HOW GRACE AVOIDS SINS
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A quick survey of history or current events informs us that when there is no faith in responsibility, a increase in laws follows. Heres one of the sillier examples:
Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings. The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
Lets not limit this illustration or any other we can imagine to the realm of politics. The lack of personal responsibility can take place in any area of human interaction including the church, and including our own soul. When a community of people are burdened with laws, rules, and policies personal and communal responsibility are no longer encouraged. All that is emphasized is following the rule or conforming to the decision.
Grace may seem like an absence of responsibility. Freedom in Christ may seem like a catch-phrase to say Do As You Like. In reality, Gods grace encourages personal responsibility. How? Because the action of Gods grace gives us a new spirit and changes our heart. Graces makes it truly possible to mature in Christ.
Read Galatians 6:1-10
Carry Your Own Load [Individual Responsibility]
- Do Good (v. 10)
- Test your actions Notice that the individual is encouraged to check his or her own behavior. That may involve turning to others for accountability. It certainly involves going to Gods will not as a legal code, but as a vision from God for the new humanity.
- Notice that Paul said that circumcision or uncircumcision is not what matter What matters is the new creation.
- Dont compare Nothing distracts us from growing in Gods grace like comparing ourselves to others.
- Looking down on others because we are more righteous than some [Jesus told a parable of a Pharisee and publican who went to pray ...]
- Looking down on ourselves because we are not as righteous as some [Jesus told a parable about a man with one talent who hid what he had been given ...]
- Carry your own load You are accountable to God first and he is not pleased by your ability to compare yourself to another.
- Avoid Sin (v. 7-8) I am amazed that a people of the book can still subscribe to the idea that God is not a fair judge. For some reason the notion lingers among us that God is rather a tricky bureaucrat who will find the spiritual equivalent of a forgotten parking ticket on our record and damn us to hell for not following proper procedure. [Maybe we are the spiritual bureaucrats?] The problem with such views is that sin is not something to be avoided; rather we just have to have all sins properly stamped and processed.
An important question for a church that trusts in the grace of God is How do we deal with sin?
- What will you reap? Our actions have consequences. Our actions also have motivations. Are we sowing to please the Spirit or to please ourselves?
- The consequences of pleasing the sinful nature are destruction. Not simply damnation to hell, but destruction in this life. There may indeed be some pleasure, but it comes with a high price.
- The source of some pain and suffering in this world is sin and theres a direct link to it.
- The works of the sinful nature come with a high price. Can we remain envious, selfish, jealous, and self-indulgent without there being some sort of negative result?
- If a man or woman is constantly angry with his/her family and does nothing to manage that anger, is it any wonder that the family is in turmoil?
- If one has a problem with substance abuse that goes on unanswered is it any wonder that there is brokenness and sorrow in that persons life and relationships?
- Even in our church if we start judging people according to how their righteousness meets up with our standards do we think that this will not reap destruction?
- Some sins are more obvious, others are intangible. We can be in denial when it comes to drunkenness, sexual immorality, idolatry even though others may recognize it. But we can be in denial about selfish ambition, envy, rage, hatred, and discord and hide it from others while we are at it.
- Be the New Creation To reap the fruit of the spirit, let us sow the seed of the spirit. That eternal harvest not only is a source of strength for us, but also our community our church family too.
Carry One Anothers Burdens [Communal Responsibility = Our Own Responsibility as Part of a Body]
- Restore the Sinner (v. 1-3)
- Punishment is not the goal, thats Gods work. Christ has made sure that the guilty pay for their sins this includes us.
- Gently - The Law of Christ is to love on another. Gently also suggests that the work of accountability and restoration takes time. There are burdens that must be endured.
- The Bartender who confessed his sins ...
- Watch yourself; no moral superiority
- Moral superiority is not appropriate Can we claim the power or responsibility for saving another? Are we anyones mediator to God?
- Moral sloppiness is not appropriate either Sloppy Agape does nothing to restore one who is sowing destruction. Love must be tough sometimes. Otherwise we participate in the sin too.
- Restoration is observed as one begins growing in the new creation
- No matter what sin was committed: Once I was, but now I am by the grace of God
- Share All Good Things (v. 6)
- What will you reap? Support those who teach you how to live and do good. Support the ministries that do good. We reap what we sow.
- Do good to others especially the church family because it sets an example do good even if they are not so good to you! (The Law of Christ)
- (Let Us) Be the New Creation If we demonstrate a grace-based way to help ourselves and others avoid sin and also do good, then we will reflect the new creation. Otherwise we are just another organization with by-laws. We are just another sub-culture with unwritten expectations.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 September 2010
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