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Dealing with Sin
Grace covers us and love binds us while holiness chastens and disciplines us
“And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5)!
Will America confess our persistent sins on a path toward redemption, reformation, and revival? Or are we doomed to persist in our unrighteousness?
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Let’s just say, it doesn’t look good right now. While I sympathize with optimistic post-millennial kingdom expansion — this world seems to be getting worse, not better. Both pre-millennial and post-millennial views are hopeful — it is just a matter of how that hope comes to fruition. In either case, God wins. Does Jesus need to return before the ultimate Church age “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14)?
One variable to track in our culture is the level, rate, and depth of repentance. What would it look like if more people turned from their sins? That would be a revolution. Christians should work to evangelize this world. “…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15b). To change this planet we must submit to Christ’s rule in our lives, families, homes, churches, communities, states, and nations.
Isaiah’s prophetic confession has always struck me as profoundly grand — he confesses the sins of his people as if he can distance himself from collective guilt.
Despite his best efforts and right behavior, he owned his imperfections and transgressions. It was not as if Isaiah was described as a uniquely evil man before his anointing as a prophet. All indications are that he was devout. Yet, the holiness of God renders him humbled all the same.
His confession is an admission of guilt before a good and just God. The Lord has a right to judge and destroy us all. Imagine the feeling of shame that would drive you to your knees, as if someone could see right into the depths of your soul. This must have been what Isaiah felt. In disgrace, he not only sought absolution but represented the sins of his people, taking on their iniquity. He took responsibility for his failures and convicted his people of their offenses before the Lord Almighty.
One of the most critical aspects of the Christian faith is an acknowledgment of sin. We all need the faith to repent and seek forgiveness. That starts with the awareness of our sins. It should grieve our hearts when we grieve the heart of God. We are meant to accept God’s hand of discipline upon us even though it hurts. Then we must return to him and ask for forgiveness and restoration. His long-suffering patience and everlasting lovingkindness will find us.
Jordan Peterson likes to relate the fact that the entomology of the word sin means missing the mark, as in our failure to aim at a target properly. But historically the term sin refers to transgression against the divine law of God. This is not simply an error or mistake — it is willful blindness to the consequences of our actions. When we sin (rather than simply neglecting good or omitting the right action) we commit an offense against God himself. When Nathan the prophet confronted David, the king realized that his deeds were exposed before God. This man, who saw God protect him in battle with Giants and armies, thought he could get away with stealing another man’s wife and having him killed. What hubris!
“Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You put Uriah the Hittite to the sword and took his wife as your own, for you have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘I will raise up adversity against you from your own house. Before your very eyes, I will take your wives and give them to another, and he will lie with them in broad daylight. You have acted in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” “The LORD has taken away your sin,” Nathan replied. “You will not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have shown utter contempt for the word of the LORD, the son born to you will surely die” (2 Samuel 12:9-14).
David admitted that he sinned against God by killing Uriah and sleeping with Bathsheba. His son died. This prophecy was fulfilled when his son Absalom launched a coup. “So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s wives in the sight of all Israel” (2 Samuel 16:22). But Solomon, the second son of Bathsheba, would become king. God still used David despite his heinous acts.
In the same way, the prodigal son recognized that his sin was against God and his father. ‘I will get up and go to my father and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight” (Luke 15:18).1 Repentance is good for the soul. It is a precondition for a relationship with the holy God. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? Jesus’ blood washes us clean and presents us to God the Father white as snow. Our robes are washed in the blood of the lamb (Revelation 7:14) and we can stand before the Creator of heaven and earth.
America as a people have sinned against God. And we deserve every ounce of his wrath that we have earned. Judgment seems to be falling on this nation. We have allowed false teaching and apostasy to infect our pulpits and pews. Many families have fallen away from the faith or simply rejected God altogether. Individuals following the Lord must join in a season of atonement for the sake of our nation. Like Isaiah, we can intercede on behalf of our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters to make it right. But, it is up to individuals to turn from their sins and ask God for salvation. Healing can be a painful process. Pray for those who are slaves to sin. Forgiveness is offered and joy can be received — if you believe in God and trust Jesus with your life.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3b)
Guercino (1651), commissioned by Giovanni Nane, Venice. Temporary exhibition: Guercino - Triumph of the Baroque in the National Museum in Warsaw.