my life that the Lord has been opening my eyes to and convicting my heart to fear Him, trust Him and live that out in the crucial moments that can tend to blow sky high!!   Since I became a follower of Christ a few years into my marraige, I’ve been living in that “unequal yoke” marraige for, I guess, about 26 years now.  Many of you here know what that looks like!  That said, it looks different for everyone.  I’ve only recently begun to “get it”, to “wake up” to the fact that in my heart (not with my mind……I knew how to say the “right words”)I have basically blamed my husband’s unbelief for being basically the foundation for everything that is “wrong” in our marraige and our family.  God has mercifully been removing scales from my eyes and allowing me to see that I have not TRULY allowed the power of the cross to impact my marraige.  I have no words for how painful this unveiling has been to me.  I cannot say how much I regret “the years the locusts have eaten” with regard to this.  AND YET……even in the midst of this, Jesus has “come to me”……He has given me the ability to both shut my mouth and speak a word gently.  He has been wooing me to Himself.  To find my rest in Him.  In prayer and the Word.  He truly has been bringing “shalom” to my heart!  In the midst of the storm.  He’s been leading me into places, both in my family and in ministry opportunites, that are so far out of my comfort zone that I can hardly believe I’m even going there!!  And yet……there is peace…..coexisting with the sorrow.   Wanda, by the way, you speak so eloquently of sorrow.  He is good.

    1. Jackie R., your story brings tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine your pain – what you have suffered in your marriage, but how gracious and gentle God is as He has removed the scales on your eyes to your own sin … I am praying for you, my sister. Your vulnerable testimony of God’s gentleness encourages me to allow God to peel back the sin in my own life. We can be vulnerable because God is so good. 

      1. Jackie and Diane- Jackie’s testimony is so good and then Diane’s response, and then this: “We can be vulnerable because God is so good.”

    2. So thankful for the Lord “bringing ‘shalom’ to your heart in the midst of the storm,” Jackie. 
      “He’s been leading me places…so far out of my comfort zone that I can hardly believe I’m going there!”
      …the Lord is equipping you :)…your trust and obedience is inspiring.

  19. Nanci, I just now saw your specific example of how you applying the gospel to judgemental thinking.  SO GOOD!  

    1. Thanks, Jackie r…definitely a work in progress, but progress none the less…:)

  20. 2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
     
    I wish I had a story of victory on this question. I wish I could say that I have beaten the power of sin in my life, but just now I am only too aware that I am helpless to beat the power of sin. It is only Christ who defeats sin as I submit to Him and trust Him.
     
    I am struggling with a particular temptation today. There is a strong voice in my head provoking me to jealousy, self-condemnation, and provoking a critical spirit within me as well. Yesterday I attended a farewell for a neighbouring pastor. Mountains of praise were heaped on him for all his good ministry. And rightly so, for he has done much good ministry. Yet, I know that he also provoked controversy and hard feelings as well, at times, and was not the most gentle of men. Comparatively right now, it seems (in my petty heart) that he has accomplished far more in ministry than we have. That leads me to the jealousy part and self-condemnation — the voice in my head which says, “You are not good enough.” “Why are you even trying?” “You shouldn’t be in ministry!” And then my wicked heart starts to criticize not only myself but also my dear husband and want him to be more (whatever) and a better (whatever). I know this is wrong! I should be happy for that other pastor. I should not condemn myself or my husband, because our situation and personalities are very different, etc. etc. Yet the temptation is strong. My approval idol is screaming in my head. I want the reflected praise of being seen as “successful” in ministry. I want the praise of men. I even want to condemn others so that my poor self won’t look so bad and pathetic. O God, deliver me from myself and my wicked thoughts?
     

    Romans 7:24,25 New King James Version (NKJV)
     “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

     
    Thanks be to God that in Him there is “no condemnation” because I am Christ’s own child – covered by His blood. (Romans 8:1) God is not condemning me.  I am more wicked than I could imagine, yet more loved than I dare dream (my paraphrase of Jack Miller).This is Satan’s ploy to distract, to discourage, to hinder. But Satan has no power but what I allow. I need to fight his lies with the truths of God’s Word. I need to remember that God has called us to this place. I need to remember that He loves me and my husband, with our personalities, our gifts, our strengths and weaknesses. My flesh is weak and Satan fights dirty. Yet I know Satan is defeated. Christ in me WILL WIN THIS BATTLE. But the battle is not over yet.

