1 Corinthians 10:6-13
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The Christian has more knowledge of God other than merely His power and wrath against evil. We know of His power to save, shown on the cross of Christ. Thus, we see God differently than natural man sees God. For the Christian has the supernatural message called the Gospel revealed to him. The Christian knows God’s justice is satisfied. It has been poured out on Jesus. Now, in Christ, all is grace and mercy.
Do you believe that or not? Depending where you are in relation to God determines how you see Him. So we can ask: are your eyes Good? Do they see God as He is, or are you blinded by sin? In your sinfulness, your natural state, do you see God as unjust, wrathful, torturous?
Even the Christian is not immune to seeing God this way. For all of us live in a cycle of repentance don’t we? A circle of motion that takes us in our perception of God nearer and farther from Him, depending upon where we are in that cycle.
For when you repent and know the Gospel you are humble, seeking God, yearning to draw near to Him. You seek Him in prayer, begging Him for mercy and are drawn by the Holy Spirit to Him in Holy Absolution, in the Lord’s Supper, in His Word. And to such a one who receives His mercy God is gracious, just, forgiving, pure, merciful, blameless, and wonderful.
But time goes on. You sin. Maybe it is a small sin at first. A sin that your conscience has become deaf to so that you don’t even know that you’ve done wrong. You don’t feel it in your conscience. That leads to minor sins, just above the level your conscience is aware of. It may cause you some small discomfort, but nothing that will really make you get up off your duff and doing anything about it. So you keep doing that a bit. It becomes easier to do. And all of this causes your conscience to set a new normal. To develop a new level of comfort below which you don’t even know you’ve done wrong. And the further down that trail you go, the less you are aware that you’re in sin, that you are unrepentant of it.
So if someone or something comes along and makes you aware that your actions are wrong, suddenly you wake up and find yourself on the opposite side of the cycle of repentance. And you realize you are far from God. For you are hardened in your sin. And your natural reaction is to resent someone pointing your sin out to you. God seems unfair. How can He ask you not to do this which you enjoy?
God didn’t change. You did. And until God’s Law does its work to break you, to humble you, to bring you back to repentance and His grace you will view God as unjust, unfair, angry, vengeful.
We constantly live in this cycle of sin and repentance. Just as King David did, who said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Restore. Give back. Bring me back around.
When you are unrepentant of a sin God deals with you differently than when you are humble and repentant. He deals with you in ways designed to get you to repent. He puts road blocks in your life trying to get your attention. He allows you to reap the seeds you have sown. And during such a time you find that can’t hear His Word rightly. The pastor preaches the most beautiful Gospel-filled sermon and all you hear is the Law that condemns you. Or the pastor preaches a sermon which is directly about an issue you have, and all you listen to is a snippet of Gospel that you use to excuse your sin and keep going in it. It doesn’t produce repentance or the joy of salvation in you.
But when you are humble, broken by sin, repentant, then God is all grace and mercy. He orders your days in His peace. He arranges your footsteps so that you will find Him to be gracious and merciful by who He puts in your path, by how He reminds you of His Word of forgiveness.
Always beware of your inner monologue, aware of the thoughts that wage war inside you. For much of what you hear inside you comes from Satan whispering in your ear. More of what you hear comes from your sinful self justifying itself. In the baptized the Holy Spirit also gives testimony speaking the right words at the right time. But beware of Satan who will always contradict the Holy Spirit, preaching the wrong stuff. For when you are secure in your sin and unrepentance Satan tells you just enough Gospel to harden you in your sin, to say, “It’s ok that I did this. God forgives me. And besides, God is not so uptight as that to actually call that sin.” etc.
Or when you are repentant your thoughts can bring God’s law down all the more as Satan whispers, “There is no forgiveness for you. You’ve done that again and again and again. You are no Christian. You are outside God’s grace. God does not love you.”
Instead of that inner battle, listen to and cling to the sure testimony of God which comes from outside yourself. This testimony of God makes your eyes good. They fix them on Christ’s cross. A cross which preaches at those who are secure in sin, “Your sins put the Son of God there.” And when you are broken and humbled by sin that same cross says, “He died for you. You are free.”
His cross makes your eyes good. His cross keeps you in Him. His cross stained with His cleansing blood was washed over you in your Baptism. His cross stained with His life-giving blood was poured down your throat in the Lord’s Supper. His cross stained with His life-saving blood is spoken into your ears in Holy Absolution. So that what you hear, taste, and touch gives you good eyes, the vision of eternity.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON