Living Honestly With God Bill Bradford
Every minute of our life we are before God - Hebrews 4:13! Studying God's Word in sincerity helps us to discern our own thoughts and intents. (God already knows them - we cannot deceive God!) To come boldly before God, we must be honest with Him. Pretence before God is not a good basis for a relationship. We need to emulate David's prayer and his intent as recorded in Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me... We cannot be honest with God unless we are honest with ourselves.
This is the second in the series of messages entitled The Authentic Christian.
Now, make no mistake about it, you are before God. Every minute of your life, your every thought, your heart, everything that goes on in your life is before him. In Hebrews 4:13 we read quite a few other things in the same context so we may as well examine them too because we're going to discover something that's very important with God.
Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Now, I don't know how comfortable you are with that truth, that God sees all - and He does. He sees all and He knows all. So what do we mean by all? Do we mean all, really?
Verse 12 gives us an idea as to what He is saying:
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.
He uses parts of the body that are so innermost, so to speak, to ourselves that you can't go any deeper than that. What He's saying is that the word of God, words that He has inspired to be written, if a person would study them in sincerity and in truth, would help him to discern the thoughts and the intents of his own heart. So when we say He knows all, that He knows all beforehand - that is, what we are - without ourselves disclosing it to Him, we're talking about the intents of the heart.
So if we have to give an account, what do we have to give an account for? We may think just our actions. It is true, we have to give an account for our actions, but God is able like no other to see our actions and our words and discern the true intent of the heart. He is able to discern much better than we are. You and I only judge outwardly, as the Bible also says, so it's very important for us to understand that we're very limited by that, but God himself understands this.
Now, He goes on and gives a little further explanation in verses 14 to 16 of Hebrews chapter 4. He says:
Hebrews 4:14-15 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Now, this is a very interesting statement here, if you look at it in a little bit of a different way. We normally take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jesus Christ himself has experienced the same thing as us, to the full extent as any of us, for that matter. However, at the same time, if you take it in the context of the previous two verses that we've just read, it also means this, that we cannot pull the wool over God's eyes. He understands our weaknesses, true, and He also knows what it's like to be human and what it's like to be tempted to the full extent of that temptation, so He can certainly sympathise with our weaknesses, but He would like you to understand your own weaknesses and your own needs because He knows what they are. We cannot ever say to God, You do not know how I feel; you're God, you've never experienced this.
What is being said here is that He does in fact know and we cannot make it out like we are worse off than we really are. We have to be truly honest before Him, in that sense.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So when you come boldly before the throne of grace - let me say, if you are not honest when you come before the throne of grace, you cannot be bold. It's going to be very difficult for you to be bold if you are not really honest before God. You have to know, really know, that you really need His grace and that you really have a need, and you present that need before Him. In fact, it says God knows what your need is before you even ask Him, so however we may represent it is one thing, but God knows exactly what we need. Matthew 6:8 says that, incidentally. God knows what we need before we ask.
So when we ask, what do we do? Well, we have to ask then in absolute, complete truthfulness. We don't try to con God. You can't con God, and people were trying to do that. He gave the example as to how they were doing this in prayer, when they would go before God in prayer - actually, they weren't going before God, they were more going before other people, which shows what they were really doing, that there was another motive. God knows motives, He knows what the intent of the heart is, so He makes the statement, in that context, God knows your need before you ask. So therefore, how you pray then, God knows whether you're completely honest or not, and how we represent ourselves, and how we - or the reason or the motive for anything that we may ask of Him.
The Pharisee in Luke 18 said in his prayer, where Christ gives the example:
Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
That may have been true literally, according to the letter of what he said, but he was in any case trying to put one over on God, and God knew it. This man was not accepted. So he had already deceived himself, in fact, as to the way he really was.
The publican was a lot more honest with himself, and with God too. He was completely honest:
Luke 18:13...God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
Now, there's a man who really got it, and he was prepared to say it. He was prepared to say it out loud. He said it before God, and apparently - the fact that it's written down - it was in the hearing of other people. Be merciful to me, a sinner.
We're going to see what is very important to God. If you're going to hold up to God how well you've done, how good you've done, you've been, your own credentials, you need to understand something - you're never going to compare with God so that's simply not going to be accepted. He'll take that simply as, He's trying to put one over on me. That's not a very good basis for a relationship with God. You would agree with that. So to have that kind of a relationship with God then there has to be that complete and total honesty. If you're going to have a relationship with God you're going to have to be honest in that relationship. You cannot start saying things before God that he knows are not true. God knows when we're trying to put one over on him.
