January 4th, 2019


On sin and glory

I wonder whether as much damage is done by constant discourse on sin as by sin itself.

If we need a constant discourse on sin – beating our breasts as sinners – as part of our Christian praxis and identity, something is going wrong. Discourse on sin is right only when preceded by the call to glory. It is only in the light of that glory, and of our redemption, that we rightly see ourselves as sinners, that is ‘falling short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). We undertake metanoia (literally: change of mind, change of direction), adapt our behaviour where necessary (Let him who has two coats give to him who has none) and rejoice in the grace given to us (where sin abounded, grace did much more abound – Romans 5: 20). Yes, after the initial, major metanoia (‘being born again’) there are other ‘aftershock’ metanoias as part of the cleansing process (Search me, God and know my heart … Look well less there be any offence in me – Psalm 139: 23,24), as God points us to these weak points deeper and deeper in our hearts that need His cleansing and healing. But this in a context of respect and grateful knowledge of our Sonship, not of grovelling or self-flagellation. We look forward to glory, not back on our – forgiven and put away – sins.

I suspect that there is a real temptation for those in power to use constant reference to sin and calls for repentence (and sacramental confession) to keep those of whom they have spiritual charge in subjection to them and their systems, and in so doing maintain their own identities and positions within the system. But this is to deny their charges their full status as free children of God and will surely not go unpunished.