Romans 6:14 - "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace."
Hebrews 4:1 - "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."
God has promised full victory over the sins and weakness that enslave us. Yet tragically, many believers live year after year in bondage to the same sins and failures. In many cases, these believers really don't want to be free!
Questions for Reflection: Have you identified your spiritual strongholds and claimed God's full victory? Have you determined to overcome the sins that keep cropping up or do you put up with them? Do you make excuses for sin by calling it a "weakness" or a "personality trait"? Has Satan deceived you to believe you cannot be free? Have you failed to fully resist Satan until you experience complete spiritual victory? Are you too complacent and spiritually lazy to push forward into full victory?
Whether it is anger, fear or a sinful habit, you must determine to get rid of it. Immediately confess the sin of unbelief and determine to settle for nothing less than the full victory Christ purchased on the cross (John 8:34). Though it may require a period of spiritual battle, you will experience full victory if you persist in faith!
James 3:1 - "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
Pastors, teachers and leaders have been given a huge responsibility before God! Leading God's people is a high and holy calling. Though it is a glorious privilege, it carries with it a stronger possibility of judgment from God. It is especially crucial for preachers and teachers to exercise their calling with all diligence, integrity and personal holiness. Leaders are indeed held to a higher standard before God. "To whom much is given, much is required' (Luke 12:48).
As leaders, we are subject to all the typical temptations of laymen and by virtue of our position, we often face battles others do not face. It is especially vital that leaders focus on deep personal cleansing! Otherwise, we can easily fall prey to sins of spiritual arrogance and ambition. In some ways such sins are even more enslaving than the more outward transgressions.
Questions for Pastors and Leaders: Have you grown lax in the exercise of your responsibility in Christian service? Do you preach and teach the whole council of God or focus only in a narrow range? Have you preached boldly against all sin or become timid through fear of men? Are you afraid to preach about controversial issues such as abortion, divorce and homosexuality? Do you diligently study God's Word or have you grown lazy? Are you doing your very best or have you begun to cut comers? Have you harbored any competition or jealousy toward other pastors? Have you harbored any bitterness or resentment toward your church members? Do you resent low pay or lack of appreciation?
Do you consistently practice what you preach and teach? Was there a time you were more dedicated and zealous in your calling than now? Are you steadfast and immoveable or do you tend to be inconsistent? Are you instant "in and out of season" or do you become easily discouraged?
Have you failed to lead your church in aggressive soul winning and missions involvement? Do you fail to serve with diligence because your position is not as glamorous as the position of others? Have you in any way viewed your church as a stepping stone to a "better position"? Are you a true shepherd or are you a hireling?
Preacher or teacher, please be honest with yourself and with God. What hope has the church for revival if it cannot begin in leaders? Since judgment begins at the house of God, it must first begin in church leaders! Ask God's forgiveness and let His holy fire reignite your service. Believe God to help you to stir up the gift that is within you (2 Timothy 1: 6).
Jeremiah 29:13 - "And you shall seek me and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart."
James 5:16 - "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
In the above passages, we see God desires earnest seekers. God does not chase us down to force His revelations down our throats. He speaks most to those who consistently seek Him in fervent prayer and fasting. Throughout Scripture and revival history, fasting is a frequent part of seriously seeking God (though it should never be done as a legalistic effort to impress God or people). It is sad that many modem believers know nothing of seeking God with true fervency. Typically, their seeking is convenient and costs little.
Tragically, many modem saints are so enslaved to food and earthly comforts that the idea of serious prayer and fasting seems extreme and unusual. (Yet it is the clear pattern in Scripture and all of revival history.)
Questions for Reflection: Are you fervently seeking God for more of His daily presence and power? Have you failed to embrace deepening levels of prayer and fasting? Do you resist the idea of any type of prayer that is costly or protracted? Since God required fervent prayer and fasting in all past awakenings, why would He make an exception for us? Since virtually everyone mightily used of God has fasted and prayed, why would His will be any different for you? If God convicts you of the need for fervent prayer and biblical fasting, please don't make excuses or ignore His voice. If you will seek God with all your heart, you will find Him in ways you could never even imagine!
James 1:23-24 - "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholds himself, and goes his way and straightway forgets what manner of man he was."
A common omission is failure to obey God's Word the moment He speaks. I call this the sin of "showcase repentance." We almost make a game out of dissecting Scripture, yet have no intention of actual obedience.
According to Luke, it can even be dangerous to embrace times of cleansing or solemn assembly. The danger is that you would make a mere "show" of repentance. When you are exposed to God's searching Word, He holds you doubly responsible for what you have seen. For this reason, the book you are now reading is almost dangerous. (You are now responsible for what you've heard!) The Word of God is not something you can simply consider, it is something to be immediately obeyed. The servant that knows his master's will and does it not, is counted worthy of greater punishment! (Luke 12:47)
Questions for Reflection: Do you often sense God speaking, yet you tend to delay obedience? You don't actually tell God no, but you put off your obedience. Believers make the tragic mistake of thinking that "considering" obedience is the same thing as obedience.
Do you consistently fail God in the same old ways? Are there specific areas in which you never seem to make any progress? If so, this indicates you do not have godly sorrow or true repentance over that particular sin. It is vital that you confess your sins of partial and delayed obedience. Ask Christ to fill you with a genuine spirit of repentance. Though we cannot "work up" true repentance, we can claim it by Christ's indwelling presence. If you sincerely ask, God will give you an obedient heart! "For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
Personal Reflection on Sins of Omission
As we draw to the close of this journey, we acknowledge that it is but a picture of the progressive cleansing that God intends for us in our daily lives, every day until we stand before Him and give an account for our lives on this earth.
As we confess and forsake our numerous sins of omission, may we rejoice that though our sanctification is a continuing process, our full acceptance and forgiveness by God through the shed blood of Christ, is complete. While we endeavor, more and more to live for Him, may we rejoice in the Lord always, knowing that His mercy is higher than the heavens! (Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9)