All of us have blown it, none of us is totally perfect in every way. Especially not me.
One of the things I appreciate about living as part of the Christian communion that is the CEEC is our determination to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. We are deliberate about walking in holiness, and just as deliberate about the way we walk through restoration.
Today's verse lays a solid foundation for placing these two elements in context:
OH WHAT JOY FOR THOSE WHOSE DISOBEDIENCE IS FORGIVEN, WHOSE SINS ARE PUT OUT OF SIGHT
The verse presumes that we will all fall into acts of disobedience. Everyone make mistakes and offends accidentally; this verse is not addressing that. Actual mistakes are not sin, because sin requires an act of the will that transgresses God's righteous standard and violates our faith.
Let's be honest with one another. We all have times where we choose to do what know to be wrong. For some of us it is occasional and out of character. For others of us it is habitual, and reflects an area of life we need to submit to the control of Christ. Addictions and other lifestyle choices control the lives of some, and are in the process of wreaking utter destruction.
The good news is that Christ has made a way of escape for us. The word "Gospel" actually means "Good News." The good news of the gospel is that Christ has paid the price for our sin, whether it is occasional, habitual or life-controlling. He will break its hold over us and work His character in us, confirming us to His image. As we are conformed, we abandon sin and embrace righteousness. That's good news!!
It's good news because sin is always destructive, always causes pain and never leads to peace and joy. When Christians speak of freedom from sin it is not a condemnation of the sinner, whom Christ loves; but a hatred for the sin which is killing the one trapped in sin. God hates sin, He loves us. Because He loves us he leads us out of sin and into freedom.
Many years ago, my doctor told me I had cancer. He knew the cancer was serious, he knew that if I ignored it the cancer would eventually end my life. Along the way that cancer would cause incredible pain and even impact my ability to lead or enjoy any sort of a normal life. When he told me that I had cancer, I didn't become angry with my doctor. I didn't accuse him of being judgmental, or call him "cancer-phobic" and unreasonable. Neither did I decide to change doctors and find one who would "accept my cancer" and allow me to identify as healthy. I recognized that his diagnosis and suggested treatment plan was designed to save my life.
In my case, the treatment was surgery. It was painful, and the repercussions impacted my life and my family for about a year. But I had something inside of me that was determined to kill me, and it HAD TO BE cut out. All of it had to go.
Christ doesn't hate adulterers, thieves, liars, homosexuals, alcoholics, murderers, or any other sinners you can categorize. He loves them all; and His Church ought to love them as well. But loving someone means that we care enough to identify the things that are killing them from the inside and destroying their lives. We do this because we know sin is serious, we know that if sin is ignored it will eventually end your life. Along the way it will cause incredible pain and eventually impact your ability to lead or enjoy a normal life.
I think that ignoring sin, or choosing to mislabel and misidentify it is cruel. Can you imagine my doctor telling me I was fine instead of giving me a truthful diagnosis? What excuse would I accept as reasonable in that case? That he didn't want to upset me? Or that he felt as though "imposing his viewpoint on cancer" would violate some right of mine? How absurd !!!!! No excuse could be offered that would exonerate his malpractice for NOT giving me an honest report.
BUT OH WHAT JOY FOR THOSE WHOSE DISOBEDIENCE IS FORGIVEN, WHOSE SINS ARE PUT OUT OF SIGHT
For those whom Christ sets free, whose sin is forgiven -- WHAT JOY !!!! I've had controlling sins in my life, and Christ has dealt with them. I have SUCH JOY in Him now, and such a capacity for compassion and grace. These are gifts from a loving God.
And what about my sin? My sins have been forgiven. They have been PUT OUT OF SIGHT and laid aside. In HIs incredible mercy and grace, God has chosen to hide them in His forgiveness. They are never to be recalled, for they have been covered by the blood of Christ.
The biggest debt that many people owe is either their home mortgage or their educational loans. Can you imagine what your reaction would be if you went to the bank to make your monthly mortgage payment or student loan payment only to be told that the balance was zero! WHAT JOY !!! Gone for ever!
The truth is that the biggest debt you owe is neither your mortgage nor your student loans; it is the price of your sin. The final price of sin is always the same -- DEATH. The price WILL BE PAID, that is a certainty. The only question is this -- Do YOU want to pay it personally, or do you want Jesus Christ to pay it for you? Those are the only two choices on the table.
For those who choose Christ … WHAT JOY FOR THOSE WHOSE DISOBEDIENCE IS FORGIVEN, WHOSE SINS ARE PUT OUT OF SIGHT
Let us love in truth, and walk people to freedom in Christ. Let's love them enough to share the truth, and to share the path to real wholeness, holiness, life and peace. Let us speak the truth in love, and be the hands and feet of Christ.
Sin is deadly. It causes pain and destruction. But sin is not permanent. Christ can put an end to sin, if you will confess Him as your Lord. Christ offers forgiveness. Christ restores, heals and conforms us into His image. And when He does …
WHAT JOY FOR THOSE WHOSE DISOBEDIENCE IS FORGIVEN, WHOSE SINS ARE PUT OUT OF SIGHT