REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 31, 2014. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Profundity of What Lucy Said”
1 John 5:16-21 (ESV)
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Those who grew up reading Peanuts comic strips probably remember the one in which Lucy plays a trick on Charlie Brown while practicing football. Just as he is about to deliver the big kick, Lucy, who is holding the ball, pulls it away, causing Charlie Brown to fall flat on his back. But in this particular strip, Charlie Brown refuses to fall for the old trick even though Lucy begs him to kick it. He says to Lucy, “Every time I try to kick the ball, you remove it, causing me to fall on my back.” They argue back and forth until finally Lucy breaks down in tears and admits, “Charlie Brown, I have been so terrible to you over the years playing such cruel tricks on you. I’ve now seen the error of my ways; I’ve seen the hurt look in your eyes; I’ve been wrong, so wrong. Won’t you give a poor, penitent girl another chance?”
Charlie Brown, moved by what appears to be a genuine contrition, responds kindly, “Of course, I’ll give you another chance.” So, he steps back as she holds the ball and the reader finally thinks this will be his day. At the last moment however, Lucy pulls the same ploy: Charlie Brown once again falls flat on his back. Lucy’s last words were, “Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!”
Often times, we think of repentance as simply recognizing our sins; we may even cry and weep over them. This is certainly one aspect of repentance, but the more important part is actually changing our ways. While repentance indeed begins with being sorrowful over our sins, it isn’t complete until we tangibly alter our erring ways. Therefore, John reminds us that those who are born of God do not and should not make a habit of sin. Therefore, repentance must be an on-going process that begins with contrition, which, then, leads to a concrete plan to revert from falling into same sins.
Now, nowhere in Scripture does God assumes or demands that we become sinless while living in the flesh; in fact, it presupposes that we will sin (1 Jn. 2:1). However, since the power of sin that resides in us (Rom. 7:17) has been greatly curbed (but not eradicated) by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the believers no longer need to be controlled by the sinful nature (Rom. 8:9). Furthermore, while the entire world is under the power of the enemy, we can rest assure that God protects us from the adversary who cannot touch us (for instance, undoing what was done for us on the Calvary). That’s call double protection, which means you can indeed have a great day today. So, go have a great day for yourself!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you for teaching us to pray daily for the forgiveness of our sins and to forgive those who sin against us. We know that you are faithful in your mercy and able to protect us from the evil one. Help us to make repentance a spiritual habit so that we don’t allow sin to be a natural habit. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 8
Lunch Break Study
Read James 1:19-25: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Questions to Consider
- How does James instruct us to deal with our sin?
- What is the danger of just reading and listening to the word without putting it into action?
- How do the Scriptures act like a mirror to the believer?
- James instructs us to put off our sin like we would a filthy piece of clothing and to humbly receive the Word. Since people sin because they enjoy it (at least, for that moment), one wonders why they would put it off. Among several reasons why we should do so, one is this: God hates sin because He is holier than what we can ever imagine and because it grieves Him to no end seeing how sin, in the end, makes us miserable.
- The danger is deceiving ourselves and becoming hypocritical in our faith
- In the Ancient Middle East, the mirror was used as a metaphor for moral development. To look into the Scriptures and fail to do what it says (i.e., making corrections) is analogous to looking in a mirror, and despite seeing something wrong with our appearance, we do nothing about it.
How is your time in the Word? Is there a particular verse that God is asking you to respond to? Pray that the Holy Spirit would open up the Scriptures so that you may see the wonderful truth of God.