Don't Be Put to the Blush

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Romans 5:5 - We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

By way of review, last time we talked about the chain reactions of faith. Faith producing justification, (by faith, God looks at me “just if I’d” never sinned) justification then producing peace with God, and peace with God opening the door to continuous divine influence, personal divine connection,  in our everyday circumstances.

This gives us great cause for rejoicing! Because we have been born again by the Spirit, who has produced repentance in our hearts, removing our disbelief, rebellion, and pride, and given us faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. We are justified. We have a God who is no longer at war  with us because of our sin.

Unless of course, we choose to return to sin or continue in it. God then, reserves the right to declare war against us again. Let’s quickly look at an example of this in Scripture. It comes from the book of 1st Samuel. Samuel, a great prophet of God was warning the people about the consequences of disobeying God.

He said, “you’re in a good place now, but beware should you turn away from the Lord again.”

1Sa 12:14-15 GW  If you fear the LORD, serve him, obey him, and don't rebel against what he says, then you and your king will follow the LORD your God.  (15)  But if you don't obey the LORD, if you rebel against what he says, then the LORD will be against you as he was against your ancestors.

The Lord will be against those who disobey His Word and rebel against His authority.  I don’t think people in the church today have a clear concept of this. They have this idea that they have been baptized, or that they have “asked Jesus” into their heart, and now they can live as they please.

Well, you can live as you please, but if you do, the Lord reserves the right to be against you.  He reserves the right to not hear your prayers, He reserves the right to judge you, because in your rebellion, you have proved that your relationship with Him is phony.

Well, I wanted to throw that in today, because I believe we all need to be reminded of it. Yes, rejoice in your peace with God, but don’t get careless with that peace. When God went to war against His own wasn’t pretty.

But we learn here to not only rejoice for all these obviously good reasons, we also learn to rejoice in our suffering. And we’re not talking about the suffering that comes when God arrays Himself against us.  No, we don’t want to rejoice in that!

We’re talking about those things that God mercifully allows to come into our life for the purpose of creating endurance, building our character, and increasing our confidence. How do you know the difference between judgement and discipline? You know by examining your relationship with God.

Are you deliberately disobeying Him? Then the likelihood is you are experiencing God’s judgement. A judgement by the way that is designed to cause you to think about what you are doing and return to Him! If you are not living in open rebellion against Him, then the suffering is likely for strengthening your faith. Either way, it is for your own good.

So the ones who are rightly relate to God learn to rejoice in their sufferings because they are confident that God is at work in them. He is creating endurance, which in turn builds our character, which increases and perfects our confidence or hope.

Now we come to verse 5. “We’re not ashamed.” Have you ever been ashamed? Have you ever been “put to the blush?” You know what I’m talking about.

A slip of the tongue, being caught red-handed in sin, doing something stupid in front of your peers or someone you care about, maybe someone close to you has embarrassed you because of their actions, or maybe you’ve had an awkward moment with a person of the opposite sex.  

People usually pick up on it and our quick to point it out to others....”oh look, he’s blushing.” And you can feel your face turning even redder. What is the root cause of this “blushing?”
Is it not that our self-confidence has been uprooted, or that our image seems to us to be a bit tarnished.” we are a little bit shaken over circumstances,  might we say, we feel like a fool.

So Paul says here that as Christians, our trials and tribulations do not cause us to be ashamed. We don’t need to clumsily apologize for whatever we are going through as if God has somehow abandoned us.  There is no need to be ashamed of our God as if He weren’t big enough to handle our situation. We can remain confident in Him, and unashamed of Him.

We don’t need to be red-faced or embarrassed by the actions or inactions of our God! Though in our flesh, we may think that God’s behavior is odd, or we may feel embarrassed that He didn’t show up when we thought HE should.

But listen, if you truly love God in your born-again heart, if you truly know who He is, you will not lose sight of the fact that God is Sovereign. He always knows what He is doing. Nothing catches Him unawares. Our trust is placed unwaveringly on Him and His faithfulness.

This is illustrated for us rather nicely in Acts 16 where we read of the arrest of Paul and Silas in Phillipi.

 Ac 16:19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city;
 21 "and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."
 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.  
23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.  24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.  25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (NKJV)

Put yourself in their place! Seized and dragged into the marketplace, brought before judges, every one in town rose up against them, the judges were so mad they tore their robes, and ordered them to be beaten with rods.

