What is the scariest journey you have ever been on? What is the most perilous path you have walked down? What was the spookiest place you have ever ventured into? Your answers to these questions should pale in comparison to the frightful experience of a journey through hell, yet that is precisely what I am calling you to in today’s message. Please read more…
Just what exactly is this journey through hell that am calling you to embark on? It is nothing less than a daunting journey into the deepest and darkest areas of your soul. We all have evil within. Our pride and ego attempt to block our ability to see ourselves as we really are. They work in concert to blind us to our flaws and sins. If we want to know God, St. Augustine tells us that we must first know ourselves.
We live in a day where sanitizing has become increasingly important. We are told to endlessly wash our hands and use hand sanitizer. I wonder if we are as fastidious about cleaning our soul from evil as we are about the ridding ourselves of Covid-19.
Mark 7:20-23 tells us, “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Most of us work hard to make a good impression on others. We are all shined up on the outside. But inside, we find the rust and corrosion of sin. In Matthew 23:28 we read, “on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” In verse 26, Jesus says, “Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”
Throughout the Bible we are called to repentance. In the movie, Journey To The Center of The Earth, the deeper into the earth they ventured the more monsters they encountered. To fully repent and experience a true change of heart, we must be willing to come face to face with the monsters inside of us.
Bishop Robert Barron wrote, “Without this journey into our own inner hell, we will not feel the compunction to shift our way of being and seeing.” If we fail to journey into our inner hell, we run the risk of becoming complacent about our sins.
In 1 John 1:8-9 we read, “If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.”
My friends, recurring sins dull our conscience. Left unchecked, they can lead to our separation from God. We must be willing to confront our inner evil. Sin is real and the need for repentance is real. Every sin we commit inflicts yet another wound on the Body of Christ, the very One who came to save us from our sin.
Today, sins seem to get trivialized or worse yet, normalized so much so that in some cases they are even boasted about. To be sure, sin in addition to wreaking havoc on us personally, wreaks havoc upon marriages, families, churches, ministries, nations, and governments.
The Bible makes it clear that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy. To repent, we must first journey into the depths of our inner person. To draw closer to God, we need to journey through the hell inside. Taking stock of our evil side helps us to more honestly repent.
We are humbled when we accept that reality that we are a flawed and sinful person. Humility is a good thing. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 we read, “So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.”
This journey could possibly be the scariest journey we will ever take. We must confront the evil the seeks to separate us from God. There is an upside to seeing our faults and weaknesses. We find solace in these words from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.”
If there is any boasting to be done after making this terrifying journey it is this, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me”(1 Corinthians 12:9).
Once we embark on this journey, we need to keep these words from the song, If You’re Going Through Hell, by Rodney Atkins foremost in our mind. “If you’re going through hell just keep on going.”
As we confront our demons, we more clearly see that we must die to ourselves so that Christ can live in us. I will close with these words from Pope Benedict XVI, “We will know God to the extent we are set free from ourselves.”
Heavenly Father help me to see and rid out everything in me that is offensive to you. Strengthen me in my resolve to avoid sin. Guide me always in the path to eternal life. Amen!
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