INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: Sin is serious business.))
Sin is a serious problem—not just out in the world either, in our own lives as well. How do you know it’s serious business? Well, all you have to do is look at the solution to the problem, the price that was paid. It took God’s death to solve the problem! Now, if that’s the only thing that fixes it, and the Bible says that it is, then sin must be a pretty big problem! The biggest problem, ever! God became man, God shed His blood, and God died to save humanity from sin. He did all this to save you from your sins.
Now, the problem of sin, and how big of a problem it is, can’t just be seen in the solution but also in the consequences. Jesus is pretty pointed, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” It’s better outcome because the real consequence is hell! Not only that, your sins don’t just have consequences for you. You can lead others into sin! Your mistreating someone can lead them into anger. Your profanity and taking God’s name in vain can lead others to do the same. Your ignoring God’s Word, thinking it’s not really that important, will lead others to break the 3rd Commandment along with you.
((4. Ugh!: We don’t think so.))
The real problem though is that we don’t really think sin is that big of a deal. We don’t! We might ignore our sin, but most of the time we just shrug it off. We act like it’s nothing to break a Commandment. We gossip about our neighbor, we say things that would make sailors blush, we try and sneak a little more money out of a deal, and whatever else, and we just laugh it off. “Well, I’m only human. Well, nobody’s perfect. I’ll do it and be forgiven later.” But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do. Jesus says, “Watch out! Look out! Pay attention to yourselves!” Now, we may watch out, but that tends to be towards others and not ourselves. But Jesus calls us Christians to avoid sin! Sin separates you from Jesus. It’s consequences are dire! Unless you don’t believe there is a hell. If not, then why did God have to die? What then did Jesus exactly save you from?
We think that our problem is oopses, mistakes, uhohs, and not sin that breaks God’s holy Law and separates us forever from him. We don’t really believe hell exists, at least not for us, no matter what we do! So on top of all our other sins, we ignore Jesus’ warning, we don’t believe Him, and we act as if He’s telling a story that’s like the spiritual equivalent of the boogey man. Which really means we act like Jesus really died for no reason at all.
((3. Aha!: JESUS’ FORGIVENESS IS EVERYTHING!))
But Jesus did die for a reason—rose too! And that reason is everything! Absolutely everything— now and forever. God died to save you, to win forgiveness for you. Full and free forgiveness for you, for me, for all—for sinners! And JESUS’ FORGIVENESS IS EVERYTHING!
((4. It’s the heart of faith and life.))
Forgiveness is what it’s all about. It’s what Jesus is all about: calling sinners to Himself so that He might forgive them. That’s it! That’s what Christianity’s all about too. It’s not about white-washing sins, ignoring them, changing them, making up for them—no, none of that! Jesus died for all those things. He died for our breaking His commandments. He died for our not taking them seriously. He died for our laughing them off. You see, Jesus doesn’t want you to cling to them any longer, to live in them. He wants you set free, and so He died. But He’s also sent me to deliver it. Jesus sends His men to deliver His cross-won forgiveness: The Lord Jesus breathed on them and said, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”
JESUS’ FORGIVENESS IS EVERYTHING—not only in what you receive here in church, but also in what you do in your day to day life. We’re called as Christians to be the forgiveness pipeline to our neighbors—our family, friends, coworkers, even people who’ve wronged us. “If your brother sins, warn him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
What I‘ve just described is the sum of the Christian life: being forgiven of our sins and going out and forgiving others. It’s why we must daily pray to our heavenly Father: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.“ We pray this petition so that “our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.”
((1. Yeah!: It’s the only thing that conquers sin.))
JESUS’ FORGIVENESS isn’t EVERYTHING only because it’s the very heart and soul of our lives as Christians. It’s EVERYTHING because it’s really the only thing that conquers sin. Our works don’t do anything at all. We‘re supposed to look at our works as no big thing. They don’t make up for our sins. There’s only worry and endless anxiety there—did you really do enough? Jesus says, “When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Our works don’t do anything. Jesus’ works however do EVERYTHING. They do everything because His works both win and also deliver forgiveness, and JESUS’ FORGIVENESS IS EVERYTHING. He died for your sins. He won your forgiveness on Calvary’s hill, and His absolution through me, His called servant, delivers it. You deliver it to your neighbor. In the absolution Jesus cuts off the source of your bad fruit, and plants it once again in the waters of your Baptism. Your flesh that drives you to sin and shrug it off He cuts off, wipes it away with His Forgivness, and raises up a new man, driven by the Spirit, that trusts Him and His forgiveness, shuns sin, wants nothing to do with it, will guard itself from it, and will think it’s very serious.
JESUS’ forgiveness is the only thing in heaven and on earth, or even under the earth, that will do that! And so, by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN. “Go and sin no more!” Depart in peace.
INI + AMEN.