    1. Diane, 
      Wow-what a clear and honest picture of what is going on in your heart- this is a true picture really of all of our hearts! It is so good to see that you aren’t trying to manage your idol but are resting in the Gospel-allowing Him to deal with your sin-so good.

    2. Oh Diane, I can SO relate to your story…..maybe it’s because we are human with human characteristics? Mine is in my work too; teaching. Sometimes other receive rewards and I get passed by, feeling like I work diligently and hard year after year with creative ideas and hands on curriculum for my students. I am wicked in my thoughts and I “yell” at myself to stop! I say to myself that God has the plan and it probably has nothing to do with teaching anyway…(!). Then I get discouraged and think why do I work so hard if it really doesn’t matter in the long run? I suspect God wants me to glorify Him with dance, only thing is it doesn’t pay the bills, and the bills keep getting higher and higher. I still dance and hope He enjoys what I can offer Him. There is something in the works with another younger dancer, so we will see.
       
      I love this: “Oh God, deliver me from myself and my wicked thoughts.”
       
      Thanks for such honesty here.

      1. Laura, I, too, have wondered the same as awards have gone to many teachers besides me over the years.  I have also been jealous of those who were able to jump into administration with ease and for me, the interviews were difficult and the opportunity not available because, as one team told me,  you  are married to a pastor who is likely to be transferred out of the district.”  I have heard it all.  I began to realize that my pride was actually responding.  God led me to look at my teaching experiences more in the line of how Barnabas was able to disciple Paul.  Over my thirty year career, I have been amazed at the teachers, students, and administrators and parents that God has brought into my path.  I began to look daily for who God wanted me to encourage, to mentor, to disciple.  Do I still have periods of wondering why the awards and accolades miss me?  Yes.  But, now I turn to Him and ask Him to bring another into my life so I can be a Barnabas, an encourager, to someone new.

        1. I think similar thoughts too…where I can show God’s love to my students, when they may not have Him in their lives. That is one thing good about teaching….how many people you are in contact with over the course of the years. 

        2. Sherryl and Laura, I think what stands out here in your discussion as teachers is that while you both may be passed by for the awards and accolades given by men; being a Barnabas, an encourager, showing God’s love to whoever He brings into your paths, is by far a more lasting, eternal thing you are doing than any human award you could ever receive.

    3. Your honesty and willingness to share your struggle and indeed, even to recognize it, speaks of God’s working in you.  And I also identify with those kinds of feelings.  On some level, I feel them very frequently.  My response is usually to withdraw and avoid the other person.  But there are much better, more godly ways which I need to demonstrate.  Thank you for sharing this difficult thing in your life.  I know how hurtful it can be to have those feelings.  

    4. Diane, I agree with all the prior comments…thank you SO much for your honesty and transparency; it helps us all to recognize that we are not alone in thinking this way at times.  I too have experienced these feeling and thoughts.  You are such a Godly woman…love how you turned to the Lord and shut the door on the evil one. 
      Coincidentally, one of my morning devotions was titled “You Are Good Enough” (A Confident Heart, Renee Swope)…Renee encourages that when you feel like you are not good enough, you bring to mind that “God says: You are covered in My goodness, and My goodness makes you good enough!”   Yesterday’s devotion was “Measuring Up”…she provided a number of bible text references to help in reminding one’s self that “I am accepted”: Eph. 1:3-8, Col. 1:13-14, Col. 2:9-10; “I am secure”: Rom. 8:28, Rom. 8:31-39, Phil. 1:6; “I am significant”: Eph. 2:10; Eph 3:12; Phil 4:13.  Renee states that “when you’re tempted to use the measuring stick of comparison, be sure to measure UP by focusing upward on Christ–remembering whose you are and who you are in HIM!”

      1. Thanks for all those good references, Nanci.  Writing them down to look up!

    5. Found an ipad in airport :).    Diane, loved your Answer.   Sounds so much like me/my struggles
       Will wave at you this afternoon!

