Thursday, October 25, 2012

Will the Lord "Give You Five"?

I have heard all my adult life concerning law enforcement that they will “give you five” where the speed limit is concerned. The idea is simple enough, and certainly understandable. Holding exactly to the speed limit is a tricky thing. Perhaps in order to pass someone going 59mph in a 60mph zone you speed up to 63mph. Maybe you hit a long downhill stretch, and gravity takes you over the speed limit. It could be that you just have a nervous foot and your speed fluctuates a mile or two here and there. Holding the speed limit PERFECTLY is near impossible, therefore the cops “give you five.”

But will the Lord?

It has become commonplace in the churches to excuse sin. One congregation describes themselves as “a place where an imperfect people can meet a perfect God.” Oooh! That sounds spiritual, doesn't it? “We're all just sinners saved by grace!” That's another catchy phrase that's thrown around. One congregation not far from me claims on their signboard to mimic the “tolerance and acceptance and forgiveness” of Christ. How wonderful! Or is it?

Is there even one passage of Scripture in which Jesus excuses sin? Is there even one verse in which God forgives sin apart from repentance? Is there even one apostle who taught that now – under the New Covenant – sin is tolerated and accepted?

Unless you are content to completely ignore or dismiss them, what do we do with Scriptures like the following? “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jesus said it, I didn't. How will you rationalize it in order to make it say other that what it says? “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4). Yup, there it is … in black and white. “... prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15). “... be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).

My, oh my! These verses seem to be pretty obvious. How come we never hear words like “perfect,” “holy,” “blameless,” “innocent” and “spotless” being preached from the pulpits, or printed in the church promotional brochures? Why do the committees putting together church outreach and mission statements choose to focus on the admission of sin rather than the remission of sin?

A brother's article I read this last week made a startling point – and a valid one: If God did not excuse sin within His own Son, but allowed Him to be crucified with it – because of it – then what makes us think God will overlook our continued attraction to what Jesus died to remove from us?

Maybe it's time to revisit the truth of our original statement, that law enforcement “give you five” where the speed limit is concerned. For the sake of the argument, will use a speed limit of 60mph. Regardless of whether the law officer overlooks it or not, 61mph is over the speed limit … and therefore against the posted law. The sign does not say you MUST go 60mph, it says that is the limit you must not exceed. Therefore, if you want to stay within the confines of the law, why not drive 55mph? That way, even if you fluctuate a bit you will not break the law. The fact that everyone else exceeds the speed limit is irrelevant, it's still against the law. The fact that no one else is around does not matter, it's still against the law.

Now let's talk about God. Do you really think He'll “give you five”? If He tells you clearly not to do something, do you feel safe doing it just a little bit? Are you going to bet your soul that His forgiveness will come to the rescue when you “just weren't paying attention” or were just “going with the flow” of the spiritual traffic?

I say, why take the risk? The Lord has established limits and boundaries … so stay within them! “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? [2] May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). But if you do sin, then do not hesitate … repent of the sin! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

That's what we want to be before the Lord … clean! Perfect! Blameless! Innocent! Spotless! Holy! “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, [15] but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; [16] because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

It's time for people – and the churches – to stop making excuses for sin. The Lord will NOT give you five. As the Lord said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, so He says to each one of us, “Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

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