Your Sin Is Bigger Than My Sin

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John 8:3-12The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (NIV 1984)

Whether Great or Small – It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.

At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people.

However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the Cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life. (Billy Graham)

One Sin Makes You A Sinner – One leak will sink a ship: and one sin will destroy a sinner. (John Bunyan)

However, Your Sin Is Worse Than Mine? – A rather clever person once said: “Lord, help me forgive those who sin differently than I do.” (Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012)

The similarities between [your sin and mine] are different. (Yogi Berra)

My Musings – We have a tendency to believe our sins are more forgivable (less bad) than the sins of others.  That was one of the main points of the story of the woman caught in adultery.  The teachers of the law saw her sin as so grievous it deserved death.  Jesus taught (reminded) them that they were all in the same “leaking ship” in danger of sinking.  I am reminded of a somewhat similar scene from Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo and Gandalf are debating the sins of that miserable creature Gollum:

Frodo:  “It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance.”

Gandalf:  “Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death [cast the first stone] in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Frodo:  “I wish The Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.”

Gandalf:  “So do all who live to face such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

My Advice – As I’ve written in a previous blog, there is no sin so great (probably someone else’s) that Jesus did not die for it, and no sin so small (obviously mine) that He did not have to die for it.   So let’s not be too eager to “deal out death” to others.  The “similarities in our sins may be different” but we are all in need of God’s grace and forgiveness (“pity”), that is found only in Jesus. He was the only One who ever paid (or could have paid) for our sins. His sacrifice was the only thing that could “stay [God’s] hand” of judgment.  “All we have to decide is what to do with the [opportunity] that is given to us.”

Let’s not forget the second main point in Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery, that we have a tendency to gloss over.  Just because we do not have the right to judge the sins of others, does not mean they are not sins.  Just because we may think that our particular sins are not serious enough to deserve judgment does not mean they do not.  If we are in Christ, our sins are forgiven, let’s show our gratitude by following His admonition to “go now and leave [our] life of sin.”

Godly Sorrow

2 Corinthians 7:8-10Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it–I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a while–yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Sometimes we hurt the people we love when we point out errors to them. But if it is the truth, and if it is done in love, like Paul, we need not regret it. The hurt will last only a little while, but the result of repentance restores not only their relationship with you, but with God.

My Advice – I am happy to give you advice, even if some of it hurts a bit, if it keeps you on the right track or helps put you back on the right track. Accept my advice for what it really is, a labor of love and concern for my son.

 

Time to Fall Back?

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Psalm 145:18The LORD is near to all who call on him.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – At times, He seems distant to me, most likely because I have distanced myself from Him, not because He does not want to be close to me.  At times, my prayers seem to go no further than the ceiling, but that does not mean that He is not listening.  At times, I feel so empty of Him, but that does not mean His Spirit has departed from me.

My Advice – If you feel the same at times, ask yourself what I ask myself – “who moved?” Like the prodigal, we may have fallen, but we can “fall back.”  We can return.  Like the prodigal’s Father He’s watching for our return.

 

Yet In Distant Lands

Zechariah 10:6-10 – “I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them. Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return. I will bring them back.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Sometimes (often) we go our own way. We wander among the worldly (distant lands) and forget the ways of God. God will allow us this freedom, but He remains in our hearts (we survive). Eventually we remember Him and desire to leave our worldly lifestyle. Out of His great compassion He brings us back and restores us.

My Advice – There will likely be times when you wander in “distant lands” and do not walk with God. Always remember that you cannot wander so far that His arms cannot reach you to welcome you back. You will find that the first step of the return journey may be real hard. But once you take that first step, demonstrating your willingness to turn back, God will carry you the rest of the way.

Let It Go

Hosea 5:4 – Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We cannot return to God if we are holding onto deeds that are pulling us away from Him. We have to let go, so we can turn around.

My Advice – Hold onto things of this world loosely. Do not let them turn into deeds that will prevent you from having fellowship with God.

What Pleases God

Ezekiel 18:23 – “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” declares the Sovereign Lord. “Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their wicked ways and live?” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – There are two ways we can turn from sin. One is to first fall into sin, then later repent (turn back from). The other is to be confronted by sin and to refuse to give in (turn away from). To turn away is better than to turn back, but God is pleased when we do either.

My Advice – Make it a goal of your life to please God.

Revolutionary Declarations

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Romans 13:1-2Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (NIV 1984)

In Congress, July 4, 1776 – The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, Continue reading “Revolutionary Declarations”