Summary: All my resources of power and grace, all the cleansing efficacy of my promises, the fullness of the Love of Jesus can be ours for the asking.
The Prodigal Son
2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (ESV)
Luke 15:25-30 (ESV)
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
One of the fancies of the mind of people we are prone to engage in today is, “Sin Grading”. This is very risky business, setting sin as to grades. Big or little, serious or inconsequential, mortal or venial. The reason for it being risky is all sin is an offense against God. That is because there is no little or inconsequential God to sin against.
Now it is true that sins may differ in the nature of consequences. Some strictly affect the one who commits the sin. Other sins may have consequences in the lives of others.
Also, sins differ in the possibility of amendment. Things stolen can many times be returned. Have you on the other hand ever tried to return a reputation? Some of our associations can be quietly broken off. Marriage that is consummated contrary to the Law of God cannot be dissolved without guilt as serious as that incurred in the beginning of such an association.
Beloved, there is another way in which various kinds of sin differ. Sins are many times obvious and easily condemned as sins of the flesh. There are the less obvious but just as deadly, these we call sins of the spirit.
This is what Paul had in mind in the Corinthian text we used. Paul carefully warned the Corinthian Church of the sin of the spirit.
In the parable of the prodigal son we find a vivid illustration as Jesus sought to bring this lesson home to his listeners. Sins of the younger brother very apparent to all. His inheritance, his substance wasted in a far land.
Any place away from God is a far away place!
As we recall the parable, we soon see that as Jesus pictured the older brother. He was just as far away from the concerns of the father as the younger brother. Notice that the younger brother was out of sight from the father, the older brother was in sight of the father.
In the conclusion of the parable we find the younger is pictured in the house enjoying the feast and the fellowship with his father and household. The older brother sulked outside.
Our nature will not let us ever take lightly the sins of the flesh. This is how it should be. They not only destroy body and soul; they leave deep scars even when forgiveness is found and the prodigal come home.
Beloved: it is in the area of the sins of the spirit that we are most apt to miss the point. The scriptures provide a remedy not only for the sins of passion, but also for sins of disposition.
In the older brother we see very clearly an unsanctified heart. Selfish anger, pouting over preference given another, conceited pride that boasts of all done for the household. Envy that scowls when someone else gets the breaks.
Beloved, there is a far more serious sin that aforementioned. Think how serious the gulf widened between the offender and the offended. Brother and brother. Son and Father.
So much of the time a cynical suspicion arises in the needy heart that supposes the worst of another without any real evidence. Note the words used by the older brother. “But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes…”
Have you ever questioned how he knew this? He did not talk to his brother. He did not know where he had been, nor what he had done.
Note also: “this son of yours”. Why did he not say, “my brother”? They were brothers. In this world of ours today I am afraid the prevailing spirit is the very same spirit manifested by the older brother.
Someone has said, “The really grave sins, such as jealousy, ill-will and an unforgiving spirit, cannot be made unable to any human tribunal”. There is no court of law, no human judgement that can deal with the sin of the spirit.