      1. Have a safe trip, Renee. (Wave, wave!) 🙂

        1. Ditto!!!

        2. ditto for me too…enjoy Renee!

    6. Thanks, everyone for the kind words of encouragement and the verses. Yes, we all need to sometimes realize that others struggle with the same things we do. Verbalizing my battle is sometimes my way of fighting the lies. I usually am fine not getting recognition and being behind the scenes, but when Satan tries to convince me that I am not good enough, he hits me at a very vulnerable spot. 
      Loved the quote from Renee Swope:

      “when you’re tempted to use the measuring stick of comparison, be sure to measure UP by focusing upward on Christ–remembering whose you are and who you are in HIM!”

      1. Diane, I too am “blown away” by your post above…so honest and real and yes, I too can identify as I have struggled in the same way as you describe. Comparing ourselves to others can do so much harm to ourselves as well as give Satan a weapon to bash us with! The way you detailed your experience, so specifically, shows that you are being honest with your struggle and as Wanda said, “even to recognize it, speaks of God’s working in you.” Do you remember what Tim Keller said in a sermon once, that when you don’t see your idols, it means you are asleep, you’re not fighting. It’s when you see it that you are engaging in the battle, so it’s a sign of hope! Again, it helps all of us to see you work this out in your life and share the details with us as this occurs in all of our hearts…certainly in mine. Thank you, Diane, for being an example of one who does NOT hide behind a mask of being perfect. When you un-mask, we can all see the beauty of Christ in you.

    7. Oh Diane, you are such a precious soul.  I’m so glad that I know you in this venue because I doubt you would feel as free to share your heart so transparently with us if  we were in your church (you being the pastor’s wife) and yet here we can get to know you on such a deep, real, transparent level, unlike if we were in your church.  I have often thought (reading your posts) that I so wish your church was in central Ohio so that I could be a part of  the body of Christ that you and your husband shepherd, but then I would not be getting to know you in the same way.  You struggle just like the rest of us, but in Him we find REST. 🙂  Even in our ever-imperfect state, this side of heaven (and oh how I long for the day I am made complete, never to sin again!) we can still find REST in Him our Sabbath. 

  21. Diane – your story is so powerful.  And I see the fingerprints of victory all over what you have written!  You have a firm foundation of fear of the Lord, trust in the power of Christ and a desire to see sin eradicated in your life …….you have been SO specific and I can relate so much to what you have shared – and I’m sure MANY of us here on this blog will be “freed up” by your courage to share!  I am praying for you Diane.  Your grandchildren are very blessed to have a grandma who is showing them how to be REAL in the struggles along the “narrow way” that Christ calls us to follow him on!!  

  22. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Annie’s faith-she stood on the rock instead of running to her idol-and I Hated it that he yelled at her! And the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde picture- I love it. His expression as he is looking at Mr. Hyde. It looks like he is shocked and that Mr. Hyde is more of a monster than he thought.
     
    2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
    He has freed me from not worrying about what others think of me-obsessing over it I guess. My approval idol. My husband has been telling me to loosen up-that I think too much. I just need to enjoy life instead of analyzing things. I used to be more light hearted in the beginning of our marriage but somewhere down the road I turned and became too serious. Last night Dee told me the same thing and I thought..Okay Lord you want me to hear this. When my husband told me this, instead of getting defensive I rested in Him and took it as Him helping me through my husband. THE GOSPEL IS SO FREEING! When Dee told me the same thing, instead of shrinking back and thinking, “Oh no..she thinks less of me!” I thanked the Lord and asked Him to help me in this and I know He will. It didn’t grow into a mountain.The Gospel is His power freeing me from the power my approval idol had over me-I have found that resting in His approval-it is finished- has helped me to not shrink at criticism-to sift it before Him, and am more willing to let him mold my heart.

