I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Laura Hardin (WITHIN Devotional Writer)
Everybody appears to be a saint on social media. Incredibly thoughtful and loving, desiring justice for the vulnerable and oppressed, displaying discipline and order in their photos, and preaching the gospel in their captions. If only God were as impressed with our performances as much as our followers, who are often more eager to behold our curated images than to behold the image of Christ on the pages of their own Bibles.
No, our God sees through it all and calls our bluff. And as He did with the Pharisees of His time on earth, He invites us to look within and give Him the sin that clings so closely (Hebrews 12:1).
In Luke 11:39, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for focusing on external cleansing rituals instead of dealing with the filth inside, “their greed and wickedness.” In Luke 11: 42, he further rebukes them for tithing their herbs to the temple of God but neglecting justice and the love of God. This is a grievous charge since they probably recited the Shema along with the rest of the Jewish community, praying to love ADONAI with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves. They kept this priority of God before them morning and evening but failed to live it out
After this, Jesus brings many more charges, thoroughly condemning their hypocrisy and bringing to light the reality of their spiritual death. Yet sandwiched between the verses above is a glimmer of hope for anyone who has ears to hear.
“You fools!” he exclaims. “Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you” (Luke 11:40-41).
Therein lies the grand invitation that the prideful would have missed, too distracted and defensive about all they were getting wrong despite their tenacious performing. It’s so easy to identify with Jesus here, nodding our heads at His every word, pointing our fingers. But really, we should see ourselves in the Pharisees.
How often do we invest our energy fixing up the exterior, dwelling on how we appear to God and others, rather than addressing what’s really going on in our own hearts?
Sure, when we first believed, there was no other way to come to our Lord. When we first believed Christ, we knew ourselves to be sinners in need of God’s mercy. Upon hearing the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we eagerly traded our sin for His glorious righteousness, our sorrow for His inexpressible joy, our punishment for His great reward.
How sad then we forget that in Christ, we must continually give Him the sin that so easily entangles. And I pray now that we would see this offering as part of our faithful abiding, integral to our morning and nightly prayers, and susceptible to the sharp edge of the living and active word of God.
For He meant what He said. When we give him our sin as an offering, as an acknowledgement that those things no longer belong to us, everything becomes clean. The Apostle John puts it this way, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
It’s only when we keep our mouths shut, when we hide behind our works, that we are the most in trouble. And that was definitely his message to the Pharisees that day: “Don’t you see that you are in danger!”
So what is it that we must give our Lord today? Will we heed our Lord’s invitation to just give the yuck to Him?
Behold His hands held out to take whatever plagues us, whatever tempts us to dwell in the death and decay of sin. Remember, He already took our sins upon Himself. Yes, scripture teaches us He even became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became our selfishness. He became our apathy. He became our lust. He became our envy. He became our pride. He became all the things we’re so apt to hide, pretending we’re better than we are.
Our good deeds don’t erase what’s within. Only His power through faith can perform such a miracle. And, in this instance, our faith looks like repentance. He takes our sin and replaces it with His holiness, little by little, shaping us into his likeness. And what a refreshment this brings to our weary souls.
For this reason, I’m so thankful the Lord sees through our facades of cleanness. In seeing us and speaking to us through his word He draws us into deep transformative fellowship with Himself and His people. Indeed, we give Him our sin as an offering, and He in turn continues to give us every good thing we don’t deserve. Praise Him.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 John 1:5-10
Questions to Reflect on: