Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Practically Perfect in Every Way

I think that Christians tend to go about with a Mary Poppins-esque view of themselves and other Christians. We are all practically perfect in every way.

I mean, we know we are sinners. And we sin. But, we are sinners saved by grace. Which, essentially means that we are practically perfect.

And if we aren't perfect, we should be.

While we may not actually agree with the doctrine of sinless perfectionism, for all practical purposes, most of us have too casual a view of our own sin and too condemning a view of other Christian's sin.

We think of ourselves as mostly perfect. And we are astounded when Christians sin. Christians should not sin! Whether they sin against us or someone else or God. Big sins. Little sins. Medium sins.

We are astonished. We are offended. We are hurt.

We ostracize. We criticize. We judge. We evaluate out of the corners of our eyes. Wondering-wondering.

We think we understand the message of grace. But we forget that the message of the cross applies to believers too.

I mean, of course we can forgive someone who committed adultery before they were saved. It's under the blood. It has been forgiven.

But, what about the believer who commits adultery? Who repents of this sin, and forsakes it? Well, they still need punished. They are unfit for ministry. They have totally destroyed their testimony. They are finished.

Because they aren't practically perfect in every way anymore.

Or, how about the unbeliever who embezzles, spends time in jail, gets saved, and starts a prison ministry? Wow! What a story of redemption!

But, then, what about the believer who embezzles, faces up to his crime-both before the law and before God, pays his time? What is left for him?

Is there forgiveness for him?

There is from God. God promises that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

1 John was written to believers. This forgiveness promise is to believers. It absolutely applies to unbelievers, but it was written to believers.

If Thou, O Lord, should mark inquiry, O Lord, who should stand? But, there is forgiveness with thee, that Thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130: 3,4)

There is a difference between trust and forgiveness, and I am not speaking about trust issues here. I am speaking about forgiveness. Trust is earned. Forgiveness is a free and undeserved gift.

And I am also not talking about the issue of tolerance. I am talking about confessed and repented of sin. Sin that has been left behind in a believer's life.

We forget that Christ died to pay the price for all of our sins. Past, present, future. Before we were saved and after. We forget that repentance is the act of a believer. We don't leave room for change.

Not change that we affect ourselves, but that the Holy Spirit affects in our lives.

I know how hard it is to forgive. I struggle to forgive. I want to see change before I forgive. I want to see through behavioral evidence that you won't hurt me the same way again. I am not writing about this because I have forgiveness in the bag.

I have a hard time forgiving because I don't see myself as forgiven.

I don't truly see the depths of my sin. What my sin cost. I categorize my sins as inconsequential and little. Why would I need to be forgiven if my sins are so small?

But, that inconsequential loss of temper sent Jesus Christ to the cross. That little show of pride was the nail that pierced the hand of Jesus Christ. That little sin of un-forgiveness?

That's my sin. My sins that have been forgiven.

What does it matter if it is big or little? Jesus Christ died to in order to redeem us from the power and penalty of all sin. My sin. Your sin.

His shed blood was the currency of forgiveness, ransom and redemption. For my sin. For your sin.

In His mercy and faithfulness, the all-knowing God chooses to remember my sins no more. (Psalm 103)

If God has chosen to forget, the one Who paid the most, what right have I to remember? To not forgive?

Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

We don't forgive because the person deserves our forgiveness. We forgive because we don't deserve forgiveness, and yet here we stand-forgiven.

Who do you need to forgive today?

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