Grace and Sin

Love and Judgment

©New Testament 3 Productions; Dining with sinners at Matthew’s house
©New Testament 3 Productions; Dining with sinners at Matthew’s house

I have a friend who is perplexed about the emphasis “we” Christians place on sin.

Well, I admit, sometimes I’m perplexed, too.

Color Sin before Christ is accepted

(Is our mission to call out sin?)

I often read or hear the following rationalizations from evangelizing Christians:

“If we don’t point out their sin, they might be damned to an eternal hell.”

“If we don’t judge them, we’re not doing our job as Christians.”

“We need to take a moral stand in this immoral world without values.”

Jesus tells us not to judge; plain and simple. And Jesus only called out one group of people: the Pharisees. Yet, he also formed individual relationships with at least two of them – Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Instead of calling out sinners, Jesus dined with them. Sharing a meal first century Jewish culture meant acceptance at a deep level.

 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2 (Luke 6:37)”

“If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47)

The thing is, no one will listen unless they feel safe, unless they feel loved. And really, it’s never a matter of “they” or “them,” but of he or she; individuals with whom we take the time to establish authentic and loving relationships. Individuals with whom we take the time to learn history and struggles and hurt and pain. Jesus loved first, drew individuals to His heart, creating the desire to follow Him.

If the death of his Son restored our relationship with God while we were still his enemies, we are even more certain that, because of this restored relationship, the life of his Son will save us. (Romans 5:10 GW emphasis mine)

Sin after Christ is accepted

(Are sinners separated from God?)

Christ died on the cross; He took our sins and buried them forever. More important, His resurrection brought us back into a redemptive relationship with our Father. He has restored us into our Father’s arms.

Sin can lead us to an earthly hell and make us “feel” separated from God. But,

All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through Jesus. And He has given us the same mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bring others back to Him. It is central to our good news that God was in Christ making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 The Voice)

If God does not hold our sins against us anymore, why do we? How can our sin separate us from God if Jesus took them away, once and for all?

 

©2011YourPerspektive
©2011YourPerspektive

When we focus on sin, we miss the point of the Good News. Rather than fixating on sin, shouldn’t we stress God’s love, His grace and His mercy? Shouldn’t we extend an invitation? Invite someone in and get to know him? Welcome someone to dinner and make it safe for her talk?

If it’s true once people know the love of Christ they desire to transform their lives; if it’s true lives can only transform through a relationship with Christ, then we must love first. For if we judge and expect people to repent before they feel the love of Christ, we task them with an impossible burden, just as the Pharisees did to the people of their day.

It circumvents Christ, ignoring the cross and undermining the Gospel of Jesus.

What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. As Scripture says:

“We are being killed all day long because of you.
We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.”

The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties.  I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation. (Romans 8:35-39 MSG)

Thank you, Mel Wild and Little Monk for the inspiration for this blog. Pebbles and ripples…

9 thoughts on “Grace and Sin

  1. Paul seemed to think that it was the kindness or goodness of God that leads people to repentance (Rom.2:4), and the love of Christ that compels us (2 Cor.5:14), not having our sins pushed in our face. As you point out here, if we follow Jesus’ model with sinners, we may have similar results.

    Great insights here, Susan. We really need to get this. Blessings.

    Like

    • Absolutely, Mel. The more we lead with judgment and condemnation, the more we act as a barrier – a stumbling block, if you will. We must be a vessel through which that exact kindness, goodness and love are able to reach all people.
      We do need to get this. We need to stop global condemnation and begin to have individual conversations.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you broke this down Sis! Anybody who has been involved in congregational types of ministry has had to deal with the issue of sin and continued sin. Sin does separate us from the Father, yet it is not God who moved or put up barriers, but we who sin have moved from the Holiness of God.

    What we do have though, is the assurance and realization that the Father’s love is just a breath away and all we have to do is turn around and run back into His brace. Of all the times I have taught or preached publically, I have never once used “hell fire and brimstone” to try and win hearts.

    I recognized at an early age (and I converted to a denomination that loves hell fire and brimstone!) that when Jesus spoke, even when He said hard things, which He did do from time to time (you can see an instance in Brother Paul’s post, Look Into The Fire), He ALWAYS showed those He was speaking too the “cure” or the positive way to walk!

    “If you sin, you die spiritually! But, if you believe in me, you will live eternally!” How is it that so many denominations and “preachers” have missed this character of love demonstrated when He or even the Apostles taught?? I have been involved with many denominations; my learning has been in the trenches, I asked the Lord at a young age to teach me and HE chose the best way! I have had to learn HOW to do things Scripturally and lovingly, and I have had to learn HOW NOT to do these, for I was shown the hurt and damage that selfishness and ego and pride can cause when it is at the heart of what is supposed to be a ministry!!

    You ever wonder why I try to encourage with my teaching and comments, you know why it’s because I’ve seen what disparaging searching and longing hearts can accomplish! As the old saying goes, “it ain’t pretty!” Many years ago, because of one of those “how not to do” lessons, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament; and one of the things I tell anyone who wants to lead others is read and reread the Book of Jeremiah and learn what it means to be a servant!

    I love what the Holy Spirit is doing, the move that He is making across the hearts of countless people who are opening their eyes to “look outside the religious box” and finally recognizing what love truly is and that it has to be the very first component in a relationship, any relationship. But, we also have to realize that not every act of love or demonstration of love is all fuzzy and warm feeling, all cushy and compromising. Even Jesus Himself, though He loved Peter immensely, had to rebuke him for willful thinking as it was written in Matthew 16:21-23, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

    That was TOUGH love, but it was love, nonetheless. The thing is, Jesus loved (action) Peter and did not hold it over him with continual prodding and nagging like so many are want to do today. Rather, they moved forward in love and Peter learned and grew from it! Jesus had “covered” Peter’s sin of willfulness, He buried it to bring it up no more and so must we be first and foremost! You can’t “cover a multitude of sins” if you first have not made an effort (action) to love another!!

    Great post Sis, Bless you so much for this!

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    • I think we believe the same thing, Roland, but are using different words.
      Let me begin at the end of your comment.
      “You can’t ‘cover a multitude of sins’ if you first have not made an effort (action) to love another!!” That is really the whole point. The love must come first. Had Peter not been certain of Jesus’ love, he would not have heard the rebuke as love, but as condemnation. As such, I don’t think Peter ever was separated from Jesus, even as he rebuked Him.

      I look at our journey here as navigating a ship. Yes, we have a final destination – our resurrection selves where we will see Jesus face to face. God is the ocean upon which we navigate. Jesus is the course upon which we set our instruments. Do we get off course? Absolutely! Yet we are still upon the ocean, and we must rely on the Father’s Spirit to help us navigate back onto the right course in order to reach our destination. Are we ever separated from God? Never.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love the analogy of the ship on the ocean! Also, I agree that Peter was never separated, and it was love that caused Jesus to say that, but it was still probably a tough thing to hear. Sometimes, even when given in love, the truth does cause temporary hurt, but is also necessary to provide freedom and liberty. The saying that the truth will set you free, is very true indeed IF the motivation behind telling it IS love! God bless you Sis. As I said, I loved the way you laid out the importance of Grace and especially over “sin-consciousness!”

        Liked by 1 person

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