Exile and Return

In my discussions with people who ask me about faith, religion, Jesus, and even politics, I’m often asked ‘Why are most Christian’s hypocrites?”

The only Hypocrites are the ones who think that they are self-righteous

There are many paths to this question, and often different questions and answers are asked and given in return as the conversation continues. This post would be rather lengthy and repetitive if I were to give many examples of these conversations. Yet, one thing I often bring up is this. Every one is a sinner yet there are two types, those repentant and those that aren’t.

This often leads the person to give me a look and say something along the lines of “Repentant?!… If someone is repentant wouldn’t they stop sinning, and in turn not be a hypocrite?” Ah, and there is the confusion that we can clear up.

You see, everyone sins, however, those who are repentant struggle against their sins because God is working in them against their sinful nature. This means, as Paul says in Romans 7, that they still sin even though they are at war inside trying to not sin. Now, this is very different from those who sin and do not care.

This is around the time when the lights start to come on in their minds as they are starting to see that Christian’s are not little hypocrites waving their finger at the world around them. I then continue to explain…

Yet, God loves even the hypocrites

You see, the person who openly sins without caring does not have the Spirit. They are unbelievers. Even those who might have once been a Christian, they cannot remain as such and engage in constant high-handed sin (i.e. live enslaved to their sinful nature as though they had not the Spirit). The Spirit of God is grieved with open unrepentant sin. After He keeps calling the sinner back to repentant grace, and if the sinner insists on resisting, He will eventually leave them. This is the time I like to open my Bible and show them such passages as Jesus binding the strong man (Matthew 12), the unforgivable sin (also Matthew 12), Paul preaching to those who had resisted the Spirit (Acts 7:51), etc…

Yet, I also go to an overview of some of the Old Testament passages to show God’s grace. Perhaps passages talking about some of the Israelites exiling and returning. I show them that God is always the first one to love, and out of His love He calls the sinner to Himself, and what happens is the sinner sins (shocker). Yet God calls them back through His Law and His Promise. This is an example of repentance.

What can happen though, is that by resisting this gift of repentance, God lets them have what they want, He let’s them have their sin and sends them into exile to be in bondage to that sin. Yet, He still calls them back.

That is where I like to lead them in these types of conversations. That God never stops calling, pulling, and loving. That is true for each and every one of you. If you feel you have gone to far you haven’t. If you think your sin is too much, it isn’t. If you think God hates you, He doesn’t. If you think God wants to harm you, He doesn’t. If you think God wants to punish you or condemn you; He doesn’t. Your sin separates you from Him, He came from heaven to earth for you. Your sin is too much for you, and so He took it upon Himself. Your sin causes you to hate God, and so He loves you first, by taking your sin upon Himself in His baptism. He let you hurt Him by nailing Him to the cross. He took all of your punishment, so that you could go free. He died for you, so that you could have eternal life. He rose from the grave to give you His holiness so that you can be without sin even though you will still sin. So that when you sin, you can be forgiven and called back to Him. All of this is because God loves you, go in peace.

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