Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Isolated Man is a Vulnerable Man

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who resisted Hitler and was martyred for his faith, wrote about our battle with sin in the following quote from his excellent book Life Together:

Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.

Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the
whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart.

The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a struggle until the sin is openly admitted, but God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16). 

Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of a Christian brother, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil. He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother. The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. 

Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother. He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God. It has been taken away from him. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ. The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him define true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ. 

 C. S. Lewis also wrote about why it is critical for men to hang together in his classic work Mere Christianity(below):

God can show Himself as He really is only to real men. And that means not simply to men who are individually good, but to men who are united together in a body, loving one another, helping one another, showing Him to one another. For that is what God meant humanity to be like; like players in one band, or organs in one body.” 

Five Lies Sin Tells Me
by Stephen Altrogge on May 28, 2013

1      LIE: This is such a minor, insignificant sin! It’s not really a big deal in God’s eyes.

TRUTH: Every sin is a horribly offensive to God. Sin is the sum of all evils, the opposite of all that is good, holy, and beautiful. Even the smallest of my sins required the death of the Son of God. There is no such thing as a minor sin. Every sin is cosmic treason.

2      LIE: I’ll give into sin this one time, then I’ll be done with it. I just need to get it out of my system.

TRUTH: Every time I give into a sin it becomes more difficult to break the power of that sin. Sin has a way of sinking it’s barbed hooks deep into my heart. I can’t simply sin and then walk away from it unscathed. The more I give in to sin, the more entangled I become. Sin always leaves scars.

3      LIE: This sin is part of who I am. I’ve always struggled this way and I always will sin this way.

TRUTH: Sin does not define my identity! I am a new creation in Christ. Christ has set me free from the enslaving power of sin. I absolutely do not have to obey the sinful passions that surge through me. I may have always struggled this way, but my past does not define my future.

4     LIE: I need to give in to this sin in order to be happy.

TRUTH: Sin never provides true happiness. It promises sweetness, yet ultimately delivers a payload of destruction, dissatisfaction, ruined relationships, and hardness of heart.

5      LIE: God wants me to be happy, therefore it’s okay for me to give in to sin.

TRUTH: God does want me to be happy. However, my happiness will only rise as high as my holiness. Sin ultimately erodes and destroys true holiness and true happiness.

Below are other quotes to reflect upon:

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."
1 Cor. 16:13 (NASB)

"What we do in life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus Decimus Meridius, Gladiator

"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage."C.S. Lewis

"Duty is ours; consequences are God's."
General Stonewall Jackson