Friday, 14 December 2018

T The restoration of God's people

Accusation versus ignorance

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At lots of points in our lives we are all confronted with sin. So many times we stumble and fall. At one side we have our ‘old life’ with all its sinful behaviors. At the other side we have the situation as described in Jude.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
Jude 1:24

In between we’ll find a long road, with stumbling, falling, getting up, falling again, getting up, falling, getting up etc. It may sound like a helpless journey, but it is far from that, if we pay attention. 

First of all, when God considers something to be a sin, it would help a lot if we would know what it is. After all, we can’t do anything unless we know what we’re dealing with. We can guess, but guessing is never a good thing. We need to be sure. Only then steps can be taken. In this time and age it seems like we have movements with three types of ways to deal with sin:

  1. Accusation(s)
  2. Total ignorance of sin
  3. Conviction of sins by the Holy Spirit

Even while writing down these points, I’m still amazed that so few people are actually willing to let the Holy Spirit do His work in us. They rather take matters into own hands or ignore it. At some point you must wonder where the breakthroughs are. Or where the glory of God is? Or has faith become just a ‘ticket to heaven’ and grace an excuse to do whatever we want, without any need to change? Anyway, let’s look into these matters and see what the Word of God says about it.

Accusation

It is unfortunate, but often our own brothers and sisters love to accuse us when we have committed a sin. Not only that, but many also love to remind you of your sin at any given occasion, or when some similar situation occurs. If you’re really ‘unlucky’, then they will make sure that you will never forget it. They want you to feel miserable about it. Because in their eyes, you have damaged their trust. The congregations of today are filled with people who are ‘labeled for life’ by their own brothers and sisters. The sin is being hold against them. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It has nothing to do with restoration. It has nothing to do with God. You would expect the congregation to be different from the world, but often the world shows more compassion and forgiveness then the body of Christ. This type of attitude against ‘sinners’ is always covered under a ‘nice’ layer of religion, a false passion for holiness and a lot of pretending. Let’s take a look at a few verses that are so often abused.

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the Ecclesia. But if he refuses even to hear the Ecclesia, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17

Many times people love to skip the first step, and sometimes even the second step. Many brothers and sisters love to apply this verse in the way they feel is best, trusting on their own insight and wisdom. But all the while, they are missing the point. These verses were never given to accuse a brother or sister, or to make someone’s life miserable as some sort of punishment for their sins. 

To a genuine person, sin is a shameful thing. One may commit sin knowingly or unknowingly. In both cases, Jesus said that action is needed. The first step is always a private conversation between you and the person. The Word literally says that we are to expose the sin in that conversation. In other words, you take it out of obscurity and bring it into light. It is not your task to convince that person of sin. The only thing we need to do is to expose the sin and to call for repentance. The Holy Spirit will convince the person of sin. If he/she repents (also read the study about what repentance truly is), you have gained your brother/sister. At that moment you can both take action and God forgives the sin. Jesus clearly said that it then should go no further then between the both of you. To God the case is closed then. Every word you say about it afterwards and every occasion where you use this sin against your brother/sister, God considers a sin on your end, for which you will be held accountable. 

In many cases you will see that the first step will actually help and solve the matter in a respectful and loving way. But if that doesn’t help, you can proceed with the second step and repeat what you did in the private conversation. If that doesn’t help either, then there is the last step, which is to present the case to the Ecclesia (congregation). If all these three steps don’t work, you are to remove that person from your midst. To what aim? Even this last step is meant to bring a person to repentance. Being removed from the Ecclesia is not a fun thing. If the Ecclesia functions as it is supposed to, it feels like being banned from your family, from people who love you and who care about you. That is a final attempt to awake a person, so that he/she will start to consider the sin and may come to repentance after all. If not, then you have tried everything you could. In everything the aim is ALWAYS to save, to heal, to deliver AND to RESTORE! There is only one who constantly accuses and who constantly reminds of sin: the devil. Don’t be like him. Be like Jesus. When there is repentance, the sin is forgiven. When the sin is forgiven, no one has the right to remind that person of it or to accuse him/her, for that will make you guilty, instead of the person who is accused or reminded of his/her sin again. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

Accusation is a fruit that only has one source. That source is mentioned by the Bible and described as the ‘accuser’, a.k.a. the devil. It is the total opposite of what and Who God is. 

Total ignorance of sin

There have always been groups of people who rather ignore sin then to deal with it. There is no need to confess sin, for there is no sin anymore. Jesus dealt with all the sins of the past, the present and the future, so no need to deal with it. Just live your life, ignore sin, be happy. It’s a deception. Not the being happy part, but the ignorance. 

If you get motor oil on your hands, you can’t pretend it’s not there. If you don’t wash your hands, you will besmirch yourself everywhere. It’s the same with sin. When it isn’t dealt with, you will besmirch yourself everywhere. It will go from bad to worse. There is only one way to be cleansed and that is to deal with your sin. 

God is faithful and just. But justice demands judgment. That means that every action will be judged. Yes, each and every action, each and every thought, each and every word. We know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, but it never said there would be no judgment. We all have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ. That includes you, reader. At that moment everything shall be exposed. Every secret, from small to big. While we are alive, we have two options:

  1. To present our case now
  2. To wait until we appear before the judgment seat of Christ

The first option offers you the possibility to deal with this as a private matter, with one or a few witnesses. You present your case to Jesus and you repent. At that moment your confessed sins will be erased (Acts 3:19). When you appear before the judgment seat of Christ, He will not remember or mention it anymore. It is dealt with. 

The second option is the most shameful one. You appear before the judgment seat of Christ, in the presence of Father God, the Holy Spirit, all the angels, all the generations that ever lived, and your life will be evaluated. Every sin that is not confessed will be brought up there, in the presence of all. What happens after that is not up to me, I am not the judge. The verdict is up to Jesus. But whether that is grace or condemnation is about the condition of your heart. Jesus is the One Who searches hearts and for Whom nothing is hidden. 

Take this into consideration: When there is no sin, there is no need for grace. When you are just, you don’t need grace. When you consider yourself just, you will not receive grace. But when you realize the condition we are in, realizing that there is nothing good in this flesh, you are more than willing to ask for grace, and you will receive it. But realizing the condition we are in, and that there is nothing good in this flesh, can only come when we allow the Holy Spirit to convince us of sin. Without that you have a problem. 

Of course I also don’t want to forget the group of people who ignore sin for a different reason, being that they just don’t know how to deal with it. And if you don’t know how to deal with your sin, it becomes painful. Still I want to encourage you to no longer ignore it. As the studies in this series will show, there is hope, you can deal with sins and receive grace.

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