Posts tagged: Sin

Christ Died for My “Respectable” Sins

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:32 pm

Jesus was despised because of my envy.

Forsaken of men because of my greed.

He became the man of sorrows due to my grudges,

and was acquainted with grief because I lack self-control.

Men hid their faces from him due to my laziness

and he was spit on because I laugh at crude jokes.


Surely my selfishness he himself bore

and my lusts he carried.

He was stricken because of my irritable words –

smitten of God as payment for my pride,

afflicted as the penalty for my lack of compassion.


He was pierced through for my gossip;

He was crushed for my impatience.

The chastening to forgive my lack of gratitude fell upon Him,

and by His scourging I am healed from my judgmental attitudes.


In my rudeness, I have gone astray,

and I have turned to my own prejudices:

but the LORD has laid on Him the total of all my ungodliness.



© 2010 Paula Marolewski

The Time to Deal with Death

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:29 pm

Today’s entry is an excerpt from the novella Wasteland:

In the social structure and order that I hope you enjoy, it is easy to feel contempt and embarrassment when the mention of sin is made. Sin is a gross term. An ugly one. We prefer to label it, “Freedom of choice.” “Alternative lifestyles.” “Situational ethics.” “Tolerance.” It’s fine to label a murderer as a murderer—unless, of course, that murderer holds political office, or is an upstanding citizen, or a savvy lawyer. Then it is a matter of “extenuating circumstances,” and at best, “manslaughter,” or preferably “temporary insanity.”

But to define wrong as sin, and to use images such as leprosy in order to convey it—that is a social faux pas of the first order. But that, too, is the first symptom of sin: for just as leprosy destroys nerve-endings so that the victim is not aware of decaying and wounded and rotting flesh, so also sin deadens our senses so that we are unaware of our decaying and wounded and rotting souls.

We throw a thousand excuses at sin. We claim that our dysfunctional families and society made us what we are. We agree that if it feels good, and doesn’t hurt anyone, it can’t be wrong. We affirm that if the end is good, any means is justified in attaining it.

But this is all hypocrisy and self-justification. Just as we claim that there are little sins and big ones. For if murder is the destruction of the body, isn’t gossip the destruction of trust? Slander the destruction of relationships? Adultery the destruction of fidelity? Isn’t anger as sharp a blow as physical abuse, and isn’t gluttony as much an orgy as alcoholism? And for the passive sins—isn’t sloth the killer of ingenuity? Pride the hammer-blow to equality? Envy the destroyer of peace?

If we can ever get on our knees enough to acknowledge sin, we will find damnation coming hard on its heels. This is another subject to be ignored by polite society. We all know that we sin, but we refuse to call it by its rightful name. We all know that we will die, but we dance desperately in the sun in a vain effort to stay the coming of the night. But once you realize the truth of your own immortality—once you hear the voice of your judge reverberating through the night-time of your soul—once you recognize sin for the rupture in the universe that it is—then you will know the fear of damnation. For to give up an infinite good—to spit in the face of Someone of infinite good—is an infinite evil demanding infinite retribution.

But that is not a topic of conversation for morning coffee breaks. We save it for the bedsides of the sick and dying, and wonder why the hopelessness remains.

The time to deal with death is when you are still alive. Afterwards, it is too late. Face your fears and doubts and questions while you have the strength to seek out the answers. The strength to hammer on the door of eternity until Truth lifts the latch.

For he who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds. And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Restoring Our Sensitivity to Sin

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:23 pm

“Why don’t I feel guilty?”

Have you ever asked that question of yourself? You knew you had done wrong. You knew it when you made the decision to commit the sin. You didn’t act out of ignorance. You hadn’t made a “mistake.” But even after your sin “found you out” and you were faced with the consequences, you still felt no guilt.

Some people would say, “You shouldn’t feel guilty! You were victimized by others and acted out of your own significant hurt.”

And perhaps that is true. Perhaps you were victimized. Perhaps you are in pain. That doesn’t mean you are excused from moral responsibility – and from moral guilt.

But what if, based upon your Christian faith, you acknowledge your moral responsibility but still feel nothing but emptiness inside? No true feeling of guilt? What is going on?

