1st Sunday in Advent: "KtTime: The Day of the Lord"
2nd Sunday in Advent: "KtT: The Day of His Coming"
3rd Sunday in Advent: "KtT: The Present Joy"
4th Sunday in Advent: "KtT: The Time of Fulfillment"
Some of us are wise to this force at work in us. We rightly want to fight against it. So we fixate on serving others, loving others, doing good, fighting for justice, we become activists to try to atone for the fact that inwardly we are so selfish. These things are not wrong in themselves, but when done in a desire to right the wrong in you and make yourself worthy of God’s love, it is not God at work in these actions, but your Sin. It is not God at work when sinful man does these things to justify himself, even though they seem so good. Such actions are an affront to the God who justifies you.
Others are completely unaware of this force at work in them and spend untold energy justifying their actions, their behaviours, to themselves and to others. They are never wrong. They are always right. For they are gods unto themselves. They worship themselves. And they are in bondage to their need to justify their wicked works to everyone, including themselves, and the God they may or may not believe in.
Either reaction to sin is bondage. Slavery. Slavery to trying to make yourself right by doing good, or slavery to justifying why you aren’t wrong. But in reality you are a slave to yourself and the power of sin inside you. This is our natural state until your Saviour comes to you killing that old sinner in you and raising up a justified saint in his place who is free from his bondage to Satan and himself.
For this force called sin is evil. It is wicked. It destroys. It not only rules your behaviour, but it destroys your body. We see cancer and disease, and so many other results of sin ruining everything in this world, so that this once good world seems utterly futile. Ponder it. Without modern medical technology, how awful would our world be? Common colds and flues used to wipe out millions. Without modern medicine everyone dies much younger. 60 seems young these days, but there was a time when 60 was ancient. People simply died. They expired of old age, natural causes, consumption, malnutrition, or any other catchall term we used when we didn’t know why they died. They died quickly. They died young. Cancer ravaged peoples bodies and diseases did them in and we didn’t even know it. It is still true. It still happens. But modern medical technology has figured out enough to combat some of the impacts of sin in our bodies. It has lengthened our days. But we still haven’t conquered death. We never will. And it hurts. It hurts when we suffer it ourselves. It is almost worse, though, when see it in our loved ones. Don’t you just hate that C word, or any of the other letters or words that remind us of the diseases killing our loved ones: MS, CF, dementia, diabetes, Alzheimers, mental illnesses of all sorts, and untold others. These things happen and we are forced to sit idly by unable to fix it. This is where God’s appointed times come in.
God appointed a time to wipe out sin. To crush it. The Old Testament prophets kept talking about it. The Day of Lord. They said was an awful day of darkness and dread, judgement and recompense. For on that Day all our enemies will be dealt with. They will be judged. Crushed. Executed. No more.
Well, your Lord came to Jerusalem. He allowed Himself be hung on a cross. The Father’s judgement against sin, His anger, His wrath, His hatred of what this awful S word and all it does to His children, was let loose on His Son in a mighty flood. He Himself, the Triune God dealt with Sin in Himself, so that He could remove it from His children of Adam and Eve. Darkness covered the face of the earth for three hours as the Son of God hung there. The Heavenly Father poured out His wrath and anger against sin, destroying it. He turned His back on sin, doing away with it in His Son. That meant He turned His back on His Son. That was the great and awful Day of the Lord. Sin was judged and destroyed. Death was done in. It is finished. For you. It only cost the Father everything.
That’s a sobering thought. But that Day is done. Know the time in which you live. You live after God has accomplished this. Jesus came. Past tense. He faced that Day. He did away with Sin before His Father. You are no longer guilty. All humanity is innocent before God. He is no longer angry at us on account of His Son. And only on account of His Son. That pie in the sky God who doesn’t care what you do is a myth. He hates Sin, both the destructive force, and your individual sins. He hates the bondage it puts on you, the diseases it unleashes on you. The things it makes you do. How it destroys you. He is only no longer angry at Sin in you on account of His Son. So if His Son has set you free you are free indeed. (John 8:36)
Now, in knowing the Time we must know that sin no longer has power to keep you from God. God is no longer angry at you because of sin in you. But don’t we all still see the effects of sin at work in us and the world? Yes. That is part of knowing the time. There is another glorious Day of the Lord that the New Testament talks about when Christ who did away with Sin comes again. He comes in judgement against Sin. He does away with sin not only spiritually like the first time, but this time in our bodies! For us—who have already received what He did on the cross—that Day is glorious. That Day holds no fear for us. It is our Day of freedom, our Victory Day. For right now we know that He does not hold our sin against us. We are declared free of it by Him. It is a spiritual reality, a promise from the only One who is faithful and true on earth. This is what it means to walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Right now, we have His promise to us. We cling to that. But then it will be fulfilled in us. Then our faith will be sight.
In that Day, when He comes again you will be free in your body of all the wretchedness of sin. You will no longer struggle with wicked desires. You will no longer be plagued by ill health. Your body will be perfect, as will be your soul, for you will have the complete righteousness of your Saviour. You will be good as were Adam and Eve before they sinned. You will be free. Free indeed. You will desire only right things all the time.
Know the time. The days we live in are evil, for we are still in our bodies. We still have the same wicked desires all humanity has. Until the Lord comes again this earth will not be free of the devastating wars, diseases, and wickedness that sin unleashes on us. But here and now, in His Word, through His washing of Baptism, in His Holy Supper He gives you freedom from the guilt of your sin. He does not hold it against you.
Soon we will celebrate one of those wonderful appointed times of the Lord. The Day our God took on our flesh to do battle with our Sin. I pray this year Christ’s coming in the manger has renewed wonder and joy for you knowing that you are free of sin’s guilt and that someday you will be free indeed of sins effects.
A blessed Advent be yours. In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON