You often do things to pursue some desire that don’t lead where you ultimately want to be. There’s a pattern to the missteps that lead you to places where you don’t want to be. George MacDonald wrote that obedience is the soul of knowledge( This statement partially means that you won’t understand what is truly best until you obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and what you already know to be right and wrong.

It goes something like this. You have needs for love, companionship, a purpose, a mission. Someone or something presents as a potential for fulfilling the need. You take a step and then another toward that potential. You get a gut warning but ignore or rationalize it away. You keep going. More warnings present. You begin to look for ways to make what you are doing “legal” or rational. 

For example, you move in with the marginal boyfriend, stay in the degree program, continue in the business deal, pretend not to see what’s going on at work.

You keep attempting to “make it work.” 

Eventually, a time comes when you must live with the choice you’ve made for something less than God’s best, or you turn away. When you continue on the path of what is not the best way, there will eventually be a reckoning. Things will fall apart or blow up. A true testing time now begins because how you respond will determine whether you grow or wither.

In Romans 7: 14 – 15, Paul writes, We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

You may say, “I’m not sinning. I’m trying to do the right thing, take responsibility for myself.”

We have the Ten Commandments as a guide on those things which are definitively wrong in God’s eyes. We have Jesus who came to earth and told us (Mark 12: 30 – 31) that the greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

So, how do you know of sin that falls outside of the specifics within the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ seeming generalizations?

Again, Paul in Romans 14: 23 saying, …” everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

You can run and hide, denying your willfulness, or you can admit it and begin to build maturity and understanding. God in his mercy will always help those who take on an attitude of humility and gratitude. He often helps you make lemonade out of lemons. You may have made a mess, but God will help you clean it up, over and over.

As long as you keep a teachable heart and mind, you’ll get to take life’s tests over and over. Don’t expect consequences to go away, but there’s always room for forgiveness. Start with forgiving yourself. Forgive others. Talk to people involved in your situation openly with humility and honesty. Trust and obey. For some people, trusting is easier than obeying. But you must engage both facets of your will. The person who trusts without obeying is still putting a portion of trust in themselves and expecting God to come along with the plan.

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Carla G. Harper - Author, Publisher, Speaker