The Wise Brought Flasks of Oil - Matthew 25:3-4

Working Like the Lamp Ladies

Life is full of work. Sometimes that work can be satisfying and interesting; sometimes it’s brain-numbingly dull and feels pointless. How I view my work and how I can choose to make work important is vital to whether or not I enjoy my work. In reading the parable of the 10 virgins, I realized that the wise virgins had an understanding of preparing that can help me understand truths to help me maintain a sense of value in my work, even on the days when I feel like it doesn’t matter.

The parable of the 10 virgins is in Matthew 25:1-12 and it tells how they handle keeping their lamp lit (or not) while they wait for the return of the bridegroom. While this is a parable about waiting for the return of Jesus, like all scripture, its truth can apply on many levels in many ways to my life. By thinking about what made the differences in the decisions between the two groups of women, I can see in this passage two truths that relate to understanding preparing for work.

For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. … And while [the foolish] were going to buy [oil], the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. – Matthew 25:3-4, 10 ESV

There’s two things those 5 wise women had to believe in order to want to take their oil with them. First, they had to think about what they have. If you have a lamp and you’re going to take it with you, perhaps on a camping trip, at some point you have to stop and think about what you’ll need to make the lamp work. There’s nothing worse than showing up at a campsite after dark and not having light you need to set up camp because you forgot the batteries to the flashlight. You can forget setting up the tent in the dark; you’ll be sleeping in the car, right?

I can apply this to my work in the sense that God has called me to certain assignments (Ephesians 2:10). The unwise response is to wander through life just seeing what happens. The wise response is to understand the gifts, talents, and resources that have been given to me. It’s about taking stock of what I have and knowing how to go about completing my assignments with what God’s provided me. The women with the lamps had to know if they had oil in the house already to take with them or if they needed to do a marketplace run to buy oil before they set out. The foolish virgins were more worried about going than about taking stock of what they had and what they needed.

The next thing the wise virgins did is that they had to believe that what they had taken with them was enough. Since they didn’t know when he was coming, they had to take what they had and trust it would be enough.

Sometimes in life it can feel like what I can see available to me isn’t going to meet my needs. The usual two culprits that make me nervous are time and money. Do I have enough time to get everything done? Do I have enough money to pay all the bills? I must choose to believe that, after taking stock of what I have and using it wisely, I will have enough to get me from one point to the next. I don’t have all the money I need for my whole life, and time only comes one moment after another. However, as it comes and as I live life, I must choose to believe that in all areas of my life, what I have will be enough.

The final thought on this concept is that, when all 10 virgins had burning lamps, no one would have been able to tell the difference between the wise and the foolish. Only after time had run on and the oil in the lamp ran out, would you be able to truly see who had prepared and who hadn’t.

I believe that as I work hand in hand with the Holy Spirit that the wise decisions that He is asking me to will be a blessing to me as I live. I may not understand somethings as to why He’s asking me to do them this way or at this time. I may not be able to see a difference in the result of my life yet compared to others that are living foolishly. However, I believe that as we see the results of our life choices playing out in our life, the wisdom of living as the Lord leads will be apparent to all.

There Is No Condemnation in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1-2

Focus On Grace

I’ve been working through thoughts and frustrations that are along the lines of, “Why can’t I just do what I know I’m supposed to?” (like exercising, not being generous enough or compassionate enough, among other things) and “Why do I do what I’m not supposed to?” (like eating badly, not watching what I say, working in my own strength instead of God’s… the list goes on and on). These are perennial things I do that I feel like I should have conquered by now. My struggle reminded me of Romans 7 where Apostle Paul talks about the battle between flesh and spirit.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Romans 7:18 ESV

After Paul talks about the struggle, he goes on to talk about grace and the freedom we can live in because of Jesus.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. … – Romans 8:1-3a ESV

God has given me the grace to step out of the battle and trust in the work of Jesus. Not that I give in to the pull of the flesh (that would be serving the flesh and we’ve died to that, see Romans 6:1-3), but that I can believe in the mercy of His love. He’s poured out over me the grace I need to set aside the battle and step into His love.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:5-6 ESV

Today, as I started going around and around about what I hadn’t done or what felt impossible to do, I remembered this and took a deep breath, and focused instead on His grace.

