Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To Hate Sin, Consider Christ!

Part 2 of a Series

(Part 1)

Ecce homo cropped

From “Directions for Hating Sin” by Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

“Consider well of the office, the bloodshed, and the holy life of Christ. His office is to expiate sin, and to destroy it. His blood was shed for it: his life condemned it. Love Christ, and you will hate that which caused his death. Love him, and you will love to be made like him, and hate that which is so contrary to Christ. These two great lights will show the odiousness of darkness.”

How should we think of Christ, if such thoughts are to encourage us to hate sin?

Let me tell you how I DON’T think we should think of Him. Years ago, at a church I used to attend, I occasionally heard a song which made me inwardly shudder. It seemed to portray Christ as a pitiful, emotionally needy sap who would be just cwushed if we wejected him. I’m sorry to write it that way, but that’s how it felt to me. The song seemed to want to make the listeners feel guilty in the same way that they ought to feel guilty if they left a helpless old lady stranded in the middle of a highway. Coming to Christ seemed to mean sidling up to an emotional cripple, patting him on the back, and saying, “It’s okay, I believe in you,” just to prop him up so he could stand on his own while you went back about the business of your day. The song told us to look at His teary eyes and asked us, in essence, if there was any way we could bring ourselves to hurt His feelings any more.

Now, to give the songwriter credit (I have no idea who that was), that “wimpy Christ” may not be at all what they had in mind when they wrote it. But I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who heard it that way. And if not that song, then surely there are other ways in which this kind of appeal has rung out. I suppose it may just be a quirk in how I hear things. But in case anyone else has ever thought of Christ that way, let’s set the record straight…

Jesus was the strongest man who ever lived on this earth. He is still the owner of omnipotence today, and will be forever. And as strong as He had to be to earn the label “omnipotent,” how much stronger did He have to be to rein in his power in humble tenderness, refusing to exercise it for selfish reasons, even to escape Calvary? How strong did He have to be to face the ultimate agony…separation from the Father with whom He had been one for all of eternity…and to do it willingly for undeserving sinners like us?

This is no emotionally needy wimp. Forget the effeminate paintings you’ve seen of Him.

He may be Love (1 John 4:8), but He is not Need. Make no mistake, He does not need us…we need Him (Ps. 50:12-15).

He is the ultimate war hero, the champion before whom all others must bow, the victor whose decisive win silences his enemies eternally. Far from sobbing in heartbreak over their fate, He will be presiding over it (Matt. 7:21-23, Matt. 25:41).

Does this make Him heartless? Not at all. There is no injustice in Him (Deut. 32:4). The greatest injustice ever perpetrated is puny humanity’s rejection of Perfection in favor of the horror and filth of sin. Someday that will all be set straight by the Mighty One. And the amazing thing is, He will have saved many! Every one of them completely undeserving!

Consider Jesus, this Mighty One; undefeated, unconquerable, omnipotent, self-sacrificing, powerful in love for all that is holy, and equally powerful in His hatred for sin. His worth is unmatched, His compassion is unfathomable, His judgment is righteous, His love is inexhaustible, His holiness is absolute, His victory is complete, His wisdom is unsearchable. He can do whatever He wants to do, independently of any obligation to anyone higher (for there is no one higher). And what He chose to do was to conquer the sin that He hated so much.

There are people whose opinions you respect. Movie critics, perhaps, who help you decide what to see. Politicians who sway you to their point of view. Maybe family members or spiritual leaders who guide your thinking.

Who guides your thinking about sin? Who is qualified to tell you just how bad it is? Who influences your feelings about it?

Have you ever thought about the fact that God could have destroyed sin and Satan with a single word, and yet He chose the way of Calvary instead? Why would He do that? What did He want to display to us when He took on sin in this manner?

If the matchless Jesus hated sin enough to go to such extremes as becoming human, suffering physical and emotional torment, and dying to defeat it, how much should we also hate it? After all, we are the ones who were enslaved by it, and were condemned because of it!

Father, help us to consider Jesus and learn from Him how we should think and feel about sin. Please forgive us for all the times we have made light of it, celebrated it, laughed about it, invited it into our homes, wallowed in it. Wake us up, O Lord, from our complacency, and give us a holy fire that burns within!

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Mary Moss said...

how much stronger did He have to be to rein in his power in humble tenderness, refusing to exercise it for selfish reasons, even to escape Calvary?

This is how I think of him as well, Betsy. Oh that any of us would possess a drop of that great strength!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

For the life of me, I can't think of the song; anyway, preach on sister. Our Jesus isn't a wimp! He's beyond description and imagination; still and yet he lets us try ... to describe, to imagine.


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