August 23, 2018
Volume 22, Number 30
A man visited the Mount Olive AME Zion Church in Waterbury, Connecticut this past Sunday morning. His visit has drawn more attention than most because he arrived at 1:00 a.m. While there, he helped himself to more than $3,000 worth of electronic equipment. It’s not hard to imagine that these items were quickly sold for money to maintain a drug habit (speculative, we admit, but not far-fetched).
There is something good in this man, apparently, for he left a note to the church that read, “Pray 4 me!! Sorry brothers. Save me.” To cap it off he drew a little sad face on the note. How many thieves leave notes apologizing for what they have done?
His note doesn’t alter the fact that he is a thief. What he did is wrong, and is against the law. Video cameras captured his image, and he will be prosecuted once he is apprehended. We suspect the level of his sorrow will increase at that point.
The apostle Paul responded to this type of attitude in Romans 6:1,2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” There were some who thought they could continue sinning against God’s will, even though they were Christians. All they would need to do afterward was write a note of apology to God with a sad face. Then they would rinse and repeat.
The King James Version shows Paul’s response as even more emphatic: “God forbid!” That is not how you should live. Christians are supposed to have “died to sin”. Following that death (i.e. repentance) they are then buried with Christ (i.e. baptism), after which they arise to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3,4).
Yes, Christians can be forgiven of sins which they commit after becoming followers of Christ; John makes that clear in 1 John 1:7 and in 1 John 2:1,2. The God we serve has described Himself as “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). But does that mean little notes of apology and pictures of sad faces will cause Him to overlook our repeated sins?
The Waterbury burglar exhibited “sorrow of the world”, as Paul would describe it in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” The difference is obvious: worldly sorrow leaves notes with sad faces, but never changes the behavior. Godly sorrow sees the need for change.
Even those who cried out for Jesus to be crucified were offered mercy if they would repent and submit to God’s simple plan of salvation (Acts 2:38). That offer still stands.
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
Copyright, 2018, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.
Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.