As a society we have discovered grace. It is unpopular to tell anyone they are wrong. We are encouraged to be accepting and forgiving to everyone, except to those who are not accepting and forgiving. We have learned what it means to be politically correct and to be non-offensive in our speech and in our actions. And when we fail at any of these there is extreme public backlash and we try to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
We have discovered grace in the church as well. Because are society is more accepting and forgiving our churches are becoming more accepting and forgiving. Secularism and postmodernism are shaping our thinking and our theology to the point that things that used to be wrong or sinful are no longer wrong and sinful. We are realizing that many of the truths that we thought were clear during modernism are not as clear as we thought and so we are being lenient with others views and less quick to declare we have the answers.
Many of these new discoveries are a welcome change. However, with our new found freedom we must be careful not to go too far and insinuate that sin is not wrong. Too often we speak of grace to such an extent that we forget to tell people sin is bad and should be avoided. We speak so much about God’s unconditional love for us that we fail to tell people that he demands our allegiance and our lives. We spend so much time making sure people don’t feel guilty that we give the impression that sin doesn’t matter.
But sin does matter, it is to be avoided at all costs. Sin is an abomination, it is against God’s will, it is unholy, and as Paul notes, it is characteristic of the way we used to live when we were ruled by the flesh. Sin is wrong.
The book of Leviticus makes this point often. Most people don’t like to read Leviticus because it is law after law that doesn’t make sense and seems extreme. Yet what is clear repeatedly through the book is God’s hatred of sin. He abhors sin and will take any measure necessary to remove it from the camp. When an Israelite becomes unclean they are commanded to live outside the camp. If a child is unruly the parents are told to bring him to the community to be judged and punished, even to the point of death. When individuals sin sexually they are commanded to be stoned to death. In one of the few narrative sections of the book a man is overheard blaspheming the name of God and the whole community is commanded to take turns stoning him to death. One one level these punishments seem severe, but on another level it is a reminder that sin is serious, it is a breach in a relationship with God and it can not just be glossed over or ignored, it must be eradicated.
As followers of God we must avoid sin. How would our lives be different if we took sin as seriously as God does? It’s not alright to live life knowing you can always ask for forgiveness and God will grant it. We must be proactive with avoiding sin. Does God love us? Absolutely! Will God forgives us when we ask with sincere hearts? Every time! Should we be known as people who are quick to forgive? Of Course! But we should also be known as people who are avoiding sin at all cost. We should be known as people who are living by the ethic of Jesus. We must recognize the seriousness of sin and avoid it, because our very lives may depend on it.
May the words of Peter be our inspiration: “Live such Godly lives among the pagans that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” Let us seek renewal in our own lives and recommit to purity and righteousness because we have died to sin and we must avoid it.