Monthly Archives: August 2015

Lost and Found – The Prodigal Son

Peninsula Community Church

Lost and Found Part 3

August 30, 2015

Luke 15:11-16 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’  And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

As we continue our study today, I would like to hone in on what has been called the parable of the prodigal son. When we get into the nuts and bolts of this story we find that the story of the prodigal is as much a story of the Father and both of his sons as it is just about the younger son. The father had to deal with two sons who were ungrateful and self-focused. One took the path of unrighteousness and rebellion and the other took the path of self-righteousness and religion. While their actions were different, both sons in essence had the same problem and attitude. In this story, we find both sons dishonoring and demeaning their father in their actions. One ran away, while the other thought his father would love him more by doing all the right things.

For our time this morning, I would like to focus on the story of the younger son and the father’s response to him. So let me tell you the story by giving you some of the back story, and then finish by giving some key lessons we can take from this story. From a historical perspective, we find some unsettling truths and issues here. In our culture, today, we would not understand these issues but in Jesus’ day the actions taken by all three characters (the younger son, the father, and the elder son) would have been off the chart.

We find the youngest son coming to the father and asking for his portion of his inheritance. In those days one’s wealth was valued by the amount of property one owned and the amount of live stock they possessed. In distributing the inheritance, the father would have given two thirds to the eldest son and one third to the youngest son. Normally, this would only happen upon the death of the father, as one’s inheritance was rarely distributed prior to the death of the father.

Most historians have stated that this request by the son was in fact a way of saying to the father I want my inheritance because to me you are already dead and I do not need you any more. This was the greatest slap in the face that any child could give his father in that day. To request his inheritance early was in fact a matter of disowning the father and was rejecting his lineage which meant everything. What he was saying is, I don’t trust you to run my life I want to run my own life and I will do so. Just give me my stuff and let me go.

The son was motivated by his greed and desire to sow his wild oats. We do not have any insight into the reasoning why he made this decision other than he wanted to leave town and do his own thing. As we discussed last week, we are often tempted to wander away from God. We wander because we believe that the rules and guidelines established by God are too binding and too prohibitive for us to have any fun. So, we experiment with life out from under the umbrella of God’s protection and His grace.

For the father, he had to sell off his property and sell his live stock for this to happen. He had to diminish his size and his wealth to accommodate the rebellious son who wanted it all. Because of this, the entire community knew what was happening. It was a really sad situation. He gave his son his portion and off the son went. But it was not long before the son had used up everything he had. He found himself broke. He was without friends, funds, or food and to top things off there was a famine in the land which in our day would be equated to a serious downturn of the economy. The result was that the younger son found himself destitute and alone.

He eventually found a wealthy family to attach himself to and he became a laborer for them. He became a pig farmer which in the Jewish economy was the worse thing a person could do. He fed pigs which was a major disgrace to the Jew. But these circumstances were used to cause him to come to his senses. The son was looking across the landscape of his life and realized that even the lowest of servants in his father’s house had it much better than he did. They were treated better and had better food than he did in that moment. His plan was to go to his father, repent and ask if he could become a laborer for his father. So, he leaves and heads home. But the father does an incredible thing. He welcomes him back and restores him to the position of full sonship. He gives him his ring, his robe, his sandals, and throws him a party. That is so amazing!

So as we look at this story what are the take aways? What do we learn from the prodigal? First, the draw of sin is not all it is cracked up to be, it will leave you desolate and alone. Sin brings pleasure for a moment but in the end it leaves us void of life and a future. The biggest problem for the son was that he was more in love with the things of the father than being in love with the father. He wanted the things that the father gave but he forgot the necessity of building a loving relationship with the father. For us personally, the gifts God has given us are so amazing but there are too many times we want what God has to give without having a relationship with him. We want his peace but we don’t follow his word that brings us peace. We want his prosperity and we want success but we don’t want him to lead us to that prosperity or success. We want to do it ourselves without his spirit. We are in essence saying we do not need God.

The second lesson for us is that God loves us. He has loved us. He will always love us. There is no place we can go to hide from the father’s love. This is so amazing. The father could have rejected the offer made by his son but he allowed him to go his own way because in doing so he would learn the lesson that the father’s house is a better place to be than out on your own. But even in the rejection of the father, the father’s love was still with him. Romans 8 reminds us that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Remember God loves us. He loved us. He will continue to love us. 

