Summary: “I have sinned,” cried the prodigal. For him those words did not come easily. It seems they never do. In fact as far as the biblical record is concerned, the confession “I have sinned” occurs only seven times in the English Bible. And even in these few ca
FATHER, I HAVE SINNED
Bro. Rodney A. Fry
“I have sinned,” cried the prodigal. For him those words did not come easily. It seems they never do. In fact as far as the biblical record is concerned, the confession “I have sinned” occurs only seven times in the English Bible. And even in these few cases it took a lot of convincing before the guilty party was willing to admit it (e.g. Pharaoh, Aachan, Balaam, David).
It’s not any easier for people to admit it today. In fact, our culture has de- theologized human behavior and written the word sin right out of our national vocabulary. Though passé to many moderns the concept of sin is at the heart of the biblical testimony of what is wrong with man. Our text reveals two aspects of sin which are crucial for us to understand.
I. The Reality of Sin
A. We devise new labels for old evils.
1. What Isaiah said to the people of his day could also be said to ours: “Woe to those who call evil good” (5:20).
2. We, like the prodigal, know something is desperately wrong with us. It’s just that we no longer call it “sin.” We define our problem as ignorance, sickness, deviancy, poverty, dysfunction, inhumanity, crime, and perversion. But according to the Bible these are the symptoms of a deeper problem.
B. Sin needs to be resurrected as a legitimate category to describe what is wrong with humankind.
1. Human behavior cannot be judged solely on the basis of the effect it has upon others. It must also be judged on the basis of the effect it has upon God.
2. Some sins do hurt other people. But all sin hurts God. It violates his will and rebels against his authority. As the prodigal said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”
II. The Remedy for Sin
A. There is something we must do.
1. “He came to his senses” (v. 17). Someone has said that when the prodigal fretted at home wanting to be away he called what he was doing “independence.” Out in the far country he called it “pleasure.” When he lost his money, he called it “bad luck.” But when he reached bottom in the pig sty, he finally called it what it really was, “Father, I have sinned.”
2. It was in this moment of truth that this lost boy began the long trek which leads back to the Father’s house. “Repentance” is what the Bible calls it—being honest to self and honest to God. He acknowledged that what he was doing was wrong and admitted he needed forgiveness that only his Father could give.
B. There is something God will do.
1. Sin is never fully remedied by that which we alone can do. We can express sorrow for our sins. We can even try to make amends for our sins. But we cannot forgive ourselves of our sins.
2. That is something only God can do. It is Him we have wronged; it is His house we have forsaken for the far country.
3. And here we come to the climax of the story and the central message of the gospel. In spite of the fact that we have sinned against Him, God still loves us and wants us to come home.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him” (v. 20). Do you think it was just by accident that the father was looking down the road that evening? No. He missed that boy, for he never stopped seeing him through the eyes of a loving parent. So also does God eagerly await our return to the Father’s house.