ASH WEDNESDAY February 17, 2021
2 CORINTHIANS 5:20b-6:10
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
David shows us how to be a sinner before God. Psalm 51:4:
4 Against you, you only [O Lord,], have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
To be a sinner before God, we confess that our sin is against God.
We know that David’s sin was, indeed, against Bathsheba, the woman he seduced into adultery, and against his own family, which he damaged with his adultery, and against Israel, who was counting on him to be an honorable king, and against his own body for the lust he brought himself into, and, of course, against Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband whom he murdered in order to cover up his adultery. Yet, when he confesses his sin, it is confession of sin against the Lord:
4 Against you, you only, [O Lord,] have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
To properly be a sinner before God, the confession is that all the sin we commit, in our heart, in our family, against our neighbor, it is all sin against the Lord who created us and created our neighbor.
Then, to be a sinner before God, David confesses:
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
David shows us that to properly be a sinner before God, we confess not only that we are sinners, but that God has said we are.
In other words, even if we don’t know our sin, or if we do know it, but not the depth of it, nevertheless, God declares that we are, indeed, sinful, and we are, therefore, fully sinners according to his judgment. Psalm 51:
that you, [O Lord,] may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Then David shows more.
Not only are we sinners because we sin against our neighbor and against our own bodies, and because our sin is even more profoundly not only against our neighbor or ourselves but against God, and because God declares us to be sinners and he will be justified in what he says, but we are sinners also, David says, because we have been in sinful flesh even since we were conceived in our mother’s womb:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
David teaches us how to be a sinner before God. We confess our sin against our neighbor and ourselves; we confess our sin as even against God himself; we confess that we have heard God’s word declaring us sinful; we confess that our sin is not just our thoughts, our actions, and our desires, but is who we are even from conception: we stand before God with that confession.
Then, we look at who this God before whom we stand, and we have another confession to make. This is the God who became human to be with us, to know our sin against our neighbor, against ourselves, against him, the Lord, and he became man in order to take all that sin upon himself.
Who is it who stands before God as fully sinner?
Not you, not me. It’s Christ Jesus. He knew no sin; he was born with no sin. His desires are not sinful; he desires to receive every good gift from his Father; yet, he stood before his Father as the greatest sinner of all. 2 Cor. 21:
For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
That’s how David teaches us to be a sinner before God. We stand before God confessing our sin, then we turn to our Lord Jesus and we make a greater confession. We say, There, in him, there you will find my sin. On him my sin was laid. In his body my sin was put to death. By his blood my sin is covered. This is my confession.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation.
To be a sinner before God! We confess our sin. It is sin against our neighbor and against ourselves. We confess that it is, at its root, against God, and it is sin from our very origin.
Then we confess that our sin has been taken by Jesus.
We are accounted righteous by no worthiness of our own but purely by the grace and kindness of him who willingly took our sin upon himself that he might give us his righteousness.
Then we confess that we are his. He has ransomed us that we might live under him in his righteousness and purity forever, all as a gift of his grace and kindness. So Paul writes:
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
[2 Corinthians 5:20]
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.