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Kelley: Unconfessed sin blocks Baptists’ spiritual vitality

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Like a rock which impedes the stream of a river, unconfessed sin is blocking the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Southern Baptists and robbing churches of the spiritual vitality necessary to carry out the Great Commission, Chuck Kelley said Feb. 12 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
Preaching from John 7:37-39 in which Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in the image of a stream of “living water,” the president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary said spiritual anemia among Christians is related to a lack of understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers.
This failure of comprehension must be one factor, among others, to explain a lack of increase in baptisms among Southern Baptists, Kelley said.
“The truth of the matter is there is not a clear understanding of what the Word of God is saying to his people today,” Kelley said. “There is confusion in the pews. There is confusion even in some of the pulpits of our land, and people are wondering, ‘Does God have a clear word?'”
While the Holy Spirit’s ministry includes providing illumination of the Bible to Christians, Kelley said that work is blocked by the rocks of sin. “Although you cannot get the river (of the Holy Spirit) out of your heart, it is possible for you to throw rocks in the river and hinder the work of the Spirit in your soul,” he said.
Such a collection of rocks are like damns which beavers build to stop or redirect rivers. Christians with unconfessed sin of bitterness, anger, gossip or sexual immorality build walls separating the “things of God” on one side and the “things of the world” on the other, Kelley said.
“I find many of God’s people struggling with immorality in their life while they are keeping a foot in the church and a foot in the world,” he added.
The reality is true even among ministers who struggle with pornography, Kelly said, noting, “Many a preacher is ruined by Internet access.”
Kelley likened spiritually arrogant Christians who believe they harbor only a limited number of “minor” sins in their lives — unlike murders and adulterers — to “one of those famous New Orleans omelets” which includes “one good inch-long New Orleans cockroach.”
“The tragedy of the church today is that we are proud of ourselves for offering God a one-roach omelet. … The heart of God is broken because of how casual you are about the other sin in your life,” Kelley declared.
“When there are rocks in the river of your soul there will be no power of the Spirit in your ministry,” Kelley warned the seminarians.
The only solution to the problem is found in 1 John 1:9 in which believers are admonished to confess their sins by agreeing with God that they are wrong, Kelley said. When Christians do so, God forgives. “It is as though the hand of God reaches in the river of your soul, pulls out the rocks and lets the river run,” he said.
“The issue that will determine the anointing of God in your life and ministry … is how comfortable will you be with rocks in your river?” Kelley asked. “How willing are you to offer God a one-roach omelet? For the way you feel in your soul about a one-roach omelet is the way God feels about sin in any form in your life. … You may have the rocks or the river. But you cannot have them both.”

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  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
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