a trusted friend...
Every now and then, I call my closest friend asking her to give me her best shot at pointing out the major flaws she sees in me. For the sake of our friendship and, well, my heart, we have a limit of five at any one time. Why on earth would I put myself through this? You might ask. Well, it helps me to gain insight into how others might perceive me, even if I think I'm doing just fine. It pushes me to take a hard look at my heart and consider my actions carefully.
However, I must admit, mastering these flaws feels like an ongoing journey, and there are moments when my pride flares up, and I start making excuses for my faults repeating to myself, “Come on, let’s get real, I cannot possibly be all things to all people.” And that is when it hits me like a ton of brick. The words so unselfishly spoken by Paul: "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them... I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23). Those words, so beautifully spoken, pierce my heart and put my selfish excuses to shame.
Now, let me clarify that I am no Paul, and maybe I will never be, but in my prayers I ask God to transform me into Christlikeness for His glory and His kingdom. We have a duty to one another. Scripture repeatedly instructs us to admonish, care for, and encourage each other in our faith journeys. A trusted friend in the Lord can help to examine us from the outside while God does what only He can do on the inside—through the power of His Spirit and cleansing of His Word.
facing the truth...
Reading Scripture is a sure way of asking and His way of telling, yet on a whole other level. You see, Scripture permeates us, its light shines so bright that even if we try to shut our eyes we simply cannot escape what it reveals inside of us. We know that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We also know that “..The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) When faced with this truth, all biases and opinions need to take a back seat; the only words that carry the most weight is that of His breathed out. Oftentimes, it is our own self-perceptions that He mercifully allows us to see in the rearview mirror. We always need a reality check, and Scripture always gives us one. It certainly does for me.
sorrowful over sin...
I have come to experience that the life of a Christian is one of constant confession and repentance. When we read Scripture, it not only strengthens our faith but also confronts us with truth, exposing the sin that wages war within us. Yet, it's the Holy Spirit residing within every believer that enables us to recognize our sin and kindles a genuine desire to turn away from it. These acts show the marks of true conversion. To be sorrowful over our sin shows a heart that is hurt by the very thing that can separate us from Holy communion with Him. God's love and grace are always available to us; Scripture is clear that nothing can separate us from His love and that through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ those that believe have been redeemed and no one, not ever, ever can snatch us away from Him. However, Scripture also tells us that sin separates us from His holiness and disrupts the intimacy of our relationship with Him. If we continue to willfully practice sin, this is our consequence. Consider these passages of Scripture:
“Therefore, to one who knows to do the right thing and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or has come to know Him.” (1 John 3:6).
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2).
I understand. I, like everyone, struggle with sin. We all stumble and fall short, but the key question is: Are we choosing to remain in that state? If we find ourselves lingering there, it is essential to examine our hearts and remember that we are no longer enslaved but set free through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) Scripture clearly instructs us to acknowledge our sins and, more importantly, commands us to actively turn away from it.
Sure we can go to church every Sunday, raise our hands as we engage in worship, attend our life groups, and read every theological book we can get our hands on, but are we knowing about Him without ever really knowing Him? Is our worship in response to our knowledge of Him or our relationship with Him? Are we going to Him, hearing from Him, and doing what He has asked us to do? These are questions I come to often and often they are ones that when answered, I cry over. Paul’s words surround me, “Wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24a)
these Holy Words...
Scripture teaches us, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he is like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but doer, who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25).
We are not enough in and of ourselves, but God knew this. It is the very reason why He sent His Son and it is why He has sent us His Holy Spirit and left us with His Word, so that we would not be left as orphans but called to be sons and daughters of the Most High. His love for us does not abandon us to face the chaos of the world alone. These Holy Words have been divinely persevered, enduring centuries of persecution, wars, and changing philosophies. In its pages lie the foundational truths of our faith. Through the guiding light of His Spirit within us, we can discover Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
“For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:)2
If therefore no other foundation can be laid, then let us go to the Words that testify of Him, for He is our foundation and against Him all will fail. He alone is the cornerstone on which we build!
expressions of faith...
I heard a preacher once say that the church is filled with many Christians with passion miles wide but only a few inches deep. It brought me great conviction. We can recite the Words of Scripture till we are blue in the face, but if we do not have changing faith, conviction over our sins and a genuine desire to walk in obedience, we must quickly call out to Him, as the apostles did and plead, “Increase our faith!...” (Luke 17:5a).
Why is this important to understand?
Let’s take a look at the ending of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, an account by Matthew.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ’And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:21-27)
Who was Jesus speaking to? The first half of this passage is specifically aimed at the false prophet who claimed to perform miracles in the name of the Lord. Jesus’ response to their superficial expression of intimacy is well deserved, “I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness.” We must be careful that our outwords expressions of faith are not merely performances seeking to bring glory to ourselves, lest we be among those who He never knew.
Scripture tells us to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”(2 Corinthians 13:5).
The second half of this parable is aimed at everyone who hears. It is about two builders; one who digs deep and builds on the Rock, and one who foolishly sets his foundation on unstable ground. Both men hear His words, but only one does them. We are the builders. The depth of our obedience is correlated to the conviction of our faith and our worship to God when we not only hear but do.
this is our hope...
Matthew Henry summarizes the conclusion of my thoughts on this parable and the reason for this call to examine ourselves.
“There is a storm coming that will try every man’s work. When God takes away the soul, where is the hope of the hypocrite? The house fell in the storm, when the builder had most need of it, and expected it would be a shelter to him. It fell when it was too late to build another. May the Lord make us wise builders for eternity”- Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Let us seek to increase our strength not of our own power but of His who calls us to be strong in Him. Repentance is a work energized by the The Holy Spirit that indwells every believer. It is only His strength that we can draw from that can conquer our reluctance to accept that which we know is not right inside of us.
This is our hope. We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, for He condescended to earth, took on human flesh, and was faced with all the same temptations we face. Yet He knew no sin, that through His obedience we would have everlasting life in Him. This man, the God-man, took upon Himself our sins on the cross and drank the cup of the Father’s wrath as He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!” For a moment, it seemed , our sin upon His body separated Him from the Father, that through His sacrifice He would satisfy once and for all the debt that was in our name. But death could not hold Him! On the third day HE ROSE and shattered the chains of sin and death, splitting the veil open and redeeming us into a right relationship with the Father through Him. Glory be to God! Holy, Holy, Holy is He!
It is not everyone that can speak into our life or that we should carelessly ask to critique it. However, it is wise and Scripturally encouraged to surround ourselves with God fearing men and women who will help us along this journey. It is my desire that when I call out to the Lord on that day, “Father, Father” that He would see and recognize me and oh, how I long to hear the words “good and faithful servant.” I know these things are hard to take in, but if your heart breaks then it is a good thing. Let us examine ourselves through the lens of Scripture and seek to be worthy of the call that is upon every believer; to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and tongues.
Letty is BDJ's Publisher and Editor in Chief. She is a wife, mother and Bible student who loves to read and write. Letty is passionate about facilitating and speaking to others about all things Bible. Her greatest desire is to grow in Christlikeness through the meditation of His Word and the practice of His commands. Letty desires all women and children to be filled with the knowledge of God, that we would all grown in spiritual maturity resulting in love for one another and together bring glory to our Lord.