Given for the Saints in the world, on 11/15/09.
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6).
Sin is a topic, like vinegar, which leaves a sour taste in my mouth, a topic I usually avoid because in Christ, it's a nonstarter, a done deal, an issue which was completely taken care of at the cross! However, the Lord had other plans for me as demonstrated by events and people who crossed our path recently. Sometime in September, we got a newsletter from a couple in which they were celebrating their ideas about sin. However, their conclusions sounded more Hindu than Christian to me. Here are the statements which set my wig on fire:
"We have come so far from what Adam had in the beginning and now we are too fearful to believe we never needed forgiveness because God never called us a sinner! We simply needed to understand that He never held anything against us at anytime!
"First of all, being 'saved' is not the goal here! His goal is for us to be reconciled (propitiated) to Him. To be like Him so we can be His voice in this earth we live on. We never have been lost except in our minds. We have been told this thing about being lost since the days of Constantine, the guy who started all this 'save, hell and rapture thing.' God never said anything about it! ....His passionate desire is for you to be His friend and for you to realize you have never been separated from Him except in your mind." End Quote.
The Hindu belief is that we were never lost, but simply "forgot" who we are and our "enlightenment" comes when we remember. In that religion, then, there is no sin and thus, no need for a redeemer, no need for repentance, other than opening our minds to the truth that we were always with god (I did not use a capital "g" there because there are so many Hindu gods).
How anyone claiming to be Christian could say that God never "called us a sinner" is beyond me, since the word "sin" appears in the Bible 1,398 times! Maybe like me, these folks are tired of hearing about sin, and who could blame us since from the beginning, Christian doctrine has been based on repudiating sin, eradicating sin, and nullifying sin. The word has been overused, ad nauseum.
Before I could find an opportunity to sit down and write my impressions about the newsletter, God gave me a taste of the polar opposite position about sin. Two Christian friends, who don't know each other and who do not share a common denominational viewpoint expounded on the duty we have when we see people sinning to point it out to them. "Surely, we must do something," one said. "It has to be our responsibility." She wasn't coming from the standpoint of saving a lost soul so much as helping the person she's concerned about live a healthier life by getting free of her addictions.
The other friend shared with us that he had told a man whose second marriage had failed that the reason it happened was because the couple had sex before marriage. "It is a spiritual problem" he said, caused by an evil spirit which gained control of them when they had premarital sex.
Both friends went about the problem of sin exactly backwards. Sin is not ours to fix. All sin is a spiritual problem, of course, but there's no scriptural evidence that each time a person sins he is being controlled by an evil spirit. Human nature being what it is, no one needs any help to sin. Attempting to drive out the devil in cases like this, just glorifies Satan, rather than Christ, because Christ paid the price for all sin, for all time, for all people (I John 2:2). What could we do that Christ did not do?
Since I've never heard a better explanation of it than John Gavazzoni gives, I'll use his comment that people continually sin because they do not know who they are in Christ. The Apostle John wrote, "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. ...He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God" (I John 3:4-6; 8-9).
In the case of the woman who wrote that our sin is only in our mind, she might want to ask herself, if no one was ever lost, then why did the precious only begotten of the Father come to this dreary world, suffer and die to save us? The other two who want to call out sin so the person can stop, might ask themselves the question, if the Son of God appeared to destroy the devil's work, does He really need our help to accomplish it, or can He manage it by Himself? Here's a clue. Did He need our help on the cross? Was our blood spilled to pay the price for sin?
Believe me that I am NOT attempting to whitewash sin, nor call sin a nonevent, but what I am saying is that clearly, Christ came to take care of the sin problem for us, and not only for us, but for the whole world (I John 2:2).
The Apostle John gives the foundation for why Johnny Gavazzoni's statement is true. When God opens our eyes to see Him as He is, and to realize that, Oh glory of glories, He lives in us, we understand that we do not fight this battle alone. We are NOT helpless scraps of wood cast adrift on an angry sea, or worse, hopeless specimens of humanity tossed about by the wiles of the devil.
