Monday, November 6, 2006

Where sin increases, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5,20)

In a letter to his congregation at New-Life Church in Colorado Springs, removed Senior Pastor Ted Haggard implored the congregation to forgive Mike Jones, the man who exposed Haggard's secret life and even urged people to thank God for Jones' honesty.

"Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So forgive him, and actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger."

St. Paul, in his letter to the Church in Rome observed all of this some 2,000 years ago. In chapter three of this letter he writes that no person will be justified by obeying the law, by "deeds prescribed by the law". Why? Nobody will be justified by their works because there is not one who lives the law perfectly. Because of our fallen, denatured human nature, we are incapable of perfection without God's grace, which is given us in Christ. The purpose of he law, according to the Apostle, is to gives us "knowledge of sin" (Rom 3,20). Therefore, as a result of the law, sin multiplied. Sin multiplied because through the law was revealed true holiness, an unattainble standard, "but", Paul assures us, "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5,20).

In his letter Haggard went on to say something that needs to be heard about his sin "The public person I was, wasn't a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me." His wife, Gayle, who seems to be the epitome of grace under pressure and is committed to not seperating what God has joined together, wrote, "We started this journey together and, with the grace of God, we will finish together". She summarized beautifully what we all need to hear,"[Ted] is now the visible and public evidence that every man, woman and child needs a savior."

How do we as Christians respond? By rejoicing, which is what New Life's congregation did. Rejoice in what God has done for us through his beloved Son and that a sinner repented. "I tell you," says our Lord, "there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Lk 15,10).

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