Recently, our family encountered something that all of us do at some point in life; we encountered a series of unfortunate events. One of those events was the breakdown of our main car, our Acadia. It was ran low on oil about a year beforehand and the engine finally decided to blow. I mean, rod through the side of the engine, dump all of the oil at once, travelling from 60 to 0 in a few seconds, fill the car completely with smoke blown.
Our car was broken.
The interesting, but fair thing about cars is that they hold their value pretty well so long as they drive. As fast as that car came to a dead stop along 422, its value plummeted with it. It was literally worth 10 times the amount that morning as it was that evening. Who knew that an engine was such an important part to a car? 🙂
In our culture, when things are broken, they become worthless. We’re so quick to throw things away and replace them with something new. We don’t fix things anymore. Things just aren’t made like they used to be. Things made today are made with that very intent; to be thrown out and replaced with something newer.
There is a very common misconception out there that God sees things the same way. Before we go to church, we have to get our lives right. We don’t want to be hypocrites. Before we approach God, we first have to stop sinning. We’re only worthy to approach God, only worth anything to Him, when we live a good life.
Nothing could be further from the truth! This religious lie of has put up a false barrier that keep far too many people away from God who need to draw near to Him.
God will never, ever turn His back on someone who calls on Him in their sin. Hypocrisy is not honest, broken, sinful people who go to church to seek and serve God. Hypocrisy is people who go to church and then claim that they are without sin and better than those who don’t. Jesus has a huge problem with true hypocrisy as well!
If you walk through these doors wasted and high without a penny in your pocket, or in whatever other sin-consumed state you can imagine, but you come here in that condition because you know you need Jesus; that’s exactly where you need to be and exactly why we’re here. Hopefully the people you meet here will welcome you with open arms and love you enough to come alongside of you to go to Jesus together.
This isn’t some new-age, hyper-grace, seeker-friendly, watered-down concept of what church is supposed to be, either. It’s a Biblical truth and reality! The world doesn’t place much value in broken things, but God places incredible value in our brokenness! Why? Because God sees not just our brokenness, but our full potential with which we were created!
God will never turn away anyone to turns to Him in their brokenness. To Him, we are beautifully broken!
God doesn’t toss aside broken things, He is a redeemer and a restorer. He is a master craftsman who can repurpose and restore anyone from any circumstance! Not even rotting in a tomb for days is too far gone for Jesus, just ask Lazarus!
The Bible is full of brokenness because mankind’s history and present and future is full of it. This will continue up until the day that Jesus proclaims, “Behold, I make all things new!” The Bible is full of broken men and women who turned to the Lord and not a single story where God turns them away. In fact, all of the mighty men and women of God who did incredible things for the Lord have recorded in their Biblical account their brokenness, too.
We turn first to a brief and pointed parable of Jesus about this very subject matter. Who does God accept and who does God reject? The religious person who lives righteously and stands firmly on their own righteousness to approach God? Or the broken sinner who asks for God’s mercy?
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We don’t become righteous by living life the right way. All of our own righteousness is still sinful and brokenness to God. It would be like if our Acadia were to pull its piston back inside of its engine, duct tape the hole, and fill itself with oil again. It’s still broken.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
We were born into sin and not all the righteous acts that we could ever do can remove that fact. If a person murders someone once, but goes all the rest of their days without ever murdering another person that they encounter; does that make them innocent of that singular murder in their life? Sure, they did it once, but they went decades encountering hundreds of thousands of people that they didn’t murder. Nope, still guilty, right?
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
Also, God gets to define what sin is. He is the Creator. He created us on purpose and for a purpose. When we try to use our lives for something that they weren’t designed for, we end up broken. Sin is just missing the mark; essentially misusing our lives. We don’t get to argue what is or is not sin with God when it comes to our lives. Isaiah puts it this way:
16 How foolish can you be?
He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
“He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
“The potter who made me is stupid”?
God’s penalty for sin, all sin, any sin, is death. God chose to give His one and only Son, Jesus, in death as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He was born without sin, lived sinlessly, then took on the punishment of a sinner by dying on the cross. He died that we might live.
We are only righteous before God not by any of our good deeds, but by the shed blood of Jesus and our own choice to accept His free gift of salvation by faith. It would be as if though GMC came and put a brand new Acadia in our driveway in the place of our broken one. That’s the only way that it could have its original value and worth fully restored with a fully reset odometer.
The Bible says that we are a brand new creation in Jesus. The old is gone, the new is here. We stand before God as if though we had never sinned; righteous. This all begins only when we humble ourselves and admit that we are so sinful and totally depraved on our own; we need a savior! We can’t do it on our own, we need Jesus!
It’s not when we come before God and plead the case of our own righteousness that we are accepted by Him like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. It is only when we humbly confess our sin and ask for mercy that we are accepted by God.
We need to be beautifully broken so that God can rebuild us.
