Relationship With God 102: Communication Barriers With God

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A New Creation

The Bible constantly talks about sin

Sin is any action or thought which defies what God wants

  • God is good and tells us to avoid sins for our benefit
  • Sins always destroy, even when they don’t look like they do
  • Sin is almost always fun and exciting but causes permanent long-term harm to the sinner, other people, and the environment God created

Sinning and evil are the absence of good, not the opposite

  • Popular culture treats evil as a dualistic battle, but it’s more like a void (like darkness or cold)
  • Apathy and hate are the absence of love
  • Selfishness is the absence of consideration
  • Most smaller sins are on the same spectrum as pure evil

Christ forgives all sins if you confess them and ask for it (1 John 1:9)

  • Over time, God naturally purifies Christians as they continue to avoid sin (1 John 1:7)
  • However, despite our best efforts, we will never remove them on earth entirely (1 John 1:8)
  • In fact, growing in understanding sheds more truth on how evil we are than how much we’re becoming sinless

You have a responsibility as a new Christian to remove sins from your life by submitting yourself to the Lord

  • Submission is constant and disciplined reliance on the Holy Spirit

Only God’s grace will save us

Removing our sins doesn’t matter for the purpose of salvation (Romans 3:20-24, Ephesians 2:8-9)

  • In fact, some sins run so deeply you will need God’s divine intervention to cease them

Avoiding sin requires drawing nearer to God and staying far away from even thinking of sin (2 Corinthians 5:17)

  • Sadly, some people try to hover comfortably close to sin without crossing the line (e.g., sexual experimentation, near-drunkenness)
  • We can do anything because of Christ’s sacrifice, but sin has no use in our new lives (1 Corinthians 10:23)
  • For the sake of your soul, stay away from anyone or anything that can cause you to sin (Matthew 5:29-30)

We all have our own level of grace given to us as God has seen fit (Ephesians 4:7)

  • God knows what you’ll do before you do it, so He’s forgiven you already for what you haven’t done yet
  • This grace should give bold confidence to our walk with God (Hebrews 4:16)

The Bible clarifies hundreds of sins

The Ten Commandments

  1. Letting anything or anyone but God receive our worship (Exodus 20:1-3)
  2. Making any image an object of worship (Exodus 20:4-6)
  3. Misusing the name of God (profaning) or blaspheming His character or reputation (Exodus 20:7)
  4. Failing to keep one day a week for rest and worship (Exodus 20:8-11)
  5. Failing to honor parents in speech, thoughts or deeds (Exodus 20:12)
  6. Taking human life outside of administering God’s justice (Exodus 20:13)
  7. Having sexual relationships outside of marriage (Exodus 20:14)
  8. Taking property, time, or benefit that isn’t rightfully ours (Exodus 20:15)
  9. Creating a false impression by action, statement, or omission (Exodus 20:16)
  10. Coveting another property, spouse or employees (Exodus 20:17)

Sins God hates

  • Divorce and remarriage (Malachi 2:14-16, Luke 16:18)
  • Plotting evil against another (Zechariah 8:17)
  • Religious observance without a pure and sincere heart (Isaiah 1:13)
  • Condemning the just and justifying the wicked (Proverbs 17:15)
  • Pride in the heart (Proverbs 16:5)
  • Lying lips (Proverbs 12:22)
  • Sowing discord (Proverbs 6:19)
  • Making trouble (Proverbs 6:18)
  • Looking proud (Proverbs 6:16-17)
  • Loving violence (Psalm 11:5)
  • Cheating others (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)
  • Exploiting or not aiding the poor (Psalm 109:15-16)
  • Engaging in occult practices (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

Sexual sins

  • Sex among singles (1 Corinthians 6:18)
  • Desiring someone else’s spouse sexually (Exodus 20:17)
  • Sex with or marriage to close relatives (Leviticus 18:7-16)
  • Sex with a person and their close relatives of the same sex (Leviticus 18:17-18)
  • Sex with someone of the same sex (Leviticus 18:22, Deuteronomy 23:18, Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9)
  • Sex with animals (Leviticus 18:23)
  • Causing your children to become immoral (Leviticus 19:29)
  • Wearing the clothing of the opposite sex (Deuteronomy 22:5)
  • Getting others drunk to exploit them sexually (Habakkuk 2:15)
  • Denying our spouse a physical relationship (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)
  • Lusting after another and thinking of impure sexual things (Matthew 5:28, Galatians 5:19)

