Intermediate Edition

I.  Encountering Sin


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Chapter 37  Part I

Encountering Sin

Inevitably on occasions sin “leaks” into our lives, with its ill effects on ourselves and on our relationship with God. But if we address it as the Bible says to, God promises to forgive our sins and take in hand its effects.

Note that the teaching in this section is applicable to both new believers ridding themselves of their old ways and to believers returning to God after having lapsed into sin. However, the focus is more on the latter.

Consequences of Sin for God’s People

Sin deprives God’s people of his blessings

[God, to unfaithful Israel:] Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming. Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.   Jeremiah 5:25 NET

God may punish sin, which can mean physical suffering and emotional anguish

[David, to God:] My whole body is sick because of your judgment; I am deprived of health because of my sin. 4For my sins overwhelm me; like a heavy load, they are too much for me to bear. … 8I am numb with pain and severely battered; I groan loudly because of the anxiety I feel.   Psalms 38:3-4, 8 NET

Sin defiles God’s people – making them spiritually unclean

They [the sinful Israelites] were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions.   Psalms 106:39 NET

Jerusalem has sinned greatly, therefore she has become unclean.   Lamentations 1:8a ISV

God turns away from those who persist in sin

Someday these sinners will cry to the Lord for help, but he will not answer them. He will hide his face from them at that time, because they have done such wicked deeds.   Micah 3:4 NET

Addressing Sin (I): Return from Sin to God

Even if sin has not led to a believer completely falling away from God, all sin hinders one from being fully devoted to God to some extent. Thus one needs to turn away from any sin and return to being completely devoted to God.

Stop sinning

Sober up as you should, and stop sinning!   1 Corinthians 15:34a NET

Return to God with all your heart

“Yet even now,” the Lord says, “return to me with all your heart – with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your garments!” 13Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and boundless in loyal love – often relenting from calamitous punishment.   Joel 2:12-13 NET

In returning from sin to God, do what God wants

[Ezra the priest, to the unfaithful people:] Now then, confess your sins to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do what pleases him.   Ezra 10:11 GNT

[Hosea, to Israel:] But you must return to your God, by maintaining love and justice, and by waiting for your God to return to you.   Hosea 12:6 NET

Addressing Sin (II): Deal with Sin before God

Confess your sin to God

As soon as you discover that you have committed any of these sins, you must confess what you have done.   Leviticus 5:5 CEV

Be sorrowful over your sin

The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin.   Psalms 51:17 NCV™

A “broken” spirit or heart is one that is deeply remorseful.

Humble yourself before God over your sin

The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’   Luke 18:13 NET

Ask God for forgiveness and restoration

[David, to God after committing terrible sin:] God, be merciful to me because you are loving. Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs. 2Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again. … 7Take away my sin, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you crushed be happy again. 9Turn your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilt. 10Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again. 11Do not send me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me. 12Give me back the joy of your salvation. Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit.   Psalms 51:1-2, 7-12 NCV™

God’s Response to Repentance

God forgives our sins

[John, to believers:] But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:9 NET

God restores our relationship with him

So tell the people [of Judah]: This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: ‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord All-Powerful.   Zechariah 1:3 NCV™

[God:] I will be their God and they will be my people. For they will wholeheartedly return to me.   Jeremiah 24:7b NET

Here God in effect promises his unfaithful people that if they returned to him wholeheartedly, he would restore his relationship with them to what it should be. As such, they would again be his people and he would be their God.

Pray for persecuted Christians