Text: LD 21 Q&A 56, http://canrc.org/?page=355
Canons of Dort V, 4&5, http://canrc.org/?page=281
Reading: Micah 7:18-20; Matt 5: 21-30; 2 Corinthians 5:10-21
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, gave quite a definition of sin. If we are angry with our brother, we are liable to terrible consequences. Lust is adultery committed in the heart. Pluck your eye out if necessary to avoid sin because that is how serious sin is! Even our feelings, even how we speak, even just looking can be serious sins according to Jesus. Feelings, words, and looks describe who you are and your relationship with Jesus. We tend to downplay what Jesus said here, but that is wrong and stupid. Minimizing sin leads to minimizing forgiveness, and that, in turn, leads to saying that forgiveness is not necessary and that Jesus is irrelevant. We, as believers, confess the forgiveness of sins.
Though we struggle against sin, we believe we are everlastingly forgiven.
1. The forgiveness of our sins.
2. The struggle against our sin.
3. The pardon despite our sin.
1.Forgiving sin is not the same as excusing sin. We excuse our sin, thus minimizing it. If you have a perfect excuse, you don’t need forgiveness; you just need to be excused, as for a burp. But sin is not the same as bad manners. We must forget about the excuses and confess our sins. We must ask for forgiveness and God will forgive us and remove our sins as far as east is from west. Micah 7:18-20 promises that God will tread our sins underfoot. We have righteousness imputed to us through Christ. That righteousness is really ours now. The church proclaims this forgiveness. 2 Corinthians 5 points out that the ministry of the church is to proclaim the gospel. We need the blood of Christ and need to come clean of our sin. David had a lamentable fall, and for a year he stewed over this (perhaps as in Psalm 32). Then God sent Nathan the prophet and David acknowledged his sin and was forgiven. We also need to admit our sins, lay them before God, and ask forgiveness. Then our sins will be completely forgiven. We will even have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us.
2.The struggle Paul experienced against sin is described in Romans 7. “I have not yet been delivered from my old sinful nature!” This is the lament of all Christians because no one can do what is right all the time. It remains a struggle of watchfulness and prayer against sin. If there’s a sin you need to avoid, avoid the temptation associated with it and be sure to watch and pray. Tell the Lord about your weaknesses and ask for help against that specific sin.
3.If you believe in Jesus, you’ve crossed over from death to life. We all have to appear before the judgement seat of Christ. But Q&A 56 talks about God forgetting and forgiving our sins. How can we understand this?
We will not be condemned eternally because of our sin. Because of Jesus, God will not condemn us. Yes, we will have to stand before the judgement seat of God, and this is a legitimate and powerful incentive for godly living, making us much more zealous to fight sin. But there is a distinction between judgement and condemnation. All will be judged; some will be condemned, but some will be pardoned for Christ’s sake.
There’s also another book that will be opened, the book of life that has the names of all those who belong to Christ. How can you know your name is in the book of life? If you love Christ and accept his forgiveness, your name is in the book. Let that gospel strengthen us this week, whatever happens.
Sermon by Pastor George, August 5, 2012. Notes, errors, and omissions by NPS.