Violating our relationship with God

  • Not living by faith (Hebrews 10:38)
  • Grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30)
  • Not allowing the Holy Spirit to operate freely in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
  • Obeying and fearing man rather than God (Matthew 10:28, Acts 5:29)
  • Disobeying God (1 Samuel 15:22)
  • Not living by the Word of God (Matthew 4:4)
  • Failing to worship God (Matthew 4:10)
  • Not praying for the Lord of the Harvest to send workers (Matthew 9:38)
  • Not being filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in His power (Galatians 5:25, Ephesians 5:18)
  • Not sharing the Gospel and making disciples from people who accept Christ (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Not seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)
  • Not presenting our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2)
  • Not praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18)
  • Setting our affections on earthly rather than heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-2)
  • Not glorifying God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • Not standing fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  • Not rejoicing in the Lord in everything (Philippians 4:4)
  • Not giving thanks in everything (Ephesians 5:20)
  • Not confessing Christ before others (Matthew 10:32)
  • Not confessing our sins (1 John 1:9)
  • Not putting to death our own desires to experience God’s life in us (Galatians 2:19-20)
  • Not continually in communication with God (1 Thessalonian 5:17)

Sins from the wrong attitude

  • Lack of love, even for enemies (Luke 6:27-36, Galatians 5:22)
  • Lack of joy (Galatians 5:22)
  • Lack of inner peace (Galatians 5:22)
  • Impatience (Galatians 5:22)
  • Unkindness, lack of mercy (Luke 6:36, Galatians 5:22)
  • Harshness and brashness (Galatians 5:22)
  • Lack of self-discipline (Galatians 5:22)
  • Unresolved anger (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Bitterness (Hebrews 12:15)
  • Hatred expressed in name calling (Matthew 5:22)
  • Jealousy (Galatians 5:20, James 3:16)
  • Selfishness (Galatians 5:20)
  • Vain imaginations/worthless rationalizing (Romans 1:21-22)
  • Despising God’s discipline (Hebrews 12:5-6)
  • Rebellion against authority or against parents (Romans 13:2, Ephesians 6:1)
  • Worry and anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • An unforgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15)
  • Self-righteousness (Matthew 23:5-12)
  • Hypocrisy (Matthew 23)
  • A hardened heart, stubborn unteachability (Mark 16:14)

Sins of indulgence

  • Greed (love of money) (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
  • Drunkenness (Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:18)
  • Gluttony or eating beyond the needs of the body (Proverbs 23:2)
  • Orgy (Galatians 5:21)
  • Uncontrolled anger (Galatians 5:20)
  • Evil speaking (James 3:3-6)
  • Speaking destructive things about others (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Avoiding activity or exertion (Ephesians 4:28)
  • Laziness (Proverbs 10:4, 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13)
  • Disorderliness (1 Corinthians 14:40)
  • Poor management of resources (Matthew 25:26-30)
  • Stealing from God by not giving tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8-12, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)

God hates spirituality without Him at the center more than most other sins

Many Bible verses validate God’s jealousy

  • Exodus 22:18
  • Leviticus 19:26
  • Deuteronomy 18:10-14
  • Joshua 13:22
  • 1 Samuel 15:23
  • 2 Kings 17:17
  • 2 Kings 21:6
  • 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
  • 2 Chronicles 33:6
  • Isaiah 8:19
  • Isaiah 19:3
  • Isaiah 47:8-15
  • Jeremiah 10:2
  • Jeremiah 27:8-10
  • Daniel 1:18-20
  • Daniel 2:1-49
  • Daniel 4:1-27
  • Daniel 5:7-15
  • Micah 5:12-15
  • Acts 16:16-24
  • Galatians 5:19-21
  • Revelation 21:8

Some practices are indisputably sinning

  • Charms, incantations, spells
  • Enchantments – using the human voice or music to bring someone under psychic control
  • Sorcerers, witches, enchanters, wizards
  • Dealing with evil spirits or using magic (witchcraft/wizardry)
  • Using power from controlling or getting aid from evil spirits (sorcery)
  • Fortune-telling, divination, astrology/stargazing, soothsaying, prognostication
  • Communicating with the dead, conjuring spirits of the dead to predict the future or to influence events (necromancy)

Many philosophical gateways can lead to forbidden practices for Christians

  • extra-sensory perception (ESP)
  • Spirit guides
  • Out-of-body experiences, astral projection
  • Shamanism, psychic surgery, crystal healing
  • Spoon bending, trance channeling, pyramid power
  • Discussion of one-world government or a unified world (often mixed with climate change/global warming)
  • Ouija boards, many horror movies

Though many practices aren’t inherently evil, they straddle the line

  • Martial arts, yoga
  • New age music, symbolism
  • Brain stimulation devices, biofeedback
  • Relaxation techniques, flotation tanks, regression therapy
  • Value clarification, visualization/Law of Attraction
  • Transcendental meditation, self-hypnosis
  • Horoscopes
  • Entertainment like video games and cartoons with spiritual content