    1. Rebecca–continuing to keep all of you in our prayers.
      And my prayer for myself this birthday was to be “less serious”–so I relate to that! It is a difficult “dance” sometimes between not wanting to fall into denial, but also not wanting to obsess with concerns…laying it all at the altar, resting it in His hands

      1. Great description of that dance

    2. I really like how you surrendered this to the Lord with openness to change and thanksgiving, Rebecca.

    3. Rebecca, if I didn’t know better I’d think you overheard a conversation at my dinner table just last week, when my husband told me that I used to be more fun and that now I am too serious and I don’t smile enough. I also am a thinker, and I find that I am always thinking about something or going over something in my mind, and I find it hard at times to be fully present in the moment.

  23. Unable to join you this week. I’m away till Sunday and only have mobile phone.       

    1. Hope your week away is wonderful, Kerryn!

  24. For some reason I am only sporadically getting comments-none of last night’s came through, last week I didn’t get any-?
    I LOVE your honest testimony Diane, “Thanks be to God that in Him there is “no condemnation” because I am Christ’s own child – covered by His blood.” 

    You reminded me of a Piper article I read last night that was so rich–“Satan Disarmed, Sin Forgiven, Soul Alive”http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/satan-disarmed-sin-forgiven-soul-alive

    He says: “When Christ died and “wiped out” the record of our debts — our recorded trespasses — the courtroom-file of accusations was taken away from our prosecuting attorney, Satan, the great “accuser” (Revelation 12:10). Satan has no grounds for accusation anymore — none that stick. They have all been erased. His list of our condemning crimes is blank.True, he is not yet cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). He still prowls around. But his power to condemn is gone. He is disarmed of the only weapon that could damn us — unforgiven sin. He is made a fool in the court of accusation. His case against us fails miserably.”

  25. 3. Read Psalm 36:1-4
      A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.
    They are wicked……they flatter themselves, they speak vile words that are misleading. They don’t try to do good in their lives. These people plot evil things. They are not wise. They have no problem promoting bad in their lives and never questioning themselves. 
     
      B.  Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18. What similarity do you see?
     
    It is nearly the same verse……there is no fear of God.

  26. Jackie ~  Thank you for your honest, vulnerable words here this morning…… speaking to me about my marriage.   
    Diane ~  Grateful for your vulnerability………..encouraging my heart.

  27. C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the “natural” response to the conviction of our consciences?
     
    We defend our actions….somehow knowing they are wrong, but yet trying to justify what we do. We play the roles of Jekyl and Hyde. We know the “law,” but deny it and rationalize our decisions. 

  28. Last night, when I read Psalm 36: 2  ‘For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”  I was really struck by the two fold consequence of flattering ourselves (or as I often do: ‘grade myself on a curve…..relative to how ‘bad’ others around me are)…..when we do this, not only do we fail to hate our sin…..but we can’t even detect it!   This is where the gospel comes in and removes our hearts of stone and places within us a heart of flesh.  This morning, when I read many answers to the question about how we are realizing the double cure of the gospel, I can see this happening.  Even if we feel there is not victory, if we are honestly admitting our sin and our lack of victory, the first step has been taken.  We have ‘detected’ the wickedness within.  Was a clear connection for me to see the opposite of this verse being worked out, through the gospel,  in the lives of many sisters here.  

  29. The power of the Gospel:  I worked one year longer than I had originally planned.  God led me to apply to the high school where I was teaching and I knew He would honor my going.  The reasons were many for retiring at the end of the year, but the biggest to me, and one I shared with my congregation, the lack of time to meet with Him on a daily basis.  It was becoming harder and harder to represent Christ in the way I knew I should.  I did not have to share that particular revelation, but, as a leader in a church, it is imperative to be honest about your own devotional life.  I am now in the process of rebuilding devotional habits that will enable me to continue to effectively serve Him.

    1. Sherryl, I so understand your concern with spending time with the Lord.  Over the summer months I work less hours; my devotional times and mindfulness/prayer are wonderful and of ease.  In four weeks I will be back to a full time schedule and the whirlwind of the academic year begins.  I have begun bringing my concern to the Lord, trusting that He will show me the way. 

