Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective:Deal with sin

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Deal with sin”
First Published: May 9, 2010

Thanks for your kind remarks and responses to the messages in Ephesians of late. I have found these sermons personally convicting to prepare and deliver, but encouraging at the same time. God’s word has certainly uncovered much sin in my heart and life as I’ve studied and preached through these searching passages, but it has also pointed me to God’s grace and given me hope. I trust that’s been your experience too.

I have had a number of emails and conversations in which folk have asked various questions relating to Paul’s exhortations in Ephesians 4:17-5:4, and the issues that they raise are so good and important that I want to mention one of them here. It is, what ought to be our reaction to Paul’s commands here? Is he merely giving us a list of dos and don’ts, thus reducing Christianity to “being good”? This is huge, because we live in a culture that is very concerned about keeping up external appearances, looking like everything’s okay, and covering up our sin and weakness. Is that what Paul is doing and is that what Paul wants us to do? No and no! Emphatically.

First, we have repeatedly emphasized that Paul's commands to us here are not some kind of legalism, but an expression of Gospel logic and the life of grace (see this sermon on Ephesians 4:25, on “Lying and the Glory of God” at the FPC website, if you need to think about this issue some more: ). Second, one of our responses to Paul’s exhortations here in Ephesians 4:25-5:4

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. 26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

is for us to stop pretending that we don’t struggle with real and serious sin, to get real about our sin-struggles and their impact on ourselves and the family of God’s people, and to seek God’s help in our sanctification.

This will entail (among other things) acknowledging our sin and its seriousness, seeking forgiveness and being ready to give it as well as receive it, working for reconciliation, living a life of repentance, doing the hard relational work that goes along with really dealing with sin, and being patient with one another as we grapple with it. That is, at least in part, what it means to live out God’s grace. Unbelievers often try to “deal” with sin by covering it up or pretending its not there. We don’t. We acknowledge it and deal with it, with the help of God’s grace.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

No comments: