A Bloody Mess: Life and Redemption in the Arms of Christ
I recently spent some time with men in the crucible, men caught up in the whirlwind of sin and Satan. There was the young man struggling with an adulterous affair and self-mutilation. There was the elder statesman battling the demons of lust. Addiction—both alcohol and drugs—and pornography abuse pervaded.
To see them on the street, you wouldn’t look twice. They looked just like everyone else but these men were broken, broken beyond belief. Choking back tears, they spoke of their struggles and shame, their failures and faults, people they’d harmed, wives they’d betrayed, family they’d walked out on. Tragically, these men were all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This encounter afforded me a stark reminder. Life is a messy, often bloody affair.
A Great Forgery
That is not what we want. The average Christian wants his church like his life, nice and tidy. Each Sunday, we’ll dutifully load the children into the minivan, ensuring they’re dressed appropriately, make the short drive to church, put on the appropriate smile, sing some encouraging songs, hear some encouraging words and hopefully make it out in time to beat the rush at Cracker Barrel. No one gets dirty, no one gets bloody, nice and neat, clean.
That night, the wife abuses her prescription anti-depressants, a son immerses himself in lust on his smart phone, a daughter cuts up her arms from the emptiness, as the dad sits oblivious on the couch. The wife later cries herself to sleep from neglect.
No matter how clean life looks, the mess is there, the blood pools on the floor, whether you acknowledge it or not. Most of us stuff it down, suppressing or ignoring the sin that separates us from the Lord, sin that ensnares us so easily. (Hebrews 12:1, Proverbs 5:22) We become content, in our fear, to lead a faux life, a shallow existence desperately trying to ignore the bloody handprints on the floor, obvious though they may be.
How could life not be bloody? Man’s sin represents the ultimate betrayal.
David sins against Bathsheba by calling her to him in adultery. He betrays Uriah, his brother-in-arms by sleeping with his wife and then has him murdered to cover it up. He sins against the people, the Israelites. It is the spring, when kings go out to battle and David is at home, not where he should be. The people trust him to rule fairly, justly, righteously and instead, he becomes embroiled in the fallout from the affair. The people look to him as a leader and he betrays them.
He later writes in agony, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” (Psalms 51:4a)
David sins against all these people but truly, he sinned against God. He sinned against the Creator, the Sustainer, the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever present God of the universe, the God of unlimited love and mercy who breathed the very breath of life into David’s lungs, the God who raised David up as a king. David betrayed God. David sinned against God.
David said, “Thank you very much God. I understand who you are. I understand what you’ve said and what you’ve commanded, but in this moment, I love my sin more than you. I love my lust more than you. I desire the physical gratification of my flesh more than you, God. I am making a willing and free choice, God, and I am not choosing you.”
David’s confession puts our sin in perspective. I have sinned against you God, only you. As sin betrays God, it is serious, deadly serious. The stakes are high.
Knowing this, why wouldn’t life be bloody and difficult? As men have betrayed the Life-giver, the Lord Jesus, how could we expect anything different?
And there we are, on our knees with a sponge as we hemorrhage, sopping up what we can as the life-blood drains from our withering bodies. No matter how furiously we mop, the growing mess will eventually betray our efforts.
A simple fact confronts the hearts of prideful men—the notion of being helpless and weak, powerless to pursue that which your human nature despises. You have two options:
1) Clean yourself up the best you can and present yourself before the Lord hoping it’ll be enough. It won’t.
2) Admit that you need a Mediator, a Redeemer.
You’ve sinned, maybe dwelt in sin for years, decades even, your entire life, “but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1b) Though you are helpless and weak, in your weakness, God is strong…and lest we forget, He is good.
Redemption – a Bloody Affair
God reminds us, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. “(Hebrews 9:22b)
Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments. He built an altar and sent young men to slaughter oxen as a peace offering. Moses took half the blood and threw it against the altar. He read them the book of the Covenant, the Law. Upon hearing it, the people responded with, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” (Exodus 24:7) And then he doused them with blood. He threw the other half of the blood upon the assembled masses.
By the blood of bulls and goats, God inaugurated the Old Covenant, a lesser covenant that always pointed to the New. (Hebrews 10:4)
Ultimately, by the blood of the Lamb, God redeems a people for Himself. (Ephesians 1:7)
Do you think your sin or your affliction is too much for God? Consider the words of Jeremiah, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17) Nothing is too hard for God. Nothing!
As such, He provided the perfect and ultimate sacrifice. The Father slew the Son, relieving men from the curse of the Law, freeing men from the bondage of works and religious ritual. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. It is the shed blood of Christ that forever satisfies this requirement, reconciling men to God.
What Must We Do?
Christ always confronts with this question, “What then must we do?” Since you know that Christ’s shed blood atones for the sin of all who would believe, what then must you do?
David makes this heart-felt plea following his earlier confession, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7) This is exactly the business of God.
John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) We must confess our sin and by confession, that means we say and think the same things about it as God. We must hate our sin as God does and here is a great promise. He will forgive and He will cleanse.
God alone can save. God alone can heal. Only God can cleanse us from the messy filth of this broken world. God is in the business of redemption. It’s what He does! The call is the same as it always has been, “Repent!” Repent of your sin and turn to faith in the Lord Jesus.
Broken Men Made Whole
I think about these broken men, men kneeling on the battlefield, bloodied and weakened, wiping the sweat from their brow. It is Christ who will lift them to newness. It is Christ who will pull them to their feet. It is Christ who will redeem them. The celebration is that they know the Lord Jesus.
The humbling aspect is understanding that I am they, just as broken and bloodied.
I bet you know a bloodied soul. Perhaps you’ve been bloodied yourself. Your sin or the sin of others long ago drove you to your knees. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot get clean. Quit taking matters into your own hands and turn to the One who can wash you clean.
Turn to the one who’s been bloodied and say, “I know another way.” In that there is hope, great hope as Jesus calls men from the darkness and into His marvelous light.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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