What Do We Tolerate? And Where is the Fear?

Acts 5: 1-11- But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

So, what are the things that we absolutely tolerate in ourselves and about which we have either not received or ignored conviction to the point where we don’t recognize the inconsistencies between being a Christian and exercising this behavior?   I think there are many- and it’s a sure sign that we are not personally spending time one on one with the Lord.   If we are spending time in scripture and with the Lord, then the conviction comes and we grow.  We grow in having our consciences softened and His loving conviction pressing on us in a way that causes us to desire to change.    Acceptance of our own behavior that doesn’t line up with scripture is an issue of spiritual health in us.

I say this often.  God always agrees with Himself.  Truth does not change with generations.  Truth is the same today, yesterday and forever.   We can attempt to “evolve” truth into something that it isn’t, we can convince ourselves of almost anything in fact.  We can rationalize, dismiss, excuse, ignore and pretend better than we would ever want to admit.   It’s an engrained human failing and condition.  We must work against it as we must work against wanting to do the things of the flesh.

Scripture and the Holy Spirit are the only things that can define truth.   If we pick and choose what we want from what They say, then we are god and God is not.     So we MUST pray against denial.  We MUST pray that God reveals the absolute truth and we MUST pray that He and He alone continues to reveal truth within us in ways that we are willing to see it- that He would make us willing to see it.

What are you lying to yourself about?   What am I lying to myself about?  What behavior am I telling myself is not a big deal when God says it’s a very big deal?  Oh dear Lord, reveal these things to me gently but reveal them indeed.    It’s so much easier to see these things in others which is why we need to have accountability in our lives- true, deep, honest accountability.    We need folks in our lives who are close enough witnesses that they know when we are lying to ourselves and can tell us in love what those lies are.

So here are some examples:

1. It’s ok for me to live with my boyfriend as long as we aren’t having sex.

2. It’s ok for me to cuss, call people names, act with cruelty and viciousness when I’m mad because, well, I’m mad.

3. It’s ok for me to overeat because it’s a food issue, not a spiritual one.

4. It’s ok for me to be mean to folks when they are mean to me.

5. It’s ok for me to not spend time with my family because I’m just too busy.

6. It’s ok for me to not be involved in a church community because I’m spiritual by myself.

7. It’s ok for me to have no accountability in my life because I make good decisions.

8. It’s ok for me to get drunk every once in a while because it’s not a habit.

9. It’s ok for me to not tithe because I don’t have much income.

10. It’s ok for me to go on vacation with my boyfriend/girlfriend, alone and by ourselves.

11. It’s ok for me to keep the extra change the cashier accidentally gave me.

12. It’s ok for me to take some supplies from work because they won’t miss them.

13. It’s ok for me to cheat on my taxes because they take too much from me already.

14. It’s ok for me to go watch ungodly things on television.

15. It’s ok for me to tell small lies because they just don’t matter that much.

16. It’s ok for me to act like I’m somehow a victim and therefore have no responsibility for my own choices.

17.   It’s ok for me to go to church on Sunday but never serve the church.

18. It’s ok for me to ignore what scripture says because we are to “love” and that means accept sin.

Those are just a few obvious things.  There are tons.  And they bring some level of hardness of heart.   In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira died- not because they did something ungodly even, but because they lied.   They could have kept the money from the sale of their property without recourse but instead they lied and they died for lying.  Well how’s that for in our face?

Oddly enough I didn’t send this out last night though it was mostly written.   Today I listened to yesterday’s sermon from my home church and it was on the same thing.   My pastor preached on Acts 5 and used a quote that fits precisely. Here’s the quote by R.C. Sproul.   “God is indeed long-suffering,patient, and slow to anger. In fact, he is so slow to anger that when his anger does erupt, we are shocked and offended by it. We forget rather quickly that God’s patience is designed to lead us to repentance, to give us the time to be redeemed. The supreme folly is that we think we will get away with our revolt.”

Take away-   If we think we can continue to sin and get away with it, then we don’t understand appropriate fear of the Lord.   God doesn’t take sin lightly.  Look at the cross!  But here’s the thing- to deny we have sinned, to pretend to ourselves that it’s ok, to cover up our sin, to refuse to confront our sin- to essentially lie about it to ourselves or to each other or to Him, will come at great cost to us.  And it’s unnecessary because our sin was all paid for on the cross.  We must confess and repent and be set free.  It’s a gift! He loves us!   We must confess our sins and then He is faithful to forgive us.  What an amazing God we serve. 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, please forgive me for not facing my sin and calling it sin and doing whatever it takes to stop sinning- whatever it takes.   Please forgive me for excusing my own behavior on the assumption that I will not face any consequences.   Lord, I don’t want to sin anymore.  I want to be free.  I want to confess the sins I’ve already committed and neither cover them up nor tell myself it wasn’t sin.   I want a clean slate through your mercy and grace and the blood of Jesus on the cross. I don’t want to mock the cross, Lord.  Please forgive me.

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