Romans 7:21-25 (Message)
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
“To be honest” should not even be a precursor used when we are speaking. Of course, we are being honest. We should have no reason to lie but we do. If you think about the life we live, it is sad that we do not feel comfortable being ourselves except around certain people. Too many times, people shroud their life and make it what they feel will be acceptable to other people rather than purposing in their heart to please only God. I am just as guilty as the next guy (or girl). We desire acceptance, affirmation and approval from our family, friends and even strangers. I will give you an example. For the majority of my life, I would NEVER leave my house without a shower, full makeup and finished hair. I would not even go to the gas station without first becoming presentable. It took many, many, many years to overcome this and I am still working on it now. Not too long ago on the rare occasion that I was home from work, I decided to go to the gym and the grocery store in that order. The usual order might be go to the gym, pass by the grocery store, come home, take a shower, get ready, and then go back to do my shopping. But this time, I stopped by the store on my way home, in my gym clothes, no makeup, sweaty hair and all to complete my weekly shopping trip. Of course, I ran into just about everyone that I know even people who didn’t usually frequent the store were there that day. I found the experience not only to be painless and not half as embarrassing as I was sure it would be. I didn’t care what anyone thought in that moment, but popped in my headphones praising God up and down the aisles. The world in which we live is appearance driven forcing many to live behind carefully constructed facades used to cover broken and messed up lives. Healing does not come because they will not ever let on that they are broken. Restoration does not come because they cannot admit that they are messed up. Are you tired of living a lie? Christians are guiltier than the lost about living dishonest lives. We want to be righteous. Our ignorance tells us that we must reform our life to reflect the Law of God and do what He says. Integrity promotes such behavior, but integrity is not possible without honest. To be honest, I am broken. I am messed up. I sin more than I care to admit. I rebel against the Truth many times throughout the day. I am constantly battling sin. I need a Savior to save me and a Lord to guide me. To be honest, I want to serve God with all my heart and mind. The sad truth is that I am influenced by sin to do something totally different. With that being said, I have been honest with you now I must learn to be honest with Jesus.
Psalm 51:56 (NLT)
For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Since it is not human nature, we must learn to be honest. One might think that the most important person to be honest with is ourselves, but it is not. We must learn to be completely honest with God. I am a sinner. Even after I am covered by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, I still need new mercy every single day just to remain committed to righteousness. Grace and mercy do not end the constant battle that I face against my flesh. So the Lord gives me new mercy each day, by faith turned to confident hope I receive it each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-24) I am not alone. We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. (Romans 3:23) People don’t like to hear that. They want to believe that if after stepping into righteousness they progress in religion that they somehow can personally reverse the curse and somehow gain God’s Favor some other way than true repentance. All God ever wanted from us is honesty even before we were born. Honesty admits I am a sinner. I struggle with sin. I want to do what the Word of God tells me to and walk in its ways yet I daily miss the mark and fall short so I must repent to once again restore a right relationship with the Lord. This is nothing to hide from the Lord or the watching world. It is what He desires of us. Not a single detail of our life is hidden from God BEFORE we have lived it. In fact before we were born and drew our first breath, God knew every single thing that we would do good and bad as the detail of our moments as written by Him. This is our purpose. It includes the good things and not so good things along with every step of full rebellion taken into account. (Psalm 139:13-16) I do not say this to make you feel guilty or experience shame. No, I tell you this to bring you comfort that there is nothing that you can do to ever be separated from the Love of God because He knew all of this and chose to love you from the start! (Romans 8:37-39) God is faithful. God is good. God is all-knowing. God is all-powerful. It is His Faithfulness that produces His Promises in our life, there is nothing that I can do to cultivate such things but rather am given such things as a gift thanks to Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 9:4-6) It is our honest need for God that brings us to the place of receivership. To live a candid life of transparency that allows us the freedom to enjoy God’s Unfailing Love, Mercy and Grace thanks to Jesus Christ, we live a life of purpose with the potential to inherit every promise that He ever made us!
Proverbs 11:2-4 (NLT)
Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. Riches won’t help on the day of judgment, but right living can save you from death.
We are told not to judge a book by its cover but that doesn’t stop us from doing it anyway. People make assumptions about other people based on how they act not as much on what they say. Honesty is truthfulness, sincerity and freedom from deceit or fraud. Integrity means to adhere to morality, live with sound character, and to be complete. Integrity is an attribute of honesty. We will never live the live that God purposed us to have without being completely honest with the Lord AND ourselves. Pride is the arch rival of repentance. Dishonesty is usually connected to pride or fear that His Grace is not enough. Guilt is a sign of unaccepted grace and lack of faith in the sufficiency thereof. Pride struggles mightily with submission or admittance of guilt just as the majority of people detained in jail. They will be quick to tell you it’s not their fault and not to judge them when the truth is that they probably did just that. By humbling our life before the Lord in repentance, we are acknowledging that we are sinners who need Saviors. Living a life of integrity is to submit our life to the pursuit of complete honest and to live in the integrity of God’s Word. He already knows everything about you – and clearly can handle such honesty. Why not be honest with the Lord? In time, you will begin to be honest with yourself as you accept the hope created from faith fully invested in the Lord. Your life will change and outcomes will improve not because God has changed His Mind about you or you have somehow impressed Him. No, simply because you chose to be honest.
