“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” - John 4: 17-18 (NLT) Sometimes I marvel at what we think we get away with when it comes to God. That secret sin we don't want to bring to Him. That touchy subject area in our past we refuse to pray about. That jealousy or bitterness we harbor in our hearts but deny with our mouths. Exactly who do we think we are fooling? The playing of church and pretending we are serving the kingdom. The chasing of money while pretending to be pious. The church masks hiding the realities we don't want anyone to see. How we can be hurtful to some people. How we can be condescending to others. How we can not treat people with the same level of grace and mercy God has lavished us with. Exactly who do we think we are fooling? Beloved, I do not say these thing sitting in a lofty perch but right alongside of you. I laugh at myself at the things I seemingly avoid bringing to God; as if he doesn't see all anyway. As if He does not see through my wicked heart. I know this is not a feel good seeker friendly message. I understand that we are used to being saturated with the sugar coated bless me theologies of western Christianity. This inevitably leads to an inflated view of ourselves before God. The Bible says our righteousness is but filthy rags. I know it is a tough message but here is what the Bible says we are without the blood of Jesus Christ: As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.” “They have no fear of God at all.” - Romans 3: 10-18 (NLT) Not the happy Scriptures we might be used to but very useful for us. We need to remember who God is and who we are. Self-help Christianity is wrong because we cannot help ourselves. That is specifically why we needed a Savior! Our sin nature does not change. I chose the key verses today to illustrate the principles we are speaking about. The backdrop of this story is that Jesus is passing through Samaria and He stops at a well where He engages a Samaritan woman in a conversation. In the middle of the dialogue Jesus tells her to go get her husband. The woman's reply is the first point for us today. Telling part of the truth is just like lying. We do not need to dress up our sinful state when we come to God beloved! We do not have to pretend to be better or more righteous then we really are. Sometimes we come to God like this woman. We tell part of the story. We do not dig down deep into the well of our sin and really let God know everything. The woman said she didn't have a husband and technically that was not a lie! How many technical prayers do we make? It is like we treat God like the old Catholic confessional system. Tell the priest something but not the really bad stuff! Now surely this woman was embarrassed but there is nothing you or I have done that is beyond the willingness of God to forgive. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. - 1John 1: 8-10 (NLT) But we must confess them beloved. We cannot hold back. We cannot approach Him as this woman did with only a partial confession of truth. God is always faithful to forgive and cleanse us. Wait a minute preacher! You don't know my sins! I do not have to. David committed adultery and murder and God forgave Him. Saul of Tarsus slaughtered Christians for sport and God turned him into Paul the Apostle. Peter denied Christ three times! We cannot go beyond God's capacity to forgive. We can only fall short in asking for it. The second point from the key verses is found in the incredulous response from Jesus. Beloved - He knows already anyway! How much does He know? Everything! He responds to this woman that she is right to say she has no husband and then proceeds to tell her all she has left out of her story. The five former husbands and the man she is currently living in sin with. It reminds me of the oath they make us take in this country when we testify in court - do we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sometimes we are too slick for our own good. We tell enough of the truth to make us feel like we are honest people but leave out some of the harder parts of the truth. God must get a kick out of us sometimes! I can almost hear Jesus laughing here as He reiterates to the woman - you certainly spoke the truth! The point is beloved - Jesus knows already what we try and hide. He knows already what we try and downplay. He knows already the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He knows about our first five husbands. He knows what we did when we were young. He knows what we did yesterday and who we did it with. Is it potentially embarrassing? I guess so but nothing is worth not being forgiven over. Because here is the thing. If Jesus had not called this woman out on the parts of the truth she omitted then she would have carried that baggage back with her into her life. That is the danger we face when we act as she did. So many Christians circle the same mountain year after year and just cannot seem to get victory over this area or that. They cannot get past what happened to them 20 years ago. They cannot walk in the power Christ died to appropriate for them. When we see these things more often than not the problem is unconfessed sin. We have no problem telling God part of the truth but we try and hide the first five husbands. We try to hide the sexual sin. We try and hide the bitterness. We try and hide the unforgiveness. But it still sits there like a cancer inside of us eating away at who we are in Christ. We go to church and raise our hands and smile our Sunday best smile because we don't want anyone to know that we struggle. God is saying to us today that we do not have to struggle. We do not have to go up for altar call after altar call and walk back to our pew with our burdens still fastened upon our backs. We can leave them there at the altar beloved. God is willing to take them. He is always willing to forgive the repentant heart. But it always starts with the truth. Not some of the truth. Not the parts of the truth that make us look better than we really are. All of the truth. The dirty parts too. The parts we never want anyone else to see. The parts that shame us. Beloved, we all have them. Who do we think we are fooling? Not God. Only ourselves. Rev. Anthony.