Thursday, October 25, 2007

Repentance - 2

It bears repeating. The worst aspect of our degenerate culture is not widespread and legalized abortion, nor same-sex 'marriage'. These two frontal attacks upon moral values are both symptoms of a deeper malaise: the popular refusal to call sin by its name.

God, who is holy, would be wholly just to consign each one of us to eternal damnation. Indeed, that is what we deserve. To break God's law is to commit a crime of infinite gravity, to spit in the face of the Almighty. Even a single minor transgression, correctly and honestly appraised, demands a level of supreme atonement and reparation that no finite mortal could satisfy. None of us is good enough; all of us rightly deserve Hell.

Only in the light of this bad news can we appreciate the Good News - that Jesus has taken all this upon himself in his perfect act of atonement. Only the one who recognizes his guilt before God can understand God's mercy.

Here's the point: God's plan is extremely lenient -- but not automatic. Despite the common assumption to the contrary, God's offer is not unconditional. The New Testament puts forth three conditions for our salvation: faith, repentance, and baptism. This is very, very lenient. To escape our just eternal punishment and attain undeserved eternal happiness, all we have to do is believe, repent of our sins, and be baptized. What ridiculously light conditions! But not automatic.

Repent - acknowledge your sins. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. Just agree with God that your sins are evil, and ask forgiveness.

It's also the most difficult thing to do. I suppose this has to do with pride. Rather than confess and receive forgiveness, we think of all kinds of ways to justify ourselves, rationalize, make excuses. I'd much rather patiently explain all about my extenuating circumstances - how my deeply ingrained sin isn't all that bad, probably not even really sinful.

But consider: In all the Bible and in all Church teaching, there are examples and stories galore of God's mercy in forgiving confessed and repented sin. But you'll not find a single instance of God accepting an excuse.

So, the crimes of abortion and militant homosexuality are not the primary problems. The assertion of the 'right' to kill pre-born babies, and of the 'right' to practice homosexuality, etc. - that's what will condemn us, both collectively as a culture, and as individuals who will one day stand naked before the just and holy God.

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