“Thank you, God, for showing Yourself to me and teaching me about who You are. Because of my relationship with you through Jesus, I can believe in You and trust in You. I know You’re working out all this in me to Your glory and I don’t have to beat myself up over it. You are good, and You are strong, and You are in me. I trust in Your work and I choose to forget about what I can/should/haven’t done. Instead, I will live in each moment and trust your guidance and mercy as you show yourself more and more to me.”


May God do what seems right to Him - 2 Samuel 10:12

Joab’s Faith

In 2 Samuel 10:6-19 we see an example of the kind of faith that gives God room to be God. The story starts after a group of David’s men have been humiliated by his enemy after they were sent on a mission of comfort (v. 1-5). The enemy realizes that David was upset at their treatment of his men, so they regrouped and called in (paid) allies to come and defend, possibly attack David. David sends out Joab, commander of his army, with what is described as “all the host of the might men” (v. 7).

Joab sees that they’ve flanked his group and he divides his men into two groups to face the army. Their loose battle plan is to fight and if either one seems to be losing badly, the other group will come help (v. 11). Not exactly a detailed attack plan, but Joab follows it up with an observation that shows his understanding of their true source, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (v. 12).

Joab is going to do his best for the people he cares about and he’s going to allow God room to be sovereign. He doesn’t demand an outcome or hinge his belief on the outcome on his view of God’s favor for him. He simply allows God to do what he things is best in situation and pours himself in to doing his best.

Too often we confuse faith in God with the idea that we deserve something from Him. We think that because we love Him, he must or should do something. God is a good god and He is always working for our best interest. However, He is not a force we can manipulate or connive. He doesn’t operate out of guilt. He is a sovereign God (meaning he’s the boss), and He will do what is best for all His children for all of time. That may or may not line up with your selfish outlook on what he should or shouldn’t do.

God will do what seems good to Him, and we are to do our best. We are to step into the role and circumstances that we find ourselves in and let go of the outcome. However it turns out, it’s the good outcome. Sometimes, it might be easier to accept that than others. It’s our faith in God that allows us to see past our limited circumstances to accept His goodness because of who He is and what He’s accomplishing.

The outcome for Joab, by the way, was the fleeing of the entire army before him. Then, after the enemy gathered even more men to attack with, David came with all of Israel and defeated them so soundly that the paid soldiers were too afraid to attack David anymore (v. 19). That’s God working for the good of his people: He’s working toward our ultimate win, not just momentary relief.

Expecting Vs Wanting

Wanting vs. Expecting

Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. – Daniel 2:12-18 ESV

I was watching a business training video online today and she talked about in it the difference between expecting success and wanting success. She said, “Expecting to succeed and just wanting to succeed are two very different things, because if you expect it, you act very different and you put very different steps in motion than if you just want it. Wanting is just like a pipe dream or a wish.”[1]

Our small group is studying Daniel and a topic that we discussed last time we got together seems to line up exactly with this definition. Daniel expected God to come to his aid, so he put different steps in motion than I probably would have in his place. I believe that we can and should apply this idea to our faith, just as he did.

In chapter 2 of Daniel, we find the King Nebuchadnezzar is demanding an interpretation to a vision he’s had. When he finds they can’t meet his demands, he orders all their deaths. Daniel doesn’t know about any of this, even though he is among the ones that have sentenced to death, so he goes to the captain of the guard to learn what’s happening.

When he hears that a dream is the cause of the trouble, Daniel immediately sets up an appointment with the king to interpret it for him. Then, Daniel goes to his friends and asks them to pray for him to receive the interpretation, which he receives in a dream.