A third lesson is that no matter what view we have of ourselves God the father has a different view. The son was rejected, at his lowest point, and smelled like a pig sty; and yet the father rushed to hug him and to restore him to the place of sonship in his house. The father did not see him as lost but he saw Him as his son. The father received him not as a loser, a servant, or a cast away. He received him as a son.

This is evidenced by the actions of the father. First, he ran to greet the son. In the context of the culture it was not an acceptable thing for an elderly man to be running. It was in fact disgraceful for him to run because it forced him to gather his robes up round his waist. His legs were worn with years of farming, and with his age he could fall, and that would embarrass him and his family. But, the father put aside all of the cultural norms and ran to him because his love for his son was greater than his desire to be politically or culturally correct.

We have to understand that this stands juxtaposed to the criticism the scribes and the pharisees leveled at Jesus in the first verse. In essence, Jesus is saying my love often breaks what is culturally accepted and what is politically correct. My love goes to the broken and lost while the pharisees and scribes would seek out those who were already whole. The scribes and pharisees wanted to be politically correct rather than godly.

Not only did the father run to him, the father also gave the son his ring which was like giving him his credit card and then placing his name on the card. He gave him his robe. This was not just any robe but it was the father’s robe. It represented the father’s authority. He gave him a pair of sandals which to us is no big deal but in that culture servants wore no shoes. So the father in essence is saying you are not a servant you are my son and I want to treat you like my son and not a slave. Then the father throws a party and brings in the fattened calf which was reserved for special occasions.

A fourth lesson is that when we return with a repentant heart, the father always receives us back with open arms and loving forgiveness. Notice, the father does not condemn the son or judge the son. He realizes that the son is already condemned by his sin and by his demeanor. The son’s intent was to repent but the father never gave him the opportunity. It is almost like he knew the son’s heart without him saying anything. You see the fact is God is more interested in our heart than he is in what we say. Sometimes, we repent because we have been caught and not because we want the father’s forgiveness. This is huge because we forget that God our father knows our heart and knows our motivation.

Today you may be the prodigal, or you may the one who has a prodigal child. But know this continue to love that child and when they return love them with the love only God can give.

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Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Lost and Found – Lessons Learned From Luke 15

Peninsula Community Church

Lost and Found – Lessons Learned From Luke 15

August 23, 2015

Last week we began a series entitled “Lost and Found.” As we continue this series we will look today at how each of these parables teach us something about the ways we stray from God and how God is always ready to draw us back. In each parable, we are taught something about ourselves and how we can be so easily led astray.

The lost sheep in the first parable speaks to us about the distractions of life that cause us to wander from the presence of God. The fact is, we wander from God because we are distracted and oblivious to what is going on around us. To understand why this occurs we must understand a bit about sheep. To begin with, sheep are basically dumb animals. They tend to get lost because they simply wander away from the flock while they are grazing. This was so common that it was not an uncommon event for sheep to fall headlong over cliffs and die, or they would fall into ditches along the roadway. The shepherd was constantly rescuing the lost sheep and helping them to get back to the fold where they would be secure and be safely returned to the shepherd’s care.

Another thing about sheep is that they become restless very easily. They have a short attention span and they are constantly looking for food to satisfy them. For this reason, sheep can simply nibble their way to lostness. Their lostness is a series of small steps. In their restless, they are always looking for things to satisfy their hunger. The same applies to followers of Christ as we too get restless and we look to others things to satisfy our spiritual hunger (Isaiah 53:6). You see the role of the shepherd is to find good gazing ground (Psalms 78:52), but the restlessness of the sheep forces the sheep to ignore the shepherd’s leading as they look elsewhere for food.

In our restlessness, we feed on things that do not provide spiritual nourishment but rather draw us away from the Great Shepherd and the food he has planned for us. These things may include working harder, experimenting with drugs and alcohol as a means to deal with life’s issues. It might be sexual adventures. It might the world’s philosophies that draw us away from God. We wander and nibble on a little bit of this and a little bit of that but we are never satisfied. We keep nibbling and we keep moving further from the place God desires for us to be.

The fact of the matter is we are all prone to wander from the presence of God. One of my favorite hymns speaks to this issue. In the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which was written in 1757 by 22-year-old Robert Robinson, there is a line that always captures my attention and forces me to self-evaluation. The line says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I feel that way sometimes. Don’t you! Rather than having my heart and mind focused on the Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me, I find myself distracted and drifting away from God’s purpose. We don’t intend to drift, but we do. We are enticed by things that look so good but leave us hungry and empty.

