WARNING: This blog post may make you feel uncomfortable.
In the 3rd chapter of Colossians 3, there's a long list of vices the apostle Paul says Christians are to “put to death” in their lives in light of their new identity in Christ.
As in, if any of the sins listed are still present and active in your life: Kill it! Strangle it! Obliterate it! Starve it out! If you can get your hands on some napalm, burn it to ashes! If you know some ex-Navy seal guys with easy access to some C4? Get some!
But that's not always the case with our sins, is it? As Christians, we love Jesus and want to do right by Him. Really. We do! ...But it’s sooooo hard!
It’s so much easier to negotiate with our sins and make it commit to never bother us again… that is, until it bothers us again, which it will, at which point, we renegotiate with said-sin to really really promise this time to never come back, which it does, which then…. You get the point.
Stuff needs to die.
But death scares us. It feels so final, which is why certain sermons make us feel super uncomfortable. Let's face it, it's much easier to listen to Steven Furtick than Paul Washer! But the reality is that when that discomfort starts in us during a sermon, the Holy Spirit is more than likely trying to kill stuff in us for our good so we end up looking more like Jesus.
I’ve found myself in that hot seat several times in my journey as a Christian. When I finally cooperated (instead of fighting back) and allowed Holy Spirit to put my sin to sleep with the fishes, it hit me that the process felt an awful lot like the 5 stages of grief.
In fact, I think every Christian experiences this. Allow me to bring you in on the loop: Here are the 5 emotions most people struggle through during a sermon when trying to negotiate or talk their way out of sinful stuff being put to death in their lives.
STAGE 1: DENIAL
You're filtering the message through the lives of your friends who are worse off in their faith than you are. Refusing to accept the fact that your life is as messed up as what you’re hearing, you project the rising panic on someone else.
#TonyNEEDSthisSermon #Tony #NotMe #Tony!!!! #PrayForTony
STAGE 2: ANGER
The sermon suddenly feels like too much too soon. Projecting it on Tony is not working as well as you hoped and it’s starting to touch a sore spot in your life. So you need to fight back by redirecting the tension, which expresses itself as anger - “Who the heck does this pastor think he is to judge me?!?!”
#StupidPastor #StupidChurch #HowDareYou! #YouDontKnowMe!!! #TonyGetsMe
STAGE 3: BARGAINING
The word of God is a double-edged sword that has now cut deeply through to the inner recesses of your heart where no one but you can reach. Though it’s what you most need, you’re not yet ready to give in. You are, however, feeling helpless and vulnerable, which results in a desperate need to regain control. So you postpone the inevitable by trying to negotiate a deal with God, “Okay fine! I’ll give up partying late and getting buzzed, but there’s no way in hell I’m kicking Tony out of my life!!”
#YouCanHaveEverythingElse #NotTony #INEEDTony!
STAGE 4: DEPRESSION
Reality has set in and you’re mentally prepared to give up fighting. You’ve come to the conclusion that it is pointless trying to fight with God! You’ve calculated the cost and understand the price you now have to pay. You know you need this! You know Jesus loves you! You know you’ll be better for the kingdom of God as a result of the loss, BUT. IT. JUST. HURTS. SO. MUCH!
#Depressed #EndoftheRoad #ImDoneFighting #IWillNeverSeeTonyAgain
STAGE 5: ACCEPTANCE
It is finally clear to you that the Holy Spirit of God is a gentle Spirit who works in you to make you look more like Jesus Christ. You’ve also full embraced the fact that God not only loves you, but actually likes you and is pleased with you because you are relying solely on Jesus Christ to present you as righteous and faultless in His presence.
Surprisingly, you can actually see the futility of holding on to the things you were hesitant to let go of. You don’t know what the future holds, but you’re ready to step in line with Jesus Christ each day and trust Him to sustain you for the next 24 hours (until tomorrow when you’ll trust and surrender to Him again for the next 24 hours).
Jesus is indeed greater than all your Tonys!
The Biblical fact is, there is no sin in your life that is so great that the cross of Jesus Christ isn’t greater than. Whatever sin “Tony” represents in your life, hear the words of God today: …if you confess your sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive you for your sins and to cleanse you from all wickedness.
No matter how uncomfortable this week or last weekend's sermon made you feel, I pray you find what you’re looking for at the cross of Jesus Christ!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.