Monday, November 17, 2008

Where Do You Go When You Sin? (Transcript)

Anyone who never sins, raise your hand.

I didn’t think so.

Of course we do sin. Let’s get that out of the way first.

1 Jn. 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Two verses later it says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

But wait a minute. In 1 John 3:6 it says, “...Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him [that is, Jesus].” And two verses later John writes, “He who sins is of the devil.”

What’s going on here?

A Christian's Sinning vs. Unrepentant Lifestyle Sinning

Well, that’s where English breaks down a little bit. The New Testament was of course written in Greek, the common Greek of the time. And when they wrote and spoke in that day, they would use different tenses of a verb that could make quite a drastic distinction in what they said. One tense might be a reference to a single action, and one tense might be a reference to a continuing action.

We do a similar thing in English, but we usually add other words, or forms of a word to get the point across. For example, if we were talking about a baseball player hitting a single home run, the announcer might say simply, “Wow, he hits a home run!”. But if we were talking about a baseball player whose habit is always hitting home runs, we might say, “Wow, he sure hits home runs.” That’s his practice, that’s his norm. He’s always hitting home runs. He’s a home run champ.

So in 1 John, when it says, “Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor know Him,” we find the Greek word for “sins” is in the Present Tense, which refers to continuous sinning. In other words, one who lives in sin, walks in sin, continues in sin, and never really repents of it, or turns away from it. This fits the context of 1 John also, because as we’ve already said that if we deny that we sin at all, we’re calling God a liar.

Where Do You Go?

O.K. I say all that to say this:

When you sin, where do you go? Do you run straight to God, or do you do what many of us have a habit of doing? We shy away from God. We don’t exactly mean to. But we do.

Some process goes through our mind, maybe not clearly, but something like,

“Oh boy. There I go again. How can I face God after that? I mean, we’ve been through that sin so many times. I know God forgives me, but does He really? I mean, what kind of wretch am I that I would do that again?

"I think I’ll just sit it out and see how it goes. I can’t go to God yet. I’m not sure I even feel like going to God right now. What would He think? Even God has His limits. He must really be frowning a me right now, or even downright angry.

"And I can’t face His frown and anger. Lord knows I deserve it, though. Do you have any idea how many times I must have disappointed Him. And after all He’s done for me?”

We may not verbalize all that, but it’s a common feeling that I’ve heard many people express one way or another.

And of course, eventually we do turn to Him, and our sweet fellowship with Him goes on. And even though we know on some level that the quicker we turn back to Him the better, yet we delay it for what we can only call crazy reasons of bad theology?

Is God Angry At You, A Believer?

Because is it accurate to see God frowning or angry at us? Is it good biblical theology?

No, it’s not. It’s a view of God that is just plain incorrect. And to get a correct view of God, and how He relates to us when we sin, we can look at a story you may be quite familiar with, the Prodigal Son. But you may not be familiar with it from the vantage point, not of the wayward son (that’s us), but of the Father in the story.

The Prodigal Son's Father

I can't tell you how many sermons I've heard through the years on the subject of "The Prodigal Son". What he did. How he treated his father. Where he went. How he worked with the pigs. How he squandered his inheritance. Finally, how he was restored. On and on about the son, with usually some contrasting comparisons about his elder brother.

It's supposed to be a picture of us Christians when we sin or "backslide", and how we can return to God. And how there's always forgiveness, if we repent, turn 180 degrees, say our speeches to God, resolve to do better, etc., etc.

But is that really what it's about? The son?

Well, sure, but only incidentally. I think it's really about the Father, and His heart toward us, his children. It's a picture of God. The son is almost just a prop, added in to make a point.

So what's the point?

[read Lk. 15:11-24]

Notice that the prodigal son had a little speech prepared. A little repentence speech. A groveling speech. Sort of, "Father, I'm a low-down miserable worm, not worthy to be your son, so let me be a hired servant of yours."

Did the Father listen to the speech, and judge the son's sincerity by it?

No! Remember? He never even listened to the speech! He was too overjoyed by his son's return! It's as though he said, "Oh shut up, you big lug! Give your daddy a hug! Welcome home, son!"

What's God Interested In?

And that's the point:

God is not interested in the content of our little speeches. He isn't interested in our groveling, as if the more miserably we grovel, the more we "earn" His forgiveness. Why? Because He has already forgiven us, and paid for that forgiveness on the Cross.

Well, what is He interested in, then?

You. And me.

He is interested in our fellowship!

If I may paraphrase the Father, he said:

"Cut the speech! I get it. Go get the robe! Get the ring! Kill the fatted calf! My son has returned!

"That's all I want! I love you, Son! I love you! Just abide in me. I'll produce the fruit. I know you've failed, and you'll fail again. But that doesn't change my love for you! And I'm at work in you both to will and to do my good pleasure! [Phil. 2:13]"

In our heart of hearts, as believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t want to sin, do we? But the world, the flesh and the devil deceives us, and we do sin.

So Again, Where Do We Go?

Where do we go?

Let’s get in the habit of running to the Father. Don’t walk, run to Him! He will always, always, have His arms open to you, His child, to wrap those arms around you in love. Because the sins are already paid for, remembered no more, as far as the East is from the West, because of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Oh, that we "may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled up to all the fulness of God..." (Eph. 3:18,19a)


Larry Eiss said...

