Summary: Who should be leaders in the Church?
Before we get to the question of the day, let us reflect for a moment on what are sin, repentance and forgiveness. According to Jesus, not believing in him is sin (John 16:8). In James 4:17 we learn that “it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (Sin of omission versus sin of commission). Paul said, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3: 23). In our confirmation class, the way we define sin is by presenting the word like this: sIn: the upper case “I” represents putting self before God. Another way to define sin is actions separating us from God. How do you define sin? Who among us has not sinned?
Moving forward, we can look at the concept of repentance. To confess and be sorry, to have a change in heart and behavior, or to make a turn from sin to God are all ways to describe repentance. Isaiah (57:15) tells us that God refreshes the humble and gives new courage to those with repentant hearts. “I will bless those that have humble and contrite hearts” (Isaiah 66:2). Jesus told us to turn from our sins and turn to God. He said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18: 3). Jesus’ brother James said, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Do you think we should all repent from our sins?
Forgiveness is a very powerful action. If you do not think so just wait until you need forgiveness and have it withheld. How do we obtain forgiveness from God? First should we first admit we have sinned? If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess (repent) our sins to him, he who is faithful and just will forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong (1 John 1:8-9). Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. “Ask, using my name, and you will receive”, said Jesus (John 16:24). Paul said, “We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins” (Romans 3: 22). Paul also explained that the Holy Spirit gives Christians new life. He said, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We have all sinned. Sins are those actions that separate us from God. When we repent (turn away from sin) and confess our sins to God, He who is faithful and just will forgive us and cleanse us from our sin.
Taking a further look at sin, repentances and forgiveness before we move on, we know that Jesus clearly said, “But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5: 32). “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) is one of the Ten Commandments from God to Moses on Mount Sinai. In this example, we can conclude that most divorces and all adultery are sinful actions against God’s standards. Can we obtain forgiveness for these sins? Yes, as the Bible (God’s word) says if we confess (repent) our sins and ask for forgiveness, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive us of our sin. God does not say that if we advocate divorce and continually live a life of adultery and sexual permissiveness with no remorse, we will be forgiven. This would not be repenting our sin. But the good news is through Jesus Christ our savior, when we turn from our sins and ask for forgiveness, we will be cleansed. God’s grace is all we need.
Another of God’s commandments is “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20: 13). Obviously murder is a sin, an awful action that separates us from God. Can anyone be forgiven for murder of another? The Prophet Moses, descendent of Abraham killed an Egyptian. Yet Moses was chosen by God to be one of his prophets and lead the Israelites. Apostle Paul (formerly Saul) persecuted and killed many Christians. He was present at the stoning death of Stephen, one of first deacons of the Church chosen by the apostles, and the first of the Christian martyrs. Yet Paul was chosen by God to become his apostle. Paul wrote a major portion of the New Testament while teaching and celebrating Christianity throughout the land. How can this be? How could God choose murderers to be his witnesses? It is simple. They turned from sin, confessed, and God forgave! If Moses and Paul did not stop murdering, did not confess their sins, and did not ask for forgiveness, would they have been God’s chosen leaders? When God chooses to use us, it often comes at a time when we least expect it and when we feel least qualified. That makes us very effective. That is the infinite wisdom of God.