If you attend church every week, or most weeks, you hear a lot of sermons; and you may have noticed that most of them deal with sin. In fact, Lutherans believe that all sermons should contain both law and gospel — the law to convict us of our sin and the gospel to remind us that we are forgiven.
My question today, though, is how do you react to those sermons about sin? My husband says we are prone to this kind of thinking: it’s not about you, it’s not about me — those sins belong to the guy behind the tree. In other words, we like to hear the law when it applies to somebody else, but we’re loathe to listen when it touches our own lives. A book I’ve been reading, None Like Him by Jen Wilkin, presents the same idea:
“As the preacher warms to his topic about sin X, I begin compiling a mental list of all the people I know who need to hear this message and repent. I cull through lists of those who have offended me …. plotting about how I can off-handedly relate the wisdom of this sermon to them…”
What we should be thinking is: “how does this message apply to me?” Even when we see that we are guilty, we become defensive, believing that extenuating circumstances release us from full culpability. Worse yet, we may become angry — how dare the Pastor criticize us and our behavior that way! We’re sitting here in church, so we’re one of the good ones, right? When it comes to our own sin, we are blind, and not only that, we want to stay that way!
Next time you listen to a sermon about sin (which will probably be this week), realize that God (not the pastor) is speaking to you! He knows you inside and out. He knows what’s in your mind and your heart. He knows your sin, even when you want to deny it. Sanctification is growing in our dependence on God, and the first thing we need is forgiveness. Accept it, as God’s grace and grow closer to Him in gratitude.
“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
For more posts about sin see: