Faithlife
Faithlife

Pentecost 16

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Matthew 18:15–20 NIV
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
1 John 1:5–2:6 NIV
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
Thought line. The Bible tells us that we are to live as Jesus did but it also tells us that this is impossible because we all sin. It teaches us what to do when someone sins against us and what to do when we have sinned. The answer is found in Jesus Christ.
For the past several years I have been playing a game called pickle ball. It as a court game between table tennis and tennis (explain). That is why it is called “pickle” ball — it has nothing to do with pickles. Anyway, sometimes I get very frustrated. I believe that every time I hit the ball it should land in bounds on the other side of the court. I also believe that when I golf the ball should always go where I want it to and that when I watch my favorite sports teams, every play should be successful and every swing of the bat by my team should be a home run.
Perhaps you also have such high standards. Every shot you fire should hit its mark when hunting. Every cast you make fishing should result in catching a whopper. Score 100% on each test. Win every game. Those who gamble hope to win every time. The meal should turn out just right. We should have success after success after success in all that we do. We know what it means to hope for and strive for perfection.
Therefore we can relate when Jesus says, “Be perfect, as you heavenly Father is perfect.” We can nod in agreement when St. Peter encourages excellence:
(NIV)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
St. John offers encouragement in what we call our lives of sanctification by writing: “Whoever claims to live in Jesus must live as Jesus did.”
How did Jesus live? The succinct answer is “Perfectly”
Hebrews 4:15 NIV
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
1 Peter 2:21–22 NIV
21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
And so the desire we have to be successful as noted above should be a goal in our lives as Christians. It should be our goal to keep the commandments and to follow God perfectly by never sinning.
How successful are we on this point?
(NIV)
6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? 7 The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. 8 When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes. 9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
Look at what John wrote before he tells us that we must live as Jesus did?
NIV5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
He tells us that if we claim that we have been perfect, we are lying to ourselves and to God. We do sin. We confessed that earlier in the worship service. Although none of us stood up here in front of church and publicly confessed any specific sin, we must believe and acknowledge our sinfulness. In the Roman Catholic Church is it required to enumerate on a regular basis all mortal sins to a confessor or you are not forgiven. The Bible does not teach that protocol but it does teach us to confess our sins to God. I know it would be helpful in our prayer life to be a little bit more specific than just reading along with the rest of the congregation the common confession of sins which admittedly some people read through without even thinking about what they are saying.
Why confess our sins to God?
1.Because he commands us to do so.
2. Because he promises to forgive us for Jesus’ sake.
(NIV)
6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? 7 The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. 8 When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes. 9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
Sometimes, many times, when we sin; we are able to keep it hidden from others.
(NIV)
5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
But sometimes the sin someone has committed is not hidden. Jesus instructs us on what to do when that happens. In this case if someone sins against us. His instructions are not what normally happens.
What are the normal, sinful reactions when someone sins against us?
We form a posse (explain)
We refuse to talk to them about it and hold a grudge.
We blame them for not apologizing to us which is ridiculous because sometimes they don’t even know they have offended us.
Notice how Jesus reacted when his enemies sinned against him by bad mouthing him in public. He immediately confronted them. (See examples). Although even Jesus was not always successful in leading others to repentance, he did not shirk from confrontation with the goal of restoration.
So he teaches us to have a private, loving conversation with the erring brother and to do so quickly with the goal of reconciliation.
(See other passages)
Over twenty years ago I decided that I would tell a joke during the sermon in order to illustrate a point. This was not something I normally did. Several days later I received a letter in the mail from a member. Which is also something that did not normally happen so I was curious as to what it was about. Well, the member openly expressed herself to me in confidence that she was not comfortable with me telling jokes from the pulpit. I spoke with her immediately after that, apologized for offending her, and was assured of forgiveness. We never had another issue. I have also experienced the times when I have done something to offend someone else and they never talked to me (they talked to others) about it and that issue and others were never resolved.
Which path does Jesus want us to take? Does he want us to hold grudges, refuse to forgive, punish people because they are not perfect? Or does he want us to do the following: 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.?
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