DayBreaks for 12/18/14 – What Scandalized Jesus
From the DayBreaks archive, December 2004:
I’m afraid sometimes that we don’t see human sin and weakness in the same way that Christ did. Let me say this first and get it out of the way so you won’t be worried by some of what I will say: Christ hates sin. He hates all of it. He doesn’t want us to commit sin of any kind. In fact, he died so that it was possible for it to be forgiven. So – just to be clear, I’m not condoning sin today, nor going soft on it, OK?
That being said, I’m pretty sure that we may be much more like the Pharisees than we are like Jesus. Ouch, did that hurt? (If your reaction was, “Not me!”, then you should pay special attention to what I’m going to say, because that’s a good indicator that you are very close to the heart of the Pharisees!) Here’s what I mean: in the NT there are many stories that involve 3 classes of people: those who were guilty of “sins of the flesh”, those suffering from “sins of the spirit”, and Jesus. What is amazing is what happens when these 3 groups are all present at the same time. Consider the stories of the notorious woman who anointed Jesus feet/the self-righteous host of the feast, the tax collector and Pharisee, the prodigal son and his brother, the religious leaders and the woman taken in adultery as just a few. In each of the cases, those who were guilty of the “sins of the flesh” (the lady of ill repute, the tax collector, the prodigal son, the adulterous woman) knew that they were in deep, deep trouble. They knew they were sinners – and bad ones at that. But in those same stories, it was their antagonists who were guilty of the “sins of the spirit”, they were blind to their own sin, which had made it impossible for them to love those guilty of the sins of the flesh.
Crunch time: What scandalizes you the most – sins of the flesh, or sins of the spirit? Jesus seems to have been far more scandalized by those guilty of the sins of the spirit – the spiritually blind and haughty. C.S. Lewis wrote: The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing…the pleasures of power, hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be nearer to hell than a prostitute.
What is it that makes the sins of the spirit so insidious? Simply this: those who are infected with this disease don’t have a clue that they’re sick. Those with the sins of the flesh have a pretty good idea that they’re really messed up.
We let the sins of the flesh scandalize us. And they should – they are sins after all. But the fact that they scandalize us more than the sins of the spirit may be a telling symptom of where our own problems lie – in the spirit of haughtiness that so scandalized Christ. At least those with sins of the flesh were more prone to confess, repent and be healed of their sin, but those who believe they are without sin have no such motivation.
What scandalizes you? It is very possible that those who are the farthest from the kingdom are those who appear to be the closest.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT) – Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’
PRAYER: Teach us to think about sin as You do – and know that no sin is good – but to be especially aware of our own tendency to spiritual sins! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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