HAVE YOU STRAYED?
July 9, 2020
You hear it all the time. Someone attended Sunday school and youth groups as a young person. They gave their life to Christ, but as life went on, they strayed. They made choices that drew them farther and farther from that strait and narrow path. Now, their soul is yearning to return to Jesus, but they think their sins are too great; they’re certain that there’s no forgiveness for them. Let me assure you that you haven’t sinned beyond what Jesus will forgive. It seems as if rebellion is a part of human nature. It’s not a beneficial part, but many young people do tend to stray as they get older. If the child was blessed with God-fearing parents, he or she was given a solid foundation and will eventually realize they’ve strayed and come back to their Christian beliefs. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. It’s not only young people who stray, but everyone is prone to sin. Life is better if there’s no rebellion, but God is loving and forgiving. He’s always willing to hear a prayer of repentance.
In this day and age, we have many distractions and temptations. This isn’t a new problem, but it seems as if the availability of temptation is greater today. The internet can lead anyone astray. Some videos found online are pure filth and there’s also much false doctrine to be found there. Television and movies graphically depict sin and make it look pleasurable. Popular music today is full of vulgarity. When I was young the Beatles sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” but soon the Rolling Stones sang “Let’s Spend the Night Together”. One step at a time, the level of vulgarity was lowered until rappers sing (if you can call it singing) of killing and sexual degeneracy and Katy Perry sang praises of sexual relations with aliens. Even professing Christians listen to this filth and are drawn away from the strait and narrow path. They should be reading their Bible. Public schools and colleges teach everything except right and wrong. Well, they do teach wrong…evolution, choose your own gender, it’s ok to have two mommies or daddies etc. Morality is laughed at in today’s society and we see the results of filling our thoughts with glorifying sin as rioters and looters demand respect by destroying lives and businesses. That is nothing to respect. Remember, you have a choice in what you look at and listen to. God knows what choices a person will make, but that doesn’t mean He’s happy with our sinful rebellion. When an adulterous woman was brought before Jesus for Him to condemn her because of her sin, He didn’t condemn her. Still, He didn’t just let her go on her way without confronting her sin. “…And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:11b. If you’re one of those Christians who has slipped down the slope deeper into sin, you may be questioning if you’ve sinned too much for salvation, or if you ever were saved. Those are questions that need an answer.
Christians sin. It would make things much easier if, when a person accepts Christ for salvation, all temptation and failures stopped. That’s just not how it works. In all actuality, life can get harder. Before accepting Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and actions, sin was just normal. You weren’t a threat to Satan because you were on his side. Friday night partying with friends could lead to all kinds of mischief. One sin always leads to another and there’s always consequences. Before you know it, a baby is on the way, or you’ve contracted some deadly disease and wish you had practiced abstinence. This all fits into Satan’s plans. If you’re not a Christian, well it’s just a part of life in the fast lane. If you do profess to be a Christian, you need to put it behind you and get back to pleasing God. If you paid attention to the Bible stories in Sunday school, you might remember a story about the prodigal son.
There was a father who had two sons. The younger son wanted his inheritance so he could go off and live life his own way. “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.” Luke 15:13-14. This young man had no money, no food, and no friends. He should have made a better choice and stayed in his father’s house, but now he had to do something drastic. He found a job feeding swine. That’s about as low as a Jewish man can sink. Even the swine’s food looked good to him. He was at the end of his rope and realized that he was better off at home. “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” Luke 15:17-19. Does that describe you? Did you stray from your Heavenly Father’s protection because you wanted to live life on your own terms? It’s time to come to your senses and return to the Father. The prodigal learned the hard way that the rules he had been subject to in his loving father’s house were rules for his protection. That young man had to admit he sinned then humble himself and return to his father. As it turned out, his father was overjoyed at his return. “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. If you’ve strayed from God, you can be sure that He’s looking for your return. Whether you’ve hit rock bottom, or just strayed a little, God wants you to repent and come back to fellowship. The father in the story had a great celebration at his son’s return. “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:24. It’s time to return to God.
We all have choices and make decisions. The decisions that are based upon Scripture always turn out right. Decisions based on lust or greed lead to sin and sin always has consequences. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:14-15. If you’re paying a physical price for your own choice to sin, don’t blame God. For instance, yoking yourself in marriage with a non-believer can bring little happiness. You can’t blame God when your spouse decides to have an affair or makes it difficult for you to worship God. You may have to live with the consequences of your bad choices, but like the prodigal son there’s always forgiveness waiting if you return to God.
When Christians fail in their walk with Jesus, it becomes a burden on their mind. They begin questioning whether or not they are saved and what will happen if they die. Either you accepted Christ for salvation or you didn’t. If you did and you’ve been living in opposition to God’s ways, you need to stop. Right now, you need to turn away from the sin that’s dragging you down and destroying your relationship with your loving Saviour. Stop living as the prodigal son, humble yourself, and ask forgiveness. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and has been calling for your return and has been seeking you. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” John 10:27-30. If you’ve strayed from your faith, then you need to get back into fellowship. Jesus wants you back in fellowship.
If you wonder if you ever were really saved, why spend time wondering? Make that confession of faith now. Then, turn from the sin that’s destroying your life. If you’ve never turned to Jesus for salvation, do it now. All you have to do is recognize you’re a sinner and that only Jesus Christ, God Almighty, loved you enough to shed His blood to take your sin away. You cannot change the past, so don’t be held back because you think your sin’s too great and cannot be forgiven. There’s no little sin; they all separate us from God. The only unforgivable sin is to reject Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will guide you away from the sin in your life, but you need to follow His prompting. The first step is to give your life to God. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10. Everyone has sinned, even the most pious elder in the strictest of congregations. Jesus knows every sin you will commit, but has forgiven them at the Cross. You need to humbly turn to Him for forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10. Admit that you’ve strayed and confess your sin to Jesus. He already knows it, but by confessing it you bring it to your own mind. Were you sincere in your confession? If so, He’s forgiven you, now you need to forgive yourself. Don’t keep straying away, but live your life to honor Him.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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