As I was praying this morning, I felt an urgency to jump up and write this message. I know that it was meant for many readers.
I heard a story about a man in Spain who booted his son out of the house for disgracing him, as I recall. Heart-broken and missing his son’s companionship, he ran an ad in the paper. It read: “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”
When the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers…and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!
Like Paco, you may feel like your heavenly Father no longer loves and accepts you. Your guilt may have you convinced that there is no going back to His embrace. That is a lie. The truth is that Jesus paid for every sin you committed or ever will commit. He paid with His blood and His life, then He put, not with a newspaper ad, but with a promise in the Bible: “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool,” (Isaiah 1:18).
Regardless of how awesome you may feel that this Christian or that Christian may be…regardless of how perfect and spiritually strong and vibrant a certain Christian leader or TV personality may appear, I have a promise that I can most make to you with 100% assurance. That is this: no matter who they are or how they appear, the fact is, they struggle with sin in their lives.
It’s true. Every one of us struggles with something that we absolutely hate about ourselves, ministers included. Myself included. From bad attitudes to nasty habits, personal characteristics and quirks that we drag around like a ball and chain, we ALL got ’em. Oh, sure, some sins are more visible than others. An incredibly gifted, 400-pound music minister I know told me that he is constantly being told that he would lose weight if he would take authority over the sin in his life. A 92-pound friend, another incredible Christian who has crippling rheumatoid arthritis, is always being told the same thing.
The apostle Paul spoke long and loud about the sin that so easily besets each of us. He spoke of his own need for a deliverer who would rescue him from the “body of death” that he carried every day. In Romans 7, he laments on how he can’t/won’t/should stop doing what he does. That could be ANY of us, right?
Even if there WERE a Christian on planet Earth who WAS able to walk in sinless perfection day in and day out, That would make him or her perfect and no one – not even the virgin Mary (who acknowledged herself as a sinner and even took part in a sinner’s 2-dove sacrifice for sin) – was perfect EXCEPT for the man Christ Jesus. If there WAS a perfect person, that individual would undoubtedly take pride in his perfection – which is a sin – and would, therefore, no longer be perfect.
But man looks at the outside, God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). We really don’t care what’s going on inside an individual, in most cases, but we seem to love dragging people through the mud once their sins have been exposed – a la Ted Haggerty recently, or the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church – rather than covering their nakedness as two of Noah’s kids did when the third found him naked and drunk from too much wine and, like a cub reporter, ran and told the others. The secular media will do what they do, serving as Satan’s pawns in every case. Those who claim to be followers of Christ should live by a higher standard and, as a Body fitly joined together, all children of the same God, we should do better than we do.
So, what’s a Christian to do? Shall we stop aspiring to measure up to so ‘n so’s deceptively stellar example of Christianity? Shall we continue to strive to become the very model of a modern major disciple? Shall we wallow in our inability to “do good,” despite knowing that, according to Jesus, “there’s none good but God”?
When you DO sin – and we ALL do – do you feel separated from God, or do you rejoice in that ALL your sins, including the ones you haven’t committed yet, are forgiven and forgotten? Think of it: at the cross 2000 years ago, how many sins had you committed? There are no VIP sinners. To wallow in guilt is to say, essentially, “Thanks, Jesus, but the crucifixion just wasn’t enough for me.”
As you rejoice in your forgiveness, do you thank God for the grace to do better next time (there WILL be a next time)? Do you turn around and forgive OTHERS their trespasses as you’ve been forgiven, or do you count it against them still?
Sin once separated us from God but the cross took care of that for you. Don’t misunderstand God’s grace for a license to sin; we will reap as we sew, after all. Now, go tell somebody else that the King has forgiven them and desires relationship with them. Do it excitedly, with conviction – and listen closely as the shackles fall.
God sees Jesus when He looks at you. Satan knows the potential of a Christian who actually starts to believe this stuff, so he lies to us relentlessly, trying to get us to believe all the negative press he can muster. It’s a battle for your mind.
You know he’s lying when his lips are moving. He’s called the father of lies.
Your Father forgives you. He loves you. Now, go live like a Believer! You are free from the guilt of sin!
Start by forgiving those who’ve sinned against YOU!
“My child, meet me at the foot of the Cross as soon as you can make it. All is forgiven! Love, Your Heavenly Father.”
A servant of God