February 17, 2024

Self-examination: What Spiritual Prison of Disobedience Have I Put Myself In? (Lent 1)

 Self-examination: What Spiritual Prison of Rebellion Have I Put Myself In?

Lent is a time of preparation for the Easter Celebration. We have six weeks to examine our lives, identify sins that need to be repented and go through the process of repentance, confession, absolution and acceptance of Christ's forgiveness. One way of examining our lives is suggested by the readings for today. Peter mentions the rebellious dead as being "spirits in prison' (1 Peter 3.19). We may be putting ourselves in an eternal spiritual prison when we are disobedient and rebel against the Baptismal covenant. We need to review the Ten Commandments and the seven deadly sins and ask ourselves which of these prisons we may be in.

1. Our Baptismal Covenant is into a relationship of love

The Readings teach us that God desires a relationship of love. We read about God reaching out to Noah and the anguish of God over His decision to drown humanity for their rebellion. Love is the opposite of anger:

  • Peter tells us Jesus "…preached to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3.19) 
  • They were in prison because they "disobeyed". (v. 20)  they rebelled against God. 
  • In the time of Noah this would be to a long pattern of failing to love God and disobedience
  • Patterns of sin create spiritual wounds or doorways for the demonic to enter us and oppress us from within
  • This oppression or bondage is a spiritual prison 
  • This teaching challenges us to examine our lives for ways in which we may have been disobedient and pushed by any of the Seven Deadly Sins into a spiritual prisons 
  • Anger at God can actually be a good thing.
  • It could indicate we have a deep love of God that has been severely challenged by events in our lives. 
  • Events are like the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. 
  • Not designed to destroy our love relationship with God. 
  • Test & strengthen our love relationship with God. 
  • The Holy Spirit can open their eyes to see a broader metaphysical view of human life.
  • The people who are really in trouble are the ones who have an intellectual knowledge of God, but no emotional feelings toward God at all. 
  • They are the ones who have put themselves in the deepest and darkest of spiritual prisons. 
  • This spiritual prison is called pride or unforgiveness.


2. Our Baptismal Covenant is into a relationship of fear

We are to both love and fear God. This is a paradox that confuses many people. We need to define these words carefully: 

  • By love the Bible generally means self-sacrificial love. 
  • This means opening up our heart to God and to the people God has put into our lives. 

  • Fear in the Bible generally means fear in the sense of respect for God or fear of losing eternal spiritual life. 
  • The people in the time of Noah did not fear God. 
  • Like people in our time they were 'doing their own thing'. 
  • Our society is in open rebellion against God. 
  • Some Christian churches are in rebellion against God. 
  • Our fear of God is a test of our love of God. 

3. Lent is a time of self-examination

Like Jesus weneed to step away from the distraction of life and examine our lives:

  • In what ways have I failed to love God?
  • In what ways have I failed to fear God?
  • What spiritual prison of rebellion have I put myself in? have I put myself in?
  • This will prepare us for confession, absolution and an eternal life of spiritual joy

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