Now, David was very mindful of this. In Psalm 139:23, he acknowledged how much God already knew about him. In fact, he's saying here God really knows everything about him, and he cannot flee from God's presence, no matter where he goes. You can't get away from God. He knew God knew him when he was being formed in the womb. That's very comforting, in fact, but he finishes up this way, in:
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
David is not saying, God, I really want you to try to find out if there's some kind of a problem here within me. You should know this. He's not saying that to God. God already knows. I think the context of Psalm 139 tells you that. God already knows everything about us. What he is really saying is this, I want to know myself. I've got to be complete - so I can be completely honest with you, I want to know what you already know about me. He says in verse 24, And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Now, of course, this requires a certain attitude and approach toward God, once again.
David is saying, I don't want there to be anything in me that separates me from You. I do not want to be deceived. I don't want to be deceived about myself. I don't want to be self-deceived. David was a very open person. David chronicled for us his thoughts. In fact, he wrote down for us his innermost feelings. He wrote them down for us; the good, bad, and the ugly, as it were. They're there for us to read. We read about how he felt about things; how he felt when he doubted God, when he needed God, and why he needed God. It's all there. He even said, remember, I am poor and needy. I mean, here's a person who's just very, very open about himself when he speaks to God. This is written for us. This is not for us to say, Well, I didn't realise David was that way. It's for us to understand how we also need to be with God, and our openness and our complete honesty with him.
David wrote this down on many occasions. He was able to capture his own thoughts. If you're really interested in knowing what you think, if you're really interested in knowing how your thoughts go and how you react or respond to various situations during the day, in your innermost thoughts, if you can capture them and you can journal, you can write them down yourself and you can keep them for yourself, to where you then learn to be really open and honest with yourself. It's very important you do that. You can't be honest with God unless you are first honest with yourself. You'll hear me repeat that a couple of times today. You cannot be really honest with God unless you are honest with yourself. You've really got to see yourself the way God himself sees you. This is what David is praying here.
This takes a very secure person to be able to do that, and to make this kind of a request, because we don't have that really secure relationship with God to where we can make this kind of a request, we can fully expect Him to answer that prayer, and then we are very happy as to what He's going to do about it. We put it in His hands and we are at peace with God as to how He is going to then treat us, whereas on the other hand we tend to mistrust God so therefore we don't want to pray this kind of a prayer and put ourselves into His hands to that extent. We hold back, we hedge. We're not completely there all the way in that open and honest relationship with God, the way we ought to be. So we don't pray this kind of prayers the way we ought to.
We don't make this kind of disclosures or admissions or confessions or surrender, however you may wish to say it. It's a very, very hard thing to do, but David was a very open person. We even read about his sin with Bathsheba. We read it in Psalm 51, about his repentance when he was confronted with that particular sin. So here was David then, at a certain point in his life, where he was simply kidding himself about what he was doing. He was kidding himself about his intent. He was kidding himself about why he was doing this, and his motive, all his thoughts. He was kidding himself about who he was. He was kidding himself about his opinion of himself. You could see then what he was doing to God and to others, and to himself, by lying to himself as he was going through the process of committing this sin. Nathan the prophet then had to bring him back to the stark truth of the matter; made him face it in a very interesting way. God knew that the person David was, he would see it.
We need to understand how capable we are of going down a track to where we deceive ourselves in thinking things are okay and walking in clear daylight in front of God, thinking that things are really great and okay, and not having a realistic picture. Now, that realistic picture is not a bad picture to have. People say, Well, if I just knew the way I was it'd be really bad. I've heard people say that God really can't tell us the way we really are, or show us the way we really are, because it would be too painful. I completely disagree. You would be so free if God would show you. The painfulness comes through cover-up. That's where the pain comes from.
Pain comes from simply not facing the way we really are. We try to deal with it in perhaps other ways and it can become very destructive to ourselves. Here's a scripture we've read so much perhaps it doesn't mean very much to us but let's take a fresh new look at it.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
It just doesn't say mildly wicked or it does some things that are bad. That's not what it says! It says, The heart is desperately wicked; who can know it? How can we know this? How can you know your own heart? How can you trust your own heart? How can you trust your own thoughts?
