Mar. 8 - Christina Bohn - People of Presence, Part 2
As humans, we’re all pretty good at lying to ourselves. Be honest. Do you have clothes in your closet you still won’t get rid of because you’ve told yourself it will fit just fine by this summer? Do you blame disagreements on the other person so you don’t have to consider the parts that may be your fault? Do you truly believe you failed that test you didn’t study for because “that teacher just hates me!”? You’re not the first person guilty of these and you won’t be the last.
On Sunday, Christina Bohn visited Newstart to share this sermon, which reveals to us the ways this self-deception can even seep into our spiritual life. This can happen in two ways, both of which are made clear to us in 1 John.
1 John 1:5 – 1 John 2:2 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
The first way we can deceive ourselves spiritually is to claim to walk with God but actually walk in darkness. You may attend church on Sundays, listen to sermons and worship music throughout the week, and post Bible verses on your Facebook page, but when people look at the way you’re living, God’s presence is not evident.
How do we know if we’re truly walking with God? Verse 7 tells us the answer is fellowship. By living your life in community with other Christians and having an intimate relationship with the Father, you will experience the freedom, hope, and joy that are part of living in God’s light. The only way to preserve the gift of deep unity with God and with other believers is to walk in His light. When we see things in the light of God, He will be our bright pathway to joy.
The second form of self-deception we may experience is to claim to be without sin. This can take many forms:
Comparing our self today to an older, seemingly more sinful version of our self.
Comparing our self to others. “Well at least I’m not as bad as him.”
Not calling sin, sin. Making justifications and excuses for our behaviors that God tells us is wrong.
Convincing ourselves that because we’re bound to sin every day, we may as well go ahead and do it. It’s inevitable.
Christina told us about the Prayer of Examen. This is a way to really inspect how you have been living and relating to God and to identify the areas you still need to grow. Ask yourself, “Are there patterns that made me more like Christ this week,” and “Are there patterns that made me less like Christ this week?” This is a time to see where God has been active in your life and to recognize places where you have sinned and need to ask for forgiveness.
During this time, pray to God for self-awareness. Pray that He will reveal to you the areas you have deceived yourself and need to repent. Verse 9 tells us if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us. Don’t come to him with shame and fear. He is a loving God and he already knows us intimately. Just come to him honestly and share what’s in your heart. Trust him fully to show you what you need to see.