Sin and Mercy

There is a world of hurt out there isn’t it? Sometimes it’s difficult to put my mind around it. I know One who has and does every second of every minute.

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I don’t know that I’ve ever paused long enough to think about the faith of Abraham, but I’m sure you’re familiar with Genesis 15.6.

And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (NLT)

Abraham and David were both guilty of adultery, but their faith in God also defined them. None of us is strong to avoid sin. All of us have been given faith. I know that makes it sound as if we are puppets on a string at the mercy of an all seeing God, but I think that’s bad theology. Faith does not mean sin is absent in my life. Sin does not disqualify me from service and pastoral care. Failure does not disqualify me from leadership or letting myself be seen by my enemies. It does not silence my voice even though my sins are great in the sight of the Father. Satan wants me to be afraid, hide, submit to ungodly shame, remind myself constantly of the times I’ve messed up and deny my family precious time to be with them. He will do everything he can to destroy me, but the darkness he brings is never more powerful than the light She brings. Oh no you didn’t Daniel. Oh yes I did.

If God is for us who can be against us?

Sin is sin, and if we as Christians are ashamed to call it what it is then we will continue to pander to the filth that perpetuates the division that separates us from God. I understand we aren’t going to stamp out sin till Jesus reveals Himself again because human beings will continue to glory in their shame till He does. I’m not here to label specific sin that our culture says is ok. I’m here to strive to draw us closer to the One who can keep us from falling. We’re going to fall. I’ve already fallen today, and it isn’t even noon yet. We can’t possibly think we can be sinless because the power of the evil one has so entrenched our world that I’d argue it’s impossible not to sin. That time will come, but it’s not now.

There is a difference between being sinless and striving not to sin. None of us is sinless. It’s what we do after we sin that makes people like Abraham and David such great people of God in the face of epic fails. King Saul and King Solomon stand in sharp contrast to Abraham and King David in their final days.

Today it’s not the sin that is wrong. It’s getting caught that is wrong. Never mind that I flipped someone off in traffic, but if the guy I flip off in traffic comes after me with a gun then I deserve it because I got caught. Sin has consequences, and none of us escape those consequences. This is not a doomsday message. This is a fact of life. So what’s the answer? I propose we start with Hosea 6.6. Here are two translations and one paraphrase.

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. (NLT)

 

 I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings. (Message, Eugene Peterson)

 

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (NIV)

It’s bigger than a checklist of do and don’ts. It’s deeper than obeying the speed limit. It’s a heart issue that holds in check one’s integrity because integrity and character are what drive a person to do good when “no one” is looking.

How you treat others is a bigger witness to God’s presence than going to church on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Hosea continually obeyed God by loving Gomer through sin after sin. I’m not saying you become a welcome mat for someone’s abusive behavior, but I am saying you trust God to give you the endurance to keep going when you want to quit.

We can’t do a thing about temptation. Temptation is as real as the blood running through your veins, but whether or not you give into temptation is another matter all together.

And you can’t do it by yourself. Find a church family to journey with. There are good churches out there. You may have been hurt by the church like I have, but when a group of believers take Jesus seriously there is great power at work on earth as it is in heaven.

I love you, and I’m going to start praying for you.

Grace and peace.

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