The Weight of our Sin

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking
but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 14:17 (ESV)

So Lent has begun (you know that because McDonald’s Fish Sandwich is back), and apparently that means it’s time to ramp up the guilt.  I know that this is a time when we reflect on the passion of Christ, his suffering for our salvation, a time of leaving behind the things of this world in order to “seek first the kingdom of God.”  But seriously, how is giving up chocolate, or caffeine, or anything else for that matter going to help?  What it will most likely do is make you irritable, until you cave in and break your fast, then all your left with is even more self-imposed guilt.  Where’s the sanctification in that?

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that the life of the Christian is a life of constant warfare against sin.  It was the puritan pastor John Owen who put it so vividly, “Always be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”  Any opportunity, no matter how painful or upsetting, to identify sin in my life and, in the power of God’s Spirit, conquer that sin is welcome.  But should that holy war against sin be limited to the 7 weeks of Lent?  I don’t think so.

Keep in mind, I write this to you with ashes on my forehead.  Yes, I began this Ash Wednesday in confession of my sins, seeking the mercy and grace of God for my forgiveness, confessing my trust and faith in Christ my savior.  But I do that every day.  Why should these next few weeks carry with them an extra burden?  Do we, for the sake of some liturgical drama, lay aside the receipt of the bloody cross, the blessings of the empty tomb, the assurance of our salvation, just so we can make ourselves “feel” more holy because we “feel” more guilty?

As you grieve your sins, remember the gospel!  Take your sins seriously, but remember we have a savior!  I heard Pastor Doug Wilson a few weeks ago say “We are privileged to carry our sins like David carried Goliath’s decapitated head.  The weight of the sin is cut off, the only weight you should feel is victory.”  Yes, I wear my ashes, but they are not heavy.

This Lenten season, turn the fast into a feast.  Rather than giving up stuff, revel in the one thing that will bring you great joy – revel in the gospel, the good news of your salvation.  I think the following is perhaps one of the best Lenten hymns I’ve ever heard.

 Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

 When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the Risen Lamb
My perfect spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am
The King of Glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

Before the Throne
© 1997 Sovereign Grace Worship
Charitie Lees Bancroft | Vikki Cook
CCLI License No. 783539


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