Sunday, May 19, 2013

Outsmarting God, so we can continue to sin

Amazingly, Christians believe they can fool God. And what’s worse, they believe they can outsmart Him!

Many actually think they can force God to forgive their sins by simply telling Him about them – as if He didn't know already! – and then CONTINUE committing the same sins with impunity, over and over and over again. Forever! And we expect God to forgive us every single time!

The problem is that Jesus, the man God anointed and sent to us, called on us to repent of our sins and be Righteous.  To repent means to understand that we are sinning, and that we will not do it again. Jesus calls on us to be Born Again in Righteousness. That means we must repent of our sins, and instead of committing sins, we must perform acts of Righteousness, as our Master Jesus commanded.

To be Born Again means to repent of all past sins, and to not do them again. But unless we  understand that sins are ACTS, and not an inborn genetic condition that cannot be changed (or that it is somehow God’s responsibility to do the changing FOR us) we may be led to believe that we cannot help but sin.

This leads many to falsely expect God, our Father, to accept our genetic condition (being sinners) as something beyond our ability to change. That we are to remain “just as we are,” and that we can be “saved” while continuing to sin. However, this is faulty reasoning based on centuries of faulty, man-made theology.

Jesus tells us God wishes us to repent of our sins – to be sorry that we committed them, and to cease committing the act of sinning. But without a change in our behavior, there is no repentance. Without repentance, we are not following Jesus or serving God.

But isn't it true that, “Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven”? No. This is the ultimate cop-out. It’s a slogan that gives us the right to continue to sin, sometimes grievously, after becoming Christians, in the hope that God doesn't notice our continuing sin, or (worse) that He condones it because we cannot help it.

Unfortunately for most Christians who believe these things, they aren't Biblical.

God truly forgives and forgets our sins – when we stop committing them. King David in the Psalms pleads with God to forgive him, and we learn that after this, God calls him Righteous. David wasn't righteous because he was the King, nor was “Righteous” a title given to him when he became king, a gift given by God without strings attached. No, he was righteous because of his repentance and right conduct thereafter. Those who want to show David as a perpetual sinner (and use out-of-context “proof texts” to do so) forget that he repented, and that he was called Righteous by God.

Instead of “casting our cares upon” God, and expecting God to do all the work, perhaps we should be fearful of even approaching God before setting things right with our fellow human beings.

Isaiah says God calls on us to, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good.” (1:17)

Jesus taught us that if we hate our brother or sister, we should not attempt to come to God in worship, because we are not “right” with others. He said, “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  (Matt. 5:23-24)

And John (whose letters are often so perfectly in accord with the teachings of Jesus) said in the first letter that hatred of our brothers and sisters is just as bad as murders. (1 John 3:15)

The one who sins with reckless abandon and who does not serve their brothers and sisters is not a follower of Jesus, but a wolf among the sheep.

The Church that bears the name of Christ Jesus must be in the business of perfecting those who claim to follow Jesus, and must encourage Jesus Followers to commit themselves to stop sinning. To admit that we will always be sinners is, while technically true, since we will always fall short of the goal Jesus set with his life and ministry, this cannot be legitimately used as an excuse to continue sinning.

The Church must preach the perfect teachings of Jesus as a goal to which we can all aspire, rather than a Gospel of Constant Sinning, which Jesus condemns. This is the great failing of Christendom today, but it can be corrected by remembering Jesus’ call to us all to become perfect, just as God is perfect. That he accomplished this goal, and was just a human as we are, means that it can be achieved.

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