Some of God’s Old Testament laws don’t transfer directly to the New Testament

The Law was in the spirit of the times and created by God to separate His people for the purpose of holiness (1 Corinthians 6:11)

  • e.g., getting tattoos and shaving your head were Ancient Egyptian death cult practices, so God forbade them to separate that culture from His people (Deuteronomy 14:1, 1 Kings 18:28)

God designed the Law to point to love, not to oppress needlessly

  • Each of the laws, when examined for their intent, teach
    either how to love or submit to Christ (Galatians 3:23-24)

Every sin centers on an idol

Worship of anything which isn’t God is called idolatry

  • We worship idols when our focus draws away from God
  • Addiction is the most severe form of idolatry

Look for your idols

  • What do you worry about most?
  • What would make you lose your desire to live if you lost it?
  • What do you comfort yourself with when life becomes difficult?
  • What do you do to cope? What are your release valves? What do you do to feel better?
  • What preoccupies you? What do you daydream about?
  • What gives you the most self-worth? What are you proudest of? What do you wish others to know you for?
  • What topics do you start conversations with? What do you insist others know first about you?
  • If unanswered, what unsatisfied prayer would give you a reason to turn away from God?
  • What do you really want and expect out of life? What do you believe would make you happy?
  • What is your hope for the future?

Anything can become an idol

  • Family, romantic partner or friends
  • Drugs, sex or substances
  • Money, accomplishments or possessions
  • Celebrities or thought leaders
  • Career or life ambitions
  • Yourself (also known as pride)

Nearly all sins involve pride

No other belief system but Christianity touches on pride

  • Nobody wants to admit their pride but everyone has it
  • Christian pride is different than “being proud of” someone, which is a happiness with others’ performance

Pride is the competitive belief that you’re better than other people

  • Pride is the philosophical cause of all other sins
  • Pride is based on irrational measurements of status instead of any natural desires or needs (e.g., someone making $500,000 a year wants to out-perform someone else making $520,000 a year)
  • Since God is infinitely better than anyone, everyone will hate God to the proportion of their pride

Since pride is a feeling of superiority, absolutely anything can cause pridefulness

  • More wealth, more possessions or better financial status
  • More creative, talented, competent or physically strong
  • More entertaining, more popular or more spiritual
  • More sophisticated, smarter, cleaner, wiser or better
  • More spiritual, humble or religious
  • More poor, more disliked or weaker

True humility ignores others when comparing self-worth

  • A humble person isn’t usually miserable or pitiful
  • Legitimately humble people are naturally happy, peaceful with their situation, and comfortable with their status

We need humility for a relationship with God

  • By not accepting how finite we are, we can’t receive anything from a greater infinite being

 Purging sins is a lifelong challenge with many ways to fail

Complacency sets in after a while walking with God

Some circumstances breed complacency

  • Where you are now has a few degrees of separation from what God has called you to be
  • You’re focusing on too many physical distractions
  • You don’t have any hardship to force spiritual growth
  • You’re focused obsessively on being a “super Christian” (also may lead to legalism)

As much as possible, fight complacency

  • Identify disciplines you’ve been negligent in (e.g., prayer, fasting)
  • Focus more diligently on waiting for God instead of doing anything
  • Encourage others to God’s spiritual purpose
  • Listen to His Word frequently

Watch for religiousness

Religiousness is also known as leaven (Luke 12:1, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8) and leads to legalism

  • Yeast is inseparable from dough once it’s mixed
  • Religiousness puffs the simple truth into dogmatic, arrogant fluff

Watch for clear signs of legalism in yourself and others

  • Cold, distant, judgmental, unloving attitude toward others
  • Higher emphasis on holiness than on grace
  • Emphasizes a specific translation of the Bible (often the King James Version)
  • A cynical approach to the Gospel and serving God
  • Culturally identifying only with old popular culture and “the older and better way of things”
  • Self-unaware hypocrisy without any self-acceptance of potential wrongdoing

Legalism develops in stages

  1. Believing people need good actions and spiritual disciplines to earn God’s favor and gain or keep eternal life
  2. Creates new rules which may operate as decent sin-avoiding guidelines, but requires others to follow them irrespective of circumstance
  3. Emphasizing the new rules over God’s and neglecting some of God’s other rules

You will avoid sin through Christ

Jesus told you to carry your cross daily (Matthew 16:24-25)

  • The cross was a death penalty, and you must put your flesh to death on a daily, hourly, and per-minute basis
  • You will face opposition from Satan, the world, and your own desires
  • You will avoid most risks to your soul when you walk with God
  • You’re not alone, and the Holy Spirit is with you if you desire Him (Romans 8:2-6)

The simplest ways to avoid temptation will be discussed in more detail later

  • Watch who your friends are and their advice
  • Stay in a spiritually productive and theologically sound church
Next: Connecting With God