Last night I watched a sermon on YouTube delivered, six years ago, by Pastor Francis Chan. The title of the sermon was “The Biggest Lie In Your Life”, but after hearing it the question that I had to ask myself, and I now ask you is “Do your reputation and who you really are match”?
Pastor Chan’s main scripture was Revelation 3:2, which is from Jesus’ letter to the church in Sardis. In the letter Jesus said that He knew of their reputation. They were seen, by means of their reputation, as a church really alive for Christ. But He really knew them, and knew that they were not alive. They were dead. Then He said “be alert”, in other words “Wake Up!”
Revelation 3:2 (NLT)2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.
The Holy Spirit, through that sermon, caused me to take a look at my own life. Most people who know me, know me by reputation. They haven’t spent enough time with me to really know who I am. They don’t know what I do when I’m not teaching Bible Study, praying on the Prayerline, inviting people to come to the altar to pray, or acting in my role as Associate Pastor. Those people would probably tell you that I’m a pretty good guy who loves the Lord.
Then there are those who really know me. They see me when I slip up and say things that those other folk would be surprised to hear come from my mouth. They see me when I get frustrated even angry sometimes, they see the not so good guy. They really know who I am, but I may even be able to hide some things from them. I can’t hide anything from Jesus because He really, really knows who I am. He knows who you really are too.
Psalm 139:1 (NLT) O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. (read the entire Psalm and you will see how He really does know you).
Before listening to Pastor Chan’s sermon I would have said I’m not perfect, I’ve asked God to deliver me, He’s still working on me. Then a few days, sometimes just a few minutes, later I would do the very thing that I asked to be delivered from. Then I would say “why didn’t you deliver me Lord? You know I can’t do this on my own”. Then Pastor Chan read this;
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I’ve heard that scripture countless times but the last two words never really hit me until last night “self-discipline”. Wow!
Yes we should pray for deliverance, but according to this scripture, God has already given us the tool, “self-discipline”, and all we have to do is use it.
Because I really do want to be the person of my reputation and I know that I’m not, I’m not as effective as God wants me to be. I’m hindered in my effectiveness because I’m always hiding something. I’m not free to be the witness that I’m called to be. I’m always dealing with things that I know are not what God wants for or from me. I’m afraid of being exposed. That means I’m not operating in faith, and according to Scripture that’s sin.
Romans 14:23 (NKJV)23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
First we have to admit that our reputations, and who we really are don’t match.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (HCSB)5 Test yourselves ⌊to see⌋ if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.
Then we we have to confess that we are not what our reputations say we are, and when we confess God forgives us.
1 John 1:9 (HCSB)9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Then we can be confident that we are not condemned.
Romans 8:1-4 (HCSB)1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,
2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering,4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, once said, “God takes our sins—the past, present, and future, and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says NO FISHING ALLOWED.”
Finally Charles Stanley said in one of his “From The Pastor’s Heart” letters
“The Lord wants us to live in the freedom and joy He’s provided for us in Christ Jesus. As we begin to act on the basis of truth rather than feelings, we’ll be set free from the oppressive cloud of condemnation. And best of all, we’ll be able to experience the love of God, which further assures our hearts of His forgiveness and gives us confidence before Him.”
It is only when you examine ourselves, confess your sins, recognize that God has forgiven you, and use the tool of self-discipline, that the person you really are matches your reputation.