Monday, September 16, 2019
Saint and Sinner
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV)
Johnny Cash was both a sinner and a saint. To many sinners Johnny Cash was a saint, even a “prophet-like” figure, admired by such idols of days gone by as Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and Carl Perkins to modern-day rockers like Bono, Jack White, and Trent Reznor. To many saints he was a conflicted man, struggling with drugs and the law and a lot more most people don’t know about.
Who else could be friends with Willie Nelson and Billy Graham at the same time? Who else could play a large Las Vegas showroom and a Billy Graham Crusade in the same week? Who else could play a gospel tune to a roomful of murderers, rapists, and thieves and have them eating out of the palm of his hand?
Cash was many things to many people: a country music artist who sang and acted in a rock ’n’ roll context; a social activist and a jailbird; an evangelist and an addict; a humanitarian who often stood up for the underrepresented and often butted heads with authority figures; a master storyteller and a world-class embellisher; an outlaw with the soul of a mystic; an impossible, tortured man who pin-balled back and forth between extremes.
Cash was an American icon, but he also was a follower of Jesus Christ. During his heyday, Cash was constantly in the news. Not all the headlines were stellar. He was often embroiled in scandal or controversy stemming from high-profile arrests, car accidents, and other drug- and alcohol-induced escapades, including one resulting in a forest fire that devastated 508 acres. His music and social activism gave light and hope to others, but Cash’s dark side often overruled his true nature.
He had an angel on his shoulder, but the devil was always on his back. Cash was a walking, talking contradiction who identified with the Apostle Peter—often ashamed and lacking the courage to stand up for Christ—in the first half of his life. All of these traits and foibles were rolled up into a larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind personality that put its own unique, indelible stamp on popular music and pop culture.
In reality, Johnny Cash was a lot like you, and a lot like me.
1. Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly. (
Even Peter, close friend and disciple to Jesus, struggled in his faith and denied his Lord when things got tough. Have you ever had a hard time making a stand for Jesus? How do you feel knowing that you are not alone when it comes to having flaws and failings?
2. Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and . . . put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (
What are some things you can change in your life to “put off the old man” and “put on the new man,” so to speak?
3. I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18 NKJV)
What does it mean to “walk in the Spirit”? Have you asked the Holy Spirit for His help today in combatting your sinful desires?
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Johnny Cash’s life is loaded with examples of God’s extreme mercy, overwhelming love, and unexpected grace. It demonstrates that no matter how many times we regress, relapse, or revert to old sins, God stands ready to welcome back His sons and daughters as a loving heavenly Father. Read about Johnny’s life in my new book!
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