Thank you! This is an excellent article (sermon) and helpful for the many who still struggle with "angry God syndrome" like ... me.

Craig Glenn said...

Awesome post Terry...what an amazing Father...impossible to comprehend such unconditional love...but still true!

Terry Rayburn said...


Much appreciated.


He is as amazing as His grace. Thanks.

Bhedr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bhedr said...

You bless us so much Terry. I believe I have read this before or parts of it perhaps, but I always love to read and re-read such wonderful posts that you write, because they always give us a clear picture of the heart of God.

Grace upon grace,


Philip said...

Terry,I'm sorry to post this here,but I've had the thought,with thinking and reading-I think particularly Joseph Prince-that really justification in Paul as per Gal 2v16 really is this-how are we qualified to God's blessings in Christ?Are they ours freely,apart from works-solely because of his full and free forgiveness and perfect imputed righteousness-or do they come by our performance?When we make it the latter-because the holy God can only thus bless the perfect-we're saying 'God, I'm perfect,and you're obligated to me on account of it!I am worthy apart from any 'perfection in Christ'. Whether we admit it or not,that's the implication,and that's God affirming us as righteous on the basis of our works-in other words,'justification'(by works). And this is why Paul makes no hint of separation in his discussion of how we were justified,and the character of the walk thereafter. To him,it really is that cut and dry and simple. Either we appropriate all the promises as yea and amen in Christ freely,or else we had better be sinlessly perfect to receive any of them at all.

Terry Rayburn said...

Thanks, Brian.

Hope all's well with y'all.

Terry Rayburn said...


Don't apologize. Thanks for the comment.

Philip said...

Thanks Terry...I think that's why,when thinking in terms of the common'categories' commonly called' justification'and 'sanctification'that have been coloured by a performance scheme of 'blessings by grace and performance', what is rightly termed 'sanctification by works'(or grace and works,as if the two can be married),actually implies 'justification by works'. If I understand it right,Paul's definition of justification encapsulates all of legalism,without having to define separate categories-and in a way that leaves
the gospel cut and dry and simple.

Philip said...

That should obviously be 'Paul's definition of justification encapsulates an indictment of all of legalism'. The problem is that people know that genuine saving faith will also be accompanied by good works,but don't know the distinction between 'law works'-which are purported to be 'good'and by the Spirit-and truly 'good works',which are by the Spirit under a spiritual ministry. So,we seek to qualify the saving faith that we hope we have with works evidences that are in fact of a letter ministry. Rather than the ministry of the Spirit which only works free from the letter-free from seeking blessing by the performance of a precept set up as mediate for the dispensing of God's blessing. Saving faith is accompanied by good works-but they are not of the letter,and only come when we appropriate the fullness of new covenant grace in Christ...just thinking out loud.

Terry Rayburn said...


Keep "thinking out loud" :)

Part of the difficulty people have is when they see the incredible sins that a Christian is capable of committing.

1. I don't think these things can be understood very well without some kind of tri-chotomous view of man (body, soul, spirit -- as opposed to just body and soul).

Without that view, how can it be understood that we believers are both "perfected" (in "spirit" or "nature"), yet still "growing" or "being sanctified" (in "soul" - or mind, emotion and will)?

And how can it be understood that when we sin, it is in some way not "us" that sins, but "sin" which is in our members?

And so much depends on our walking by the Spirit (not only the Holy Spirit, but our own spirit, which has been renewed and is now joined to Him), and not the flesh.

2. I've come to understand "progressive sanctification", or "being sanctified", or "growing in Christ", as merely understanding more and more eternal truths and walking by them.

For example, we are "dead to sin and alive to God through Christ" (Rom. 6:11). We are now "saints", not "sinners" in our identity and nature. This takes a while to understand and really believe, but the more we do, the more we will walk like it.

Anyway, just thinking out loud :)

Thanks, Philip.

Philip said...

Thanks,Terry. From listening to you saying these things,and others saying related things,I'm getting an undertanding of these things. But my experience is not there yet. Most 'hard-hitters'seem to batting on the wrong field,says the head...but the heart is somewhat afraid that it's going in the wrong direction,nevertheless. If not,most people seem to bound up in works religion and attribute their obedience to the Spirit. I wonder that there is not a 'new' circumcision party in the name of Christ...all I know is that I long for a sense of real liberty,freedom,peace and power. It seems that folks who have some inclining of these things-like Joseph Prince-get branded 'antinomians'and 'heretics'-if not in words,then by implication by lack of a hearing and a summary dismissal of the issues at hand.

Jeff Hawkins said...

Hey Terry, Am really looking forward to renewing our good spiritual discussions and fellowship. Iron sharpens Iron.
Reading this article brings up the question of the "gift and the prize." Do you recognize the tension between simple faith for eternal life salvation and persevering faith for the rewards that can accompany eternal life? "Being careful not to lose what you have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward." 2John8 Also in the vein of Paul striving for the prize... Phil.3

I've got a great book by a professor of mine (He has preceded us his reward.) It is out of print but can be found online. BUT for you, I will gladly loan it... "The Kingdom of God Visualized" by Dr. Ray Baughman.