He says, I, the Lord, searches the heart. The Lord is the only true benchmark, the only true reference then that we can have to say, when he says it, it's true. He says, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. You know, that's the way it really works. People really don't get away with anything. We have to ask ourselves: is this true? Do we really believe this? Is this the way it is?
We can't put a front up before God and get away with it. We can't have a relationship with God, thinking that we are a certain way and God knows it's not that way, because God knows our thoughts. That kind of a relationship with God will not last very long and it's guaranteed to get us zero results - zero results, no answers - or if He does give you answers, He'll probably give you answers that you're not listening to, or that maybe you don't want to hear about. But God will give you answers. He promises to give you answers. But when things just keep going the same way in our lives all the time, and He gives us according to the fruit of our doings, as He says here, then we have to ask ourselves, Is there something I'm not getting? Is there something I'm missing here?
I'll confess to you, I've asked that so many times when things are just not right, you know they're not right, I don't know what the answer is, I don't see how they're going to go right, and I just have to ask God, There must be something I'm missing; what is it? I can't go before God and say, I know your will, Lord. I am here to do completely everything you say. This is the way I am. You can't con God that way. When you can't figure things out, rather than say, I always trust God, it's much better to say, There's something I'm missing here. There's something I don't know. There's something I can't quite figure out. Approach it that way. This is a lot more of an honest approach before God, and more likely to receive an honest answer from God if you approach it that way.
So there has to be an authentic worship and presence before God. We ought to pursue that. There has to be an authentic worship and presence before God. Talking to the church at Thyatira He says:
Revelation 2:23 I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and the hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your works.
Now, He says that to all of the seven churches here in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, which is representative of God's church all the way through. What He's saying, I will give you according to your works, He says, because I know, I search the minds and the hearts, and everybody will receive exactly what their works are.
Now, there's a reward according to a person's works. I'm not talking about salvation, that is, God's calling and God's grace, which of course is a gift. But there are fruits. There are results. We have to understand what those results are. Here is a church that was simply kidding itself. He said, I want all of the churches to know this. I'm saying this to this church but I want the whole church, all the churches, to know that I will search the minds and the hearts.
Now, this is the business God is in. God has to get deep down inside of us. That's where He has to look. This is where the searching has to be. He's going to go deep down and He's going to take a good look with His little flashlight, as it were, and have a look in all the dark places. Nothing is going to be covered. There cannot be any vestige of self. There cannot be any vestige of self-promotion, self-exultation, or for the sake of self or self-ambition, pride, lust, covetousness, or anger - anger over what you didn't get - any attitude that gives way to these kinds of thoughts.
Contemplation for any length of time that has not been exposed and brought into the captivity of Christ, if it's not understood, if it's not acknowledged, can, if allowed to go on, wreck God's kingdom ten thousand years from now. This is why it has to be faced. He'll make sure we'll face it. He's very, very serious about this. He's very serious about that kind of an honest relationship with him. So before He entrusts you with a spirit body He has to know. So when He says, I try and I test, do you really think He wants to know? Yes, He wants to know. He wants to know exactly where you are. So we go through this process.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
Now, what's the outward man? Well, the outward man - there's any number of places we can talk about the outward man, but it's the pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes. It's how we appear to people, what people think about us, our image, and, as we read in Psalm 39:6-7, every man does walk in a vain image; that is, we have a certain idea in our minds and we try to polish it up. This is what we present before people.
I'm not discussing today our relationship, our honest and open and authentic relationship with people. Today what we're discussing is our open and honest relationship with God because this comes before any honest relationship you can have with another person. So we have to really take a look at this, but in the process the outward man is perishing, that is, what we try to present, as it were, outwardly to everybody else in the world. Paul went through a lot of trials here, to where he didn't have a lot of confidence in the flesh. He didn't have a lot of confidence in his own ability. He didn't have a lot of confidence in simply anything - that is, humanly - to make things turn out right. I mean, he had to learn to rely completely on God. He says:
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Now, the inward man then has to be renewed - the inward man, what is on the inside. Every day we have to be brought back to why we are here. Are we walking in a selfish ambition? Is there a genuineness of heart before God? Do we really think we stand before God? Are we self-confident? So to be honest with God you have to be honest first with yourself. It doesn't mean you're supposed to feel bad about yourself. It doesn't mean that you condemn yourself. This is not what you do. It's simply meaning being honest with yourself. That's what that means. That's the only way then that any guilt, any condemnation, can be gotten rid of, that we do face it.
