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8.16.2005    |    The missing ingredient
One of the habits of highly ineffective Christians* is to check in with a daily Scripture reading or devotional. It's "ineffective" because the "practical" man might say that this is time taken away from more "productive" pursuits, like making money or mowing the grass. Further, the skeptic reminds us, these readings usually remind us of truths we already know but have chosen to forget or, simply ignore. So why bother? Well, some of us, like me, need to be reminded. Constantly.

One of my highly ineffective habits is to read C.H. Spurgeon's Daily Dose. Today's entry in "Faith's Check Book" is especially pertinent to the today's churches: Uncover and Confess Sin, with attending verse Proverbs 28:13: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

The essence of the message from C.H. Spurgeon is this:
Here is the way of mercy for a guilty and repenting sinner. He must cease from the habit of covering sin. This is attempted by falsehood, which denies sin; by hypocrisy, which conceals it; by boasting, which justifies it; and by loud profession, which tries to make amends for it.

The sinner's business is to confess and forsake. The two must go together.
Confess and forsake. This is where today's churches often fail. Their first, and sometimes last, virtue is "openness", or "acceptance", or, at best, "forgiveness". For the most part, none of them accompanied by the sinner's true confession, and, of equal import, forsaking his sin.

We all sin; it is our nature. Yet there are greater and lesser sins, and we need to be careful not to fall into the legalistic stand of counting all sins the same. If I cut someone off in traffic, that is a sin of pride -- my needs were more important than the needs of the one I cut off. But it is easily corrected, and, if I'm more thoughtful, doesn't happen again. For a while, at least.

But then there's the sin of murder, for example. I can request the offended party's forgiveness in a traffic situation, and, for the most part, receive it -- or pay a fine if caught by the police. No permanent damage, except, perhaps, to our egos. However, if I should murder someone, only God can provide restoration -- the person I've "offended" is not living. This sin is far more weighty than a traffic violation.

Even murder can be forgiven, if the sinner uncovers his sin, and truly repents -- i.e. forsakes it, forever. Our task today is to at least be able to recognize sin, and pay sinners the compliment of taking their sins seriously. And not just welcome the sinner with open arms, regardless of whether he confesses and forsakes his sin. Welcome, yes. But absent repentance, we need to remind the sinner of Jesus' message: unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:5)

* Intentional slam at the Clintonista cult figure, Stephen Covey, whose "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" was shoved down our throats by Clinton's political appointees. 7 Habits is a full-court scam, repackaging common sense into a multi, multi-million dollar consulting business.

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Blogger John said...

Great post JL and one I totally agree with!


11:49 PM, August 17, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.