But the grand miracle is that our tendency to wander is matched only by God’s willingness to pursue us at all cost. How grateful we can be for a patient, compassionate heavenly Father whose grace is always sufficient; even when we are prone to wander! How grateful we can be for a Heavenly Father who desires to pursue us when we are lost.

How does He pursue us? He does so by way of the Holy Spirit who speaks deep into our hearts and draws us back to Him. The Holy Spirit illuminates the hunger and dissatisfaction of our heart. In fact, I would say that if you are dissatisfied in your personal spiritual experience, it could be the Holy Spirt drawing you into a deeper relationship with Him.

Secondly, in the parable of the coin, the coin was lost by an act of carelessness. The issue here is that the woman did not protect what was given her. Some believe that she most likely had been entrusted with the coins by her husband as it was not normal in those days for women to have their own money. Regardless of the reason for her to have this money, she had lost the coin and was not even aware that it was lost until sometime later.

The thing about carelessness is that we never intend to lose that which is valuable to us. It often happens through neglect. For us spiritually, we forget to pray. We rush through our devotional time. We fail to join with others in worship and fellowship. We fail to keep the boundaries that keep us pure and holy. And then, we wake up only to find that we have become distant from God and that our fellowship with Him is strained. The result is that it feels that God is far away from us! We lose our intimacy with Him inadvertently through carelessness and neglect.

The problem with the lost coin is that as long as the coin was lost or out of circulation, it was useless. The coin could not be used for what it was intended. But with that said, we must be aware that no matter how lost the coin was, it was still marked with image of the emperor of the day. Now think about that for a moment, no matter how lost we might be we are still emblazoned with the image of God upon our lives (Genesis 1:26-27). Though damaged and lost we are still God’s possession and He so desires to seek after us and find us so as to restore us to right standing and usability!

Thirdly, the prodigal son was lost as a result of choices he made. In the first two parables, there does not appear to be a conscious decision to be lost but in the case of the prodigal son he made a conscious deliberate decision to wander from his father’s home. No one persuaded him, he made a choice. He began to dream and imagine what life would be on his own. He began to believe that the grass was greener on the other side. In some ways, he acted like the sheep by dreaming of something else in his life. He allowed complacency to draw his attention away from what he already possessed as his father’s son. We too can become complacent and forget what we already possess. We can begin to think that sinners have more fun than we do. We begin to think that God is holding out on us so we want what we want so as to feel we have value which we already have in Christ.

Here is a truth we must understand. Our free will which is a blessing, and at the same time a curse, gives us the opportunity to make choices. It is unfortunate that these decisions are not always the best of decisions. The problem with free will and free choice is that there are consequences to our decisions and we have to settle ourselves to those consequences, personally, whether the decisions are good or bad.

So what do we learn from this today? Let me give you a couple of things. First of all, God cares about us when we go off track. He seeks after us and desires to draw us back to the place we need to be. No matter the reason, the Father is always searching for us when we have wandered from the faith. The father heart of God is always searching for us. Remember what I said earlier: the miracle of this is that our tendency to wander is matched by God’s willingness to pursue.

Second, He will willingly allow us to go our way so that we understand and comprehend what we miss when we fail to follow God wholeheartedly. Throughout the Bible we find stories of people and even strong men of God who made poor choices and yet God allowed them to do so because by their actions they learned more about themselves and who they were. Remember the story of David who sinned greatly against God and his kingdom. What about Abraham who lied about Sarah being his wife and yet he was a friend of God and became the father of many nations. How awesome is that?

Thirdly, even when we are lost and separated, we are still marked by the Father. For the sheep, it was the ear tag or a brand that identified who they belonged to. It didn’t matter what happened to them, they were still marked by their owner. We need to know that no matter what we may have done as a believer in Christ, He has marked us and He searches after us.

Fourth, He welcomes us with a heart of forgiveness and reconciliation when we return to him. We see this in the parable of the prodigal son. The father is pacing the floor awaiting the arrival of his son. The father’s arms were outstretched and open for the son. He embraced him, loved him, and restored him to full sonship. So matter how far we run or how far we stray, he is waiting for us.

I ask that you listen to the great hymn of the faith I mentioned before. Use this song a means to ficus your attention on who you are and if you are prone to wander from God. Here is a link to the video.

Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Lost and Found Part One

Peninsula Community Church

Lost and Found  

August 16, 2015

Rather than reading one singular passage of scripture today, I will be reviewing the entire chapter before us and then we will go back over the next couple of weeks to study the chapter with particular emphasis on the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have entitled this series “Lost and Found” as that is the emphasis of each of the parables presented here.

With that in mind let us look at a couple of things. First of all to understand this passage and the reasoning behind these parables we must look at the first verse of chapter 15. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” The Pharisees and the Scribes of Jesus were upset with the actions of Jesus. How could He do such a thing? Didn’t He know He should follow the rules and hold those who were sinners at a distance.

But the Pharisees and the Scribes had a problem in understanding the mission of Jesus. It was the usual problem that raised its ugly head when they were around Jesus. The real character of the Pharisees and Scribes seemed to be revealed when they encountered Jesus’ new way of doing things. They loved to corner Jesus and try to get Him to make a mistake or appear to discredit God’s law. Why is this? For one, the Pharisees and Scribes loved control. They loved to be in charge and have the position of authority. To accomplish this they had to discredit others who seemed to be gaining control and for that reason that they posed the questions they did. They also loved rules. They loved to make rules for others to follow and would be quick to judge and condemn those who were not following the rules. They also loved to argue over the rules. They loved to argue and debate the Scripture, not to find truth but to simply to debate and argue.

But, Jesus being the greater person, answered them as He often did. Instead of answering their question directly, He used the art of story telling or parables to get His point across. He preceded to tell them three stories. The first was the story of the shepherd who had lost one of his sheep. Even though he had 99 sheep safely in the fold, it was critical for him to go and find that one sheep that was lost. It is noteworthy that his search for the lost sheep is a persistent one. In fact, Jesus noted that the shepherd searched until he found the lost sheep. He did not give up.

The second story is that of a woman who had lost a coin. She had ten coins but one of the coins had been lost. In the story, Jesus states that she stopped everything she was doing; she lit a lamp and then she swept the house thoroughly until the coin was found. Jesus uses the word diligently to describe her search as she was focused and determined to find the lost coin.

In the third story, Jesus tells the story of a man who had two sons. One of the sons decided that he was ready to go out on his own. So, he asked his father for his inheritance which he gave to the son. It was not too long before the son had squandered everything he had and was found in the pig pen feeding the pigs. It was at this point that the son made a discovery. The food he was feeding the pigs was actual better than the food he was eating and the food served the servants of his father’s home was much better than the pigs were being served. It is in this moment of realization that the son decides to return home where the father welcomes him with open arms.

As we look at these three stories, we see that there are common threads in them. First, we see something was lost. Whether it was a sheep, a coin, or a son; there was something that was lost and needed to be found. Each of the items lost were valuable to the one who owned them and that is why they diligently searched for the lost item.

The second thread here is that something was found. In each case that which was lost was found. And in the case of the lost son, the father proclaimed that which had been dead is now alive. Each of those who owned the item lost was diligent about searching and looking until the item was found. They did not give up. They did not lose hope.

The third thread here is that the individual who lost the item rejoiced over finding the lost item. They were overwhelmed with the fact they had found that which was lost, and they wanted everyone to celebrate with them so they threw a party. The lost item had been a big deal and it was even a bigger deal to find the item.

The fourth thread here is that each person made a declaration of praise. They proclaimed, that which was lost is now found. They are saying I lost something valuable but now I have gained it back. They were so excited about finding their lost items they could not keep it to themselves. They wanted to let everyone know what had transpired and celebrate the good news of salvation.

So what are the lessons for us in these stories. The first lesson is that God is concerned about those who are lost in our lives. In this case, we are not talking coins or sheep but the lives of those we are associated with. It is those individuals that God has placed in our path. God loves the lost and desires to see them found. You see this discussion began by the Pharisees and Scribes being critical of Jesus having dinner with the sinners and yet that it is precisely what Jesus is communicating. Rather than judge their behavior we need search after them in order to see them come to Christ.

The second lesson is that that God rejoices when the lost are found. He is so excited that He throws a party as in the the story of the prodigal son. In both the parable of the coins and the sheep Jesus proclaims that heaven and the angels rejoice over one sinner that repents and changes his ways. Jesus says there is joy in one sinner coming to Christ. In other words, He is saying “why do I sit with sinners and have dinner with them?” It is because it brings joy to heaven when they repent and that is my motive above all else.

