Pain power number three. Welcome to Wellings for your spiritual health and growth. It’s still young in the new year. And so this talk comes with new year blessings and new year greetings to you. Pain power, our series, talks about the reality that we all must face. If we have been exempted from pain, we just have to wait a little while. But all of us have had the experience of pain. It’s simply the means by which we are reminded as human. But we can recover as being strengthened by God himself.
The last couple of times we talked about pain power as the clarifier, pain powers house in clarifying our beliefs, our activities, our motives. The last time, we talked about pain as a connector. Not just abstractly and notionally, but really and concretely, it connects us– connects us to our own limitation, connects us to other’s needs, connects us to Jesus, to God who experienced pain, to the truth found in scripture, also as applied by those who have experienced those truths in real life.
Today, I speak on pain the cleaner, the cleanser. Pain is a cleanser, isn’t it? Pain allows us to be more clean, fully clean. That’s called the cathartic benefit of pain. So much so some religions ask you to go pursue pain. They make you experience pain.
They embed the claws of temple pulling carts into your shoulder or get crucified on Good Friday so that pain will have a way of cleansing. The Bible never asks you to pursue pain. But if pain comes, we don’t avoid it either. There is a cleaning, a cleansing, which pain allows you and me to experience, to become more clean, to become fully clean.
Now, my wife has a different level of clean than I do. Where I stop seeing dirt, she can see a lot of dirt. She is the consummate cleaner. She uses her broom. She uses our vacuum cleaner, somewhat so I’m told that our broom and our vacuum cleaner had a conversation in the closet. One said or the other, I am tired of Bonnie pushing me around, and the other quickly agreed. Then, of course, you’ve got to clean the broom and the vacuum cleaner. If you clean a vacuum cleaner, you become a vacuum cleaner.
She has a view of deep cleansing, not superficial cleaning but deep cleansing. That’s what pain does– spiritual cleansing. Pain helps me clean up my dependence on my idols. We are all prone to idolatry, even the idolatry of the good. When anything other than God is put in the place of God, regarded as the one who gives us life and meaning, functions like God, we have fallen into idolatry.
When everything else is loved and respected more than God, we can fall into idolatry, the idolatry of the good. Idol crafting, idol making is a huge business in the land where I grew up. With millions of gods, 330 million some have said– I don’t know if anybody has counted that many. There’s a great demand for idols, especially during festival times. And so now Indian Idol’s are made in China less expensively and imported into India for religious worship.
And before you smile, we are idle crafters as well– idle manufacturers, idle makers. Pain cleanses me from lifting anything into the place of God, of ultimate importance, that for which I would give my life. Pain says only God is worthy of that kind of importance.
Our pain also cleanses me from all kinds of pride. I, like you, experienced pride. And I don’t want to be alone experiencing pride, so I included you in the experience of pride. And when I’m humble, I’m proudful. Pride is only detected by the subject, except for God who can see pride in our hearts and lives.
A famous pastor talks about four kinds of pride. He talks about race pride, face pride, place pride. All of this– we really were not responsible for your race, for your face. Maybe you work very hard and got to some place in your life and, therefore, have titles and positions. All that pride, pains says, will equalize us. When we experience pain, nobody is superior to another– rich people, poor people, thin people, fat people, high people, low people. We all face pain.
The author actually talks about another one called grace pride, where we think our experience of grace is higher and better than your experience of grace. Unfortunately, that can be true. But pain says, be humble. In cleanses you from pride. It cleanses me from haughtiness and any sense of sufficiency and superiority.
And, finally, pain cleanses us from sins through our confession. Actually, the cleansing is given as part of that wonderful verse in verse John 1:9 says, if you confess your sins, he’s faithful. God is faithful to forgive us our sins. And then he adds a phrase, which sometimes we overlook– and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We’ll never be sinless till we reach heaven. Until that time, we make choices, either by omission or commission, to fall into sin. Pain cleanses us from sin. Through confession, God says, I will not only see you as forgiven, but I’ll see you as clean. He invites us to confession, which leads to cleansing. I usually say the confession continuum has these following series.
First, is the recognition of sin, we often rationalize sin. But beyond recognition is regret, sorrow over sin. And then a change of mind– repentance– as to the value that sin has in our life. But after repentance comes a resolution where you plan for not falling into the same sin again. You make some strategies for resistance when temptation comes knocking.
But even after that, like the Psalmist says, restore to me the joy of salvation. I want you to receive forgiveness with victory and joy, because we have been cleansed from all unrighteousness. Pain points are translated and transformed into power points, because pain provides for cleansing. It reminds us of pride. It reminds us of our dirt. It reminds us of our idolatry. And when we confess, he forgives. And he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Want to be clean again?