2008-08-05 - Summer Question
2008 #6 ~ How Does God View Sin?
Romans 4:5, His faith is reckoned as righteousness.
Today's Question: Why can't people just accept the fact that God took care of the problem of sin? Believe and walk by faith. Your explanation was very good and I hoped you could give me some insight on a problem that I have been witnessing. For a pastor, what sin would disqualify them from service? Does God view the sin of adultery as greater than the sin of lying, stealing, coveting etc? I am not talking about the earthly consequences but about how God views a Christian's sin. I believe He views them as paid in full and if the Christian repents he should not be disqualified.
I thank you for your question, even though I have had it for about a year now - yea, this is one that came in last year, in response to summer question #9. Like a pack rat, I have saved it. You really can send in summer questions any time. I also wish to take a moment and thank all those who write in response to my attempts to answer these. I enjoy the responses, and especially the insight that you give me. It is instructive to me, and I am always willing and trying to learn. We have much to learn from each other. It is what the body of Christ does. We each have particular gifts, insights, wisdom, abilities, and perspectives on - well, on everything really. But that's another topic. Here I am simply saying a true, Thank you, to those of you who have instructed me and helped me gain further insight into the things of our faith. Let us all be ever-learning, and prayerfully seeking to share with others (especially unbelievers) those things God has placed upon our hearts. Now to this question.
I would like to push aside the issue of the sin of a pastor, because few reading these devotionals are pastors. What disqualifies a pastor from office in one circle does not in another. In some churches and even denominations these days, there seems to be an unrelenting commitment to bless sinful behavior. Let us take everything to the Word of God, believing and behaving according to what it says, in whole, not in part. In general, sins that are public, and considered grievous, disqualify a pastor from office. For example, adultery is a pubic sin, because it is done with someone. It gets complicated quickly, to draw lines anywhere. The ultimate goal when someone - not just a pastor - is caught in sin, is to restore the brother or sister to their relationship with Jesus Christ. Believe it or not, the purpose of Biblical church discipline is not to punish, but to bring the offending party back to his/her relationship with Jesus Christ.
I am going to tweak your question a little, which puts out the query of how God views the Christians sin - and look, rather, at how God views the Christian himself when he/she sins. Let us be clear that sin is offensive to God, transgresses His perfect Law, and does us real harm. This we know by the Word of God, examples given to us in Scripture, history, and our own experience watching others, and being ourselves the guilty party. Sin is sinful. It is a wicked, and it is never pleasing to God. There are often consequences for sin in this life, but not always. There are always consequences in our walk with the Lord, because sin grieves the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not dwell where sin is embraced. Unholy lives are the most sure way to experience unanswered prayers. We often cling to those wonderful passages in Scripture where we are promised the Lord hears our prayers. We forget that we are also told that it is the prayers of the righteous that the Lord hears. Will the Lord hear the prayers of those who are living in sin? I don't know, but I do know I can't find in His Word that He has promised to hear prayers from those who are living in sin. In Psalm 4:3, we are told that the Lord hears the prayer of the godly man. It is a consideration for us all.
But how does God view the believer who sins? I don't mean how does God view the sin itself. We are fond of saying that God hates the sin but loves the sinner, and this is true, but why is this true? Or how can this be true? How can God love a sinner, whose sin He hates? It is because the Father looks upon us, not as we are in our sin, but through the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us by faith. It is one of the wonders of salvation that we speak all too little about. We are prone to speak about our rescue from our sins, and our escape from the wrath of God. This is very true, but there is another part of the salvation in Christ experience. The other part is that we are given His righteousness. Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law of God. In the act of regeneration, new birth, being born again (all the same terms), we are also credited with Christ's righteousness. I encourage you to look at Romans 4:3-11, 22-24. The Father views the sinner, who is saved by the grace of Christ, as He views Christ - because the believer has Christ's perfect righteousness credited to his/her account.
It is one of the wonders of salvation that we speak all too little about. Certainly it is a wonder that we are saved from eternal punishment, but equally it is a wonder that even now, when we still sin, the Father views us as He views Christ. We know we are not truly righteous, and the great evil of sin should keep the follower of Christ from all sins. But when we fail, we know that we are still esteemed/counted righteous by the Father who loves His children as He loves His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Editor's Note: The questions in this series are stated in the exact form sent by the readers - unedited, unproofed, in order to remain true to the reader's original wording.