Monday, October 15, 2007

Sinners

He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1954), 112

What a loaded statement! We can fall on one side or the other. Are we looking down our nose at the sinner? Are we afraid to admit the truth of our sin?

In a healthy fellowship, neither happens. We realize that our sin is just as bad as the next guy. We stand together at the foot of the cross and we seek to bring others there. Not one of us raises our head higher than another and we all seek to rise together.

Think about the following sins. There is no hierarchy yet many times in the church, we think that some of them are worse than others. In our ranking we would put the sexual ones and probably drunkenness at the top. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, fornication, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfishness, arguing, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

Reality is that my outburst of anger is right up there with orgies. People who gossip and cause division are right there with the fornicator. Envy is equal to adultery. The one who argues might as well get drunk.

There but for the grace of God, go I should be our realization. We are all sinners who need a Savior. God is our strength; we don’t have it within ourselves. Any victory we have over sin is from His grace; we don’t have room to boast. We should help others and accept help in humility.

Philip

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