Next Steps: Week 1

Next Steps: Week 1 Day 5

Video Transcript

As much as we don’t want to blow it and give in to temptation, there will be times (probably daily) where we will. We will say something we shouldn’t say; we will do something we shouldn’t do, we might even go somewhere where we shouldn’t go. The bottom line is sometimes, we will choose to go the wrong way rather than God’s way, and we will feel a distance from God because we have disobeyed him. Now, does that mean that we are no longer Christians because we sinned? Absolutely not. If that were the case, no one would be a Christian because Christians still sin.

When a person gives their life over to Jesus, they become a child of God, and their relationship with God is secure because God will still be faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him.

Let me explain it this way. When you were born, you were born into a family, and no matter what you did, you would always be their child. Being their child had nothing to do with your performance or how well you behaved. You were their child, no matter what. Similarly, when a person gives their life to Jesus, they are born into the family of God. They become a child of God, and your relationship with God does not change based on your performance or how well you behave. You are God’s child, no matter what.

What does change (sometimes daily) is how close the relationship is between you and your parents.

When you were a child, your parents had certain rules they wanted you to follow, and they gave you these boundaries because they loved you and wanted you to have the best life possible. But you decided to disobey what they wanted. My guess is your parents did not disown you, but they were disappointed in you. You were still their child, but the relationship was strained until you confessed what you did and made things right. And then if you had good parents, your parents would forgive you.

It’s the same way with God. God has given us boundaries that He wants us to live within because He wants us to have the best life possible. When we choose to ignore those boundaries, God doesn’t disown us, but He is disappointed with us until we confess our sin to Him and make things right. And the good news is that God is eager to forgive us for what we have done to Him.

Our relationship as a child of the King of kings is secure, but our closeness to God can change from time to time based upon our love and obedience to Him. Let me try to explain it this way.

Bob Stromberg tells the story about a day when his son came home from school with a book catalog in his hand. He wanted a book about killer sharks, but it was so expensive that he didn’t ask his dad for the money. Oh no. He went right to the source where the real money is. He went to Grandma. He called her, and she agreed to get the book. After weeks of waiting, the book finally came, and it was beautiful. He couldn’t wait to take it to show and tell the next day.

The next morning Bob was getting ready to head for the airport when his son came walking down the steps with his book. It was snowing outside, so Bob asked his son to make sure the book was covered up so it wouldn’t get wet, but the little boy was so excited he didn’t listen to his dad. He just kept putting his shoes on. He said, “I’m going to see if they will have a special show and tell time so I can show the book off to the whole class.” Bob said, “That’s great, son; let’s see if we can get the book in the backpack.” The boy looked at his dad and said, “It will never fit.” Then the little boy said, “After show and tell, I am going to take the book out for recess.” Bob said, “Listen, son. You can’t take the book out for recess. It is snowing outside, and each snowflake is like a drop of rain. The snow will ruin that book.”

The little boy looked at his dad and said, “It will be ok, dad.” Bob said, “No, it won’t be OK. That’s an expensive book.” He was in mid-sentence when the little boy screamed, “Dad, I can’t do anything about the weather, OK.”

Bob said, “That’s right, but you can do something about the book.” Bob said, “Let’s put the book in a baggie.” The little boy couldn’t imagine carrying a book in a baggie to school. He said, “No way.” Bob said, “Then you’re not taking the book to school.” His son looked at his dad and said, “Then I’m not going to school.” Bob said, “Then you are not keeping the book.”

It was one of those rare moments when the parent has the perfect comeback. He looked dumbfounded, and then he said what was on his mind. He looked at his dad and said, “Dad, sometimes, you are so stupid.”

That was it. Bob looked at his son and said, “I’m late for my flight, but we will talk about this when I get home. Now go to school.” The little boy stomped out the door and down the street with his fist at his side and his hat off of his head—an obvious sign of defiance.

Later that day, when Bob got to Minnesota, he grabbed a phone and called his house. His wife answered and said, “There’s a young man who’s been waiting by the phone to talk to you.” The next voice Bob heard was his son’s voice, trying to choke back the tears. He said, “Dad, I want to tell you how sorry I am for the way I acted…and about what I said, and ….I’m just so sorry.”

Bob said, “That’s ok, son. We’ll talk about it when I get home.” The little boy said, “Dad, at recess today, I didn’t even play with the other kids. Do you know the spot by the playground where you can look across the parking lot and see the edge of our driveway? I just stood right there, and I stood there for all the other recesses too.”

Bob asked his son, “Why did you do that?” Through hard sobs, the little boy said, “Dad, I just kept looking at the driveway because I was sure you would come.” Bob said, “But you knew I couldn’t come, son.” Now the little boy’s voice was barely audible. He said, “I know, dad, but I just needed you so much to come. I’m so sorry. Please, can you forgive me?” Bob said, “Of course, son. I love you, and I forgive you.”