The part of this story that is about expectation is the moment right after he talks to the captain of the guard about why he’s been sentenced to death. The moment that he heard the reason, he went to get an appointment with the king. THEN, he went and got prayers. First, he took action, then he begged before the Lord with his friends.

I’m sure there was prayer coming out of him the whole time, as this was probably a very intense time for him. I’m not trying to say that we should not pray before taking an action. I’m saying that I think we should trust our relationship with God enough to know when to take an action and when to stop and pray before taking that action.

Daniel didn’t stop and ask God if it was alright to go tell King Nebuchadnezzar that he would interpret the dream. He didn’t ask God for a guarantee about getting that interpretation. He didn’t try to beg for more time or ask, “Why me?!”

What he told his friends to do was to, “seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” That doesn’t sound like what you ask for when you’re confident of the answer. That sounds more like asking to get the answer, which means: Daniel didn’t have the answer when he set up the appointment with the king. He had no idea what the dream was and he didn’t know the outcome of the conversation that would happen.

Daniel knew something far more important. Daniel expected God to help in his time of need, not just wishing for it. He also knew that he had to ask for it from the Lord; he couldn’t just waltz into the king’s court unprepared and expect the Lord would hand answer to him. Daniel walked the line of expected God’s answers and taking the action that happens as a result of that expectation, while still staying humble before the Lord and seeking Him in all things.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. – Psalm 73:24 ESV


[1] Renae Christine

Facing Sin in Fellow Believers

Sin in Fellow Believers

Sin comes at us in several different ways and how we should react is different based on how it comes. These ways are: in ourselves, in the world, and in fellow believers. Each one brings its own challenges and difficulties and must be handled in different ways.

In Fellow Believers

1 Corinthians 5 reminds us how to deal with sin in the world, but the point of that passage is to talk about how to deal with sin in the body of believers. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are putting ourselves to a spiritual death through belief in His death and resurrection. As a part of that, we become enslaved to righteous living through commitment to obeying Him.

This is our choice. It’s not forced and, as long as we keep our belief in Jesus as our Savior, we don’t lose our salvation for messing up (I know, there’s a lot of theological points around this topic that not all people will agree with that. It’s where I stand though, so please don’t destroy me in your need to present your opinions as right.) That being said, Paul expects the people who claim allegiance to Jesus to follow certain lifestyle choices to living uprightly and honestly (Romans 6:1-2).

In chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians, Paul is dealing with a situation where someone is claiming to be a follower of Christ, but is happily living a sin-filled lifestyle. Paul doesn’t take it well. He says, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.”

Paul isn’t the only one who feels strongly about hypocrisy. Jesus himself was very harsh on the Pharisees for their overly-pious version of hypocrisy. One example of many is from Matthew 23:15, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

This sounds great in light passing of the topic. Sure, hypocrisy is bad and we shouldn’t hang out with Christians who say one thing and do another. This can be a much more sensitive and hurt-filled matter when we’re dealing with a loved one or friend in our life who is in this situation. We must handle it with wisdom, first going to them in love and concern, as spelled out in Galatians 6:1-2.

The other thing we must keep in mind in this situation is that this is not talking about every time we make mistakes. We’d all be kicked out at some point if that were the issue.

Habitual sins are ones that we fall into over and over and struggle to break. They are strongholds that we must fight against repeatedly till we can learn to truly hand them over to God and let Him fully defeat it. It takes strength and courage to fight a battle over and over, when you feel like you should be able to just “be good” like everyone else. Habitual sins and hypocrisy are not the same thing.

The difference between them is that being a Christian doesn’t mean getting everything right all the time. It means, knowing you’re a sinner and relying on the grace of Christ, both of which require us to be honest about our sin and what we’re fighting. Real hypocrisy is when a person is choosing a sin that the person knows is wrong, has been talked to by friends and church leaders about how it’s wrong, and still lives that way. They do all this while claiming they have a close relationship with Christ and are His devoted follower.

