Time Heals All Ills; or Does It?
“For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? Hebrews 2:2 Jesus said,“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. Matthew 12:36
The old proverb “time heals all ills describes a prevailing attitude man continually nurses concerning his sins. Perhaps the common saying “out of sight, out of mind best explains how our minds work in this regard. C.S. Lewis wrote, “We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of sin.(The Problem of Pain) Jesus goes so far as to say that we must give account even for the careless words we have said in anger, frustration, jealousy, you name it; not to mention all the sins that exceed careless words. But as time passes we think less and less of the gravity or consequence of those specific sins as they become more obscure in the recesses of our mind, until they are mostly if not completely forgotten. In fact we can be so insensitive to sin even in the actual performing of it that we are unconscious to the truth that we have even sinned; and it is especially so the further in time we are removed from the act.
As Lewis wrote, the fact and the guilt of the sin are not removed by either the passage of time or the resulting loss of memory. The Apostle Paul confirms to us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10) Our problem is not only falsely relying on time, which we allow to pass without rightly sensing our sin, or doing anything about it, as though the passage of time itself will “take care of it; our problem is the belittling of sin in the first place and passing it off as unimportant and without consequence as if it can be dealt with “in time and not immediately. And because it is so, our estimation of the salvation we have in Christ does not nearly match the writer of Hebrews when he passionately exclaims, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a GREAT salvation? If the sin, any sin, even if in our estimation is “small, the salvation we receive in Christ, the cancellation of that sin and its guilt by His blood and sacrifice, is equally small. Consequently, it is not SO GREAT a salvation, for it is unable to even capture our heart and hold it as its greatest treasure. If this is so we cannot truly relate to David when he says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And being with You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)
If we had a biblical sensitivity to the gravity of sin itself, especially to our own sin in all its manifestations, we would keep a much shorter ledger of our sins; we would deal with them more frequently and urgently; we would not let the sun go down on our anger; we would cling to the mercy and grace immediately available to us—namely, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness. Time in this matter is an evil; it allows us to forget without taking our sins to the throne of grace and dealing with them quickly. Keeping a shorter and shorter ledger leads inevitably to becoming more and more like Christ and seeing Him as He is. There is no greater goal.
“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling; naked come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the Fountain fly; wash me Savior, or I die.
(3rd verse of Augustus Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages Cleft for Me, 1776)
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