by Rick Eimers, CVCYouth Pastor
There have been a wide range of emotions that have been stirred up in people after listening to Pastor Joe Valenti preach out of Romans 1:18-32 this past Sunday. Like many of you, I’ve looked in the mirror very intently this week asking God to show me deeper areas of sin in my own heart. That’s a difficult thing to do because I can already see much of my sin on the surface. Looking deeper feels a bit overwhelming.
As he shared though, he convinced me from the text that I indeed should look much deeper. Our postmodern and pluralistic culture would like to suggest that if there’s a God, then he’s only a God of grace, mercy and love. Granted, all that’s true, but I’m not so convinced that the people who use those terms are defining them the way God defines them. It’s difficult to hear, but God is also a God of wrath. When we hear that term, it makes us feel scared, as if God is a distant father who doesn’t know how to control His anger and so takes out his insecurities by beating his children with anything that’s within His reach to grab. Although you may have experienced that with your own father, God is not that kind of dad.
This is good news to us. God’s wrath is just, not unfair. It’s consistent with His nature, not an arbitrary form of discipline. God pours out His wrath on unrighteousness (things that aren’t right) on sin that easily entangles people like you and I. There are very few things that God hates, but as you can blatantly see from this text, sin is one of them.
At one point during Joe’s message, he shared a story about how God ultimately will let us do what we want to do. I would like to camp out on that for a bit because as you and I know so well, sin spirals downward quickly. A mentor friend of mine once said, “sin takes you further than you want to go and faster than you want to get there.”
“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house.” -2 Samuel 11:2-4
What started as perhaps a chance coincidence quickly grew into a significant obsession and all encompassing sin. There is a profound lesson in this scenario: One little compromise often leads to another and another and then another until you’re so far down stream that the rapids are all encompassing. Such was the case with David and Bathsheba. His initial sin of lust soon escalated until it spiraled out of control.
I see how that could easily happen in my life. I hope you can see how it could be true in yours as well. Some (if not many) of you who attend our church may be in that situation right now. Unfortunately, as pastors on staff, we hear stories of domestic violence, rape, infidelity and unfaithfulness among other things. It never just happens overnight, but rather is the result of unconfessed sin left alone for many weeks, months or even years.
As we look back at the life of David, his specific initial sin led him quickly towards isolation, loneliness and depression. He even went so far as to think about suicide. Yes, the David of the Bible wished to be dead at times in his life. The spiraling effect of sin is not a respecter of persons. It can happen to you just as quickly and easily as it can happen to me. David is a very tangible example of how you and I are always 1 or 2 decisions away from hurting the people who are closest to us and simply becoming a statistic to the others.
Sure, not all depression, anxiety or loneliness stems from specific sin in your life, but as you look in the mirror I would ask you to consider if yours might. Are you hiding things that no one knows about? Are there shameful things in your life that you are trying desperately to keep hidden from the people closest to you? Has a simple glance begun to turn a corner toward something much more serious?
God’s wrath is real. We see that explicitly taught throughout Romans. As the Holy Spirit reveals new areas of sin in your heart as you look in the mirror, be sure to find a couple of people in your Christian community to share it openly with. It may end up being the most important thing you ever do. If you’re unwilling to deal with your sin when confronted, you’re very much like the man that James talks about in James 1:22-25
“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 a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”