Hypocrisy says, I know what’s right and what’s wrong and I’m going to do what’s wrong while still claiming I’m right and ok. Hypocrisy is the ultimate level of denial because if you’re not doing anything wrong, you can’t ever start getting it right. Hypocrisy is the dead end of spiritual arrogance. As long as you’re in that place, you are dying spiritually and probably aren’t aware of it.

Hypocrisy is serious, but so is all sin. As we face each and every form of it, we can be grateful that God provided us the guidelines to help us understand how to respond appropriately and in love no matter what.

Facing Sin in the World

Sin in the World

Sin comes at us in several different ways and how we should react is different based on how it comes. These ways are: in ourselves, in the world, and in fellow believers. Each one brings its own challenges and difficulties and must be handled in different ways.

In the World

The world is full of sin: unapologetic, wayward sin. As Christians who have experienced the morning of sin in our hearts, the repentance of sin in our self, and the ongoing process of finding and removing sin in our lives, we can easily forget that the sin in the world hasn’t met it’s Maker yet. The people are in a range of states that goes from never having experienced God to fully aware and choosing to reject His voice.

Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 5 about how to handle sin in the world. He’s dealing with a sin issue in the church at Corinth and he’s talking about how to address it within the body. First, he reminds them of this, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). In other words, the world is bad and you can’t get away from it.

He goes on later to say, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.” Our job is to reach out the fallen and lost and offer them an example of the beauty of salvation through Christ. We can’t judge them for living in sin when they are under full sway of the law of death, as Paul talks about in Romans 6:20.

Sin is harmful, both to the ones doing it and everyone around them. There are times in our lives when we set boundaries for ourselves and our families to keep the harmful effects of sin away. For example, we may limit the movies we see or the music we listen to. Setting protective boundaries is different that judging the world and trying to make everyone look and act like you even if they don’t claim Jesus as their Savior.

We know that sin will be defeated by God in the end. The Bible says that all will bow and confess that Jesus is the Lord, but we don’t know when. Until then, we wait patiently as the sin around us ripens and prepares for the judgement that the Lord will bring on it.

Facing Sin in Ourselves

Sin In Ourselves

Sin comes at us in several different ways and how we should react is different based on how it comes. These ways are: in ourselves, in the world, and in fellow believers. Each one brings its own challenges and difficulties and must be handled in different ways.

In Ourselves

The first way that we need to face sin is in ourselves. It can be in our hearts and focus and it can cause us to bring distraction to our relationship with God and harm to our relationships with others. It’s bad news and it has to be dealt with. Jesus gives us the intensity of how we should be dealing with it in Matthew 18 “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.” (v. 18). Personally, I don’t read this as an invitation to self-harm, although there have been many in history that have used this verse that way, unfortunately. Instead, it’s setting a passion level that shows full commitment to obedience to the Lord and His commands.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23 ESV

Proverbs tells us that we should watch our heart because the flow of our life, the springs of our life come out of that source. If we are seeing sin in our choices, words, or actions, we need to stop and see where in our heart the issue is coming from. When you see something is wrong, are you willing to give it up no matter how much it hurts? This is the question we have to ask in order to be able to deal with sin our own heart.

This idea is root of the message that Jesus gives in Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” We can’t see clearly how to help and love others if we’re not honest and passionate about dealing with sin in ourselves.

God wants us to be committed to Him and to choose to obey His commandments. After all, our salvation is a free gift; our response to that gift is to live in such a way that we show our belief in Him and our love for Him and each other. How we responds to the sin that’s revealed in our life shows where our hearts truly are. Are we committed to Him that we will remove sin no matter the cost? Are we willing to stop judging others and look at ourselves only when we talk about living right?

