Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sin? What Is That?

I don’t know how often you read the Old Testament reading, but I’d like to take a moment to consider words inspired of God, through the pen of the prophet Micah. Micah is speaking to God and therefore revealing God's will for His people, words we could do well to read and heed today.  Here is what Micah wrote:
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers From days of old.  (Micah 7:18-20 - NKJV)
Does Micah have anything to say to us today? Well, it all depends on whether you believe the Old Testament to be God's Word to His people of every age. We should so believe that to be exactly the case. As such, then this short passage has volumes to say to people today.
First of all, why does He pardon iniquity? Why does He not retain His anger? Why does He subdue iniquities? Why does He cast all our sins into the depths of the sea? These are important questions for us who live in this 21st Century. Today, there are many who claim the banner of Jesus Christ and purport to teach in His name who would deny there is a need for God to forgive sin. They claim that God is a God only of love, there can be no anger in love. Why? Because what was called sin a few short years ago is no longer called sin today. It seems as if sin has gone out of style, or at least calling sin what it really is, has gone out of style. My friends, this is not true as our text proves. Anything that teaches contrary is just the self-delusion of our day. It is all part of man's continuing effort to re-create God in their own image.
Our text makes the claim that God is angry. What does He have to be angry about? Simply put, He is angry about the disobedience of His children. Immorality is running rampant in our society, and those who support it claim that God's most important law is to love one another. With such belief, they claim that Bible believing Christians are pushing their own morality on them and not following God's most important law. In the meantime, they have thrown out the verses that Jesus speaks about there being a hell. They throw out the verses where God's Word makes certain claims about right and wrong. Yes, Scripture claims to be the clear testimony of objective truth. So, God in His justice will call these people to be accountable on the last day for their disobedience to His Word. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and those who desire to rewrite God's will for people.
Today, instead of looking to God's grace and mercy for forgiveness from sins, people would rather say that they are not sinners. People do not like the idea of a just God who calls His people to repentance and promises eternal damnation upon those who do not believe as He has commanded. So, many people claim that there is no sin, simply different choices, and God loves us all as we are and will lovingly take us to heaven. Do not believe it!!!

There is another alternative. In fact, it is a God-pleasing alternative. Again, I ask you. Why does He pardon iniquity? Why does He not retain His anger? Why does He subdue iniquities? Why does He cast all our sins into the depths of the sea? First of all, our disobedience to all of His holy will is sin, and as a holy and just God, He is angry at our disobedience. In His justice, as He has declared that the wages of sin is death, there must be a death to atone for your sins. It can either be your death, or the death of someone who is sinless. There is the alternative. Instead of stating that God has no wrath against sin, and therefore do away with the notion that anything is sinful, He invites us to see that He is justifiably angry with sin. Sin is a stench that rises to His nostrils and thoroughly nauseates Him. In His love and mercy though, He Himself paid the price demanded of His just nature against sin by sacrificing the perfect life of His only-begotten Son. 

Iniquity is pardoned in Christ's death. God's anger is satiated in the blood which was shed by Christ. He subdues iniquities by nailing them to the Cross of Calvary. He casts our sins into the depths of Christ's grave and buries them there. 

So, why is heaven ours? Not because God doesn't care about our sins, but because He cares so much that He gave His own Son to die and pay for them.

It is those who trust and cling to this truth which God gives eternal life. And those who trust in their own works, those will be cast into eternal flame. Isn't it nice to know that salvation isn't reliant upon your works? Isn't it comforting to know that God has purchased you from sin and death and give you the gift of eternal salvation? This is the truth that was revealed to Jacob and the mercy which was given to Abraham. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Christians gather together to hear this truth of the Gospel, the Good News of our salvation. Let us receive God’s gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation again and again in the precious Word of the Gospel and in the Sacrament of the Altar. What a privilege we have to be recipients of God’s grace.

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