Joe and I had the most amazing conversation last night about God’s character and how that translates into our marriage and our parenting. I’m hoping to do a couple of blog series on the stuff that we discussed because it was really awesome.
The conversation started with a discussion of God’s character and whether or not God punishes us. The way that you answer this question not only changes the way that you look at God, but also the way you relate to Him, the way you talk to yourself and respond when you sin, and the way you respond to others when they sin. This is such an important topic, and its one that Christians are really wishy washy on…
I believe we sometimes experience consequences of our sin, however I do not believe that God punishes us, especially after we repent and ask for forgiveness. When we are forgiven it is complete. There may be consequences that happen from our sin, but I do not believe that God actively punishes us.
Hebrews 8:12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.
Hebrews 10:15The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16″This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”[b] 17Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”[c] 18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
God teaches us by grace. He gives us grace and we respond. When we repent, we are forgiven.
I think of how this applies in my life and how I often choose not to follow in God’s pattern. If I sin, I often want to do to myself what Satan would like for us to do: to isolate, tell myself that I am not worthy of love, and to hide in shame. I am basically putting myself in time out. I withdraw myself from those who love me and tell myself how terrible I am. This is not how God handles us at all! When we sin, we are supposed to do just the opposite. We should confess and be healed!
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The Christian community almost encourages outward “sinlessness” above heart change. I think that many of our marriage and parenting methodologies try to make everything pretty on the outside, and yet never address the heart.
If I raise children that act perfect on the outside, but don’t have it in their heart, then I have failed! Why does the evangelical community (and our curriculums in particular) keep missing this fact?
The focus on outward appearances has made generation after generation of Christians who do not want to admit their sin and who try to act as if they are perfect. We try to push this perfection on others. The problem is that it is superficial. It is not true. How much better off would the Christian community be if it were filled with believers who admitted their mistakes, tried to be better, and lived in grace?
So why is it that we model to our children and to each other a completely different gospel? Why do we continue to punish ourselves, each other, and our children when that is not the way that God teaches us?
I think that a lot of us are in fear that if our spouse, our friends, or our children are not “punished” when they admit sin to us, then they will have “gotten away” with what they did wrong. I am guilty of fearing this. The fact remains that this is NOT how God teaches us though. He does not make us pay when we confess our sin. He shows us grace.
I’m off to think some more. Please feel free to share any thoughts