Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Coming Out into the Light

Leslie Basham: When you’ve been sinned against the hurt is real ,but it doesn’t give you a free pass to sin in response. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Yes, we have been sinned against and yes, we’ve been offended. But what God wants us to see is that we are also offenders. That the greatest issue in our lives is not how others have sinned against us rather it is how we have sinned against a holy God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, April 3. We’re continuing in day three of the series, “Lies Women Believe about Sin.”

Nancy: When we think of the Puritans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we think of men and women who were deeply spiritual. We probably don't think of them as being great sinners. They were men and women who had a real heart for God. But the interesting thing to me, as I read some of their writings, is that because these men and women had a high view of God, they also saw themselves as great sinners, greatly in need of the mercy of God.

In their writings you see a sense of the horror of their sins—the way that they felt about their own sins. Even some sins that might seem insignificant to us were things that the Puritans considered very serious sins. This comes out in their prayers. For example, one that I read recently, the Puritan prayed,

Unmask to me sin's deformity that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it. Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the person sinned against.

The fact that we have a holy God is what makes our sin so serious.

We've been looking all this week at lies that we believe about sin. Yesterday and today we've been focusing on this lie that, "My sin isn't really that bad." The Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Now, I don't like evil. But one of the things God’s been asking me as I've been preparing for this series is, "Do you really hate evil? Do you have a holy hatred toward anything that is not consistent with God's holiness?"

In Romans chapter 12 the apostle Paul says that we are to "cling to that which is good," but we are to "abhor that which is evil." Our culture doesn't exactly encourage this, does it? When you look at entertainment today and the way we view sin, sin is trivialized. Think about what entertains people today and things that are pure and holy become laughing matters. And by contrast, things that are virtuous and chaste are scorned and scoffed at. But the Scripture says that we are to abhor that which is evil—to have an intense hatred and aversion to everything that is evil.

I'll tell you the place I want to come to in my life and that is that I will dread sinning against God's holiness more than I would dread some terminal illness, some contagious disease or handling a wild, deadly snake. Now that's not something I’d want to do. I don't want to play with that snake. I don't want a terminal illness. But I want to come to the place where I hate the thought of grieving the heart of God more than I hate being destroyed in my earthly body by some wild animal or some deadly disease.

It's interesting in the Scripture that there are several lists of sins. There are some in the New Testament, some are in the Old. I went back to some of those lists in recent days, and something stood out to me. For example in Proverbs chapter 6, there's a list of seven things that God hates—seven abominations. These are things that God hates. In that list are things like hands that shed innocent blood. That's a pretty serious sin—hands that just strangle the life out of an innocent person. And yet, in that same list God puts this sin—a proud look!

Now it’s hard for me to think of a proud look—just a proud attitude . . . You know how we do it. We don't even have to say anything. It’s just a superior attitude or thought about ourselves. God puts that proud look in the category of these other sins that He hates—that are an abomination to Him—sins like shedding innocent blood!

In Matthew chapter 15, Jesus talks about sins of murder and adultery and sexual immorality and theft. And there right in that same list He includes sins that I’m a little more comfortable with than those others—sins like evil thoughts and slander, using my tongue to express things about people that are not true or are not edifying.

Why would He include my sins—those kinds of sins that I’m a little more at ease with along with sins that I don’t think I would be at ease with—things like murder and adultery and sexual immorality and theft—right in the same list?

The apostle Paul does the same thing in Galatians chapter 5. He’s talking about sins of the flesh and the way that the flesh manifests itself in our lives. He talks about sexual immorality, witchcraft and drunkenness. Well, those are not things I've ever really expressed in my life, not as others would see or know them.

And yet, right in that list he talks about sins that I do know a little bit more about: discord, being contentious, argumentative, being jealous of others' gifts and abilities and strengths and possessions, selfish ambition. Why do I do what I do? Is it to further my own self and what others will think of me? He puts those sins—discord, jealousy, selfish ambition right in the same list with these other sins that we might consider much more heinous.

The problem is that we tend to compare our sins and our lives to other people. In comparison, we can always find some sinner that we think is a bigger sinner than we are. Honestly, it makes us a little comfortable to think that my next-door neighbor or my mate or my child or my parents would have some sins that are greater than mine. It gets me off the hook a little bit in my own mind, and I can begin to justify my own sins because I compare them to the sins of others.

I think of a conversation I had with a woman several years ago. Her husband was wrestling with some issues related to pornography, and this wife was distraught. She came to me when she learned that he had been dabbling in this, and she just could not fathom how this could be a snare to a man. Her mind doesn't work like his. She's not wired the way that he is, and she just could not get over the fact that this would be a difficulty—a temptation for her husband.

