Following participation in an early Morning Prayer group, I’m compelled to explore a topic that, in my opinion, requires clarification for some who volunteer to wear the “Christian” label. As well, there are many who don’t attest to be followers of Jesus and readily condemn Christians due to a sheer lack of understanding as related to the same matter.
Forgiveness of sin is the undisputed foundation for Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection. Two requisites necessary to obtain forgiveness are described as the need to turn away from evil and turn to the good or return to God. The first step in seeking absolution of sin requires repentance, which is a person’s simply acknowledging his or her ungodly behaviors. Additionally, one must then seek to draw closer to the Lord and, essentially, redirect the thoughts and actions that do not line up with the Word of God.
Unfortunately, there are many professed believers who mistakenly interpret the extension of repentance for sin as a sort of spiritual “get out of jail free” card. There is unfounded resolve that a person can willfully engage in wrongs and continuously go before the Lord to seek forgiveness. It is true that He is merciful and just to forgive His children but the specification regarding repentance holds the believer to a conviction that would have him “turn away from evil.”
The Word establishes that Christians should shun every evil thing but many believe its okay to sin as all that’s required is they repent and ask for forgiveness. Fortunately, the era in which we currently live is defined by biblical scholars and theologians as what’s called the dispensation of grace. It simply means the shed blood of the sacrificial Lamb (Jesus) has granted man unmerited favor in the form of God’s tolerance. That is, by no means, to be interpreted as a “ticket to sin” as every wrong is accompanied by an accountability factor, or consequence.
On the other hand, there are those non-believers who quickly condemn professed Christians and label them hypocrites at the slightest variation from what the Word of God states. They incorrectly think that becoming a follower of Christ means a person is supposed to be utterly perfect regarding every aspect of their daily life including thoughts, verbiage and behaviors. Nowhere in scripture does it assert that believers are faultless; without sin. In fact, the Word actually declares the exact opposite in Romans 3:10 (KJV) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” and in 1 John 1:8 (KJV) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Factually speaking, that is the very reason for need of the Savior as man has proven himself incapable of living a sin-free life.
People with whom I’ve spoken often maintain their intentions to start attending church and living better “when I get myself together” or “as soon as I get my life right.” It’s unfortunate that they actually believe it’ll ever be possible to make decisions which would equate a lifestyle symbolic of righteousness absent the presence of Jesus. Remember, Christians aren’t perfect but are only made perfect by believing on the Son of God and as the result of His sacrifice for the sins of man…even those who don’t believe.
Much is misunderstood regarding the Christian walk. A great deal misinterpreted, misconstrued or altogether unknown. Staking claim to Christianity isn’t necessarily designed to be an easy walk. Throw into the mix a relentless adversary, man’s own shortcomings, the ill-influences of life in general and that’s enough to cause a person to seek someone willing to take on the burden of justification. That is what Jesus has done for all of mankind without first requiring that man prove himself deserving.
God knew before the foundation of the worlds that His greatest creation would ultimately become a “handful” and require redemption. For this cause Jesus came into the world and, as such, it’s necessary that one repent of sins in the quest to seek forgiveness. It’s highly probable that even devout Christians will invariably “slip up” more than a few times throughout the course of an average day. That’s the beauty of being Christian. Not that the title removes one’s capacity for sin but provides an advocate to sit in the “judgment seat” as a substitute.
Repentance is the avenue to forgiveness and, if sincere, a true Christian need only petition the Father. The price for man’s offenses was paid when Jesus went to the Cross. Though repenting is readily accepted and forgiveness freely offered, it doesn’t mean the Lord condones repeating the sin as one never knows when his time will run out. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.