|Forgiven, not Condemned|
|Tuesday, 05 February 2013 06:01|
The confession of cyclist, Lance Armstrong, has captivated the world. I have been intrigued by the responses. Novak Djokovic, the world’s top tennis player stated, "I think he should suffer for his lies all these years.'' Everyone seems to have an opinion concerning his sin and some have picked up stones of abuse to hurl at him, but what does God think about Lance Armstrong?
We can know what God would think because we have the example in the New Testament of a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders of the day were anxious to condemn her to death, so they brought her to Jesus and asked Him: “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:6-11 emphasis added). This is the only record of Jesus writing. Theologians have speculated what He wrote in the sand of the temple floor. I believe that He wrote down the names of some of the people the accusers had sinned against – hence their hasty retreat! The truth is that no-one is without sin. Until we are born again, we have a default to sin. When we confess our sin before God and ask Jesus to forgive us, a miraculous change occurs, and we no longer desire to sin. God makes us legally righteous through Jesus Christ.
God hates sin, but He loves sinners. I believe that God hates what Lance has done, but He still loves him. A public confession is appropriate for a public figure of his magnitude. However, Lance’s most important confession belongs to God. When we sin, we hurt other people, but first and foremost we sin against God. The most famous confession of sin comes from David after he committed adultery. This was his prayer to God: I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down. You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I've been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. (Psalm 51:3-6 Message). Sin breaks our relationship with other people, but more importantly it breaks our relationship with God.
This 2013 season of new beginnings is the perfect time to make peace with God. It is important to realise that sin is sin – regardless of the degree! You may feel self-righteous that you have not done what Lance did, but God has already judged us all sinners. Maybe you have been trying to hide your sins from other people and you are living a lie. Jesus is the one that you must run to. Do you know why He could say to the woman that He does not condemn her? It was because He was going to take the punishment for her sin when he died on the cross of Calvary. A holy God must punish sin. God chose to punish His only Son, Jesus Christ, for your sin, so that you can go free. Jesus did not come to this earth to CONDEMN people, but to FORGIVE people. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17). Like Lance, maybe you need to acknowledge that your sin is against God. I encourage you to humble yourself before God and ask Jesus to be your Saviour. Only Jesus is qualified to forgive your sin. Like David, ask Jesus to enter your life and conceive a new, true life.
Thank you, Lance, for bringing to our attention that we are all inherently flawed people - sinners in need of the love and forgiveness of a Saviour!