  30. The truth that I saw in verses 1-4 was how much those with evil in their hearts flatter themselves.  It is as if they live in an echo chamber, hear only their point of view, and it reinforces their behavior.  This self-reinforcing feedback loop is detrimental to a person’s growth in the Lord.  The more one listens to one’s own message, the more they become convinced the message is correct.  This means that those who are righteous need to speak  against these evil ideas.  Therein lies the rub in many Christian communities.  We abdicate our God-given voice, thereby giving credence to evil thoughts.  Ladies, we need to listen to God and speak when He asks us to speak against sin.  I pray that many Christians would be less concerned about how others perceive them and more concerned about speaking against the evil that God has shown them.  May the Holy Spirit embolden you as you chose to listen to his direction.  Amen.

  31. 3A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.
    Allow evil’s foothold to be securely planted in one’s life/heart; devises evil schemes; speaks lies and truth spins; rebellious heart; no reverence for God; self-focused and interested.
     
    B. Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18…what similarity do you see?
    A total lack of reverence for God.

  32. 3. Read Psalm 36:1-4  A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.
    Speaking lies, listening to lies, not seeing one’s own sin. Acting foolishly, plotting evil
    B.    Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18. What similarity do you see?
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes”.
     C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the “natural” response to the conviction of our consciences?
    to blame ourselves or others, or defend ourselves, deny our sin
    4. What revelation into your heart did God give you and what is your plan for overcoming with the power of the Gospel?
    My critical spirit–especially in the way I interact with a certain family member. I tell myself that my motive is “right”—I want to help, I want to see growth, but I take on a role God did not give me—I am not the Holy Spirit. And my words, instead of building up and being helpful, only cause discouragement.
     
    I started to say my “plan” is to balance every critical thought or words with acknowledging something “good” and confessing my own sin in the issue. Romans 2:1 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”
     
    And I think that’s a start for me, but I know it must go beyond my own “behavior modification” or it won’t stick. Ephesians 4:32 “ Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Motivation: LOVE. He has loved me, He has forgive me—I must daily, in the moment, put this LOVE before me, and that love has the humbling power to expel my prideful, critical spirit.

  33. C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the “natural” response to the conviction of our consciences?
    Defense of self if we think that we “followed the rules; if we knowingly did not “follow the rules,” then our conscience accuses and convicts us of the wrong.

  34. 2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
     
    One of the sins I am struggling with in my life is self-centeredness.  I am trying with God’s help to learn that it is “not about me!”    Satan is so subtle and so quick to whisper to me that it should  be about me!    Recently at church  a prime example occurred.      For years (about 12, I think) I have greeted guests at worship and placed a name tag on them.    I felt “called” to do that,  although I know it is a controversial practice among churches.  I was so persistent with my service that some jokingly dubbed me the “name-tag Nazi!” I felt that my job was a guarantee that someone spoke to the guest, and I would also take that opportunity to assure them that they were welcome to participate in communion in our church.     However, a good many parishioners would not wear their permanent name tags so that guests would know their name.   I brought it up in board meeting about a year ago, and said “Either we need to do this completely, or we need to quit, as doing it half-way doesn’t present a good image with our guests.”     I didn’t really want to quit doing it — I wanted the parishioners to change their behavior.   I thought shock treatment would work.   However, it didn’t.     And this spring one of the young elders brought it up in a meeting and presented a forceful plea for us to dispense with the name tags.   Here is where my fight with sin came in.   In a flash thoughts came into my mind that said “Hey, they are trying to get rid of my job”  and “Don’t they understand how important this is?”    However,  I found myself praying,  “Lord, don’t let this be about me!”    Everyone in the meeting turned toward me to see how I was taking it.  Amazingly, I heard myself saying, “It’s not like you are asking me to do something additional — it is so easy to quit doing something!”     So we are no longer using name tags, and I don’t have to haul the supplies around in my car trunk and make sure they are with me on Sunday morning.    I am totally okay with it now, and have counseled myself that Jesus spoke to a group of 5,000 and there were no name tags!!  🙂

  35. 3. Read Psalm 36:1-4
      A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.   no fear of God, self inflation and flattery, blindness to one’s own sin, not able to hate it or even see it,  wicked and deceitful words, lack of wisdom or goodness, plotting evil constantly (even while in bed) committing to a sinful lifestyle and course, accepting rather than rejecting what is wrong.  
      B.  Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18. What similarity do you see?  The psalm passage is quoted in Romans and prefaced by many characteristics of a sinful life.  Some are similar to psalm 36 (deceit, poisonous words, cursing, bitterness) But also included are murder, destroying innocent life and this telling statement in vs. 17:  ‘and the way of peace, they do not know.”

