turning everything on its head

Posted: January 12th, 2011 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: | 14 Comments »

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. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. -1 John 5:16-17 ESV

Everyone wants to know how to respond correctly when someone sins. This scripture makes it clear. Above ‘correcting them’, or reciting the law, you are supposed to pray that God gives them life. To put this in practical language, I’ll tell you what I pray for people more than anything else. ‘Show them who You are.’

The only stipulation is that it has to be a sin that does not lead to spiritual death. We are not supposed to pray for that. I don’t completely understand why we aren’t supposed to pray for that, so I have been studying up to try to find the answers in scripture.

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.Matthew 12:31 ESV

The sin that leads to death is blasphemy. Blasphemy is speaking sacrilegiously about things of the Spirit. A person who speaks sacrilegiously is someone who misuses things of God or things of the spirit. A blasphemous person misuses scripture, the Gospel.

I hope you’re following me. I am trying to be as clear as I can be. This turns everything on its head. This changes everything. According to scripture, it is not the person who falls down in their spiritual walk who is at risk for losing their spiritual life. We all fall and Jesus came to give us life in spite of our mistakes. God does not give up on the person who fails morally. This puts the pressure on the person who uses things of God to undermine what Jesus did and attempts to condemn that person. The person who ignores the life giving power of the resurrected Christ is the one who blasphemes (misuses) the message of Christ.

‘Everything we do wrong is sin’, but all of it can be forgiven. The only thing that cannot be forgiven, the only sin that leads to death, is believing there is something that a human can do that cannot be redeemed. When you water down the Gospel in such a way that you remove the hope of salvation and redemption by putting the responsibility on the person and not on the free gift of grace, you blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

It’s a bizarre twist of human logic for scripture to not be pointing at the sinner, but at the one who claims scripture as the grounds to give up on the sinner. People who use the name of Jesus as the fuel to hold another under the strong arm of guilt and shame are the one’s who are committing the sin that leads to death. I believe that we are instructed to not even pray for that situation because it is so muddled and twisted that we can get caught up in the confusion that we end up trapped in the barbed wire logic in the process. Scripture is trying to protect us from the traps of logic the enemy (who knows scripture better than we do) sets to trip us up and make us feel like we’re pleasing God when we’re kicking our fallen.

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?Hebrews 10:29 ESV

The punishment is worse for the one who has disrespected the gift of Jesus, grace, because grace is the only thing that made them okay in the first place. To say it another way: When a person, who is saved by grace, makes it harder for another to believe in the free gift of God’s forgiveness (the blood of the covenant), they remove that covering from their own sin. It’s worse for that person because they are trying to make another earn what they, themselves, did not earn. It is a person who was forgiven a debt they could not pay, but will not forgive the debt of another. The only reason a person would hold another’s sin over their head, fail to restore them with forgiveness, or give up on them altogether is because they believe that is what Jesus did for them. Those people may be religious, they may know scripture, but they do not know Jesus. Blasphemy turns the Gospel into a lie. It turns grace into something that has to be earned. It ‘outrages the Spirit of grace’.


more thoughts….


14 Comments on “turning everything on its head”

  1. 1 Angela Mackey said at 9:01 am on January 12th, 2011:

    So true. Nothing is so far it cannot be redeemed.

    I may want to add an and…We have no room for condemnation. We do not want to steal the hope that there is for reconciliation. However there are so many who don't even know the word, who don't know that they are toying with sin or near it or sometimes 10 inches deep in it…Those are the situations that you pray for wisdom and when/if God opens the opportunity you tell your friend, in a merciful and grace-filled way I am concerned about X in your life. Not because it will keep you from heaven, not because I want to condemn you, but because I love you. Because God's word says it gets in the way of you living for Him. Because I don't want you sitting in the ashes of your life wondering why no one warned you not to play with matches. Not to condemn you that you like matches. I unfortunately like them too. But because I love you enough to say the hard things when they need to be said. All in grace, all in mercy, all in humility, but said to draw you nearer to the One who can and will wash us all whiter than snow.

  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 9:30 am on January 12th, 2011:

    Angela, I love what you said. It's gentle and on target.

    What happens when the other person doesn't seem to 'get it'? They don't drop the matches and they start a fire that burns up more than they can fix. They can't say they didn't know better, they were warned.

    I am asking because a person can take on the responsibility of someone elses salvation, and when their powerful words are not heeded, they take the failure of the other personally. As though the failure was to them, like it's a reflection of who they are. A lot of harsh words, condemning attitudes, and public displays of disapproval are used to create distance from the 'sinner'. What used to be kind and gentle love filled words of warning become simething else when the damage is done. People claim to be speaking the heart of God when trying to guide another toward a safer path, but what about when it's too late? Are they still speaking for God when the damage is done? If so, what is God saying?

  3. 3 Rob said at 10:59 am on January 12th, 2011:

    What you write seems very similar to the Pharisees of Jesus day. He described how they kept the letter of the law, but violated the heart of it, and spent their lives keeping God's children from Him. Jesus had little compassion for them.

  4. 4 Anita Davis said at 11:05 am on January 12th, 2011:

    First of all…it is NEVER to late to bring grace to any situation. The Lord has taught me along my journey that loving someone means we share our journey and point out the things where God gave us warning flags. We share where we ignored those warning signs and the consequences we had to live out as a result. I think after we share our hearts (gently and in love) we then turn them over to our God, and TRUST He is walking with them. When they fall down, we love them but still hold them accountable as they too face the consequences. My sister was murdered many years ago. I have forgiven the person who killed her yet I know the laws of our land state this person must do time in prison. My grace is even stronger because the person who killed my sister has yet to be found. The forgiveness is still very active but I know if God wills, this person will be held accountable. I do not seek justice for my sister…she is in the loving hands of God, I desire the person who took her life be freed within themselves to know God's mercy, grace and forgiveness. Only God within us can take us to that place.

