I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments. (Ps 119:176)
What does the Bible say about cycles of bad behavior?
– A Christian is in a constant battle against sinful desires
- For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh… (Gal 5:17)
- Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jm 4:4)
- For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Rom 7:15)
– Jesus gives us the power to break bad cycles and to please God.
- O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Rom 7:24-25)
- But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. (Rom 6:22)
- So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Rom 8:8-9)
- For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him… (Col 1:9-10)
- You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess. (Deut 5:33)
God expects us to sin and anticipated the solution. However, since you have been involved with the justice system, you really can’t afford to walk away from God.
– …if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2Chr 7:14)
- When you sin
- Humble yourself
- Pray for forgiveness
- Seek the Lord
- Turn away from sin
1. Great joy had filled God’s people. They were about to end 40 years of wandering and enter into the Promise Land. Yet, before going into the Promise Land, Moses warned the people not to forsake God.
- a. The LORD said to Moses…they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. (Deut 31:16-27)
- b. Moses put this warning of forsaking God into a song for Israel to sing
2. Great joy had filled God’s people. They were about to dedicate Solomon’s Temple, which was magnificent and opulent. Yet, during the Dedication, Solomon warned the people not to sin.
- a. Hear…forgive (1Kin 30,34,36,39,49-50)
i. 1Kin 8:30-52
- b. Hear…forgive (2Chr 6:21,25,27,30,39)
i. 2Chr 6:18-39
I want to explain my passion for discipling those who have been impacted by the justice system. As I volunteered in the local jail, I realized that many of those I served had enough Bible knowledge to stay out of jail. Yet, they struggled with living in victory.
What was the disconnect? As I began to explore this inconsistency, I found four causes:
1. The God of the Bible was not whole to them. They knew Bible verses from many parts of the Bible, but their understanding of God was fragmented.
- a. God is forgiving
- b. God is loving
- c. God is holy
- d. God expects believers to live holy lives
- e. God empowers believers to conquer sin
i. If you are saved but do not reckon the flesh dead, you will not live in victory
- f. God is a Father unlike any human father
i. For many, a father figure has been absent. Trust and vulnerability have never been exercised. In order to survive, they distrust and have a hardness.
- g. Souls are broken and that must be acknowledged. Jesus came to heal the broken (Lk 4:18). The Greek word is suntribo which can mean crushed or trampled on.
2. Guilt and shame were still haunting them
- a. Criminal acts come with baggage. Coming to Christ illuminates just how bad these acts were. However, Paul committed terrible acts of violence against others, and noted that was the chief sinner.
i. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1Tim 1:15)
- b. We are loved by God
i. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Rom 5:9)
- c. We have hope
i. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:5)
- d. We can come to His throne with boldness
i. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)
- e. We are cleansed from all unrighteousness
i. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)
3. Bible reading and study was never a priority
- a. Learn of Jesus
i. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt 11:29)
- b. To know Jesus
i. that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death… (Phil 3:10)
- c. The Bible is practical for success
i. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… (2Tim 3:16)
- d. The truth will make you free from defeat
i. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (Jn 8:32)
- e. The truth will clean you up
i. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (Jn 17:17)
- f. God will provide for you. You do not have to fear.
i. For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matt 6:32-33)
4. Learning about Jesus doesn’t need to be sterile or academic. It is uplifting, comforting, and empowering. God is living and so is His Word.
- a. Living God
i. My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (Ps 84:2)
ii. Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. (1Tim 6:17)
iii. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Jn 6:69)
- b. Loving Father
i. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (Jn 14:23)
ii. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. (Rom 8:15)
iii. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:5)
- c. Quietness and Rest
i. He will quiet you with His love… (Zeph 3:17)
ii. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (Ps 116:7)
iii. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul… (Ps 131:2)
iv. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lam 3:26)
v. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. (1Jn 4:18)
- d. Joy in God’s presence
i. I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; (Isa 61:10)
ii. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; (Ps 16:11)
iii. Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:18)
iv. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. (Jer 17:7)
v. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)
- e. Mind-blowing
i. See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless). (1Jn 3:1-3 AMP)