Preaching, New Covenant and Sin

Sometimes we need to be contradicted.  For instance, we assume that if we are going to take the issue of sin seriously, then we need to give some significant attention to it.  Perhaps by implementing some self-controlled, self-disciplined approach to sin control in our lives.

On the contrary.

Hang on, am I suggesting that we shouldn’t take sin seriously?  Am I suggesting that we should go and sin freely?  Of course not!  Why do some people automatically assume that a turn from focusing on virtue is to turn in pursuit of vice?  The opposite of moral effort may not be immoral action.

I would suggest that the New Covenant takes sin more seriously than we do or think we do.  God takes sin seriously, which is why He promised the New Covenant.  Jesus Christ takes sin seriously, which is why He inaugurated the New Covenant with his own blood.  The writers of the New Testament took sin seriously, which is why they pushed the New Covenant so strongly.

And we need to take sin more seriously.  We need to stop thinking it is something we can handle by our own effort, our own discipline, our own practices.  This is true for the not-yet-saved, and it is true for the believer.  The foundation of the New Covenant is sin forgiven.

Sometimes it is hard to realize just how much we don’t grasp something we think we’ve known for so long.  Take grace, for instance.  At the core of God’s dealings with us is this issue of grace – His character, His glory, His self-giving.  Yet we turn grace into a commodity and preach grace-plus, or grace-but, or grace-however.  We don’t need to preach some sort of grace-balanced message.  We need to present to people, believers or not, the wonderful glorious extravagant imbalanced grace of a God who gives himself to deal with our sin.

If our listeners think that grace means license to sin, then we haven’t preached grace clearly enough.  Maybe we’ve offered a halfway house kind of grace, a grace that addresses guilt but doesn’t capture the heart.  A grace-as-thing that pays for guilt, but not a grace-as-person that captivates our hearts.

The solution to a license type of response is not to balance grace with guilt, pressure, codes and laws.  The solution is to do a better job of preaching grace.

At the foundation of the New Covenant is this wonderful truth that God has promised to remember sins no more, and that truth is presented like a vivid 3-d billboard to our hearts in the death of His Son on the cross.  It is there, in shocking shame and agony that we see God’s glorious grace made manifest to us.

Tomorrow let’s push this deeper and recognize the heart of the New Covenant.