The third lesson, and this is the best one of all, God wants us to celebrate with Him and the angels of heaven when sinners repent. He wants us to experience the joy of one that was lost coming to a saving grace of God. He wants us to have a party when one comes to know Him by repenting and changing their ways. This is why I love to do water baptisms as a celebration and a party as it is a sign of what God has done in a life.

The fourth lesson is that God restores that which was lost. In each case, the item lost was restored to its rightful place. It was not a matter of deserving the place of restoration but it was none-the-less restored to right relationship. Since the creation and fall of mankind the great struggle has been the need and desire to be restored to right relationship to God.

With all of that said we must recognize that we have a part to play in this just as the other actors did. First, of all we must recognize that we are the church. If you are a born again, saved individual then you are a part of the church. You see one of the things we fail to do sometimes is realize that we are the church. We don’t come to church we are the church and when we leave here on Sunday, we as the church go into the community. We should be the church everyday, on our jobs, in our schools, and in our families. We never stop being the church. And as the church we should be seeking and saving the lost.

The second thing here is that while we must be the church, we must also recognize that we are all missionaries. For some time in the church we have tended to define missionaries as those who have been set apart to go to some foreign country to do missions. This is a false concept of the idea presented by Jesus prior to His departure. Jesus last words were these. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). The essence of this passage is that we are all missionaries. We have all been called to win the lost and make disciples.

The third thing here is that we need to seek that which is lost. We must identify the lost in our lives and then seek God on ways that we can go after them. Notice that Jesus’ command was to go to them. Now I believe that we ought to be inviting everyone to church whether they are saved or not, but an invitation to church is not evangelism. We need to identity the lost in our lives and then diligently seek after them to find them and then share the life of Christ with them. We need to have dinner with them, play golf with them, go fishing and so on so that we have a entry way into their lives. Then we can connect the dots between our testimony, Christ, and their lives.

When they are found and they repent we need to have a party and celebrate this exciting development. We need to make a big deal out those who come to know Christ. We need to celebrate their new found faith. We need to encourage them to be baptized in water so we can throw a party and see them give testimony for what God’s grace.

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Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Where’s the Balance: Condemnation or Conviction?

Peninsula Community Church

Where’s the Balance: Condemnation or Conviction?

August 2, 2015

Romans 8:1-4 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Before I begin this message, I must confess that my name is Bob Odom and I am addicted to condemnation. Now, before you judge me or add to my condemnation you need to know that I am recovering from this addiction but none the less it raises it head every so often. I, for one, can relate to what Charles Spurgeon, the great pastor of the late 1800’s said. He made the following statement. “I have struggled against inward sin and rejoiced in full justification at the same time.” Spurgeon was one of the greatest pastors of all times. His writings and books are just as popular today as they have ever been. Many are not aware of this but this great preacher struggled with depression all of his life. He faced intense bouts with depression and possible bi-polar anxiety. He would often go several weeks at a time where he would be confined to his home because of the depth of the depression which came from his sense of inadequacy, the criticisms that were leveled at him, and the fact that he was sick so often. In spite of this, he is credited with winning hundreds to Christ through his ministry and outreach.

Personally, I can feel his pain as I have often struggled with not feeling good enough and being unacceptable to God and to people. But, if the truth be known, we all deal with this addiction from time to time. We all fight the battle of acceptance. We all fight the battle of being good enough. We all fight the battle of feeling we have failed and feeling that we could have done more in certain situations. The pain of this is enhanced by the words spoken by others and by the accusations leveled at us from others as well as the enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Now, while I admit this addiction to you, I am here to bring you hope and a promise just as I have received this hope and promise for my life.

Paul begins this passage with the statement. “There is therefore now no condemnation.” To understand why he makes this statement, we have to understand that in terms of Paul’s writings he did not pause here as suggested by the break between the two chapters. In fact, he continues his discussion from chapter 7. In chapter 7, we find Paul dealing with the struggle so many of us have. We want to live holy and we want to do the right thing, but if seems the things we should do, we do not do. The things we should not do, we do. It is an endless cycle of failure. The result is a struggle that results in judgment and condemnation. We see this in Paul’s words in Romans 7:24. “Oh what a wretched man I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul then continues in Romans 8 to answer his own question.

So with that in mind let us look at the subject of condemnation. First of all, we must understand there is a difference between conviction and condemnation. One comes as a result of the accuser of the brethren while the other is motivated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Both conviction and condemnation have similarities and both start at the same point. They begin with truth but they quickly differ from there.

