This is the number one cause of broken relationships: sin.
Please, hear me out.
Sin is an unpopular topic in many circles--that's until a politician or Christian leader is caught in sin.
The immediate consequence: broken relationships.
Restoring relationships doesn't get much support either. This requires admitting sin, and a commitment to overcome bad behavior.
But governments are increasingly legalizing sin. Some churches now turn a blind eye to open sin in their congregations. In some circles, sin is celebrated.
But whether sin is celebrated, legalized, tolerated or ignored, it's at our personal peril--sin has roots in every person's heart.
Editing Out the Bad Stuff
When I learned I was saved by grace, I learned there is nothing I can do to earn God's love. The perfectionist in me felt a huge weight lifted off my back.
But, in my freedom, in a twisted way of thinking, over time I justified sin in my life.
Some sins we like to keep around--just for fun, we tell ourselves. Other sins, we'd be glad to get rid of--the cost of keeping them around seems too great.
It started with little stuff, here and there--the stuff that's acceptable by the world's standards. But a bunch of little stuff adds up, and can fill a large space.
So by the time I served as a leader in my church, giving counsel to my pastor, teaching children about God...I'd filled my "private life" with things that limited my time with God to an hour or two on the weekend.
Sin separated me from God.
There were no "big" sins. Nothing that would've required me to make a public confession. But, if a camera had recorded my life for reality TV, I would've edited out significant portions before airing it to fellow church members.
Sin separated me from people.
Truth is, I'd still do some editing if my life was captured on video today.
Sin inspires fear of what God and people think of us.
Sin is a problem for everyone. Hiding. Pretending it's not there. Denying it.
It won't go away.
Sin is like the weeds that sprout in our lawn or garden. We poison them, or pluck them up. Everything looks good for a few days. Then, you wake up one morning and there's a big dandelion spoiling things.
Can We Talk About Grace?
We'd rather not talk about sin.
We'd much rather talk about grace.
Jesus might have preferred to talk only about grace.
But grace isn't designed to make us feel good about ourselves. Feeling good about ourselves is a byproduct of grace, not its purpose.
Grace is designed to heal our broken relationships with God and His creation.
Sin is what breaks our relationships. Grace heals them.
But If we don't know that sin is breaking our relationships, we don't know that we need healing grace.
What Jesus Said about Sin
In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, among His first words are, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God," (Matthew 5:8). Later in this passage, Jesus addresses the importance of keeping all God's commandments, and lays out dire consequences for those who break even the smallest commandment (verses 17-20). Then Jesus raises the bar on what is called sin--an angry word, a lustful look, an illegitimate marriage (verses 21-48) Jesus said whoever commits sin, serves sin (John 8:34).
If this makes you unconformable, that's the right response.
I don't want to be in a relationship with sin, do you?
Our discomfort with sin should motivate us to action--the right action.
The lyric of this song says it well:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth with grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Jesus overcame sin, and received its wages for us by His death on a cross. By receiving Jesus' death as our own, we die to sin, and are set free (Romans 6:2-7).
Our freedom isn't just an administrative transaction recorded in God's Book of Life. It's a total transformation that begins when we ask for it, and never ends.
The Bible says we're born with a mind bent toward sin. We need a renewed mind that turns towards God (Ephesians 4:20-24).
Here's what we can do to claim it.
- Receive God's love. Invite Jesus to dwell in you through the Holy Spirit. Allow Jesus to nourish your mind through His Word. Experience how Jesus loves you, and embrace His humility (Philippians 2:2-9).
- Appreciate God's gifts. God's grace is the gift that purifies our soul. God gives us transforming grace that renews the mind. God's grace empowers us to do what's right. Be grateful all that's true, pure, lovely, and positive in your life (Philippians 4:6-9).
- Fellowship with God's people. Surround yourself with people who encourage and support you in overcoming sin and living right (Hebrews 10:24-25).
These are our first steps.
Then we can confess our sin.
Then we can ask for forgiveness from those we've hurt without feeling entitled to a pardon.
Then we can give God's grace to others, and healing can begin.
Grace heals our broken relationships. Here's how...