We are sons of the Most High (I John 3:2), joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), sharing in His inheritance (Gal. 3:29); we, the Saints, are God's inheritance (Eph. 1:18). We are seated in heavenly places with Christ, "chosen in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with HIS pleasure and will" (Eph. 1:4-5). "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph. 2:10). Because "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Cor. 5:21). Why is it, I wonder, that we never have the urge to tell a sinner these glorious truths?
Those of us who were raised on the "good side" of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil think we know right from wrong, what we should do and what we should not do, and we have been quick to point out the sins of everyone around us. God stopped me from judging others by showing me myself. It was a bitter pill to swallow because I considered myself a "good Christian." He didn't leave me in the pigpen of doubt and desperation without also showing me that when He looks at Jan, He does not see my warts and zits, my flaws, my neurotic stuff that grinds me down, but rather, He sees CHRIST in me, my hope of Glory. Knowing that glorious truth set me free from the law of sin and death.
My method of keeping my spirit focused on Mount Zion, when my mind often slipped down to Mount Sinai, was to write down some of the glorious scriptures just quoted on a 3" x 5" card. In fact, I made 4 sets, which I taped to the mirror in my bathroom, the fridge, the dashboard of my car, and one for my purse. When I would begin feeling worthless and wretched, I would reach for a card and reread the scriptures. Then I asked myself, "Self, do you believe what your mind is telling you or what the Bible says about you?"
What I said to the two friends who felt a responsibility to point out the sin of people they love was this. No one in the history of the world has ever been delivered from his sin problem by having someone point it out to him. If that worked, then the world would be pure and holy by now because Christians have been pontificating about sin since the Power left.
Jesus, the Power, was kind and merciful to sinners. The only ones who received His wrath about sin were the Pharisees. When he spoke to the woman taken in adultery, he said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (John 8:10-11). This encounter contains the best instruction found in the Bible when we are tempted to judge others: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (Vs. 7). Getting the beam out of our own eye is key here, because we cannot see clearly when we are looking through the lens of law, which most of us are most of the time.
When I mentioned the woman Jesus told to go and sin no more, the friend with whom I'd been having this discussion commented that because He told her to stop sinning, she had the POWER to do it. That is so true, and it is what is lacking when we tell someone they are sinning and that they should stop. We don't have the power to do that for ourselves, let alone someone else.
Having struggled with many issues since God showed me my heart, I can testify to the Power of Christ within when God speaks the word to me. When He tells me to do something or not do something, He also gives me the power to do it or refrain from doing it. The Power left the earth when Christ did, but returned on the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit who infilled God's children with the Power from on High to serve Him, obey Him, and love Him and others.
When someone asks me how they can forgive their ex-husband whom they describe as a "bastard," my answer is usually, "YOU can't, but Christ in you can." We can do nothing of ourselves, but in Him, we have overcome the world. Having said that no one in the history of the world has overcome sin because a well meaning Christian pointed it out to him or her, I know that when God says "STOP," we have the POWER to stop.
But what about those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or sex or food and who seemingly can't stop indulging the addiction? AA had a saying that it is impossible to get sober, but with the help of our "higher power" it is possible and happens all the time. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would birth the Son of the Most High, and she questioned how this could be since she was a virgin, he replied "For nothing is impossible with God" (Lk. 1:37). Jesus said to His disciples, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).
The good news about sin is 1) the price has been paid for the sins of the whole world, past, present and future; and 2) all sin is God's responsibility, not ours, "For God consigned all men to disobedience that He may have mercy upon all! (Rom. 11:32). Instead of grinding people down with their failures, let us lead them to the arms of our Father so He can gather them to His bosom and love them into the kingdom. To God be the glory.
Father, YOU are bigger than our failures, and mightier than our puny efforts. Thank You that You have called us to be Your children to walk and talk and fellowship with You always. Let us be light bearers and love bringers to the rest of creation. Amen Jan Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)
The Good News About Sin, II
The Glory Road
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This site was created on 11/06/09
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister
and last updated on 11/22/09.