Do you remember when you were just a kid and you would dream about being in a school play (or some other performance)? You were there, all alone, in front of your peers. Then, for no reason at all, you would either lose all you clothes, or just become naked? You were vulnerable; exposed; raw.
Nowadays, politicians and celebrities who are caught “with their hand in the cookie jar” are told by their handlers to address these “inconvenient truths” head-on and without apology. They turn these situations into an opportunity to feel sorry for their weakness, and that what they did wasn’t “so bad”. (please forgive my liberal use of quotation marks)
As believers into Christ (this is how the Greek of the New Testament is best read), we acknowledge that we make mistakes. We fall from time to time and do something stupid or hurtful. We apologize to God and man (when necessary). It is the idea of keeping short accounts with God that keeps us from running of the rails. And, underlying this belief is the idea that we are the best judge of our own failings.
As a matter of fact, we don’t like it when people point out our failings. Sometimes, we turn it back on them and blame them. On the other hand, sometimes people call our action a failure or a mistake when it is not.
This is all to say that we are not the best judge of our sin or someone else’s sin. We are unaware of our smallest sin most of the time. Unless you are a rabid legalist, or a victim of verbal/emotional abuse, you are probably unaware of your true shortcomings.
Humans evaluating humans is an unhealthy practice that won’t lead to a revelation of our fallenness. As an analogy, in the banking industry, tellers are handed hundreds of bills in their training so that they can literally feel the difference between real money and counterfeit. The real money is a standard to evaluate the counterfeits.
God is the best standard of evaluating our failings. And, we do have failings, otherwise, there is no need of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Yes, God, described as an “all-consuming fire” and of whom it is “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God” is our standard of perfection. His perfection is not static, though. His perfection lies in how he relates with Himself and His creation. The God who created the earth and humanity saw this humanity fall at a single stroke. The creation He was pleased with became unpleasing and despised instantly. One act, one failing, one falling to temptation, and all of humanity for the rest of human history was called Sinful.
That’s how bad sin is. One sin has completely polluted the human race. And the pollution is in our evaluative powers, as well. You see, it is not simply that we commit sin, but that our judgement of what is and isn’t sin comes from a corrupted mind. Our hard drives are full of viruses and trojan horses. We can’t be trusted to know our own sin or that of others.
David was a “man after God’s own heart”. He was also a womanizer. To his collection, he added the wife of a trusted military general who was righteous and loyal to David. By David’s direction, this general was left to be killed by the enemy so David could “screw around” with this guys wife. David thought nothing of it for a year. Think of it: DAVID, the guy who wrote the Psalms, the greatest king of Israel, the guy who killed Goliath as a boy, was unaware or unwilling to acknowlege his own depraved behavior.
It took an outside source in the prophet Nathan to point out David’s sin. He told David about a man who had many, many sheep, but who wanted his poor neighbor’s single sheep. The shepherd then killed his poor neighbor to get that sheep. David was outraged at that story and railed on the wealthy shepherd. Nathan then proclaimed, “YOU are the man”. David then broke down in repentance.
The son who was born of Bathsheeba (the woman David commited adultery with) died.
It is the same with us, too. God has shown us His love and forgiveness in the face of Jesus. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, through whom the whole of creation was created. He is the Word. “Before Abraham was born, I am” Jesus said. This person condescended from heaven to live a miserable life on the earth and when that life was at its peak, He was made the sacrificial lamb for our sin.
After this, God sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts as a deposit for heaven. This is the counselor who points us to Christ. He is the “still small voice” who speaks our sin to us. He does this through the word of God, the Bible.
We don’t have a clue how bad our sin is. We carry along, and feel bad about our lives, or good about our lives, or bored with our lives, but it is another thing to feel sinful. That the marrow of our bone is infected with the cancer of sin and no operation can save us.
Delusion is my current sin. The delusion that I have been doing the best I can for my family. The delusion that I am a loving son and a supportive husband. But my actions call me a liar. I allow others to support me with my physical needs without realizing that I should be providing for these need. I am a thief. I have failed to love my students, at times, becoming irritated with their inability to understand concepts or their pronunciation, or their slowness to learn. I have publicly humiliated some of them. Whether this was on purpose or not, it is the truth. It is killing another person by crushing their spirit. I haven’t adequately prepared my lessons, instead, putting exercises in order and saying that this is a lesson plan. I have stolen.
And through it all, I’ve been a little sorry. Now, though, I am . . . a sinner.
There is no cure for a sinner. The cure that God provides seems worse than the disease. He heals us by killing us. He crucifies us through people like Nathan who are able to see our sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the word of God. But, but, God crucifies those whom He wants to save. The Christian life is not about dying to sin. It’s just about dying … and being resurrected. The God who created life through Jesus in Genesis one, recreates fallen man into a new creation through Jesus’ death. Ultimately, it is His kindness that leads us to repentance. You see, it is easier to point out the little issues of cursing and driving too fast and leaving the toilet seat up than to take a look at the depth of our problem; us.
The Good News is Jesus is in the business of crucifixion and resurrection. He’s good at it. No, He’s perfect at it. He won’t leave you alone to judge yourself. He won’t leave you with your loser friends to figure out your sin (read Job). Jesus will work to show you your sin, so that He can show you the living greatness of His forgiveness. This forgiveness is His very life given for you. Now and forever. Amen and Amen.