Kruiz edited
Free From Sin
Thursday of Lent 3
8 March 2018
In an article published in USA Today, Cathy Lynn Grossman suggested that the idea of sin is a disappearing concept in our culture. Perhaps the fact that the Supreme Court has ratified same sex marriage (which is an oxymoron) should give us a clue about this. Sin is being redefined or dumbed-down, so that people no longer take seriously their moral obligation in the presence of God. In the article, entitled "Has the 'notion of sin' been lost?" Grossman suggests that many people relativize sin in their own minds. They still have a hit list of forbidden things, but often give themselves a pass in matters moral. People can very easily point out the sin in others, but have a hard time seeing their own. Something about a log in your own eye comes to mind (Mt 7:3-5). Yet how is this different from the common human failing of hypocrisy? People have always been great at accusing others of sin, while they decline to see their own, instead excusing it (Rm 2:15). Have things changed in our cultural consciousness of sin?
 
When Harvey Weinstein was found to have been a serial sexual predator, the media piled on like NFL linemen who have a running back wrapped up at the line of scrimmage. Weinstein didn't have a prayer once the blood was in the media waters. I am not excusing his behavior, not at all, but I am pointing out that a certain sense of sin in our culture led to the feeding frenzy in which we delighted. Weinstein became the sacrificial victim that was driven out of town and stoned for the satisfaction of the community's sense of moral indignation. This moral indignation, however, only reinforces the verdict that we are hypocrites, for we are most indignant about those whose sin is shared by us. We hate the sexual sin of Weinstein because we ourselves are guilty of sexual sin, even if that does not include personally sexually harassing others. We feel better about our own sin, when another sinner gets what we know we deserve.
 
Christians call this a "substitutionary satisfaction" when another gets what we deserve. Christians don't believe that our sin is covered when another human is driven out of the community and stoned. Only the death of the One who was driven out of the city and crucified on the hill called Golgotha can satisfy God's wrath and become a satisfactory substitute for sinners.
 
You may recall that Weinstein tried to brazen out his sin. However, brazening it out is never going to work because that is just a way of ignoring our sin and wickedness. Many in our culture are trying to brazen out their sin. The reason that people try to ignore their sin, dumb it down, or say it is "no big deal," is that they don't know what God has done to resolve it. While sin is a great affront to the righteous God, He Himself deals with it by atoning for it in Christ and then sends His ministers to proclaim the result of that atonement in holy absolution. People who try to deny their sin just bear the guilt of their wickedness. The blame game will never work, unless we are willing that the blame should fall on the One who is willing to bear it in our place. People would be free of their sin and its guilt if they would own up to it rather than diminish it, dumb it down, deny it, or project it onto someone else. We should say, "Dear Pastor, hear my confession." And when we have, we will hear him say, "I forgive you all your sins. Go, you are free." Then we will be free from sin.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Preaching, and the baptizing that follows it, is the equivalent of being sprinkled with the blood of Christ himself, except that here it is done spiritually (for physical sprinkling will not do it). We believe and declare: 'I have been washed of sin and death by the blood of my Lord Christ.' How? By the preaching of the gospel. There I hear that Christ died and shed his blood in order that all who believe in him might have forgiveness of sins and be justified and saved.
 
"It is the same as in absolution; we believe that through absolution the sins of those who have fallen are forgiven, not because of the laying on of hands, for my laying on of hands does nothing of itself, but rather because Christ has commanded and said, 'Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven' (Mt 18:18), and again: 'If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven' (Jn 20:23). It is upon these words that I accept absolution as that which God Himself has instituted and commanded, and I know that in this too I am sprinkled with the innocent blood of Christ, with which He has stained the absolution, baptism, and the sacrament."

Martin Luther, Sermon for the Baptism of Bernhard von Anhalt
Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, send Your convicting word into my heart that I might confess my sin and hear from my pastor as from Christ Himself that I have been absolved of them and set free. Amen.
 
For the Luther Academy, that the Lord Christ would continue to be with it and its efforts to spread confessional Lutheranism throughout the world
 
For Jason Williams, that doctors and other health professionals would effectually treat his cancer
 
For the District Presidents of the LCMS, that they would be kept in the care of the Lord of the church, especially as many of them are preparing to lead district conventions
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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