I Have Sinned, What Now?!

I have Sinned—What Now?

Lots of Christians continue to live a life of guilt even after coming to faith in the Lord. This is unfortunate because grace is available for all of us. Christ has secured our forgiveness in His death and resurrection. I’m afraid that many believers simply let their sins go without any attention simply because they do not know what to do with them, or they feel guilty because they know that Christians are not supposed to sin.

We all know that Rom 3:23 teaches that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Yes, we all repented of our old lives when we became believers. But what about our sins and shortcomings afterbecoming Christians? We know that this does not please the Lord, so what should we do? 1 John 1:8, 10 clearly states that Christians are not perfect, we continue to sin even as we pursue holiness and purity. The apostle says that if we claim to have no sin, then we are only deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us; we’re making Christ out to be a liar, and His word is not in us. The Christian life is one of progressive sanctification, that is, we are moving toward holiness. Little by little we are fighting to do away with our sinful thoughts, speech, and deeds. John Newton, the pastor and famous hymn writer of “Amazing Grace” once exclaimed, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” This is progressive sanctification; this is the Christian life.

John goes on to say in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The first thing we must do when we have sinned is confess it to the Lord. We need to pray the prayer of the tax collector from Jesus’ parable about justification: “Have mercy on me a sinner.” When praying that prayer to the Lord, we need to specifically name our sin(s) to Him. We need to ask for cleansing and Spirit-given strength to fight that same sin in the future.

After confessing our sin to the Lord, we need to make peace with anyone we may have sinned against. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount to “Be reconciled to your brother or sister,” and James piggybacked on that teaching in saying that we ought to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. The New Testament commands us throughout to forgive one another and restore one another.

Lastly, for now, it should be said that we need to put a plan in place to defeat the sin(s) in our lives. We must submit to God, resist the devil, flee from the very appearance of evil, walk in the Spirit, pray that we not enter temptation, not be conformed to the world, be transformed in our minds, and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body. We also need to find support from other Christian friends. 

Therefore, imperfection is expected, but growth toward perfection is demanded. Confess your sin to the Lord, reconcile with others, and plan to defeat your sin!

Learning to Love the Church

Learning to Love the Church

I was raised in a Christian family and in a local church from the time I was born. I cannot remember a time that I was not in church. To be sure, neither my family nor my home church were even close to perfect. As a matter of fact, my parents were trying to figure out true faith and the Christian life as they were raising my brothers and me. I was actually old enough to remember the day that they were both baptized. So, I don’t come from a great family tree of mature and bold Christians, much less some generational ministry line. I am the first and only minister in our family, as best I know.

Our home church was small and simple. The teaching was biblical, but it was also shallow. The leadership was weak, and the congregation was spiritually immature. However, there was a family atmosphere. We lived life together; we spent all day every Sunday together and every Wednesday too. We went on camping trips in the mountains and beach trips as a whole church. We volunteered in the community and served one another too. I did not grow up in a “youth group” per se. There was not an overwhelming number of kids my age in the church. The ones who were around my age kind of floated in and out. The adults in the church, however, really gave me attention. They included me in things from a very early age. I was serving at the Lord’s Table, preparing Communion meditations, praying publicly, and reading Scripture in the assembly from the time I was young. These things had a huge impact on my Christian life, maturity, and growing love for the church. I felt a lot like Joshua during the days of Moses. The Scripture says in Exodus 33, for example, that Moses and Joshua would go to the tabernacle together, Moses would speak with God and then leave, but Joshua, a young man, would not depart from the tabernacle. He wanted to be near the Lord; he wanted to stay close to that holy place. I was the same way as a young man. I loved the church, the building and the people.

There were many problems in our home church, though. And there were some very hurtful things said about my family and even me. I’ve never been hurt by the world as much as I have by the church (my home church and churches I have worked with). There came a breaking point, and forty people left the church to start another congregation on the other side of the county (I had just graduated high school). We thought that was the best decision to make. We were all tired of bickering and fighting and backbiting.

I say all of this to make an important point: While I have had lots of reasons to be bitter about the church and to be mad and to be pessimistic, the Lord has always kept a hopeful spirit within me. I have always believed that there is hope for each and every local congregation. A church can be nursed back to health, nurtured, taught, shepherded, etc. A church can actually be united and healthy and relatively mature. The church can be a group of people marked by love and grace and humility. To this day, I love the church, and I especially love the Rural Hall Church. Yes, I know, the Rural Hall Christian Church belongs to the Lord, BUT, this is also my church, in the sense that I belong to you and you belong to me. You are my people. I pledge my allegiance to the Lord, and I pledge my allegiance to you. Let me encourage you to let your love for the church flourish! Let the Lord give you a bright and hopeful spirit for the future of the church, both globally and right here in Rural Hall.