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“God looks down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.  Everyone has turned away…There is none who does good. No, not one”  Psalm 53:2,3

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”  Romans 3:23

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”   Hebrews 10:17

Strange title? Possibly.  In fact, there are some who might follow this site or who will come across this post who will skip reading it just because of that one word “sin” in the title.  The reason I fashioned the title the way I did is I find that this word and the concepts that accompany it are filled with confusion and conflict in our world today.  In fact, depending on the perspective we are coming from, even if we are going to use the word at all, the additional words that we would use after it, the fill in the blank if you will, may be amazingly different and contradictory.  Sadly, this is true not only in the world but among those of faith as well.

For there are some who have a humanist view that would say that sin does not exist.  They do not believe in a concept of fallen humanity.  Quite to the contrary, they believe that all human beings are innately good and circumstances and errors in judgement are where difficulties  come from but not from evil intentions.  Sin they would tell us is a concept devised by one sect of human beings to exert control and power over other human beings.  Additionally there is the worldly concept summed up in the lyrics of a song that says “I’d rather laugh with the sinners then die with the saints”.  That is to say what is the problem with a little sin.  Sinners are the ones having all the fun.  It is the saints who have all the hangups; who have the miserable life.

In our faith communities there seems to be a great division about the use of the word sin.  For some it is an anachronistic term used to describe an archaic concept that is too judgemental and driving many from the church today.  They fear the use of the term and would use terms like problems, challenges, obstacles and the like in it’s place.  Others have no fear of the term and wield it like a formidable weapon pointing at others saying: “I know sin when I see it and I see it in you, and you; in this group and that group!”  Interestingly enough though, the finger they spend so much time pointing outward, never makes it around to pointing at themselves or anyone within their own organization.

Thus sin, across the whole of the human, spectrum, if it exists at all, is a highly enigmatic principle.  Well let there be no doubt Dear Sisters and Brothers, sin exists.  God knows sin exists.

You see for those that doubt sin’s existence and to a certain extent for those who seem to think sin is the fun and successful way to go;  I can’t see where the world bears their point of view out.  If we are basically good people, how can circumstances be so far out of our control to allow for the amount of war, violence against the innocent, corruption, greed, terrorism, rape, murder, hatred, suicide, abuse-especially of children and I could continue this list for many pages?  As to those who would extol the virtues of sin as the preferred lifestyle, for those who actually seem to be living into that notion, I don’t often see a lot of laughter.  What I do see is broken relationships, substance abuse, multiple health problems, litigation against them, fear of losing what they have, a constant striving to have more, hatred from others, hatred from themselves; death.

For people of faith; God knows, sin exits.  Please don’t take my word for it; look to the source; God’s word.  Depending on the translation your using, the word appears upwards of 500 times.  If you add onto that, the concept of the fallen nature of man, then the count rises into the thousands.  And Jesus Christ makes two things abundantly clear; first, we are all sinners.  Secondly, that sin comes from within, it comes from our hearts.  It is in our hearts that we finds ourselves getting angry enough to do harm, it is in our hearts where the lust resides that causes us to want to lay with another.  Covetousness, selfishness, greed and countless other manifestations of sin originate from our hearts.  Thus we have right to judge another.

Then is that where we are left? Sin exits and we are all sinners?  Satan would want it left there.  Either with idea that there is no sin or our sin is so devastating, we should be so gilt ridden as to separate from God and go our own way.  You see that is the impact of sin, separation from God and from each other.  Leaving us alone, isolated, hopeless, helpless.  Please I implore you, DON’T STOP READING!