Bob’s heart was broken. For the first time, his son felt the pain of spiritual separation from his dad—a separation he had brought on himself. A separation only a father could restore. As Bob walked through the airport, tears ran down his cheeks. Tears not only for his son but also for himself.

Bob said, “How often have I felt the despair of separation from my heavenly father. Separation imposed by my own behavior. How often I have stood just outside the celebration of life, carrying a burden of guilt, wondering if God could possibly forgive me. How often have I ached like my son, longing for the embrace of his dad? Could it be that God longs to hold me in his arms as much as I longed to hold my son?”

The answer is yes. God is eager to forgive us. In fact, God is more eager to forgive us than we are to ask for His forgiveness.

Do you know what I have found to be true? People will do one of three things when they sin. They will minimize, maximize, or they will repent of their sin.

Some people, when they disobey God, minimize what they have done. They will say things to themselves like, “What I did wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s not near as bad as what so and so did. What they did was much worse. It’s not like I murdered anybody. It wasn’t that bad. There are a lot of people who do a lot of worse things than I did.” Have you ever used any of those excuses?

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “Commit a sin twice, and it will not seem a sin to you.”

If we do something enough, eventually, our conscience gets hardened, and we believe that what we did wasn’t that big of a deal. There are a lot of people who live their life minimizing their sin, but other people go the direct opposite extreme. They maximize their sin.

People who maximize their sin walk around beating themselves up over what they have done. They replay what they did in their heads over and over again, making sure they feel as lousy as they can because, in their minds, they believe that they don’t deserve to be forgiven. In their minds, they have to pay for what they have done themselves. Never mind that Jesus already paid the price for their sin on the cross. Even though He took the beating they deserved upon Himself, they ignore what He did for them, and they spend their days beating themselves up. People who maximize their sin believe that what they did is so big that God would never forgive them.

What they don’t understand is that their sin could never be so great that it would disqualify them from God’s forgiveness. Think of it this way. No matter what you have done, what is the worst possible penalty that society could give to you? The death penalty, right? That is as bad as it can get. Jesus has already suffered the death penalty on your behalf to pay for all your sin. He has paid the ultimate price for you.

We don’t have to beat ourselves up for what we did that was wrong because Jesus was already beaten for our sin. The price we owed God has been paid in full by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

We aren’t supposed to minimize our sin, and we are not supposed to maximize our sin. What we need to do is repent of our sins. What does that word repentance mean? Repentance is to have your heart break because you know what you did broke the heart of God.

Repentance is more than just saying you’re sorry. That is a part of repentance. It is not just feeling bad for what you have done. It is the desire to go a different direction and change the behavior. Repentance is stopping, correcting, quitting, and fixing with God’s help what went wrong, so you don’t go that way again. In a nutshell, repentance is changing.

And for us to change means that we have to get alone with God and look at what led up to this moment. There is a reason or two why we tend to walk down the same path repeatedly, knowing along the way that it leads to the same dead end. And I would suggest that when you are working through this, you allow some trusted friends to come alongside you and share their insights with you as to what they saw.

I don’t know about you, but I have blind spots in my life that I want to ignore or pretend don’t exist. And left to myself, I will never confront the sin that is in my life. I need people that will speak the truth to me, so I don’t continue to walk down the same street, hurting myself over and over again, hurting those I love, and hurting God.

That is another reason we push small groups around here so much. You were not made to do this journey alone. We need each other along the way. That’s why I say to you all the time to get in a group and do life with others.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Todd, what if I fall into the same hole again. What if I do that which I promised myself and God that I would never do again? Will God forgive me again?”

I’m so glad to tell you the answer is “yes.” God will never give up on you.

  • Psalm 86:5 says, “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
  • Isaiah 43:25 says, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
  • Jeremiah 31:34 says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
  • Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

God forgives a repentant heart. And because God forgives, we can forgive ourselves and focus on the future.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Paul says, “I forget what was behind me.” Paul had a sinful past. His name was once Saul, and he persecuted and imprisoned Christians for a living. There were a lot of things that Paul had done that he was not proud of. Paul could have spent a ton of time looking back, but what good would that do him. Paul learned from his past and moved forward to the future. We need to do the same thing.

You say, “I don’t feel forgiven.” Thank God forgiveness is not based on our feelings. We are forgiven because

When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

 If we confess it and turn away from it, He forgives us for it. Period. Whether you feel like He did or not. Stop saying, “I’ll believe I’m forgiven when I feel forgiven,” and start saying, “I’m forgiven because God says I am.”

God will never give up on you, so don’t give up on yourself.