Today we are looking at the third of four dangerous prayers that we have been challenging ourselves to pray. All of the prayers come from Psalm 139:23- 24 which says, Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. These prayers are dangerous because they ask God to expose those things in our lives that we often try to hide.
We ask God to search my heart because we know there are passions and desires that don’t line up with God’s desires and while it’s not comfortable, we need to expose them so we can deal with them. We ask God to test our thoughts because we know we have thoughts that either go against God’s thinking and will for our lives or limit what God wants to do in us or through us. Today we are asking God to seek out my sin.
This is a dangerous prayer because we are asking God to expose anything in us that is inconsistent with God’s truth. Are there any words and actions that are unpleasing to God? Are there any attitudes and behaviors that dishonor God? And we aren’t asking God to casually look around and see if He happens to notice something, we are asking God to really look for it. Root it out God, uncover it, dig it up and search in all the dark corners to see if there is anything at all that is offensive, anything that is inconsistent and anything that is unpleasing.
This is dangerous because I guarantee that if we ask God to do this, God will find something. There is something in all of us that needs to be addressed because Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And 1 John 1:8 says, if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. So we are all sinners, which means, if we ask God to seek out our sin – God will and God will then point it out to us, and once God does that, it means we have to deal with it. There is no more hiding it, denying it or rationalizing it away.
The reason it is so important for us to ask God to do this is because while we often see our sin and know it is there, we don’t focus on it as much as we focus on the sins of others. Jesus said that it is easy for us to point out the speck of dust in someone else’s eye, but we fail to notice the plank that is coming out of our own. We can see the failures and inconsistency in others easily, but when it comes to the problems and sin in our own lives, we rationalize it, justify it and don’t deal with it seriously. The reason we downplay our own sin is because, as we heard a few weeks ago, the heart is deceitful above all things. In other words, we can lie to ourselves about what is really going on and tell ourselves that the sin in our lives is just not that bad – at least it is not as bad as what we see going on in someone else’s life.
To help us come to terms with what God is trying to reveal to us, here are three questions that can be helpful.
1. What are others trying to tell me about my life? If all of our coworkers are telling us that we have become too critical and controlling, then maybe these are problems we need to acknowledge. If our family shares with us concerns about how much we are drinking, or how many hours we are working, or how much time we spend online, then maybe we need to acknowledge some addictive patterns and behavior. If our friends comment about how mean we have become on social media, then maybe we need to examine the attitude of our hears.
While God can certainly convict us about what is going on in our lives, God will also use those around us to help shine his light of truth into our dark corners of our lives. This doesn’t give us the license to go and tell others what we see going on in their lives. We should only do that after we have given it some thoughtful prayer and examined our own lives first. We need to ask ourselves this question as a way of examining our own lives to see if there is some sin that God is trying to reveal.
2. What have I rationalized for too long? What activity or behavior have I rationalized by saying, it’s not that bad or it’s not hurting anyone. Talking about people behind their backs isn’t that bad, at least I’m not posting it all on Facebook for others to see. Cutting corners at work or on my taxes doesn’t really hurt anyone and it’s not like it’s that much money anyway.
While we might be able to rationalize away a lot of behavior as “not that bad” and “not hurting anyone” what we fail to see is that much of what we rationalize is inconsistent with God’s will and truth. God seeks out and uncovers these sins so that we can overcome them and experience a deeper relationship with God and others and this won’t happen if we keep pushing it all away. So what activities have I rationalized for too long? What behaviors have I justified and ignored?
3. Where am I most defensive? When family or friends comment about some area of our life – where do we become the most defensive? It is often these areas where we have a problem. When people touch on an issue that we want to ignore, we get defensive as a means of deflecting a truth that hurts. Getting defensive is also an example of pride, and maybe that is what needs to be rooted out in our life before we can deal with anything else. Instead of getting defensive, we need to be humble and ask ourselves if what people are pointing out might actually be a problem. So where do we get defensive?
Asking God to seek out my sin is just the first part of this prayer, once God uncovers our sin and reveals it to us we have to be willing to deal with it. This means we have to stop denying it and start confessing that things need to change. We call this repentance. Repentance means to turn and the first part of any turn is to stop going in the direction we are going. We have to stop before we can turn, so we have to stop denying that our sin isn’t that bad and acknowledge that it is a problem that we need to own.