God knows sin exists.  God knows we are all sinners.  God can not have an eternal relationship with sinners.  God could have stripped us bare and flogged us for each of our sins until we promised to stop.  God could have hung us on a tree with nails until we pledged to never sin again.  God knows neither of those would have worked.  And here’s where I apologize for I have neither the wisdom or understanding to truly communicate the length and breadth of God’s love.  I don’t believe that the vocabulary exists to adequately describe the Grace, Mercy and Love of God’s redemptive plan.  For God loves His creation, loves you and I so much that He was not going to allow sin to separate us for eternity.  God was not going to leave us to the wiles and power of Satan.  So God did what we could not.  He sent Jesus Christ to earth, to a human existence.  Human and God, knowing no sin Jesus Christ took upon himself every sin we will ever commit.  Please try to understand.  We’re not just paroled, our record had been made clean, all sin washed away in the and through the blood of Jesus Christ.  When God see us now, He does not see a sin riddled, fallen person, He sees a redeemed person made perfect by His son.  So you see things don’t end with sin, they begin with the new life in Jesus Christ.  A life filled with togetherness,  not isolation.  A life of hope and love, an eternal life of victory over sin, not by our own strength, but God’s grace.  Accept that sin exists.  Accept that you and I are sinners.  Then accept the redemption offered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ becoming a new person and braking the bonds of sin forever.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we ask for the aid of the Holy Spirit for we do not have the words to adequately express our gratitude for the wonderful love which you manifested to us through the life and sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Forgive us when we choose to allow earthly temptations  to lead us to sin and separation from You.  In Your Mercy, lead us to resist the temptation and turn away from the sin that we may return to a loving, eternal relationship with You.  That the world might see the path to redemption and sing praises to Your Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

 

All we like sheep have gone astray, We have turned, everyone, to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:6

Who, Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live by righteousness    1 Peter 2:24

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  Romans 6:1

Think of a time you were either falsely accused, actually went through some aspect of a trial (legal or informal) and at the end of the process, you were vindicated.  What you said or did was deemed to be appropriate and you were cleared of any offense.  Think of how that felt?  In those cases what was the impact on your future behavior?  Because you were deemed innocent did you find that you repeated that behavior over again?  And why wouldn’t you.  You were found innocent.

Contrast that with a time that you did something that indeed was wrong.  Especially a time when you knew what you were doing was wrong and did it anyway.  The wrong that you had done, was uncovered and your deeds were exposed to others.  Then think about what it felt like (or might feel like if you have not been lucky enough to experience this) when the person (or people) who were impacted by the wrong, completely forgave you for the wrong.  What was the difference between that feeling and the feeling of being vindicated?  Did it impact the way that you would behave next time?

This is one of the areas where theology versus psychology versus sociology come into conflict.  For I (we) as a Christian, know that all our sins are forgiven; whether a sin I have committed, am committing right now, or commit in the future.  All sins are forgiven, through the Grace of Jesus Christ.  So knowing that all my sins are forgiven, what incentive do I have to change my behavior?  Don’t I have a free pass?

I guess we have to understand the concept of forgiven.  First, I have to understand that to be forgiven, there must be sin.  And sin is intentional.  So I knowingly, to use a legal phrase I really don’t have the right to throw around but I am any way, with malice of forethought, I behave in a way contrary to God’s commandments.  It is vitally important to understand, Jesus Christ did not abolish the law, in His own words, He came to fulfill the law.  Second, having understood that I sinned I have to intentionally repent of that sin.  We see the impact of lack of intention when John the Baptist warns the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him to be baptized, “Brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come.  Therefore bare fruits worthy of repentance”  Matthew 3:7  The fruits are not just the thoughts of remorse about the act but also the changing of behavior from repeating the act.  Also, we have to be clear that sin still has consequences.  The Heavenly Father will forgive me for my sin of stealing, but that does not mean I’ll escape the jail time or financial burden of making restitution.  Finally, I need to be filled with praise for the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the Grace of the plan from our Heavenly Father.

Yet since the bible tells me that I am fallen in nature and will sin, doesn’t that mean that I can have no joy in life?  The enemy would have you believe that.  Satan would have us convinced that our sinful nature is a permanent barrier between ourselves and God which nothing can breach, not even the cross.  In this world there is a sense that if there is nothing we can do about something, we should treat it as if it doesn’t exist and go about our lives no thinking about it.  I am going to sin, oh well.  Yet Jesus Christ teaches something completely different.  He does not tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.  Cowboy up and be stronger.  It’s all up to us.  Conversely, Jesus teaches us to abide in Him.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  With Him and through Him all things are possible.  We can behave better.  We can change.  We need to change and there are immediate and eternal rewards for that change.

So if I am innocent I have no need to change.  If I am forgiven then I know I need to change and should want to change.  Therein lies the basic difference.

May it be that I (we), first confess our sins, then look to improve our behavior through Jesus Christ.

Amen

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