Acknowledging Sin: A Severe Mercy
“O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2
Acknowledging sin is NOT a popular subject! Many non-liturgical protestant churches will seldom mention sin in worship services; much less have the congregation pray a confession of sin together…..out loud, no less. Is sin too negative for positive thinking churches? Does it drive people away rather than attracting them, stunting the growth of the church? It is surely a mystery when pastors who will not have confession of sin in their worship services respond when asked, “It is not something we traditionally do; it is not the way we have done or do worship. It is rather strange when sin is such an “elephant in the room at the cross of Jesus, the central event in the life and history of Christianity. In fact, sin is why the cross is absolutely necessary; and sin elicits the grace and mercy of God towards those who love His Son. At the cross Jesus personally atoned for the sins of all those for whom He died, taking their sin upon Himself, which separated Him from His Father; the greatest agony of the cross.
When sin is put on the back-burner, when it is a hush-hush subject in public discourse, like the subjects of religion and politics always seem to poison a good party, it is minimized, and intended to be buried out of sight as though it doesn’t exist. What this attitude does is minimize the reason for the cross; it minimizes the incredible greatness of God’s mercy and grace flowing from the death of His Son; and it belittles the need to come to Jesus for forgiveness every time we now sin (I John 1:8-10). The Bible is not mincing words when it constantly brings up sin as a fact and scourge of life; when it commands us to confess our sins one to another; when it pleads for us to go to a brother or sister when we have sinned against him or he us; when it tells us our prayers are hindered when we have sinned against a brother or sister and fail to seek repentance or reconciliation: when it is such a daily necessity to take our sins to Jesus; sin and what is required to turn from it should never be camouflaged as a verboten subject; neither the gospel or God’s Word allows it.
We are all sinners. Yet sin is always the elephant in the rooms where we live and we try to treat it as an ant or a fly. Humility, the fruit of the Spirit, always acknowledges sin. It never diminishes it; and because it does not, the humble character is always overwhelmed even to the point of tears with the greatness of the grace and mercy of God. The cross of Jesus never ceases to be paramount in the life of the one who is growing the fruit of humility in their character. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God will be our descriptor from conception through eternity; the great and good news is that those in Jesus have been redeemed, and that forever. Yet in this life we must deal with sin daily; in ourselves, in our family members, and in our neighbors. The acknowledgment of it ought to be part of our worship, private, family, and church. Church worship is the instructor of the former two. If we do not take sin seriously, and show it in our life conversations, our actions, and our worship, we do not really treasure God’s grace. If we minimize our sin, we surely minimize His grace.
As Habakkuk we need to understand and appreciate the justice of God’s wrath, our just deserts, and ask Him to remember mercy as we confess our sins.
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