Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Don't Be Afraid...To Admit you're Wrong

Mid-Week Lenten 3
March 23, 2010
1 John 1:8-9
"Don't be afraid to admit you're wrong"

It's your fault! You're to blame! It begins early in life-putting blame on someone else, refusing to say, "I'm wrong, it's my fault." You get into a fight with your brother or sister and blame him or her for starting it. You flunk an exam at school and you immediate look to place blame on the teacher or their instruction.

You engage in cut-throat tactics at work only to have them backfire and you look quickly to recover by designating blame to someone else or another department. Your marriage is in turmoil and instead of searching and reflecting on your own thought process you blame the other person. One of the hardest things for us to say is, "I was wrong, it was my fault, I am to blame, forgive me."

Caiaphas and the Sandhedrin certainly could identify with those feelings of blame and accusation. Jesus, who had done nothing wrong was sentenced to death because this group of men decided to place blame on someone else. Why? They were envious and fearful of losing the alleged power base they felt they had established throughout the region. Regardless of whether the accusations were fair or not, Jesus was the one who it fell upon to take the fall for their fear, mistakes, and ingratitude.

Our text for this evening speaks to the fear of admitting that we have done wrong. John is saying to us: Don't be afraid to say you're wrong. When we admit that we have done wrong we are being honest with ourselves and humanity at large.

Yet, Adam blamed Eve and Eve the serpent and so began the long, spiraling lie of deceit that unfortunately has shaped this world. Our pride is at stake after all. To admit responsibility for a blunder might mean risking something or giving something up at the expense of a tremendous loss. This is the logic created by not taking the blame for our actions. Often times we try to shield ourselves from our mistakes, and we might pretend that if no one saw them, they would simply disappear within a few short hours or days.

Even if we overlook our sins, we often have a tendency to not only overlook them but to minimize their potential impact. By refusing to call sin sin we overlook the damage that it may cause. A business person, Shop Steward, Teacher who sees something happen, scolds the offending party and then pats themselves on the back with, "I am glad I don't act that way," is just as guilty as the party who caused the problem in the first place.

Often we might compare ourselves with others-like the Sunday School teacher who concluded a lesson on the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican by saying to his or her class, "Let us thank God that we are not like that wicked Pharisee." But, we are like that Pharisee. Looking at other's sin instead of our own.

We love to boast of our accomplishments-nothing is wrong with winning, with doing well, with playing our hardest, with competing fairly in life, yet success breeds its own ugliness. If we are constantly telling others of what we have done, or how our ideas were top notch, or that we had the finest crop production in the area we are running on the road of self-deception, minimizing sin, and overlooking the true blessings which God has given to us.

The fact is that "there is not a righteous man on earth who does not sin and who has never sinned" (Eccl. 7: 20; Job 15: 14; Rom. 3: 23). Sin need not be horizontal at all times it can certainly be vertical as well. It need not be sin against our neighbor but also against our God (Gen. 39: 9, Psalm 51: 4; Rom. 14: 12). When we deny or excuse not only others but ourselves from sin we are saying there is no need for Christ's death at Calvary. There is no reason why we need to consider his hanging on the tree, taking our sins with him to that cross of destruction. In fact, we reject the very gospel He came to bring and to give. We make ourselves out to be beyond God's protective care, saying that we can handle whatever comes along. By so doing we reject the life saving work of Christ our Lord.

If we are going to be people of character, of integrity, and be completely honest with ourselves, then we will certainly have to confess our sins before that same blood stained tree. We can deceive ourselves all day long, but to admit sin, to confess it, to seek repentance, is what God would have us do.

But there is still a better reason than my telling you to ask for forgiveness to admit to our mistakes. When we confess our sins to God our Father, forgiveness is granted. We are given a reprieve from the death sentence we all so richly deserve. The only way to forgiveness is through a penitent heart. Our confession, the one we make before God in this household of faith doesn't earn or cause God to forgive us. Rather it indicates our state of mind and that we are now prepared to receive God's forgiveness.

God forgives man not because of what we say but because of what he promised us. His promise hung on the cross, and it is through his son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, that God can look upon man and see his beloved son, and grant forgiveness. He never grows weary of hearing from his children or listening to our confession, because through Christ he sees us as redeemed creatures worthy of forgiveness.

God is righteous; He has agreed to forgive all of our sins for Jesus' sake (1 John 2: 2). We need not be defense attorney pleading our case before God, Jesus became our advocate. The guilt and consequences of sin were taken and laid open at Golgatha, never again to be opened up to placing blame and casting the shadow of guilt. Our sins were washed clean by Jesus' blood, and when we were baptized we received what became of Christ three days after he was laid to human rest, that being the glorious resurrection. We too shall rise with Christ, without the wounds of sin or guilt of its consequence.

We might be saying that we need this now in our lives. That we need to feel refreshed, for it has already been that type of week for us. The real presence of Christ is with us always, when we hear his word preached, open our scriptures, or partake of the feast of the Lamb, we are receiving His presence. He is with us.

He forgives and forgets fully the sins that coarse through our lives. The hidden sin that we seek to bury deep within our souls is known by God, and forgotten and forgiven by our gracious Father in Heaven. He forgave us and forgot our sins a long time ago, as well as our current or future sins.

Let us not be fearful of saying that we have done wrong, that we are in need of His absolution. Such an admission frees us to live the type of life God intended for us, free to serve and honor him. AMEN!

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