“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about preaching the truth, it’s this. The truth about following the Lord Jesus Christ, that is. If you refuse to be transparent, and won’t humble yourself, and will go to any lengths to pretend that you have it all together and never mess up, and if you want more than anything to stand behind a pulpit, or sit behind a computer as I am now, and try to convince the world that you’re the perfect Christ follower, and you want nothing more nor less than to preach down to people like you never make mistakes, and never do wrong, etc., you’re missing an amazing opportunity. An amazing opportunity to give others a real look at the real life of a real person really learning to not merely believe in Christ as Lord, but learning day by day what it looks like, and feels like, and really is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. As much as I wish by now I could tell the world how I have it all together, and that I’ve learned all my lessons, and do everything perfectly, or even remotely so, I would be lying. So here’s the truth. I have to ask God to forgive me regularly, and this particular case I share with you now bears a strong message, I believe, for all of us.
“You’re going to regret it,” the Spirit of God told me plain, clear, and loudly. It’s like I had a megaphone in my heart. I heard Him speaking to me clear as day. I could have pretended not to hear Him, but I did worse. I waved Him away.
I was upset. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was tired of lots of little things going wrong, and being aggravating, and agitating, and I was tired of the stress of it all, like every single direction I looked, it seemed, some other company was messing something up, someone was putting me on hold, someone was transferring me to someone else, and this other thing over there was a challenge, and when I looked in another direction, once again, wow, why can’t there just be a moment’s peace? Then, to top it all off, the Lord wanted me to trust Him – and to be patient. Can you imagine? I wish I could say I heeded His warning. I did everything but.
For the next half hour or so, passed along from person to person on the telephone with a big company, I got angrier and angrier, more and more frustrated, and my attitude got worse and worse, and my mouth started spewing arrogant, proud, demanding, self-pitying, negative words all over an issue so small and ridiculous that if I told you you’d probably start laughing at me or think I’d gone mad. Or, maybe you can relate. After all, we’re all humans, aren’t we? Even us Christ followers, humans who have our bad moments – and bad days. Forgetting or neglecting to act like we’re supposed to act – and doing what I did instead. Big, fat, ugly, icky, yucky, SINNING.
By the end of the telephone call, I was apologizing to a manager and asking him to tell the others at his company I was sorry for how I had spoken to them. I got off the phone and had to repent before God. Then later, before even finishing this piece, I had to write to one other person at the company to seek her forgiveness. No matter what the company had done wrong, I had no excuse to act and speak in the ungodly manner that I had. And, of course, just like God had warned me, I regretted what I had done. I also realized I had acted the way I did because I had not forgiven several people as I had needed to do, and the lack of forgiveness in my heart coupled with some other stuff I had allowed to fill my heart had all borne the fruit of my sin.
Some time later, the Lord showed me this all had originated with Satan’s bait. He had tried to bait me with anger, and a bunch of fear mixed in over some stuff, and a lack of patience. The Lord had warned me not to take the bait. I had disregarded the Lord and taken Satan’s bait. And all hell had broken loose. Then, to top it all off, Satan had started in on me about how I might as well quit ministry as obviously I can’t behave right for even a moment.
Friend, I wish I could say once we give our lives to Christ, we will never take Satan’s bait. We will never fall for his ploys. We will never fall into sin. We will always behave perfectly. We will never need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness again. We will never need to apologize to people again. And that those of us called into ministry as I am will of course always have our acts together. So not true! But there is something we can – and MUST do – when this happens.
1. SEEK GOD’S FORGIVENESS THROUGH FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
2. RECEIVE GOD’S FORGIVENESS
3. TURN AWAY FROM THE SIN
4. TURN TO GOD AND THE BIBLE
5. SEEK THE FORGIVENESS OF THOSE WE HAVE HARMED
6. NOT FALL INTO SELF-CONDEMNATION
7. MOVE FORWARD, FOLLOWING THE LEAD OF THE LORD
The absolute worst thing we can do once we’ve taken Satan’s bait and fallen into sin is to stay in the sin, justifying why we should stay there.
The best thing we can do is repent as soon as we see our wrongdoing and as quickly as possible run back to the Lord. And we must – MUST – receive His forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ and keep walking forward, refusing to fall into condemnation and thereby become unable to press on in our relationship with the Lord and on His will for our lives.
I took the bait. Now what? Run to the Lord, run to the Lord! Run! To the Lord! Amen!
If you’ve taken Satan’s bait, or next time you do, spit out the bait and RUN, RUN, RUN to the Lord Jesus Christ!