All we like sheep have gone astray, We have turned, everyone, to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:6

Who, Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live by righteousness    1 Peter 2:24

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  Romans 6:1

Think of a time you were either falsely accused, actually went through some aspect of a trial (legal or informal) and at the end of the process, you were vindicated.  What you said or did was deemed to be appropriate and you were cleared of any offense.  Think of how that felt?  In those cases what was the impact on your future behavior?  Because you were deemed innocent did you find that you repeated that behavior over again?  And why wouldn’t you.  You were found innocent.

Contrast that with a time that you did something that indeed was wrong.  Especially a time when you knew what you were doing was wrong and did it anyway.  The wrong that you had done, was uncovered and your deeds were exposed to others.  Then think about what it felt like (or might feel like if you have not been lucky enough to experience this) when the person (or people) who were impacted by the wrong, completely forgave you for the wrong.  What was the difference between that feeling and the feeling of being vindicated?  Did it impact the way that you would behave next time?

This is one of the areas where theology versus psychology versus sociology come into conflict.  For I (we) as a Christian, know that all our sins are forgiven; whether a sin I have committed, am committing right now, or commit in the future.  All sins are forgiven, through the Grace of Jesus Christ.  So knowing that all my sins are forgiven, what incentive do I have to change my behavior?  Don’t I have a free pass?

I guess we have to understand the concept of forgiven.  First, I have to understand that to be forgiven, there must be sin.  And sin is intentional.  So I knowingly, to use a legal phrase I really don’t have the right to throw around but I am any way, with malice of forethought, I behave in a way contrary to God’s commandments.  It is vitally important to understand, Jesus Christ did not abolish the law, in His own words, He came to fulfill the law.  Second, having understood that I sinned I have to intentionally repent of that sin.  We see the impact of lack of intention when John the Baptist warns the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him to be baptized, “Brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come.  Therefore bare fruits worthy of repentance”  Matthew 3:7  The fruits are not just the thoughts of remorse about the act but also the changing of behavior from repeating the act.  Also, we have to be clear that sin still has consequences.  The Heavenly Father will forgive me for my sin of stealing, but that does not mean I’ll escape the jail time or financial burden of making restitution.  Finally, I need to be filled with praise for the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the Grace of the plan from our Heavenly Father.

Yet since the bible tells me that I am fallen in nature and will sin, doesn’t that mean that I can have no joy in life?  The enemy would have you believe that.  Satan would have us convinced that our sinful nature is a permanent barrier between ourselves and God which nothing can breach, not even the cross.  In this world there is a sense that if there is nothing we can do about something, we should treat it as if it doesn’t exist and go about our lives no thinking about it.  I am going to sin, oh well.  Yet Jesus Christ teaches something completely different.  He does not tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.  Cowboy up and be stronger.  It’s all up to us.  Conversely, Jesus teaches us to abide in Him.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  With Him and through Him all things are possible.  We can behave better.  We can change.  We need to change and there are immediate and eternal rewards for that change.

So if I am innocent I have no need to change.  If I am forgiven then I know I need to change and should want to change.  Therein lies the basic difference.

May it be that I (we), first confess our sins, then look to improve our behavior through Jesus Christ.

Amen

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