Sin. What An Ugly Word, Part II
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
Last week we began discussing the topic of sin. It’s a tough topic that is hard to cover–and very intimidating, in fact. How do you cover the topic of sin with the perfect balance of God’s love and God’s judgment? How do you cover the topic of sin without sounding like you are presenting a works doctrine? How do you cover the topic of sin without sounding like you are sinless? The answer–very prayerfully.
God is a God of both extreme love and Sovereign judgment. The Father has provided a gift of grace through Jesus Christ’s blood sacrifice. There is nothing we can do to earn that; it’s a gift we only need to receive. And, yes, it's true that none of us is without sin, and because of that, when we receive that gift of grace, we must repent. Repent, or turn completely away from our sin and turn toward Jesus. And let me say up front that I repent on a daily basis. But that does not mean I can freely sin. Galatians 5:13 tells us, "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love."
I’m currently reading a book called Radical by David Platt. Let me tell you, this book isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a tough read, because it calls us to truly look at what it is to be a disciple of Christ, which is not always an easy road. Here is what Platt says:
“And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus…
"But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.” (Radical, Platt, 13)
We are called to become like the Christ of the Bible. Not a Jesus of our own making. So, this is where sin comes in. You see, God hates sin (Ps. 45:6; Heb. 1:8; Ps. 5:4; Prov. 6:16-19). God is a Holy God (1 Peter 1:15-16), and because of that, He requires holiness of us. Now, we are not God, so we don’t have the ability to be holy and righteous on our own. And because of that, the Father sent His Son as a sacrificial lamb.
Hebrews 9:22 tells us this: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (NIV) Without the shedding of Christ’s blood, we cannot be forgiven our sins. Our salvation depends on Christ’s shed blood for the remission of our sins. If there were any other way, God would have not allowed His Son to go through what He did.
Now it’s important that we don’t misunderstand what Jesus went through for us. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus was suffering. So much so, in fact, that He was sweating drops like blood. And we see in Luke 22:42, Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV) Why the turmoil? Was it simply because He was going to be beaten beyond recognition, have nails driven through His hands and feet, and die a horrible death on a cross? No. He was asking to give up the cup, because He was going to take on all of my sins and yours–sins from the past, present, and future–and the complete judgment and wrath of God would be turned against Him. With sin, comes consequence, and Jesus bore that sin for us.
Now, does that mean because Jesus died, bore our sin, and incurred God’s wrath for us, we’re good? Christ’s grace covers us, and now we are free to live life in whatever manner we find sufficient. I’m afraid not. Paul tells us in Romans 6:1-2, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (NLT)
And he says in Romans 6:15, “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!” (NLT) It is clear that God did not provide us His mercy and grace so we could sin and ask for forgiveness, sin and ask for forgiveness, and so on. We are called to live lives of righteousness through Jesus Christ. Not in our own power but in His.
God’s grace is amazing and powerful. What a gift He has given us in His Son. But we must not be misled. When we do sin, there are consequences. Sometimes those consequences are grave, and sometimes they affect people other than just us–perhaps it's our children, our spouses, our friends, our family members. Sin is never an individual problem.
So, what is the bottom line? God is certainly, absolutely, definitively a God of love. He loves us with a love that we cannot comprehend. Which is precisely why He wants us to live lives of righteousness. He wants the best for us–His best for us. The rules are not in place because He’s a taskmaster. The rules are in place because He loves us. We are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8).
He loves us and desires relationship with us. Isaiah says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Sin separates us from God.
And yet, we can be assured that God promises us grace, mercy, and comfort!
• “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with
confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find
grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16 NIV)
• “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are
weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you
rest. ‘” (Matt. 11:28 NLT)
• “ Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care
of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and
fall.” (Ps. 55:22 NLT)
• “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you
will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an
advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is
Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.”
(1 John 2:1 NLT)
So beloved, don’t take your sin lightly. Now, please don’t hear what I’m not saying. We all sin, and we all “fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23). But I would encourage you to do what Paul exhorted Timothy. “But you, man [or woman as the case may be] of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Tim. 6:11)