Thursday, November 17, 2016

Staying out of the dirt, conclusion

So far this week, we've seen that Ruth and Boaz modeled moral and sexual purity in their relationship in the book of Ruth. We've also discussed how purity has more to do with honoring God, than it does with obeying a long list of rules. And we touched on being able to move forward, in spite of our past, if it includes some things we're not proud of . . .

Many believers waste a lot of time worrying about their past. Boy, is that a waste of time! We can't change anything back there. We can, however, do something about the future. By accepting God's grace, we can be clean from this day forward. No more fear, or guilt about the things that were. We can get out of the dirt, and stay out, with His help!

Are we, as believers, struggling with guilt and sin? It's a characteristic of Christians that though we fall, and although we may stumble, we rely on God and keep walking toward the light. If we focus on our feelings (which is how we got into the dirt anyway), we will be misled. What matters is that we choose to confess to Him and rise to walk again. And as we mentioned yesterday, be prepared -- the devil is 100% opposed to your efforts and will put us to the test. This is just my opinion, but I think that after we have made a genuine decision for the Lord, He may allow us to be tested and tempted. Why? So that we can prove to ourselves the sincerity and genuineness of our love for Him. (Notice I did NOT say to prove it to Him. He wants us to prove it to ourselves, for then we are emboldened and encouraged!)

When we look into our spiritual mirrors, do we like what we see? Do we need to pray, as David did:
Have mercy on me, O God,    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion    blot out my transgressions.Wash away all my iniquity    and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1-2)
God loves us too much to leave us in the dirt. He is going to do whatever it takes to make us holy.

Are we willing to do whatever it takes to stay out of the dirt?

Whether we are talking about sexual purity, evil talk, greed, pride, or any other sin, there are strategies that we can use.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:1-5)

Can we be honest here?
I think we can all agree that self-discipline is necessary, but it's not enough. But there is help:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
If we are in fellowship with Him, and worshiping Him, we will be able to overcome the lusts of our flesh; sexual sins, greed, spiteful and hateful words will be under His control.

Whether we are trying to control our tongues, out thoughts, or our sexual desires, we can employ some common sense strategies:

1. Keep ourselves accountable to a trusted friend or group of godly friends.
2. Pour our energies into serving others, or working with others for a common good.
3. Be sure to have open and honest sharing with our trusted friends.
4. Be determined to stay in close fellowship with God; don't skimp on prayer or study times.
5. Avoid situations that cause us to fall - if we can't avoid them, prepare with more prayer!
6. If we do fall, ask for God's forgiveness and start again.

I'm so glad for a loving Father who included in His Word both bad and good examples for us to learn from! Truly, Boaz and Ruth teach us that we can stay out of the dirt!

1 comment:

Cathy said...

What a great set of strategies and guidelines. I am one of those with a quite murky past. I am literally eternally grateful for the complete and total forgiveness of sins.