Romans 12:1-3 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
I want to be a living sacrifice the kind that the Lord finds acceptable. I have determined this to be an impossible task outside of Jesus Christ. It is a daily battle for my heart and mind won only when His Grace and Mercy are applied. In my complete and utter weakness and lack of ability is when I become strong. I cannot do it myself. I am in good company. In Romans 7, Paul gives account of his struggle with sin, guilt and even pride. We must learn to honestly evaluation our lives to pursue God with integrity wholeheartedly. God loves it when we are honest, it brings Him great pleasure. Honesty says that we can do nothing apart from His Son, Jesus Christ. (Proverbs 16:13) There is overflowing and overwhelming joy for those who live in complete honesty. (Psalm 32:1-2) He give common sense to those who choose honesty and strive to live a life on integrity which is a most useful tool. (Proverbs 2:6-8) God blesses pure hearts that willingly repent and turn from sin every day. Purity is a process and not a one-time endeavor. (Matthew 5:8) As we pour out the contents of our heart to the Lord (good and bad), He fills us with love, joy, peace and every other fruit of the spirit. The Lord is just searching for those who will be honest. (Jeremiah 5:3) He is not the only one…
“One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the LORD asked Satan. Satan answered the LORD, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” Satan replied to the LORD, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, do with him as you please,” the LORD said to Satan. “But spare his life.”
The enemy, your accuser, satan is patrolling the earth watching everything that is going on. He is watching everything that is going on. God asked if he had noticed His Servant – Job. I must admit there have been days and weeks over the last few years when I feel a lot like Job. One trial after another seems to bombard our life. The pressure is overwhelming. The stress weakening. My heart quivers on the eve of total destruction. Then that still small voice comes as the storm passes reminding me that His Grace is all that I need. Job was blameless not because he was sinless but because he was honest with God. He lived a life of integrity honoring the Lord every step of the way knowing that he was nothing outside of the relationship that he had built with God. When satan attacked him, he was upset. Job felt pain. He mourned, cried and threw a tantrum. He was a human being. The one thing that he did not let go of was the revelation of God’s Love and faithfulness. Our righteousness is not based on one’s ability to do all the right things – it is solely a product of God’s Faithfulness to His People. You do not have to “be” righteous all by yourself. It is impossible to do that. It is also preposterous to think that we can somehow help the Lord but our lack of faith in Him makes us try repeatedly. No the truth is this – God loves you. Jesus died for you. He has given you the gift of a brand new life. The only thing that we can do is accept what the Lord is offering. We cannot earn it so stop trying. We are no better than anyone else just sinners saved by grace. When you lose everything, what do you have left? This is the substance of faith. When all you have is hope, is it enough? Each test will give you the answer to these questions, each moment is the opportunity to change the results.
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil and they walk only in his paths.
God’s Word allows us to see us the way that God sees us. It is nutrition that feeds our faith making it strong turning it to the confidence that we need to live what we believe. Honesty with God is essential. You will never be completely honest with someone who you do not trust. We have trouble trusting strangers and must get to know them first. Without knowledge, we will never produce wisdom. Without a good and fertile foundation of faith, His Word will not produce His Promises. (Luke 8:15) But when His Word makes contact with an honest heart filled with faith, it flourishes and develops in our life. Honest people who hear the Word and cling to it will wait patiently for it to produce a “huge” harvest. An honest heart is sincere in trusting the Lord because it knows Him. (Hebrews 10:21-23) Such deep and abiding knowledge promotes intimacy that allows us to come boldly before His Throne unafraid that we are unacceptable. His Word cuts to the heart of the matter dividing me from that which keeps me from moving closer to Him. It tells me the Truth so I can properly evaluate my life. (Hebrews 4:12-13) The Blood of Jesus covers our sin in the sufficiency of His Grace. It is not anything that we can do or not do to reproduce it, but just accept it. Pride diminishes along with the disillusionment that we can hide our sin from God or the intentions of our heart so we bask in the knowledge that God loves us no matter what and there is no sin that can overcome the Blood of Jesus Christ so we are free to be washed in His Word. (Proverbs 19:1-3) Now when I look in the mirror every day it begins with His Word and not the one in the bathroom because I want His Mercy promised with each new day. I don’t want to forget who I am. I am a Child of God. I need His Grace to cover me so I can make it. I want His Unfailing Love along with all the peace and joy that is promised. I must be honest with myself. I am nothing without Jesus. I am weak but He is strong. I will fail but He is my victory. I am nothing – Jesus is my everything. I must be honest with the Lord – I need Him more and more!
2 Corinthians 6:7-10 (NLT)
We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.