Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sin Before Worship: What Now?

by Adam Bailie

Last week at the conclusion of our study through James 1:19-25, I was confronted with a helpful question from a member of our body here at GCV. “If we fail to prepare for our time in the Word (collective or private worship), how do we reclaim the worship time from the guilt and thoughts of hypocrisy that now plague us?” In other words, is there any hope for meaningful worship in the Word, if biblical preparation hasn’t taken place or sin has?

As eternally forgiven followers of Christ, our response in the face of our sinfulness has everything to do with the gospel that redeemed and sanctifies us. Romans 5:1-11 declares that for all who are made righteous through Jesus, there is only peace with the Father. There is no war; there is no wrath; there will be nothing but loving peace for those who are in Christ. So in the face of sin, we confess that sin without fear of wrath for that sin, since Christ has already paid its death wage (1 John 1:9; Romans 6:23). While confessing sin, we must confess the whole truth about the sin. It is the very cause for Christ’s sacrifice, and it is covered by Christ’s sacrifice. As Pastor David has said, “Believe in this grace and move forward expectantly, not guiltily, because Christ’s status has not been changed by your failure.” 

So, when sin and worship in the Word collide, we must run to the gospel truth that allows us to worship in the first place. Our Father is our Father, because the Son has made us sons and daughters. That reality is unaffected by our performance…that is the gospel of grace! Our Father longs to cleanse our consciences and restore our full enjoyment of His fellowship. This may mean a few extra moments in the parking lot, sitting down quietly during singing, or a note passed to the one offended by our sin before the Lord’s Table. Whatever the cost, the gospel is worthy of our prompt, Christ-centered, and grace-motivated response to sin before, during and after worship in the Word. Worship without a clear conscience will breed hypocrisy, and worship paralysis because of sin will hinder our growth in grace. Sin and worship must not mix, but the remedy of the one is the cause for the other! Sola Christus!

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