In Psalm 51:6 when David was confronted with the sin of Bathsheba, here is what David understood.
Psalm 51:6 Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts,...
How can a person deceive himself into thinking it's okay to do what he is doing, when he took Bathsheba, then he tried to cover it up by having her husband murdered? He says, You've got to come to understand not only what you did, but you've got understand, well, why did you do this? Why did you get this way? Well, a person's only deceived in some of his actions when he goes down the road of sin because he has already deceived himself in some way, in his heart.
We tend to create a reality for ourselves just so we can have what we want. Some people do it simply so they can survive, and the reality is very elaborate sometimes and it helps us to cover up the pain. Unfortunately, we do this. We learn to relate to each other. We learn to relate to other people. We learn to relate to God somehow, simply because of our past experiences. Sometimes they've been very, very painful. It's very difficult for us to really see what we have done or what has happened to us, so we do this in order to survive. We're really not surviving; we're really killing ourselves more. But to devise a reality in order to somehow escape, in order to somehow hide, in order to somehow cover up, is a very hard road to go down and it's really not going to bring happiness to any of us.
So what God wants then is truth on the inside, for people to come to the stark realisation of the way they are. So what is needed then for the true worship of God? Let's talk about the true worship of God. First of all, there has to be repentance and confession.
Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sin will not prosper...
One might ask themselves: am I prospering emotionally? I think that's a very good question. Am I at peace with myself? Am I prospering in my relationships? Am I am a happy person - truly happy person?
Are you trying to survive with a false reality that you have created for yourself, or do you have the freedom that comes through honesty and confession? I assure you that true freedom only comes with the complete honesty that also comes as a result of confession. Whoever confesses them and forsakes them will have mercy. I will tell you this, that once faced, once confessed, you have already completed about ninety percent of the battle. You might say, Well, I have yet to forsake it, but I tell you what, if you go a long way to openly confess, you have faced it; and I daresay if you have confessed it openly, in one sense out loud, written it in your journal where it can't get away from you, said it to God out loud where you can hear it and He can hear it, I guarantee you have gone ninety to ninety-five percent of the way of overcoming it and it's going to become hard for that sin to come back again without you remembering the words you said. This is the way it works.
A lot of times sins come back, because they're never faced in the first place and they're never properly confessed. If they're honestly and properly confessed they're not going to come back. Are you thriving or are you surviving? If you are simply surviving you may have created a reality for yourself, which God knows is false. So the question is: are you thriving?
There is one sure way that you're going to get God's attention, and it works every time - repentance. It works every time. You will get God's attention. You will get God's ear. He listens to a repentant person. Justification will not get His attention. Blaming others will not get His attention. Denial will not get His attention. There is one way to break through the ceiling that is over your prayers, one way to have a sure audience with the one who sits on the throne of this universe, and that is repentance. He says, No man is justified in His sight.
However, if a person comes before Him with that kind of acknowledgement, with that kind of confession, with the kind of repentance that God speaks about, you are guaranteed a hearing. It's there. It's automatic. That's what God hears. He did that for the worst of people whenever they repented. If you want to talk about the men of Nineveh or King Ahab of Israel, when they repented they had an audience right away. It was immediate. Nothing else works like repentance. What is that? That is about the most open and honest type of a relationship that you can have. God already knows it. He knows exactly what your sins are. Your sins are separating. Justification makes it worse for ourselves and God. We just simply don't have that kind of relationship with Him. Here's the way Jesus expressed it:
John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
This is a very interesting statement here. This is what God wants. There are a lot of ways that people may say, Well, this is the way I worship God. Now, worship God means this: it means first of all that to worship him, you are extolling, you are adoring, you are promoting God above all else, and you see that, you understand that. At the same time he is able to also communicate with you. Now, if we're not listening, if we have all kinds of reasons why we're not the way God really sees us, God says, Why shall I speak to you any more? You haven't listened to Me up until now. That's not so far-fetched. I'm just putting it in modern language as to how God feels about it. Why should I speak to you any more? You haven't listened!
The Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Now, when it says God is Spirit, we're not talking about the nature of God in the sense of His eternal essence. It doesn't say God is a spirit. This is not what it says. It simply says, God is Spirit. Now, that is different. We're talking about attributes here when he says that. That's more the idea of what Jesus is trying to say. God is spirit. God is not physical, human. He's not interested in something that is outward. I've got to get down to really the heart and core of the matter.