Then we need to start going in a new direction. We have to change our attitudes, words and actions. We need to start living a new way, God’s way. This process of change doesn’t happen overnight. For most people the process of living a new life is just that – a process. We commit to living a new way, make the necessary changes, find some success and then fall, but we pick up the pieces, ask for forgiveness and keep moving forward. What we discover in this process of repentance and change is that we cannot do this on our own. We can only make significant and lasting change with God’s help. On our own we cannot achieve the kind of life God wants for us and when we realize this, it drives us to Jesus.
The process of asking God to seek out our sin and the dealing with what we find points us to Jesus because we begin to see things in our life that on our own we can’t change or overcome. This prayer is dangerous because it shows us that we don’t need Jesus just a little, we need Jesus completely.
In Mark 14 there is a story about a woman who got to a point in her life where God had revealed just how much she needed Jesus. Mark doesn’t give us any information about the woman, but some think she may have been a prostitute. While we don’t know who she is or how she ended up in her situation, we do know that she got to a point in her life where she saw her complete need for Jesus because she walked up to Jesus, took a very expensive jar of perfume and broke the jar over Jesus. She poured out the perfume as an act of worship. Mark 14:3-6.
The perfume represented this woman’s entire life. It was her past, maybe purchased with money from her position as a prostitute or maybe an heirloom passed from mother to daughter, either way it represents her past and her future. It could have been sold for a lot of money and she could have lived off of that money for years to come. Her past and her future is broken, given completely to Jesus. Her life is poured out as an act of confession and repentance and as a statement saying that she needs nothing in life but Jesus.
What this woman does is an example of what we need to do when God points out our sin. We need to be willing to be broken and poured out in an act of worship that allows Jesus to enter in. What it looks like for each of us to be broken before God is different, and how God asks us to pour ourselves out will be unique to our situation, but what this woman does is an example for us. We need to express our complete dependence on God when he points out our sin. Repentance means coming to Jesus to express our complete need for God’s grace, forgiveness and strength in order for us to turn and live a new life. Asking God to seek out our sin is dangerous, because it will lead us to be broken and poured out.
What is interesting about this story is that the very next story in Mark’s gospel tells us about Jesus celebrating the Passover with his disciples and as part of that meal Jesus is broken and poured out. Jesus takes bread and breaks it saying, this is my body which is broken for you. Then Jesus picks up a cup filled of wine and says, this is my blood which is poured out for you. The reason we are able to come and find all that we need in Jesus is because Jesus was willing to give all he had for us. Jesus was willing to be broken and poured out not so he could find life but so he could give us life. Jesus was without sin and yet he was willing to be broken and poured out for our sin so that through him we could be forgiven and then given the power to live a new life. This is what we are saying every time we share in communion.
Communion is the place for us to come and confess our sin. This is the place to come and be broken before God and confess that we cannot live the kind of life we want to on our own. This is the place to pour out our hearts and lives to God asking God to forgive us and to give us strength so we can rise above our sin and live a better life. Communion is the time and the place to give to God our past and our future so we can receive from God all we need to experience the fullness of life. It is dangerous prayers that lead us to this place because it is here that we need to acknowledge that our hearts and minds and lives are not what God wants them to be and that we need Jesus to forgive us and give us strength.
Seek out my sin is a dangerous prayer because it leads us to becoming broken and reveals to us that we can’t live the kind of life we want to live on our own, but we can pray this prayer with confidence because God, in his infinite love and grace, has already allowed himself to be broken and poured for us. God points out our sin but has already forgiven us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Dangerous Prayers – Seek Out My Sin
Pray: Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
1. What sin is God uncovering in your life?
2. Why is it easier to see the sin in other people’s life than in our own life? See Matthew 7:1-5
3. How does your response to each of these questions help lead you to the sin God is seeking to reveal to you?
• What are others trying to tell me about my life?
• What wrong attitudes and actions have I rationalized for too long?
• Where am I most defensive?
4. Read Mark 14:3-9 and 14:22-26.
• What did it mean for the woman to be broken and poured out?
o What would this look like in your own life?
• How did Jesus allow himself to be broken and poured out?
o What does this mean for your own life?
5. Praying, search my heart, test my thoughts and seek out my sin, leads us all to a place of brokenness and need. Which of these prayers has been the most challenging to pray? Why? Which prayer is most needed in your life today?
6. God uses other people to offer us perspective and support. Who can help you see the sin in your own life and who can help you overcome this sin through their support, accountability and prayer?