UCAN sharing: picking up the pieces
Scripture: Matt. 26:31-35, 69-75, Jn. 21:15-19
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jn 1:9
Man shares many things in common. We eat, sleep and breathe but the one thing we all share that is the most destructive is that we all have sin (Rom. 3:12). How we respond to our own sin has a large impact on our spiritual wellbeing. The word of God makes it clear that sin destroys and leads us to death (Rom. 6:23). Far greater, perhaps is that it separates us from God leaving us completely vulnerable to our carnal nature and satan. Yet facing our sinful self is not something people do well at all. There are many responses to sin from denial, I didn’t do it, to rationalization, it’s not a big deal, to condemnation, and I’m worthless. God sees sin differently. He hates is because of what it does to us. He wants us to deal with sin His way so that we can be free of its entangling affect. This process can be difficult as we see how fallen we are. Shame, guilt and the pain of the consequences can lead us to turn from God. But if we approach Him with the right heart he will forgive and heal us. Peter came to understand that with God we can stand up after the fall.
The universal presence of sin in the life of man is a central theme in the word of God. From Adam’s choice to disobey God to today men choose to live by their own choices and thus fall in to sin. We sin when we select our carnal nature over God’s holy nature. This takes the form of disobedience. We are expressing a desire to have life the way we want regardless of what God wants. Adam in the garden made a willful choice. Unlike Eve who was deceived Adam chose to disobey. As a result sin and death entered in to man’s life. God never wanted it to be so but having given us free will he allowed it to be so but he had a plan to deal with sin.
Every person knows from early on what it is like to sin. From childhood we learn to lie, be selfish and hurt others without anyone showing us. A one or two year old will express greed and be amazingly inconsiderate, even before they can talk. Sin is in us; it is what motivates us because even the things we think are good deeds are tainted by sin. It is man’s inescapable lot. Yet man for the most part prefers to ignore this truth. We look for hope in ourselves to solve the problems our sinful nature creates but no amount of programs, laws or effort will wash away the darkness that is within all of us. God makes it clear “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
When a person comes to Christ the issue of sin should be at the center of the salvation process. A person before they truly give their life to God must first see who they really are. They must come to see how needy spiritually we are and how ugly our sin is. Every Christian should know the terrible power of sin to destroy life and lead us in to darkness. Despite this foundational need many Christians fail to deal with sin appropriately for many reasons. We may tell ourselves that we didn’t sin. We may use our reasoning to justify the sin through a reason we find convenient or we may recognize our mistake and spend time kicking ourselves for what we did. Regardless of which way we respond if it is not God’s way we are left vulnerable to our feelings of guilt, shame and remorse over the consequences. Satan has access to us and heaps lies and condemnation on us till our view of ourselves is so low we find it impossible to believe forgiveness is possible so we accept ourselves as sinful. Choosing to live in ways that harms us.
Before the creation God knew man would fall and that even his elect would struggle with dealing with sin. So God prepared a way for man to be set free from his sin by the blood of Jesus. When we first believe we are made right with God and all our sin is pay for, taken away as if it never existed. Every Christian knows that we go on to sin again after receiving Christ. The only difference is that we can know we did wrong and we still need God’s grace to cleanse us. The process of repenting is so we can learn to turn from our sin and allow it to taken from us; it frees us from the chains of our old nature. For repentance, to work though we have to cooperate with God. If we respond in any other way than what God has set in place our sin will remain. Good works won’t take our sin away nor will just feeling sorry (study Judas Iscariot). Two things have to happen. First we must be broken and see our sin. Second, we must come to believe that only God can take away our sin and we choose to turn to him and repent, which means turn from sin to God. Before we can repent we must confess our sin which means we have to be willing to admit what we did and how wicked it is. Because this process can be unpleasant many avoid it but there is no other way to truly be free of sin. Sin destroys our lives and ultimately damns us eternally. This is why Jesus tells us to deal with it so seriously in Matt 5:29-30.
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Peter came to understand this when he fell for denying Christ. Peter boastfully believed himself capable to standing by Christ regardless of the trial. Jesus gave him a prophetic word and still Peter failed to respond in humility (V31-35). From this we can see that what we truly have in our hearts determines how we respond to sin. If we have the Holy Spirit we will come to repentance but if we are led by the flesh we will respond in a wrongful manner. Peter denied Jesus and remembered the word given. This produced brokenness in Peter as indicated by his weeping bitterly. This wasn’t a few tears or just feeling sorry. Peter saw who he really was and in this light his entire person collapsed. Each of us has to learn to embrace brokenness as part of the process of being made whole. God tears down what we built to put in place a better thing, truth.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 1 Peter 5:6 If the process ended here we would all be a mess with our souls in tiny pieces all over the place. But God promises that all who turn to Him in faith and believe will receive forgiveness. For this to happen we must learn from Peter and see that our hearts have to be ready. We must choose to approach God correctly so that he can cleanse us. Many will say they repent but their hearts are not in it so the sin returns. A heart must be humble, meaning we see who we are and who God is. We accept and acknowledge this by being low before God. Pride greatly hinders here. Humility opens the way for us to acknowledge our need for God’s grace. We are saying we can’t do it without Him which is only truth. We are crying out for our need to be cleansed less we die in sin and are eternally damned. We must also be willing to receive forgiveness from God. Some people fail to repent because they believe the lie that God doesn’t love them enough to forgive them. God offers grace to all men who choose to receive it. Lastly we need to believe we have been forgiven. God knows sin separates us from Him (Isa. 59:2) so it is his desire to take it away (Ps. 103:2-4).
As we release faith in to these truths the love of God fills us with hope and joy as we know that the stains on our souls are gone. God will not hold any truly repented sins against us. He has chosen to forget them. It is as if we had never done them (Ps. 103:11-12) because they are paid for by the blood of Jesus. We are truly free but note that the payment cost God greatly. So we see how vital it is to understand sin and repentance and turn to God quickly seeking godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). Then we can experience our broken pieces life made whole.