Friday, November 30, 2018

We Are Not Sinners

In those days and in that time, declares the LORD, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant” (Jeremiah 50:20, ESV).

All my life I have heard people say, and I have said myself, “We are all sinners.” In one sense the statement is true to the point of being a truism. But in another very important sense it is quite false.

After spending 49 chapters rebuking the sin of his nation, Jeremiah says that there shall be no iniquity or sin found in Israel or sin in Judah. Huh? How so? “For I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.”

Someday the redeemed will stand before God and be found not guilty. God will find no sin in his remnant. It is not that you or I or any of us are perfect; it is not that we will be (of ourselves) sinless. But no sin will be found, because God’s pardon, enabled by Christ’s sacrifice, will have been granted.

In one sense, yes, we are sinners. In another sense we are sinless, no sin is found in us.

Sometimes I fear that we use the “of course we are all sinners” line as an excuse, so that we do not have to try. Let us say instead, “We are sinless, perfect in God’s sight, due to the pardon granted in Christ. Let us do our best to maintain this incredible status he has granted us.”

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12-14, ESV).

Friday, November 16, 2018

Always Moving Forward

And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you” (Matthew 11:23-24, ESV).

In his book, Ministering Like the Master, and on the basis of the above quoted passage, Stuart Olyott concludes, “There is no greater sin than simply staying as you are” (43). Later he expands on this saying, “To the Son of God there is something worse than rape in the street, there is something more wicked than violent sodomy. It is the sin of listening to his word and remaining unchanged” (45).

Someday the world will be judged and the men of Sodom will be condemned for their disgusting sin. The people of Capernaum will also be condemned, and their condemnation will be more severe. Regular church attenders will be there that day as well, and what will they hear?

As Olyott later comments, “Who, who, are the worst sinners of all? They are the men, women, young people and children who regularly hear the Bible preached, but who remain unrepentant. Week after week, week after week, Christ is proclaimed to them from the Scriptures. But they choose not to change. They are, quite simply, unmoved. They remain as they are; and this is the way they want to be. There is no greater sin in all the universe than this one” (50).

As shocking as Stuart Olyott’s words may seem, they are firmly grounded in that above quoted statement of Jesus; and they are confirmed in other statements, such as this one,
And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:47-48, ESV).

Those of us who hear the gospel week after week should not be sitting still; we must be moving forward. Let it be said once again, “There is no greater sin than simply staying as you are” (43).