- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2000

We all remember learning the "three Rs": reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. We needed them for a balanced education, and today we will look at the "three Rs" for the Christian walk.
The first R is "reconciling" yourself to the fact of sin. The absence of this R is probably the greatest flaw in modern evangelical Christianity. We've become accustomed to the doctrine that if you come to Christ, your life will be enhanced with love and fulfillment. So people try Jesus, and when they face life's rocky roads, they abandon the "Jesus thing."
There's tremendous falling away in Christendom… . Oswald Chambers said, "You may talk about the lofty virtues of human nature, [but] if you refuse to agree with the fact there is wickedness and selfishness … you will never understand your need for God."
How do we know that sin? Psalms 19 says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Paul had been a Pharisee who thought he kept the perfect law, until he saw himself in the mirror of that law. Then he recognized the need for Jesus' righteousness. After conversion of his soul, Paul said in Romans 3:19-20, "By the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is knowledge of sin." Because we don't know how much we have offended the holy God, we don't truly come to Christ… .
I can illustrate this in our civil law. If I said to you, "I've got good news. Someone has paid your $25,000 speeding ticket." You'd say, "What are you talking about? I have no $25,000 ticket." I would sound foolish, and you'd be offended. I am insinuating that you broke the law, and you believe you haven't… . So few who profess Jesus can press on in hardships because so few know how sinful they have been in the eyes of God… .
God is not only holy, but He is just, so he must punish sin. Think about it for a minute. Have you ever taken the name of the Lord in vain? Have you ever dishonored your father or mother, or committed adultery? Jesus said if a man or woman even lusts after another, they have committed adultery.
Have you ever stolen something, coveted, or told a lie? That is a picture of every one of us. Paul tells us that we would not know our sin if we did not have these laws from God… . Have you reconciled yourself to the fact of sin, and have you seen the goodness and mercy of God through the spectacles of justice? Here is a God who loves so much that He sent His perfect son to die for our horrific sins… .
If you come to Christ for life enhancement, you will never know that love. You can know that love if you come ready to "receive" ourselves in the fires of sorrow the second R.
Jesus was a "man of sorrows" who did not ask the Father to save Him from the suffering. When, we as sinners, are converted, we are a new creation, made anew in the image of Jesus. We want to walk like Christ, who knew and accepted His purpose amid the fires of sorrow. We should not ask God to prevent our sorrow and difficulty, but to protect us amid the sorrows so we remain what He created us to be… . Our hearts say, "There ought to be no sorrow." But because of sin, it is there.
In this situation, God helps us rise above the shallowness of our faith and our love [and] shapes us in the image of his son… .
The third R of the Christian walk is the constant need of "returning" yourself unto the Father of strength. Where are those strong Christians today, who face the fires of sorrow and run to the Father of strength again and again? They run to Him because they need His grace and they need His strength.
Those who do not recognize sin and receive the fires of sorrow don't run to the father. And when life gets hard, they bail out. They whine about their lives. They are miserable… . So please don't forget. Return yourself to the Father of strength.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Lynne Faris at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service.

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