  36. I posted my #2 about 12:30 PM, and I saw it on the page.   When I came back from lunch — it is gone!   Poof!

    1. Oh dear, Deanna!   Disappearing comments are almost as mysterious as disappearing sock partners… though I hope not as pervasive.

  37. 2. Double power of gospel.  What I was thinking about yesterday when I had to get off computer.  Last week, when I asked a question via emails, I received a response that seemed to indicate that I was in trouble.  In the past, I would have forwarded the email to or called someone else who has been treated similarly by the same person.  Instead, I asked you to pray..and I took it to The Lord, over and over.  Haven’t complained to others yet, but it still is tempting.  Time to take it back to him again (and again)

  38. Rebecca, I want to email you… Can’t get on fb easily to msg you and I can’t access old emails.  if possible please email me at Renee o at brookings dot net and I will respond when I have access.  Thanks.

    1. Renee, 
      I will email you..

  39. I heard Dee on Midday Connection recently.  I only caught part of the broadcast, but it made me want to search deeper into idol worship.  Our pastor had been preaching on this topic, but it had only reached my intellectual awareness (not my spirit).  What grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go was how bad fruit helps us see our idols.  I had been praying about a problem with anger that had been getting worse over the recent years.  I could not understand where the anger was coming from.  I have been a Christian for years, and this has become a stumbling block.
    I am now just beginning to connect the anger with the presence of an idol.  Just want to thank Dee for being so open to God on this topic.  I am not delivered.  I am only just now coming out of denial.  Please pray for me that I will be able to understand the idol that I am worshiping and how to replace it.  I know that this one thing is blocking me from growing to the next phase of my walk with the Lord, and to being an effective witness to others.

    1. I heard about idol lies on Midday Connection too, ordered the book and just finished it tonight!  What a help and blessing.  PTL
       

    2. Robin…Welcome if I missed you before.  I will pray for you about your idol.

  40. Praying for their family. I hope they feel peace as they are surrounded with prayer. I am thankful for annes story. What a great example of how to respond in those hard situations. The good news is powerful and I have “aha” moments all the time. I’m learning to really take my eyes off myself so I can keep them on Jesus. It has made life more full and peaceful, even in storms. Trying to stay more focused on Him all day long.
    Dee I saw and talked to Emily at the pool Friday. What a sweet and beautiful granddaughter you have!

    1. sweet Natalie-this is beautiful “I’m learning to really take my eyes off myself so I can keep them on Jesus. It has made life more full and peaceful, even in storms.”

  41. I trust that I didn’t say something wrong when I first posted my answer to #2.  I didn’t get an email, and I would have expected to if my comment had been pulled.   If I hadn’t seen it printed out  on the page,   I wouldn’t have been so surprised when it disappeared.     It was hard enough to write that one out the first time, and I haven’t had a problem for so long that I got lax and didn’t keep a copy for myself.   So I guess I have to write it again from scratch.   
    2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
     
    The sin I am  struggling to overcome in my life is self-centeredness, trying to learn that it isn’t all about me.   However, Satan is subtle and quick to whisper that it should  be about me.   An example of this occurred recently at church.   For about 12 years I had greeted visitors in worship and placed a name tag on them.   I felt “called” to do this job, even though I know it is controversial among some churches.   I thought  my service guaranteed that every guest was spoken to, and I also took this opportunity to assure guests that they were welcome to partake of communion, as our church observes open communion.   I was so persistent in doing this task that some parishioners had jokingly dubbed me the “name tag Nazi!”    However, many of the parishioners would not wear their own permanent name tags so guests could know who they were.   About a year ago I brought up the subject in a board meeting, saying that “We either need to do this completely or else quit it altogether, as doing it half-way presents a poor image to our visitors.”     I didn’t really want to quit doing it, but had wanted to change the congregation’s behavior.    I had hoped that shock treatment would help, but it did not.   Early this spring, a young elder made a forceful plea that we stop using the name tags.  He felt that it made the guests to feel “put on the spot.”    Now here is where my fight with sin comes in.  Quickly flashing through my mind were thoughts like “they are trying to get rid of my job,”  “don’t they see how important this is?”    I flashed a prayer: “Lord, don’t let this be about me.”     Everyone in the room was looking at me to see how I was taking it.  I was surprised to hear myself saying,  “It’s not like you are asking me to do something additional — it is easy to quit doing something!”      So we are no longer using name tags.   I am quite okay with it now.   I have counseled myself from the Scriptures, and I notice that Jesus spoke to a gathering of 5000, and no one was wearing name tags.   🙂
     