If you experience this, it is a definite warning sign – a warning that you have become de-sensitized to sin. All of us can fall into this trap. While there are several reasons we can become de-sensitized to sin, the biggest is probably this: we become de-sensitized because of repeated acts of sin. I read an illustration once (I cannot recall where now), that said the path of sin is similar to sticking a piece of duct tape to your arm and tearing it off. It hurts like crazy the first time – that’s guilt and conscience. But put that same piece of tape on again and tear it away, and it hurts less … there’s less stickiness to it, and less for it to stick onto. Repeat and repeat, and finally the tape won’t stick at all. Similarly, when we repeat sin again and again in our lives, eventually it doesn’t appear to us to be sin at all.

So what do we do when we realize that we have sinned … and that we feel no guilt about it?

Confess and repent of your sin. You see, both confession and repentance are acts of the will. They have nothing to do with our emotions. Certainly, it’s easier to repent if we also feel sorrowful and have an appropriate sense of guilt (since that drives us to our knees faster), but it’s not necessary. Acknowledge your sin, admit your offense against God and man, and make the decision to change your ways. God will forgive you.

Now, however, having taken the most important step of restoring your relationship with God, you need to re-sensitize yourself to sin, so that you recognize it for what it is and resurrect your conscience to help you avoid it. Here are some steps that may prove helpful:

First, I would suggest praying a very, very difficult prayer. It is taken from Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The prayer is this:

“I beg for intense and increasing sorrow and tears for my sins.”

Ouch. Such a prayer hurts. It will take guts to pray it, but I believe it is an important and necessary step. I encourage you to make it personal, for instance:

“I beg for intense and increasing sorrow and tears for my sins, and a renewed and holy sense of guilt for what I have done. I pray that You would restore to me a horror and hatred of sin that will drive me to You.”

I believe that God will answer that prayer, because it is a prayer to be Christ-like. In the short run, it will hurt like anything, but in the long run, it will be for your good and his glory.

Next, I would spend time thinking about the effect your sin had on the life of the person(s) you sinned against. Imagine how their beliefs about themselves and life and other people have been twisted. Imagine their sense of pain, loss, betrayal, and fear. Imagine how their relationship with God or other people may be scarred for life because of what you did. Imagine how you might have helped set them on a path of sin and death, de-sensitizing their conscience and deceiving their minds.

This will hurt. Let it hurt. Pray that God will give you the grace to embrace the hurt, then give the hurt over to him.

Finally, I encourage you to pray for the person(s) you sinned against. Pray for their:

  • Spirit, that God would draw them to himself if they do not know him, or that they would be restored in their faith.
  • Emotions, that God would bring healing for the pain, fear, self-loathing, etc. Imagine the emotions they might be feeling, and pray specifically about those things.
  • Mind, that God would remove lies, deceptions, and self-justifications and help them to understand and embrace the Truth.
  • Body, that God would bring healing if there are physical wounds from your sin.
  • Relationships, that God would give them people to support, love, care, and encourage them.

Bear in mind that re-sensitizing your spirit will take time, just as de-sensitizing it did. Do not be surprised if, as you continue to grow in the Lord, you find yourself “awakening” more and more to the horror and guilt of your sin. That is healthy, if it is treated appropriately: accept the sensitivity with thanksgiving and rejoice, for you are forgiven! Satan plays with guilt two ways: removing our sense of it so that we can’t recognize sin, and heightening our sense of it so that we can’t recognize forgiveness. Remember: God intended guilt to let us know we had done wrong, so that he could make it right.  


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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How to Pray for the Complete Person

Why Talk About Sin?

How Does Deception Begin?

Overcoming Sin

What Makes God Spit

God Is Still Holy

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:18 pm

As I was reading through Exodus and Numbers, I was struck by how many times God came close to wiping out Israel in his wrath and judgment. Consider these passages:

  • “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.” (Exodus 32:10)
  • “When the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1)
  • “The anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague.” (Numbers 11:33)
  • “I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them.” (Numbers 14:12)
  • “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” (Numbers 16:21)
  • “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” (Numbers 16:45)
  • “The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” (Numbers 21:6)

In each case, Israel had provoked the Lord to anger through sin, rebellion, and never-ending complaints. They had offended God’s holiness. As a result, God responded with wrath. Due to Moses’ humility and intervention, that judgment was turned aside or mitigated each time.

I don’t want us to lose sight of something very important here: God is still holy. He still hates sin. He still experiences wrath. Now, for us, Jesus’ humility and intervention at the cross turns aside or mitigates God’s righteous judgment against us.

We should never take that indescribable grace and love for granted.

We should never forget the holiness of God.



© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

Provoking the Lord

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:16 pm

I was reading in Judges, and was struck by these verses (2:11-13):

“Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.”

It can be horrifying to really consider God’s wrath as it was frequently revealed in the Old Testament (and, incidentally, as it will be revealed again at the end of time). But let’s not lose sight of why God poured out his wrath and judgment: he was provoked.

Consider some of the many synonyms for “provoke”: aggravate, anger, chafe, enrage, exasperate, incite, inflame, infuriate, madden, offend, rile, vex.

My point is this: Israel wasn’t generally well-meaning but committing an occasional “oops.” God didn’t have a short fuse that they managed in all innocence to set off. They were deliberately, consistently, flagrantly engaging in sins that were evil to the “nth” degree. They were provoking the Lord to anger. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. Until finally, they got what was coming to them.

Here’s the takeaway: God is still God, and people are still people.

Are you provoking the Lord to anger with deliberate, consistent, flagrant sin?

If you are, then don’t be surprised when he responds accordingly.


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

Seedling: Wisdom and Reproof

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By Paula Marolewski, March 25, 2010 11:42 am

“Reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” – Proverbs 9:8

We all want to be wise. But here’s an interesting point: we tend to think that people who are wise are pretty much perfect. Certainly they don’t act in ways that deserve reproof, correction, or discipline! Isn’t that the essence of being wise?

That is true in the abstract: perfect wisdom would indeed yield perfect action and be a sign of perfect character. In fact, that describes God himself: he is Wisdom personified.

But we are humans – and as such, sinners. So though we may attain a level of wisdom, we are hampered by human limitations and human failings. No matter how wise we may be, we can fall into sin. (Remember Solomon and his wives and idols?)

It is then that Proverbs 9:8 comes into play: when we are wise, we will recognize, accept, and be thankful for the reproof of others that calls our sinful actions to account. Only by doing so will we continue to grow in wisdom.

  • What is your first reaction when someone reproves you for something you said or did?
  • Why can it be difficult to recognize that we have sinned?
  • Why can it be difficult to accept our personal responsibility when we have sinned?
  • Why can it be difficult to be thankful when someone corrects us?


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Seedling: Right in the Eyes

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By Paula Marolewski, February 8, 2010 12:10 pm

“If the devil tells you something is too fearful to look at, look at it. If he says something is too terrible to hear, hear it. If you think some truth unbearable, bear it.” – G.K. Chesterton

The devil has many schemes to hold us back. One of his key methods is fear. Consider:

  • We are afraid of failing. So we never try.
  • We are afraid of what might be lurking deep inside us. So we never root out the sin in our lives.
  • We are afraid of facing the consequences of our actions. So we run away.

The list goes on. Fearful to speak, lest we upset the person spoken to. Fearful to confront, lest we destroy a relationship. Fearful to admit, lest people scorn us. Fearful to commit, lest we not be able to live up to expectations.

And on, and on.

When we are afraid, we do what a child does during the scary part of a movie: we hunch up, screw up our eyes tightly, and clap our hands over our ears.

If I can’t see it, if I can’t hear it, if I deny it exists … it can’t get me.

But the truth is, shutting our eyes and ears will never succeed in protecting us from the scary things in life. Think what would happen if a soldier was afraid and closed his eyes and started singing nonsense songs loudly so he couldn’t hear the noise of battle around him? He would be dead in a moment.

No, the only way to conquer both fear and the enemies you are frightened of is to open your eyes. Open your ears. Acknowledge the truth. Look reality right in the eyes.

When you do, you will see the situation is vivid color. And it may be even scarier than you thought. But by opening your eyes, you’ll be able to see something else as well: the God who is right beside you, leading you, guiding you, directing you.