Now, He's saying this in context that the woman at the well is telling Jesus something. Now, she's making a few admissions here but she's not really going all the way.
John 4:20-22 Our fathers worshipped on this mountain; and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship' and Jesus said, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; for we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is...
- and He goes on to make that kind of statement. Here was one last idea to convince Jesus that she was in fact the real thing, There's got to be something redeeming about me, and so she says, We've always worshipped God on this mountain.
You know what Jesus is saying? He says, I don't care how long you've been going to that temple. I don't care how long you've been coming to this mountain. He says, Don't try to convince me about your credentials. Don't tell me how long you've been in this church. Let me put it that way. Don't tell me how long you've followed the truth, and how well you've done it. Don't start holding out your credentials to Me and expect Me to listen to you. He says, That's not why I'm going to answer you, if I'm going to answer you at all. If you want an audience, and if you want a hearing, He says, don't come to Me with that kind of talk. Don't try to convince me why I should do something for you.
He says, If you need something, ask. That's it - just ask Me, because if you try to hold out like something you ought to have because of what you've been doing or who you've been or where you've been, or all the good things you've been doing, whatever it is, He says, you've got more of a chance of not getting it - but if you just simply ask. Just ask, and when I grant it there won't be any strings attached. When I give you something I'll just give it because I want to give it to you. If you worship Me, do it because you really want to do it. I can spot a motive long before you front up.
I'm just putting this in language that what He's saying here. This is the way He's saying it. So He can spot a con job. He can spot us trying - where we try to make ourselves out to be something. What I want to do is just ask you to have a look at yourself. How do we approach God? How do we think about ourselves? Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall what? - see God. Who gets the audience? Who gets the hearing? Who gets to stay in the throne room? Who gets to talk to God? Who gets the hearing all the way through? It's a good question.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. The person you have to be absolutely honest with is God. Now, when you're honest with God, you're honest with yourself. Paul said in:
Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for what I will to do, that I do not practise, but what I hate, that I do.
Now, what he's saying is, he's making a disclosure to everybody of deep down the way I am. This is what he's saying. It's important to be this honest. It's important to get this transparent, as it were, with yourself. People don't normally see themselves in this way.
He says, O wretched man that I am. I just don't hear people going around and saying, I sure am a wretched sort of a person. You know, you don't hear people describing themselves in this way, do you? You don't hear people saying, Nothing good dwells within me. These are some of the statements he makes. He says, What I practise is what I hate. Hmm. Paul came to be about as honest with himself as a person can be. He was a person that I see then who was very free indeed. He had little fear. He had confronted himself. He faced it, and he can move freely with the truth of God anywhere.
We begin to see some results there. We begin to see some fruits then in a person's life whenever they have really come to take a good look at themselves. Very interesting, if you go back to Paul's conversion, he was asked only one question by Christ himself. The question was, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? That was the question. Christ didn't ask him, Do you know what you're doing?, although that was bad enough. He was killing people. The question he asked: Why are you doing this? This is the question, because it brought him face to face with what was really driving him. He had to answer that question. He had several days being blind, being led around, wondering, didn't know where to go, had deep inside his own thoughts to try to ask himself, Why are you doing this?
That's a big question. Whatever we do, however we feel, it doesn't matter what it is, Why are you doing this? Good question! That question is the hardest one to answer. That is the most difficult question: Why? He had to be honest with himself. Why am I doing this? So many times it's these motives we have, having to do with self, self-ambition, that wreck us emotionally. What we want, what we think we must have, it wrecks us emotionally. It makes us miserable and we don't have peace when we go down that road.
I believe Paul was the most self-adjusted, honest, open, open-faced individual that you'll ever run across. I kind of said the same thing about David, didn't I? Well, I think you see the point. The people who are really effective for God came to this trueness and this honesty. Now, God had a lot of time for Job. We know his story. In fact, he was commended in front of all the angels - the good angels and the bad angels. He was commended before them, but God knew there was something that he just didn't get. In the end Job confessed it.
