What Has Sin Deprived You Of

Posted on November 17, 2018

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By David Ettinger

I Wish Things Were Different
At age 60, my life is not where I want it to be. After almost 32 years as a believer, I wanted to have reached more people for Christ than I have. Working in the newspaper business for 20 years yielded many opportunities, quite a few of which I seized, but too many others I let slip by.

darkness

Being a Jewish believer in Christ, I wanted to be more of a voice to the Jewish people, though I knew opportunities would be limited living in southern New Mexico. I thought my move to Orlando would open the floodgates of Jewish evangelism, but it hasn’t.

But I know the reason for this, and it is found in Jeremiah 5:25: “Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.” The context is God explaining to Israel why judgment awaits her and why He is withholding blessings from her (in this case, “autumn and spring rains in season” and “regular weeks of harvest,” v. 24).

For Israel, sin had caused God to withhold the rain; for me, sin has led to subpar ministry. What about you? What has sin kept from you?

Sin Defined
“Sin” here is not just overt and obvious transgressions of sexual immorality and illegal activity; there are “lesser” sins. One such sin is neglect of God. How much time do you spend praying? How much time to you spend reading your Bible? In contrast, how much time to you spend watching television or on your computer? How much time do you spend going to movies, sporting events, or any other form of entertainment? What kind of balance are you maintaining between the worldly and the spiritual? What should that balance be? We can’t put a number on it regarding minutes or hours, but as a Bible-believing Christian, you should be reading your Bible and spending time with God in prayer daily.

Spiritual Blessings Withheld
You understand the concept of reward and punishment. When children do well, parents reward them; when they misbehave, they are punished. When they don’t give their parents affection or attention, the parents are hesitant to bestow good things upon them. Parents often make their dissatisfaction known to their children by withholding good from them.

downcast

The same holds true regarding your relationship with God. You know He will punish you for grievous sin, but what about the “lesser” sins? What can you expect God to withhold from you? For me, number one on the list is His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 promises that when we lift our anxieties to God through prayer and with thanksgiving, He will grant us “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” When my ways are not right with the Lord, I feel it in the loss of peace; instead, I am filled with discomfort and agitation. It is a miserable state to be in.

Another blessing withheld when your ways are not right with God is ministry effectiveness, which I mentioned at the outset. Also, my Bible-reading time suffers. I may read my usual six to eight chapters a day, but my comprehension, attention, and the Holy Spirit’s input is lacking. When your ways are not right with the Lord, your Bible-reading times are fruitless and unsatisfying. It is as if God is saying, “I know you seek My peace, want to serve Me effectively, and desire impactful Bible-reading times. The problem is, ‘Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.’”

Displeasing God also affects your physical blessings. I want to be careful here; some of God’s most precious children are dirt poor, particularly in third-world nations. But generally speaking, displeasing God plays itself out in the physical realm through financial struggles no matter your income. Do you make a good salary and still struggle financially? Or, are you dissatisfied with life? The apostle Paul writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). When you neglect God, you often lose your contentment.

Financial struggles and discontent are two ways God withholds good. Are you experiencing them?

It’s Not Too Late
Thankfully, you can turn your circumstances around quickly. Simply resolve to pray and read your Bible daily and reduce TV and computer time.

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Two verses have greatly helped me. The first is Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” I consider this to be a “salvation” verse, one aimed at unbelievers. However, it can well be applied to believers when we are walking in disobedience to God. What I like about this verse is the “instantaneous” nature of it. On your part, you are to forsake your wickedness and rein in sinful thoughts. In return, God will immediately have mercy on you and pardon your transgressions. Once done, the path to a contented relationship with God has begun.

The second verse is Acts 3:19: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” This is another “salvation” verse that works for disobedient believers. I love the promise of “refreshing.” The word indicates something new, crisp, and gleaming. There is the sense of restoration and vitality.

Does Jeremiah 5:25 apply to you? Can God say to you: “Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good”? If so, don’t despair. Yes, you will have to exchange your “wasted” hours for fruitful ones and your worldly endeavors for spiritual communion with God in prayer and Bible reading, but it will be worth the effort. Resolve to do it, and do it today. Trade in your “wrongdoings” for “repentance” and let the Lord grant you “times of refreshing”!

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