(After seeing the anger of the judges, what do you thing the mood of those doing the beating is going to be?) After many furious lashes, they were thrown into jail. Not just a holding cell, but in the innermost, darkest  part of the prison, their feet put in stocks, (not able to move their legs) You just try that sometime and see how comfortable you are after about five minutes!

Nursing wounds from the beating, hopelessly immobilized, it was possible that they could die in this prison utterly forgotten by every one, seemingly forgotten by their God.
Paul and Silas had been so humiliated, and God had stood by and did nothing to help them, He was an embarrassment to them, what a wimpy God! And so they brooded in silence over their present state. They engaged in a personal pity party. Is that what happened?

No! A thousand times no! They were not ashamed of their God! They were not put to the blush! The Bible says they were praying, that is worshiping and singing religious odes to God. (That’s what is meant by singing praises to God)

Beaten and in a seemingly hopeless situation, deep in the bowels of a dungeon and  these men break out in a love song about the God whom they were serving when they were arrested, beaten and thrown into prison.

They wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t been serving Him! But rather than sitting and brooding in  silent embarrassment they are extolling His praises.  Why? Because they know Him. They both know He is in charge!

I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I do know that God is Sovereign, He is  bigger than your situation. There is no need to be “embarrassed” about Him. And when we make our problems larger than Him, it is because we truly do not know Him. We have failed to grasp His majesty, His power, His holiness, and His hatred of any and all sin!

And you will never get to know Him as Paul and Silas knew Him until you come to grips with His holiness and your pitiful, sinful, unrighteous state! Then and only then will you realize that you and I deserve nothing in this life but the wrath of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding. It is only a proper fear of the Lord and His hatred of sin that allows us to  appreciate His mercy. A mercy that is praiseworthy even in the most difficult circumstances.

Please note too, who was listening to the praises of Paul and Silas.

Friends, people are listening to us, people still in bondage to their sin because they don’t know about our magnificent, holy God, and they don’t fear Him! Some of you here today are still in prison, still in bondage to your sin  because you have a small view of God, and a high opinion of yourself! It’s time that you and I stop apologizing for God! It’s time we stop being embarrassed about Him. It’s time we started extolling Him!

It’s time to stop thinking that He can only handle the little things in our life. (I’d give this to You God, but I’m afraid I’ll be put to the blush when You don’t handle it the way I want it handled.)  Stop being ashamed of Him and His solutions. He is not a bumbling buffoon, He is God!  

No matter your circumstances, extol Him! Sing love songs to Him, praise Him, for He is still in charge and He is using your trying circumstances to create endurance, character, and increase your confidence in Him!

And if you are in rebellion against God, then fall on your knees asking for forgiveness, asking that He grant you repentance, and then call on the name of Jesus to be saved. Do this and your songs of praise in all circumstances will start soon enough.

It seems that most of us today have become embarrassed in our world, by what God has to say about sin. We are red faced and apologetic over His intolerant attitude toward homosexuality, abortion, birth control, divorce, sex outside the bounds of marriage, materialism, and so on. We will remain that way as long as we hold to a small view of God.

So how do we get a bigger view of God? Our view of God is directly related to the degree that we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Why does Paul say that the Christian is never red-faced about God? What was he and Silas’ secret? They and all true Christians have had the love of God poured into their heart by the Holy Spirit who has been given to each of God’s children.

It is God the Holy Spirit who is the conduit,  who has given the true believer a supernatural high opinion of the Father God Almighty,  a supernatural love of Him. This love, when active, can never be shaken.

This pouring in of the love for God in the Christians heart is not a one shot deal. It begins when we receive the Holy Spirit at our baptism and its effects go on from there, provided we cooperate.

The word “pouring” here is not like you or I would daintily pour a cup of tea, it is likened to a gushing out, greedily running out and spilling over. It’s like an artesian well, no like a bubbling spring, no like Niagara Falls, relentlessly pouring out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

But, it won’t do any good if you put a lid on your heart. It won’t do any good if you only receive it and don’t express it. Express the love of God, brag about Him in all circumstances, sing His praises! Prisoners are listening! And what did Jesus say? If you love Me keep My commandments! Express His love in obedience! Prisoners are watching!

