Here’s a question for you: When is sin a good thing?

Recently, I heard a preacher say, “The greatest gift that God gives to the people he loves is their sin — when they know it.” I’ll let you digest that for a minute.

The preacher did NOT say that God thinks sin is good. Sin is what separates the creature from the Creator, the very thing that caused Jesus to die for us. No, the preacher said that our sin, when we know it and own it and hate it, is a gift, a gift from God. How can that be?

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while and I think I know the answer. Our sin — my sin — when I know it is a good thing because it brings me to Jesus for his forgiveness and then I’m set free.

The best thing about bringing my sin to Jesus and telling him flat out that I messed up — it was me, Lord. I did it. I’m guilty. No one made me do it, not even the devil. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway and now I feel awful — the best part about doing that is knowing that Jesus will say, “You’re already forgiven. I forgave you at the Cross. It is finished.”

Two of my favorites scriptures say, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1

John 1:9) and also that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he (God) removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). That doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences, but it does mean that in God’s eyes we’re still his very much-loved children and “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Those who fully know how much they’ve sinned (and still sin) are the only ones who can fully appreciate their forgiveness and in turn willingly and lavishly forgive others.

Once when a “sinful” woman crashed a party where Jesus was a guest, she broke an expensive jar of perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, weeping, and wiping her tears that fell on him away with her hair.

The party host, a religious leader, thought to himself, “If he was really a prophet he would know what kind of sinful woman was touching him.” Jesus, knowing the man’s thoughts, told him a story about two men who had their debts canceled, one who owed a little, the other who owed a lot.

Jesus asked him, “Which one loved more?”

The man answered correctly, “The one who owed more.”

Regarding the sinful woman, Jesus told him, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:36-50).

Everyone is forgiven greatly, but not everyone knows it. Some still continue to think they’re not so bad compared to others.

I’ve said it many times before: Real joy is knowing the depth of your sin and the “deeper depth” of the mercy, forgiveness and grace of God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

They also shall give it, but you can’t give something unless you first have it to give. Only those who know that, as the hymn says, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling,” and that “in me dwells no good thing,” know the mercy of God.

Our sin is also a good thing when it makes us more compassionate and understanding of others.

The reason programs like AA are so effective is because everyone in the room is there admitting that they have a problem, the same problem as everyone else there. Who better to help a drunk than another drunk who has found sobriety — and who also knows he or she is just one drink away from utter destruction?

C.S. Lewis once said that friendship is born the moment one person says to another, “You too? I thought I was the only one!”

My sin, when I know it, makes me keenly aware that I am often a hair’s breadth away from public shame and humiliation — and so are you. And that makes me have compassion for you.

Only sinners can minister to sinners, and we’re all sinners. The preacher said, “The greatest gift that God gives to the people he loves is their sin — when they know it.” Do you know your sin? If you do, thank God for his gift.

 

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

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