Recognizing Sin

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

–          Matthew 6:9-15


“… In your human relationships and friendships, have you reconciled yourself to the fact of sin? If not, just around the next corner you will find yourself trapped and you will compromise with it. But if you will reconcile yourself to the fact of sin, you will realize the danger immediately and say, “Yes, I see what this sin would mean.” The recognition of sin does not destroy the basis of friendship— it simply establishes a mutual respect for the fact that the basis of sinful life is disastrous. Always beware of any assessment of life which does not recognize the fact that there is sin.

“Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, yet He was never cynical nor suspicious, because He had absolute trust in what He could do for human nature. The pure man or woman is the one who is shielded from harm, not the innocent person. The so-called innocent man or woman is never safe. Men and women have no business trying to be innocent; God demands that they be pure and virtuous. Innocence is the characteristic of a child. Any person is deserving of blame if he is unwilling to reconcile himself to the fact of sin.”

–          Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest


I guess that I am stuck in a rut, from John the Baptist saying “Repent” to Billy Graham talking about Samson trading strength for weakness and now Oswald Chambers driving home the idea that we are not innocent or blameless.  It is like repent, repent, repent.  Maybe God is telling me something.


Some wonderful friends, a couple about our age, took my wife and I out to breakfast on Sunday.  We had all gone to early service.  My friend talked about sin that is no longer considered sin in the world view, not that the world view considers anything ‘sin’ from a religious point of view anymore.  The world view considers the government’s law as the only standard, and those laws are subject to change.  But then if you don’t get caught…


Jesus follows the Lord’s Prayer with a focus on one line in the prayer.  Forgive others or God will not forgive you.  Jesus is talking about all sin.  This passage is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus had already talked about murder being a sin, but also calling your neighbor a ‘fool’ is a sin.  Jesus had already talked about adultery being a sin, but looking lustfully is a sin also.


It does not harm the ‘idiot’ who cuts you off in traffic when you mutter, “Fool!” under your breath, but it harms the relationship that you have with God.  When you see a beautiful or handsome person of the opposite sex and think impure thoughts, do they even know what your thoughts are?  Maybe not if you don’t make it obvious, but God knows.  There goes a little more harm in that relationship.


We can fall back on “Saved is saved,” and there will always be some sin in our lives that has not been dealt with.  But each time we harm our personal relationship with God, instead of growing more in faith and getting closer to God, our energy is tied up in repairing a broken relationship.  Then again, seeing sin and turning from sin gets us closer to God.


But when our sin harms other people, Jesus’ words ring louder.  We must forgive, even when our neighbor never sees the fault in what they did to us.  As C. S. Lewis wrote, most of our wrongdoing toward others, speaking of Christians here, is unintentional.  We may find it easier to forgive others if we look at how we have hurt others unintentionally.  We did not mean to offend, maybe they did not mean to offend either.  Then, when we realize the intent was to harm, we have even more reason to forgive, for there is hurt built inside them that is emerging in a harmful way.


But then, back to our Sunday conversation, to determine what really is sin or not, we must stay in the Scriptures.  To see the sin in our lives, we must compare to the ideal, not the world view.  Look at the history within the Scriptures.  At every turn, the people turned away from God’s teaching and went their own way.  It is no different in the modern world view.  To the leaders of the modern world view, if they could eliminate the Scriptures, there would be no Truth to which to compare their lies.


Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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