As we began to talk, it came out that she was really holding bitterness and unforgiveness toward her husband. I said to her, “You will never be free until you come to see that your sin of bitterness and unforgiveness toward your husband is as serious an offense against God as his struggling with these moral issues of his life.”

Now, some sins do have broader ramifications and consequences in the natural realm. But until she came to see that she was a sinner desperately in need of God's mercy, she could not extend the mercy that her husband needed to help him be victorious in his moral battle.

I talked within the past several days with a woman who came out of an abusive background. There’s some huge father wounds and hurts in her life and she's now, I think, probably in her fifties. But she's looking back on these childhood experiences. She said to me, “I have such hatred and anger and bitterness in my heart toward my father that I can't get to God. I can’t make my way to God. I can't trust God. I can't surrender my life to God because of these feelings I have toward my dad.”

The whole implication was, “My dad had sinned against me greatly,” which no doubt is true. But the other implication was, “My sins of hatred and anger and bitterness are not as bad as his sins” in whatever ways he had violated her as a little girl.

As I listened to her, it was the first conversation that we’d had so I was trying to really hear her heart. It became clear to me that this woman is not going to find the redemption that could be hers in Christ until she comes to the place of realizing that not only was her dad a sinner desperately in need of God's mercy, but that she, too, is a sinner desperately in need of God's mercy.

As long as we’re trying to balance out the scales of our guilt with someone else's more serious sin, then we’re going to try to justify our sin. We're not going to be set free from it as long as we are comparing our sins to others and feeling that our sin is not as bad as theirs. What looks clean in our lives when we compare ourselves with other sinners may look very different when we compare ourselves—set ourselves up next to the holiness of God.

I live in a house that has white siding. At least, it looks white most of the year, and it's supposed to be white. But you know when the snow falls in the winter and it's really white . . . We get a lot of snow in Michigan, so there’d be snow everywhere around my house. All of a sudden that siding looks dingy and yellow. It doesn't look nearly as white once I see it compared to something that really is white.

I find that when I compare my life to other sinners I know, I can think I'm doing okay. But when I get into the presence of God and look into His holiness, my life looks different. God has given us a light to see our lives in His Word. When I open this Book it’s a mirror that exposes; it shows me. It’s a light; it’s a search light, and it penetrates into the darkest corners of my heart and shows me things that I might not otherwise see. 

I want to take the next few moments and just look into the spotlight of God's Word. I want to look at a passage in Isaiah—the fifty-nine chapter of Isaiah that gives to us a vivid description of how God sees our sin.

Now as I read this passage, it will be something like that sunlight streaming into my sunroom windows showing things that I had no idea were there. This is one of the most detailed, graphic descriptions in all of God's Word about how God sees our sin.

And I’m beginning in Isaiah 59:2 where the prophet says: "Your iniquities have separated you from your God." Now as we read this passage, think about those little things, the little issues, the sins that we tend to trivialize or to call weaknesses. Think about those issues in the light of this passage and how it describes our sin. It says:

Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, and your fingers with guilt. . . . Your lips have spoken [lies], and your tongue mutters wicked things. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood.

Now, remember this is not just talking about someone else's sins. This is a passage that describes how God views my sin. Continuing in verse 7:

[Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction] mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. . . . They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind," verse 10, "we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday, we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead."

He's saying that sin keeps us from seeing the rest of life in its right perspective. We'll be in midday sun, but we can’t' see things clearly. Verse 12: "For our offenses are many in your sight." "In your sight," that's the key phrase there. Our offenses may not seem like many. But in God's sight, when He causes His light to stream in through the windows of our hearts, we see that our offenses are many and our sins testify against us.

"Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities." Aren't we so much quicker to acknowledge the iniquities of others, to see how they have sinned against us? And so your husband abandoned you or he's been involved in an immoral issue. It's so easy to say, "He's the sinner; he's the one who's the offender. I'm the innocent party."

But when I look into the light of God's Word, I see there are no innocent parties. Yes, we have been sinned against, and yes, we’ve been offended. But what God wants us to see is that we are also offenders—that the greatest issue in our lives is not how others have sinned against us. Rather, it is how we have sinned against a Holy God.

And so the prophet says,

Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

I tell you, I want to read this passage and apply it on top of other peoples' lives. But then the Lord says, "This is the Light speaking, and I'm shining my light in your heart. This is what I see.” When I begin to define and describe my sin as God describes it—rebellion . . . I don't think of myself as a rebel, but God's Word says when I sin I am a rebel. I’m guilty of rebellion against the God of the Universe—rebellion—treachery against the Lord—turning my back on God, "fomenting oppression and revolt and uttering lies our hearts have conceived."

