DEAR FATHER PAUL: I am a Christian, but try as I might, I can’t seem to gain total victory over two or three nagging sins that have vexed me for years. Your advise please. H.W.
DEAR H. W.: I am not going to minimize sin. Its bad. Why? Because it tends to separate us from God. Not from his love mind you, but from the kind of close, loving and personal relationship that he very much wants to have with each and every person.
And importantly, if sin is not dealt with by us in the way in which the Bible prescribes, it (the sin) tends, over time, to build up spiritual scar tissue that makes it harder and harder for us to communicate with God, let alone have a flourishing relationship with him.
The Apostle Paul says as much in I Timothy 4:2 (King James Version) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared (as) with a hot iron.” Paul is saying that when we sin a lot, for years and years, then sin can become “no big deal.” Indeed, we cover our sins with hard, “seared” spiritual scar tissue. This is where untold millions of people are today. We sin and never even give it a thought.
God hates sin not because he wants to spoil our fun, but mostly because he is a loving heavenly father and he knows that sin will ultimately hurt us, his children … yes, in the next world, but often in this world too. Here’s what I mean. If you LIE to your boss, or STEAL from your company, you are likely to find yourself unemployed, homeless and hungry. If you CHEAT on your spouse you are likely to go through a painful and costly divorce. I could go on and on but hopefully you get the idea. SIN CAN BE COSTLY AND PAINFUL to us, and not just in a spiritual sense. God knows this.
Still, we all sin don’t we? At least we do from time to time, me included, as Judy will surely tell you.
Lots and lots … probably most of the great figures in the Bible were from time-to-time sinners. Noah had a serious drinking problem. Jonah disobeyed God by doing the exact opposite of what God plainly told him to do. Moses was a murderer. David was a liar, an adulterer AND a murderer! Peter denied that he even knew Christ.
And Paul, who later wrote about half of the New Testament, earlier persecuted and jailed Christians … then even participated in the martyrdom death of St. Stephen.
Yet all of these people discovered for themselves and for us the boundless love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God. They, and millions upon millions more are now enjoying the delights of heaven for all eternity.
Paul called himself in I Timothy 1:15 (New Living Translation) “the worst sinner of them all.” But he prefaces those words with these mega encouraging words: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Paul knew what you H.W. have learned. It’s just this, found in Paul’s own words in Romans 3:23-24 (New International Version), “for ALL HAVE SINNED and fall short of the glory of God … (but) ALL are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
So what should you and I do when we sin, even when it seems unending. The Apostle John writes this in I John 1:8-9 (New Living Translation) “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. BUT IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS TO HIM, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL wickedness.”
There’s your answer in one powerful word H. W. … confess!! (as many times as it takes) So join me and your fellow sinners this Sunday at the altar.
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your question in the paper.
DO YOU NEED A SPEAKER FOR YOUR CHURCH MEN’S, WOMEN’S OR YOUTH GROUP? Now retired from active ministry, I am available to present my faith building talk: “SCIENTIFIC PROOF THAT THE BIBLE IS REALLY TRUE.” Email me at email@example.com.
Father Paul Massey is Canon to the Bishop of the Mid-South Diocese of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. He is assigned to The Cathedral of Christ The King in Sharpsburg, Georgia. He serves as a Chaplain for the Peachtree City Police Department.