Evil thoughts, lust, and covetousness can lead to premarital sex and adultery. Lying, backbiting, quarreling, anger, and rebellion can lead to brutal violent behavior and even murder. Clearly someone with a brilliant mind who is consumed by greed, selfish ambition, and deception can devise ways to misuse the stock market or government funds.
I looked at these lists as a huge mirror and stepped up to it to see what it would reflect in me. Considering my past problems with my boss, my wife, and my child, it was hard to accept what I saw: evil thoughts, unthankfulness, pride, unforgiveness, deceitfulness, anger, bitterness, rebellion, lying, complaining, yelling, and quarreling. Imagine anyone walking around with all that inside. The simple yet profound statement that the blood of Jesus Christ can wash it all away is exciting! Is it really that simple? It is so easy that it insults our secular intelligence. Everyone, except those who try it, says: “That is much too simple.” But the good news about these lists is that we are just a prayer away from help!
One Sunday morning I arrived early at the church where I was to speak. There was only one person in the auditorium. She was in front of the platform, arranging flowers in a basket. Perhaps a dozen varieties of flowers were masterfully arranged so that each flower was displayed at its best; colorful and delicate. The arrangement couldn’t have been more beautiful.
My mind raced back to my boyhood. I could see my mother in her flower gardens. She just loved to raise many, many varieties of flowers. In those days, all I could see was flowerbeds that needed weeding. My mother could see magnificent baskets of masterfully arranged flowers gracing the platform of our church. Every Sunday during flower season, I had to share the back seat of the car with these bouquets. Mom was so excited at the chance to display God’s magnificent creation for the praise and adoration of the Creator.
With my mother in mind, I approached the platform and said to the lady, “You sure have done a beautiful job arranging these flowers.”
She turned around. I saw an angry-looking woman who growled, “I do it every Sunday. I am stuck with this job. No one else will do it. I’m sick and tired of getting up early enough to be the first one here.” She wasn’t really talking to me. She was venting an angry, rebellious spirit. She sputtered on to remark that no one appreciated her work.
“Who are you?” she asked, suddenly realizing that she was talking to a stranger. “I’m the visiting speaker,” I replied. “Oh,” she gasped. “Oh. Welcome to our church.” It was an awkward, embarrassing moment for both of us. The mood of the moment didn’t fit the beauty of the flowers and the fragrance in the air.
Later, from the platform, I noticed the same lady. She seemed radiant and cheerful; a note in the bulletin gave her credit for the flowers. Even though she was deceptively charming, she was still suffering from the consequences of sin and didn’t know it.
If she were to stand before the list of sins, she would need to check off anger, rebellion, and deception. If she would repent and ask God to clean up her heart, she would be able to rejoice and enjoy the privilege of meeting with the Lord alone on Sunday morning as she worships in His presence by working with the beautiful, fragrant flowers He created.
What a pity to let sin steal away such a privilege when cleansing of the heart is just a prayer away.
The Bible cautioned us not to kid ourselves:
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Proverbs 28:13, NKJV
If you aren’t going to call the list in this chapter sin, then you will look to the world around you for the cause and the solution for items on the list. But if it is sin, then you are looking at the simplest problem in the world to solve. You have the resources of the Creator of the world to help you. There is a supernatural cure for everyone. We don’t have to avoid the problem or run away to try to get relief:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9, NKJV