The Holy Spirit began pouring supernatural love of the Father into our hearts at our baptism, but something has happened to us. We have become complacent, many have fallen back into the sinful ways of the world. We have grieved the conduit, the Holy Spirit, with our actions. We have put a lid on the bucket of our heart and the love of God, though it thunders all around us in splendid displays,  splashes uselessly to the ground.

He keeps sending it, but we keep rejecting it, we don’t want a love for God in our hearts, because we know that it will interfere with our love of self, our love of sin,  and our love of the world. What does the Word of God say?

 1Jo 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. (RSV)

Do you understand the implications of this passage? If you don’t have a spilling over love for God, a love that is not embarrassed to sing a love song to Him, or a love that is not ashamed of believing His Word, or acting on it obediently, then you have a love affair with the world, and you are committing spiritual adultery, idolatry.  

And you are not heading to are heading to hell because that’s where idolaters go!

Rev 21:8 GW  But cowardly, unfaithful, and detestable people, murderers, sexual sinners, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will find themselves in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Now, let me ask you something. If the Holy Spirit is responsible for pouring the love of God into our hearts, and the depth of this love keeps us from being embarrassed about our God, and keeps us from loving the world,  is it wise for you or I to grieve the Holy Spirit?

Every time we grieve the Holy Spirit, we crimp the hose, we cut off and squelch the source of the flow of our love for  God.  The less love we have for God in our hearts, the more we are apt to sin, the more apt we are to love the world,  and the cycle gets worse and worse.

What’s the solution? Repentance. We need to think differently about our sin and think differently about the Holy One whom we have offended. Our God is not an “ordinary Joe” He is not someone we can “belly up” to the bar with. He is holy! He is awesome! He is magnificent and glorious and He hates sin.

He is not a Casper Milktoast either when it comes to dealing with sin. He will array Himself against you if you insist on rebelling against Him and not worshiping Him or obeying Him.

In the 2nd chapter of Acts we read about the Holy Spirit empowered sermon that Peter delivered to those gathered in Jerusalem. In this sermon, He magnified the Lord. He made sure that the people were aware of the power and might of God! Who had raised Jesus from the dead!

 Then he proved to them from Scripture that Jesus was indeed Lord and Christ, they had killed the Son of God! Listen to their reaction as they realized what they had done.

Act 2:36-37 GW  "All the people of Israel should know beyond a doubt that God made Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."  (37)  When the people heard this, they were deeply upset. (Some Bibles say, they were cut to the heart!) They asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"  

You will never experience the salvation of God, until you realize that it was your sin that put Him on the cross. The sin that you continue to dabble in today crucified the Son of God. You will only experience salvation when you are ready to ask the same question.

Your heart must see the immensity, the holiness of God and the anger that He has toward sin and unrepentant sinners.  You must see yourself as the recipient of that anger and hostility for God has arrayed Himself against you, and in fear and trembling call out, “What shall I do?”  

(38)  Peter answered them, "All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, (You must repent, it is the first word of the Gospel.)

“and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven.”
Then, sufficiently humbled and repentant, you are able to receive the mercy of God. He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble

“Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift.”
Then you will have the Conduit of the real, long-lasting love for God being poured back into your heart. A love that causes you to sing , rejoice, and obey no matter what your circumstances. A love that produces gratitude and reverence, and confidence,  and fear of the Lord.

I think we’ve lost some of, a lot of that in the church today. In the matter of reverence, whatever happened to those days when you arrived early for church and once you were in the sanctuary, there was a holy hush, because people would come in and sit quietly in their pew.

They were contemplating the magnificence of the God of the Bible, they contemplated His wrath against sin, .....their sin, and once again they were reminded of their own unworthiness,  they were ready to receive His mercy anew and then express their thankfulness and praise in song.

Why don’t we do that anymore? Has God shrunk? I don’t think so. Rather I think we have grieved the Holy Spirit and our love for God in all circumstances has been reduced to a trickle or shut off completely because the hose has been crimped, by our pride, rebellion, and disbelief.  

Father, God, I have sinned against You and I am no longer deserving of being Your child, forgive me,  I have forgotten Your majesty, Your splendor. I no longer tremble before Your holiness. I have made You to appear ordinary. Create in me a new heart O God and renew a right reverent spirit within me, cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me, lest the expression of my love for you be hampered in any way. Restore unto me the joy of knowing You and Your salvation. This I pray in Jesus name, Amen