Let’s continue our discussion for the past two weeks (Part 1, Part 2) focusing on Repentance:
Sins are not all equal to God, however no sin is small in His eyes. We know this by how we have different levels of guilt, but we should never confuse our lack of guilt as our sin being insignificant. Our judgment as humans is limited and flawed by sin, however God sees all things objectively and how they really are. We are quick to condemn those who have outward faults, like people who are alcoholics or drug abusers, and we hold up their sin in our minds as a barrier keeping them from making it to heaven, all while we have hidden faults such as pride, selfishness, and greed that we minimize and try to trivialize. However, God looks at these hidden sins as more offensive than most because they stand directly opposed to his compassion and character, and they focus on self while the un-fallen universe, including heaven, focuses on unselfish love. Those who fall into one or more of the uglier sins may sense feelings of shame or emptiness and as a result, they realize they need Jesus and His grace, however if pride is mixed into the sin, pride closes the door against Christ, because pride feels no need, and pride is never satisfied.
The tax collector in the temple who prayed, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” (Luke 18:13), saw himself as very sinful. Others would look at him and agree, but the point is that he felt his need, and with the awareness and weight of sin in his life, he came before God, asking for His mercy. His heart was ready for God’s Spirit to work inside and set him free from the grip of sin. On the other side of the temple, the Pharisee’s arrogant prayer showed that his heart was closed to the Holy Spirit. Because of his closed heart, he was distant from God, and he had no sense of his own corruption. In light of God’s holiness, he felt no need and he received nothing.
If you are aware of any sin in your life, do not wait another second to look for help from Jesus. There are many people who believe that they are not good enough to come to Christ. The problem with this idea is that we will never be good enough on our own to be able to reach the perfection we believe we need to have. “Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23). Only God is able to help us. We must not wait for stronger arguments, for better opportunities, or for a more Christ-like attitude. We can do nothing on our own. We must simply come to Christ just as we are and let Him work with us and change our lives and hearts.
With God’s infinite love, we must not deceive ourselves with the thought that God will save even the people who reject His grace. The devastation of sin can only be seen by holding it up to the light of the cross. When we support the idea that God is too good to reject the sinner, let them look to the cross on Calvary—to Jesus’ cross on Calvary. There is no other way for us to be saved, because without this sacrifice, it is impossible for us as humans to escape from the corrupted nature of sin, and be restored to relationship with God. It is because of this that Jesus took upon Himself the guilt and sin and suffered in the sinner’s place. The love, suffering, and death of the Son of God all testify to the extent of sin, and prove that there is no escape from its power, no hope of achieving a better life, except through submitting to the healing and restoring power of Jesus Christ.
There are some who have not repented and submitted to Jesus who rationalize their lives by looking at other Christians and saying, “I’m as good as they are. I’m as generous, sober, and careful with my actions as they are. They love happiness and having fun as well as I do.” By saying this, they are making the faults of others an excuse for their own laziness. However, God does not look at others when He looks at each individual. In other words, the sins and issues that other people have are their issues, and God will not excuse us for someone else’s failings. We have Jesus, the perfect Son of God, who came to be an example for us, and the people who complain that professed Christians are wrong are the people who should be living their lives to a higher standard. If they have such a perfect idea of what a Christian should be, wouldn’t their own sin or failing be that much greater? They know what is right, but they don’t do it.
Perhaps you should reconsider before deciding to procrastinate when it comes to repentance. Don’t wait to repent from your sins and ask Jesus to create a clean heart in you. This is where many people have failed. Life is short and it is not guaranteed. There is a significant risk in putting off repenting and submitting to the will of Christ. Holding on to sin, even if it is ‘small’ or ‘insignificant’ in your mind, could result in terrible consequences. What we don’t consciously move away from, with Christ’s help, will cause us to trip, fall, and fail in the long run.
Adam and Eve convinced themselves that the simple act of eating from a fruit tree could not possibly end with such significant results as God had said. However, even with the seemingly insignificant act, sin infected humanity and broke the connection between God and humans. Christ’s death on the cross stands as a memorial of what needed to take place to restore the connection.
Disobedience, or sin, against God’s law is not a small or insignificant thing. Every time that someone consciously rejects the grace and prompting of the Holy Spirit, their heart becomes harder, and their mind becomes a little more desensitized to the will of God. When we reject the Spirit’s leading, it doesn’t just make it easier to reject later calls to our spirit, it makes it harder and harder to even discern when the Holy Spirit is prompting us with new truth.
There are people who procrastinate by telling themselves that they will change when tragedy hits. They believe they are in control of their destiny, that is until a tragedy strikes, and that changing their life is not difficult. What they do not realize is that a lifetime of experience and education on the wrong path makes even wanting to change seem undesirable. It just looks to difficult to change and receive Jesus and take the steps to become like Him. Habits, once made, are hard to break.
Even holding on to one tiny sin, such as a sinful desire, a selfish character, or a bad attitude will eventually grow and counteract all the power of the Gospel of Jesus. Every sinful act hardens the heart against God. The person who purposely hardens his heart to God’s truth will ‘reap what he sowed’ and will ultimately get a heart that is set against the will of God. There is not a more concerning proclamation in the Bible about the trap of sin then, “An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.” (Proverbs 5:22).
Next week we will conclude talking about repentance and continue learning how we can strengthen our spiritual lives by Growing with Jesus!
P.S. As always, if I missed something, or if you would like to respond on this topic, join the conversation below!