â€œLook! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
Lectionary texts: Acts:16:16-34, Psalm 97, Revelation 22:12-21, John 17:20-26
If you are someone who follows the Lectionary texts for your own study you may notice that the â€œofficialâ€ list of texts does not include all the Revelation 22 texts that I did. They chopped it up and left out a few verses, like #15. For me, that begs the question of why?
Last Wednesday, I shared a devotion, Mercy, in which I said,
“To me, it is impossible to talk about grace without talking about God’s mercy. Some might think that we spend too much time speaking about grace and mercy and not enough time talking about sin and repentance. I think about the Father being the perfect parent. Should a parent teach a child by telling them all that they should not do or by being an example and teaching the child what they should do? The answer would be both but I believe a child will respond and remember the positive input so I want to do more of that. I want to make sure my children understand grace and mercy that come from our Heavenly Father.”
Part of being a good parent is teaching our children right from wrong; giving them a moral compass that will help them navigate their choices in this life. As a Christian parent, that means that I use the word â€œsin.â€
When I was a child, sin was given to me in a very visual way. It was based on The Ten Commandments and there were two lists: Mortal Sins and Venial Sins. The teacher drew a circle on the blackboard. That was my â€œsoul.â€ A mortal sin put a big black mark on my little soul. A venial sin put a little gray mark. Murder was an example of a sin that would separate me from God. Lying was a forgivable sin. If I died with an unconfessed mortal sin, I would end up in hell. As I have read Scriptures for myself, I haven’t found sin to be that way.
Sin, any sin, separates me from God. Even in this passage of Revelation, Jesus does not find lying less of a sin than murder, witchcraft, and sexual immorality. So when I am teaching my children, and learning for myself, I need to remember that God doesn’t â€œwinkâ€ at my lying to my boss or on my taxes any more than He â€œwinksâ€ at those who commit adultery.
But with calling sin â€“ sin â€“ it would not be the truth of God if I did not also speak about it with grace and mercy. It has been God’s plan all along to make a way for His children to be with Him for all eternity. A good parent disciplines, not to punish, but to teach and grow up children who will be healthy and joyful! The most important principle in discipline is consistency. God shows us that. The Ten Commandments still hold all these decades later. Grace and mercy still hold all these decades later.
Last night I heard an evangelist, Rev Steve Hill, who has preached repentance all around the world for 30 years, speak about sin. He said:
- Do not hide it. Hidden sin will fester and poison your whole life.
- Do not minimize it. God has already maximized it by giving us His Commandments but He also gave us Jesus, our Savior and Teacher, who showed us how to live through this life in victory over sin.
- Do not add to it. To me that means do not add condemnation. God does not condemn but His Spirit convicts us so that we can repent and be restored.
Please spend 10-15 minutes today and read Psalm 97 and John 17:20-26 and think about the sins that can plague your life. Grab hold of the power and love that God has for you and His desire to free you from these chains that bind you (Hebrews 12:1-3). Embrace His love, conviction, and mercy.
Mercy Seat written and sung by Vicki Yohe