We need to be beautifully broken so that God can restore us.
I haven’t often quoted these verses together because they’ve often bothered me. I talk about resisting the devil so that he’ll flee. I talk about drawing near to God and He will draw near to you. I talk about humbling ourselves before God so that He might lift us up. However, the verse in between always bothered me. It’s in light of today’s topic that we better understand and more eagerly accept what it is saying.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said that He would give us the Holy Spirit so that we can have the full measure of joy within us. Why change our joy to gloom? Why grieve, mourn, and wail? Why change laughter for mourning?
When it comes to our sin, the only thing that will truly bring about change to free us from it and to keep us free from it is fully realizing the penalty of it. Until our sin is dealt with, we can never fully walk in the joy of the Lord. If we keep walking in the flesh, we won’t produce the joy fruit of the Spirit. We need clean hands and a pure heart!
We need to maintain in our hearts and minds the cost of our sin to keep us free from it. Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth that called out all kinds of sin issues that the church was allowing and even encouraging. It never feels good when people point out the sin in our lives! How we respond to it can be the literal difference between life and death. We’re blessed to have this follow-up to that “ouch!” letter here:
2 Corinthians 7:8-13
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.
Godly sorrow, being beautifully broken, leads to joy because when we turn to God in that broken place, God is able to forgive and restore us. It leads us to repentance, to see sin as sin, and gives us an eagerness to stay free from it.
Once we see slavery as slavery, we’ll walk in freedom from it. Once we see a trap as a trap, we’ll walk around it. Once we realize how heavy a burden is, we won’t pick it up again. We may have been stumbling in the dark, but once we’ve seen the light, we won’t turn back to the darkness again.
…sorrow and weeping might last through the night,
but joy comes in the morning
There is a time and a season for everything. Although our focus is on the joy of the Lord that the Spirit gives us, we can’t neglect or minimize the season of mourning over our sin that we must walk through that leads to it! It’s the Godly sorrow and weeping that leads us to salvation and to a life lived without regrets.
Too often, we don’t see our own sin. We either just flat out don’t recognize it out of ignorance because we were never shown that it is sin or because we’ve justified it somehow to ourselves. We often need someone to come alongside of us to show us our sin. That’s one of the roles of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but God will also speak through people as well as was the case with Paul and the church in Corinth earlier.
King David was an awesome man of God who had a heart after God’s own. He spent much time in the Presence of God and even in the Old Testament, before the death and resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a Spirit-filled and lead man. However, he was still a man.
To make a long story short, David was supposed to be out at war like all of the other kings was. Instead, he was hanging out in his palace far from the battle lines. A beautiful, married woman caught his eye while she was bathing; Bathsheba. David had an affair with her and she became pregnant. Her husband was Uriah, one of David’s mighty men in his military.
David had Uriah brought back home hoping to hide Bathsheba’s pregnancy as Uriah’s child. However, Uriah was a man of integrity and refused to go home while his fellow men were encamped on the battlefield. So, David put Uriah back out into the field, but on the front lines into the fiercest fighting. He, of course, died. David then married Bathsheba.
So David was in the clear, right? All of these sins were shoved under the rug and he could just go on with life, right?
God sent Nathan, a prophet, to call out all of David’s sin in detail and the consequences that he would face as a result. The most tragic being the loss of Bathsheba and his son 7 days after he was born. Although God forgave David of his sins, no sin is without consequence. During that time, a song comes forth.
If you’re feeling the brokenness and weightiness of sin and you just don’t know how to approach God about out, this is an awesome Psalm to just read out loud to Him as your own prayer.
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
A broken spirit, a broken heart, God will not despise. God will never turn us away in our brokenness, even when that brokenness is a result of our own intentional sin.
Although David suffered greatly, not all was lost. In fact, his life following this encounter with Nathan looked a whole lot like a modern-day soap opera filled with drama and rape and death and betrayal and power struggles and everything else that could go wrong in his family. But not all was lost!
Although David and Bathsheba lost their firstborn son, God gave them another son named Solomon. Despite all of the wives and children that David had, God chose Solomon, the next son born to David and Bathsheba, through which to establish His eternal kingdom. Solomon became a great world-leader as earthly king. However, his greatest legacy came 27 generations later when God chose Solomon’s bloodline to bring forth Jesus to take his earthly reign into a Heavenly and eternal reign.
…6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,…
The take away this morning is this.
We need to allow and welcome any sin in our lives to be revealed. Yes, it is uncomfortable and yes, it will offend us. Then, allow ourselves to get upset in a good way; with godly sorrow that breaks us and leads to repentance. Then we go to God with our brokenness. Become not just broken, but beautifully broken. There, the Lord will forgive us and heal us and pioneer a path for redemption and restoration. That’s where beauty is added to our brokenness through healing!
Sorrow may last for the night, but then His joy comes in the morning!