I think about those times when God exposes in me sins that I would not think are so serious if I didn't see them in light of God's holiness—times when I'm controlling in my manner, in my attitudes. I see some heads nodding here. Maybe I'm not the only one who has these sins—sins of self-centeredness. It has to be my way and everybody has to perform up to my standard and do it the way that I want it done. If they don't, they’re going to feel it. Exalting myself; having to have the last word in the argument; defending myself when I'm misunderstood or falsely accused; not only exalting my opinions but demeaning, putting down the opinions of others.

I think of times when God shows me with that light that I haven't loved or lifted up or prayed for spiritual leaders in my life and in the ministry where I serve. I've not been a cheerleader, but I’ve been a critic to God's men in the pulpit and in the ministry that He's allowed me to be a part of.

I was looking back this past weekend into some journal entries from a couple of years ago. I came across one where God was dealing with my heart in some of these very specific issues that He had exposed. At the time, I was reading in Daniel chapter 3.

You remember the story about how Nebuchadnezzar erected this ninety-foot tall image of himself? When the three Hebrew young men refused to bow down to that image, the king was furious. He was enraged, and he threw those Hebrew young men into the fiery furnace.

I remember thinking and writing at the time as God was surfacing some of this stuff—this junk—these attitudes in my own heart. And I wrote in my journal, and it's actually in the margin of my Bible. I made this note. "Oh God, King Nebuchadnezzar lives in me. It's not just proud, arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar. That spirit of anti-Christ, that spirit of wanting to be God, it lives in me."

In that light I found myself crying out to God and saying, "Please have mercy on me." I found out that I was making a god of myself and expecting everyone to fall down and worship that image. When they didn't, I was enraged. "Oh God, King Nebuchadnezzar lives in me."

So, let me close this session by reading another passage from the Book of Isaiah, chapter 53. It shows us the cost; the consequence of our sin.

He [speaking of Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. [That phrase gripped my heart within the last twenty-four hours as I thought about Christ being pierced on the cross for my transgressions.]

The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him [Christ Jesus] the iniquity of us all. . . . He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death. Though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit found in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and to cause him to suffer. . . . For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. (vv. 5–6, 8–10, 12)

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been addressing the lie, “My sin isn’t that bad.” Talking about lies may not seem like fun, but when you bring the lies out into the light then you can deal with them for real. Nancy helps you do that in the book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. She brings lies out into the light—lies about ourselves, about families, about emotions, about sin and other areas. Then she shows you how to replace the lies with the truth.

We’ll send you Lies Women Believe when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for the book when you call with your donation of any size. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, if we see our sin as it really is how could we ever bear it? The good news is, we don’t have to—Someone already has.

Nancy: You see, Jesus died for that sin and there is no more sacrifice that can be offered for my sin. In fact, the Scripture says that He paid the price and offered Himself up as a sacrifice once and for all. The price has been paid. He now has gone up to heaven. He’s sitting at the right hand of God, and He promises us that our lawless acts and sins He will remember no more. Hebrews 10:18 “And where these have been forgiven there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.”

So what difference does this make for our lives? How shall we then live if this is true? Well, verse 19, “Therefore brothers” he says. “Now we have confidence to enter the most holy place”—right into the presence of God where no one but the high priest ever dared to go in the Old Testament under the old covenant when they were still offering all those animal sacrifices.

But now he says, “Brothers, sisters, children of God, we can all enter in with confidence”—not with our head hanging down, not saying “My sin is so great! I don’t know how God could ever forgive me.” He has forgiven us. So he says, “Now with confidence enter into the holy place.” How? “By the blood of Jesus.”

He says there is a new and living way open to us through the curtain. Remember that great veil that stayed between the people and the holy place where God’s presence was? What happened to that veil when Jesus died? It was torn from top to bottom. Access was granted into the presence of God. And he says, verse 21, “Since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” Don’t you love that language?

I talk to so many women today who are living perpetually under the guilt and the weight of sin that they have confessed. I’m talking about women who are believers, but they’re not believing that His blood was sufficient for their sin. There’s some sin they committed, and they know what it is in their mind. Sometimes they haven’t even had the courage to tell anybody what that sin is. But they’re thinking it’s so big, they just can’t get free from the guilt and the burden of it.

And I’m saying and God’s Word is saying, "What sin could be as big as the covering provided for us—the atonement provided for us by the blood of Jesus?" So He says, “Now draw near to God.” You don’t have to shy away. Where that sin has been confessed—it’s been put under the blood of Jesus—there is forgiveness. So He says, “Come with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.”

Listen, when you’re forgiven and you accept that forgiveness, you can sleep well at night. No more need for a guilty conscience.

Leslie: We’ll hear more about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version.

 

 

 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.