    1. Yes, Deanna-so sorry you are having issues again. Please email me if this happens again and I would be happy to problem solve with you and see what I can do to help. 🙂   If it is a widespread most of us are having at the same time-like when everyone’s comments were posting out of order or something worse-Dee or I will contact David. I hope this helps and again sorry that you are having a hard time with it. :/
       
       

  42. 3. Read Psalm 36:1-4

      A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.
    There is no fear of God.   Man flatters himself so much that he is in denial that he has sinned.   His words are wicked and deceitful.  No longer is he wise or does he do good.  He is constantly plotting and scheming evil things.   He commits to a sinful lifestyle.  
     
      B.  Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18. What similarity do you see?
    Both state that “there is no fear of God.”     Do the rest of you see the issue of balance that I see?   On the one hand, we need to fear and respect God; but on the other hand,  we need to be assured of God’s constant love for us.    I guess that is where Jack Miller’s quote is going as well.   

     C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the “natural” response to the conviction of our consciences?
     
    We have a natural tendency to defend ourselves against our very own consciences.   Paul is speaking of people whose consciences are telling them that something is wrong, but the people deny their consciences and defend themselves against their consciences.    
     
    The commentary on verse 15 in my Life Application Study Bible states:
     
    We belong to a stubborn race.  We know what is right, but we insist on doing what is wrong.   It is not enough to know what’s right, we must also do it.   Admit to yourself and to God that you fit the human pattern and frequently fail to live up to your own standards (much more to God’s standards).  That’s the first step to forgiveness and healing.    

  43.  C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the “natural” response to the conviction of our consciences?  
    It sounds like our consciences can not only lead us to make justifications, but also to that inner struggle  Romans 2;15. . . their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)
     
      
      

  44. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    How I ever need to be reminded that the gospel is the double cure for sin…it saves not only from the penalty but also from the power of sin. How often I forget. Annie’s story was so very powerful at illustrating this. I almost winced reading about the doctor raging at her. (I worked a brief stint, or tried to, many years ago in the operating room and left for that reason. It was hard to be in training to begin with, and then have one surgeon in particular who would scream and curse at me. I grew to hate going to work and cried every day when I got home, so I decided the OR was not the place for me, and it really wasn’t. I am better as a bedside caregiver.) However, it is with shame reading her story that I look back at times in my life when I did not own up to my mistakes but rather covered them. Now I know that when I do that, it is because of an idol and not trusting God to be my approval, my security, and to be in control.
     
    2. If you are beginning to grasp the double power of the gospel, share one way the gospel is helping you overcome the power of sin in your life. Be specific.
     
    I wish that I had more victory to share instead of that certain sinful habits are still a struggle. I understand where Jackie is coming from in her post above about her unequally yoked marriage, as my husband also is not following Christ. I also tend to blame much of what is wrong with “us” on him and blame him for the fact that my children don’t follow Him. He can also be very verbally critical and I find that I often crave love and approval and comfort, yet do not seek it from the Lord, but try to find these things in relationships with others, like my daughter or my parents. I also have to be really mindful about my mind/thoughts, as they can go to not so good places. In the Christian life, I have found it to be relatively easy to conform outwardly with the appropriate behavior, but heart change is something else. I can be “sitting down” on the outside while inside I am “standing up” in rebellion. Like Deanna, I also struggle with being self-centered…focused on me, my problems, my feelings, etc…
     
     

