Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dare to be a sinner!

Mr. and Mrs. Sinner

The lovely couple above are sinners and, actually, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sinner. I don't recommend doing a Google search for sinners or sin (yikes!), but this interesting photo showed up in my search. I wonder if the Sinner family thought of themselves as sinners, also. Many Christians today buy into the modern false teaching that one can become less and less sinful as you "progress" in faith. I used to believe that. After twenty years of trying to perfect my faith and become more Christian-ly, I was utterly depressed. I was a failure, I thought. What hope could I give to my kids if their own mother couldn't become more saintly. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit led me to a pastor and church who told me something new: I was a sinner still and always would be. That scriptural truth changed the course of my life and faith. I had already known that Christians still sinned, but I had allowed myself to be taught that sins were mistakes that happened when you weren't following in the footsteps of Christ closely enough. What I didn't know is that sin is a condition which permeates the earth, our culture, our bodies and our minds. And once I was able to see myself, and the whole of earth, as in a permanent sin condition, it then became clear where my help was to come from. I have found that only through clinging to the cross in desparation for salvation from my sins, in thankfulness for the act of grace that saved me and in hope for the world to come, can I even begin to imitate Christ. Any good work, done for the purpose of being a good work, becomes tainted or filthy in God's eyes. I live my life as Mrs. Sinner and, despite all my efforts otherwise, I often live up to the title! Thankfully, I am also Mrs. Saint, but I will never live up to that title until I move on to heaven.

In a related post, Tim the Enchanter of Beggars All writes:

"As I stumbled into the Reformation, this single doctrine struck me as the only thing that 'made sense'. After years of pretending to be 'victorious', it was such a blessed relief to simply be honest about myself and my continued need for grace.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about 1 John 1 and "walking in the light" in the last chapter of his Life Together:

"He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their lonliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says:
You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. "My son, give me thine heart" (Prov. 23:26) You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you...He wants to love you."

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