IF YOU COME BACK...
It has been said that SIN will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and make you pay more than you bargained to pay. SIN* is defined as the transgression of divine law; any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle; any reprehensible or regrettable act, behavior, or lapse, great fault or offense. I know there have been many attempts to write a clear definition of sin and then to offer illustrations of exactly what sin is but honestly, these can be confusing. And while YOU might say sin is sin, how you define and further illustrate sin given your theology, life experiences, religious traditions, personal convictions, and relationships with others can complicate the very simplistic and elementary claim that sin is simply sin. This can also make the discerning process of whether or not something is sin challenging and debatable.
A few years ago, I was thinking about this whole concept as I was preparing a sermon that forced me to consider and reconsider my own definition of sin and how I might illustrate it. And this is how I define sin.SIN is any willful or deliberate violation of the two greatest commandments. And here are the greatest commandments of our Lord... Mark 12:28-31...
And one of the scribes came, and hearing their argument together, and seeing that he had given them a good answer, put the question to him, Which law is the first of all?
Jesus said in answer, The first is, Give ear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord;
And you are to have love for the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this, Have love for your neighbour as for yourself. There is no other law greater than these.
In the way that I choose to define it, SIN is directly opposed to love of God, love of self, and love of neighbor. Therefore, if anyone inwardly or outwardly violates the love commandments, we have sinned.
BlogFam, I had to lay that groundwork because our focal scripture for today is the prayer of a man named Nehemiah asking for God's mercy and forgiveness on behalf of the children of Israel because they have sinned. They have violated the greatest commandments and have obviously forsaken or disregarded their love for God and neighbor.
Nehemiah 1:6-9 Let your ear now take note and let your eyes be open, so that you may give ear to the prayer of your servant, which I make before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel, your servants, while I put before you the sins of the children of Israel, which we have done against you: truly, I and my father's people are sinners.
We have done great wrong against you, and have not kept the orders, the rules, and the decisions, which you gave to your servant Moses.
Keep in mind, O Lord, the order you gave your servant Moses, saying, If you do wrong I will send you wandering among the peoples:
But if you come back to me and keep my orders and do them, even if those of you who have been forced out are living in the farthest parts of heaven, I will get them from there, and take them back to the place marked out by me for the resting-place of my name.
Nehemiah acknowledges that they have done "great wrong" against God and "have not kept the orders, the rules, and the decisions" which God had given to Moses. And then Nehemiah asks God to remember what God said about the totality of God's word in that YES there will be consequences due to their violation "BUT IF YOU COME BACK TO ME... I WILL TAKE YOU BACK."
Friends , we may have all kinds of definitions and illustrations for sin, yet regardless of how you define or illustrate sin, the truth is that we have ALL sinned and we all come short of the glory of God. However, I pray that you will not forget or forsake the promise to all of us as recalled by Nehemiah, that "IF YOU COME BACK TO GOD... GOD WILL TAKE YOU BACK."
Now THIS is the kind of God we serve. A God who will extend the kind of love and grace to us to turn back after we have sinned. Our definition and illustrations may vary but the COME BACK invitation is the same to all of us!
BlogFam, COME BACK TO GOD!!! God will honor God's word to take you back and take you back to the place marked out by God for you.
BlogFam, COME BACK TO GOD! KEEP God's Instructions to you and DO them! God has a place for YOU in the divine plan!
GOD LOVES YOU AND I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
*Definition of SIN from Dictionary.com