Our attitude to sin

The Law condemns us because it’s law; that’s all it’s capable of doing. But does that mean that God automatically rejects those who break His Law? We have to realise that although God hates sinful actions, He doesn’t hate the people who do them. He hates divorce, but He loves divorced people. He hates lying, but He loves people who tell lies. And He hates homosexual behaviour, but He loves gay people. We all find it very easy to justify our own sinful behaviour (whatever it is) and condemn the people who commit other sins. The Bible, however, does not single out gay people; it condemns all of us, equally.

BUT – thank God, there is a ‘but’ – our situation is not hopeless (I Corinthians 6:11). The Good News of Christianity is that Jesus came to die for us and thus deal with our sins. Therefore God can accept us as we are – in order to change us into what we should be.

This is the crux of the matter. We all prefer to read the bits of Scripture that we like, and try to ignore or re-interpret the bits we don’t like. We would all much rather listen to God’s promises than to His commands! We all enjoy the fact that our sins are forgiven… but then we all have a tendency to forget that with God’s help we are supposed to turn around and leave our sinful ways. Here are some examples of what the New Testament says:

“The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ’No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11,12)

“Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh… Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:16,24)

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.” (Romans 6:12,13)

So we have a high ideal to aim for; but we must remember that God does not reject us when we fail. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that we instantly become perfect. While there are many Christians who experience immediate and total liberation from certain sins (I know people who have been set free from addictions and from compulsive swearing, for example), that is actually just a ‘taster’ of the life to come. For the rest of our earthly lives, we have to fight against a deep-rooted inclination towards sin; and although we have the Holy Spirit to help us, it’s still a struggle. So, although Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that they have been washed, sanctified and justified (I Corinthians 6:11), only a little further on (verse 18) he has to tell them to resist temptations to sexual immorality. Which means that there will be (indeed there ought to be) people in our church who are battling with homosexual attraction. And they need our encouragement and support, not our condemnation.

 

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