2001-12-12 - Sorrow For Sin
1 Samuel 12:20-22 "And Samuel said to the people, 'Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And you must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver, because they are futile. For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.'"
We have to give some background information here. Samuel is telling the people of the greatness of their sin. They had just requested a king to rule them. He tells them that in their asking for a king they had set aside the Lord who was to be their King. The people were in great fear because they had angered the Lord. God sends "thunder and rain," and I am sure this was no minor storm. The people then ask Samuel to pray for them. These verses above are part of Samuel's answer to that request.
He tells the people not to fear. They thought that this great sin could not easily be forgiven, but Samuel tries to calm their fears He tells them to stay the course and not to turn away from God because of their fear. He promises that God will not abandon them because He has called them apart from the world to be His people.
Over the years I met many people who feel that their sin is simply to great to be forgiven. I tell them this is not possible because the only condition God has placed on His mercy is that we come to Him in repentance and faith. The Bible no where says, "Come to Me in repentance and faith, except if you have done these or that. If you have done these things you are beyond repair. Sorry, but My grace just isn't for types like you." In some ways I anticipate what I will hear from the person struggling. It is almost always, "I understand, but you don't know what I have done." And there they have proved that, really, they do not understand.
Christ made an open-ended statement in Matthew 11:28. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The call is to come to Christ. The call is not, "get your life together and then we shall see about you, you might not be worthy." If you understand the gospel of grace you know that none of us is worthy to come to Christ. But He still says come, a simple thing, but so difficult for many.
David prays in Psalm 86:5, "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You." He is ready to forgive. Therefore we need not give up and turn from following the Lord as Samuel said in his prayer. In one sense we are all floating in the same life raft. As James tells us, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all," James 2:10. We would do good to remember this. There is no room for self-righteousness in the Christian life -- for any of us. There is one righteous, Jesus Christ, but through faith we all have His righteousness imputed to us, and thus we also become righteous.
Soli Deo Gloria,