In this light, let's take a look at it in Job 42. I think that's the chapter in Job we read the most because that's the conclusion of the matter. The rest of it is very, very involved with the human arguments - rebuttals and everything else that you find in the whole lengthy situation there with Job and his friends and God, and the things that were happening to him. Job finally says:
Job 42:2 I know that You can do everything and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
What he's saying here is, I know that You have the ability to get to the bottom of things, and that what You want to have happen with a person, inside a person, the change that has to take place in the person, I know that You have the ability to do that.
Another thing he may be saying here is, God, I know You have the ability to get me to really be honest with myself. So he says in:
Job 42:3 You asked, Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?, therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me.
He says, I've spoken about things I didn't understand about. I said some things about myself in relationship to You, I just didn't understand. I didn't get it. God knew he didn't get a lot of things.
Job 42:4 Listen, please, and let me speak. You said,'I will question you, and you shall answer me.
Earlier, Job wasn't prepared to speak. Now, God knew better. He says, You're not going to hide behind silence. I won't permit it. You will give me an answer. The answer that God wanted, He was willing to wait for, and God got it.
We can't hide from this. Adam and Eve, when they sinned, hid through fear. The whole human race, in one sense, has been hiding, has been silent, not going to God, ever since. They don't want to do that. They're not going down that road. God says, You will give me an answer. Everybody will give God an answer before it's over with. God was willing to let the process take place.
Job 42:5-6 I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear but now my eye sees You, therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.
What's the real crime here? Let's think about this. The real crime was what - that he didn't know? That there were some things about him that he didn't know, that he didn't see? That's not the real crime. A lot of us - a lot of us don't know the things about us yet. That's true. There are a lot of things about me I don't know yet. The real crime is this, that making out that we're something and we're nowhere near what we would like to think we are and what we make ourselves out to be. That's the real crime in the whole thing.
Every man walks in an image of himself. Now, Jesus Christ deserves more than that. Jesus Christ is the real deal - no question about it. He gave his life for us and he demonstrated his own love for us. That is, God demonstrated His love, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He came down, He gave up His privileges of office and majesty, and He humbled himself. He died the death of a criminal. He put it all on the line. When a person does that, you can't question his motive. Nobody can question the genuineness of Him. How could He be doing this for Himself? He was doing it totally and completely for you. He wasn't trying to sell you something. He wasn't trying to get something from you.
It would make no difference to His eternal existence if you did not respond, so He put Himself out there, and everything that went with it. He deserves a lot more from us than the closed up life that we tend to give Him back. He deserves a lot more than the mistrust and the suspicious treatment we give Him. He deserves a lot more than us being silent. He deserves a lot more than us hiding from Him. He deserves answers. He deserves us going to Him, and with a complete honesty. That's what He deserves. He made the first effort to be honest toward us. We were closed. We were closed in our hearts. We were closed in our minds and in our spirit, toward Him. We were suspicious and we couldn't bring ourselves to trust him.
He made the first effort to be honest, to be as open as He could. He exposed himself to our life, to our death. He served us with honesty and genuineness. He was willing to come and live among us, so whenever He says, Don't let anything be done out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself, He really means this. He really means this. So He says, I want you to be a living sacrifice. Sure, I want you to be a living sacrifice. He deserves the whole part of us.
Let's think about this relationship then. What happens? Does God speak to us? Do we hear the still, small voice? Can you freeze frame yourself at a certain time and place, take a good look at it and confront it? This is a part of our relationship with each other, but it's also appropriate right here too, when we talk about our relationship with God.
What is it that we've never confronted? What is it that we've never faced because it's just too painful? We don't want to go there, we don't want to unlock the door to that room in our house because what's behind that door is just too awful, so we just shut the door on it, but it's still there. How many times have we done simply blanket repentances? At the end of the day we say, Lord, forgive me of all my sins. Is that real repentance? Is that honestly dealing with it? You know, the best you're doing there is simply admitting that you're a member of the human race when you say that. That's all you're doing. But if you write it, you say it out loud, Lord, I am so sorry that I slew that person in my heart today - tough, isn't it? - I am so sorry for my covetousness; I'm so sorry that I really felt like I really wanted to hurt that person today, that I wanted to deprive that individual today - whatever - you say it, you write it, between you and God.
You know nobody else hears it, you can be confident in saying it. When you do, you've then opened up then a channel with God. You have that audience. You now have a relationship to where He's not going to wrestle you two throws out of three to try to get you to see something, but you have freedom then in that relationship that comes through repentance.
Let me ask you then one final question. How far then are you willing to go to be one with God?