Monday, March 28, 2005

Sinning under God's Grace

As Christians we are righteous (II Corinthians 5:21), accepted, holy (Ephesians 1:4) and completely free from condemnation (Romans 8:1). Does all that mean that Christians do not sin? No it doesn't. We had an interesting discussion last night at church. The pastor began by sharing some verses that address the issue of people using the grace of God as a license to sin (I Peter 2:16 for example).

The pastor made a point that, when we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit. The term grieve is most often associated with the death of a loved one. I think that we grieve because we are no longer in the presence of someone; we can't talk to them anymore or do things with them. A parent would grieve if one of their children ran away. I think something similar happens when we sin. When we sin, we (not Him) withdraw ourselves from fellowship with God; we don't talk to Him or ask Him to fill our needs. We don't feel worthy to be in His presence. We are, in effect, running away from God and I think that this is what grieves Him.

Fortunately, God made a way for us to come back to Him. It is called repentance. When God convicts us of our sin, we then turn and confess our sin to Him. We agree with Him that what we did was wrong and at that moment our fellowship with Him is restored. Between the time we sin and the time we confess the sin, we did not cease to be righteous, accepted, holy and free from condemnation. We were out of fellowship with Him because of our guilt. Confession is what restores that fellowship.

In the mind of some confession is not enough, they (me included, until recently) continue to beat themselves up for days, weeks, months, or even years for a sin they committed. This would depend on how bad the sin was in their eyes. Instead of restoring fellowship with God, they think that they need to punish themselves in order for God to accept them again. Through His grace, God accepts you no matter what you do.

By beating yourself up you are in essence calling Him unjust. You are saying, "God, I know that You are a loving and forgiving God. I have confessed my sin to You and know in my heart that my sins are forgiven, but Lord You are so unjust. If you were just, you would make me feel bad for what I did for at least two weeks. Since You are unjust I will take it upon myself to feel bad for two weeks, while I grovel at your feet hoping that at the end of the two weeks You will take me back."

Look at it this way, you are a loving and kind father and want only good things for your children. One of your children takes your brand new fishing pole to the lake, even after you asked him not to. In the process he steps on it and breaks the pole. He comes to you with tears in his eyes and tells you he broke your fishing pole. You can look into his eyes and see that he is completely distraught and full of remorse. You are filled with compassion and take him into your arms and tell him that he is forgiven. You offer to take him to the corner and buy him some ice cream. At this point the child pulls away and declines the offer. Furthermore, he goes to his room and you don't see him for the next two days. It would break your heart and you would grieve, because you want to spend time with your child and talk to him and do things with him, but he has locked himself in his room and is not talking to you.

Isn't that what we do to God. We have a loving and kind Father in heaven that wants to spend time with us and give us good things (Luke 11:13). Yet, we refuse his offer of restoration and punish ourselves for the things we do. In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the son had prepared a speech and was ready to grovel at his father’s feet (become a slave). His father wouldn't have it; the son was already forgiven. The son was instantly in fellowship with the father (they celebrated together) when he confessed and so are we. If we accept the truth of God's word.


H-Dog said...

I think you're right on Gary. Excellent post.

Gary Kirkham said...