Study from Genesis 20 – 21 ; Passage for Reflection: Genesis 20: 11-12 … NIV Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' 12 Besides, she [Sarah] really is my sister, the daughter of my father, though not of my mother; and she became my wife.
My Journal for Today: You’ve no doubt heard it said, “Oh, the web we weave when we practice to deceive.” And here we have Abraham, the so-called “Father of the Faith,” once again deceiving himself that it’s justified to tell a half-truth, which is really an out-right lie, because of his fear of another man. About 20 years earlier old Abe had used this ploy with an Egyptian King; and now here he is with Abimelech, the Philistine king, doing it again. And it’s the same self-deception and the exactly the same sinful deception.
And with this story as our Author’s highlight passage for today’s devotional, F. LaGard Smith asks, ”What persistent sin do I [you] engage in and have rationalized so repeatedly that it now hardly seems to be sin at all?” And to this I said, “OUCH!” It was not long ago, right at the end of 2009, that I covered this very subject matter in one of my devotionals led by Chuck Swindoll [if you want to look it up, it was a series of devotionals I did from Dec. 29 – 31, in fact, beginning with Chapter 15 of 1st Samuel about Saul’s rationalization of sin and into Paul’s exhortation against such sinful deception in 1st Cor. 6.] This was a personally convicting series of devotionals for me; because it revealed my own personal stronghold of sin and self-deception in the area of gluttony and poor body (i.e., “Temple”) stewardship.
In that series, Chuck Swindoll used the weakness of Saul, short-cutting and deceiving Samuel (and God, of course) by holding out, knowing full-well the extent of God’s will; and yet Saul deceived himself that it was okay to only do part of what God had told him to do. And now in today’s passage we see Abraham, … faithful Abraham, succumbing to self-deception and sinful rationalization by choosing to exercise and repeat a personal rationalization of his own. And I think God is telling me something with these two devotionals, timed so closely together. Yes, my God is definitely exposing my own weakness to rationalize (i.e., to tell myself RATIONAL LIES) as I use food to comfort something in my soul which desires fulfillment, something which only God can fill, of course.
Perhaps you who read this have some pattern of recurring sinfulness which is a thorn in your side, … something that leads you to excuse your own personal choices which you really know is sin and strikes out against God’s will for your life. For many years of my life, before I was a Christian, one of my worst areas of rationalize sinfulness was habitual sexual sin; but when I came to know Christ as the Lord of my life, though it was a struggle, God led me out of that tarpit of sinfulness into the light of freedom and deliverance.
However, after over six decades of life being a glutton, I excuse this business of repeated over eating by telling myself that it’s a such a small sin; and I give myself license for it by seeing so many other “Christians” who are obese or who are also wallowing in gluttonous self-denial as well. And then I see my own church enabling me in my sinful weakness by having many venues where I’m tempted with wonderful, fattening foods – potluck dinners, banquets, etc. And I excuse my sinful eating choices as being “not so bad,” thinking that I’m strong in my righteousness in the much more malevolent area of sexual sin. Shouldn’t I have the license to be like other sinners and to satisfy my fleshly desires in this other, much more benign area of sin (or so I tell myself)?
Bill Berry it is sin! And the excuses are lies … LIES FROM THE PIT OF HELL! And when I knowingly deceive myself, rationalizing my sinfulness in this way, I’m not any different than Saul excusing his sin or Abraham telling these kings that Sarah was his sister. And when I choose to sinfully overeat, I short-change my relationship with God; and I’m very likely dampening my ability to use God’s grace in ministry and in my own life by not making the right and righteous choices when I’m tempted to overeat.
But – though I know it’s a platitude – TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE – and I can make eating choices today and in the future which will quit honoring Satan and rightfully and righteously honor my God.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, I know your promise in 2nd Cor. 12: 9; and Your enabling grace is there for me to use Your strength to cover my weakness. May I receive and use Your empowering grace today, … and tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, … to overcome my rationalization and sinful living. Amen