    Love can come with a "velvet" hammer…in other words there is accountability BUT as people walk out those situations we surround them with the compassion and forgiveness that Christ gives US. It can be a process but when Jesus lives in you…you LOVE. Period.

    I love you Serena!


  5. 5 Justin said at 11:15 am on January 12th, 2011:

    A blasphemous heart would be one that is far from Jesus. Of all passages in the bible – this is the one that haunts me the most. I know that when my heart begins to drift – I become rotten, and could even become so decayed that I call my savior – a liar. That's scary.

  6. 6 Serena Woods said at 11:44 am on January 12th, 2011:

    Rob: So little compassion that we are instructed not to pray for what they're doing, not to associate with them, … All of the things that they use against the fallen are actually meant for them. I am still rolling the 'don't even oray for that' in my head- I am thinking it's because they would agree with you, from where they stand. Twisted–> You don't go where you think you already are.

    Anita: Your story is intense! 🙂

    Justin: Kind of messes with your head, huh?

  7. 7 Eileen said at 11:06 am on January 13th, 2011:

    Love this. "When you water down the Gospel in such a way that you remove the hope of salvation and redemption by putting the responsibility on the person and not on the free gift of grace, you blaspheme the Holy Spirit."

    Once again, you are so correct. Thanks!

  8. 8 TheNorEaster said at 1:08 pm on January 14th, 2011:

    So, if I'm reading this right, you're saying that everyone who condemned you is condemned?

    Cause if that's what you're saying, it sure sounds familiar…

  9. 9 Dave said at 3:40 pm on January 14th, 2011:

    Why is it that every time someone teaches on the tough parts of scripture, the person teaching gets questioned and not the scripture? What happens if we shoot all of the messengers?

  10. 10 Dana said at 4:33 pm on January 14th, 2011:

    Dave, so true!

  11. 11 TheNorEaster said at 8:30 pm on January 14th, 2011:

    Dave: If you are referring to me, I would have to guess that you never have read my blog. However, if you should get the chance, I would very much like to suggest that you click on the widget with the same photograph as my avatar. Yes, there is a madness to method.

    My questioning, if you'll note, had as much to do with my reading as it did with what Serena wrote. I hardly think that qualifies as "shooting the messenger". And while I am very much aware that God does, indeed, have a way turning the world, even the church, on it's head, I do find it difficult to believe that every single person who misuses Scripture is somehow beyond redemption–or condemned. Many people who grew up in church resort to (mis)quoting Scripture when faced with a spiritual challenge the requires grace. Some of them are reacting out of an anger that is justified, but have not mastered the art of being angry without sinning. In the case of what Serena herself has done, I really don't think I'm stretching matters very much when I say that the people she hurt had a reason to be angry. And, again, when people grow up in church, they almost always resort, albeit atavistically, to what they know. When reacting out of anger in the heat of a moment, or evben a prolonged reaction that results in bitterness and cynicism, I simply find it hard to believe that such people are condemned. Instead, I chose faith that God is directing their course and their lives for His own ends–whatever they may be.

    I know I've gotten my share of condemning messages in my time–and I certainly am expecting a whole lot more–but I refuse to believe that those who condemn me or judge me for the sins I've committed (and there are many) are beyond the grace of God. You can read a roadmap and memorize your route, but you'll never know the challenges of the journey until you take the trip. And, I think, for many who do scorn the fallen believer, they may very well have just hit a pothole and spilled their coffee, for all I know. Or, perhaps, they are stuck in a traffic jam on The Jersey Turnpike, moving at a pace that does not meet their expectations or your timetable…but they're still moving. As it is written, "A man sets his course, but The Lord determines his steps.". And since I so incompetent to know where my own jourey leads, it surely is unwise of me to try to ascertain the precise route of another…

  12. 12 Sharon said at 6:49 am on January 15th, 2011:

    TheNorEaster, I don't see where you're getting your perspective. What Serena has written really spoke to me. She makes me think and I appreciate that. Her blog is different in that it's more like a devotional than a personal journal. I don't see where you have made this about her or that SHE is condemning people. I just don't see where you're coming from.

    What I took from it is that you should do unto others as you would have done to you. Grace can't be true for some and not for others. Basicly, there is no forgiveness of sins for you if you don't forgive sins.

  13. 13 TheNorEaster said at 7:32 am on January 15th, 2011:

    Well, Serena has yet to clarify my original reading so I think it might be best to sit this one out until she does. Otherwise, I fear the misunderstanding — mine or anyone else's interpretation about what I have said — is simply going to grow. And, well, I really don't want that.

  14. 14 Serena Woods said at 9:35 am on January 17th, 2011:

    When I write, it is out of the overflow of my personal Bible study time. I am not talking about myself in this blog post, I am writing thoughts on scriptures I read. I believe that some of what God gives us is not just for us, so I share it…'furthering the Kingdom' out of the overflow…

    Making a personal dig while looking for negativity is weird and ends up confusing the message of 'love others like you believe God loves you' and 'forgive others as you would have God forgive you.'

    My book is enough of me, my blog is a Bible study for those who like the way I write, what I see in scripture, and the way I study. I'm not out to gain anything, I just have a burden for the spiritually bruised and I write for them. Not because I am not healed, but because it's not about me anymore, it's about all of the other bruised and broken people who need a little bit of hope.

    This blog isn't a live play-by-play of the life of Serena. This is a place for stories, devotions, revelations, and worship.