The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 7/18

Posted on | July 18, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 7/18

Scripture reading: Matthew 12:22–32

The Point of No Return

There is a sin which leads to death. (I John 5:16)

On the Niagara River, just above the falls, I am told there is a place known as the point of no return. Here the current is so strong and the water so swift that even the most powerful boats find it impossible to turn back. Once this line is crossed, the boat’s fate is sealed. Destruction is inevitable.

Similarly, in the spiritual life there is a point of no return. When someone over a long period of time willfully and continually refuses to submit to God and his purposes for their life, the heart can harden in such a way that it reaches a point of no return. Not even God himself, in all his omnipotent power, is seemingly able to save such a soul from eternal destruction. Jesus spoke of this terrifying reality when he described “the unpardonable sin” (Matthew 12:31–32). The impossibility of redemption comes not from some deficiency in the power of God to save.  The problem lies rather in the heart of man—so locked in rebellion and self-deception— that repentance becomes psychologically impossible.

In his book People of the Lie, psychiatrist Scott Peck encourages us to understand evil—not only theologically—but also psychologically. To make his point, he distinguishes between what he calls “ordinary sin” and “evil.” All of us are sinners. But some sinners adamantly refuse to acknowledge it. It is this denial of sin that is the very essence of evil. The real danger comes not when we sin but rather when we pretend we aren’t sinners. Peck gives numerous illustrations of people he dealt with in his psychiatric practice who went to great lengths to disguise their wicked behaviors. They developed elaborate mechanisms to justify evil and perpetuate the illusion that all was well. For such people, image was everything. Consequently, many of these people were active in church! Where else could they better pretend to be what they weren’t. Often these people played the game so well, they actually succeeded in deceiving themselves!

While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their “goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is, in effect, a lie. This is why they are the “people of the lie.”

In his counseling practice, Peck discovered there was only one sin that was incurable: the sin of believing one is without sin. He realized that he was incapable of helping people like this. Apparently, God is too.

Jesus calls us to confess our sins not because he wants us to wallow in self-accusation but because he wants to give us the opportunity to turn our boat around and head in the right direction before the current sweeps us to destruction. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Acknowledge your sin. Stop pretending
to be something you aren’t. Turn back to God. Tomorrow may be too late.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. . . . Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3–5)

The beginning of men’s rebellion against God
was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.
—Francis Schaeffer

point to ponder • Am I more concerned about my image in church than I am about my image in heaven?

prayer focus • One who is refusing to acknowledge his sin

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