Good morning my friends. It is the wee hours of Monday morning and to be honest I would rather be sleeping. It was a good weekend but an exhausting one as well. Sometimes we can experience things and then at the end wonder if it was useful in any way. It is sometimes how I feel after having spent a day at an amusement park or with some other activity that has cost me time and money. A day spent and a bit poorer I wonder if I am any better for it. Sometimes you can get that feeling after reading a book or watching a movie or listening to a song: It was interesting but was it of any benefit? Some people ask that question after reading Paul's letter to Philemon: A nice letter but of what use is it to me? Don't be fooled, there are a number o good lessons to take from this simple letter.
One of those lessons is probably the hardest for any of us to deal with. It is about doing what is right even after we have been forgiven by God. It is understanding that there are natural consequences to our actions even after we have turned our life around. Sin has a way of rearing its ugly head on us even though God has completely forgotten our offenses. We have this notion that he will save us from these natural consequences but often we are left to face them because it is the right thing to do. This is a great lesson we can take from the letter to Philemon.
The premise of Paul's letter is that he is writing to ask favor of Philemon on behalf of a slave that had run away. After escaping from Philemon, Onesimus either came across Paul or one of Paul's co-workers and had accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour. However, accepting Jesus did not do away with Onesimus' social standing, his crime or his relationship with Philemon. Paul had convinced him to set things right; it was the only way to have a clear conscience in worship and service to Jesus. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult this would have been for Onesimus' not knowing if he would find freedom or death from Philemon; a letter from Paul was no guarantee.
Not many of us have done things that would have the potential severity of consequences as what Onesimus was facing. However, we have all done things that would embarrass us or make us feel uncomfortable to face or to put right. It doesn't mean we should not do it and it does not mean we will be rewarded for doing it. It's just the right thing to do and we must do the right thing in order to worship and serve with a clear conscience. I will guarantee you one thing, God will use it for his glory and the enemy will lose any grip he may feel he still has on you.
Sin is an ugly and destructive thing that affects many more people than just the one or two who participate in it. There are times that sin can have a far flung affect when we think that it has only to do with us as individuals. That sin works on a person, even after we are saved, because it is unresolved. It is difficult for us to face the things we have done, the natural consequences of our sins. We want God to wipe it all out for us, which he does in his own books but not from the hearts and minds of others. Some people may wonder why but it is a simple matter that the Father wants to be glorified in the place where the enemy thought he was victorious. Our Father wants light to shine where there was darkness so that there will be no more fear, because fear is the enemy's tool but our Father's perfect love drives out that fear by exposing it to the light. When we seek to do what is right because of Jesus then Jesus gets glorified for the changes in us, regardless of the reaction of the person we have offended by our sin. We cannot say how they will react by our confession but we do know we can testify that it is because of Jesus we want to do what is right. The enemy no longer has any power over what has been exposed to the Light.
This may seem harsh to you but it is better than the consequences of trying to live with such dark secrets. The only way a person can live with such hidden things is by allowing their conscience to become seared and if we allow this to happen we could be lost to God. The warnings in the Word about the last days is that many will teach what is false due to a seared conscience. I wonder if this will be caused by sins that were not taken care of or were left unconfessed? Let us trust the Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit. Let us be as brave as Onesimus and take Paul's counsel. Let us get rid of any last territory that the enemy thinks he possess in us so that we may serve Jesus with no fear and with a clear conscience.