Two years ago, a sister in Life Group shared a strange prayer request, “I want God to show me my sin for what it is, and for me to be grieved by it,” I didn’t quite understand her prayer request. “Who asks God for that?” I wondered, “Is it something I need to do?” I was confused that this sister shared this prayer request, because to me, her walk with Jesus was on point. Why did she need God to show her her sin? Why does she desire to be grieved by it? “Well, if she’s asking God for this, I better do it too,” I thought. My first prayer was simple- “Lord, show me my sin so I can grieve it too.”
1 John 1:8-10 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” Over the next few months, God started answering my prayers. Mercifully, he started showing me one by one, through His word, the ways I was self-righteous, judgemental, and controlling. He continued showing me that the love that I professed to have for my family was really driven by pride and self-glory. He showed me that the preference to talk about God rather than Jesus with my neighbors was actually a form of denial. Each time God revealed my sins, it brought me to Jesus, where I found forgiveness. Sometimes the battle was so tough, trying to distinguish between the enemy’s voice of condemnation and Christ’s loving call to repentance- but praise God for Romans 8. But most of the time, the scenario was more like the one described in Hebrews 12 “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
The Lord is actively at work to discipline His children and it is for our good. It is because He loves us and desires for us to grow in holiness. But for Christians, sin doesn’t just go away. You can’t just wish it away- but with the Holy Spirit’s help, I must find it, root it out and fight it to its death. That’s what it takes to care for and guard your heart. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
But how does unbelief turn you away from the living God? This question has been on my mind the past few weeks. When talking to a dear sister about my decision-making process, she pointed me to Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Do these verses really apply to the way I schedule my day? In what ways am I not submitting to Him? Will it be the Word of God or me; who is the one calling the shots? This may sound dramatic, but who ever thinks that they’re going up against God? I wouldn’t readily admit it- but when I make most of my decisions without even praying about it, I’m choosing to trust in myself rather than Him. How is this related to unbelief? Do I trust that God really intends good for His children? Do I think that by submitting to His will, that I’ll be losing out? Do I really grieve over this and confess it to the Lord or do I go back to the cycle of distraction in my jam-packed day? It’s usually the latter, but in order to know my heart, I need time with God in His word and in prayer. If Jesus, the sinless and perfect Son of God, woke up while it was still dark to commune with His heavenly Father before an exhausting day of ministry, how much more do we as sinners need to spend time with Him?
Each week, I’m thankful for the time of renewal on Sundays, when the pastor calls us to examine our hearts in light of God’s word. I appreciate the prompts and questions. Those precious thirty seconds are only a start. I’m not saying that an authentic confession requires a lengthy prayer ( we have examples of short honest prayers- the tax collector’s honest cry for forgiveness “God have mercy on me a sinner” or the thief on the cross saying “Remember me Jesus when you come into your kingdom.) but if I’m honest, my heart falls prey and sick to its own deception and makes every excuse to justify my sin. How often do I go before the throne of God (with confidence in the finished work of Jesus) and ask him to search my heart and to reveal if there is any offensive way in me? (Psalm 139:23-24).
Lord Jesus, would I heed the loving warning given to the lukewarm church in Revelation 3– “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Can you picture this scene? Jesus knocking and knocking and offering all of himself. He wants to be Immanuel, God with us. He wants to reside in my heart as Savior and Lord. Who would want to take residence in this sinful heart? What kind of love is this? Praise God for the new, transformed heart that is even able to accept this deep daily communion with Jesus. It is in fellowship with Him that the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see our sin for what it is, to confess it, and run towards the fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.
Salome Youn serves in the Worship Ministry at GRC.