One note

ne of the things
that some of you may currently be thinking about this blog is that it seems, even in the diversity of the Sidekicks having taken over while I vacate for a while, it is always singing the same note: Christ died for our sins.

Christ died for our sins.

Christ died for our sins.

Enough already, right? We get it: Christ died for our sins. Next.

No: listen – there is no “next”.

I was reading this post by Justin Taylor as this scandal unfolds, and seems to go into hibernation, and I had to read the letter from Ted Haggard two or three times because I felt like I was somehow just skimming it.

You read it, and I’ll wait here for you.

OK: now that you have read it all for yourself, did you perceive what Haggard was saying in that letter? As I read it, what I heard him saying in about 3 or 4 different ways was, “I’ll be back”.

Like this one: I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

Or maybe this one: 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. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.

Or how about this one: I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations . But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.

Now, here’s something that some of you may find to be somewhat strange as a basis of comparison: here’s a Catholic act of public contrition – the Confiteor:
I confess to Almighty God
And to you my brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned through my own fault,
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done, and what I have failed to do.
I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin,
And all the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.
The “pray to the litany of the angels and saints” stuff, of course, will bother a lot of people (and it should), but look at the first statement of the Confiteor: I confess to Almighty God. Isn’t that astounding? I confess to God that I have sinned through my own fault. Where is that in Haggard’s confession? It seems to me that Haggard is far more concerned in his apology with the embarrassment he has caused his friends than with the fact that he has soiled the pulpit of God’s word and has offended God.

Because you know what? My sin is against God, and the basis of its wrongness is that I have offended God. My sin is wrong because God is Holy and my sin is not.

In the mortification of sin, we have to realize something: while God may – as any good Calvinist might admit – intend it for good, we intended it for evil. We have violated the holiness of God, and if you have no sense of that you have no sense of what sin means. When we sin, we didn’t do something naughty. We didn’t even do something “shameful”. We do something for which Christ was put to death.

Christ died for our sins. That says something about the lengths God will go for the sake of His elect, but it says something about the nature of sin. God didn’t put Moses to death for our sin; God didn’t put David to death for our sin. God doesn’t ask for the blood of bulls for sin because it’s not enough.

Christ died for our sin. Christ did. The Alpha and the Omega died for our sin. The radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, who upholds the universe by the word of his power, died for our sin.

In that, we aren’t tasked to make a comeback from sin: we are tasked to repent of sin and have a broken and contrite heart over our sin. Because it’s not a little thing! It’s not a trifle, or a mis-step, or a dalliance, or a struggle: it is the cause of the death of Christ, and of the spilling of His blood.

To redeem us from sin, Christ died for our sins. And let’s make sure we didn’t miss this – Christ’s death is not superabundantly overpaying for our little stupidities: Christ death is sufficient for the atonement of God’s people. You may be offended by the cross, and you may not understand the cross, but see to it that you do not underestimate the cross: it is a payment sufficient for the price of sin, but it is also the only payment which could be sufficient for the forgiveness of sin.

Let us take our sins seriously – not as a social setback or a fall off the ladder of success. Christ died for our sins, and it would behoove us to look at our sins as if we recognize that Jesus’ blood was the payment for who we are and what we have done.

And God have mercy on Ted Haggard – may he not merely be sorry for what he has done, but may he see what he has done as a crime that Christ had to die for. Let this be a moment when Ted Haggard sees the real shape and texture of sin, in order that he may not treat grace as a republican party favor.

Christ died for our sins: God have mercy on me, a sinner.