  45. 3A.   “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart,”.    Wow, this opened my eyes in a different way to the power of sin.  That, in a sense, sin itself has a “voice”.  One that is capable of speaking to our hearts in the deepest places…the secret places….the fearful places.  I don’t want to take too much license with this thought – as I do not believe that we, as believers in Christ, are “the wicked”.  Still…..it seems cautionary to me.  I was so taken with the way Rebecca was able to articulate her eyes being opened to her comfort idol with the way she was running to food (pie!) and the evening news….she just nailed it with the fear that “what if?” God just leaves me with my pain??  Oh, the hiss of the serpent……”Did God actually say???….”  I have been RIGHT THERE…..in the moment when the battle rages hot……thinking “this hurts TOO much….I HAVE to run away……I’m all alone in my pain”.  The sure promises of God (He will NEVER leave me or forsake me…..) seem to mock me.  Even though I belong to Christ, in that moment, transgression is speaking to me deep in my heart!  Once more, I love how Rebecca shows us how concrete and persistant faith must be!  I think a key turning point must have been that, even though sin was speaking, Rebecca spoke to her soul….as in Psalm 42:5    “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  I believe it was the power of the cross and the risen Christ who helped Rebecca “make a plan”…..and then, “work the plan!”……one that brought her out of slavery and addiction (in a sense….don’t mean to label you an addict, Rebecca!!) and into His glorious light and freedom!     Too many words…..but I guess this verse showed me in a new way that sin has the power to get to the deepest places in me……and saturate my life.  Sin is not just troublesome…..it wants to “own” me and create wretched rot at my core.   But, praise God, the Holy Spirit dwells in my being!!  I can speak Words of Truth to my soul…..and sin MUST retreat!   (If I’m going way far afield theologically, someone PLEASE correct me!).

    1. Jackie r–
      Thanks for your post.  I think you hit so many things right on.  The power of sin is that it seems so harmless sometimes.  We feel good about ourselves as long as we remove all of the visible parts of sin and stop short of total removal.  We hang on to a little bit. The part that doesn’t seem so bad (and no one else sees it). And then it starts to take hold. Those little foxes do some much damage.
      Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice.”  The hiss of the serpent….we cannot follow.  No matter how logical or comforting.
      John 10:4-5

      4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
      5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

      I just noticed that Bible says to flee from idols, and here Jesus is saying that his sheep will flee from the voice of strangers.  The “voice of sin” is a stranger’s voice to a believer.  We are not bound to sin any longer, but he still tries to take control.  We can drown out this stranger’s voice by speaking to our souls the truth of God’s word.  
      Today I will speak to my soul.  I will ask God for the words to speak.  I know that in his words there is healing  There is  a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.  Heal me balm of Gilead.  Heal my sin-sick soul.

  46. 3A.  Just a quick thought here too….sin can be flourishing as we “flatter ourselves” in SECRET.  We think “this is just my little thing, my little comfort…..”  No fear of God and flattering ourselves “in our own eyes”….in our thoughts.  “Sees himself in a way…” “Plots trouble while on his bed…”  All of these indicate our THOUGHTS.  

  47. 3B.  Clearly, the root cause of all sin….whether wicked unbeliever or even as followers of Christ is “no fear of God before his eyes”.  

  48. 3. Read Psalm 36:1-4
    A. Describe some of the characteristics of sin that has flourished.
    no fear of God, pride-justifying their sin rather than hating it, their words are evil and they are unwise, they plot evil in their hearts and do not reject what is wrong. 
     
    B. Compare Psalm 36:1 to Romans 3:18. What similarity do you see?
    There is no fear of God before their eyes. 
     
    C. What does Romans 2:15 tell us is the ‘natural’ response to the conviction of our consciences?
    We deny and hide our sin even defending or justifying it-even blaming others-even though we are convicted by the truth inside that it is sin and it is our sin issue. 
     
     
     
     

  49. Mary E, I was unable to reply to your reply to Nanci above…my heart sank when I read your post that your breast cancer is back. This is so hard, and I also will be praying for you, as Diane, not only for healing but for the work that God is doing in you. I know that you are seeing how He has prepared you for this, yet it still must be scary. I am glad you have shared this with us so we can pray, and others who have been on the same journey through cancer (like Laura dancer) can come alongside. I wish I could give you a hug…in person, but in writing I can do.