And suddenly, you’ll find there’s nothing to fear.

  •  How have you historically dealt with issues that frightened you? Why?
  • Are you frightened of anything right now? Why?
  • If you are fearful of something today, take a deep breath, and bring the whole matter before the Lord in prayer. Be detailed and specific – about the situation, about why you are frightened, and about what you have done about it to date. Then ask the Lord to give you the courage, wisdom, and grace to face the situation.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Flagrant Sin

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By Paula Marolewski, January 27, 2010 7:15 am

I recently encountered the question: How should we respond to people who come to the church with flagrant sins in their background (i.e., sodomy, sexual crimes, murder, etc.)?

Here are three recommendations:

  • First, don’t sugarcoat sin. Don’t pass off what people did lightly and say “Oh, it’s okay!” Don’t make excuses for it. Call it for what it is and look at it in the revealing light of the Word of God.
  • Second, emphasize, encourage, and expect transformation of character through the grace of God. It’s not enough to preach it – the church needs to put accountability and discipleship relationships in place to help people grow and change.
  • Third, let the past be the past. Don’t deny the past (that is why accountability relationships are important), but don’t focus on it either. The past is a done deal, and the old man is in the grave. Focus on who people are now – not what they were – and who they can become through God’s grace. Give people a fresh start.

Oh … and one more thing, just as a reminder: we all come to the church with flagrant sins in our background. They might be the sins of envy, greed, or gossip rather than abuse, adultery, or theft, but they are still sins that separate us from God, fester as a cancer in our soul, and destroy the vitality of our life.

So the fact is, all of us need to put into practice the above recommendations. When we realize that – and practice that – the humility of our hearts and the grace of our God will so shine in our lives that the world will be drawn to the saving Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Seedling: Have You Given Permission?

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By Paula Marolewski, January 17, 2010 4:29 pm

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?” – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

In C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce, there is a scene where an angel confronts a man tormented by lust, which is represented as a lizard perched on the man’s shoulder. The man wants to be free of the lust – which the angel says he can help him accomplish – but at first he tries to make excuses for keeping the lizard. In the course of his argument with the angel, he exclaims, “If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me – before I knew? It would all be over by now if you had.”

It is at that point that the angel says clearly, “I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

There is a very great lesson here: God cannot and will not free us from sin unless we ourselves want to be freed. It isn’t enough to say, “Oh, if only I didn’t struggle with <fill in the blank>!” … if we keep on making excuses to continue in our course every time God offers to help us conquer our sin.

Do I sometimes wish God would override my free will “for my own good”? Yes, I do. But then I realize why he will never do so: he values me too much. He values my partnership in this journey called life. He values my love. He values my trust. He values my identity. He wants to pour out his power and grace and love and Spirit in my life, but he wants me to be an integral part of that outpouring. For that reason, he will not force himself on me, but is waiting patiently for my permission … and with it, my cooperation and submission … so that he can act on my behalf.

  • What sins are you struggling with regularly?
  • Do you want to be freed from these sins? Be completely honest. If you don’t really want to be free of one or more of these sins, why not?
  • How have you been cooperating with God to overcome these sins? How have you been hindering his work in your life?
  • Spend time in confession and repentance, and give God permission to do whatever is necessary to help you grow in holiness.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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“Just As I Am”?

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By Paula Marolewski, January 6, 2010 1:12 pm

“I’m not going to change – this is the way I am. Take it or leave it.”

You’ve heard that before? Perhaps you’ve said that before?

A few thoughts:

No, we cannot change another person. People are people – self-determining individuals – not projects.

And yes, God accepts us “just as I am, without one plea.”

But here’s the kicker: God doesn’t expect me to stay “just as I am.” He expects, demands, and requires change. It’s called “sanctification.”

And likewise, while those around us do not have the right to try to change us, they do have the right to expect that we will take action to change ourselves when we are living an unhealthy lifestyle, have a serious area of weakness, or are acting outside of God’s will.

Don’t change the words of the song: it’s “Just as I am, without one plea.” Not “Just as I am, now leave me be.”



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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