I am truly and fully convinced that all the pleasures and gain that we sacrifice in this life will be worth it when we meet Christ. In addition, removing our sin is often form of protection for this life as well. Double bonus! If this is an area that you find yourself lethargic about, consider praying that God will give you a love of living only for Him and the strength to face whatever needs to be removed in your life.

Fret Not Over Evil Doers - Psalm 37:7

Trust in His Long-Term Plan

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. – Psalm 37:1-6 ESV


When we read an inspirational scriptures, we can often imagine the passage in glowing and pretty images. We feel warm and fuzzy over what it says, but we don’t’ stop to think about how the passage would look in real life if we lived it out. Psalm 37 is one of these that has beautiful, true, and inspiring promises. However, if we pick out only those phrases, we don’t see the true image that’s being painted of what we are stepping into.

Truth 1: There are evildoers, and we must let them be. This passage is about letting the Lord fight our battles and believing in His long-term plan. It’s about how we’re supposed to live in the midst of bad people. We sometimes act like, as Christians, it’s our job to get rid of the bad people or at least convince them their bad and try to make them stop doing bad things. Psalm 37 is saying that there are evil people in the world, and we’re not to get worked up about it, but to let the Lord deal with them in his way and His time.

Truth 2: Our righteousness is to be highlighted by God, not us or our friends. Our righteousness isn’t defined by what group of people we associate with or how good we’ve followed a list of rules. We are to wait on the Lord to acknowledge our righteousness, not ourselves. He will bring it about, after we are patient. Note, it says, after we wait on Him; He doesn’t say it will happen right when we want it, or when it will make us look good to other people, or anything else that is based on our desires and expectations. It’s His work to do and it will be done in His time and His ways. Our job is to wait.

Truth 3: Belief first. We often want God to answer our prayers or give us blessing and then we’ll believe Him. We don’t say that outright, of course. Our minds are a lot more nuanced and complicated than that. This passage highlights how important it is to put our belief in God first, before we demand proof or blessing or protection. Our hearts must be in Him and held there as circumstances change. We will face temptation after temptation to remove our faith and hold onto something more tangible and immediate.

God promises us wonderful things, but the path to those blessings is one of patience in the face of evil, wait for acknowledgement from Him alone, and choosing to believe no matter whether circumstances make you look crazy or not. This is a slightly less rosy picture than just believing for happy blessings. However, if we can keep this image in our mind, we will stay closer to God during the less rosy times. Otherwise our happy image of how things should be collides with the truth of our reality and we feel disillusioned or let down.

Life isn’t pretty or easy, but God will come through in the end. Don’t let the selfishness and harm that comes from the evil in the world stop our eyes from seeking the Lord. We must remember to not worry or be jealous of their success or fear that God has forgotten to deal with them. God is the boss and He will bring about His justice in the perfect time.

Steadfast - Proverbs 4:20, 22, 26


I wish sometimes that writer of the old, old parts of scripture could be alive today and tell us how their passages of scripture would be written today. Proverbs 4:20-27 is one of those passages. Since I don’t have their input, I like to rephrase it as I understand it to help me find ways to apply these truths to my life.


My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. – Proverbs 4:20

My child, study the word intently; absorb what it says and choose to fill your ears with the truth of the words.


Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. – Proverbs 4:21

Don’t let distracting media take your eyes off the beauty of God’s word; keep it fresh and bubbling up inside, ready to be called on at a moment’s notice.


For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. – Proverbs 4:22

The joy of being alive can be felt deeper and more intensely by those who understand the beauty that God has placed in His Word. It brings refreshment to the mind and relaxation to the body.


Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Protect your thoughts and be aware of your self-talk, because the flow of your life is determined by your internal dialogue and focus.


Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. – Proverbs 4:24

Don’t lie. Don’t gossip and don’t trick or manipulate. Ever.


Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. – Proverbs 4:25

Don’t let comparisons distract your or consumerism entice you. Look at what God’s given you and stay focused on the work He’s laid out in front of you.


Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. – Proverbs 4:26

Don’t live by accident. We weren’t put here to be pushed around mindlessly. Instead, think about who God made you to be and what work He’s asked you to right now. Think about your choices and live in such a way that you can become your best self through each and every choice you make.


Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. – Proverbs 4:27

It’s easy to feel that you made a mistake in your life choices or that you shouldn’t have chosen something that you did. Unless it’s a sin that you’re needing to turn away from, don’t give up on what you have. The choice you made is the choice you made. Walk it all the way out and see what God can do with everything you bring to Him.


God says His burden is light and His yoke I easy. Many days, I feel that. Some days I don’t. Temptation can easily come in and put a weight on us that we struggle under. But, we know who God is and He tells us how to live our lives. As we choose to believe in Him and accept His words, the burdens of this world begin to fall away.

This passage reminds me of the choice that is in walking with Him. I choose to walk with Him even when circumstances call me to doubt. I choose to keep my eyes on Him and live ethically even when immorality would be more fun or easier. I keep His Word near to me so I can learn more about Him every day.

Christ’s Righteousness

Sometimes we say to God, “OK, God, I’ve been forgiven by you in this moment, so you just tell me exactly what to do and how to live from this moment on so I never have to do anything wrong again. That way, I won’t sin again.” This is a problem, not because we don’t want to sin, that’s a good desire, but because we don’t trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We’re saying, if I just do all the correct behaviors, I will not sin again. We’re not to trust our own righteousness, meaning, we’re not to try to maintain our relationship with God through the avoidance of sin. Instead, we’re to trust the righteousness of Jesus Christ, knowing that we are washed clean of sin through Him.

Sometimes, when I’ve been discussing this with people who are more in the first camp than the second, their response is, “So you’re saying it’s OK to sin because Jesus will forgive you?” No, of course not. Nothing about accepting the righteousness of Christ is about making it OK to sin. If your heart is in such a place that hearing that you have been made righteous by Christ makes you want to break all the rules or live selfishly, I want to ask you to question your heart. Why does hearing that make you think it’s ok to do what you want when you want? Perhaps, you think of Christianity/religion as a way to force ethical behaviors. As in, if you don’t’ have a rule or a community that defines certain things as wrong, there’s no possible way that you could live by that rule. This once again points back to a complete lack of faith. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit as a guide and a comforter. If you are so out of tune with the Holy Spirit that you don’t trust any part of yourself to behave if someone isn’t punishing you for bad behavior, you might seriously want to consider a spiritual tune up. Practice listening to Him and accepting His input, not demanding rules and oversight.

The next piece of this response is the confusion of forgiveness with ignorance of problems. God doesn’t forgive you because He overlooks your issues or turns a blind eye to your mistakes. That’s not forgiveness and it certainly isn’t mercy. We often think in terms of discipline for our children. When we overlook mistakes, we often just let things slide. We offer mercy by not completing the justice part of the equation. God never ever does that.

God’s mercy is fully aware of our sin. He can see and knows our sin and darkness and selfishness. He doesn’t just wink at problems. He is in a fix-it mission with the focus being our hearts. God is also a just God. He doesn’t allow sin in His presence, which is why He can’t just close His eyes to it. For us to be in His presence, we must have atoned and dealt with our sin.

Jesus Christ is where God’s mercy and His justice collide. He hasn’t provided a way for God to ignore your sin; He’s provided a way for God to eliminate your sin. It’s gone, thrown away and never seen again. It’s been atoned for by blood sacrifice and removed.

Your forgiveness in Christ is full and complete. What might be incomplete is your acceptance of God’s forgiveness. God offers it fully and completely, but not unconditionally. You must believe on the name of Jesus and let His righteousness define you instead of your own. Repentance is not a 12 step program to help eliminate bad behaviors. It’s not even a process of admitting to God that you have problems (He already knows that). It’s about letting go of your own personal need to be good and letting God’s complete righteousness fill you.