Tuesday, October 30, 2012


If we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:21

            I sure am glad I sit among sinners every Sunday. Most are redeemed sinners, but sinners nonetheless. We are much like alcoholics on the wagon, don't you think? They call themselves recovering alcoholics. Always an alcoholic. Always a sinner.
            There are times when I think about sin more than other times. It is a valid subject to revisit, methinks. It always points me back to God’s holiness. I grew up believing that there were two categories of sin, mortal and venial. You could get away with the small sins and still be okay with God, but don’t cross the line into the biggies. I accepted this, as I had never read the Bible to see what God actually says about sin. Clearly, that man-created doctrine holds no biblical truth, and sadly, keeps its followers from admitting their sin and asking for forgiveness.
            How clear God makes it in His Word that there are no rankings of sin. James 2:10 tells us that the person who keeps all of God’s laws except one is as guilty as the person who has violated all of them. You steal a pad of paper from work and in God’s eyes, you may as well have committed adultery. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is on the same level as premarital sex. Little white lies? Sin. (There are no exemptions in the Bible for "little" or "white.") Wishing your neighbor's new mini-van was yours? Even when your own van is 16 years old, whistling and rusting out the bottom, coveting is sin. Those judgmental remarks you make about a friend, or that unforgiving, critical spirit toward your spouse? Sin. Allowing money, sports, TV---any number of pursuits---to become "idols" in your life? Sin.
            God says it many different ways in Scripture. SIN IS SIN. Every one of them cuts us off from a relationship with God. He has not handed us a broad definition of righteousness. Wiggle room, there is not. It is staggering to think of how short I fall of God’s commands and instructions blueprinted throughout the Bible. God says the entire human race falls short right along with me (Romans 3:23).
            My understanding of the character of God and what it means to live out a Christian life has evolved over the 30 years I have lived as an evangelical Christian. I have come to know Him through my life circumstances in many different ways; His love, faithfulness, goodness, His still, small voice. The past two years He has revealed Himself to me as Healer. I am always on the learning curve with my Lord. He has always revealed Himself as I have needed something from Him.
            But I think it has been the understanding of God’s holiness that has changed me the most, and it took me years to really digest this reality. It was when I began to comprehend God’s holiness that he slowly revealed to me my own unworthiness (past, present and future) before Him. It was not until I could stand before God and claim my sinfulness that I truly could grasp what an indescribable gift I had been given by a perfect Redeemer. It is that raw unworthiness before a holy God that allows me to understand WHY I badly need a Savior to forgive me and offer me salvation.
            Dick once sang an old spiritual in a men’s quartet. I remember the words to the chorus:                        
     What sins are you talkin’ about?
                        I don’t remember them anymore.
                        In the Book of Life, they’ve all been torn out.
                        I don’t remember them anymore.

            And so I am grateful that my church family is just a bevy of redeemed sinners. Grateful to know that we "Christian folk" can own our sinfulness and still be loved and valued. Grateful to know I have sisters and brothers in Christ who will pray for me if I struggle. And best of all, because of what Jesus has done to save us, I get to hang out with them all for eternity too! In that amazing space where God will tear out every page of our sins.



Anonymous said...


Cole said...

It just makes you want to sing a song of rejoicefulness, doesn't it?! Couldn't agree with you more!!

Allison said...

WhooooHooo! Yes, I love this! Thanks Mary for the reminder...it's good for my mind and heart.