Do We Have to Talk about…SIN?
the devotional thought of the day:
12 I am surrounded by many troubles— too many to count! My sins have caught up with me, and I can no longer see; they are more than the hairs of my head, and I have lost my courage. 13 Save me, LORD! Help me now!
Psalm 40:12-13 (TEV)
993 In our meditation, the Passion of Christ comes out of its cold historical frame and stops being a pious consideration, presenting itself before our eyes, as terrible, brutal, savage, bloody… yet full of Love. And we feel that sin cannot be regarded as just a trivial error: to sin is to crucify the Son of God, to tear his hands and feet with hammer blows, and to make his heart break.
29 We eliminate from contrition those useless and endless discussions as to when we are sorry because we love God and when because we fear punishment. We say that contrition is the genuine terror of a conscience that feels God’s wrath against sin and is sorry that it has sinned. This contrition takes place when the Word of God denounces sin. For the sum of the proclamation of the Gospel is to denounce sin, to offer the forgiveness of sins and righteousness for Christ’s sake, to grant the Holy Spirit and eternal life, and to lead us as regenerated men to do good. (2)
There is in Christianity two “normal” responses to sin.
The first is to diminish it, to justify it or simply ignore it. We see this all the time in society, especially with sins of desire, that is lust, greed, unrighteous anger. Oh, it’s normal we say. Or, we’re just all sinners, you can’t judge those who sin differently than you. Or, God made me this way, and I can’t help being unfaithful. There is even a theological argument, that if we preach against our sin, we have to be mindful that we are capable of nothing else.
That’s all bullshit. Dangerous because it denies the need for repentance, for transformation by indicating it is not necessary. It even denies the need for guilt or shame and covers it up as it celebrates the evil we have done.
The second is to deny repentance because it is impossible. Because their sin is so wicked, that we can only crush sinners, so their sin doesn’t affect us, or our children or our community. We stand there, with stones in our hands, trying to ignore Jesus’ calling out to us, asking us to be repentant of our sin, as well as comforting those we are trying to crush.
Though it seems to be the opposite side of the crap, this response is just as full of cow dung as the other.
Sin damages, it crushes, it breaks and shatters life. That is the reason God calls us out of a life of sin, out of a life of brokenness. And to deny that is to condemn ourselves to a life that is empty, alone, and dead. We may try to dull the pain with more sin, more “pleasure”, more logic, more condescending judgment of others, but the sin remains, something more dangerous than cancer or heart disease or diabetes. For those things destroy the body, but sin destroys the soul.
To deny the need or the possibility of repentance is perhaps the worst sin of all. For then we have placed ourselves in the position of God. We have become our own idol, and our brokenness is complete.
I love St Josemaria’s bluntness, echoing David’s. We have to realize that sin requires a sacrifice, and that Christ died because of it. Yes, that little white lie, or that juicy piece of gossip about that politician that we eagerly forward, that thought about someone else’s spouse or that jealousy. You and I sent Jesus to the cross because we chose to sin.
That thought should terrify us as much as any….
A child psychologist once told me that the most effective punishment was not just punishing my son when he was bad, but punishing things and people he loves. Putting his favorite stuffed animal on time out (or his computer) or both. I didn’t believe him at first, but he was right. Think about the Hymn “O sacred head now wounded,” that sin would have no power over us, except that it makes us realize the pain Christ endures for our sin.
And while it terrifies us to know what Christ endured because of our lack of love, because of our lack of self-control, in the very same act we find a love that heals, forgives, ends the brokenness and the anxiety of being found alone and without God.
That is why the quote in blue from the Lutheran confessions completes our thoughts. For preaching the gospel is simple – we need Christ because we are sinners, He is there because He loves us and desires to help. And the gospel isn’t complete without the Holy Spirit at work, transforming us (A synonym for repentance) and guiding us to do good works. These things, the call to repentance, the transformation that is repentance and the life of the repentant are indivisible. It is God at work in us, with us, through us.
And it is what we need.
Which is why we have to, it is an absolute must, to talk about sin and the grace which overwhelms and heals the effect of that sin.
Cry out, Lord have mercy! And know He does…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 4014-4017). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 185–186). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Posted on February 13, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions and tagged Abiding in Christ, guilt, healing, life, Luther, repentance, shame, sin, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.