Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Do Your Sins Pile Up?

Some Christians think that we commit sins, and then we go to confession or go to church or go to the Lord's Supper, and [zap] Jesus wipes away our sins.  And then we go about life, oops, here-a-sin, there-a-sin, everywhere-a-sin-sin.  So we're dirtied up, and we have to go to church to be cleaned up again, ... and the cycle repeats itself.

Pastor often tells us, "NO, that's not what it is."  If it were, that would mean our confessing was the thing meriting God's forgiveness.  Also it would be denying original sin, as if there were days (or hours) (or moments) when we could be spiffied-up and sin-free.  Also it would mean we could have no certainty about our salvation because we could never know whether we'd [oops] sin and then die before having a chance to Get It Fixed At Church (or at least in our personal verbal prayers).  Pastor likes to use an example from a M*A*S*H episode, where Frank Burns is jumping back and forth across the threshold of the tent's door, chanting, "I'm in.  I'm out.  I'm in.  I'm out."  Being in God's grace is not like that; it's not like we're covered by His forgiveness, and then are out, and then are back in after the absolution in the Divine Service, and then back out again next time we lose our temper.

Hearing "I forgive you all your sins" does not mean a pile of sins is erased, brought down to zero-level, before we start piling up sins again.  No.  Because of Jesus' blood shed on the cross, God sees utter perfection, holiness, righteousness, purity.  Going to confession or going to the Lord's Supper doesn't change our status in God's eyes.  What absolution does is to reorient our blind eyes from our navel-gazing, and open our eyes to see ourselves as God sees us, as He declares us to be.

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