Tuesday, February 08, 2011

SOS--Soft On Sin

Jesus' death was approved and applauded by the legalistic sect of His day called the Pharisees. Why? They did not believe Jesus took sin seriously enough. To them, Jesus was soft on sin and, therefore, an enemy of God deserving of death. To legalists being soft on sin is always an emergency calling for drastic action.

As hard as this characterization of Jesus is to believe for those of us who know that He "became sin for us who knew no sin...", the legalists of Jesus' day thought He was soft on sin and deserved to die for being soft. If one believes as legalists do that we exist as humans to do battle with sin in God's name, we could easily think like Pharisees and legalists always think. To them, being soft on sin makes us unworthy of the space we occupy in the world.

Legalists are deadly serious about sin. They focus on sin constantly and they fight it as if their lives depended on the intensity of their fight against it. To the Pharisees Jesus did not focus on sin and He did not fight it. He deserved to die because God is against sin and He did not appear to be with God because He wasn't with them.

Jesus said in John 15" 18-21 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me."

Their are many manifestations of legalism's fight against sin in our world today. None, however, is as powerful and committed to eradicating sin as is radical Islam. They are taking the fight against sin so seriously that they have given the war against sin a special name--Jihad. They have also given all who are soft on sin a special name-Infidel.

Radical Islamists call America and all the western world "The Great Satan." Why? Because no creature ever created is softer on sin than Satan. To today's radical legaists no culture or country takes sin less seriously than the USA and her allies. A casual look at western culture would seem to prove their point.

Are they wrong about the western world being soft on sin? No, the western world does not take sin seriously any more. Are they right that true followers of Jesus are soft on sin? No, true Christians abhor sin but have chosen love over a sword to fight it. Are they right to see western society as Christian? No. Are they right to expect Christians to be hard on sin? Yes, but not hard in their way of being hard.

Legalists are blind to the heart of a person. They never saw Jesus correctly. Legalists can never see the heart because they are too focused on who is or is not bowing to their laws for war against sin. They can only see who agrees with their particular strategy for the war on sin. Death is always very present where legalists rule. When they have dealt with those who really seem softest on sin, like Jesus, they will turn on each other.

The radical legalists of any age will find and ostracize those who don't take sin seriously enough. Eventually they will come with their stones, swords and bombs to destroy them in God's name. Legalists must fight sin or God will consider them soft on sin and that means hell to pay. In their view, Hell is for all who were soft on sin.

I doubt that there has ever been a more committed, worldwide legalism greater than radical Islam. Even so, they are no more than near relatives of the Pharisees who called for Jesus' death 2000 years ago for being too soft on sin.

What can followers of Jesus do in the face of an accusation that says we are too soft on sin? We must listen to Jesus in Matthew 5: 17-20 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus was not soft on sin. He was committed to its destruction by continuous love.

Pharisees always have hundreds of laws that they label as the right way to be hard on and eventually destroy sin. For radical Islamists the law for sin destruction is called "Shariah".

This is nothing new. The rigid external laws make it easy to spot and isolate those who are obviously soft on sin. All those who ignore the laws are soft on sin and deserve to die at the hand of the righteous who are tough on sin. The rigid external laws make isolating the guilty easier and it makes the legalistic leaders proud of their righteous fight against sin. To legalists, anything done to fight sin is good. There is only one rule for the legalist--Fight sin.

Jesus' way of dealing with sin is different. He fought it and destroyed it by fulfilling the law. The fulfilling of the law is perfect love. He defeated sin by continuously loving God and His neighbor. By continuously loving as He lived and continuously loving the world at Calvary as He died he defeated and destroyed sin and death once and for all. He chose to be hard on Himself so He could be effectively hard on sin not us.

Jesus' calls us to follow Him in this way of dealing with sin. Jesus calls us to carry our cross. Jesus calls us to love instead of justifying the death of those who are soft on sin. If we do this Jesus' way, we, too, will be called "soft on sin" by legalists.

When the legalists come, and they always do, don't grab your sword to be hard on them. Grab Jesus' love that abides in you. Carry your cross and you will be truly hard on sin.

A sword is in reality too soft on sin. Staying bowed in submission to Jesus and His love will strike a blow against sin that will outlive your own temporary suffering. By doing this you will let the world see the way, the truth and the life is Jesus. Jesus always has been and always will be the only way to be truly tough on sin.

The legalists always come, but love is greater than their blindness and rage. There will be a resurrection for all who are hard on sin as Jesus was.

It is time for Christians to be tough on sin--Love like Jesus did.

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