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Examining Sin and Grace

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One of the problems in modern Christianity is the propensity to preach the extremes. On one side you have preaching that beats people down with what horrible wretches they all are. On the other hand you have preaching that tells everyone to just stare at the cross and don't worry about sin. The first style removes the power of Christ from the lives of the listeners and the second style sets them up for failure in this life. Sets them up for failure? Absolutely! Because while they are staring at the cross the devil is running roughshod over their lives. I know that there is some new theology out there that downplays the enemy. That downplays the spiritual war we are in and that is very very dangerous for us. The devil is very real and the Bible says he is out to steal, kill and destroy you. You go ahead and ignore sin and see what the devil does. Here is some teaching from the Apostle Peter:

So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, "You must be holy because I am holy." And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as "foreigners in the land." For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. -- 1Peter 1: 13-20 (NLT)

The way Peter is writing it sure seems as if sin is still something we need to be concerned with. Of course we should look forward to the gracious salvation Christ appropriated for us but in the same breath -- we must live as obedient children! Peter differentiates between the two. We need to be careful to not slip back into our old sinful ways. Once we are saved we are to consider ourselves as foreigners in the world living in reverent fear of God. The sad reality today is that the American church is losing any reverence for God and operates without any fear of who He is. Not of what He might do. Again, I am not preaching sin as a restraint upon our lives but a key to overcoming bondage to it. Within these verses we see the truth of these matters play out. First Peter deals with the eternal issue -- salvation. He says to look forward to what grace has purchased for us! I agree wholeheartedly! We should never stop thanking God for redeeming our sin-sick souls and granting us eternal life -- while we were still in rebellion to Him! Amazing grace -- how sweet the sound!


Then Peter turns his attention to the temporal propensity we all have to sin. He reminds us that we know better now. The bottom line beloved is that the grace of God will cover our sins but that is no reason to stop being conscious of sin in our lives. Yes, we are saved when we stand before Christ but we still have to wake up tomorrow and navigate this life. The world is still going to offer us opportunities to sin. Our flesh is still going to desire to sin. The enemy will still be whispering in our ears to go ahead and sin. Not because it will damage us in eternity but rather in the temporal. The principle of sowing and reaping still applies to us!


Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -- Galatians 6: 7-9 (NIV)


Regardless of whether or not we are saved, we still will pay the price that is attached to sin. God did not give the law as punishment but as guidelines for living. Let us play out a real life example. Suppose we have a married man who is saved but he falls into the sin of adultery. Is this sin covered in relation to his salvation? Absolutely. He can repent, and God will forgive. He does not have an eternal problem from the adultery. That is the sin for which Christ went to the cross. He does however have a temporal problem doesn't he? Perhaps his wife will leave him. Perhaps his kids will lose all respect for him. Perhaps he will have to move out and lose a lot of what he owned in a messy divorce. Perhaps he will have to step down from ministries. There are plenty of temporal considerations and consequences from his sin, which have nothing to do with salvation.


King David was described as a man after the very heart of God yet he had to battle his sin nature within him when he saw Bathsheba bathing on a rooftop. David lost that battle badly. He went from coveting to lust to adultery and then to murder. Was the grace of God sufficient to cover and forgive these sins? Absolutely! But David still saw two of his children die and his kingdom lost as a direct result of this sin. What about Moses? He had gone to Pharaoh on behalf of the Lord and demanded the people be freed. He led the Israelites through the wilderness and to the edge of the Promised Land only to watch their repeated disobedience and hear their repeated whining. Yet when God instructed him to speak to the rock in order to receive water, Moses instead smote the rock with his staff. Here was the Word of the Lord:


But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." -- Numbers 20: 12 (NIV)


Moses was the prophet of God and his sin was in adding to the instructions of God. In his anger and frustration he made a public display instead of simply following the instructions of God. In relation to his eternal salvation this sin is covered. But he still paid a heavy temporal price according to this Scripture. He would never see the Promised Land he had worked so hard to reach. Sin always has a price attached to it, regardless of our eternal salvation.


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