We all likely agree that sin is bad and that forgiveness is good! Thanks be to God that forgiveness is ours in Jesus Christ.
But sin as sin cannot be forgiven apart from the components thereof.
- There must be an offense against God’s will.
- There must be a vehicle of grace, given by God, not to overlook the sin but to crush it, to pay the price for it, if justice is to be accomplished.
- There must be both an identification of this sin as sin in the life of the believer as well as a desire to repent of it.
If any of these component parts is missing, the sin is unforgiven.
We sin by committing certain acts (as well as failing to act in accordance with God’s will) because ultimately sin is an offense to God.
Those who understand their actions to offend God and sincerely repent of (or turn away from) their sin, seek the grace given by God in Jesus Christ.
Those who refuse to accept that their actions constitute sin and refuse to repent of their sin remain in their sinful state. Their sin is not forgiven.
Who, with this knowledge would choose to remain in their sin? Only those whose hearts are hardened against the will of God. Those who love their sin more than they do God. There are many in this position today. There are those who want to overlook the sins of others as a vehicle for remaining in their own sin. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a phrase used by many, perhaps even without recognizing it, as a means of protecting themselves from the judgement of others. Judgement however, is not dependent upon the standards of mankind. It is based on the word of God. When we confront one another, in love, seeking to help one another with the plague of sin, we advance the word of God, we assist in the eradication of sin, and we become the kind of people that advance rather than retard the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We are commanded to “speak the truth in love” to this end, that we assist one another to grow in the grace of God. In an age of self-interest, political correctness, and an absence of any ultimate truth, we neutralize God’s word and work. It is a hard thing to stand willing to judge one another because in so doing we subject ourselves to the same standards and, by implication, ask others to judge us.
That scripture clearly states: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” And few of us want to make ourselves open to the judgement of others or to be judged in accordance with the same standards we might use to judge others. It’s easier just to loosen the standards so that we all get along.
But the scripture continues: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We first commanded to take a long hard look at ourselves, to remove the plank (the sin) in our own life, so that we might be able to see clearly enough to help others remove the specks in their eyes. The implication is clear that we are to be about cleansing ourselves from sin. We are to actively confess and repent of our own brokenness so that we can assist our fellow Christians in their pursuit of forgiveness. Why then would we restrain ourselves? Why would we not enter into discussion about our own sins and seek to assist others in pursuing the grace of God?
Those who have truly experienced the grace of God are willing to subject themselves to the word of God. They eagerly seek to be right with God irrespective of the cost. A passion to lead a righteous life naturally includes a passion to assist others in leading a righteous life.
“Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory. The free gift of God’s grace makes us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free. God gave Christ as a sacrifice to pay for sins through the spilling of his blood. So God forgives the sins of those who have faith. God did all this to prove that he does what is right. He is a God of mercy.”
“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Sin is bad. Forgiveness is good. Opposition to the truth and an unwillingness to speak the truth in love puts us at odds with God.
In speaking to those who refuse to allow themselves to be judged by the word of God and who do not feel it is the church’s place to judge others according to the word of God, Paul writes: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
And “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
These words are directed at the church, at those who should know better, but who refuse to make the difficult decision, who approve of those who refuse to repent, who twist and flaunt the word of God as a means of escaping the difficult task of being the church. Let us not be counted among them.
Esther’s Uncle Mordecai addresses his niece as she is faced with a challenge that could cost her her life: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance…will arise from another place…And who knows but that you have come to your…position for such a time as this?” The church is facing an increasingly minor role in our culture. If we are unwilling to speak the truth, that truth will come through another means. Who knows but that we have come to this situation for just such a time as this!
Solo Deo Gloria!