We need to understand that condemnation is often based in a truth but the accuser of the brethren comes to us to say that while we have a truth before us, there is no hope for change or hope for a better day. The reason the accuser is so intent on this is seen in a comment made by Bill Hybels. Hybels who stated that the accuser knows very well that a thoroughly discouraged Christian is an utterly useless Christian. We begin to feel there is no use in sharing the gospel or living righteously. For that reason our power to live free is neutralized by the enemy’s attacks. For this reason, the accuser of the brethren will do everything in his power to cause us to believe that we are condemned beyond hope. He gets us to believe that there is no hope for change and that this is the way things will always be. When this happens, he has achieved his goal of neutralizing the believers testimony and their sense of hope.

Conviction on the other hand begins with truth but leads to confession, repentance, a changed heart, and growth in Christ. We must recognize that this does not mean that we will never deal with guilt. In fact, guilt can be a good thing when it leads to repentance and change. In fact, the Bible says that Godly sorrow leads to repentance. I would venture to say that our current society could use a bit more godly sorrow over the things that break the heart of God (abortion, gay marriage, infidelity, immorality running amok, and so on). But the undeniable fact is that it is sorrow over sin that leads us to repent and subsequently change our ways and our habits. Paul was aware of this when he penned the following words.

For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter (2 Corinthian 7:8-11). The problem is that too often when there is no motivation toward repentance we will never change or make difference. 

Thirdly, to refuse to live in condemnation means that I allow grace to awaken me to my need to surrender my life to Christ. You see there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. When we lean hard on him we can receive His love, His grace, and His forgiveness. It is hard to walk in freedom when we are detached from God. The accuser of the brethren will make sure that we don’t lean on him. He will make sure that we walk in fear and trepidation so that we cower from reality and live in fear. Notice that Paul says that there is therefore no condemnation in Christ (verse 1) and later he notes it is for those who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit (verse 4).

Fourth, we must recognize that rather than condemnation, real conviction is from the Lord picks us up out of the dirt, looks into our eyes, and says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The words of John 3:17 echo this message. “For he (Christ) came not into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.” He continues by saying that “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Do you see what it says? Those that believe in Christ, or those that walk in the Spirit, have no reason to walk in condemnation.

In John 8:3-10 we have the classic example of Christ offering forgiveness when the world and those in the world were trying to condemn and judge him. This is the same story I related to you last week. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.

Notice a couple of things in this story. One, Jesus recognized that she was indeed a sinner. He did not deny she had sinned. He did not minimize her sin. She was caught in the act of adultery. This an undeniable fact. She sinned, she broke the law, but rather than condemn her, he offered her forgiveness. Second, the leaders who condemned the woman were also guilty of sin themselves. Jesus recognized that the religious leaders who brought her to him were not exempt from sin but in fact were just as guilty of sin. Third, the religious leaders deflected their sin and self-righteousness on her rather than accept responsibility for what they had done. This is a phenomenon that occurs so often. Those living in sin are good at pointing out sin in others rather than dealing with their own sin.

Fourth, Jesus commanded her to go and sin no more. He did not condemn her, he offered her forgiveness. But there were strings attached, so to speak. She was to go her way but she was to go without sinning again. Yes, she was receiving forgiveness rather than condemnation but she was to live as one free and not condemned. In other words, she was forgiven but that did not give her the right to continue to live in sin. It was quite the contrary. We need to take Jesus’ advice. Receive His forgiveness and then not sin again.

Let us bring this home today. Jesus also commands us to go and sin no more by giving us a second chance. When we walk in forgiveness and not condemnation we are making a statement to ourselves, to the world, and to the enemy of our souls. What are the statements made. Let me mention a few. Your future is not determined by your past. Your future is not determined by what you used to be. Your future is not determined by what you used to do, but your future and my future is determined by who Jesus Christ is and what he can and will do. In the story of the woman caught in adultery, we find the crowd pronounced judgement and condemned this woman to death. In the natural, her situation was hopeless. But with God, this woman got a second chance. Did Jesus give this woman another chance so she could go out and repeat her mistakes and fall into sin again? No, he told her “Go and sin no more.” So, today, we must understand that Jesus is giving us a second and third chance. Rather than condemnation, he is giving us hope and an opportunity to reengage in life, in ministry, and in the hope that comes through Christ. Will you accept His gift?

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Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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